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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.


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Old March 27th, 2009, 04:58 PM   #1
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Canon XL H1 & The Mumford Time Machine Intervelometer

Hi friends. I just received my Mumford Time Machine from Mumford Micro Systems in Santa Barbara, California. This device is an advanced Intervelometer-Motion Control Actuator designed by Motion Control Expert Bryan Mumford. The TM device has the wonderful ability to not only control digital Still SLR's, but it also has a LANC interface for camcorders, thus opening up the Canon XL H1 for timelapse shooting in full resolution HDV HD ! (Although not in actual single frame mode per se ) I have a web Tv series which I need to shoot some timelapse shots for, unfortunately, there is no solution out on the market at the time of this post which can capture true single frame timelapse in full HD resolution, other than the Panasonic HVX 200 A P 2 camcorder.

I will be shooting a series of TL tests over this weekend to see how short a filming interval I can get away with using with the XL H1. I don't think the transport on the H1 is precise enough for shooting burts any shorter than 3/4 to 1/2 of a second. It is my intention to remove the redundant frames in post so that I wind up with just one frame per so many minutes, The nice thing about going this route, is you are also able to fire off flashes, turn on and off lights, be auto triggered by light or sound, and also trigger motion controlled round tables with which you can mount your camcorder or digital still camera on for more dynamic X and Y movements as you shoot timelapse progression. The TM intervelometer can also send a "wake up" signal to camcorders after they have already shut off to save the tape on thde heads before the next frame is taken when shooting between long time intervals !

I know there are several other devices about to come out which can also shoot timelapse in HD resolution, but they are a few months away and we need to shoot now. I'll see if I can post some short sequences here to show you the results of some of my tests.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 02:17 PM   #2
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Hi Mark,

Great to hear that you have found a solution. What was the cost of the unit?

Thanks,
Garrett
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Old March 28th, 2009, 02:53 PM   #3
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Hi Mark,

Great to hear that you have found a solution. What was the cost of the unit?

Thanks,
Garrett
....Hey Garret. I'm shooting the first test out of my front living room window right now as i write this post :-) The unit is really quite inexpensive @ $ 325.00 for the unit itself, and another $75.00 for the LANC adaptor cable and another $75.00 for the electroluminescent screen, plus $10.00 for an AC wall adaptor (110 Volt 60 Hz). I paid a total of $507.00 including insured First Class USPS up here to Montreal, Canada. The unit even came with a brand new Duracel 9 volt battery installed. The instruction book is long and detailed. You have to create a "Dummy" plug and insert that into the "sensor" socket to keep the unit in "always triggered" mode to use it in Movie-LANC control mode. The XL H1 simply lifts the tape off of the heads after 4 minutes, so when you set the "run Interval," it must be about 50 % longer than what you want to get.

i.e. to get about 1 second, you must set the run interval to 2 seconds. I think this is due to the lag between the TM, the LANC bus, and the time it takes for the H1 to put the tape back on the heads. However, I see the green pause turn to Red Recording Dot for about 1/2 to 1 second, then back to pause again. I'll post the results tonight after the Sun sets :-)

EDIT: Nope ! I'm having problems. At this point it is difficult to tell exactly what is causing the difficulties, but the symptoms are erratic camera control via LANC interface in the Full Green Mode. The camera will roll and stop as programmed by the TM intervelometer, then after a few times will lose control and run continuously in a "wild' manner recording continuously without stopping again. I'm wondering if it has anything to do with what mode the camera is in ? I looked in the Canon XL H1 manual, but I couldn't find anything on running the camera via remote LANC control. Can anyone inform me as to if the XL H1 needs to be set to some special setting in the menu or put in certain shooting modes only if you are using an external LANC controller ?

EDIT # 2: OK. Time run interval was set a little too short for the H1's logic control transport mechanism to respond properly. When I increased the run interval to 5 seconds, then the LANC signal sent from the Time Machine was long enough to allow for the H1 to move off of Standby mode (Camera On but tape off of heads) back to camera on-tape on heads-pause-then tape rec roll-then pause again. Working out the best timing combinations is a total trial and error proceedure ;-)

Last edited by Mark Job; March 28th, 2009 at 04:49 PM.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 09:34 PM   #4
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The Jury's Still Out on This Device

Well, the results of my first tests with The Time Machine Intervelometer connected to the XL H1 via the LANC interface were not very encouraging :-( What happens is after so many successful 5 minute cycles of the timer (Say 15 to 25), the camera would simply remain in standby mode and no longer respond (Or incorrectly respond) to the LANC impulse from the Time Machine. I do want to speak directly with the manufacturer and check my settings first before arriving at any final conclusions.

