MWRA Turbine Time-Lapse

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

It’s weird… I thought I’d gotten the wind turbine thing over with, when I did the moonlit turbine video that went until sunrise early one December morning… but here we are again. This is a different turbine than the small Northwind 100 on the McGlynn campus. This is the 1.8 MW installation at the MWRA pumping station in Everett. Notice the MBTA Orange Line cars and commuter rail trains passing by below the turbine.

I plan to do some different angles, locations, and times in the near future, but for now, here’s how the turbine looked before I headed to New Hampshire to teach:

Three Shorts in Glovebox Film Festival 2012

Icosacomposite Video, Shows, Wind Turbines

Well, the results are in, and all three film shorts I submitted made it into the 2012 Glovebox Film Festival. Glovebox is a couple of folks crusading to get interesting art out in front of the public, and I first showed with them when I arrived in Beantown in 2008. Another short of mine was in the 2011 Film Festival, which was a pretty awesome selection of cinematic arts shown at the Somerville Theatre. So, many thanks to Glovebox, and everyone needs to get out and see the selections on August 4th. Remembering last year’s slate, there should be something interesting for anyone’s taste.

These are the three shorts I will have in this year’s Film Festival:

Intersection Worldspin

Harvard Station Icosacomposite

McGlynn Northwind 100 at Sunset

Full-Moon Turbine Nocturne

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

Finally, a night near the full moon that wasn’t overcast. November’s syzygy was a complete bust, and the night before last was completely cloudy. Last night was beautiful, there wasn’t even any horsetail cirrus or little puffy clouds. Those would have been a nice addition, if they had been present, but I’m pretty happy with what I got. Watch the stars go by unobscured!

The time-lapse starts at around 3:30am and ends at sunrise, 7:04am. I didn’t change the exposure settings at all, so the brightening sky becomes an almost complete white-out by the end. The moon’s light illuminates the turbine nicely until the emerging skyglow washes it out. And you can see pretty much when Logan Airport opens for business and starts getting the stacked up runway cleared.

The shooting was pretty uneventful, except for a pleasant conversation I had with a Medford patrol officer around 4:15.

The McGlynn Turbine at Sunset

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

Finally the weather and my schedule allowed me to run a time-lapse near sunset. I was hoping this would allow a nice “natural” fade and get some interesting color effects on the turbine blades, but the weather was not ideal for the style I was working with before. Clear skies means the polarizer turns the sky deep blue and the turbine stays fully illuminated as the sun nears the horizon. Hazy, partly-cloudy skies means the sky stays light blue and the illumination varies widely. However, there’s a gamut of backgrounds for the blurred turbine blades to present against, there’s a whole host of different colors appearing in the sky and the turbine, and the boiling of the clouds provides a lovely physical force for the turbine to be pushing against. I’m happy with the outcome, although a small glitch made the camera eat six frames close to the ending. The abrupt jump was too jarring, so I papered over it with some Photoshop blending. It’s not pretty, but it’ll do. I may simply edit another version of the video to stop just before the cut, but I’m presenting it warts and all here, because the fadeout is too nice to waste.

The Original Pair of Turbine Time Lapse Videos

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

I realized I hadn’t posted these anywhere, so I put them up on Vimeo and am posting there here. In July of 2010 I borrowed a video camera and got footage of various turbines around Boston, including the Northwind 100 at McGlynn Elementary. For that one in particular, I managed to get a full hour of straight footage and dumped it to iMovie. The idea of a time-lapse version only came a while later.

For the “straight” time-lapse, I had to grab every 30th frame and save it off. I wasn’t really able to work with HD-sized files on my ancient PowerMac, so I saved them down to around 480 x 720 to reduce workload. But it still worked pretty well, except for a slight bobble about halfway through:

I also did a 60x version, which I didn’t like as much, so I haven’t uploaded it. To tweak the concept a little, I also did a blurred version of the video. Instead of selecting every thirtieth frame from the video, I merged consecutive thirty-frame blocks into a single frame, blending the image and reproducing the 30x time-lapse in a different way:

Sometimes The Turbine Just Stops

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

I went with everything ready, batteries charged, sensor cleaned, and got some good footage… until the wind died and the turbine stopped. I only included a minute’s worth of still turbine frames at the end, but it was more like half an hour before I decided to quit while I was ahead. Alas, I didn’t make it til sunset, again.

And here’s the composite image:

Another Slow-Shutter Time-Lapse

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

Here’s another time-lapse of the McGlynn turbine, again shot near sunset, and again, the battery died before the sun could actually set. I’ll use the double battery pack tomorrow to make sure that doesn’t happen again. To keep the shutter speed slow while preventing over-exposure, I invested in a neutral-density filter and a polarizer. (The polarizer is why the sky looks such a deep blue here.) It looks like I should invest in a sensor-cleaning as well, since there’s a giant black dust spot in all the frames. But I’m still pretty happy with this video.

And here’s a composite image of all the frames I took, with the dust speck removed: