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Building Timelapse Aquarium Video


Aquarium Dropcam

My wife Kathleen and I keep a 29 gallon mixed tropical reef aquarium. For her birthday, I bought her a Dropcam webcam so we could both watch our reef when we’re away from home. Dropcam provides a live, hosted video stream and also has APIs for other data, like still snapshots.

Tropical reefs are teeming with life, though much of it moves at dramatically slower scales of time than we do. For example, when a coral captures food it can take 30 minutes to open it’s mouth, swallow the food, and digest a single bite. Snails, sea urchins, and other invertebrates slowly crawl the sand and glasswork in our tank.

Looking at a single picture of a tropical reef, it’s easy to miss how active the reef is. To show the activity, I wanted to create timelapse video of our aquarium.

Aqurium Timelapse for January 2014

This video distills the entire month of January from 2014 into a few minutes of video. At this scale, you can see our reef is teeming with life.

Dropcam Tools hacking

I started writing a toolkit that would capture a snapshot from our Dropcam every 10 minutes as a still image. Then, I wrote tools to stitch these still images together into timelapse video using ffmpeg.

You can find the source code on Github:


Categories: Aquarium, Open Source
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