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Playa Time Lapse Project
October 16, 2011 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Matthew Goodman created a time-lapse video showing five weeks of Burning Man using a Canon EOS 500D set up on Razorback mountain to snap 8,000 12-megapixel photographs. Here's how he did it.
posted by gman (36 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great stuff!

There seems to be a slight daily oscillation in the direction the camera points. Thermal expansion of the tripod perhaps?
posted by pharm at 8:02 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was pretty cool. By midweek, the night time sequences with colored lights shooting all over the playa really captures the vibe of the festival -- a throbbing, buzzing hive of sensory overload that stretches on and on. There's so much great video and photography of Burning Man, but seldom do these recall the experience of *being there* and this does that in a unique way.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:19 AM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


That... was really really cool. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 8:32 AM on October 16, 2011


Blueing Man
posted by DU at 8:40 AM on October 16, 2011


Is there an easy/cheap way to make time lapse videos from stills using something less robust than photoshop? Something more suited to the home user and an average computer?

This is my favourite time lapse video, previously mentioned here, but I can't find the post. Consider that when recommending photo editing software, I can barely use google.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:48 AM on October 16, 2011


Keith Talent: I haven't actually done it, but I'm pretty sure that iMovie (part of the software bundle which comes with every Macintosh computer) will do a time lapse from stills.
posted by hippybear at 8:53 AM on October 16, 2011


Keith, ffmpeg will stitch a bunch of stills into a movie for you. You'll have to be comfortable using the command line to drive it though.
posted by pharm at 9:31 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've had good luck with Windows Live Movie Maker if you're on Windows. Here's a brief tutorial.
posted by Huck500 at 9:37 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks all, Gman, sorry for turning your thread into an Ask post.

I found this for Iphones and then equivalent for Android is also available in the market.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:46 AM on October 16, 2011


Keith Talent: Quicktime Player 7 can open image sequences. It will ask you for the framerate and that's it.
posted by debagel at 10:00 AM on October 16, 2011


As Slarty Bartfast said upthread: the nighttime shots are the closest thing I have seen to the sensation of walking the playa at night. The differences? Well, the gigantic fireballs that are going off in every direction don't seem to show up so well, the ever present thumping heartbeat of bass is missing, and, well, imagine if it was 360 degrees surrounding you. Then you might get a bit of an idea of what it's like to walk the deep playa at night.
posted by Freen at 10:05 AM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really glad they included a decent chunk afterwards, too; I've always enjoyed wandering around when people start takedown and seeing this crazy city disintegrate. Some year it'd be neat to have a reason to stay later and see more of the city come down.

Thanks, this was really interesting.
posted by nat at 10:28 AM on October 16, 2011


Not a time-lapse video, but my favorite 2011 Burning Man video.
posted by ericb at 10:51 AM on October 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love how MetaFilter is host to about five Google product release posts a week but a video about one of the most organic and anti-commercial events in existence is called out for being "blue."

I love the video. Between the event itself, the time-lapse geniusry, and the synaesthetic music, I can't help but feel this is showing my species at its best. Thanks, gman.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 1:22 PM on October 16, 2011


That was great. It puts the all the stories about playa dust into perspective. I may have to actually live up to my promise and go next year.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:04 PM on October 16, 2011


Wait, so Burning Man is (at least) five weeks long? I honestly had no idea.
posted by item at 2:08 PM on October 16, 2011


Wait, so Burning Man is (at least) five weeks long? I honestly had no idea.

That's just how long the crews are there doing the build and setup, teardown and cleanup. They have to do a lot of heavy work for the setup.

Setting up the trash fence is one huge project. If I recall correctly the trash fence is something like 5-10 miles long and surrounds the entire location. Marking off and setting the boundary stakes for the radial street grid is another. They also have to bury huge "burn blankets" under the major structures they're intending to burn, because if you burn right on the playa dust it leaves burn marks and scars where the sand/silica has been turned to glass. They pound thousands of stakes made out of rebar for installations, street "lights", tents and more. Then there's Center Camp where they put the cafe which is an open air tent that covers nearly an acre. A lot of camps an projects require electrical power so they bury the cables for those when they can, too, so people don't trip over them, or start tripping on them and chew on them .

