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Sunrise Time-lapse from the Burning Man Webcam in Gerlach, NV

Filed Under Burning Man, Video | 2012-08-30, 21:22

Source images are from the Burning Man office webcam Taken on the morning of Sunday, August 25th. The gates opened later in the evening that day.

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2012 SF Marathon in 9 Minutes

Filed Under Events, SF Bay Area, Video | 2012-07-30, 12:47

20120729 – San Francisco Marathon from Ed Hunsinger on Vimeo.

A time-lapse video of the 2012 San Francisco Marathon as it ran through the Mission somewhere between miles 20 and 21. Thousands of people sprinted, jogged, shuffled, and walked down Guerrero St over the course of 4 hours. The video above starts with the first runner, Nathan Krah, who went on to win the entire race with a average mile of 5:36. A few more people trickle in behind him, but it’s not for awhile until you start seeing the crowds. At one point the course was diverted to a different street periodically in order to thin the crowds a bit, which is why you’ll see pulsing waves of people. Heather and I woke up early not only to catch this video, but also to cheer on our friend, Eric Bond, who ran all 26.2 miles at a still impressive 10:32 minute mile.

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Quick Reviews of GoPro Accessories

Filed Under Gadgets & Hardware, Photography, Video | 2012-05-29, 11:00

As a birthday present this year, my wife got me a GoPro HD Hero2 camera that I had been wanting for quite some time. Over the past couple of months I’ve spent quite a bit of time with it, as well as money on accessories. After answering questions from other people interested in the camera and accessories, I figured I’d put together a post for reference. I’ll focus mainly on accessories since the camera itself is awesome and doesn’t really have any competition to compare it with.

GoPro HD Hero2 Outdoor Edition

Normal Accessories:
I got the GoPro HD Hero2 Outdoor edition, which comes with what are in my opinion the most versatile accessories. If you intend to use the GoPro for surfing or motorsports, one of the other editions might be better for you. However for most people I feel like the Outdoor edition is the best choice. Here are the accessories it comes with and my opinions:
– The Waterproof Housing is what you’ll probably be using a lot. Chances are you want a GoPro for rough conditions where you wouldn’t want to be using another camera. Whether it’s dust, water, or just weather, the waterproof housing will be what you turn to.
– The HD Skeleton Backdoor is good when you don’t need to be water/dust/weather-proof, and want to capture sound a little bit better. The GoPro doesn’t get great sound in the waterproof housing. Also if there’s a chance for fogging, this housing is a good solution.
– I’ve only used the Vented Helmet Strap once on my normal bike commute to work through San Francisco. It was a boring video as my commute is usually boring, but I imagine anyone doing mountain biking or something similar would find a good use for this.
– I haven’t found a use for the Head Strap yet.
– I’ve already used both Flat Surface Adhesive Mounts. I put one on the inside of my windshield to do a drive time-lapse. Then upon viewing the video realized I positioned the camera directly in front of a ding in my windshield. *fist shake* The other mount was used on the inside of the windshield to relocate the camera. I’ve heard that these mounts can be removed with heat (such as a hair dryer) and then potentially reused with the existing sticky tape, or just ripping that off and attaching cheap 3M high density foam sticky tape to it. I haven’t used the Curved Adhesive Mounts as the snow season out here sucked this year. I imagine next year I’ll use them to attach the GoPro to my snowboarding helmet
– Haven’t found a use for the Three-Way Pivot arm other than the extra screw thing. (See GoPro Tripod Mount)
– Also comes with a USB Cable, the default battery and other assorted mounting bits.

BlurFix GoPro Adapter

BlurFix GoPro Adapter

I modified the default waterproof housing by adding the BlurFix from Snake River Prototyping as I was planning on going diving in the British Virgin Islands and wanted crisp, clear video underwater. In the time since I modified my housing, GoPro has come out with a Dive housing that appears to have promise. I haven’t used one yet though, and will probably stick with the BlurFix for now since it’s what I have and it works well.

