time-lapse, part 3: cress

cress time-lapse video

last week, a huge part of my life was made up by …cress. that’s right – lepidium sativum.

when i was talking about recording flowers opening etc., my little brother anton had the idea to record cress growing.
it’s perfect, because it develops from the seed to a 3 cm (~1 inch) high plant within just 4 to 5 days.
on the other hand, that would mean that i had to find a place with a nearby window that is completely unused (by people) over days – and it turned out to be my room.
i’m using my room only in the brief period from 5 to midnight, working 8 to 5 and sleeping 0 to 7…

(skip all of that and proceed to the files)

so i bought a pack of cress seeds on sunday and immediately built up the setting:

  • made a dish with soil and the seeds,
  • prepared a vaporizer (for the early stage) and a pipette (for posterior stages, when the plants are upstanding; this way i wouldn’t weigh the plants down or move them),
  • mounted the camera (on a tripod, of course) with all the cables (for the time-lapse equipment, the usb cable so i wouldn’t have to touch the camera when downloading the images, and of course the power plug),
  • covered the windows with soft tissue, so the daylight would be more evenly scattered and less intense,
  • and prepared a double-bulb lamp for the night.

[ad#right] i set the photo interval to 2,5 minutes, which at first seemed to be too frequent. But once the seedlings were getting green, it was just about right.
to keep the impression of time and dayspans, i decided to work with daylight when possible, and artificial lighting in the night.

one of the two bulbs (controlled separately) was an energy-saving lamp. the neat thing about it was, that i could switch it on when there was still enough light (around 5pm everyday), and it would slowly get more intense, right until it was needed. this created a nice gradual transition. in case i’ll have artificial lighting in the next project, i’ll use energy-saving lamps for both of the bulbs (we only had one laying around this time).

i completely removed day&night 1 from the video. the only thing you see is seeds slowly (very, very slowly!) getting twice as big, over a period of 13 hours. so it was actually just taking up time and space. the video, therefore, starts about 17 hours after seeding. i also decided to let the camera rest overnight, so unfortunately there’s a gap and suddenly you see tiny rootlets already reaching into the soil… :???:

here’s a little time-table with what could be called “cress events”:

date hours description
2005-03-13 16:00
seeds sown and moistened
2005-03-14 09:00
seeds swelled to maximum size
2005-03-14 15:00
embryonal root-tips become visible
2005-03-15 08:00
roots have reached into soil,
plants slowly erect
2005-03-15 16:00
green parts become visible
2005-03-16 06:00
growth in height, plants standing up
2005-03-16 14:00
direct sunlight, the first time that day,
boost in growth towards sun >> sample #1
2005-03-16 22:00
cotyledones unfold, plants fully erect
2005-03-17 10:00
plants gyrate, trying to get as much sunlight as they can get
height: about 4 cm (1.6 inch); very “fast” movement! >> sample #2

(numbers were rounded and do not necessarily comply with your observations due to different temperature, humidity, lighting, seed quality, …)

one easily overlooked detail turned out to be really important:
when i downloaded the pictures from the camera (twice a day) i did it via usb, so i wouldn’t have to touch the camera itself. but downloading took up to 5 minutes, so no photo was taken for nearly 7.5 minutes. i didn’t think it was that important, but there are some leaps (at 30 sec. of the complete video, for example), especially in the phase with the fastest growth (or when the source of light was changed >> directional growth).
therefore, you should definitely

  • stop the interval picturing and download the photos when there’s not much going on (e.g. before dawn, or in the night), and
  • suspend downloading so the constant interval can be sustained.


a short paragraph about the equipment: i used my sony cybershot dsc-f717, combined with the jg-rc2 in interval mode to take the pictures, and the freeware tool JPGVideo to create the avi-file.

the complete video “weighs” 22 MB, i will only be able to share it over a short period.
here are two samples, about 3.5 MB each:

sascha, the admin of www.dsc-board.de, has offered hosting the files on his server – thanks a lot!

