Long Term Time-lapse


I've been contacted by a construction company about doing long term time-lapse on the slow demolition of a building. It will not be imploded and instead taken apart in the next 2 months. I have done lots of time lapse w/ my Aaton, but never long term(and even w/ a capping shutter I wouldn't want it tied up in this kind of a project.

My initial desire is to go with renting a non-reflex camera(Mitchell/Norris) but I can perhaps use an Arri w/ a capping shutter. Since the 2C is not pin registered I was leaning towards a 35III, but there is a 2C w/ CE base and intervalometer available. Has anyone ever tried covering the mirror w/ black material? Kind of dangerous, I would imagine, but nevertheless the thought crossed my mind

I am also dealing with the same issues posted on CML before (but I believe it was in England) so I would need a case for whichever camera is used. I can also consider using a Digital camera(Nikon SLR? Suggestions please) but I believe it also needs a dedicated laptop/intervalometer. Perhaps at a long term rate it is probably more feasible to have the construction company purchase the equipment (laptop and digital camera, external hard drive, etc) but what would I edit those(stills) pictures on?

I am also looking into getting an intervalometer for my Eyemo(no need for a capping shutter) NCS makes one but I have to see if it still lets me use a mag (400 or 1000'). Could I get a timer at Home Depot and cut off electricity at night(in this case I would only use the pics of daytime deconstruction)to stop filming at night? An AC to 12 or 24volt converter, plus UPS in case of power failure, and all this stuff could be put into a plexiglass case I could build(and thinking about it, it would be fairly big.

I will also be looking at the always informative site ...      


and appreciate any input from past experiences. It will be difficult to provide a quote, but the person is aware that it will be relatively costly.

Best regards,

John Babl
Blowing it up and shooting slow motion would be easier... and fun...

Go with a 35mm Mitchell.

You will sleep better at night . . .

Jeff Kreines

>Go with a 35mm Mitchell.

I know, those are my thoughts. I will visit the site as soon as possible, and I've just been told there is a room/balcony available next to the building. I've now been told the camera would be there for 6 months instead of 2. The person had mentioned a 1 hour interval initially but now I'm researching what will be best. Once I secure the deal I will test of course.

I'm still interested in Digital Stills as an option if someone could indicate a good package.

Best regards,

John Babl

> Go with a 35mm Mitchell.

I second that. capping shutter + long term not always good in the same sentence.

Mark Smith DP
Oh Seven Films Inc.

Still researching, and this looks interesting-has anyone on the list used it before? A sensor that turns it off at night is a great option :


Also, I can't find Norris' website-I checked archives to no avail.

Best regards,

John Babl

I couldn't remember it, but finally found the Norris site - Google searches did not produce results under Norris intervalometers...

John Babl

I know that we've discussed this on another list but I can't remember which...

I'm experimenting with digital stills cameras for TL at the moment.

These sequences, there will be a 320 * 240 Sorenson 3 QT file, a 720 * 576 DV file and a frame of DPX at 2048 * 1556.

These have all been rendered from the original files in Combustion.

The process was...
capture RAW
convert RAW to TIFF and resize from 2546 to 2048 in Photoshop
import 2048 frames into Combustion
slight sharpen
motion blur
add 5245 grain
colour correct

Render out to whichever file format I wanted, this took around 1 hour for the 4 second DPX sequence on a 3.2Ghz P4 with 1Gb of memory, Hyper thread enabled.

Canon digital stills have an intervalometer built in and can capture to microdrives a 2.2GB will hold around 400 frames, larger drives are available, with a Nikon you need to use an external controller, not a laptop, the Canon can also be controlled by a laptop the software comes with the camera.

There are still faults with the tests, dirt on the lens matte box in shot, motion blur isn't right yet (I'm still learning about this)

Setup was G5, internal ND on, Tungsten Balance, Tiffen 85BPola, Harrison NBRA 3, F8 at 2.5 seconds per frame.