It's a really intense amount of work. What's even more crazy is to think that a lot of those people on the build also have to help build their own theme camps and squeeze in 7 days of partying somewhere.

Not a time-lapse video, but my favorite 2011 Burning Man video.

I don't wish to rain on your parade, but that video really captures what is (to me) wrong with Burning Man, and why most of the people I know don't go anymore. Those guys have "spectator" or "tourist" written all over them.

There's the rented RV - which used to be verboten on the playa and considered a dick move or generally a cheap thing to do. There's brand new bikes fresh out of the box being assembled right on the playa and then covered in dayglo fun fur - a rote attempt at making an "art bike" that's unimaginative. There's bad mainstream trance music. (Tiesto the Trancecracker remixing Imogen Heap, no less, argh.) There's a whole lot of conspicuous consumption and not doing it yourself or any of the concepts of radical self expression that Burning Man is originally for.

Yeah, sure, they had to fly to the US to attend. But they could have hooked up with any number of theme camps on the message board and asked to pitch in and join them. They could have bought used bikes instead of those Walmart or Target cruisers. Taking a brand new bike to Burning Man is just ridiculous - bikes are never the same after the dust gets hold of them. So, yay. Disposable bikes and income, I guess.

Sure, maybe they donated the bikes to someone after they were done with them, or maybe they just abandoned the bikes with the hundreds of others that are abandoned at BM each year.

Sure, they had fun and all that, but I think it's kind of lame when people go to a huge DIY and art-focused event like Burning Man and then they just treat it like a holiday weekend in Ibiza or the Love Parade or something.
posted by loquacious at 2:43 PM on October 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I thought the biggest problem with Burning Man was the "Burnier-Than-Thous."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:51 PM on October 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I am Jack's inflamed sense of indignation.
posted by forallmankind at 3:58 PM on October 16, 2011


ZenMasterThis: The biggest problem about burning man are people that complain about problems and don't do anything about them. If you don't like it, do something about it. If you hate spectators, make it your project to turn spectators into participants. If the burnier-than-thou's are harshing your mellow, make shit that they can't deny is awesome. Or ignore them and make the event you want to have. You don't like "operation desert snuggle": I dunno, organize an anti-orgy. Hate Hippies? Give away suits.

I do agree with loquacious though: Filming Burning Man is like being the cameraman at your own wedding. Sure, you can do it, and it might turn out to be a decent movie that other people might enjoy, but it's missing the whole fucking point.
posted by Freen at 6:48 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


missing the whole fucking point.

Indeed.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:07 PM on October 16, 2011


Is this thing still happening? ;)


I remember around 1997 when Wired wrote about Burning Man and my friend shoplifted this book from Chapters and at THAT point people were talking about how the spirit of the place had been corrupted and it was filled with tourists and had gone downhill and yadda yadda yadda.
I really think the curmudgeonly "It was better back when I first started going, before all the sellouts and tourists came" spirit occurs with all festivals, but is a tried-and-true tradition for Burning Man.

Now that I am in a position where I could potentially afford to make it there, the 14 years of snark weigh heavily against the possibility of doing so.
posted by Theta States at 7:56 AM on October 17, 2011


Where does the power come from? Is there a grid connection to the player, or is there an armada of generators somewhere, running 24/7?
posted by -harlequin- at 8:19 AM on October 17, 2011


er, playa. I'm gonna blame the spellchecker for that one.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:19 AM on October 17, 2011


No grid on the playa. If you need lots of AC electric power, you bring your own generator and fuel.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:20 AM on October 17, 2011


I thought the biggest problem with Burning Man was the "Burnier-Than-Thous."

Fair point. I'm not trying to be "burnier than" anyone at all. It's actually worse. I haven't even attended. It hasn't really appealed to me since the mid 1990s after it stopped being truly dangerous. There's just too many rules and too much quasi-religious dogma that's developed in the years since then, and I get to go to plenty of more accessible and more personally interesting parties and festivals that are good enough for me, with a lot less fun fur, psytrance, dubstep or dogma.

