Raspberry Pi Timelapse Camera In An Old Stagelight

About the project

A relatively simple time lapse camera that takes images every minute but discards dark images or substantially similar images.

Project info



Estimated time:

1 hour


15th February 2018

Items used in this project

Hardware components

6010602 ARM Raspberry Pi 3 (RPi3) Board

Don't forget a power supply as well!

x 1
DEV-14028 Video IC Development Tools Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2 x 1
RP-SMLF32DA1 Memory Cards Consumer TLC, 32GB microSD card x 1
2447 Building Block Compatible Case - Raspberry Pi B+ Pi2 - Gray

Make sure you get the complete case that includes the optional camera mount (see for example)

x 1

Software app and online services

Source code on github:


I'm involved in a volunteer community theater, and I thought it would be a fun idea to start creating timelapse videos of sets being constructed, etc. as a way to promote the theater. So I grabbed a Raspberry Pi I had lying around, bought a camera and case for it, and started experimenting. The end result is a fairly simple python script that will capture an image and save it to disk in a semi-intelligent manner. It will not save any images that are mostly dark, so it won't waste disk space when the theater is dark and nobody is there. It also will not save an image that's too similar to the last image it took, so if the stage is lit but nobody is moving around on it then it also won't waste disk space with all those images.

I only had a small SD card for my Raspberry Pi, but I had a spare 500 gigabyte USB drive sitting around as well, so I'm using that to store the images. Depending on the size of your Pi's SD card and the number of images you anticipate capturing, you may be able to store them entirely on the SD card itself rather than using external storage.

Since this camera was being installed in a theater and I wanted it to be as unobtrusive as possible, I took an old stagelight and actually mounted the camera inside that. That also made it very easy to mount the camera to a pipe overlooking the entire stage. The end result is this:

I only installed the camera in my theater in early February, so I won't have any images to share from it for the next month or two. Once I've captured all the individual images I plan on using a tool like ImageMagick or avconv to stitch them together into a movie. I'll edit this project to make the movie available once I've completed it.


Simple python script that will take a still image on a Raspberry Pi, check to see if it's dark or too similar to the most recent photo, and save it if it's neither of those.

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