McDonald's Restaurant Time Lapse with the Brinno Construction Cam

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series.


I have wanted to do a time lapse construction project everybody could relate to and finally all of the pieces came together. With permission from the general contractor, Alvin E Benike, Inc and the McDonald's franchisee, Courtesy Corporation this video features four months of construction condensed into three minutes. Work took place in Rochester, Minnesota from April to August, 2014.

Using the gear icon on the player, select 720 for the best quality.

The exterior portions of the video were created using the Brinno BCC 100 Time Lapse Construction Camera. This is a great, inexpensive ($270.00) camera which comes with a weather proof housing and is suitable for construction projects of all sizes. Whether laying brick or building a skyscraper the BCC100 is perfect for long or short term project documentation.

I mounted the camera, using one of my custom brackets, to a board, held in place on top of the job site trailer with sandbags. The camera was set to capture one frame every 10 minutes and the timer was utilized to only have the camera run during working hours. Over the course of four months, I only checked the camera once, downloaded the card and changed the batteries. I am quite confident the camera would have run for the full duration without any intervention.

I did not have too many opportunities to film the interior work. However, on the next project I will make it a point as I feel it added interest and variety to the final video.

The interior was captured with a Brinno TLC 200 Pro time lapse camera, also mounted in the weather resistant housing. I used a suction cup and ball head to affix the camera to a window above the door. This camera was set to capture a frame every five to 10 seconds, depending on the day.

At the end of the project I had about six minutes of exterior footage and five minutes of interior. With a long term time lapse the amount of editing work needs to be considered at the start of project. I want more footage than I need but not too much creating excessive editing work. At one capture every 10 minutes, played back at 30 frames per second (FPS) a full day of work is shown in three seconds. At the start, this may not seem like much, but over the course of four months, three seconds per day turns into six minutes. Since the camera was on a timer, all of the days could have been easily combined to make a longer, albeit, less interesting video. We removed weekends, down time and portions where rain obscured the lens.

The final edit, included the addition of music, logos, title and credit screens. The Brinno cameras create AVI movies, so much of the work is already done. Editing really only involves removing content you don't want and adding whatever you want to finalize your video. You can accomplish all of this with software already on your computer, Mac users should have iMove and PC users Windows Movie Maker. With a little patience you can create a polished time lapse movie of your project. If you are excited about the low cost and simplicity of creating your own time lapse but don't want to deal with editing we would be happy to provide you with a quote for the assistance you need.

Anyone in the construction industry should consider a time lapse camera for both marketing and project documentation. Whether you are a general contractor, a house builder, bricklayer, painter, counter installer, etc. what better way to show off your work than a time lapse. The Brinno cameras make this so easy and people watch time lapse movies to see what unfolds. The unique marketing opportunity alone makes purchasing a $270 camera an easy decision. Create videos for your web site, post them on Facebook, Instagram or Tweet them. People watch time lapse videos just to watch which builds awareness for you business. I have mentioned before, time lapse videos are great at a home show or trade show and serve as an ice breaker with visitors often asking the first questions.

In closing, I leave you with a photo I took the night before the grand opening.

McDonalds-Restaurant-New-Exterior-Night

Brinno Time Lapse - Water Tower Cleaning Project

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series.


Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) contacted me about creating a video to show the water tower cleaning process. Cleaning a tower is slow work with each tower taking the better part of a day. A time lapse would be a perfect way to show the process. This video condenses one evening and two full days of cleaning into one and a half minutes.

Not knowing what to expect, I brought multiple cameras, housings, lenses and mounts to the first site. I immediately noticed a place I could mount a camera looking straight up. I placed a Brinno TLC 200 Pro in the weather resistant housing and pointed it to the sky, this made for an interesting angle but the camera was too wet most of the time to get much usable footage. The other angle had to from the side but the kit lens is much too wide. I did use the kit lens for the wide angle view at 1:10.

