Time lapse photography has occupied my attention for several years. The visual passing of time strikes a chord with the part of me that is in constant daydream mode. With most of my experience coming from video production and not photography I had (and very much still have) a lot to learn. At this point I should mention that when I refer to time lapse I am typically referencing the process of combining numerous photographs into video form as opposed to dramatically speeding up recorded video. I flirted with both and settled on the photography base as my preferred method.

Start simple

My first foray into the world of time lapse was pretty basic. I started with a fixed camera taking “standard” photos, usually over the course of 30-40 minutes. Nothing special here, but I was trying to convert my video knowledge into basic photography principles. It was fun, but not particularly successful.

What I learned

  • You need a really sturdy tripod base. Any vibration or movement will more or less ruin the party.
  • Understand the passage of time and how fast your subject moves. Things that move slower require a longer interval between photos to create any effect. Think of a plant growing from a seed. You might have to take one photo every week to notice any difference. ON a busy street corner you could take a photo every 3-5 seconds. The sky is popular component of good landscape time lapse. Keep in mind that an interval of at least 10 seconds is useful to create dynamic cloud movement.
  • Understand how long you have to actually run your time lapse. Not being a fan of basic math I struggled with this. For example, pretend you are setup to do a nice landscape time lapse. You reckon since the clouds are slow moving you might want to have an interval of 12 seconds between photos. Going with the assumption that you are going to produce a 24 frames per second video (cinematic standard) it will require 24 still images to make up one second of video. With this information we can figure out how much actual time you need to have your camera running for every second of time lapse video. 12(seconds between photos) X 24(total frames needed for a second of footage) = 288 seconds or a little less than 5 minutes. If you are ever going to use the time lapse for anything you want a time lapse to last on screen for at least 10 seconds (at the very least). So if we extend that information we now have 5(minutes for every second of video) X 10(minimum length of useful video) = 50 minutes! The takeaway here is to plan out your shots, in some cases be prepared to be out there for hours.

Motion Controlled Time Lapse

Naturally after I crawled further into the subject I noticed people making incredible camera movements throughout their time lapses. I was obsessed and had to figure it out. The concepts are all the same, but now you introduce the technique of moving your camera during the interval between photos. Each movement is incredibly subtle, but over the course of the entire time lapse it adds up to, in some cases, a six foot slide or a 180 degree pan.

In order to jump into this technique some additional equipment is required. There are many manufacturers out there so I won’t get into specifics, but you will need a system that will drive the motion of your camera over time including a control system that can program the movement. Some have been able to master this with a simple slider and moving your camera by hand, but human error makes this very difficult. Having this controlled mechanically and by a computer provides a much more consistent result.

(Random example of some time lapse with motion. There are tons of amazing examples on YouTube and Vimeo.)

Motion Control Systems

Hyper Lapse

After spending a lot of time practicing the “vanilla” time lapse and even leaping into some motion controlled projects I was pretty engrossed in the art form. I mention art form because it’s more and more evident to me that you will only get as far as your creative mind will take you. I consider myself fairly well educated in the science of time lapse but to truly get the shots that make you go “wow” you need that left brain point of view. I don’t say this to deter you, but be prepared to crawl on the ground, climb a mountain or do whatever it takes to find that elusive void to make art.

Darryl, another time lapse acolyte in our department, turned me on to the concept of a hyper lapse. Instead of taking tiny movements sliding or revolving around a fixed point (tripod) you move the whole package throughout space. An example of this is approaching an object of note from say a 100 yards away. Between intervals you would move your tripod in a very controlled manner. If done well this creates a “sliding” movement but on a very large scale. This technique becomes another layer of complexity that takes a while to master.

(You can see the hyper lapse concept in a commercial we produced for Oregon State. They create an almost dreamlike feel.)

