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Time-Lapse Photography Processing Using GIMP

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After taking several pictures of clouds outside my home, I noticed that they were at very nearly the same direction. By viewing them in rapid succession, they almost looked like a frame-by-frame time-lapse animation. I decided to turn it into an animated .gif file to share with my friends and family. Here's how I did it!
 
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Step 1: Take Pictures

Find something interesting but which changes or moves slowly -- in this case, the weather. I stood in my backyard and took several pictures of the same general area, while standing in the same place.
As I'll show later on, having a steady hand is marginally important; just try to get the same general area in every shot. My technique in this particular case was to point the camera in such a way that the viewscreen showed the exact same object in the corner -- a small garden decoration -- in each shot.
Take as many as you like, until your arm gets tired, or until your camera runs out of memory! For this example, eleven shots will suffice. Make sure the shots are evenly timed, as good as you can. The more evenly-spaced they are, the smoother your animation will look in the end. For fast clouds, like here, I spaced the shots 2-3 seconds apart. For slow clouds, 5-10 seconds is better.

Step 2: Put the pictures on your computer


In my case, my pictures were located on a memory card in my cell phone, which is what I used to take the pictures. I put the memory card in an adapter and plugged it into my laptop as a flash drive. Other devices will probably be more cooperative for you; most digital cameras utilize a simple cable to connect, or even transfer files wirelessly.
Save the pertinent pictures in their own folder. Make sure to keep them in the order in which they were captured. Some cameras have ridiculous naming conventions for the files they create, so this may be difficult. Windows does a pretty good job of sorting them properly if you select the "modified" option under "arrange icons by..."
I will play with it on my linux box and see what goes....
McGrep4 years ago
I've used this method quite a few times before. Although, I've been straying away from .GIFs... the lack of pure RGB (or otherwise, i.e. CMYK) is not quite so pretty for photo animations. But, that's why there's Javascript, MPEGs, AVIs, et al. Still, this is a very nice instructable! If the align_stack function doesn't suit your fancy (it does mine =cD) then I suppose you could manually crop out the troublesome border.
V-Man737 (author)  McGrep4 years ago
Indeed! Thanks for the input! And yes, this isn't intended to be a sophisticated, artsy expression of anyone's inner poet. It's for when you want to put only half your butt into animating a time-lapse. :D
McGrep V-Man7374 years ago
I guess there's something to be said for the lazier and easier ways. Anywho, I just followed your instructable to the letter and came out with a very nice result! And the .GIF indexing -that I detest so much- can be sidestepped by conversion to grayscale. They were black and white images =cD
V-Man737 (author)  McGrep4 years ago
Post it here, if you dare!
McGrep V-Man7374 years ago
I do dare, sir. I'm taking a second time lapse of an alarm clock (isn't that the standard test?) with my infrared-converted PS2 EyeToy. It's actually pretty nice. Anywho, the first gif was pretty low quality, so I'll see if converting something almost grayscale to grayscale –as opposed to indexing, bleh!– will do anything.
gavinzac4 years ago
Good method, but you might be better off using a plugin such as hugin's image stack align method which will do the matching more accurately and quickly.
stuuf gavinzac4 years ago
Yeah, that's exactly the idea I had. Or you can use a tripod and intervalometer!
V-Man737 (author)  stuuf4 years ago
Did you get to make a time-lapse you could post here?
V-Man737 (author)  gavinzac4 years ago
Link?
http://hugin.sourceforge.net It's primary application is as a panorama creator but the align_stack function it uses to match points in the different angled photos does this job. It can stretch and adjust slightly each photo to match the key points together.
V-Man737 (author)  gavinzac4 years ago
Thanks! That looks amazing! It certainly would make the layering process easier. I'll edit the Instructable to mention it.
I have gimp but don't really know how to use it. Thanks for the instructable!
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