HOW TO: Make a time lapse movie

I thought I’d share with you how I create my time lapse movies. It’s quite simple and doesn’t require any special equipment, save for a simple video camera.

I use a Flip HD camera that I picked up before they went out of business (someone, please remind me, why did Cisco kill that business again?). It has a maximum recording time of about 1 hour per movie so I can’t make time lapses longer than that so I need to keep that in mind.

I start by setting up the camera on a tripod to keep it stationary– this is very important and is hopefully obvious. Set it to record and don’t move it (unless you want to change the shot). Let it record in real time and capture everything. Don’t worry about the audio, we won’t be using it.

Afterwards, you’ll be left with a huge Quicktime .MOV file. Using Quicktime 7 Pro, open the movie. Make sure the player window hasn’t been resized (hit command-1 on a Mac). This will be important in the next step. Usually the head and tails of your movie will have a slight bit of motion in them so you don’t want that– trim the heads and tails off from the movie if you need to. It’s all under the edit menu. Use the ‘I’ and ‘O’ key to mark in and out points and use Edit->Cut to remove it.

Next, use File->Export. Choose export as “Movie to Image Sequence” and click Options. Change the format to JPEG. The frames per second you choose here will dictate how fast or slow your final time lapse will be. Let’s assume that your source movie is 1 hour. Choosing a small number like 1 FPS will give you a movie that lasts 2 minutes. Choosing 2 FPS will give you 4 minutes and so on. You can also put decimal numbers like .5 or .25 FPS. You can experiment with this value. I call this frame thinning because you are discarding a lot of the original source movie. This is ok. Also, click “Insert space before number.” Click OK. Make a new folder to put these images in (in the thousands for our example). Give it a base name and click save.

The final step is where the magic occurs. Choose File->Open Image Sequence, navigate to the folder and click the first image from the series. The next dialog asks what frame rate. I choose 30 to keep things fluid. Again, choosing a slower frame rate will make your movie longer. Click OK and wait. Once done, you’re rewarded with a great time lapse. Add some music, export to MPEG-4 and share!

Testing a Geiger Counter Kit

I recently purchased a Geiger counter kit from Goldmine Electronics. I soldered everything together; attaching the Geiger tube was the trickiest as it’s not actually soldered to the board, just ”
strapped” with some wire in three places. One end of the tube is the positive (+) side and the entire center of the tube is negative (-).

I turned it on but couldn’t think of anything to test it with. It would occationally click every now and then but that’s normal background radiation. Then I remembered I had this bowl in the cupboard. I knew the the old 1930’s Fiestaware red/orange color was radioactive because they used uranium oxides in the glaze. This bowl isn’t Fiestaware but it’s probably just as old.

I won’t be eating from it again.

Print from iPad to ImageWritter II

What if you could print from and iPad to an ImageWriter II? Okay, maybe you don’t want to, but it was an exercise that ultimately proved to be fairly simple.

First, you’ll need a USB to serial adapter and the appropriate cables. I was lucky to have a Keyspan “USA-28X” 2-port adapter with 8-pin DIN jacks, just like the ImageWriter has. I suppose any serial port (9 or 25 pin) would work as long as you had an appropriate cable with 8-pin DIN on the other side. (You may also need to “null modem” the connection this way– not sure).

Next, you’ll need some drivers. Lucky for me, there’s updated drivers for 10.6 available at Download and install the drivers for the ImageWriter II as well as GhostScript (this acts as the RIP to go from PDF to raster images for the printer).

Then you need to configure the printer. By default, the drivers install a print driver for every serial device on you computer. I chose to delete them all and add only one to prevent the clutter. I deleted the extra printers in the Printers Preference Pane. To add the ImageWriter II printer, browse to http://localhost:631/admin which will let you access CUPS on your machine. Go through the add printer procedure, choosing the right serial port, 9600 baud, 8,n1 and hardware flow control (match this to the DIP switches of your printer). Don’t forget to turn on printer sharing and to “share” this new printer!

Finally, you need to download and run AirPrint Activator 2.0 to enable AirPrint on your shared printers.

If all worked, you should see a new printer listed on your iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch) and relive the sound of the 80’s all over again.

YouTube Dump

An interesting way to complete multiplication by drawing lines. Link

A guy shows off just how flexible he really is. There's no such thing as double jointed, is there? Link.

Rep. Ackerman (D) of New York with some interesting comments on gays in the military. (You might be surprised!) Link.

YouTube Travels

WTTW gets pwned by Max Headroom. Link. Via BoingBoing.

CBS News report following the WTTW pirate video incident. Link.

Oh Gnoes!~!1 You can't drive a stick! Link. Thanks, Jnova!

Kid + big rubber band + ATV = severe neck injury. Link.

I admit, sometimes I forget which side the gas tank is on too. Link.

I racks my brains when I think about the Leader. Link. Thanks, Ben!