The Best Time Lapse Setup for 3D Printer - Octolapse, Mobile App, Camera Mount

The Best Time Lapse Setup for 3D Printer – Octolapse, Mobile App, etc

Have you already mastered the time lapse recording using a mobile app, camera mount or Octolapse? If you are designer or creator in 3D printing, you will need to have one more skill under your belt – time lapsing your 3D printing in action. Here’s why: it will help to showcase your model, making it far more appealing from a marketing point of view. Saving valuable time and resources, your successful time-lapse will offer greater proof than a slicer preview that your design is viable for 3D printing. Let’s dive in and take a look at the best solutions currently available for time lapsing. We’ll also take a look at which format is best to showcase the result – GIF or MP4.

Uses of TimeLapse Recorded Videos

Entertainment & Marketing: Watching 3D printed objects appearing from the void seems like magic. Perhaps we can credit Disney fairy-tale movies from our childhood for that brain leap. Leading 3D printing influencers on social media realised this potential and jump-started their follower base and subsequent businesses using quality time lapses. But after watching one or two models arise from thin air, why do we continue watching time lapses?

12 Hour OctoLapse Record – Animated Turkey (10 Sec / MP4 – 642kb / GIF – 8MB)

Educational: Time-lapses are not just entertaining, they are also educational. There are so many settings to get right in the slicer software, and failures do happen. Time-lapse recordings give us a clearer picture of any issues, showing when and why problems may have arisen. Was it bad bed adhesion or an ignored Z-Hop setting? Of course, real time recording with sound can offer a slightly clearer picture, but then there is much more involved: massive files, better equipment, etc.

Z-Hop Failure – Gayer-Andersen Cat (3 Sec / MP4 – 120kb / GIF – 2MB)

Check out the example above: we failed twice to 3D print the Gayer-Andersen Cat (Scan the World), blaming bed adhesion in both cases. Even after applying 20+ skirt outlines in Simplify3D to hold the cat feet, it still didn’t work. But thanks to time lapsing, we discovered that the issue was the Z-Hop setting in the slicer software.

Saving Resources: As mentioned earlier, a successful time-lapse offers greater proof than a slicer software preview that your design is suitable for 3D printing. For makers, that means saving valuable time and resources.

The Best Time Lapse Setup for 3D Printer - Octolapse, Mobile App, Camera Mount
The Best Time-Lapse Setup for 3D Printer – Octolapse Setup
(Image: 3DWithUs)

3D Printer Time Lapse Types – OctoPrints’ Software Plugin OctoLapse

At the time of writing this article, OctoLapse time lapses are the best choice. Video stability is one of the primary reasons for its success. The extruder retracts just before each frame (picture) is created.

Cons: Medium-to-hard to set it up properly. You need to install the OctoPrint software and OctoLapse plugin, and the video quality is highly dependent on focus and light. It also requires an investment of approximately $100-200 to purchase Raspberry Pi, camera, tripod and lights. Installation guides and YouTube videos are sufficiently helpful if you have some basic tech and coding skills.

Octolapse – Time Lapse – 3D-Printer (2 Sec / MP4 – 98kb / GIF – 2MB)

Professional set ups are even more expensive, involving buffed up DSLR cameras with lenses. Subsequently, every frame (picture) will be 5312×2988, taking up 3-4MB of storage each. To set up the camera by uploading gphoto2 to Raspberry Pi and coding we would recommend the following YouTube video by FormerLurker creator of the OctoLapse plugin.

Tricky and Expesnsive DSLR Camera Octolapse Setup
Octolapse DSLR camera setup with gphoto2 upload to Raspberry Pi

Another way to set up the DSLR camera is involving the installation of a physical trigger release system to the side of the 3D printer. Check the YouTube video by GreatScott to setup for Original Prusa i3 MK3.

Pros: The pioneers who first managed to get clear and focused videos are time-lapse kings. Check out the profile of WildRoseBuilds, a talented designer and maker with 100k+ subscribers on Instagram. Another remarkable 3D designer, Kiljaidesign, successfully showcases his works on Twitter and Instagram.

3D Printer Time Lapse Types – Printer Bed Mounted Camera

There are many different mounting systems available on file repositories for any 3D printer. But truthfully, we were not impressed with the quality of recordings made by this type of timelapse. Chaotic extruder movements detract from the video, especially if the 3D printed model is wide in volume. Also, platforms like YouTube may request that you use their editor to edit your videos for stabilizing. In our opinion, it poses an unproven risk that YouTube may mark your video as possessing bad quality, reducing its chances to rank in related searches. Even if your video is in HD with clear focus.
But in some cases, you can still get a great result. Check out designer and maker 3DPrintDad’s mini videos on Instagram. Printed bed-mounted camera footage together with excellent video editing skills beautifully showcases 3D printed models.

3D Printer Time Lapse Types – Mobile App

All the methods we listed above require extra work to set up. Beginners may get scared off by all the hassle of finding a file and software and then setting up the whole system. In this case, using the mobile app is the easiest solution in the beginning stages.

10 Hours Print – Wine Hand (4 Sec / MP4 – 160kb / GIF – 3MB)

Using mobile apps, Delta 3D printers are more timelapse friendly than Cartesian with moving bed. All you need to do is set up your mobile and ensure it stays sufficiently charged in the process. Our first time lapses were done with mobile applications.
In the video below, we compressed a 20-hour print into a 3-minute video. By the way, it is easy to adjust the lapse time on any movie editing software. We normally use Microsoft Movie Maker to shrink the timelapse further.

Related: Framelapse Your 3D Printing

We feel that we have to say special thanks to a mobile app called Framelapse. For two years in a row, we’ve been using it for free recording, sometimes for up to 25-hour prints. Read More…

One Time-Lapse Recording Method - Mobile App
Time-Lapse Recording Method – Mobile App
(Image: 3DWithUs)

GIF or MP4?

OK, finally you have your long-awaited recordings at hand – what’s next? Before doing anything else, plan in advance where you will publish your content. All social media sites have different requirements. Lightweight GIFs are tricky to make; to sustain focus and quality, a regular 10 sec timelapse GIF will be 10MB. Not many sites want you to upload a 10MB GIF. Reddit, for example, offers to turn your GIF into MP4 to automatically reduce the file size.
So MP4 is the better option then. Now how do you reduce the size of your video without losing quality? Use specialized websites to reduce video length and crop it to a smaller scale. Happy time-lapsing.

Files & Source Links:

OctoPrint Software & OcloLapse Plugin
Animated Turkey & Heart: Cults3D
Wine Hand by koukwst: thing:931880
Holiday Christmas Deer by yeg3d: thing:571949
Gayer-Anderson Cat:

Related: Mintion Beagleprint Timelapse Camera Review

The Mintion Beagleprint is a timelapse camera that is designed to make creating timelapse videos of FDM 3D prints fast, easy, and accessible. The camera is advertised as offering a 1080p resolution with up to 25FPS that records to an onboard SD card. Read more …

Related: ResinLapse – Time Lapse for Resin 3D Printing

Recently Uncle Jessy and Andrew Sink introduced ResinLapse – a cable that enables recording the time-lapse videos for resin 3D printing. On their social media, they show many time-lapse captures which are so smooth that it is no surprise such posts get attention from both 3D printing enthusiasts and designers. Read more …

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