Making beautiful time lapse videos of 3D prints

It would be easy to set a camera next to the printer, set a fixed time lapse between shots, and let it run the while the printer does what it do…. but I want better than that: I want the time lapse to show the growing shape to be the only moving thing in the shot and the printer moves as little as possible.  The difference is intense.

Without printer stabilization
With printer stabilization

This is done with Raspberry Pi that will control both the 3D printer and the web camera.  So enough talk, let’s get to it.

The time lapse tools

The time lapse setup

  1. Follow the steps in the above video until the 6:45 mark. 
  2. Settings > Software Update > Update All.  Restart Octoprint when it requests and surf back to the page.
  3. Settings > Plugin Manager > Get More… > Search: OctoLapse > Install.  I had to be very patient here.  The download was fast, the install took nearly an hour on a Pi B+.  Eventually Restart Octoprint when it requests and surf back to the page. The top will now say OCTOLAPSE instead of OctoPrint.  The Octolapse settings will be hidden in a drop-down menu on the top right, under the user login.  Set your Printer and Stabilization settings.  I chose Back Right because my camera is front left.
octolapse settings
This picture was taken during a timelapse.  Some details may differ.

Time lapse usage

  1. Load a model in Slic3r Prusa and process it as normal.  I used a Tesla wall charger bracket from Thingiverse.
  2. Save the gcode file your computer.
  3. In Octoprint web panel expand the left side Files box and click UploadNot Upload to SD!  Choose the gcode file you saved to your computer.
  4. To the right of Files is a wrench.  Click it and “sort by upload date (descending)”.  Your new file will be at the top of the list of files, which will include whatever is on your Prusa’s SD card.  Timelapses will not be perfect if done from the SD card.  They must be uploaded to the Pi so that the Pi (octolapse) can inject the gcode to move the printer when it’s time to take a photo.
  5. Hit print!

Time lapse results

It looks pretty good!  For better results I will move the filament out of the shot, add a backdrop to hide irrelevant noise, and maybe play with a better camera angle.  Surely Mr. Robot Guy can build a rail for a panning time lapse, right?

See Also

Octoprint’s list of webcameras known to work

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