the time machine
'the time machine' 360 degree timelapse & stop motion music video.
Back in 2005 I had the workings of an idea for a possible music video concept - To film a 360 degree timelapse, sunrise to sunset using a rotary head.
Back then I was stuck for how to pull-off the mechanics of what I was looking to achieve. I experimented mounting cameras on a rotating plate with a clock motor (for the incremental 12 hour / 360 degree filming) driving the motion via a belt drive, but the cameras were far too weighty for the clock motor and the movements either slowed or ground totally.
During 2008 I entered into the straight8 super8 film competition and was desperate to realise my idea. I’d heard of Bristol based Lobster Pictures who back then were beginning to specialise in clever timelapse and rotary camera filming. I chatted to the founder Robbie Allen and when I explained my idea he very kindly offered up the use of his 'time machine' rotary tripod head.
With the tech hurdles cleared, I then had to work out the maths for calculating a 12 hour daylight window into super8 timelapse. Figuring out which shutter interval would allow a full 12 hours of filming from the 3min 30 reel of film and look correct in 360 degree motion caused brain melt. I won’t bore you with the specifics here but it’s even more complex given that super8 uses 18fps as native normal playback speed.
We set out for The Downs in Bristol before sunrise on a cold March morning in 2008 to setup the shoot. Checking focus in near darkness through a vintage Nizo super8 lens was difficult. Filming started about 30 minutes before sunrise and continued for a full 12 hours as part of 1 continuous take, one frame exposure click (every 12 seconds) at a time.
Once the filming was completed, we had to package up the un-processed, exposed film and post it off, along with the soundtrack (the specially chosen music track by Rory Nunn) to straight8. The first time that we would see the film was to be the premier screening a couple of weeks later held be straight8 in London.
The video was a huge success and worked better than I’d hoped. The film screened at several festivals internationally including the Portable Film Festival, LA’s HD FEST and was chosen as 'Vimeo Staff Pick' and posted on the Vimeo.com homepage. It was a finalist at the straight8 competition and got a special mention at the Cambridge Film Festival.
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© Paul Stevenson