Timelapse

I’ve been very busy with work, hence the dearth of posts. However, I have been doing and making a lot of interesting things, so I have a number of posts lined up. This one is about a timelapse video I made of my company making our first shipment of our baby monitor, specifically the onesie that senses a baby’s breathing. We (all the engineers) planned on making the first shipment ourselves, but only because we thought the first shipment would be small, in the hundreds of onesies. Instead it was thousands! This was a good problem to have. (We are now set up with a factory making the onesie. Phew.)

But I want to focus on the timelapse. We have dropcams set up in the space as a security measure, and I wanted to use this footage to make a timelapse of almost a week’s worth of work. Dropcam doesn’t have a built in timelapse features like GoPro does, but it does save the last 7 days worth of footage online for you. You can download this footage in (max) 1 hour segments. I didn’t want to do that because my internet isn’t too fast and neither is my computer– I didn’t think it could handle so many large video files, and I would have a ton of footage to speed up. Instead I wanted to do it old school: have an image every x minutes and stream them together.

Results first!

Mimo Timelapse from Katy Gero on Vimeo.

I looked for some screen capture software that could take a screen shot of the same section of the screen every time. This was no trivial task: there is a lot of free screen capture software out there, but most have only a couple special features. I finally found SimpleCap, which allowed me to take a screenshot of the same section of the screen in just 3 clicks.

Then I opened up the Dropcam streaming site. I placed my screen capture region over the streaming video. The site has a timeline beneath it. This allowed me to click on the next 30 minute period and take a screenshot very quickly. I was able to take one image every 30 minutes (of video) for about 5 days worth of video in only 20 minutes, totaling up to about 300 images, or about an image every 4 seconds.

I used TimeLapse Assembler to assemble the images. This is a stripped down program that does this one task, so it was perfect. You can pick your frame rate and quality, but that’s about it. Once I had the video file, I used iMovie to add in the days in the corner. Every time I use iMovie I am convinced it is the worst piece of software and promise myself I will find an alternative, even if it means buying software, but I don’t do movie editing frequently enough to put the time into researching it.

My coworker made a timelapse video the computationally hard way — he downloaded a large number of the 1 hour video segments and then sped them all up in iMovie. What a trooper. He had ethernet and a faster computer, though.

And if you’re interested it what it means to box products for Babies ‘R’ Us shipments…

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