Description image

Learn How to Build a Freeze-Proof DSLR Timelapse Rig and Watch Tom Guilmette Brave the Elements

12.16.12 @ 3:43AM Tags : , , , ,

We haven’t ventured all that much into freezing temperatures on this blog, but not too long ago Ryan took his SCARLET into subzero weather, and managed to get some great behind the scenes footage on a short film. Tom Guilmette, who is well-known for his Phantom Flex Vegas Hotel Room video, is shooting a project atop Mount Washington in New Hampshire, and braving the elements with the observers, engineers, and climatologists on the summit. He’s come up with a pretty ingenious way to keep his DSLR from freezing as it takes timelapse photos overnight. Click through to check out the video.

Here is a little bit about what happens up on the mountain:

I am embedded with the team of observers, engineers, and climatologists shooting an extreme weather project at the Mount Washington summit weather station. This facility is owned and operated by New Hampshire state parks. There are a few park rangers who work up here year round. About 5 people work up at the observatory and switch out with another 5 people every 7 days. There is a narrow and steep road that snakes up the mountain side. During shift change, they bring up food with trucks or in snow tractor. Trash goes back down. While doing their job, they are constantly dealing with ice buildup on weather recording gear. They must enter numbers into a computer every hour or the entire place will blow up. Kinda like that guy Desmond in the quarantine bunker on LOST.

I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to these extreme temperatures, so it’s nice to watch the behind the scenes in the comfort of a warm room (instead of on top of a mountain). The timelapse setup that Tom has created looks like an incredible system that could probably operate in even more extreme weather, and his attention to detail is exceptional. Obviously this comes from quite a bit of experience, but if you’re tackling your own timelapse in freezing temperatures, you might be able to build a similar system utilizing a heat pipe to keep the lens and the rig free of ice.

Be sure to head on over to Tom’s blog to read the rest of his gear list if you’re curious about building your own.

What do you guys think? Have you ever built anything like this to keep your gear safe from the elements? What have you done to keep condensation and ice off your lenses?

Link: Blogging from the Summit of Mount Washington — Tom Guilmette


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 10 COMMENTS

  • Is it just me, or does this website put an unusual amount of focus on time-lapse videos? It’s interesting but never really interested me from a filmmaking point of view.

    • DIYFilmSchool on 12.16.12 @ 11:17AM

      That’s a really good point. I was just thinking about this when I came to the article. Timelapses are cool, but I’ve never really considered them viable for my films.

    • Its another way to tell a story, of course if you know how to apply the technique, being a filmmaker is just to solve a problem and a timelapse can solve you many problems

      • Of course it can be a tool. But it’s not exactly a staple like a dolly shot or a crane, so it’s just odd that there are about four or five articles on it on this website.

        And FYI for the writers, this isn’t me straight up b**ching and complaining. Just a small harmless critique.

        • Timelapse isn’t used in narrative very often, but it is constantly used in television and documentary work. If anything, we don’t cover it enough considering the amount that is out there and how difficult it is to pull off a moving timelapse shot. If you look at it another way, less than 10 articles about timelapse out of 1000s of posts is a rather small percentage.

  • DIYFilmSchool on 12.16.12 @ 11:20AM

    This is a great example of someone who really understands what he needs to do to get the footage he needs. I don’t know if I possess the ingenuity to come up with a set up like this.

  • I had a shoot once where we had the video camera mounted on the exterior of a helicopter, to shoot approaches and landings. The dry-run was anything but. The camera chilled up with condensed water on the lens, etc. Solved the problem and got the shot by wrapping the entire camera in bubble wrap, (for packing – with the smallish bubbles). An upcoming project involves placing a time-lapse rig in a lava-tube cave for several months to shoot cave growths. One or two frames a day, with flash (obviously!)

  • Wouldn’t get tunnel-vision over ‘timelapse’ in the title. As I see it; how to deal with extreme weather in photography/cinematography. Have done my share and a little ‘frost-bit finger’ tips to boot. Have climbed Mt. Katahdin and hiked the AT. Mt. Washington is wicked (weather).

  • Daniel Mimura on 12.28.12 @ 12:42AM

    Wow, that’s great…ingenious way to keep lenses from fogging.