The BlurFix was relatively easy to add to the housing, however you can buy one with it already attached if you’re nervous about the process. The GoPro + BlurFix resulted in really nice video underwater for a couple of snorkeling trips in British Virgin Islands. However right before our SCUBA dive, I accidentally dropped the GoPro (ironically while adjusting the homemade wrist strap) and the filter on the front cracked. :( This meant all the subsequent dive trips were with the default GoPro housing lens. The difference in video from the default lens and the addition of the BlurFix is remarkable. If you’re filming underwater, don’t use the default waterproof housing.

Another thing I learned from my SCUBA footage is that the diving more than a few feet below the surface really begs for a lens filter. Snake River Prototyping includes a default UV filter with the BlurFix that has been filed down for a low profile (to reduce vignetting), but they also offer a number of other 55mm filters including filters intended for underwater use. As soon as I got home from the British Virgin Islands, I bought a replacement UV filter (plus a backup) as well as a URPro CY Filter from SRP so I would have them for the next trip. I also got the pricey $11 lens cap from SRP as the filed down low profile filters won’t take normal lens caps anymore. I have yet to play with other filters, such as polarizing filter, but in theory any normal 55mm filter should work, however there are reports of minor vignetting. One downside of the official GoPro Dive housing is that it won’t take any normal lens filters. It looks like it’s just a clear glass lens so I have to wonder how it does in deeper water in real life scenarios.

Conclusion: Worth the money for any underwater filming.

GoPro Battery BacPac

Battery BacPac

The Battery BacPac is by far the accessory I use the most. Since I do a lot of time-lapses I need the extra battery life. Fun Fact: Unlike other cameras, the GoPro remains powered on fully while doing a time-lapse, draining batteries in a couple of hours. If you’re doing a time-lapse or are planning on being away from a power source for a long time. The Battery BacPac and extra batteries are your friend. It’s also handy because you can use it as a battery charger in a pinch. And it’s a good way to know how much life you have left in a battery as it will be displayed by the green LEDs when you hit the button.

Conclusion: Worth the money.

Wasabi Power Battery and Charger

Wasabi Battery and Charger Kit

One of the most annoying things I found out first about the GoPro was it’s lack of external charger. If you wanted to charge a battery you had to put it in the camera and plug it in via the USB cable. That meant no charging while shooting video out and about. I quickly bought the “Wasabi Power Battery and Charger Kit” which came with two additional batteries and a charger that would plug into both a normal wall outlet as well as an auto cigarette lighter outlet. All for less than $30. Hands down my first recommended accessory purchase. Pairing this with the Battery BacPac means I have yet to find myself in a situation where I’ve run out of battery power for my GoPro.

Conclusion: I couldn’t live without this.

GoPro LCD BacPac

LCD BacPac

The GoPro LCD BacPac screen was purchased on a whim with a birthday gift card. It was one of those “nice to have, but not required” accessories. Because the GoPro has such a wide lens, it’s pretty easy to point it at something and capture what you want. It may not always be centered and level though. I noticed this often with my timelapses so I thought I’d give the LCD a try. It does help a bit. It’s also handy for playing back videos and provides a slightly better interface for the menu, however I rarely use it. I’d recommend shooting a couple videos with the GoPro first before deciding you need the LCD. It’s pricey, but for some people I can imagine it would be very important. Keep in mind though that it prevents you from using the Battery BacPac and will additionally drain your battery.

Conclusion: Meh, probably not worth the money unless you know need it.

GoPro Tripod Mount

GoPro Tripod Mount

Buy it. It’s cheap, and it allows you to attach your GoPro to a number of different things. I personally use it mostly with an original GorillaPod. This is very useful if you’ve already invested in other camera mounting gear like tripods, monopods, GorillaPods, etc. This doesn’t come with a screw knob, but you can borrow the one of the Three-Way Pivot Arm.

Conclusion: No brainer if you have existing camera mounting hardware.

