Things are going great!

I dont know how well I can grow carniverous plans, but i am the king of growing sphagnum moss. this stuff i out of control, i started with a very tiny living piece and it is growing like crazy. I have to be careful it does not overgrow the plants as several times it started covering the middle of the plant. Cant let that happen! 🙂

So i am chalk full of some great material, and today is the last day of august. I am hoping i can push the dormancy out a little bit more, with any luck ill be shooting through October, then i put the little guys to sleep. That gives me about 2 months, The plants all seem to be doing very well, some of the low lying FVT’s have taken a slight yellow cast, i am thinking they are stressed from about 3 weeks of shooting with only a single hour of Night cycle each night.

I have probably 3 minutes worth of footage, most of it i find myself speeding up a bit, i think i will start knocking the interval from 15 to 20 minutes.

Time really is of the essence at this point, as these plants do require dormancy, I am hoping the extended Day cycles will keep them in a nice summer mood for just a while longer. SO why the extended day cycles? well they are grown in LED light, and i think they need a little bit more than a 14-18 hour daylight period would give them. Also. by taking the nigh cycle down to an hour it keeps more of a universal feel to the growth of the moss, it seems to be pretty constant rather than pulsing as it does with a longer night cycle.

I know none of this is optimal for the plants, but so far they seem to be plugging away quite nicely, well except a couple of the FTV’s are stressed. So for the next day or two they will be sitting outside, i may push shooting out 2 days to give them a chance to relax, but I cant wait much longer than that.

As for the set, it has taken a few different incarnations. First off was that large set I built. It had a built in watering system, it is a prettyrobust setup and works great.

Below: Carniverous plant set in use with LED lighting


Below: Shooting Red Dragon on the Carnivorous Plant Set.


Below: Red Dragon Venus Fly Trap on the Set. FUJI6046
Below: “Debugging the set” with CO2.DSCF7590


I am pretty pleased with how that set is working out. However i did find it difficult to get the correct composition and found myself grabbing and moving the plants around in order to put them how i want them and i did not like doing that. Then i started getting those stupid little white bugs again, so gave it a C02 bath to drown all the bugs. I learned this trick on a terrarrium forum where some people get bugs in thier terrarium but the plants may be too delicate to handle any insecticides. So they can put a small cup of water with a chunk of dry ice in it. The dry ice boils into C02, which is heavier than oxygen and it pushes it out of the enclosure which basically causes the bugs to drown on C02.

I ended up using this technique and while it can be a little bit tricky, it works like a charm!

Below: Fly traps enjoying a C02 bath



The set is pretty nice. I have to admit. especially considering it is only the second time i have built one, and the first one adding irrigation that could allow for watering without disrupting the plants., Total cost was probably somewhere along the lines of $40-$50.

I shot on the set a little bit longer, then decided to find a way that was a little bit more flexible for placement and just as easy with the watering.

I ended up picking buying HD 1080p projector, a screen, and grabbed a freeware screen saver that allows me to set the slide interval in 15 minutes. Using my old laptop, and the  Projector i can project images on the background.  There was no need to synchronize,  unless the laptop and BCM were so off on time that they showed a 4-5 minute drift every few days they held sync just fine.

I keep the plants in shallow slotted trays and put them in even shallower and larger trays of water. This method REALLY makes a difference when it comes to keeping growth steady. By using a large watering tray it is very easy to keep constant water levels. I just draw a mark on the side and each day put in a small amount of water to get it back to that point, usually it drops no more than 3-4 mm a day .  If watering in cycles the soil tends to puff up after it has been watered then slowly drops until the next watering cycle and cause it to look like it is breathing which i prefer to avoid, so this new method prevents those problems and also makes it easy to water the plants without disrupting them.

Below: The water tray method in use with Projector. 20140809_155612

Below: Some of the slides from the water tray method, Straight out of camera, No processing, no cropping.FUJI0002DSCF8791FUJI9408 FUJI7110


As you can see the results look pretty good.

Here is a teaser Video for this series, The final will involve lots of motion controlled shots as well as focus pulls and a larger variety of plants.

I have a total of 20 clips at this point. All stationary. I am hoping for another 30 clips at least, with macro motion control in 10-15 of those.  I hope by sacrificing just a couple days of shooting and letting the plants live outside with some proper night cycles i think they should be good for this next month of shooting.

I plan to combine the water tray method with the carnivorous set next, and add some focus pulls and linear motion. I am even considering to see if i can get that eMotimo TB3 black to actually trigger when i sent it the signal. So far it had not worked too well.

So today i pulled everything out, put the rest of the plants into some new trays so i can get ready for the next shoot.

But first, they need another C02 bath. Towards the end i was starting to see those darn white bugs again

Below, Putting the plants and a log I want to use in the next set in a bin for a nice fun C02 bath.

DSCF8620 DSCF8621 DSCF8624 DSCF8627 DSCF8629 DSCF8630 DSCF8635 DSCF8631


After that, it was time to get everything put together and outside so the plants can get a well deserved break 🙂


Looking forward to the next shoot@



Been quiet huh?

Thats because i have been super busy. The Biolapse set is really rocking it right now. I just pulled a 4 day lapse of a Sundew and i must say it is probably one of the best plant timelapse clips I have ever seen.  And I’m awfully critical about my own stuff.

