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The Time-Lapse Interval Calculator

Blue Sky over grassy fields

One of those times I wish I had gotten the timelapse-thingamajigg a lot sooner.

So I recently got my Chinese intervalometer for my Canon 7D and just as I was going to test it out, I started to think about what I wanted it to do. Or rather, how to calculate what I want. At what interval should I set it if I wanted a particular effect? So off I went to the trusted knowledge-source called Google knowing fully well that if it doesn’t show up there, it doesn’t exist. Or something like that.

I did find a couple of solutions, most of them centered around using the Iphone as a host. Now, I have been quite outspoken about my apple-policy, and therefore those were not for me. I can see the utility of that sort of an “app” (in my days we called them “programs”) but I just don’t trust a company that don’t know how to hold a mobile phone…

So I found three alternatives:

  1. http://www.time-science.com/timescience/timelapse.asp#calculator

At first glance it seems to have what I want, but trying it out, I wasn’t impressed, no 24fps playback setting, and the intervals often end up being decimals per second. Meaning that it’ll say .5 times per second meaning 2 seconds per frame. This gets confusing fast when it says 0.0056 frames per second and your equipment asks for seconds per frame.

  1. http://www.vortexmedia.com/TIME.html

A web-based solution for iphones, which makes it useful for all platforms supporting html too.  But again, the functionality isn’t what I’m after. It only calculates two of the three variables of time-lapse. Either the event time or the playback time when what I want to find out is the Interval, the actual number I need to enter into my intervalometer.

  1. http://www.arricsc.com/pdf/interval.pdf

The Steele Chart. By far the best calculator I found for this type of things. At least when working in 24fps-formats. I printed it out and put it in my camera bag/backpack as soon as I read and understood the workings of it. But still I wasn’t satisfied.

So I read the text in the bottom right corner of the Steele Chart and realized that the mathematics was actually quite simple:

FORMULA: Event duration in seconds divided by screen time in frames
equals the interval.

Then I went about and created an OpenOffice-calc-sheet (equivalent of an Excel-Sheet) that did exactly what I wanted. Sure it’s not perfect, and I’d be the first one to say that it’s ugly-looking. But it does do it. You enter the event time, the desired playback-runtime and top it off with an fps of your choosing. And through the wizardry of these sheets, it automatically returns a number that is intelligible for both you and your intervalometer.

> Download the OpenOffice Document <> Download the Excel converted file <

(EDIT 2021-04-06: Apparently, I have misplaced these files… So the links have ended up becoming broken. Sorry about that. The Google Sites thing was a solution I had forgotten long about and now it’s gone)

As a bonus I added a couple of features to calculate other aspects of the timelapse. By adding the information of the average file-sizes of your RAW’s and JPEG’s you can see how much space the resulting stack of photo’s will occupy on your memory-card. And adding the free space on the card, you get the number of possible shots. Also, of course it calculates the X-speed if that’s your thing.

The usage is fairly straight-forward. You put in the information needed for the calculations in the orange cells and the results appear in the blue cells when you commit the numbers entered.

Of course, it has it’s drawbacks too. For one thing, you need a .odt-viewer in order to use it, that means either a tricked out phone or a laptop for field use. Also, it calculate that one variable only. But since I made this mostly for my own use I sort of customized it to my needs and the equipment I use.

It was an interesting excersize that I thought others would like to have access to or improve and maybe make it a bit more user-friendly and platform-independent.

But until next time! (nature is calling as they say…)

I have a dream…

… And in that dream I use my dream-NLE. I call it the Flatbed-NLE.

As some of you may know I have brought up a similar thought in the reduser and scarletuser forums. But although they share many similarities there are also differences. And without bothering you about what’s different and why I will hereby just list the features I want in FBNLE.

  • Proxy-editing: I want the system to not SUPPORT proxies… I want it to be BASED on them. When I import assets I want the program to automatically transcode them into a proxy and that’s the file I will be using. The proxy is frame-accurate, low rez and optimized for speed when editing (no GOP or anything). The only time I will see full-rez is when I hit export and the FBNLE accesses the source-HQ-files for rendering the final output.
  • Pure Basics Editing: Or, PBE as I like to call it. The only things you will be able to do on the timeline is straight cuts and simple fades. Frame accurate of course. Things like speed-shifting and reversing (but only on a strictly frame-copy or frame-skip principle) should also be enabled as well as simple transforms (scale & position) and image-flips. No layering, no mixing.
  • Standard NLE GUI: This is mainly because we are all so familiar with FCP and Premiere style editing. Import assets to bin, move asset to timeline, trim and move around on timeline and watch the preview monitor for proxy-results.
  • AudioEditing NoNo: Or, AENN. No audio editing. You either use the audio you get from the clip or assign another sound clip that’s been through mixing and sweetening.

And that is it… No more… no less…

Now, alot of you will read this and go: “Why? Why do something as backsteppy as this?”. Well I can list several Pro’s to support my claim:

  • Cost: Yeah… look at the features I’m asking for… it ain’t rocket science for the companies bringing us high end NLE software. I’m half expecting some student out there doing something like this in his spare time… but alas I haven’t found it yet.
  • Efficency: The proxy system and the limited editing capabilities I have outlined makes it ideal for low-horsepower-computers that have owners who want to edit their 1080p movies. Sure, the image in preview would look like shit but they can rest assured that the final output will look just as good as their source-files.

And the cons with my retorts:

  • Why no wiz-bang and shizzle-dizzle effects???: Really… in a NLE you only should be doing cuts and maybe fades. If you stop to think about it, this is the way that hollywood made movies for a hundred years. Straight cuts on flatbed edit-bays with filmstrips running through a moviola.
  • VFX???: You should be doing this in a program perfected for this anyways… like AE or Shake or Motion or Nuke… Don’t bog down the editing process with this… When you render it out from those programs you can edit them just as any other asset. If you want to change it… go back to the program you used to create it and render out another one.
  • What??? No audio editing? Don’t you understand that audio is such an important feature of movies? You nuts???: Well… actually I do realize its importance in narrating. That’s why I opt for programs that is actually created to do audio-work. When audio-work has been done on a clip, as I said above, just assign it to the clip in question. For sequences of shots edited and soundworked together you should already have it as a separate clip anyways. Import up to 5.1 audio streams and export up to 5.1 audio streams… just no screwing around with them.

Why would I even consider dreaming of this? Well, simple reason really. I just have become EXTREMELY frustrated, looking at all these editing sollutions where I would have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars… for the most part, for stuff that I would never use! Why the hell would I want a shatter-plugin in my NLE? It looks like shit! When I do need one, I have Aftereffects. And the machines needed to run these softwares is just rampaging in their pricepoint. So that’s another thousand or two needed just to get it up to speed… When I sit there thinking, I don’t need full rez preview… I don’t need all those plugins… I don’t need all that… All I want is what I have outlined above… So tell me again why I should pay thousands of dollars when I use maybe a 100th of the features at all and could very well live without the rest?

All I need when I edit is just the features of a standard flatbed edit bay that hollywood has been producing films with for over a hundred years. That is why I call it FBNLE… my FlatBed NonLinear Editing system… My dream…

But as said, even though I feel that this is such an essential piece of software that should be available at a fraction of the cost of a fullblown modern NLE… Even though I feel like it’s on the level of freeware… I haven’t actually found this… so I keep on dreaming…