Brinno-TLC-200-Pro-18-55-Lens

For the close-up view, I decided to use the Brinno 18-55 zoom lens. My final set-up looked like this with the Brinno Pro, 18-55, mounted using a Delkin Fat Geko clamped to a 2x6 and held in place with two sandbags. I ran a strip of gaffers tape from the camera to the board to prevent minor wind shake.

The time lapse cameras were set to capture one image every 5 seconds which I ended up speeding up 200% for the final edit. The climbing views and tower top were shot with a hard hat mounted GoPro Hero 3+ Black. The GoPro footage was also sped up to closely match the pace of the time lapse.

This was a fun project and is a great demonstration of the Brinno's ability to condense time into an interesting video.

Introducing a Solar Panel for your Brinno Time Lapse Camera

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series. Sadly, the Solar Joos is no longer in production and availability is limited to a scarce unit or two occasionally on eBay.


I can hardly contain my excitement over the Solar Joos Orange panel and battery combination. Ever since my first long term time lapse, where the camera was mounted on top of a water tower, I have longed for a solar panel solution which would work with the Brinno Time Lapse Cameras.

Update 12/7/14: The Brinno TLC 200 Pro will work with the Solar Joos, however if power is lost the camera resets. A firmware update which corrects this may be a future solution. For now, my recommendation is to use the Solar Joos only with the Brinno TLC 200 f/1.2 or Brinno BCC 100 Construction Cam.

Solar-Joos-Orange-Packaging

I had spent a year, occasionally searching for and thinking about a viable solution and last month I ran across the Solar Joos. After talking with the Joos people and the Brinno people no one knew for certain whether the panel would work. It looked promising but the odds of finding a perfect solution were not in my favor.

Within a few days, I had a Joos and was immediately impressed with the work of art in my hands. The Joos is one tough panel, made to withstand the harshest of environments. I charged the panel via USB and tried it out with a camera and it worked! With the first hurdle jumped, I spent the past month testing the panel in situations which concerned me.

 The Energy Dashboard software, showing the current charge at 63% and generating 2.6W of solar power.

The Energy Dashboard software, showing the current charge at 63% and generating 2.6W of solar power.

My first test was to leave it connected to the camera and running for a few days and nights outdoors capturing one image every 10 minutes. There is very handy software available for download which tells you the status of the panel. After a few days, the Joos Energy Dashboard showed the panel at 100% charge even though most of the days were considerably cloudy.

Everything continued to look promising so now it was time to test the worst case scenario. Being in Minnesota, we get extended periods of overcast winter days, this summer too has been quite gray and gloomy. My next test was to see how long the battery in the panel would last without any sun. So using the same settings with the camera capturing an image every 10 minutes I placed it in a closest. Occasionally I would check to see if the camera was still running and after a week, the suspense was killing me so I had to check the Dashboard. After one week without any light the panel was at 85% charge. That's a pretty extreme duration, given the panel charged on very cloudy days.

Cloudy and rainy day example of the Joos charging indicated by the flashing red light.

Up next was a cold test, we all know batteries don't last as long in the cold so I was thinking what I had in-store next would be a deal breaker. Using the same settings, I placed the panel and camera in our kitchen freezer between the Popsicles and Tater Totts. I checked quite often and the camera was running, after a week it was still going and I had to check the status of the battery. After one week at -5 degrees Fahrenheit, capturing an image once every 10 minutes the panel was at 100% charge. The cold test performed better than the room temperature test. I am not into technical testing, I test what might apply in the real world.

At this point, I would personally feel comfortable using the Solar Joos Orange on a long term time lapse project and I intend on doing so in the near future. The people at Brinno have panels for testing and the Solar Joos people have cameras for testing. I expect them both to provide additional information in the future. However, for now I feel we we have a winning combination.

solar-joos-orange-brinno

This is what the Solar Joos Orange looks like with reflectors, connected to a Brinno TLC 200 Pro in the weatherproof housing. I will provide more information regarding real world mounting, weatherproofing the cable and connection, and anything else I discover in the future. If you are looking for a solar panel solution to power your Brinno camera I think the Solar Joos Orange is your best option.