I just started filming the pitcher plant, looking forward to seeing how that works out 🙂

Here are some frames from the results i have been getting.







Making some progress. Dealing with bugs.

An extremely large family of springtails had moved into the biolapse set. I think i got them, and im hoping for at least a few days of bug free shooting. I used dry ice to create a CO2 bath which should suffocate the bugs and leave the plants unharmed.

I also have both the FUji XE-1 and XM-1 filming now, along with my new super secret piece of technology that I am going to be a jerk about and keep secret until i see how well it works. 🙂


Co2 Baths.DSCF7592

Shooting Carnivores!

Biolapse news update!

1) FINALLY shooting the carniverous plants! Im very excited to be shooting these. Its amazing how fast time can go by, and these plants require a dormancy period, so i had to get on it and fast.

2) Two cameras! I managed to get a killer deal on a used Fuji XM-1, and it arrived yesterday.  I have to build a cable, apparently the XM-1 uses micro USB for a shutter release instead of the TRS 2.5

3) New hardware arrived, this is the secret gear I mentioned in my last update. It is pretty slick, it will take a bit of time to get it all implemented together.

4) I am going to start putting together a short film for my Sedum Tile set. I probably have 5-6,000 images.  I cant wait to get that done, but i have bigger fish to fry right now.

5) We are working on a pan/tilt. I have an eMotimo Tb3 that i can use, but my general nature is to assume i can do a better job than anyone else.  The Tb3 is a slick system indeed, however it does not do everything I need, so we are making our own system. But how to control it? I already have a good idea of the interface I want to use, but the brains are my primary concern. The Arduino Uno R3 was great for the first ChronoController. I could go the route of the Atmega 2560 as seen on the Arduino Mega, but I am still stuck with a single threading 16mhz processor.  eMotimo shows how you can control three motors at the same time with some slick coding tricks, but i would prefer not to have that limitation from the get go. Also, with emotimo if you are moving PT and then tilt the controller to move the third axis, you notice it slows down. This is because the arduino can only do one thing at a time, it may seem you can do two things at once, but that is just a trick with timers to eliminate blocking from delays. The slowdown is the ports trying to turn on and off at nearly the same time, resulting in port manipulation waiting for the prior to finish. For the eMotimo this not really a big deal at all, but for what I want to put together, I need more.

Enter the Rasperri Pi. This is nothing really new, and there are newer better versions already from other manufacturers, but it has become a standard already for micro computing.  It is a small linux computer a little bit bigger than an arduino with multi threading capability as well as a 700mhz processor, about 32x faster than the arduino. It should be able to handle 3-4 stepper motors, while simultaneously updating a display in real time without suffering any slowdown in performance.  Also, rather than a limit of about 256k of memory with 2k of ram, you can have 8 gigs (depends on SD card size) of space with 512k of ram. The numbers may be off slightly as I don’t have the tech specs in front of me and I’m too lazy to pop open a Google browser and search (however I’m not to lazy to write a long disclaimer that takes more time than to fact check) but you get the drift.

This opens the possibility for a far far more robust system. The Pi is not perfect for this work, and there will be technical challenges, but once you get that first LED to blink, and that first button to work, and that first motor to turn, the doors open up. The Raspberri Pi has been around long enough that you can dig around online and find the answers to most technical problems pretty quickly.  I could probably finish Epoch with a Arduino Mega in a quarter of the time it will take with the Raspberri Pi as I learn Python, but i think the extra effort will result in a system with far more potential and capability than anything else that has been dreamed up.

And of course, I will document the process to build your very own Epoch controller with off the shelf parts in case you do not wish to buy one pre-made.

In the meantime I have noticed that  our orders have dropped off a bit, where we normally had 3-4 orders in the hopper on any given day, it has really dropped down. I suspect such companies as Dynamic Perception, Axis 360, and are kicking our asses in sales due to the very well done kickstarter campaigns. But this is actually very little concern to us, we only build what people order, and as long as people order, we will build.

This gives me a chance to sort of explain Project Chronos a little bit. Neither Kyle or I ever sat out to build up a company.  We never intended to try to compete with anybody. The whole thing started out as an online DIY recipe for anyone who wanted to build their own system. Then one day somebody asked us to build them a system. Then another, then another. We eventually had to create a legitimate business because we were getting enough build requests that it would cause us some tax problems so we went legit.  By in large we ignore what everyone else is doing and just focus on doing what we enjoy. We are not trying to compete with anyone.  This is not a required source of income for either of us, so if we get one more order, and never another order, well, cool. I have more free time then, aside from maybe the occasional repair for a damaged system.  So I will move forward with Epoch which i intend to control pan, tilt, linear, and focus/zoom.  However, if we get 50 orders tomorrow, we will start working to fullfill those as well. But no matter what, I personally guarantee lifetime performance from anything we build. None of this 1 year warranty crap. If somebody has once of our systems and uses it for 6 years and it dies out, ill fix that for free. The only time where there may be a service repair charge is if there was some sort of intentional act at modifying it that damaged it.  But we would rather you just contact us if you want something modified so we can work it out for you. 😉

Kyle and I just really enjoy building and designing things.  The Chronos Project helps fun that passion for us. Without the company we would still be doing what we do, just without any external funding. 😉

%d bloggers like this: