Melting Ice Cube Time Lapse

During the last months I've seen some amazing time lapse videos of various themes. I was so impressed that I started reading and viewing tutorials about its creation. I aqquired a timer control for my camera and started to try to produce a time lapse video for myself.

The idea was to capture an ice cube that is melting in the hot summer sun. The first attempt was a glass with a couple of ice cubes in it. But the result was not satisfying. I have set the camera to Av mode with a fixed aperture and let the camera calculate shutter speed automatically. But, as the ice cubes were melting there was less and less white parts in the image and the shutter speed varied from frame to frame. This resulted in flickering. On the other hand, the glass had scratches and the sun was reflecting in it. Furthermore in the end there was some carbon floating on the water. The result was an interesting time lapse of melting ice, but the side effects were very disturbing.

So I tried a different approach. I took a black foil and layed it onto a table in the bright sun at my balcony. The camera with my EF-S 55-250mm kit zoom lens was mounted on a tripod right in front of it. I've choosen a focal length of full 250mm to get the small ice cube as large as possible. This time I set the camera to fully manual mode with an aperture of f/13 to get the object quite clear and a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. ISO was set to 100 due to the sunny conditions. These settings should guarantee a constant light condition in each frame and thus prevents flickering in the resulting video. I attached the timer control and set it to release the camera every 1 second.

Then everything must be done quickly. I grabbed one ice cube from the fridge and placed it onto the black foil. With autofocus activated I let the camera choose the focus, but did not release the shutter. When the focus was set I turned autofocus off and started the timer control. And I only could wait until the ice has melted completely.

One further setting of the camera is worth mentioning. I changed the file setting to JPG only with a medium size of about 1280px in width. This size is sufficient for HD videos and due to the relatively small file size the camera can save the images much faster and the memory card can store more files. This is quite essential because you are capturing a lot of frames in constant time intervals and do not want the camera to pause inbetween for storing files or to stop caturing because of a full memory card.

The resulting video, which I created with a program called "Picture2Avi", is quite nice. Nothing spectacular, but interesting to watch. The black foil in the bright sun created a nice effect. It was heating up like a oven and produced a lot of heat to the bottom of the ice cube which causes it to form a mushroom like shape before it falls down. Looks funny. But, there are still some points that I'm not statisfied with. The video is shivering a bit in the beginning. I suppose this is a result of some wind. Due to the high focal length every minimal movement of the lens is clearly visible in the video. One other thing is, that I have stopped capturing too early. The ice cube has not melted completely. But, all in all, I'm quite happy with the result. Now I have some experience with this topic and I'm looking forward to creating more exciting time lapse videos in the future.