Enhancing the Visual Appeal of HPWREN Camera Time-lapse Animations

December 13, 2019

This summary was sent to HPWREN from a camera image user.

By Pete Axcell

I am a local San Diego outdoor photographer, hiker and amateur meteorologist, I can't think of a better website to use than HPWREN for all of these things. It allows me to to track interesting weather in real time and plan spur of the moment trips. For all the events I miss, HPWREN has all of their images and 3 hour clips archived that I can use to create interesting time-lapse videos. I have a much better grasp of our local San Diego weather patterns than I ever would have imagined through using this website. The newer higher resolution cameras added in the last few years have fantastic image quality. The HPWREN cameras gave us and unprecedented view to several wildfires in the last few years. This is data that local news, the public, and fire crews should be accessing since it is real time and not putting anyone in danger. Also the data may be important to the Forest Service to monitor forest health and changes over long time scales.

Currently I am editing video in Adobe Premiere. When using the 3 hour clips, or individual image sequences, the best settings for a time-lapse seem to be increasing the speed 300%, setting the "time interpolation" to "frame blending" and using cross-fades between clips. With these settings, the final output should be 60 frames per second, which YouTube now handles well, to have smooth playback. This tells the software how you want it calculate the missing or extra frames when the input fps doesn't match the output.

The two images show a view of the Holy Jim Fire from Santiago Peak (on top), and a winter view from Boucher Hill.

Some suggestions for the website

If you would like the public to really dive into all the saved data, there are a few minor things you might consider changing in the website:

Maybe a prominent brief description of what is available and instructions for the links on the website such as:

The name "360 degree panorama" doesn't fully describe everything that is there (todays time-lapses, yesterdays time-lapses, current images, plus all archived images and time-lapses). So "360 degree panorama" might be switched to "recent time-lapse clips and image archives?"

A hangup for visitors might be using the word "data" as a link to the time-lapse and image archives. (most people wont click on the word "data", assuming its some techno gibberish. Not everyone is a science nerd like us!)

Also somewhere in the instructions a description of what the time segment naming of the time-lapse clips means. For example:

00-03 means 12AM - 3AM, 18-21 means 6PM - 9PM. When most people look a the chart of time-lapse times, they have no idea what it means. Maybe if possible just switch the times to regular clock hrs with AM and PM included?

My wish list is to always have more frequent image acquisition, though I'm well aware of how much data that would generate!!! Overall its a great site and everything is accessible but it could be a bit more user friendly for the general public.

My latest videos using HPWREN data on YouTube include (click on image thumbnails below to watch the videos):

Pete Axcell - artist, photographer, video editor