Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Time-lapse Movie Using an iPhone

That time-lapse episode I produced sure clicked something to the "on" position in my head because I can hardly stop thinking about it. Recently I've been tinkering with my iPhone and checking out apps that can accomplish this task; more specifically those that have an intervalometer feature. I also like free stuff and came across two programs, both created by JOBY, called Gorillacam and Frame X Frame.

After playing around with both apps I find myself much more attracted to Gorillacam even if it has been replaced by the newer Frame X Frame. For me the reason is simple, because Gorillacam saves full sized images while Frame X Frame only saves them as puny 512px x 384px files. The iPhone (3GS in my case) may not have a spectacular camera, but using its 3MP images I can create 720P HD videos. Yeay! The quality using those tiny pics was so lacking in my opinion, that I didn't even bother posting that test movie created using Frame By Frame. Boo! :(

Essentially, both apps are more or less identical but I believe there are more sharing options in Frame X Frame versus Gorillacam (like uploading to YouTube, Facebook, etc.). Personally, I like to have flexibility with my work and as such I'd rather have access to the full sized images. As you can see in the video, there's a slow upwards pan done with Premiere which wouldn't have been possible using the smaller files... that is unless I were to resize them which could degrade the video quality or created a movie with dimensions even smaller than those pics. Yuck. But for those individuals who aren't necessarily going for quality but something quick and fun with little hassle, Frame X Frame would suffice I guess.

So my choice will remain Gorillacam and I'm glad the company hasn't taken it down from the iTunes App Store. The interface seems to act a little odd during screen or page transitions, but if it wasn't for my iPhone's depleting battery power, all thousand frames of this movie would have been shot perfectly. Speaking of which, when I tried using Frame X Frame to shoot the time lapse series (saving as images and not directly into a movie file) the app crashed before it reached 300 frames. Not cool if you're shooting time-lapse movies.

I think I'll certainly be creating more time-lapse movies using my iPhone and I'll be more adventurous when selecting the locale. The movie you see below was shot through two glass window panes, hence the slight lack of detail and sharpness, and the view... well that's just looking out towards my backyard, so indeed nothing that spectacular. Although I always find the way the clouds move, evaporate, and appear from seemingly out of clear blue sky quite neat. As for my next Photography with Imre episode, I'm still not too sure what topic I'll be selecting, but there are a few viewer requests I haven't done yet so it's not like I have no choices (but feel free to make a suggestion!). L8r!


  1. Hi Imre,

    Thanks for putting together the time lapse videos. I'm looking forward to giving it a shot soon.

    Can I make a request for a future episode? I know you have done action photography but I'm interested in photographing birds. Specifically I have the following questions:

    What is the generally accepted minimum focal length you can use for birding?

    For a given focal length what is the farthest you can be from the subject (bird) to get an acceptable shot?

    How much does the bird have to fill the frame to be an acceptable shot? It seems like I can never get close to filling the frame.

    What is the maximum amount of cropping you would feel comfortable doing? 50%?

    I feel like a lot of these questions can be applied to sports shooting as well.

    Thanks a lot!


  2. Hi Jon,

    Thank you kindly for the suggestion and excellent questions too! This indeed would make a great episode; good timing as the weather here is getting better so I'll likely be spending more time outside (assuming I can finish all massive workload I have indoors!).

    A little while ago I wrote up a blog post for another individual who asked me about shooting birds in flight; here's the link to that post: http://binarygraphite.blogspot.com/2011/03/shooting-birds-in-flight.html

    It won't answer your questions but you might find it somewhat useful. Hopefully as I get some free time I'll be able to produce an episode on this topic.

  3. Hi Imre,

    Thank you for your response. I read the article you referenced me to and I found it very useful.

    I wanted to add one thing to what I said before; I think this topic goes along well with another thing I enjoy photographing... airplanes! There seems to be a good many similarities between photographing birds and airplanes.

    I know you are busy so if you want to answer my questions via the blog that would be great too.



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