GoPro Suction Cup Mount

GoPro Suction Cup Mount

The GoPro Suction Cup Mount is one of the accessories I bought and have found myself most disappointed with. They say it’s supposed to keep your GoPro attached to a car (or even an airplane) at high speeds. I’ve only used it once, attaching it to an indoor window as a test to see how well the suction cup performed. It failed. I came back into the room and the camera was on the floor. I suspect that I may have needed to clean the suction cup and the window better, but my confidence in this mount has decreased so much that I’m worried about using it anywhere dangerous to the camera. I would definitely not recommend using it without some sort of backup device to prevent your camera from disappearing, i.e. a leash of some sort.

Conclusion: No sir, I don’t trust it one bit.

Additional GoPro Housings

Additional Housings

Since I modified my original housing to add the BlurFix adapter I realized that I no longer had a GoPro housing that was capable of handling rough and tumble situations since the glass lens was susceptible to breakage. So I recently bought an additional GoPro Waterproof Housing, as well as a GoPro Skeleton Housing. The Skeleton Housing is by no means weatherproof, however it gives you access to the GoPro ports while shooting video. This means you can attach an external power source, providing unlimited power for long videos and time-lapses. I look forward to doing some longer driving time-lapses with this.

SD Cards, Laptop, Software, etc.

I’m using Transcend 32 GB Class 10 SDHC Flash Memory Cards. They’re cheap on Amazon (<$1 per GB) and are fast enough to handle the GoPro's output. If you're like me, you've got a handful of SD cards laying around. Check to make sure they're Class 10 (the fastest data transfer rates) before you toss them in your GoPro. There's no reason not to go with Class 10 cards unless you're extremely cost-sensitive. The GoPro produces high resolution stills and videos. Be prepared to deal with them. I actually experienced some annoyance at trying to deal with them on a 2008 Macbook Pro with only a 500GB drive. I upgraded to a 2012 Macbook Pro with a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, a 256GB SSD, and a 1TB drive (via OptiBay kit) and have zero trouble editing in iMovie. Eventually I'll maybe switch the software I use for video processing, but for now iMovie covers most of what I need for simple videos. It doesn't seem to like to export to full 1080p video, only 720x540, but since I'm mostly exporting for online viewing it's not that big of a deal. It may be a limitation of iMovie or it may be a setting I'm missing. If anyone has any feedback, let me know. A lot of people have reported fogging issues with their GoPro as the camera itself heats up with usage. Depending on moisture and temperatures you may experience the same. We ran into it only once in BVI while shooting some video of boat swinging. A quick wipe of the lens and things were fine, however we didn't notice it at first since we weren't using the LCD screen. People say the official GoPro fog strips are a bit pricey, but worth the money. I’ve purchased a pack and plan to use them to prevent fogging issues before they happen. There are some home-made remedies, but these are made to fit snugly inside the GoPro housing without damaging the camera itself.

Finally…
There’s a lot of info and video examples of what you can do with the GoPro online. One of the best forums I’ve found is GoProUser.freeforums.org. You’ll have to register, but it’s worth it to poke around on there.

I love my GoPro HD Hero2. It hasn’t replaced my iPhone as a daily-carry video camera since the GoPro requires more accessories and is a bit bulkier. However it does go on every trip with me now and I’m always trying to find an excuse to use it for something.

Oh wait, Videos!
Here are some videos I’ve taken with my GoPro HD Hero2. Keep in mind these aren’t full resolution. The resolution of the raw videos is far far better.
Curious Kiss Cafe Time-lapse
On on Highway 1 (driving time-lapse)
Snorkeling in the British Virgin Islands (with BlurFix)
Nelz goes Boat Swinging
San Francisco to Monterey drive time-lapse

Full disclosure: Nobody compensated me in any way for anything in this post, however some links are Amazon affiliate links.

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A Night of Scrabble in Time Lapse

Filed Under Video | 2008-12-03, 01:12


Vimeo is being weird so you may have to hit play, pause, and then replay or else it zooms through the video way too fast

We’ve been playing a lot of Scrabble lately. Surprisingly it’s the old school board game style and not some online Facebook app. I saw on Laughing Squid that this year is the 60th (or 70th depending on who you ask) anniversary of Scrabble. They’ve even released a Scrabble Diamond Anniversary Edition of the game. (Call me old fashioned, but I believe there’s only one true Scrabble board… and it’s this one) In honor of so many decades I figured we’d sit down this evening and make a time lapse of our games. I also tossed in a bit of stop motion fun. Watch my tiles on the right at around the 1 minute mark. The first game was a win for Heather (playing on the left), but I came back and reclaimed my crown in the second game!

