Time-Lapse Video

My fascination with time-lapse started when I saw the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (Godfrey Reggio). In the film, Reggio aided by a Phillip Glass soundtrack uses time-lapse of, in particular, modern city life to contrast images of the natural world, human behaviour and technology. The film reveals the dehumanising, mechanical elements of modern city-life through the compression of time – the patterns that become evident are mesmerising and allow the viewer to access normally hidden aspects of modern life.

Another, now familiar use of time-lapse, which reveals hidden processes are documentaries which focus on the decay of organic structures, such as those posted on Youtube by Temponaut Time-lapse  These videos expose what is happening to objects in a way which is imperceptible when observed in normal time, offering a useful and otherwise unavailable perspective.

In outdoor arts, my rationale is to make the flows, proxemics and spectating behaviour of audiences in relation to performances in public space equally accessible. This information has a variety of uses: to comparatively analyse crowd-flow rhythms in specific outdoor spaces before and during events; to identify weaknesses in performances where audiences loose interest; to consider how programming decisions are working in relation to the space; to gather quantitative data around numbers, engagement and length-of-stay and to provide an easy-to-watch documentation of events which can be used as advocacy or promotion. A conference presentation I made on the subject can be seen here.

The Beauty of a time-lapse video is that, with one frame captured every second and replayed at 30 frames a second, it is possible to view a 30 minute show in a minute and a five hour event in ten minutes.

The academic precedent for this methodology is the research of Dr Paul Simpson which used time-lapse to analyse a street performance in Bath in his essay Apprehending everyday rhythms: rhythmanalysis, time-lapse photography, and the space-times of street performance (Simpson, 2012: 423-445). He suggests that time-lapse has the “…ability to document and facilitate reflection upon the complex durational unfolding of events” (2012: 423)

The film below was made of Artizani’s installation: The Bees in Deventer, Holland in 2017. The 1 min 30 second clip shows a 90 minute set played at 30 frames a second at the beginning, speeded up to 60 frames a second towards the end.


A collection of time-lapse films I have made of outdoor arts events can be found here.

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