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

Geoff Boyle wrote:

>Render out to whichever file format I wanted, this took around 1 hour for >the 4 second DPX sequence

Could you elaborate please? (Not familiar w/ DPX files)

For the long term construction job (6 months!) I'm concerned w/ a few things- the latitude of film will be able to handle the ups and downs, weather conditions and much can be compensated for on transfer. (And the robustness of a Mitchell)

Geoff, you used fixed exposure but perhaps that's a dangerous route to take w/ an unattended Digital camera(?) If Norris uses something like the LPC 90/spotmeter to compensate exposure, why not w/ a digital stills camera?

Just saw the images you posted, nice view!- were images stored directly to a hard drive?(is this possible as pics are being taken?)How long could it go unattended? And is Combustion the best rout to take? (Other options?)

Big thanks to Geoff and all the replies,

John Babl

Images were stored to CF 512Mb card, hence the 4 second sequence!

The 2.2Mb Microdrive is due to arrive today and this will solve my storage problems, I can't see me ever wanting a shot longer than 16 seconds.

I have tested direct to PC and that worked fine, the limiting factor here is the USB 1.1 connection, it's too slow, a USB 2 connection would be fine as would firewire, different cameras have different systems.

Combustion?> there are lots of other routes, if you're just working to SD or HD then Premiere worked fine for my first tests, I'm Wintel based, but I'm sure that FCP or any other edit program that allows you to import strings of single images would be fine.

How long could it go unattended? err, depends on your power supply and the size of your hard drive!

If you can get mains power to it then forever!!


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

Geoff Boyle writes:

>How long could it go unattended? err, depends on your power supply >and the size of your hard drive!

All else being equal, how long a scene could you sustain with a 1GB microdrive?

Dan Drasin
Marin County, CA

>All else being equal, how long a scene could you sustain with a 1GB >microdrive?

Well as usual that depends on the res and the detail you want.

If you're working with 2.5K RAW files then you're looking at around 210 frames.

If you go to 2.5K superfine JPG then you can get around 400 frames.

Of course if your end market is SD then it may be best to go with 1K superfine files in which case you're looking at 1,700 frames.

Of course a 1Gb Microdrive is quite small now, I'm testing a 2.2Gb drive at the moment, it's from Microstor, Seagate have just announced a 5Gb version and Microstor are already delivering a 4.4Gb version.


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

I am intrigued to know what sort of interval you shot this at and also the shutter speed you were using. Also did the camera have an intervalometer type of control or did you have to depress the shutter manually and finally were you riding the exposure too or did you just leave it set?

And one last question - would you recommend this way of shooting over using say a prosumer Dv camera on its interval setting ie the AVX 100a - I am guessing based on sheers picture quality - yes but manageability, if say you had a 14 hour time lapse to oversee.

Thanks as always

Matthew Woolf

Interval was 1 minute, shutter 2.5 seconds, built in intervalometer.

Would I recommend it over a prosumer DV?

Well it nearly 4 times the horizontal pixels so that's 16 times the overall pixel density, the exposure latitude is much greater, although it can go horribly wrong and I'll upload an example of that as well soon.

I'm also uploading a new test, facing the other way in my garden, with exposures at 8 seconds per frame, this was a stop over "correct" but I wanted to see what I could get away with fixed exposures.


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

I've now uploaded the page, it's all linked from the HD section as digital stills camera for time lapse, the direct link is :-


I've done both directions from the bottom of my garden I'm now going to start moving further a field.


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

Matthew Woolf wrote :

>And one last question - would you recommend this way of shooting over >using say a prosumer Dv camera on its interval setting ie the AVX 100a

No question the still images are better.

Over on the DVX side of the issue, the interval modes in all of the prosumer cameras I have met are terrible at best. However you can use one of those cameras a firewire cable and a laptop loaded with something like iStop motion from Boinx and have a real intervalometer a capturing stills from your prosumer camera without creating the mess they make on tape.

Mark Smith
Oh Seven Films
143 Grand St
Jersey City, NJ 07302

How long did you shoot these for and was there an automatic setting on the camera? How many frames did you shoot and what res where they?


Matthew Woolf

The time varied from sequence to sequence, it's on the web page, frames also varied from 120 to 380.

No, auto was never used although it was available.

Original res was 2593 * 1944, the web pics are, I think, at 1/4 res.


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

Become a Patron!

© copyright CML all rights reserved