brinno tlc200 pro: first construction time lapse video results [video]

following the market research on construction time-lapse cameras and brinno tlc200 pro + eyefi first steps articles, i’m happy to present my very first construction (or rather, destruction) time lapse recorded with the brinno tlc200 pro camera:

the video above was partly processed with avifrate (to slow down the second segment) and edited in gopro studio.

below you’ll find the unedited video output, some information regarding image quality, and more.

unedited, out-of-the-camera video:

what’s good:

  • as you can see above, the video quality at maximum resolution (720p) is actually quite nice. the camera produced a crisp image and handled the changing lighting conditions (e.g. on partly cloudy days) relatively well.
  • the automatic time and date bar at the bottom of the video (if desired/apctivated in options).
  • something else that is nice: you can set the camera to “sleep” through nights when the image gets very dark. this not only saves you the hassle of cutting out ~50 useless percent of the video when you can’t see anything, it also enables you to get significantly longer recording times due to saved storage space.
  • post-processing: as soon as you stop the recording, you’ve got a working .avi video file to view without special processing.

what’s bad:

  • the major “technical” problem was the wall mount. as you can see in several instances, the video is slightly shaky – despite the fact that the camera was firmly attached to the wall (via the wall mount) and remained completely untouched. for 25 euros (24 USD), i would expect to get a product sturdy enough for proper time lapse recordings – especially when buying an original brinno accessory!
  • post-processing: while it’s nice to get a complete video file directly from the camera, this makes post-processing – if you want/need to do it – more tedious. for example, removing the few “night” frames per day for a more fluid view could be a matter of deleting images within a time-stamp range, as opposed to doing a video cut for every night.

with this specific recording, there were also two logistical problems:

  • low video frame rate vs. extremely fast video
    i didn’t have access to the camera for a month. so, without a definitive date set for the beginning of demolition, i had to use a relatively big interval of 10 minutes for an interesting timeframe of only about 10 days. this is the reason for the low “detail” frame rate in the second, slowed-down part of the video.
    a more optimal interval to better allow viewers to follow the demolition progress would have been 1 minute, for example.
  • point of view
    the other problem was relatively hard to foresee (or maybe not?). the second container had a lid which opened exactly into the camera’s field of view, thus blocking an interesting part of the scene during 3 days.

altogether, i’m pretty happy with the camera so far, and i’m looking forward to more time lapse videos.

36 thoughts on “brinno tlc200 pro: first construction time lapse video results [video]

  1. Thanks for the info.

    […]» the major “technical” problem was the wall mount. as you can see in several instances, the video is slightly shaky – despite the fact that the camera was firmly attached to the wall (via the wall mount) and remained completely untouched. for 25 euros (24 USD), i would expect to get a product sturdy enough for proper time lapse recordings – especially when buying an original brinno accessory![…]

    It seems to me that this is not a problem with the mount, but a natural phenomenon. Your mounting position is influenced by heat/cold and slightly moves during the day/night cycle.

  2. Your post helped me a lot but what I still don’t get with the Brinno: if I set the timer from – let’s say 8:00-18:00 – and 10 minutes with a frame rate of 30 then what does the camera do? Will it film at a random time for ten minutes or every ten minutes 30 frames in the preset time of 8:00-10:00? The manual doesn’t say anything about that. Hopefully you can help because I have to film a construction which takes about a year and the camera has to work!!!

  3. hi christine,
    with your settings the camera will record one picture/frame every 10 minutes between 8 and 18 daily, and the video will then play at 30 frames per second, i.e. 1 second of video shows 300 minutes =5 hours.

  4. Markus — great info — I am planning on using the camera to document the renovation of an old theater — is there an extended battery option, so I do not have to move the camera to change batteries? –

  5. Hi Markus, just been reading your blog, I would love your advice if possible, we are fitting out a new restaurant, its an old bank so its just a big square, the job is over 3 months but will probably download the video every 4 weeks so we don’t miss anything etc, what would be the best time limit for taking pictures? would every 5 minutes between 9am-6pm be ok or would we change it to 10 minutes a picture? Can go lower than 5 minutes ,just want to know what’s best so we see lots of the building being changed from an empty shell to the restaurant, thanks

  6. hi bob,
    it’s better to look at it from the results side: how long would you like your final video to be? personally, i believe under 2-3 minutes is best to keep people’s attention. at 60 frames per second, that would be 10800 pictures (180 seconds video, 60 fps), or 120 pictures per day at 3 months (10800 pictures by 90 days). if you’re recording (or using) only daytime footage (say 12 hours), that would amount to an interval of 360 seconds (12*3600 seconds per day, divided by 120 pictures).
    hope that gives you a better idea of what you want to do. :)

  7. Hi Markus – wow, first of all, thank you for all your research and advice! As a traffic engineer, I have occasion to record turning movements at busy intersections. I am wondering if the 0.5 second time lapse recording of a busy intersection would still allow me to view it and not miss any traffic movements. Thoughts?

    PS I assume there is a way to position camera view during setup to make certain I am recording what I need?

  8. hi chet,
    i don’t have much experience with traffic time lapse, but i’d think 0.5 seconds should be plenty to capture the action.
    yes, there’s an automatic live view on the little display before you start to recording.

