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Brinno Learning Series Part 2 – Choosing a Capture Interval

Posted by Josh Banks on

Brinno Time Interval

The essence of time lapse video is the capture interval. This is the single most important setting when capturing any time lapse, regardless of camera. The capture interval is essentially predicting the future. Either you get it right or you don't, if you don't get it right you may not find out until it is too late.

You want balance, too few captures and your video will be too short, too many captures and you will have an editing nightmare. Here are two common wrong scenarios we hear.

Wrong Scenario 1) I want to capture a one year construction project with one picture each day. This will leave you with a tragically short video. Here are the basics, the terms will be expanded upon below. Standard video is played at 30 frames per second (FPS) and there are about 250 working days a year. If you take one picture each day your final video will only be eight seconds long.

Wrong Scenario 2) I want to capture a one year construction project with one picture ever 10 seconds. This will be the editing nightmare. Using the same 250 working days, capturing from 8am-5pm, played back at 30 FPS your final video footage will be 450 hours.

Good Scenario) I want to capture a one year construction project what capture interval do you recommend? If you went with a capture every 15 minutes, your final footage for 250 working days would be five minutes long. This is a good starting point, you can edit five minutes down to two or three quite easily. There are bad weather days to consider, days with no action, etc. These can all go and you will end up with a nice video.

The first thing we need to consider is how long your final video should be. We find casual viewers tend to loose interest in videos longer than 2.5 minutes unless the content is extremely fascinating or engaging. Essentially, the shorter the better for the casual viewer but not too short  (Wrong Scenario 1). Someone involved in the project is always willing to watch something longer but if your target is social media, a trade show display, etc. after two minutes interest decreases rapidly.

How do we get to the perfect balance? This requires some basic math and the help of an online calculator. But first let's discuss playback frame rate. Standard video (TV, movies, etc.) are played at about 30 frames per second (FPS). This is a good speed to play back your videos, any slower and the video lags between frames, becoming more of a sideshow the slower you go. At 30 FPS, for time lapse, 30 captures pass every second. If you capture a frame every second, 30 seconds will pass in one during playback. You can adjust the playback speed within any Brinno camera's settings, we recommend going with 30 FPS and don't consider any other option. Everything we mention here relates to 30 FPS.

On to the math fun...

We calculate all of our time intervals based upon the duration of a project. For something short this is easy, 30 minutes for sunset or clouds rolling through the sky. For long term project (three weeks, four months, a year or longer) we like to base our estimate on the number of working hours. Let's go with one year for an example.

There are about 250 working days in a year X 8 hours a day = 2,000 working hours. Now we head over to the Brinno Time Lapse Calculator, which looks like this.
Brinno Time Lapse Calculator
Enter 2,000 into the hours box under Recording Time.
Enter 15 minutes (our educated guess) into the Time Interval.
FPS remains unchanged.
Select Good for the Quality and click Calculate.
The result is a 266 second (4.43 minute) video which uses only 2.7 GB of card space.

We always like to have double our final footage for editing and a video 2-2.5 minutes long would be good for a one year project. Having double the footage will allow you to eliminate bad weather days, non-working days, holidays, etc.

Get familiar with the Brinno calculator, it will take the guesswork out of your project calculations. Play around with the capture interval and if you have any questions regarding your project, please don't hesitate to contact us. We can't stress how important it is to get your capture interval right. If you are second guessing your selection, shoot us an email, and we will get back to you the same day.

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  • This has taken a while to find but glad we have – excellent tutorial. We love our Brinno and want to learn how to get the best out of it. Especially the moving stars and universe.
    Thank You

    Grenille on

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