Author Archive

My Gizmodo Contest Entry

February 9, 2011 1 comment

On January 18, I mentioned in a post that the technology site Gizmodo was hosting their first ever video contest until Feb. 9 and the theme was time-lapse.  I decided to make this video of Sutro Tower because I see it every day but feel it doesn’t get much acknowledgement here in San Francisco.  Look at any clear panaroma of San Francisco or the Golden Gate Bridge and you can usually find Sutro Tower in the background.  Despite this, I’ve actually met people who’ve lived here their entire lives without knowing the tower’s name.

Those who are familiar with the tower generally dislike it and think it’s an eye sore.  I think this is a shame because it’s one of the most prominent features of the city and really no worse than The Eiffel Tower or Tokyo Tower.  Unlike those towers, however, Sutro only serves as a broadcasting station made necessary by the city’s famous hills.

The rules of the contest state that all videos must be made during the contest dates.  I’ve posted some of the original stills below to prove they were taken during this period and to briefly explain how they were made.  It’s been warm and sunny in the bay area the last couple of weeks so I had to get creative with shots.  As always, all photos were taken with a 6MP Canon point-and-shoot.  Click and download each photo for a full size version and for EXIF data including date taken and camera settings.

HDR from Golden Gate Park

This was the last clip I made in the series but the first in the video.  I used CHDK and an intervalometer script to take the pictures and Photomatix Pro 3.2  to batch process them as described in an earlier post.  I was scrambling the day before I posted this video to try to come up with another clip despite a week of cloudless skies.  My apologies to anyone snowbound right now–I really shouldn’t complain about California’s weather.

Sutro from Below

There wasn’t much special about this shot.  There was almost no breeze this day so the clouds were barely moving.  I believe I set a ten second interval instead of the usual two seconds.  I used a polarizing filter to darken the sky and then spent an hour editing out birds and planes with the healing brush in Photoshop.  You might notice the Golden Gate Bridge in the lower right.

Foggy Tower

The fog was so thick this day I couldn’t get a picture of the tower without standing almost directly below it.  I accidentally set the camera to ISO 400 so you can see lots of noise in the shot.  I didn’t bother editing any of the birds because there were so many and because the quality was already so low.

Little Planet

I really like some of the “little planet” photos around the net, especially this one.  The thing I haven’t seen is a time-lapse version.  This was my first attempt and I think it turned out alright.  I definitely need more practice and to work on my blending skills but the final result is passable.  The problem with making a little planet time-lapse is that any clouds will look odd at the seam.  I tried to use the setting sun as the moving element in this time-lapse instead of cloud movement.  I edited the photos by making a Photoshop action based on Photojojo’s little planet tutorial.

Fog Over the City

This clip doesn’t actually feature Sutro Tower but it was shot from the street below it.  I really liked this clip and had to shoe-horn it into this video.

Star Trails

I made this clip with my star trails Photoshop action.  I set the camera to 15 sec. exposures and turned off dark frame subtraction in order to make smoother trails and spend less time outside at night.  I then used Photoshop to subtract camera noise using a dark frame and then added the trails.  You can see the purple glow in the upper left corner in this unprocessed photo.

Video Processing

All the clips were made using the free software VirtualDub because it offers a lot of flexibility and add-ons.  I put the clips into one video with Windows Live Movie Maker, which can also be used for time-lapse.

The music is “Night on Bald Mountain,” performed by the Skidmore College Orchestra.  I found it on a website specializing in public domain music.

I’m hoping to revisit Sutro Tower in a later video once I start shooting with a DSLR.  I think it would make an interesting study over the course of a year.  Thanks for visiting and please let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Categories: My videos

Missouri Blizzard 2011

February 4, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve sat at my computer all winter and watched video after video of snow piling up without ever feeling the need to post them.  The videos usually feature a ruler and a clock on a patio table as snow slowly deposits.  I’m impressed by the amount of snow shown in these videos but generally unimpressed with the artistic quality.  I keep asking myself, “why can’t it be impressive and beautiful?”

