Timelapse Goodies and a Baddie

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Buzz Mega
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Timelapse Goodies and a Baddie

Post by Buzz Mega » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:50 am

I'm currently shooting the on-line manual for the Steadicam Smoothee, a lightweight real, official Tiffen Steadicam for the iPhone 4, 3Gs and iPod Touch. They make this rig in two parts: a pre-balanced camera holder and the Smoothee frame with its friction-free gimbal, weights and control knobs for balance adjustment.

The good news is that you can use the camera holder on a tripod, meaning that the world has a professional-class iPhone holder for low bucks. The individual models of iPhone and iPod each have a unique holder for around $25 US. They have a metal socket built-in. A pocket Q-Pod works just fine. We will be showing how to set this up in the video manual and showing examples I've shot with Timelapse. Which leads me to a question: would it be okay with zyster if I show the Apple page or Timelapse icon on-screen in the video? No promises, but it would be nice to have permission heading into the upcoming edit.

Now the baddie. I learned the hard way that if too much of the image is consumed with changed elements, such as a crowd shot at 1 sec per interval, the conversion from frames to movie can defeat the iPhone's ability to compress. The result is a chewed-up, rather blocky image. Every frame is soooo unique that the internal compression can't make clear sense of it.

I've learned an Advanced Technique that delivers artifact-free images from Stored Photos. Use QuickTime Pro to pull the frames together into a movie using its Open Image Sequence feature. Specify that the frames be output as a 1280 x 720 image at 30 fps with Crop enabled and they quickly show up as quite small files. The downside—other than the inconvenience—to that is the cost of QuickTime Pro. $30US. QT first makes the assembly of shots at full size. Then you must load, specify and output. Results are clearer but take up about 200% of the room Timelapse finishes with.

Is there any way in future iterations of Timelapse to up the choice for higher quality inside the iPhone/iPod? Since most time-lapse scenes are relatively short in final play time, this should not become a memory-eater.

Feature requests:

When one decides to store the photos in the Library, the choices are Large, Medium, Small. It would be real nice to have a frame dimension pixel count here so one knew what they were getting into. Medium is 1296 wide, great for QT reduction to 720p but you won't know that unless you know that, so to speak.

Since every refocus of the lens causes a small image size change, it would be nice to have a Focus Lock option. Tapping might change it for the odd scene that needs it to change from frame to frame. The app, "Almost DSLR" has this.

Since exposure can bounce widely with image content, it would be nice to have Exposure Lock as an option. Tapping might set this and lock it in for subsequent frames. Almost DSLR has this, too.

Time-lapse shots are movies, and movies are almost always 16:9. Having frame lines over the preview image in this aspect is vital.

One last question: Does "Dark Display" save any energy at all? Or does it merely darken the screen to avoid being a distraction in dark surroundings?

xyster
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Re: Timelapse Goodies and a Baddie

Post by xyster » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:18 am

You have full permission to display any part of TimeLapse you wish in the video or in any other media. If you could also credit TimeLapse somewhere that would be appreciated, but not necessary.

To address the video encoding problem, I can increase the encoding bit rate. If turnaround time is critical I can directly provide you an "ad-hoc" version of the app with the change. Otherwise, it could take a week or more to go through the Apple approval process. I would need the UDID of your device to provide the ad-hoc version.

Keep in mind that raising the bit rate to deal with this will considerably increase the size of the produced video files. Also, for best quality, you always want to use the advanced technique you mentioned as it provides you with full control over the encoding process (full resolution, color correction, post processing, effects, etc.)

Focus/exposure lock is already available, simply tap anywhere on the viewfinder when framing the shot to lock focus and exposure there. Double tap to resume autofocus.

I will look into displaying the actual file sizes.

Thanks for the feedback.

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