Some time ago I’ve made an article about using scripts for timelapse purposes with an Alexmos controller based 3 axis stabilizer. Thanks to that article I was told about new features of the beta firmware. Finally, there is a proper timelapse function. Not perfect, but I really like that, way more than scripts 😉 You can find pros and cons list at the bottom of this article.
I decided that it’s a great subject for my first ever video tutorial. I hope you don’t mind my pronunciation, I’m not a native speaker, but I do my best 🙂 Below the video there will be some in-depth description of this feature. Don’t forget to leave me a comment if you like the video and if I should do more video tutorials on this blog 🙂
The Alexmos controller is used in wide variety of stabilizers. Basically, if you use SimpleBGC desktop or mobile app to control your device, your gimbal has Alexmos guts. You can check out the BaseCam partners here. Some of the parners are:
- Easy Stab,
- Ikan Beholder,
- Smart & Steady,
To use the Timelapse Motion feature you’ve got to have firmware version 2.61 or higher. For now, it’s still beta, but I’ve heard from one of the manufacturers that they already use that firmware. I won’t take the responsibility for your update, however I use that firmware and it works just fine 🙂 To check your firmware version connect your gimbal to the computer and run SimpleBGC GUI software. In the Firmware Upgrade tab you’ve got the current version of your firmware. To search for newer firmware hit the check button. While it’s still beta, you’ve got to check the ‘Check for beta versions, too’ option. When you update your device, the software will suggest you to download new version of the SimpleBGC and you should do it 😉
Interested in Timelapse, Hyperlapse or Stop-Motion? Feel free to join the Facebook Group, where you can find BTS content of my tutorials: https://www.facebook.com/groups/timelapse.hyperlapse/
Setting up in SimpleBGC
That’s one of the disadvantages for this feature – for now it has to be set-up using the desktop app (of course I’ll update this tutorial if anything would change). Now everything you need is in the service tab. You’ve got to assign the “Setup and start time-lapse motion” (at the bottom of the list) to one position, for example 4 clicks of the menu button.
Now it’s time to set-up the timelapse duration (the duration of the shot, not the final timelapse video). Testing that feature I found out that it’s quite tricky, but it turns out it’s better than I thought 😉 At the top right choose the first profile. You can save three different durations to the profiles (or 4 if you’re using 4 profiles to operate the gimbal). You’ll find how to use them in the next section.
If you don’t see the features I talk about, go to the ‘View‘ menu at the top >> View level >> Expert.
For now, let’s scroll down to Time-lapse parameters, still in the service tab. You have three parameters there:
- Time-lapse time
- Acceleration in and out time
- Frame angles are fixed
The first one is the most important. You save there the duration of the shot, in seconds. As I mentioned, you can save different values to different profiles. For me it was:
- Profile 1: 900 sec [15 min]
- Profile 2: 1800 sec [30 min]
- Profile 3: 3600 sec [60 min]
You can put your own values here (even longer) and change it any time you connect the gimbal to the app. This device can move extremely slow, most of the times I can’t even see the movement. There are two things you’ve got to have in mind doing that: Be sure you’re in the right, not a random profile and hit WRITE on each profile – the Write button saves only the changes for the profile you’re in.
The second parameter you can call the After Effects ‘easy ease’ equivalent. It’s ramping your movement. It’s really great if you want to, for example, left the camera shooting after the programmed movement. Then you’ve got really subtle transition from the movement to static timelapse. It’s a percent of the time that should be used to slow down the movement. For example, when my shot duration is set to 900 seconds, and the Acceleration is 10%, the controller would use 90 seconds of the movement to slowly stop the gimbal. You can experiment with different values or stay with deafult 10 sec.
The frame angles are fixed should be checked, if you’re using the stabilizer on the tripod (just for Timelapse movement, not all the time). It eliminates really annoying problem of gyroscope drift. I was writing about that in my script tutorial. All you need to know now – if it’s checked, you won’t have that problem 😉 And it’s really awesome!
The shooting is suprisingly easy, however you need to know a few things to choose the right duration 😉 While I was testing that I discovered, that the timelapse duration depends on the gimbal profile that is set before starting the timelapse motion. At the beginning it was a little bit frustrating, because I didn’t know what is happening (it’s not described in the manual). As soon as I found out what’s going on, it was good news, because I don’t have to stay with only one duration saved to the device.
For the usage explanation I would use an example from the video tutorial – I want the 30 min shot. As you know, I saved the 30min (1800 sec) timelapse duration for the Profile 2. To use that duration you’ve got to:
- Turn on the gimbal
- Press the menu button twice to choose Profile 2
- Set the camera (gimbal) to the final position – compose the last frame of the shot (that’s where the movement will end)
- Activate the “Setup and start timelapse motion” (for me it’s pressing the menu button 4 times)
- While the calibration sound is emited (10 seconds), move the camera to the initial position (compose the first frame of the shot – that’s where the movement will start)
- The timelapse shot automatically starts
So, choosing the timelapse duration is all about which profile is active in your gimbal when you start the “Setup and start timelapse motion” function. If you’ve got the buzzer enabled, the gimbal would emit sound when the movement will be done.
Definitely it’s a good solution for someone, who doesn’t have any other motion controll equipment. I wouldn’t recommend to buy a gimbal just for this feature. However, I’m really happy with that device, it’s really versatile and if you’re shooting also video, it could be a good choice for you 😉
One of the biggest disadvantages of this solution is that you get only constant movement. There isn’t a move-shot-move function, so you can’t use really long shutter speeds. If you want to learn why you should use longer exposure times, check out this article: Should you use ND filters? Motion Blur in Timelapse.
Pros and cons of using the 3 axis stabilizer as a motion controlled timelapse head:
- Easy and fast to set-up in the field
- 3 axis movemenet, while most systems have “only” 2 + slider
- Very versatile device (for handheld work)
- Movement duration has to be set on the computer (three different ‘presets’, but still it’s a limitation)
- After mounting to a vehicle it still works as a gimbal (for example it’s almost useless for drivelapse etc.)
- Constant movement instead of move-shoot-move function
- It’s hard to add a slider to the movement (however it’s possible)
I hope you like that article, and video prepared specialy for you 😉 Let me know in the comments what do you think about it and of course I can’t wait to see your shots with this technique 🙂 Don’t forget to like my fanpage and subscribe to the newsletter.