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I want to put a camera on my roof and possibly record for 24 hours. What do I need and how can this be done? I think generally, people take photos correct? I am thinking I might have to hook up a 1TB harddrive some how.

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marked as duplicate by slhck Jan 14 '14 at 13:07

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I won't post this as a solution as I do not have a reccomendation of what to use, but you do not need a giant hard drive. You just need software that can either record video at a very low FPS (or high SPF (Seconds Per Frame)) or you need a program to take a JPEG every x min then use some other software to turn the folder full of images in to a video. – Scott Chamberlain Mar 16 '12 at 20:02
What is the purpose of your recording? Watch a typical day in the life of your room? See who's been filling the room with packing peanuts every day while you're out? Watch how a plant moves during the day? The best type of solution and required storage will be dictated by the purpose you want to serve. – rob Mar 16 '12 at 20:10
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Generally, people take photos for doing time lapse videos and later combine those individual photos to a clip. This is done using:

  • A good camera – DSLR would be best
  • Proper exposure settings, i.e. manual exposure, manual color balance
  • A timed shutter
  • A program to batch-edit the photos
  • A program to stitch them into a video

To give a little more detail:


Any DSLR will probably work best for your situation. The important thing is: Don't let the camera fiddle around with exposure and color balance. Set it to manual mode and try to get a good picture, then leave it at this setting.

If you set the exposure to automatic, you can compensate light changes, but the pictures will look different throughout the time lapse.

External Shutter

The shutter is very important here. You want to control your camera automatically, so that it takes a picture every x minutes, or seconds, etc. Mostly, this is done using external remote control shutters such as this – availability depends on your camera model:

Software shutter

However, computer programs can also trigger your camera. You just have to connect it via USB and run a software dedicated to controlling cameras. There are many available, e.g. DSLR Remote Pro (that's one I just found), which also offers time lapse settings.

If you want to do the work yourself, you just need a program to capture photos from the camera – even without timing features – and use AutoHotKey or AppleScript (on Windows and OS X, respectively) to trigger the exposure.

As far as I know, both Canon and Nikon supply software too.

Editing the photos

You may want to apply a little color and contrast correction to your photos, or make them black-and-white. All you need is a program that can batch-edit a row of photos. IrfanView can do that on Windows. A more professional solution would be Photoshop Lightroom etc.

Combining the photos

Any video editing program will be able to stitch the photos back together. I know QuickTime Pro can load a sequence of images, and professional NLEs like Premiere Pro etc. will do it as well.

Even simpler is FFmpeg, which is free, open source and cross-platform. It's command-line based, but really easy to use for these simple tasks. Generally, this guide seems pretty useful, as it mentions lots of open source tools and outlines the procedure way better than I just did:

How To Create Time Lapse Movies With Lots Of Open Source Software |

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a long general overview... I considered downvoting it because it's a typical consultant answer. I should know, I'm one. But then I think it's kinda unfair because you see to have put in lots of effort. – Florenz Kley Mar 16 '12 at 22:17
I'm sorry, I don't understand what your point is. What do you reckon I should include? The OP didn't supply neither camera model, operating system, or any further details. – slhck Mar 16 '12 at 22:34
What about weather? I know it's going to rain, so I asked. What can I do to keep my camera safe and working. – Doug Mar 17 '12 at 1:20
@Doug You said you'd put it in your room – it it raining there? :P Something professional would be a Sport Shield – but even a plastic garbage bag can do, on your own risk of course. – slhck Mar 17 '12 at 8:26
I actually meant roof. LOL. – Doug Mar 21 '12 at 22:40

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