Several years ago I wrote a few simple intervalometer scripts for my old Canon Powershot SD400 cameras to record time-lapses. The scripts were very simple and worked reliably.
Recently, I started the process of making a script that is more powerful and feature packed. The latest time-lapse script version I call the Countdown Intervalometer because it lets you control the interval between shots, the total number of shots taken, and counts down to completion. As the script runs it will give you an estimated time remaining that is updated after every photo is taken. If you want to take perpetual photos, you can do that by setting the number of shots to zero and the script will run until your memory card is full.
The new script should work with most Canon cameras that can run CHDK - Canon Hack Development Kit. I am currently using a Canon Powershot SD780IS camera (also known as the IXUS 100 IS ) with CHDK and have had a blast making time-lapses. If you have enough memory space you can also capture CHDK RAW formatted DNG images with this intervalometer script too.
The intervalometer script can be downloaded here:
Steps to Load the Script
1. Copy the file counter.bas to your CHDK/SCRIPTS folder on your SD memory card.
2. Turn on your camera.
3. Load up the CHDK menu and then select "Scripting parameters".
4. In the Script Menu open the uBASIC script counter.bas by selecting "Load script from file...".
5. Set the parameters for your time-lapse in the script menu. **Make sure the option "Save params" is enabled so CHDK will remember your settings when you restart your camera.
6. Close the CHDK menus. With ALT mode active press the shutter button to start running the script. After the first photo is taken, the estimated time remaining will be displayed.
7. To stop running the script press the shutter button again then turn off ALT mode.
When the script finishes you will see the following printed on the display:
10 Shots Taken in:
*** FINISHED ***
In the CHDK Script menu there are two parameters you can change. The first is Interval in Sec and the second is Number of Shots. If you want to take pictures forever, or until your memory card is full set Number of Shots to zero.
Make sure the "Save params" option is enabled in the Script Parameters window. This option has to be turned on to remember the Countdown Intervalometer settings between camera reboots.
You can save your own intervalometer presets using the "Parameters set" feature in the Script Parameters window. This feature will allow you to save and recall previous Interval in Sec and Number of Shots settings. To move between the different parameter sets press the left / right navigation buttons on your camera.
If you are planning on recording a long duration time-lapse sequence you may find the Canon Powershot Accessory ACK-DC10 interesting. It is an AC power adapter that powers the camera. The way it works is that you install what looks like a dummy battery in your camera. This dummy battery module has a female barrel connector. You then plug in a male barrel connector from the wall power supply into the dummy battery through the flap in your camera battery door. Canon makes a variety of different wall power adapters for different Powershot Cameras. Stay away from the eBay clones of the ACK-DC10 as they are really low quality and the dummy battery module can have the internal barrel connector break off very easily!
B&H Photo sells the Canon ACK-DC10 AC Adapter for $51. USD
Amazon sells the Canon ACK-DC10 AC Adapter for $52. USD
If I am going to be recording a long duration time-lapse I like to use the live video output from the camera to watch what is going on. It is possible to use either the Mini-HDMI or analog composite video signals. In this case I used the composite video output cable and connected it to an easycap dc60+ usb video digitizer on my Mac and ran a QuickTime video recorder program to record the live preview.
After you have completed filming your time-lapse and the photos have transferred to your desktop computer you can then make an image sequence out of them. You can do this in a video editing program or a compositing package like Adobe After Effects. Since the camera takes really high resolution photos you may also find that adding a slow zoom or pan in a compositing package can make the footage more interesting. There is enough detail in the photos to make a really crisp 1080p resolution video from your time-lapses.
There are plug-ins for compositing packages that can remove flicker from time-lapse sequences. The flicker is caused by the auto exposure feature when the brightness changes between photos. This can happen when filming on partially cloudy days. There are a few paid and freeware plug-ins / utilities that do a high quality job. An expensive but high quality plug-in is called GenArts Sapphire. The plug-in reseller, Tool Farm, has a list of a few other flicker removing plug-ins. Another option, to avoid flicker, is to lock in a fixed shutter setting by using CHDK Shutter Speed Overrides. I have written a previous article about how to change CHDK Shutter Speed Overrides.
For someone who wants an extremely simple set of scripts, in 2008 I wrote two simple CHDK time-lapse scripts that will run until your memory card is full or the battery runs out of power. timed.bas allows you to set the delay between photos in seconds. rapid.bas allows you to take photos quickly in rapid succession. rapid.bas works best on photos in single shot mode.
The older scripts are available here: CHDK_intervalometer_scripts.zip
User Generated Timelapse Movies
Here are a few links to time-lapse clips that I created using the countdown intervalometer script:
- Cloud Time-lapse video
- Winter Sunset Time-lapse in West Dover, Nova Scotia
- Drive-lapse West Dover to Halifax, Nova Scotia
- 5 Hour Bamboo Garden Time-lapse
- Thunder and Lightning Storm Time-lapse
Interesting projects created by other artists using the Countdown Intervalometer script:
- Peter Flemming's Leak to Lower Lazy Levitating Load
- Isaac Smith's Installing the "Tacolicious" Mural
Note: If you have created your own time-lapse video using the Countdown Intervalometer script I invite you to send me a link to the video clip so I can add it to this page.