Also, there are some factors to figure in with the XL H1. In HDV recording, you have a Long GOP MPEG 2 encoding process to deal with that you don't have in intra-frame DV recording. The HDV encoding process seems to introduce some lag time between the moment you press the record button and the time it takes for the video and audio signal to pass through the hardware encoder and begin the process of laying down the encoded signal onto the rolling tape. Plus, there is the time the recorder machinery takes to go from pause to record roll, plus the tiny lag in the send signal and respond time between the externally connected LANC device and the LANC bus in the camera. What timelapse results I got on tape where very clean cuts between each cycle. There is no drop outs or visible artifacts of any kind between each 5 second burst recorded on the tape. Each transition is very clean.

In addition to the signal lag, there is also the fact the H1 unloads the tape from the head after about 4 minutes and 30 seconds on pause. This feature conflicts with the sweet spot in landscape timelapse which lies between 00:4:30 and 00:5:30. The tape remount introduces yet another significant mechanical and electrical delay between the camera receiving the record pulse over its LANC bus and being able to respond. According to the Time Machine manual, you can setup a wake up signal to be sent from the Intervelometer to the camera just before the point where it umounts the tape from the heads. Unfortunately, in order for the wake up signal to keep the camera alive and primed to shoot off its short bursts, it must roll a tiny amount of tape ! Well, this is obviously undesireable, since it introduces short bursts of unequal time and intervals into your timelapse sequence !

Tomorrow, I will try introducing a slightly longer recording interval from a 5 second burst to a 6, then a 7, and so on to see at what point the process does not fail (If any ??)

Last edited by Mark Job; March 28th, 2009 at 10:46 PM.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 01:26 AM   #5
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Results of Sunday's Timelapse Tests with the TM Intervelometer

Hi XL H1 shooters. Today's tests were also a failure, but the results still remain inconclusive. I had the internal 9 volt battery die half way through one sequence I was shooting ! Although I also have the AC power supply for the unit, I prefer to carry out the tests using the 9 volt battery power to get an idea of the actual run time of a brand new battery and reproduce as much as possible the conditions I will be experiencing in the field where there are no AC power outlets.

At an Interval between exposures of 5 minutes and a camera run time of 7 seconds, the XL H1 behaved irraticly as far as actually recording cycles to tape :-( You could tell (something ?) was not right because I was getting a record run (Red dot in viewfinder) indicating I was recording a short 7 second exposure to tape, but the red tally light was *not* going on. (??) Even so, sometimes the H1 would record something to tape in this condition and sometimes it would not.

i.e. No record light before Time Machine battery dies, but recorded cycles to tape, Same condition after I replaced internal 9 volt battery with a fresh battery and no exposures were recorded to tape. (??)

Tomorrow I will test the unit with timelaspe intervals which run from 1 to 4 minutes between exposures along with much shorter camera run times (1 to 5 seconds instead of 7). The difference with tomorrow's tests are that the H1 does not remove the tape from the heads until *after* the 4 minute mark, therefore, the H1 will be in full record pause mode when it receives the "run" LANC signal. (I expect better results from the camera's tape transport).

As I stated in an earlier post in this thread, I'm convinced part of the malfunction with longer duration timelapse shots comes from the camera unloading the tape off of the heads @ the 4:30 second point, so when the TM sends the "record start" command over the LANC line, the camera has to go through a reload and position process with the tape, then fly into record in time, and it just doesn't quite get there ! :-( I also wrote about an interesting built in feature on the Time machine which is called the "keep awake" command. This signal is supposed to wake up a camera from sleep, or standby and give it time to prepare fore the record interval. I tried a few settings with the "KA" setting but it didn't work, so I turned it off. I will try to play with those settings a little more when I test long duration timelapse again later. The good news is that many kinds of timelapse shots of Sunrises and Sunsets, or cloud formations are best recorded between intervals of 1 to 4 minutes maximum, since these features move fairly fast and don't require long intervals between exposures to get a good result. We'll see. Who knows ?
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Old March 30th, 2009, 07:27 AM   #6
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I have been shooting time-lapse successfully for some time now with various controllers.
In my professional opinion... If you ditch the HDV camera for time-lapse work and switch to a DSLR camera you will have success!