Solar Joos has extended a discount for Brinno users and I recommend purchasing the bundle sold on this page of the Solar Joos web site. The discount code is, "Brinno"

Brinno Time Lapse - House Construction Project Final Video

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series.


I temporarily dropped the ball with my blog updates to concentrate on the new www.BrinnoUSA.com web site which is coming along quite well. More on that later, now back to my ongoing projects.

Here is the end result of a seven month house construction project started in March, 2014. Select 720 with the gear icon, in the player, for the best quality.

Originally, this was going to be a shorter video. However, we decided to have the video playing at the Parade of Homes show and a local builder's show. We wanted the movie to engage people without overwhelming. As it turned out, people stand around just to watch the action,  the video is a great ice breaker and draws people in.

The one disappointment, for me, was the mount. I placed the camera on top of a fiberglass street light pole which must have expanded and contracted throughout the day causing the view to shift slightly.

Various aspects of this project were highlighted in previous posts...

Brinno Time Lapse - House Construction Cam First Download

Brinno Time Lapse - Breaking Rule 1

I used the Brinno TLC 200 f1.2 camera which is now bundled as a complete package with weather resistant housing, the Brinno BCC100 Construction Cam. Capture was one frame every 10 minutes and the camera timer was set for working hours only.

Using the timer, a new AVI file was created every day. In editing, the files were combined, uneventful portions removed and music and text were added. This whole process is something most anyone could accomplish, the editing can be time consuming but we are very willing to provide editing services if you want help creating a polished video.

The camera itself could not be easier to use, read the instructions, spend a few minutes getting it configured, place it in the housing and start recording. Over seven months to create this video I checked the camera twice, downloaded the files and changed the batteries. With a Brinno camera it takes very little effort to record a long duration time lapse.

Brinno Time Lapse - Comparison - TLC200 Pro Frame Rates

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series.


This is the first in a series of comparisons to highlight the different settings, lenses and shooting scenarios using the Brinno TLC200 Pro time lapse camera.

Within the camera's Settings menu, the first option is Time Lapse Frame Rate. This is the video playback speed once you download the AVI file from the camera. Typically, I record all of my work at 30 frames per second (FPS) which gives the smoothest playback. If I want to slow down the playback it can be changed with video editing software.

However, you may not want to edit the video or simply want a slower playback to start with. In that case your options are 30, 20, 15, 10, 5 and 1 FPS. This is what each setting looks like on a windy day with clouds shot once every five seconds.

Brinno Time Lapse - TLC200 Pro Review

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series.


I have wanted to do my own review of the Brinno TLC200 Pro Time Lapse camera for some time. However, I just ran across this excellent and very detailed review by Lon Seidman.

In my opinion, this review is a great introduction to one of the time lapse cameras I use for many of my projects.

At the 4:30 mark Lon is critical of the preview screen, I do agree to some extent, but I personally feel the preview screen does what it is intended for, framing your shot. If you are having fun with the camera the screen is adequate. If I have a paying job, I typically view a quick test clip on a laptop just to make certain the video is framed and exposed correctly.

Additional notes from my perspective.

- The Micro USB port can be used to provide an external power supply to the camera.

- Depending on the shooting interval AA batteries can power the camera for a month or longer. My typical long term construction projects are shot with one frame every 10 or 15 minutes.

Overall this is good review for anyone looking into the Brinno TLC200 Pro.

 

Brinno Time Lapse - Weather Resistant Housing

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series.


Brinno-ATH-120-Weather-Resistant-Housing

The Brinno ATH110 or ATH120 weather resistant housings are a must have accessory if you plan a long term time lapse project. I have used both housings through rain and snow without any issues. The housings are not waterproof, however, they are extremely weather resistant and very well built.

The lens cover is very good and will not degrade your video. Unless, you leave the clear plastic protective film on which I have written about earlier.   

One of my favorite features of the housing is the fact you can mount it via the tripod hole and access the camera without disturbing the camera's position. This is crucial for long term projects when batteries need to be changed and you want to download a progression video. There are two clips on the side of the housing, unlatching these allows the front (and the camera) to swing away from the mount. The camera can be removed and replaced in the housing without removing the housing from the mount.