What I learned

  • Planning is even more critical for this kind of move. You want a relatively straight path free of obstacles and hazards. If a car parks itself along your path the party is over. Try to have your move as linear as possible. Since you are mimicking a sliding movement you don’t want to have to bend around a tree or else it breaks the illusion.
  • Although you are moving your whole tripod the camera needs to stay locked onto the target. Think of looking through your viewfinder as crosshairs. You want to move your tripod and then re adjust the camera so it is still framed similarly. Using your grid will help with this, but ultimately takes a lot of practice. If you change your framing the video will end up a little insane. (you just have to see for yourself)
  • This technique requires some manipulation on the video processing end. Because this is done by a human hand inevitably there will be some wobbles in your path. Using a tool like the warp stabilizer in Adobe Premiere/After Effects does a great job of smoothing out these rough edges.

My love for time lapse photography will always evolve as I learn, but that’s part of the fun. I haven’t even scratched the surface of Night Sky time lapse. Being in Oregon there is always a vista just down the road. Trial and error in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. I could do worse.

-Kegan

-Kegan

Since this past winter, I’ve been working with colleagues from Information Systems and college web and communications teams on mapping a digital platform strategy, a plan that will help to guide the overall direction for web and mobile for the university. It’s an exciting development: it is the first time in my seven years at Oregon State that our main IT and communications units are collaborating with campus at this level. We’re happy to be able to share this initial draft. It should be a great foundation for things to come.

Take a look and let us know what you think.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.53.54 PMI recently got a tour of the new online catalog that our Extension office built. Essentially it houses all of their publications in one easy to navigate Drupal site. For anyone with Drupal or database experience you know that alone is a heroic task. The site is full of features and cool modules. It is a shining example of quality content, great architecture and strong development. A big congrats to everyone in Extension and Experiment Station Communications who knocked this one out of the park.

-Kegan

-Kegan

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Our latest digital campaign is underway. It’s our Beaver Nation interactive documentary, and it’s following the themes of the ongoing Beaver Nation efforts led by our sister unit, University Marketing. The whole campaign launched last year with our new commercial (also produced by our team in partnership with University Marketing).

What the interactive documentary does is establish a sense of place. Oregon State University has the great benefit of being located in a natural resource wonderland. Old growth forests, dramatic volcanoes, glaciers, gorgeous coastlines and waters rich with sea life, an array of agricultural products, vineyards, hop farms, pastures, painted hills, mysterious canyons: all of these wonders orbit our main campus like a constellation of glossy tourist brochures. You sometimes have to pinch yourself as a reminder that it’s all real.

We’re lucky to live in Oregon. And that our campus has such deep connections to every corner of the state.

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The Beaver Nation documentary and site is intended to show our reach within the state and beyond, but it’s more than that. We also want to just step back and celebrate the places that we’re fortunate to be surrounded by.

Our crew traveled to all of these spectacular places to uncover the stories of the people who call them home and are connected to them. And we didn’t just focus on OSU students, alumni and faculty. Anyone who loves where they live and appreciates their local bounty–and works to protect it–is an honorary member of Beaver Nation. It’s not just about orange and black…it’s about making a difference in your community.

We’re releasing a new chapter every few weeks through early 2015, and we’ll be finishing with coverage of Beavers around the country and across the globe.

What I’m particularly proud of is that the entire project has been produced completely in house with our full-time staff and student workers. Our team can compete with the best agencies and show the potential of committed workers devoted to the institution. Beaver Nation isn’t just out there. It’s right here, inside our studio as well.

And our staff also produced the various chapters. Each region had a different producer who pulled together the team and invested a part of themselves into every story, word and pixel. And the results are amazing. It’s a great privilege to be part of this talented crew.

– David

The campus community was extremely excited about the opening of the new Centro! That’s a great thing and further reinforces our hope to post more stories about some of our more underrepresented groups.
I’m also pretty proud of how well our dance story, “A common step,” did in the short amount of time it was actually on the home page. Things are moving along swimmingly. Soon we’ll be posting some of our “Beaver Nation” preview stories to the homepage!

Current stories:

The stories we have live on the homepage right now are ALL commencement-related. You can check out the stories here (http://poweredbyorange.com/blog/). We profiled six amazing graduating seniors. We also have a general commencement story up based on a press release and our Beaver Boards (http://sites.oregonstate.edu/beaverboards/) gallery filled with photos of mortarboards seniors decorated, showcasing the creativity of our graduates and the Oregon State tradition of decorating graduation caps each year! This is something we hope to continue and add to over the years, collecting the most interesting and unique boards…and maybe learning the stories behind them.

