Time Lapses

Where Does the Time GO?

Wikipedia tells me that Georges Méliès first used time-lapse cinematography in his 1897 film Carrefour De L’Opera. Since then it has been used only god can count how many times. Many people, myself included, would say overused. This is a shame, because time-lapse does a great job of visually getting the point across that time passes quickly.

I am wrestling with using time-lapse in A Life’s Work despite its triteness. Below are two shots we set up for time-lapse, one at Arcosanti, one at the Allen Telescope Array. They are sped up so that about 40 minutes appears before you in about 40 seconds. (My software tells me it is sped up around 7,500%.) There are very good reasons to use these shots in the film, but relying on a cliche is usually not my style.

And Now, the Time Lapse Shots


And Now, About the Time Lapse Shots

I remember when cinematographer Andy Bowley and I set up the Arcosanti shot. We trekked down a ravine and up the mesa across from Arcosanti. Andy planted the camera, pressed the red record button, and we sat on a couple of rocks and watched the sunset. These little birds  flitted around us and charmed me. Their wings made a sound like I had never heard before. I said so to Andy and he told me that’s because they weren’t birds, but bats, and it was likely we were near a bat cave. I knew bats were beneficial, and I’ve always had an abstract fondness for them, but until then I had never been so close to so many. (I’m a city boy, and my city isn’t Austin.)  I was momentarily freaked out and worried about one landing in my hair. Andy assured me this was an old wives tale and I put it out of my mind and enjoyed the sunset, the swooping, fluttering bats, and the desert’s summer evening air.

I have no memory of bats or anything else when we captured the Allen Telescope Array time lapse shot.

And  Now, About the Sounds Accompanying the Time Lapse Shots

Arcosanti: That’s me playing steel string acoustic guitar, a doodle I came up with while at Ucross. I kind of like it. I recorded this in my bathroom, sitting in the tub, with the shower curtain closed, my little recorder on the toilet tank. Hope that’s not TMI.

ATA: These are sounds recorded by NASA/JPL. They are, in the order they were played:

Lightning on Saturn, captured by Cassini

Lightning on Jupiter, captured by Voyager

Saturn’s radio emissions, Captured by Cassini

These bits of audio have been time compressed as well. Amazing how we can manipulate time, and how it manipulate us. (The guitar music was not manipulated in any way.)

You can hear more space sounds, and download some great ringtones, from the NASA website.



2 Replies to “Time Lapses”

  1. Wow, that’s a beautiful tune on your guitar, David! I replayed the video a couple times just to hear it again. Really beautiful (you would never guess it had ever been near a toilet, LOL).

    I personally like time lapse video…your song goes perfectly with the mood of the first clip.

    I think the second clip would have begun to get boring visually after awhile, but the sounds were really cool to hear, so it made it really interesting for me.

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