A number of people have asked what rain does to the lens covering. This piece of high grade plastic must have some miracle super coating on it as I have never had an issue with water spots. I have $1,000 professional camera lenses and if water evaporates on them I get spots. With the Brinno housing, water evaporates quickly and leaves no trace. To the right is a short sample of how rain disappears from the housing lens.

The housing would work in other applications where camera protection is necessary. From a dusty industrial setting to spray painting the interior of a house. Regardless of your situation, the housing offers piece of mind and a great mounting platform for your long term project.

Brinno Time Lapse - From Planting to Harvest

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series.


This is the start of a long term time lapse project, just for fun, to see what happens. I am documenting a corn field from planting, through the growing season and harvesting. In my last post I detailed the fabrication of the complex tree mount, shown below, along with a selfie from the running Brinno Camera.

Time-Lapse-Tree-Mount
Tree-Mount-Selfie

Here is a time lapse from the day of planting.

This was shot with the Brinno TLC200 f1.2 with one capture every five seconds. I altered the playback a little in iMovie, cutting out dead time and slowing down the tractor for a turn in the middle of the clip.

After the planting segment, I changed the batteries and switched the camera setting to capture one photo every hour. I will check on the camera very infrequently and let it run. Depending on my motivation, I will probably download a few progression clips.

The final movie will have 10-15 seconds from this clip, the growing and another 10-15 seconds of harvesting. Don't hold your breath for updates to this project, check back around Thanksgiving for the final video.

Brinno Time Lapse - A Look at My Mount Construction

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series, specifically Part 6 - Mounting Your Camera.


I have written about the importance of sturdy mounts when doing a long term time lapse project. Few have any idea what I am willing to create in order to have a steady mount throughout the duration of a project.

I don't want any inadvertent camera movement, I don't want to worry about high winds or a bird taking care of business on my camera. I want to change batteries and download the videos without disturbing the position of the camera. Essentially I want a custom fabricated, welded, bolted, chunk of steel to hold my camera for six months or more.

Simpler mounts will work and I have talked of my successes with basic clamps. However, when I get into the 30 day or longer range I typically create a custom solution which works for me. My goal with this post is to show the amount of consideration that goes into the preparation for some of my projects, which I will detail in future posts.

Brinno-Construction-Cam-Time-Lapse-Mount

For now, onto the mounts. This past week I was starting two long term projects. One camera was to be mounted to a tree for seven months. The other was to be placed on top of a construction job site trailer for about five months. The owners of the tree did not want any major branch trimming and I could not bolt or clamp anything to the construction trailer. Here are the end results of my two mounts.

The first, is the construction cam trailer mount. The bracket is steel mounted to a board which will be detailed later. The bags are about 100 pounds of sand resting on the board. This camera sits about 15 feet above the work site and will be in place until the project's completion.

The other mount is in a large pine tree overlooking a farm field. This mount is by far my most complex and random creation. I did not want to go back and forth from the tree to fabrication, nor did I want to make changes onsite so I made this semi-adjustable. Keeping with the tree owner's request to not trim major branches, the main bar sticks out eight feet from the tree truck.

Brinno-Farm-Time-Lapse-Tree-Mount2
Brinno-Farm-Time-Lapse-Tree-Mount.jpg

Here is an overview of how I make these, not a step by step tutorial, just something to give you an idea of what I do to create them. I did all this with metal stock in my garage, however all of the components could be found at Lowe's, Home Depot, Menard's, Fleet Farm, etc. If you don't want to jump in this deep or have the tools to do so, I can envision something built well from wood or even a repurposed bread loaf pan. The point here is to make sure your long term camera moves as little as possible.

I needed to build two mounts, since the camera bracket is the same for every mount and the most time consuming to create I decided to build five brackets. Why five? Well the piece of steel I had laying around was large enough to allow for five. Two were going up, giving me three spares for other projects.

Brinno-Time-Lapse-Mount-Layout

The first step is laying out the mount cut lines on the steel. The steel is 1/16th of an inch thick, sturdy, yet quite easy to work with mild force.

