Spring.wmf (18300 bytes) Plant Physiology (Biology 327)  - Dr. Stephen G. Saupe;  College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University;  Biology Department; Collegeville, MN  56321; (320) 363 - 2782; (320) 363 - 3202, fax;    ssaupe@csbsju.edu

Using the Quick Cam Pro

    We have two models of the Quick Cam Pro digital video camera - one that runs from the serial port of the computer and the other from the USB.  Although the optics of the two cameras seem comparable, I much prefer the older camera because the software provides much greater flexibility for making movies.  The following instructions are for the two different versions.

Serial Port Version:
    This camera/software can create time lapse movies using a Picture Mode or Movie Mode.  The major difference is how the final product is constructed.  In the Picture Mode, the camera takes a series of separate JPEG images at various time intervals.  The images are then "stacked" to make an animated video, much like flipping through the pages of a flipbook.  The animated movie can be compiled from the separate images with a program like Paint Shop Pro 6 or ImageJ.  The movie mode will create the movie in an .avi format.  The advantage of using the "Picture Mode" to make a movie is that it allows the user to make measurements on each image in the final animated movie without having to first extract these images using a program such as ImageJ.

A.  Picture Mode

  1. Study the camera set-up and record this information for inclusion in your report.
  2. Double click on the QuickCam icon on the desktop. This will start the software and you should immediately see an image in the Preview Window.
  3. Click on Picture Mode (camera icon in left-hand corner of the Preview Window).
  4. Set up your plant/experiment, adjust the image to a convenient size and focus the camera.
  5. Click on the "Settings" Tab to adjust the camera.
  6. Choose the Format Tab

    Image Size: Medium
    Colors: Thousands
    Effects: PictureSmart Off

  7. Choose the Capture Tab
  8. Set to Automatic.
    Click on the "Change" button.
    Update frequency: set appropriate time interval
    Folder Location: C:\\QuickCam\Autocapture\)
    Image Info - Name: give the file a name
    Image Info - Format: JPEG
    Image Info - Display Date/Time: yes
    Image Info - File Series: Yes

  9. Choose the Lighting Tab (adjust to get best image)
  10. Automatic Brightness: Off (adjust manually with sliders) or On
    Automatic Color: Off (adjust manually with sliders) or On

  11. Experiment with the various options to achieve results you like.
  12. The camera is now ready to take a series of pictures of your plants
  13. Click on the "Start Capture" icon
  14. Click on "Stop" when you are finished
  15. At the conclusion of this process the folder you specified will have a series of multiple images labeled name-1.jpg, name-2.jpg, etc. You can click on any image to examine it in the viewer.
  16. Copy the images to our Public Folder or transfer them to your M: drive.  This will prevent someone else from accidentally erasing your images. 
  17. To insure that your images are stacked correctly in the final movie, you may need to change the name of some of your images.  This is necessary because Windows will sort image #2, for example, between image #19 and image #20.  To avoid this problem simply rename the files by adding a zero to each single digit image (i.e., image01, image02).  If you have more than 100 images you will have to add a letter to the filename to insure that these are sorted after the first 99 files.  For example, rename the file images120, images121 and so on.  Alternately, it should be possible to organize the files according to the date that they were last modified. Click on "Modified" and the files will now be sorted by the date that they were last changed (or when the image was captured).  I haven't tried this but it should theoretically work and would be especially nice with movies to be created from large numbers of images.  
  18. The series of images that you have created can be: 
  • analyzed individually using a program such as ImageJ; or 
  • stacked to prepare an animated movie using ImageJ or Paint Shop Pro6 (see below).   

 B.  Movie Mode

  1. Click on the Movie Mode icon (video camera icon in the left-hand corner of the Preview Window; Or in the drop-down menu select Camera/Movie Mode)
  2. Set up your  plant/experiment.  Adjust the image and focus the camera. It may take quite a bit of time to set up the plant/camera to give a suitable image.  Be patient
  3. Click on the "Settings" tab to adjust the camera.
  4. Choose the "Format" tab

  1. Choose the "Capture" tab.  Select Movie Mode:  Time lapse.  Set the time interval for images (i.e., one image every 10 - 15 minutes

  2. Choose the "Lighting" tab (adjust to get the best image)

  1. Turn off sound recording � click on the microphone icon in the lower right hand side of the Preview window.

  2. Experiment with the various options to achieve the results you like

  3. The camera is now ready to make a time lapse movie

  4. Click "Record Time Lapse Movie"

  5. Click on "Stop" when you are finished.

  6. To view the movie � depending on the settings, the program may automatically display the movie when you click �stop�.  If not, Choose the �Images� tab.  Double click on the thumbnail image of the movie.  The movie should then be displayed in a viewer.

  7. To save the movie, right click the thumbnail image in the Preview Window.  Choose �Save As�.  Save the movie to your M: drive, or the C: drive of the computer.  Before saving, choose �Compression� and save in MPEG format.  This will save a little a disk space, which is helpful because the movie files are large.   

USB Version.

  1. Click on the Quick Cam icon that should appear on the desktop. 
  2. Make your movie using the �Animations� feature. 
  3. Click on �Set Up.�  Select Time lapse animation / Custom / Picture Interval.  Determine the time interval between images and the length of your experiment. 
  4. Your movie should be 320 x 240.  If it is much larger it will take up too much space on the hard drive. 
  5. Adjust the camera settings as necessary to get the best quality image that you can. 
  6. Click on start.  When finished, your movie will be saved as an .avi file in the directory  

C:  Documents & Settings / Biology / My Documents / My Pictures / QuickCam / Album / Animations / Timelapse

  1.  Once you are finished making your movie, be to rename it.  Copy the movie to your M: drive (by logging off this computer locally and logging back on to the network) or post it as a note to the Public Folder for our course.

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Last updated:  01/07/2009     � Copyright  by SG Saupe