  9. This was a great help to me! finding this all very confusing and wanting a time lapse video of our construction project. Is there any way you can watch what its recording daily? so that if you are far away you can still check its up and running? Also, do you need to move it to change its batteries?

    Thanks for all the advice & hope you can help:)

  10. hi abs,
    you should be able to watch daily footage (until the day before) using the timer function and an eye-fi card if there’s wifi at your recording site. the timer ensures that a video file is saved for every day.
    in order to change batteries, you need to open the housing, remove the camera and open a compartment on the bottom, so yes. unfortunately, occasional charging via the usb port is not possible, so it’s either external power or changing batteries and moving the camera.

  11. hi markus, I have a tlc200 (not the pro), but when I set the time to 7am-5am, I left it on for 2 days, and when I went to download the video, there was a video for each day. is this normal? its like the camera stops every day at 5pm and creates a video with all the frams for that day… any help would be appreciated. Phil

  12. hi phil,
    as far as i’ve seen so far, setting a timer should activate the camera every day during the set timeframe.
    i’m not sure why your camera would stop/save at 5 p.m. and not 5 a.m. though.

  13. Hey Markus, I am trying to decide which camera and system would be best for capturing time-lapse video of 6-9mo construction projects. I have read your blog and associated comments, I watched linked videos you have captured with the time lapse feature, and I did some of my own research. All of this information has been helpful. For a project like this, and given the release of the GoPro HERO4 Session, would you recommend the Brinno TLC200PRO HDR, or should I look into something else?

    As mentioned before, I am looking at project timelines of closer to 6-9 months. Given that I want to keep final videos down to 2-3 minutes, would it be more visually appealing to take an image 1/2 as often (I might normally capture the 10-hour workday with a frame every 10 minutes, but at 60 fps it would be impossible to get the video length down to 2-3 min, so I would have to reduce the frequency to 20 minutes) or to speed up the frame rate to 120 fps? Does the camera have this option? And would 120 fps files too huge to play smoothly if I plan to make the video available on my website through YouTube?

    Could you recommend a free software I could use to modify the frame rate and/or stitch videos together?

    Also, can you give me a little more detail on your power situation? If there is an interruption in AC power, will the camera maintain functionality using its battery pack until AC power is restored?

    Finally, data storage. If the camera “sleeps” at night, is the file still one big AVI? Is there a way to estimate what the file size on disk is of an AVI that is on ten-hour day long? (10 hours * 6 frames/hour * 1 second video/60 frames = 1 second AVI video at 60 fps)

    Thanks in advance for your guidance!

  14. hi erica,
    personally i still prefer the ease of setup with the tlc200pro (the only downside being the low-end-of-the-spectrum resolution at 720p). you might be able to do it with a gopro, but you’ll have to find workarounds for setting a long interval etc.
    if you’re planning on editing the video afterwards, i suggest choosing a higher-than-needed shooting frequency so that you can later decide what to do. you might want to shorten the recorded timeframe or remove dark frames etc.
    the camera only goes up to 30fps, but i believe avifrate allows you to set any framerate. VirtualDub should do the same, and also allow you basic editing (including stitching).

    if you power the camera via the usb-cable, power loss will mean you’ll have to start recording again. it’s either battery power or mains power, but batteries don’t act as a backup unfortunately!
    activating the sleep feature will still result in one big AVI.
    file size: the manual (p.23) says at “best” resolution a single frame is 200-400 kB. from there just multiply with the number of frames you’ll collect.

  15. Thanks Markus – great conversation here.
    I have just bought a BCC200 and have on loan a BCC100. We are going to capture train loading over a period of about 5-12 hours. To test the system I left it on over the weekend (72 hours) pointing out the window. I had the same issue as Phil – after about 24 hours the BCC200 has processed the images into separate avi files. I can stitch them together in iMovies so it’s not really a problem, but I was wondering if this is normal or have I missed a setting? The firmware looks to be up-to-date.
    Early days but I really like the BCC200. Easy to use and if you are capturing over a really long period of time just choose a quiet moment on the project (like when it’s dark) to swap out batteries and the SD card to minimise disruption. I captured the weekend at 10sec/30fps and while the clouds and storms look fantastic, the 12min runtime will not please anyone made to watch it! More experimenting will follow.

  16. Hi Ben,
    there are two normal reasons (that I’m aware of) for the camera to write separate files: Either you have the timer function on, in which case a single file is created for each day, or the video file exceeds the size limit of the SD card’s file format (the common standard, FAT32, limits files to 4GB).
    Sounds like you’re having fun! Do keep us posted!

  17. Hi Ben and thanks!
    I have similar needs as Erica: but I want to leave the camera for 2 months and set it for 1 shot/ hour during daylight. I will use a 32gb card and swap out card and Batteries after 2 months.
    1. Does it save an avi file for each day or one huge file? What Software can I use to edit and pull out sections and individual jpegs?
    2. So without battery/ power combo, there is no option for solar power/ charging, correct? pity.
    3. If I setup for power thru the usb, can I swap out the SD card every month without turning Unit off?