Good Luck!
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Old March 30th, 2009, 09:14 AM   #7
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Good Morning,

I have done timelapse in SD. Must say that the best I have seen however has been a dslr then placing them on the timeline as a sequence. I have contemplated buying andf xsi or or such just for this.

I have used scealyzer through my computer (lap top) run off an inverter. Problem is this program does not run hd.

I did make sure the camera does not go into sleep mode or auto shut off via the menu. I just left everything running for the two hours needed.

If shooting something that takes a huge amount of time more than that i think the DSLR is the better answer.


If you can sort this out that would be awesome to have a tool that actually worked!!!
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Old March 30th, 2009, 09:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
I have been shooting time-lapse successfully for some time now with various controllers.
In my professional opinion... If you ditch the HDV camera for time-lapse work and switch to a DSLR camera you will have success!

Good Luck!
...Yes. You can also use a wide variety of dSLR's and inexpensive cameras like the Coolpix, etcetera with the Mumford Time Machine, I do think I can use my Canon HDV camera, only, there are more limitations than there would be otherwise with a DSLR.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 09:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
Good Morning,

I have done timelapse in SD. Must say that the best I have seen however has been a dslr then placing them on the timeline as a sequence. I have contemplated buying andf xsi or or such just for this.
....Yes. This is one way you can go with the Mumford Time Machine. I am designing a solid state capture device which will capture timelapse and in full HD and video in full HD to SD cards, but that solution is at least 10 months or more away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
I have used scealyzer through my computer (lap top) run off an inverter. Problem is this program does not run hd.
...Yup. Problem is with most of the current solutions, wether they be software or electronic (Firestore), they won't do it in HD. I need timelapse to match our live action quality shot in HDV. Therefore, I'm going this route for now.


If
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
shooting something that takes a huge amount of time more than that i think the DSLR is the better answer.
...Yes. I think you are right.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
If you can sort this out that would be awesome to have a tool that actually worked!!!
...Indeed. This is what I'm trying to do now, and I think I will get there, I just need to work out which parameters are workable around the natural limitations of the XL H1 transport.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 11:51 PM   #10
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First Successful Timelapse Test at HD Resolution !

Hi XL H1 shooters. Success ! The first parameter that worked successfully and repeatedly was a 3 second burst at a 4 minute interval between exposures. I am sure this is because the interval was set to a time *before* the auto tape unloading point is reached (4:30). I will conduct more tests tomorrow to see about shooting with shorter intervals of 3 minutes, 2 minutes and 1 minute. At this point I can confirm the following...........

1. Timelapse shooting directly to HDV tape in full HDV resolution is possible with this device.

2. If you use the great big Canon battery (970 G), your XL H1 will have enough power for over six plus hours of shooting, which is often long enough to shoot a sunrise or sunset or cloud formation or lanscapes. I would say you should be trouble free for any kind of timelapse sequence whereby you are not shooting at intervals longer than 4 minutes. Plant growth shooting in HDV timelapse may prove problematic.

3. One fresh 9 volt alkaline battery in the Time Machine seems to last approximately 9 hours in continuous use. This is usually long enough for you to shoot what you need to on location.

Watch the first successful test result out of my living window at
Please Stand By
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Old March 31st, 2009, 06:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Andrew Job View Post
Hi XL H1 shooters. Success ! The first parameter that worked successfully and repeatedly was a 3 second burst at a 4 minute interval between exposures. I am sure this is because the interval was set to a time *before* the auto tape unloading point is reached (4:30). I will conduct more tests tomorrow to see about shooting with shorter intervals of 3 minutes, 2 minutes and 1 minute. At this point I can confirm the following...........

1. Timelapse shooting directly to HDV tape in full HDV resolution is possible with this device.


Watch the first successful test result out of my living window at
Please Stand By
I was going to post how you were not going to get a nice looking smooth time-lapse with a 3 second burst every 4 minutes, But I don't have to, as you posted a link to it.
I'm sorry to be so critical, but that is not what I would consider a successful test.
To be blunt... It looks awful.

