A Spot of Time Lapse

I remember those summer playground days when time was gone in a flash. The call to come in for supper seemed like it cut through the sky, the clouds, the blue. Wasn’t it just minutes earlier that we had bolted down our lunches? This sense of compression still happens though not as frequently and with less drama.

There’s nothing like a good playground time lapse. If there’s been pent up energy in the house for a few days, it can seem like the kids really are in this accelerated reality. Thanks to Guillaume Labrie in France for this fine afternoon at the playground. If we could make the Canadian winter melt away with the same magic, post-Olympics of course, it would be a wonderful thing.

Labrie is passionate about time lapse photography. He runs an excellent site – time lapse – that provides tips on techniques, information on equipment, a blog and a brilliant selection of time lapse films. Note the site is in French. No French language knowledge necessary to view the films.

Labrie did mention a great ancillary benefit of his work on Playground Afternoon, “My two girls couldn’t stop laughing when they first saw the video.” He added that while taking photos, “I stayed close to my girls because taking photos of children in playgrounds can be misinterpreted in France. I also had my partner with me.” This is a good cautionary tip that my wife Mé draws to my attention when I’m out taking photos in Halifax for another blogging project, Playground Chronicles.

Adults can get in on the Keystone Cops kinetic activity too as these volunteers demonstrate in Philadelphia. This playground-in-a-day is a 200 person effort in conjunction with KaBOOM! and the Wharton School of Business. It’s the modern, urban equivalent of a barn raising, a community hard at work for its kids. The video was shot between 8h00 and 16h00 with five hours total shooting time resulting in 3600 frames at five second intervals. Thanks to Brian Biggs for the video and the original music.

Brian is a children’s book illustrator. He’s mad about time lapse and loves the creative process. “I’m always looking for an excuse to time lapse. It might be carving pumpkins, decorating a tree. I like doing it. It’s fun. I thought it would be interesting to set up the camera and record what was done in one day. I draw pictures all day long but I’ve always liked film and video. Every chance we get, I like to bring in some creativity into what my kids and I are doing whether we’re cooking dinner or wrapping presents.”

Over 200 volunteers were moving and grooving all day in a keystone builders style. As the day was getting underway, Brian set up on the roof. One of the toughest challenges was to position the camera correctly to get the best wide angle shot. “I don’t go in advance and scout it out or anything. I never know what’s going to happen. We get there that day and real men are hammering and nailing, I’m up on the roof screwing around with my nerd gear,” he says with a chuckle.

At the end of a long day’s work both the playground and the time lapse video were a wrap. So what did Brian’s 10 and 9 year old kids think? “Wow!” That was the unanimous reaction of everyone who gathered around for a sneak peek on the laptop display.

Volunteering with KaBOOM! was a positive experience for Brian and his kids. He’d consider doing it again if the kids were involved too. The build at Wissahickon Charter School in Philadelphia had the additional attraction of being in the local area as well as being a school his kids attended.

The Wharton School of Business contacted Brian for a high quality DVD version of the the short film. They now use this time lapse video as part of their orientation for new students. It’s a fun and effective means to introduce new recruits to the school’s commitment to community involvement. Brian’s all for that. He enjoys volunteering in the local community when he has the opportunity.

I’ve turned my hand to this too though in a much less polished manner than either Guillaume or Brian. Well, my end result doesn’t even look like a distant cousin. Here’s my first and and only attempt to date.

It’s pretty choppy and a little hard on the eyes. I’ll keep playing around to make a better product. In addition to experimentation, some of the links below will help set me on the right track. Note – my two little ones find this quite hilarious.

Dust off your camera, take a few thousand frames and create the magic of condensed time at the playground.

There are numerous examples of time lapse at playgrounds on the web. Check your favourite video hosting service to see what they have. KaBOOM!’s video collection is also well worth a visit.

Quick links

All things photography – Time Lapse Photography

Time Lapse Photography – Wikipedia

An Introduction to Time Lapse Photography

The Ultimate Guide to Time Lapse Photography

Time Lapse on Facebook

Gorgas Park – Brian’s favourite playground in Philadelphia

All materials, unless otherwise attributed or credited, copyright ⓒ 2010 Alex Smith.

If you’re a non-profit or not-for-profit group, feel free to hyperlink, excerpt, or reproduce the contents of this post. Please reference PlayGroundology. For commercial reproduction of this content, please consult the editor.

2 responses to “A Spot of Time Lapse

  1. Pingback: News from MrBiggs dot com – Brian Biggs illustration » PlayGroundology

  2. Pingback: Putting the ‘Stop’ into Playground ‘Motion’ | PlayGroundology

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