Video:

In this period, our most popular homepage feature story was undoubtedly our tribute to Beth Ray, hosted on our Life at OSU blog. The passing of our first lady was of interest to just about everyone in the campus community. The Olympics also had a far-reaching appeal, and Oregon State was happy to have a connection there! I would have liked to have seen more views on our Rugby microsite, but we didn’t spend any money to promote it, and that is changing now. We’ve thrown some dolla billz into promoting our spring break site (which you can learn about below), so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more ROI in the future!

Stories up on the site at this time include:
New Centro opens
A story and video about the new CCCC facility. It’s pretty swanky!
From the depths of time
Terra’s last cover story covering just about every aspect you didn’t know you needed to know about the Pacific lamprey.
Alternative spring break
A microsite about the alternative spring break experience! This site is chock full of photos, videos and interactive elements. We’re pretty proud of it!
Moms Weekend tradition continues
An overview of the events for Moms Weekend along with a profile of a very Oregon-State-centric family.
The mechanics of a student athlete
A profile of Ruth Hamblin, the Canadian Hammer featuring a video produced by our own Justin Smith.

And here’s a look at the video side:

We love us some Ruth Hamblin!

Finally, we haven’t taken a look at the individual colleges in awhile, so here’s a look at traffic on each College’s homepage. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to data from the College of Forestry, and the Honor’s College numbers are currently unavailable.

Hope you find this interesting. See you in late June/early July for more fun with analytics!

If you check the OSU home page after Friday, April 25, you might sense there’s something different. It’s not your mind playing tricks on you. We’ve made a complete overhaul of the design and structure.

While it looks much like the previous version of our site, there are quite a few changes. A host of accessibility upgrades have been made. The site is now responsive, meaning it adapts to the desktop and various mobile devices more readily. The top menu links are now in individual drop downs instead of one large expandable menu.

We’re planning a new design for the home page for the fall, but we wanted to make sure our interim home page performs as well as possible while that new design is in the works.

If you have any questions or comments about the new page, drop us a note.

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If you think we’ve gotten a bit sluggish about analytics lately, you’re wrong. Back in December, though? Well, that might have been a different story. These pageviews include December all the way up to Feb. 28:

previous homepage stories

“Celebrate the season” happened sort of last-minute, and it had about a 2-week run on the homepage, explaining its low views. There might be more reasons why the Terra story, “Singing His Story” might have been so popular, but from what I know, I’m going to chock it up to the beautiful photography we had, and its much longer run on the homepage through the holidays.

Here’s a look at videos in January and February:

videos

The commercial is still going strong!

And as for what we have up on the homepage right now… Five GREAT stories of course!

Outfitting Team USA: A story courtesy of the Oregon Stater, which was great to have during the Olympics. A pair of our alums own a ranch that supplied the wool for Ralph Lauren to make the sweaters Team USA wore in the opening ceremonies. Exciting stuff.
Changing the world: A student profile from the College of Engineering. They have so many inspiring students, and Nick is up there.
125 years of research: A timeline of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. This awesome multimedia feature has great photos from the archives, and shows off our rich history as the state’s Land Grant University.
Celebrating black culture: a profile of the new director of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center. I’m sure we’ll be keeping in touch with them as they move into their brand new facility soon.
State of the University: a recap of Ed Ray’s speech in January with a great infographic about all of Oregon State’s accomplishments.

Make sure to check them out!

-Callie

Here at Interactive Communications, we like to experiment. We’ve built DIY camera rigs and try the nightly builds of Magic Lantern firmware on our Canon cameras. Heck, I even built my own timelapse camera slider, going so far as to write my own program to set the move speeds. We do it because we want to tell the best story and have different tools to use to do that.

So in 2012, when we saw the short video that Vincent LaForet did with the Movi, our jaws dropped. Fast-forward just under a year and now the do-it-yourself crowd has built a community around these gyro-stabilized camera gimbals, blossoming out of the RC hobby.

