One of the most exciting features just released in the latest WeGIF Creator Tool is the webcam hands free timer feature. One benefit of the feature is that it gives users a little more flexibility in taking the snapshots, by freeing the hands from the mouse and giving users a few precious seconds to setup the scene or move around. The other less obvious feature of the timer is that you can now make high quality time-lapse animations online, with your own webcam.
The interface of the timer is very simple but powerful. There are two text fields where you can change the behavior of the timer: the number of frames to capture and the delay in seconds to wait between capturing frames. The first field gets pre-filled with the maximum number of frame slots availlable, and is really intended for stopmotion animation. Pro users will get the most benefit from this since they can capture up to 90 frames in one timelapse while free accounts have less frames to work with. The timer will take the number of photos shown in this field and stop. The second field is the delay between frames in number of seconds which might seem tricky at first and ranges from 0.33 seconds (very fast frame rate, video) to 3600 seconds which is equal to 1 hour (60 sec/min * 60 min/hour).
The best delay to use for making time-lapses depends on the subject your are capturing, and it’s really important to think about how much movement takes place between intervals. If there is a lot of movement (like car or pedestrian traffic), the delay should be relatively short, since if it was long, it might miss the action, but if the action moves along very slowly (like a flower blooming) the delay should be quite long to bring out the fine movements. Since sometimes it’s tricky to know how to get started, see the chart below for some common examples and values to experiment with.
This chart show example durations, and the proper intervals (in seconds) for the respective number of frames to take. The intervals in red are too long and the animations require more frames to look good. The results in green are optimal if you have access to that many frames.
|Timelapse Subject||Hours||Minutes||90 Frames||60 Frames||30 Frames||10 Frames|
|Sunrise to Sunset||12||720||480||720||1440||4320|
|Day and Night||24||1440||960||1440||2880||8640|
|Melt Ice Inside||<||45||30||45||90||270|
To get a better feeling for how to come up with good delays and number of frames for animations, it’s very useful to go through the thought process behind it. Here is the formula I am using: interval between frames (seconds) = total time (seconds) / number of frame to capture
What are good values for making a time lapse animation of ice cream melting?
Well we know ice cream melts pretty quickly depending on temperature. If I had an ice cream in a cone inside my apartment and left it alone, I’m willing to bet that in 10 to 30 minutes it will be all over the kitchen counter. If I’m gonna waste some ice cream I might as well make it count, so I assume it could take the maximum of 30 min to capture the process. Also I have a Pro account which lets me take up to 90 frames. Ok, so what is 30 min in seconds? 30 min * 60 sec/min = 1800 seconds. We’re capturing the frames at regular intervals, so to get the delay between each of the 90 frames which will add up to the total, we simply divide the total time in seconds by the number of frames ( 1800 sec / 90 frames = 20 sec/frame ) Great, so we’ll set the delay at 20 seconds apart, point the webcam at the ice cream we just pulled out of the freezer and click the Start Timer button. The timer will count down from 5 and start. After taking a photo, the timer will automatically set itself to 20 seconds and continue taking photos every 20 seconds until it captures 90 frames. Once this is done you can use the Auto Set Best Speed button or manually drag the speed slider to see what speed setting looks best and publish the new timelapse wegif.
What are good values to capture a whole day/night cycle?
Interesting time lapses can also happen over longer periods of time, like a tree blooming or the sun moving across the sky from sunrise to sunset. Let’s say we want to capture a whole day and night cycle. (must have a really good webcam to get the night shot or a bright street light). A whole day is 24 hours, so the time in seconds is 24 hours * 60 min/hour * 60 sec/min = 86400 seconds. Let’s say we want to fit this animation in 60 frames (just to mix things up, typically more frames make for a better looking animation). This gives us 86400 sec / 60 frames = 1440 sec/frame. We’ll use the 1440 second delay, which by the way comes out to 24 minutes, so our timer will look out the window and capture a frame every 24 min. If your screensaver or power settings don’t make the computer go to sleep, in 24 hours we’ll have a complete 60 frame time-lapse animation that lasts a whole day and night and loops perfectly.
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