Shooting awesome timelapse using raspberry pi

Hi folks,

So if you have a raspberry pi and a camera module one of the cool things that you can do is to make a rig that does time-lapse videos. So i just did that, believe me its awesome.

Now you all know from my previous posts that i do have a 3d printer, so i printed a neat little case for my raspberry pi and a sweet little camera mount. And i bought a custom camera module for raspberry pi from, they have a detachable lens and its kinda good quality and cheap too. Thanks uctronics :)

By the way, you can get the STL files for the Pi case and uctronics camera modules from the below links. Have fun print them :)

Here are some pics of the printed case and camera mount

uctronics camera

Then i have used a xiaomi 5200 mah power-bank which kinda powers my pi with WiFi dongle, camera and thumb-drive for about a day. Awesome

So here is the Instagram pic of the whole setup, please like and comment if you like it :)

Now i installed a thumb-drive because i wanted pi to capture time-lapse on it, you know easy plug and play :) But you Linux on the pi detects the thumb-drive easily and assigns it a wired name. So i get the name

Which i hated when working with ssh or command prompt. So lets fix it first. There is a simple Linux command to define an alias for this location, be careful you may be having a different name for your thumb-drive find it out and use that. DO NOT USE THE SAME PATH AS MINE, FIND YOURS AND USE IT :-)

First we will make a folder so that it will be used as an alias for the mount location of the thumb-drive

sudo mkdir /media/tusb
sudo chmod 770 /media/tusb/

Now that we have the folder ready to act as the alias for the thumb-drive lets make an entry in the file systems table file, which is normally on the location "/etc/fstab" 

Lets edit the file

sudo nano /etc/fstab

 UUID=C0D2-6E8C /media/tusb vfat uid=1000,gid=1000,umask=007 0 0
Change the UUID as per your mount location. Once this is done reboot the pi

Voila we have the thumb-drive mounted on  "/media/tusb" when the pi restarts. We can do whatever recording you need on the location.

Now we have done that, lets think about capturing stuff through pi camera module. There are so many awesome tutorials in the internet to setup camera module for pi and do lot of stuff, so i am not going to get into details of setting those up, and yeah plugging in camera too. check YouTube videos for that and learn.

Now assuming that you have some basic understanding of setting up the camera module and taking first picture. I am going to proceed further. My plan is to have the put the pi on my bedroom window starting at night and record through the night to morning so i can have some visuals of sunrise.

There's a catch!!!!! Capturing pics at night and day means that you need some logic to adjust the exposure timing so that the results will be neat. If you use day exposure values throughout you will only get blank pics from night. So I wanted some logic to automate that for me.

I searched a lot and found a python script to do that job. A guy named craig did it as part of his project here. His code was available in github and i downloaded it. It was not working as i expected and i did modify it to fine tune for my requirement with some trial and error. Don't worry i have uploaded it on github too, here

Now before the script can be ran on pi, you will need to install prerequisites softwares. Here are the commands to do that

first lets update all

sudo apt-get update

Now install these

sudo apt-get install python-picamera python3-picamera python-rpi.gpio


sudo apt-get install python-opencv python-matplotlib

Now we need some software to stitch all the frames captured during time-lapse

sudo apt-get install ffmpegsudo apt-get install mencodersudo apt-get install python-imaging

Now we need git to pull the python code from online repository

sudo apt-get install git-coredsudo apt-get install git-core

Now lets change into the thum-drive

cd /media/tusb

then lets clone the repository

git clone git://

now lets go in

cd rpidaynightcam/

here you can see the main script and here is the command line help for it

Command Line Help

There are several options available for the program. Running the script with the -h option will display a helpful description of the options:
python -h

Taking Pictures

To take pictures of various objects, you can specify the number of pictures to take as well as a time delay between successive pictures. For example, to take 10 pictures:
sudo python -n 10
To take 10 pictures with a delay of 5 seconds between each:
sudo python -n 10 -d 5
Saving files to a different path:
sudo python -p /path/to/save/to
Set night time conditions:
sudo python -g
Take pictures until interrupted:
sudo python -n 0

Adjusting for light conditions

You can instruct the camera module to attempt to adjust for light conditions by specifying the --autoswitch:
sudo python --auto -n 0
This will continue taking pictures until the program is interrupted. In order to switch between day and night mode, you can specify at what light level you want to make the swap on. For example, if the camera is in night mode, then increasing light levels will make the picture brighter and brighter until the entire image is white. To swap to day mode, the camera calculates the R, G, and B average intensities, and compares it to the --day value. If the intensities are greater than the --day value, it will attempt to turn the camera on to day mode. The opposite occurs for --night values.
Both --day and --night are values in the range of 0 - 255. For example, to get the camera to switch to day mode when the average pixel intensity reaches 240, and switch to night mode when the average pixel intensity reaches 30:
sudo python --auto --day 240 --night 30 -n 0

Now i have not changed much on craig's script with arguments. Lets try to run the script so that even if the shell is closed the script will run until shutting down pi
sudo nohup python --auto -n 0 -d 30 &
This will indefinitely run the capture checking for day and night with 30 sec interval in between each frame. pretty cool :)
Now there will be lot of jpg files on the current folder, lets stitch them to an awesome movie
First move them into a newly created folder for easy archiving
mkdir t1mv *.jpg ./t1/

Now go in

cd t1

gather all file names to a text file

ls *.jpg > stills.txt

lets stitch them to an video named timelapse.avi

mencoder -nosound -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:aspect=16/9:vbitrate=8000000 -vf scale=1280:720 -o timelapse.avi -mf type=jpeg:fps=24 mf://@stills.txt

cool now we have a final video ready to share.

Here are some videos i captured with this setup (i played around with exposure values in some :) ) And oh yeah watch for the bloom effect when sun rises, the script automatically adjusts the exposure time based on ambient light :-)

Hope you like them. Please do comment, subscribe to my youtube, click some ads :D , share this page to support me. Thanks folks

See ya next time