A couple of us in the office are in to the RC hobby. Flying helicopters and quadcopters kind of got us thinking; we could build one of those! And so we decided, when the right project came to our attention, we jumped on the opportunity to build one.

The finished gimbal during its debut shoot
The gimbal at its first real video shoot

Before I get too much further, I want to make this clear: This is NOT a how-to. Realistically, if you are toying with the idea of making your own camera gimbal, then you have to be able to tinker or pay up for the out-of-the-box solutions. However, I’d like to give some tips that would have helped us from the start.

Our parts list (all from HobbyKing):

  • Turnigy PRO Steady-Hand Gimbal 3 Axis KIT
  • Quanum AlexMos Brushless Gimbal Controller 3-Axis Kit Basecam
  • Turnigy HD 5208 Brushless Gimbal Motor (BLDC)
  • Lithium Polymer Charge Pack 18x22cm Sack
  • TL-262 Thread Locker & Sealant High Strength
  • Hobbyking 2-8S Cell Checker with Low Voltage Alarm
  • Cable Ties 160 x 2.5mm White (100pcs)
  • 5.6mm x 13mm M3 Nylon Threaded Spacer (10pc)
  • EC3 plugs (10pairs/set) (USA warehouse)
  • Turnigy 420 Balancer/Charger 2S~4S
  • Wire Mesh Guard Black 3,6, and 8mm (1mtr)
  • HobbyKing Power Supply 100~240v 5A
  • Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 20C Lipo Pack

Totaled out to be around $600 shipped vs the Movi equivalent at just under $5,000.

Additional parts were bought from Quadframe.us who we were able to provide IMU and AlexMos board cases. We also took several trip to our local hardware shop, where we got our nylon screws, nuts and spacers for mounting the board. Here’s a short video that includes some shots with the gimbal:

Some notes and tips (specific to this build)

  • The Hobby King frame is not easily adjustable and thereby very frustrating to balance. Be prepared to tighten and untighten the screws about a thousand times.
  • The hardware provided with the frame was not quite adequate, it was missing motor mounting screws and it was not in the motor box. Some screws broke threads or just didn’t work. Have some additional screws on hand!
  • Another suggestion to Hobbyking: Please include a stand for the gimbal, it would save people so much time and frustration. What we did was use two light stands to hold up the gimbal, which worked great but if there was an option to buy a simple stand, we would have definitely done that.
  • Get yourself a halfway decent set of hex drivers, they will save your fingers and sanity.
  • Providing a case for the IMU and the AlexMos board would be really helpful in protecting the electronics, especially if people are going to fly this on a camera ship and if it is intended on being used on a production shoot.
  • A longer IMU cable would have been tremendous; we tore ours off so many times, eventually creating a longer one.
  • Header pins for the IMU would have been nice so we wouldn’t have to keep resoldering the wires.
  • BE SURE to check all axes for friction-less motion, it is super important and gave us too many headaches.
  • BALANCE is essential to the success of this, we followed the basics from the Movi online manual on Vimeo and found it very helpful.

So the big question is, was it worth it?

Yes and no. We saved a ton of money by doing it ourselves and we sure as hell paid for it in the time we spent tinkering and adjusting the thing. In the end, I can build one of these things with a bit more confidence and the experience we gained is new territory in the world of cinematography. So to answer the question, it was mostly worth it minus the times we wanted to throw the gimbal through the window.

-Darryl

Vancouver

Well… Where to begin? CASE 8 held a lot of firsts for me: It was my first time at a CASE Conference. It was my first time at any conference. It was my first time in Vancouver, and my first time in Canada. I didn’t even really, fully understand the term “advancement” until a few days before I left. So, for your enjoyment, here’s a quick recap!

Day One

Kegan, Ashley and I drove to Vancouver. The drive was delightful, and Kegan managed not to get us all detained at the border! We happily checked into our hotels after the eight-hour drive, and headed down the street for dinner, during which our delightful waiter gave us some tips of things to see in the city.