I skipped a couple of snow videos but relented and watched this one from the staff of the Columbia Missourian.  Finally, someone made a time-lapse of snowfall that’s worth noting on this blog.  The shots are wide street views with more dynamic elements than just snow building up.  The white balance is consistent and the exposure doesn’t flicker too much.  I’d like to see longer shots made with an ND filter to cut down on the jumpiness, but that’s just me.  This is still the best snow video I’ve seen this winter.

Categories: Other people's videos

One Day on a Little Planet

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment
Photo by Chris Kotsiopoulos

I saw this photo a couple weeks back and immediately wanted to post it to this blog.  The problem was I couldn’t quite justify the deviation from time-lapse videos until today.  It turns out the photographer, Chris Kotsiopoulos, posted a video of the star trails as a time-lapse.  You can see it below.

The “little planet” photo technique has been sweeping the photography blogs for quite some time.  Photojojo recently posted a simple but very informative tutorial on their site.  This photo was shot over the course of around 27 hours using many of the same techniques used for time-lapse video.  I’m trying to adapt this to time-lapse and will post my first video soon.

Kotsiopoulos explains the whole process on his forum.  He includes details ranging from setting up his power supply, to taking the photos, and even the exact programs he uses.  Scroll down as it’s broken into smaller sections.

[Via Photojojo and Earth Science Picture of the Day]



Categories: Other people's videos

Brain Imaging Time-Lapse

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m taking advantage of a lull in online time-lapse news to feature something I normally wouldn’t post on this site.  The video above shows growth in a mouse’s brain in time-lapse.  To the best of my understanding, scientists put a tiny glass tube into a mouse’s brain.  Then they inserted some sort of imaging device and took images at multiple focal lengths.  The images were then “stacked” together to create one image.  “Stacking” is a common technique used for star photography and for macro photography as seen in this gigapan of a beetle.

Because the glass tube was left embedded in the brain, the scientists were able to image the same location several times and use the output of the stacked images to create a time-lapse video of cell and blood vessel development.  Of course, my knowledge of biology ends with dissecting frogs in 9th grade, so I’d suggest reading from these sources if you’re interested in learning more:

[MIT Technology Review]


[Dean’s Corner]

Categories: Other

War of the Worlds

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Here’s an odd mash-up that works for some reason.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a connection between the HDR time-lapse on screen and Orson Welles’ famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast, but it’s still mesmerizing.

The scenery is breathtaking, the music fits well, and the photos aren’t overly processed.  The creator, Rafael Asquith, says he processed the HDR in Photomatix and then used Photoshop to convert to black and white.  He doesn’t mention the video software but my guess would be After Effects with some light grading.  Asquith says below the video that he’ll post his workflow soon.

Categories: Other

Russian Icebreaker’s Voyage to Antarctica

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

This is an amazing video featuring 201 days on board a Russian supply ship servicing Antarctica.  It’s a long video, so here’s what makes it worth watching:  a giant ice-breaking ship, two heavy-duty helicopters, a huge plane somehow stored in pieces, and penguins in fast-motion.  Also, there’s about a minute of the sailors making and using a giant hot tub.  I’m really not sure what to do with that.

[via Grasp the Universe]

Categories: Other people's videos

“Iridium” from “Salt” Documentary

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I did a quick search of this blog and realized I haven’t dedicated a post to Murray Fredericks, cinematographer of the documentary Salt.  The documentary aired in the U.S. back in August and is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.  The documentary seems to follow Fredericks through the desert in Australia as he captures images.  There’s a movie trailer available from when Salt aired on the PBS show POV.

While I haven’t seen the full movie, many of the spectacular time-lapse sequences, such as this one, are available online.  I was excited to see he posted a new clip a couple of month ago and I have to say it doesn’t disappoint.  These are extremely high quality time-lapses, well edited, and set to excellent music.  Make sure to set the video to 720p and go full screen.

Categories: Other people's videos
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