There were a few words that we let each other slide with. One of these days we’ll go out and pick up a Scrabble Dictionary, but in the meantime it’s house rules which allows for more interesting words.

The video was made using my Pentax K100D DSLR + TI-85 calculator intervalometer setup and compiled using Quicktime.

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Time-Lapse Photography with a TI-85 Graphing Calculator

Filed Under Gadgets & Hardware, Hacks and Mods | 2008-10-31, 13:55

I’ve got a soft spot for time-lapse stuff. Most of the time I make my own videos using a webcam because I have things all set up so that it’s easy and quick for me. However, because the webcam is such low quality, I’ve always had a desire to do some higher resolution time-lapse. With my DSLR (a Pentax K100D), I knew that I would be able to take much better quality photos, but the problem was that it didn’t have a handy way for taking a photo at set intervals. Sure, I could have bought an intervalometer, but that costs money and would be another gadget to add to my collection. Then I came across this instructables: Turn a TI Graphing Calculator into an Intervalometer. All you needed was a TI Calculator, the old Calc-to-Calc link cable (which had a 2.5mm plug) and a DSLR that would accept a 2.5mm remtoe trigger shutter. I had all three.

I dug through my old boxes, pulled out my old TI-85 Calculator and dusted it off. By “dusted it off” I mean I cleaned off the battery corrosion that had built up over the years. Some fresh batteries, and a moment of silence for all the games and programs I wrote in high school that had died with the batteries, and I was ready to program my own intervalometer. If you can’t find your old calculator, you can search for a TI calculator on eBay. Make sure it’s one with a link cable (which you can also find cheap on eBay).

It took a few minutes for me to remember how the TI-85 worked, but before long I was writing my first program in probably 10 years. The Instructables suggested the following code for a TI-83 calculator:

: Prompt A
: While 1
: For (H,1,A,1)
: End
: Send(A)
: End

This caused a problem, as the TI-85 calculator doesn’t have the integral Send() function needed to send a signal along the link cable. A little bit of research, and I discovered that you needed to use Outpt(“CBLSEND”,A) instead of Send(A) for the TI-85 calculator. Note, for TI-85 owners, you’ll need at least v9.0 or higher ROM for this. You can check your version by hitting [2nd] [MODE] [ALPHA] [S] and then [EXIT]. I also added an extra line that displays “SNAP!” when a photo should be taken to help troubleshoot if things aren’t working. You can get even fancier with this program, but this is the basic version that should work.


I plugged the calculator into the camera with the link cable, and fired up the program. The first few times I tried really low numbers. Entering 100 for A should give you about a second between shots. While I was testing I had it in RAW mode and it just wasn’t capable of shooting that quickly. I finally settled on entering 5000, which gives me about 12 seconds in between shots, resulting in about 5 shots a minute. I also switched from RAW mode to JPG, since I don’t want to deal with converting all those RAW files into JPGs later. I also set everything (focus, aperture, exposure) to manual so that they wouldn’t change in between shots. I also turned of the photo preview so the LCD wasn’t wasting batteries showing the picture it just took. Then I put the camera on a tripod, pointed it out the window and started the program. After some time I finally stopped the program (hold down the ON key to break execution) and downloaded the images to my laptop for compiling in Quicktime and ended up with what you see above! I can’t wait to try this on a nicer day though, as dreary San Francisco fall days aren’t very exciting.

I should note that the newer Pentax K20D actually has a built in intervolameter, but it’s not clear whether this will produce good time-lapse results as there are some limits on it. Anyone played around with it?

Some good links:
Instructables article
All you ever wanted to know about the TI-85 Calculator
TI Calc FAQ (circa 1997)

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