Motion-activated video capture in low light?
December 12, 2014 11:12 AM   Subscribe

What's the best, most reliable way to capture video in a low-light situation for a short period of time (say, up to 2 minutes) that's motion-activated? Cheaper is good.

I'm interested in capturing video for a sort of DIY sleep study (at a physician's recommendation). I would like to use a motion-activated solution to minimize requirements for power and storage and because it's motion I'm interested in capturing. It needs to be video vs. still photos, and while I don't need eleventy billion pixels per inch it needs to be clear what's been recorded. I have android, linux and windows at my disposal. I'm willing to diy something clever that works well but wanted to see if anyone had good out-of-the-box ideas. TIA.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
you can do this cheaply

infrared web cam

works with Macs and PCs... you will also need the software to control the motion detection and recording

lots of options... ranging from crappy to good. I have used evoCam for Mac, it's great.
posted by bobdow at 11:36 AM on December 12, 2014

out of the box ? Every trail camera is motion activated, and some can be configured to take movies (30 second usually, maybe up to 2 minutes).. You can USB hook up most, or put a SD card in, battery operated or wall-wart.

(and edit to say, most have an IR sensor and light/flash so you can see stuff in the dark .. not great, but you can see/make out stuff..)
posted by k5.user at 12:11 PM on December 12, 2014

If you have an android device with a camera in it, how about just leaving it on all night with super-high compression settings and/or low resolution set, maybe writing to an external drive if space is still an issue, and then use one of the suggestions from this AskMe to extract the motion-related segments? Haven't used them but some of those programs sound like it's possible to set them to only write video files when motion is detected. I bet with some clever tweaking you can get both the power and storage requirements to be quite low using stuff you've already got.

The bigger problem will likely arise when you find out you're getting abducted by aliens at night à la The Fourth Kind.
posted by XMLicious at 7:24 PM on December 12, 2014

If this is DIY, and you want low power, use a PIR sensor (such as this) to trigger the recording. The sensing element is passive, and the amplification needs for the signal are minimal, so it is almost a no-power solution to sensing (thermal) motion in the dark. No light necessary.

If you didn't mean that kind of DIY, well there are probably some off-the-shelf camera solutions that are triggered by such sensors.
posted by bigtex at 12:55 AM on December 14, 2014

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