One of the projects I’m working on this year is a long-term time-lapse photography movie for a straw-bale building project in Cumbria. The basic plan is to shoot time-lapse footage continuously over a period of 5 or 6 months and then cut it together to produce a short film of the building construction. The problem is that there just isn’t any software out there for the Mac that’ll handle long-term time-lapse.

In short, what I really need is software that’ll:

  • Shoot between fixed hours every day (i.e. 8am until 6pm). Even better, it can shoot between a calculated sunrise and sunset time
  • Shoot and organize basic images. If you’re running for 5 months you don’t need it to build a QuickTime movie on the fly.
  • Allow movies to be built from subsets of the captures. I won’t use every frame captured every day but I might use all the frames for some days to slow down the action at busy times.
  • Not leak memory. 🙂 If this program is running for weeks at a time (realistically), then it has to be really well behaved.

Sadly, there really isn’t anything out there that does all this. The solution, as always, is to roll my own. I’ve been working for a while on an application called Epoch that I hope will help me run the long-term time-lapse. I cribbed the basic camera code from the TimeLapse example application in the Image Capture SDK (which needed serious cleaning up for actual use). It’s also my first Core Data application, which has thrown up some unexpected issues.

Anyway, if you’re interested in long-term time-lapse and might be interested in using Epoch then drop me a line and I’ll let you know when it’s available to play with.


2 Responses to “Epoch”

  1. Leo Meier says:

    Hi Scott,

    I’ve read your notes with great interest. I’ve been searching for a software such as you’ve described. If you could manage to make Epoch work, that would set me free to follow some exciting ideas and visions I’ve had.

    Sadly, software creation is a long way from my world right now, although I’d love to learn and experiment – just never enough time. In my dreams that will change one day.

    For my vision, the software would allow flexible time-lapse not only over long periods of time, but also within a short period of time. By flexible I mean non-linar. In addition to setting up shoot interval periods globally, I would like to be able to set exposure triggers along a time-line axis for multiple cameras (multiple angles).

    I would see this a bit like the timeline in movie software such as iMovie, Final Cut Express, Final Cut Studio. Each camera would have its own “track”. All tracks could either be triggered in sync or simply by sliding each trigger along the time line. Triggers for each track could be set similarly to how tabs are set, with the difference that the axix is time rather than distance. Input for a time-lapse sequence could be set both by time values, starting from a command as well as by setting real date/time values. Very small increments would be great to allow high-rez slow-down of short-term fast actions (limited by the camera’s shooting rate, of course).

    What do you think about this approach? Could you make something like this work? Could you point me to any URLs that relate to this matter that might get me a bit further?

    I would very much appreciate it, if you could let me know when Epoch is ready and if I can be of any help whatsoever within my limited knowledge, please say the word.

    Cheers, Leo

  2. David Cain says:

    I’m interested in Epoch as well. Is it open – i.e., scriptable, or redirectable? I’m looking for an intervalometer solution that can also fire a shell script or applescript for every shot.



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