Did you know that there is a connection between math and creating time-lapse videos? In January, I shared a time-lapse video on our Facebook page during our annual maintenance period. The video showed the deconstruction of the ring above the old Techlab on the 4th floor.Time-lapse video is taking video of an event that happened over a long period of time and compressing it to make the event look like it happened much more quickly. Using math to understand time-lapse will help you best create the effect you want. The video below took nearly 8.5 hours to record, yet the final video is only 1 minute and 41 seconds long. That’s because I set the computer to capture only one frame every ten seconds, then played those frames back at 30 frames per second (or fps), giving the illusion that the action happened much faster than it actually did. How did I decide to capture one frame every ten seconds? That’s where math comes in.I knew that the work was being done over the course of a whole day, so 8.5 hours was a good number to start with. But since we’re talking about frames per second, let’s convert 8.5 hours to seconds by multiplying it by the number of seconds in an hour, 3600.8.5hr x 3600sec/hr = 30580 secI wanted my final video to be around 1 minute and 40 seconds long, or 100 seconds, and play at 30 frames per second, which means I needed around 3000 frames total.100sec x 30 fps = 3000 framesIf I have 30580 seconds of action but only need 3000 frames, I have to divide to figure out how often to record a frame:3000 frames / 30580 sec = 0.098 fps or about 1 frame every 10 secondsTrying to figure out how many frames you should record to create the perfect time-lapse depends on many factors, but ultimately for me it comes down to the overall quality and time I have to work with. How many images are recorded will determine the overall length of the video as well as the smoothness and quality of the time-lapse recording when it is played back at normal speed. Changing those variables to create a time-lapse can be fun. In the equation below, I am solving for x.x = Interval in Seconds between recorded frames. H = Total Hours taken for time lapse in real time. FR = Frame Rate in which the images will be displayed (24, 25, 30, 60 etc.). Dtrt = Desired Total Running Time of your final video in seconds.So if you understand this, I have a challenge for you: if you wanted to record the movement of clouds in the sky over a six and a half hour period during the day and you wanted your final time-lapse video to be 27 seconds long playing back at 24fps, use the equation above to solve for x, where x is the interval in seconds between recorded frames.Post your answer as a comment to this post below or on our Facebook page.Watch the time-lapse video below:
Even though it's March, it still seems like we're in the middle of our wonderful winter season, so it's important to think about how to stay warm outside while using our phones or surfing the web. We have seen some extreme fluctuations in temperatures this season in northern Ontario, which got me thinking: how do I surf the web and stay warm when I have to take off my mitts every time I answer my iPhone? Maybe you have a new iPhone yourself or even an iPad mini or iPod touch; have you tried using it outside with gloves on? It won’t work!This Cool Science post uncovers this mystery and will help you to better understand why the touchscreen on theses types of devices won’t work when you have your mittens on. Or will they? Your body’s natural conductivity allows electricity to flow between your skin and the capacitive touchscreen. However, when you have mittens or gloves on, they create a barrier. In other words, your gloves become an insulator preventing the capacitive touchscreen from working properly. This is frustrating at best and can actually be dangerous at worst, especially in extremely low temperatures, when you have to take your gloves off to answer the phone, check your Facebook page or surf the web. So, how do you use your device and keep your hands warm?Check out this video to learn more about capacitive touchscreen technology and how a small piece of thread can solve all your problems, keeping your hands safe and warm while you enjoy our beautiful winter season.
I love being a Bluecoat in the FedNor Cyberzone because it gives me the opportunity to play with and showcase some of the latest gadgets that take advantage of new and interesting technologies. And best of all, I get to share the fun with our visitors!Take Sphero for example. Sphero is a robotic ball that can be controlled using a Bluetooth-enabled smart device like an iPad or Android phone. Take the Sphero challenge by racing against a Bluecoat or other family member. Learn about augmented reality with Sharky the Beaver, a character that moves with the Sphero ball. Watch the video below and see what kind of fun you can have with this neat toy!If that wasn’t enough, try out another neat piece of technology in our lab. It’s called ZorroMacsk and it can take your regular Mac computer and turn it into a touch screen! Check out this video to learn more.Stay tuned next month where I will post a video describing capacitive touch screen technology using my iPad, winter mitts and conductive thread to show you how to surf the web and stay warm while doing it.See you on the Fourth Floor!
