Time lapse video, for art and for science

Dave Hunt (a familiar name in these parts) has been working on perfecting his Raspberry Pi-controlled camera time lapse rig. Before I go into any more detail, here’s some absolutely stupendous video resulting from his work on the setup. (I recommend you use HD when viewing this – and watch the video in a full-screen setting if you can.)

We’ve featured a few projects here which use the Pi to create time-lapse video, but Dave’s is the most sophisticated we’ve seen yet, adding features like a heater to evaporate dew from the lens and an ability to film rising or falling sequences. There are some great pictures documenting the build at his blog (we’re very impressed by the neatness of the construction work), along with some circuit diagrams and the Python you’ll need to create your own rig. Visit Dave’s site for a tutorial and discussion about construction.

We’re very encouraged to see so many artists using the Pi, in so many different ways; there have been a number of art installations featured here, and it’s really great to see the Pi driving the tools needed to create beautiful things. Computing is as much a creative discipline as it is a scientific one – that’s a message we at the Foundation are very keen to get through to kids, but it’s not one we’re seeing reflected in schools.

Science can be beautiful too, though. Over in the United States, SaratogaWeather has been using a static camera controlled by a Pi to take time-lapse video of the weather patterns over Mount Timpanogos, Utah. Dynamic systems like the formation of clouds are hard to appreciate and study at real-time speeds: but speed things up a bit, and patterns and structures become evident and much easier to analyse.

There’s a whole channel full of these videos, and cloud geeks like me will have great fun with them. I irritated everyone around by shouting “CAP AND BANNER!” at the top of my voice when I spotted one in another of these videos. (Once I nearly made Eben crash the car by screaming “Stop! KELVIN HELMHOLTZ!” while we were travelling at speed down the A14. I blame hanging out with fluid dynamicists. Kelvin Helmholtz instability produces a great and rather rare cloud formation, though – I’m still proud to have spotted one.)

What applications would you like to see time-lapse cameras being used for? Are you working on something yourself? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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