Into the Rain: Testing my GBT Rig for the ESO Ultra HD Expedition

This post is also available in: German

Prior to our ESO Ultra HD Expedition to Chile I am testing my gear with some new XTPower powerbanks, including usage with my autonomous GBTimelapse Rig, for powering it’s Emotimo as well as a Canon 6D.

During such a test, a wonderful transition time-lapse emerged on a very tricky scene, which I want to share with you. This time-lapse covers sunset to a moonlit night into a heavy weather storm in the morning. Which is actually a extremely wide exposure range by itself. Below are the details.

Wetterumschwung from Christoph Malin on Vimeo.

Goal: Let’s see how much rain this Rig can stand? Not really, but it can take some 😉 Good to know the 6D is weather sealed as well as the AFS 14-24 Nikon.

Technique: Holy Grail Day to Night to Day Transition controlled by GBTimelapse… Lots of clouds passing by the moon, which would normally cause a bad flicker.

Start: 5:57 pm just a moment after at sunset, End 07:08 am (scheduled for 10:00 am, but stopped earlier due to rain and snow). Weather predictions were that in the Morning weather would change from stormy South Winds we had all week, to West Winds bringing Rain below and Snow above 800 m altitude…

When I arrived back a the set location (somewhere near Innsbruck) it had already started to rain/snow, but due to the aperture still being on f2.8 at 07:00 am (it would later ramp up), one can’t see much drops at the end of the Timelapse.

Note: GBTimelapse is able to at the same time auto ramp
– Aperture
– Interval
– Color Temp
– Exposure

as well as computing automatic sunset/sunrise exposure compensation due to given GPS coordinates.

Wet, wet, very wet. Good to know that the 6D and 14-24 are sealed well.

Wet, wet, very wet. Good to know that the 6D and 14-24 are sealed well.

Furthermore at the same time GBT sticks to a (ramped) target luminance, while doing automated luminance adjustments. And while active on the time-lapse program for the night and day, the software even provides the option of displaying a time-lapse movie preview of all previously taken images of the set, should it be necessary, as well as allowing some parameter adjustments while the TL is active.

Try to do all this with an Android device ;). DSLRDashboard is great, but nothing compares to the premium, nearly ready to use, time-lapse footage GBTimelapse creates.

Using a powerful Ultrabook with such an application (don’t go less than i5 with GBTimelapse!) makes sense, as well in this case the proven 11″ Macbook Air powerhouse. It is currently the budget option in Apple’s lineup, and has served me well from the 5000 m of the Atacama to the peaks of the Alps. I use the Air as a Win7 / OSX dual boot, as I had a bit of trouble with GBTimelapse in Parallels, and in this case it is better run GBTimelapse in a native environment. Worth to note, I have also considered and tested some Windows 8 Tablets from Atom to i7, but they all failed or had poor connectivity. So the MacBook Air solved everything and is a no-brainer.

– My Good ol’ beaten Stage Zero, a bullet proof, robust dinosaur
Emotimo / Canon 6D / Aperture Stepper on Nikon AFS 14-24/2.8 controlled with GBTimelapse, running on 11″ MacBook Air powered with an add. HyperJuice 150, early stage of that Rig here
– Emotimo powered by 12V XTPower Powertank, Stage Zero on DP LiIon
– 1740 images RAW Sequence written directly to Angelbird’s amazing ultra robust SSD2Go

Programmed Move:
– … SZ crawling to the right, Emotimo slowly panning to the left

Not much necessary…

1) 1740 RAW image sequence imported into Adobe Lightroom 5, Color graded/Highlights/Shadow, changes save to XMPs, then quit LR5
2) XMPed LR5 Sequence imported to Adobe After Effects CC and rendered out to 4K ProRes 4444 (took a current Retina 15″ MacBook Pro 02 hrs 14 mins to get the job done (see also my test on time-lapse processing)

Note: AE is able to read out and process ALL XMPs of such a sequence, not only the first image. So you just color grade the Sequence in Lightroom, “save the changes to metadata” and that’s it. You can now import that Sequence in AE, and render it. Done.

It is outstanding how accurate GBTimelapse did the automatic luminance adjustment for this time-lapse, considering the massive cloud shadow induced flicker.

Actually this time-lapse looks easy. But just check the constant brightness of the moonlit sky against the strong intermittent shadows on the mountain landscape, as well how excellent it coped with the massive ambient light exposure brightness changes during that full moonlight night to clouds and fog in the morning.

This is excellent automated luminance adjustment leading to a perfect overnight holy grail, that needs minimal processing and saves time on production. One would think that a GBDeflicker run in post could be necessary upon such strong cloud flicker, but no, it wasn’t. Due to GBTimelapse’s on-the-fly luminance adjustment no post ramping/leveling was necessary.

Back in the office, I just took the Angeldisk SSD from the GBT controlling Pelicase, and started the processing workflow.

A note to the new SSD2go: Angelbird’s SSD2go is probably the worlds best (expedition) storage product for such demanding applications, I have seen in my long IT career.

It is super solid, fast as hell, designed, developed and made entirely in Austria. And the SSD2go is not only an extremely fast storage medium, but also very well thought out regarding safety of previous time-lapse data: Check this amazing attention to detail… To ensure maximum safety of work and data Angeldisk engineered a dedicated power circuit, which includes overload and static protection and an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), a four second power backup which will shut down the drive safely in the event of a power loss.

Well, talk about time-lapse and you know the term “power loss” just too good. It all has happened before. With the SSD2go I now sleep much better, knowing that my precious data is taken care of, state of the art.

Seeing the footage, reminds me that the Emotimo is missing a optional Dust/Rain- or Neopren-Cover, better than my DIY backpack rain cover shell solution. Need to do that soon.

Have fun!
Christoph Malin

One thought on “Into the Rain: Testing my GBT Rig for the ESO Ultra HD Expedition

  1. First of all, bravo. I am with a similar system, DP0, Emo TB3Black, 5DMKII, I would really appreciate to share a bit more about your setup. I am located in Europe, (Belgium and France), please don’t hesitate if you’re open on sharing !, All my best for next steps !

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