This Cool Science post discusses plants in motion and helps us to understand the importance of plants in our lives. Did you know that we depend on plants for life? Yes, humans depend on plants for almost everything from the oxygen we breathe, to the food we eat, lumber, natural dyes, fuel, fibers and medicine, to name a few. Even though they provide us with life, plant life remains a mystery to most of us who haven’t stopped to take the time to see how amazing these living organisms really are.The time-lapse video below demonstrates that plants are in constant motion and show just how extraordinary they are. Their ongoing search for light, nutrients, water and their constant endeavor to protect themselves is generally not evident to the naked eye. Time-lapse however allows us to easily see these movements. Watch as they effortlessly grow, stretch and dance in almost synchronous motion. Also, note the change in light. The plants continue this motion even as available light is modified. The video was recorded in the FedNor CyberZone lab here at Science North Some plants take only a few weeks to grow to maturity, while others can take hundreds, even thousands of years. Here in Ontario, some Northern Whitecedar (Thuja occidentalis) have been estimated to be well over a 1,000 years old. In fact, the oldest current living tree is the Great Basin bristlecone tree (Pinus longaeva), found in Inyo County, California, United States. Its verified age is 4, 843 years old. Now that is old!Through tree ring cross-referencing, scientists can accurately determine the age of a tree. Estimating the age of a tree is another way scientists determine their age. Looking at the trees size and presumed growth rate can give an idea of how old a tree might be. Remember that plants are living and require nutrients, energy, water and a bit of luck to grow to their full potential. So, next time you look at a tree, remember that it too is alive and is vital to our own lives. Stopping to smell the roses or just to stop and learn about them teaches us some very cool stuff. Using time-lapse to teach us about science is even cooler. Stay tuned for more time-lapse videos in the near future!
Back in September, I wrote a blog post on time-lapse. I promised to keep you updated on some cool footage that our Science North Ramsey Cam is recording daily. The great thing about time-lapse is the other technology that goes with it. Using a computer server, some fancy scripts and our awesome website, we are able to post 24 hour time-lapse video daily that show some very interesting things occurring right here on our site at 100 Ramsey Lake Road. Access our Ramsey Cam here: http://sciencenorth.ca/coolscience/science-cam-ramsey.aspxFor example, take the freezing of Ramsey Lake. A very interesting time-lapse occurred when our very own lake completely transformed from a liquid (water) to a solid (ice). It reminded me of a podcast my colleague Sarah Chisnell posted about three and a half weeks ago on growing your own crystals. What is the similarity you say? Continue to read along and learn a little bit about the unique properties of water and how growing your own crystals at home and water freezing are similar.Along with this podcast is a great experiment that you can try at home using pipe cleaners and borax. Water (H2O) is the most abundant compound on Earth, covering about 70% of the planet's surface. In nature it exists in liquid, solid, and gaseous states.Perhaps the most natural crystal formation on the planet is when water changes states from a liquid to a solid. This is what reminded me of the similarity between growing rock candy crystals and ice crystals. Although growing rock candy might be a whole lot more fun and tasty, I prefer watching a lake freeze using timelapse.During this process the water molecule undergoes a change of state from liquid to solid. The liquid phase is the most common among water's phases and is the form that is generally denoted by the word "water." The solid phase of water is known as ice and commonly takes the structure of hard, amalgamated crystals, such as ice cubes, or loosely accumulated granular crystals, like snowflakes. If you look at the photo to the left, you can see that ice crystals take on many shapes. Each crystal shape above has one thing in common. Can you guess what this is? (Hint: count each crystal and see how many points there are. If you come up with six you are right!) This ice crystal structure is a hexagonal shape forming a distinct pattern generally due to temperature and humidity factors and forms the basis of the common snowflake.The most common phase transition on the Earth’s surface creating the most abundant solid phase (ice) is when water is cooled below 0 degrees Celsius at standard atmospheric pressure. Ice appears in nature in many forms including, icicles, packed ice, icebergs, snowflakes, hail and polar ice caps. So, ice becomes an extremely important part of the water cycle. A lot of our fresh water is trapped in ice. When ice melts, it runs off finding its way back into the earth, water tributaries, rivers, lakes and oceans. To watch a video of Ramsey Lake freezing over, click on the video below. Watch very carefully as the lake transforms from a liquid body to ice. I have taken four time-lapse videos and edited them together.The first video is from December 8th, 2010. You can see that the lake is still open; however the bay is now completely frozen over. The very next day is the big day. In this part of the video you can see that the lake freezes further out indicating that December 9th, 2010 Ramsey Lake completely froze over. This occurs at approximately 11:00 a.m.The next part of the video showcases a Sudbury winter storm that occurred 4 days later on December 13th. Finally, on January 11th, 2011 you can see the beginning of the Ramsey Lake skating path. As of today, Ramsey Lake is being transformed into a cultural winter wonderland, as the famous skating path is now open. You can go to our live camera and watch in real-time, as snow is regularly cleared, the ice is flooded and the path is maintained for all to enjoy!Look for more time-lapse videos in the near future.
Ever wanted to speed up time, like watching your favorite flower open before your eyes? What about watching something rot, grow mold or decompose? Ever wondered what it would be like to watch the sunset, or what clouds look like when they form? What about watching a city skyline at night, a parking lot fill up or the moon rising in the sky? How about watching seasons change from fall to winter or spring to summer? These are all things that a lot of us have experienced at least once in our lifetime, yet the subtlety of watching these things happening over time is sometimes like watching paint dry. Lucky for us there is a special thing called time-lapse. Time-lapse is a technique whereby each frame is captured at a rate much slower than it will be played back. This means that if we cannot watch something in real-time, we can watch it over time. Can you imagine trying to watch a lake surface turn to ice? Using time-lapse photography, images are captured over a long period enabling us to watch the ice form in a short period of time. For example, if we take a picture each hour, 24 hours/day for a period of 4 weeks, then take these images and string them together in sequence, we can create a smooth history of the lake’s surface over time. When these images are played back, we see a progression of the lake’s watery surface transforming to ice in a just a few moments. In real-time, that actually wouldn’t happen because the change would be so slow that we would not remember the change of the lake’s surface over a 4-week period. The human eye is the organ responsible for sight. Eighty percent of all information received by the brain comes from our eyes, making our eyes a very important part of our sensory system. The human eye has been described like a camera, yet it is much more complex. We see things by processing light energy that is focused onto the retina. This light energy is converted to chemical and then electrical energy that is processed in the brain. So, our visual system does not see in terms of frames but rather uses a continuous source of light information. Using a time-lapse technique to watch the ice freeze or a lake melt, the sun set or the moon rise or even a potato drying out, is simply allowing us to view a longer period of time in a relatively short period. When a video is played back at regular speed, time appears to be moving faster. Watch the video below to see some examples of time-lapse. Can your eyes pick up everything that you see? The answer to that is probably not, as time-lapse is often too fast for the human brain to process. When we watch TV or a movie, our brains process between 24 and 30 frames per second (FPS). That means that every second of video we see has between 24 and 30 frames strung together in sequence. Watch a time-lapse of Ramsey Lake over the past 24 hours. (Requires Quicktime Player)While you are able to watch a 24-hour period in just a few minutes, there are frames that the eye cannot even see. For example while watching the video below, see if you can find a spider crawling across the window - click here for a hint on where to look.Stay tuned to watch as Ramsey Lake transforms over the next few months. Maybe you’ll get a chance to see the ice form as we move from the hot Sudbury summer to the beautiful cold winter months.
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