Brinno-Mount-Plasma-Cutter

Next, I used a plasma cutter to cut the steel into smaller strips and a hole in the back of each so the camera controls can be accessed and LCD screen visible. Most people probably don't have a plasma cutter sitting around. An angle grinder with a cutting wheel would work. The center could be cut with holes drilled at each corner and a hacksaw used to cut the sides. But the plasma cutter was my tool of choice and it slices through this thin stuff with ease.


Brinno-Mount-Blanks

Here are the mount blanks after cutting and grinding the corners to remove sharp edges. I drilled a hole in each base for a mounting screw which will go into the weather resistant housing. I also drilled two small holes along the left and right edges for a cable ties to run through the side housing holes and through the steel.

 Next is bending the blanks into the final form. A large vise and hammer took care of this task without much effort.

Next is bending the blanks into the final form. A large vise and hammer took care of this task without much effort.

 Here are the mounts after cutting and bending.

Here are the mounts after cutting and bending.

Brinno-Mount-Welding.jpg

I weld tabs on the bases which will bolt, typically to another bar, for the mount anchor. Without a welder I would probably use angle iron and drill and bolt it to the base.

Below left is the finished construction trailer roof mount. The camera bracket is adjustable for tilt. The post is welded to a drilled plate which is mounted to a wood board. In the first picture the sandbags are over the wood and everything is painted to prevent rust and rot.

The last image is my complex tree mount, before painting, which admittedly, grew into something much more complex than I had planned.  At this length the wind would cause unwanted camera movement. I built this mount so the cross braces could either be bolted to each other or to the tree which is what I did with the final mounting. The large angle bracket is attached with two lag screws and each cross bar have one lag screw into the tree.

 Finished construction trailer mount.

Finished construction trailer mount.

 Tree mount before painting.

Tree mount before painting.

Brinno Time Lapse - Blurry Videos Using Weather Resistant Housing

I have started a retail web site devoted to Brinno time lapse camera solutions with a focus on prepurchase customer eduction and project support. All of my current Brinno related content is at the new site. Please visit us at www.TimeLapseCameras.com. Since you have an interest in this article you should check out our Brinno Learning Series.


I am only writing about this because the situation has happened to me. I had a big project with two time lapse cameras running, the dismantling of a road train trailer and delivery of a very large transformer to a new sub station. One camera, I unboxed on site and hastily placed in an ATH110 Weather Proof housing to mount on a ladder on a very cold winter day.

When I viewed the videos, the ladder mounted camera clip (above) was soft and blurry and unusable for my project. I first thought maybe it was the extreme cold as this camera was stationary all day while the other camera moved around and was warmed up occasionally during breaks in the action. However, I have had cameras function fine in extreme cold before.

 A brand new weather resistant housing with protective plastic over the lens. Without knowing the plastic is there you will probably miss it and have poor video results. 

A brand new weather resistant housing with protective plastic over the lens. Without knowing the plastic is there you will probably miss it and have poor video results. 

The camera was good, I had used it on other projects so my next thought was the housing. There must have been some residue, finger oil or something obscuring the lens element. I checked and could not find anything so I left the issue unsolved which bothered me.

Still bothering me, I checked again and on the third time I discovered it... There was a very thin layer of protective cling plastic over the lens. I don't recall if I quickly pulled it off on previous housings, it just fell off or wasn't there in the first place. However, this time it was there and it wrecked one video.

 Removal of the plastic from the housing lens. Do this before you start shooting.

Removal of the plastic from the housing lens. Do this before you start shooting.

This plastic is hard to notice and there is no mention of it in the instruction pamphlet. I wish Brinno would change the color, add a sticker to it or something to alert users to remove the plastic.

In short, check for the plastic, if you don't think it's there check again. Look carefully for the pull tab covering the brass piece at the bottom of the lens.

Peel the plastic off and the housing will perform very well with no noticeable difference between using the housing and not.


Here is video shot on the same day from the other camera without plastic obscuring the lens.