Mark, you seem so determined to try and re-invent the wheel.
Many have tried to do time-lapse recording with the long gop format, and then realized that because of the limitations, and the fact that their time-lapse looked like dogie doo,
have quickly moved on to a format and method that gives spectacular results.

Take a clue from the pros that are doing national work.
A DSLR will give you infinite possibilities, and cut perfectly with your HDV footage!
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Old March 31st, 2009, 11:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
I was going to post how you were not going to get a nice looking smooth time-lapse with a 3 second burst every 4 minutes, But I don't have to, as you posted a link to it.
I'm sorry to be so critical, but that is not what I would consider a successful test.
To be blunt... It looks awful.

Mark, you seem so determined to try and re-invent the wheel.
Many have tried to do time-lapse recording with the long gop format, and then realized that because of the limitations, and the fact that their time-lapse looked like dogie doo,
have quickly moved on to a format and method that gives spectacular results.

Take a clue from the pros that are doing national work.
A DSLR will give you infinite possibilities, and cut perfectly with your HDV footage!
....David. As I said in the article in my blog along with the soundtrack narration I put over the timelapse sequence I made, this was only a test and I agree with you this looks bad. I wasn't *trying* to make art here. At 4 minutes, this interval is far too long - but that wasn't the point. You also have to consider, there is the issue of not going for always the highest resolution, rather, I am trying to find a timelapse solution which *matches resolution* with the rest of the live action dialogue footage we have shot. This episode will debut in a very large screen Cinema, and I don't want the beginning of the film to have DSLR resolution, then suddenly *shift to HDV.* Regarding the limitations of the long GOP format, this can be adequately dealt with by manually eliminating the redundant extra frames from the sequence bursts in Avid Media Composer until you only are left with one frame per timelpased interval. I agree this is a totally inelagant approach to the issue-but it works.

I quote from my blog posting of the video........

"Be careful not to get a false impression of how the final timelapse sequences will look. These test are made only to judge functionality of the Intervelometer settings. These shots are by no means art !"

I respectfully disagree with you as far as whether this test was successful. It was a success because it proved you could do timelapse with an HDV camcorder, but of course you wouldn't put what I shot Yesterday out as "professional product." Our web Tv series is the only dramaticly produced production currently shooting out of Canada for a world wide Internet audience. We are making this productioon on less than what many would consider a shoe-string budget. In our production we often face the challenge of re-inventing the wheel. Thanks for your input :-)
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Old March 31st, 2009, 01:56 PM   #13
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Hey if you want to re-invent the wheel, go for it.
I was just offering a solution that is currently available, gives professional results, and would match your current video.

Good Luck with your project!
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Old March 31st, 2009, 03:21 PM   #14
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Hey if you want to re-invent the wheel, go for it.
I was just offering a solution that is currently available, gives professional results, and would match your current video.

Good Luck with your project!
Hey David, thanks for your feedback and your generous suggestions, but we're in a very financially challenged position with Please Stand By right now, and we need to make use of the equipment we have already heavily invested in and spend as little extra buying more equipment (Ergo - dSLR's as per your suggestion).

Kindest Regards,

Mark
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Old March 31st, 2009, 03:34 PM   #15
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Different Intervelometer Shooting Mode Yields Slightly better Results

Hi XL H1 shooters. I spoke with the creator of the Time Machine, Bryan Mumford, in Sanata Barabara, California this Afternoon and explained to him the results I was getting with the XL H1. Bryan suggested using a different timelapse shooting mode called *Bulb Mode.* This made things much easier and was a more logical way to shoot with a camcorder. I found that a 3 second burst at a 50 second interval should make those clouds pass by at a slower, more fluid rate. I still find that the H1 wants to 'break away' and run 'wild,' so to speak every once in awhile. You have to watch what you're doing if you decide to go this route. If I found the camera running on after it finished its 3 second burst, then simply hitting the record/stop button on top of the camera would reset the cycle and you can pick up where you left off. This does not happen very often, but you need to check what you're doing. I will post a functionality test link this evening after Sunset and removing the redundant frames in my NLE.
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