Just Like Clockwork

A recent stop motion animation test on a clockwork mechanism.

500 high-resolution full frame images taken at 2 millisecond intervals using a high speed flash setup and a Mumford Time Machine.

500 photographs triggered by a photodiode across one of the moving arms. Each frame was incremented by 0.002 second delay. So this represents 1 second of movement but took a couple of hours to shoot.

There is something odd happening to the clockwork which I haven’t figured out yet, the timing appears to be accurate looking at the out of focus gear wheel on the left but the central mechanism is very irregular. Perhaps I need to shoot at even smaller timing increments.

This animation has been reshot at 1 millisecond intervals and can be viewed here

EOS 40D and 100mm macro lens lit using a 580Ex and 550Ex flashgun on 1/128 of full power placed a few inches away from the clockwork. Each frame 2″ @ f22 iso 200 in a darkened room

Lighting setup

Th optical trigger can just be seen clipped to the right hand side of the mechanism

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4 Responses to Just Like Clockwork

  1. Kevin Lewis says:

    Thank you for the comment Geoff 🙂


  2. Geoff Waters says:

    I am a relative of Peter Norman’s and yesterday he recommended I look at your website.

    I am a keen photographer but clearly have a long – long way to go to match your standards.

    Billiant stuff and look forward to looking further and reading your tips. The lead came fom Peter’s description of the ballon full of water and capture of the ‘bubble’ immediately after bursting the balloon – above your hand – magnificent



  3. photosbykev says:

    Thank you for the clarification Bryan, the mechanism is from a very very cheap alarm clock and the smoothness of the gearwheel on the left indicates that the timing cycle is very accurate. I just need to find a better clock 🙂

  4. Bryan Mumford says:

    The jitter in the hairspring is caused by an inconsistent rate. This is indicative of a poor quality timekeeper. Had the period of the hairspring been more regular, the motion would have appeared more consistent.

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