***second edit***
the video is also available as a flash-movie, that can be watched on-site HERE.

complete file

sample #1

sample #2
(click on the thumbnails to download)

starting time:
total time:
shutter speed:

2,5 minutes
82 hours

2,5 minutes
13 hours

2,5 minutes
7,5 hours

Sony Cybershot DSC-F717

video data:

mpeg4/xvid – one pass: quality – 18 fps – qual: 85% (get the codec | help)

video length:
1 min. 39 sec. 16 sec. 10 sec.
x 2700 (1 second in the video is 45 minutes in real-time)
file size:
20,6 MB 3,8 MB 3,5 MB

here’s a little overview (or photographic protocol):
[view photos]

maybe this information will help you to plan your own little project.
i will definitely rely on it when i start my next one… but for now, i’m just happy i can sleep in my room again (as opposed to the living room sofa) ;-)


24 thoughts on “time-lapse, part 3: cress

  1. Would like to see it but all I get is garbage. The ff codec does not appear to work and my regular digital video editing software won’t play it either. Ideas?

  2. hmm, strange.

    you’re the first in over 50 downloaders who complains. seriously, no idea what could be wrong… maybe you should try media player classic to play the files…
    oh, and you should uninstall older divx-codecs (they’re included in ffdshow) – ffdshow might have a problem with those.

    please let me know if that helped!

  3. :idea::grin::cool::shock::mrgreen::mad::!::sad::cry::wink::roll::oops::grin::evil::cool:


  4. constructive comments are always appreciated.
    try to make use of punctuation next time, and your contributions will be perfect! :wink:

  5. Hey Markus… I also get a CODEC error when trying to play your VIDs. Trying to play with Win Media player in W2k w/SP4. Let me know if you’d like some assistance debugging this prob. (from my end)

    BTW, missing your contributions on SC…

  6. the solution to all your problems is an application called VLC, it’s free and open-source; get it on videolan.org
    we loved the cress!!!!!

  7. HI IHR ALL echt kuhle seite hier
    ich weiß zwar ncih worum es geht aba “WE LOVE THE CRESS”!!!!!!!!!!!!
    haha geil nä??

    nya byby cu CuZzzzzz
    tony wqar hier :)

  8. Or use a sane player (mplayer, VLC, etc.) Mplayer binaries have xvid compiled in, so it Always Worksâ„¢.

  9. Ahh another cress grower. I would have done something like this but i couldnt find a time lapse camera capable of it.

  10. The easiest thing is if you provided the movie in Quicktime. My Windows Media Player did not recognize your AVI either.

  11. umm, i disagree. the easiest thing would be if you followed j’s advice (two comments above yours).
    or, if you’re ok with low-quality, check [this post].

  12. peace leute was geht ab
    ich hab hier schon ein paar mal was hingeschreiben is echt gewil hier
    also kresse interessiert michwirklich ich finde es faszienierend wenn ich ihr beinahe zu schauen kan wie sie wächst…is doch toll oder nich?
    nya gut das warn nur son paar schleimpunkrte…
    bis dannnii

  13. i feckin love cress, especially in sandwiches, not on its own, its rather plain… mmmm egg+cress….

  14. I loved the video! It’s fascinating to see the plant move towards light, as if it is an animal. Thanks for the effort!

  15. I love cress. All types of cress, water cress, garden cress, mud cress, wheat cress and gress cress. i would actually die for cress.

  16. Worked perfectly, first time, on DivX Player. Can’t find cress seeds here in Vietnam so this will be ideal to demonstrate germination to my Grade 4 students. Thank you Markus. You’re a star.

  17. nice video, well done.
    did you start right away putting them to the soil or were they in tissue or alike the first 13 hours?

  18. THANK YOU for your eye-opening video, and for providing the technical info on the creation of the video, just in case i am inspired by your video to attempt to create something similar myself. Incidentally, to attract more viewers, you should add the word MICROGREENS to the title and texts, as microgreens are very fashionable, and even when the fad passes, microgreens are here to stay. Your traffic will likely increase ten-fold, just like the size of the cress from seeds to greens.

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