Atomic clapperboard

Whether you know it as a clapperboard, a slate, slate board, time slate, or by another name, you probably recognize this staple of movie making. It’s a handy way to help synchronize sound with video, and to keep track of clips when it comes time to edit. But this clapperboard is quite a bit more accurate than most. It’s got an atomic clock source for dead-on accuracy.

The project came from the growing availability of Rubidium clock source modules on eBay. They can be had for under $100 and you’ll enjoy accuracy of 0.1 ppm. [Luddite Tech] grabbed one for himself and included it in this build. As you can see in the clip after the break, the contrast of the eight-digit display is adjustable, and shines brightest when the marker is snapped. We’d guess the cable he connects at the beginning of the demo is used to set the initial time reference. After that the in-built WiFi can be used to push the time markers to a computer.

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Toyaanisqatsi: time lapse control using LEGO parts


A simple panning motion can add impact to the already-dramatic effect of time lapse photography. To accomplish this, frugal cinematographers sometimes build [Rube Goldberg] contraptions from clock motors, VCR parts or telescope tracking mounts. Hack a Day reader [Stephan Martin] has assembled a clever bargain-basement system using an Arduino-driven stepper motor and a reduction gear system built up from LEGO Technic parts, along with some Processing code on a host PC to direct the show.

While the photography is a bit crude (using just a webcam), [Stephan’s] underlying motion control setup might interest budding filmmakers with [Ron Fricke] aspirations but Top Ramen budgets. What’s more, unlike rigid clock motor approaches, software control of the camera mount has the potential for some interesting non-linear, fluid movements.

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