Day Two

Conference opportunities didn’t start until the afternoon, so after picking up our name tags & schedules in the morning, we took the opportunity to see a bit of the city: We walked and shopped around the downtown area and enjoyed our first Canadian staple: Tim Horton’s! And then we made our way to Granville Island, where we enjoyed the public market and some of the shops & galleries.

Callie with CTV

In the Pacific Centre mall, we actually got interviewed by a personality from CTV! The segment, which contains man-on-the-street style interviews about random topics at the end of the Vancouver newscast is online here.

The opening keynote was given that evening by Shane Koyczan. You may know him from his TedTalk….

His keynote speech was very similar to this talk: kind of fading in and out of poetry and public speaking. It wasn’t so much about our careers in higher education, but about life and how to be creative. I heard mixed reviews from other conference-goers, but I LOVED it! I jotted down a few notes a few notes:

•”If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces”
•My favorite quote from the Velveteen Rabbit, “…by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”, which almost brought me to tears because my Grandaddy read me this book before he passed away, and it’s always meant the world to me, as a metaphor for salvation.
•”In this world, If you can’t succeed in the formula set out for you, you will not be successful.” (which basically means …life ain’t fair!) But if you spend your life conforming to a broken process, you break yourself in the process.”
•”Stop waiting for a breakthrough.”

So it was a lot of stuff I’d heard before, but said in an awesome, poetic new way, and it reminded me of a song by one of my favorite bands, The Mountain Goats.

[If you don’t feel like listening to the whole song, my favorite line is “When you punish a person for dreaming his dream don’t expect him to thank or forgive you.”]

After the opening reception, 10 of us from URM, Public Health & development headed out for a delicious Mexican dinner in the Gaslight District, where the staff were kind enough to let us watch our CTV interview on their TV! Ha.

Day Three

Thursday, we got into the nitty gritty of the conference. First, we heard from Simon Fraser University about “Why We Stopped Talking About Ourselves”. They shared their “Are you SFU” campaign for prospective students:

I really liked how the illustrations they used in their video, website and print materials all matched, and were really cute and fun. The point basically was: they stopped telling students about themselves; they stopped recruiting students. Instead, they started SEARCHING for the RIGHT students, the ones who would belong on their campus and thrive. Pretty cool!

As you all know by now, I was REALLY excited for the second session that day, because it was given by two social media professionals from Arkansas, one from Central Arkansas University and one from Arkansas Tech University. But, honestly, I was a bit disappointed in the representation from my home state, and I’m sad to say I didn’t learn too much about social media. However, I did get an idea from the lady from ATU. She said she reads her university’s strategic plan every morning before she starts the day. I know this sounds a little excessive, but when you’re writing all day, and the plan is part of the messaging, I think it could only help, so I might start doing that! We’ll see.

At the Communications Awards Luncheon, we were awarded a Grand Gold award for Kel Wer! But, were denied the Cregal. Maybe next year, guys.

After lunch, I sat in to hear Melody and Carson present “A Tale of Two Beavers,” and they did a great job talking about our rebrand!

The last session of the day was presented by UBC about “Breaking Down the Digital Wall”. Until this presentation, I’d never heard “digital immigrants” used as a term, which I thought was interesting. They talked about their use of storybox, which is similar to tools we’re utilizing, and reminded us to ask the questions: Are you building stories that lets your audience in? How does your audience participate?

That evening, the alumni association took us out for a great dinner, where I ate probably two loaves of bread by myself, among other things….

Day Four

Because we had to drive home, we only got to attend one session on the final day of the conference, presented by the University of Manitoba. They talked about embracing their perceived negatives for a marketing campaign. They turned negative words like cold, flat, boring, old-fashioned into words like “pioneer” and “visionary”, using them boldly with great black and white photography. I really liked their ideas, but (fortunately), I don’t think we’re facing many of the same challenges they are…

U of Manitoba

Wrapping it Up…

So all in all, it was a great time, and I’m really thankful for the opportunity! As you can see, I got some great ideas, met some interesting people and basically became internationally famous. Thanks for reading!

-Callie