Looking for Fun Camera or Computer Projects during a Cross Country Drive
June 4, 2008 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for instructions, guides, or suggestions of something fun to do with my camera or laptop during an upcoming cross-country drive.

In a week and a half I'll be driving from St. Louis to Southern California. I have a MacBook with OS X Tiger and a Canon Powershot SD 750. I have 5 2gb memory cards for the camera.

I wanted to do something fun with the camera or isight while on the road. Rigging up the laptop on my front seat to shoot a time-lapse video from the isight seems like the easiest option, but I'm wondering if anyone has any more interesting/complicated suggestions.

I would be happy to invest the time to learn any sort of program or skills with the camera or computer, but not looking to spend more than 50 bucks for any additional supplies. If anyone has any links to cool projects online, I'd be happy to copy someone's cool idea with my own trip as opposed to doing something original.

Also, does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to set up my laptop on my passenger seat to keep it safe and secure? I'd hate to slam on the brakes and have it smash into the dashboard.
posted by hworth to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
The boys here used electrical tape since it doesn't damage the dash.
This is the 1 pic every 10 minute video from Seattle to San Francisco.
Edited in iMovie (Final Cut kept crashing).
posted by idiotfactory at 12:08 PM on June 4, 2008

I was the controller of the camera in the video above. It was 1 pic every 10 seconds. ;)

Basically, we electrical-taped the camera to the dash and had it take photos every ten seconds. In retrospect, I think I would have wanted to take smaller photos (so they could come off the camera faster) and take one every five seconds. Also, a more stable mount would have helped the quality a bit. It was still fun. :)

I wrote a camera driver based off Apple's Image Capture SDK (http://developer.apple.com/sdk/) to take a picture and download it from the camera every ten seconds. I can't release that custom software for various reasons, but you might look into the gphoto2 project. I forget why that didn't work for me and my particular camera, but it might for you. I believe the only requirement is that your PowerShot supports PTP, which I think the SD750 does!
posted by symphonik at 12:23 PM on June 4, 2008

BTW, feel free to e-mail me if you have questions...
posted by symphonik at 12:24 PM on June 4, 2008


It's a customer firmware you can load onto your Canon camera by just putting it on your SD card (it doesn't void your warranty, and you can easily turn it off). Not only does it add cool features to your camera like focus and exposure bracketing, but you can easily load scripts onto your camera to do time-lapse stuff without needing a computer.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:40 PM on June 4, 2008

symphonik (or others): Your answer suggests there is a way to be taking picture with my canon powershot and have them automatically saved on my computer. I didn't realize this was possible.

Is this easy to set up? Is there a guide somewhere on how to do this?
posted by hworth at 12:56 PM on June 4, 2008

It might be neat to set it up were your Canon is shooting out the front window and your MBP camera is shooting you. You could then do some kind of picture-in-picture video later which showed the road and your reactions to what was happening.

I use iStopmotion for my time-lapse stuff, and I'm pretty sure it can capture two feeds at once (although I'm not positive).
posted by quin at 2:12 PM on June 4, 2008

Three relevant former questions with answers on shooting time lapse videos.

Looking for a Good Video Montage Freeware app
How to shoot an 18000 frame time lapse
Mounting a webcam in a window
posted by fief at 8:57 PM on June 4, 2008

I bought an IXUS 70 (SD1000 in yank) for the expressed purpose of putting CHDK on it. RAW and zebra striped over exposure warnings are alone worth it. Not certain if the 750 is supported (too lazy to check) but if it's adventure you want you can always add to the community by adapting CHDK for your model.

Other suggestions.

Instead of doing time lapse movies, why not shoot out the side of the car (scripting focus, interval, automatic transfer to your lappy and so on, in CHDK) and put together the worlds longest panorama image? Even if you only do a days worth of travel, one exposure every second will give you a pretty wide image. Plus you'll get a multiplier awesome bonus point.

Another use for a load of time-lapsed footage would be to do what Joachim Sauter and Dirk L├╝sebrink developed; sculptured spaces based on images. Check out the images and videos for an actual description: The Invisible Shapes of Things Past.
I met the two briefly a while back, and there's a ton of development required to get it all to work - which might appeal to your glorious inner geek.
posted by monocultured at 1:58 AM on June 5, 2008

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