  18. Hi markus
    Great to find such an in-depth review on this topic. The construction of our house will start in about 1 week. (Here in the Netherlands). I dont have wifi nor power at the construction site. The real challenge for is will probably be the battery life. And changing the battery will obviously move the cam. Do you have any idea what that will do with the end result? The construction will take approx. 5-6 months. Any idea how many times I will have to change the batteries? I want to hang the camera in a tree on the construction site. Is there a way to check what has been recorded after a few days? Or can I only do that by taking out the sd card (moving the cam again)? suppose I buy an additional external power. Do you know if it will automatically switch to batteries once it’s empty? Any other ideas to enhance quality, are more than welcome. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience

  19. Hi Jaouad,
    sorry for the late reply – I was traveling and overlooked your comment.
    I believe I read somewhere in the manual that the batteries can be good for up to 30 days. What I can tell you is that there’s no combining of external power and batteries. It’s either one or the other, and if that loses power the camera does not switch automatically.
    If you’ve found more info regarding your questions in the mean time, don’t forget to share it here! :)

  20. So im in the dicision stage as well. i am a semi pro photog so the lingo is clear. I agree with all. Brinno says their new firmware allows the addition of external power supply and WILL revert to the internal batteries in the event of a power failure. The only complaint is no WIFI for easy protective downloading. Brinno was not clear as to the wifi cards. That would make the decision easy.

  21. Hello everyone …. I’ve just recently purchased a TLC200 … it’s awesome.
    I am filming a new build too; I have the camera positioned on a piece of wood in a tree ( haha) to catch all the excitement, and it works a treat.

    I did however; stop recording every evening on the way home from site for the 1st week; and then replace it in the morning to film the days work; more just for my piece of mind to check that what I was capturing was working and that it was in the right position etc ….

    I now; however, have 4 separate days of filming and I’m not sure how to put them altogether to make one video. Especially when I have a longer period of film to add to it. …..

    Is it easy to group them all together at the end? Is their a certain programme you can recommend.
    I have a mac… and I’m sure there’s an easy answer staring me in the face….
    Although I’m ok with a camera, I’m not so great at the editing part ….. hoping someone can please help me…… :)

  22. it’s easy go merge them. i use VirtualDub where you can just open the first file, then select “File – Append AVI” and so on.
    since you’re moving the camera each day, you may get some undesired video jumps though. even just touching it will change the field of view slightly, which in time lapse may be enough to disrupt the experience.

  23. Hi Markus,

    I didn’t see your reply to Mickey Johnson’s question about pulling out individual Jpgs? We;d like to ensure not only that we have a good time lapse video, but that we can pull out still images for Marketing purposes as well. Will the quality be compromised?

  24. Hi there,
    running BCC 100 on batteries recording a long term outdoor project. What happens when batteries go empty? Can I assume auto-switch-off and safe storage of the material onto the SD Card?

  25. Hi!
    Yes, the camera appends each frame right after the image is taken. I had power fall once or twice during an 14 month time lapse. It looks like the camera just finishes the file off properly as soon as it starts up again.

  26. I am sorry if I missed this reply….I can look at this and control it from an app correct?

    BTW, this info was EXACTLY what I needed, I very much appreciate your time and effort and SHARING!

  27. Hi, really useful feed, so thanks for all the comments. If using batteries, do the settings remain each time the batteries are changed?

  28. Markus, you are amazing. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I am not a technical person, so some of the language is unfamiliar. I would like to film a 3 day music festival. It would be 1 day of build and tear down and two days of concerts. I won’t have any access to external power. I’d like to put a camera next to two main stages. Is the TLC200 too much camera for my needs? I am thinking a 1 minute interval for 16 hours each day. I will strap the camera to a light pole. Thanks so much for your advice.

  29. Hi Jeff,
    I think that’s the ideal use case for the TLC200. The only thing I’m not sure of is battery life at your chosen interval – be sure to test that before the festival. also, consider whether you really want so many images in terms of final video length.

  30. Hi Markus, thanks for the info.
    I am looking for a camera than I can record an internal office fitout over 8-16 weeks. Power is not an issue as will be mains powered. Weather is also not an issue as indoors. I will also have access to wifi.

    Now, what I don’t need is 1000 images per day, perhaps just 20/30 (is this enough for timelapse?) As i’d only like a 30second to a minute video at the end of it, (please tell me if there are better settings for this!)
    I’d also like to be able to download images/video from the office, when not on site and then delete from camera.
    I’d like video/photos to be taken during working hours that I determine.

    What camera would you recommend, Brinno/GoPro/something else?

    Many thanks for your time!

  31. Hi Rob,
    personally I’d go with a Brinno TLC200Pro and Eye-Fi Mobi card (wifi-enabled SD card). There may also be other/newer options available.
    As for the number of images, I recommend getting about 2x more than you want in the end – that way you can adjust the speed of the video depending on how fast things move. Just multiply the number of seconds of final video you’d like with the video frame rate (typically, 30 frames per second) and double that, and you’ll get your target total number.

    For more details, check out these related posts: construction time-lapse camera options, Brinno TLC200 Pro & Eye-Fi card

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.