That said... there's a counterpoint to my tirade. Those totally happy dudes probably came away from Burning Man with some thoughts about their consumption. That's kind of the point of Burning Man, is that it can be a transformative experience. If they go again, maybe they'll buy used bikes or hook up with a camp or something.

The counter-counterpoint to that argument is that Burning Man isn't very ecologically sustainable if you look at it as an unconnected event. It's a very inhospitable, fragile environment that they're partying in. It's remote. It takes a lot of fuel and carbon footprint to get there and party for a week and get home.

A lot of the hard core "burners" I know that have been active for a long time have stopped going specifically because of that footprint. It doesn't make a lot of sense to want to practice low-footprint living when you spend your entire year buying plastic totes and tents and ziplock bags and a thousand other little comfort items while planning to go to a hedonistic party on what might as well be an inhospitable alien planet.

And then the (questionable) counter-counter-counter argument is that Burning Man is so transformative that it's carbon-negative. People often go out there and come back with a radically transformed world view and a changed way of life that they apply in their daily lives. People learn things about conservation and permaculture out there. How to live more simply so others can simply live and all that good stuff.

But I'm not sure if I buy that, pun intended. I do want Burning Man to exist, but to suggest it's entirely carbon neutral is kind of ridiculous to me. That event has spawned an entire market segment for cheap disposable crap like fun fur, EL wire, glow sticks, batteries, stylish steampunk goggles for surviving sandstorms... and so on.

And there's curmugeons like me who don't need that transformative experience because I already had it through other events. I've been living it most of my life. And that's fine.

And attending Burning Man is fine, too. It's just when people try to couch it in terms of being the ultimate of anything, or a revolution, or their real "home" or whatever that I get a bit chafed.
posted by loquacious at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2011


Alright, then. :)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:59 PM on October 17, 2011


I agree that suggesting it's carbon neutral is ridiculous.
I asked about whether there was grid power - the whole time watching the video ericb linked too, I was constantly taken aback at the vast amounts of energy being used, non-stop, almost as ambience. It sounds like it's all comes in as chemical. It would burn so much less energy if there was grid power, but a few weeks a year probably isn't worth the price of running a cable for unless a line is already nearby. And obviously the energy use is only a minor part of the consumption.

I'm both intrigued and repelled. I love the results, I'm a little bothered by the means. Maybe there's a burning-man offshoot event elsewhere that's more my style.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:00 PM on October 17, 2011


Hey, kids, get off my fuckin' playa!
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, kids, get off my fuckin' playa!

Wait... you fucked the playa!? I bet that chafes, too.

If I ever do go, I won't be participating in the "virgin ritual" where people roll around in the alkali playa dust. That sounds like a bad way to start the week. Your going to get dusty no matter what, but intentionally cramming the corrosive, alkaline dust into all of your orifices is just asking for discomfort or trouble.
posted by loquacious at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2011


loq: Send me a MeMail; I'll help you ease into BM 2012. You'll have the time of your life, I promise!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:38 PM on October 17, 2011


I don't wish to rain on your parade, but that video really captures what is (to me) wrong with Burning Man, and why most of the people I know don't go anymore.

Just watching that video now and I think you are right. I haven't been, but wow this video makes me really not want to go. It really feels like a bunch of dudes going their for an extended rich-kid clubbing adventure.


I'm more down with the kids who want to dress up in costumes, cover an old church in blankets and pillows, crank up the drone ambient, and pretend they are earthworms for 48 hours.
posted by Theta States at 7:18 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm more down with the kids who want to dress up in costumes, cover an old church in blankets and pillows, crank up the drone ambient, and pretend they are earthworms for 48 hours.

You should send this idea to Christo. I see a whole new era of his art opening up based on this.
posted by hippybear at 7:23 PM on October 17, 2011


I'm more down with the kids who want to dress up in costumes, cover an old church in blankets and pillows, crank up the drone ambient, and pretend they are earthworms for 48 hours.

The drone ambient would get to me after a few hours, but the rest of it sounds good.

I don't have much of a right to say anything, as I've only gone once, but my friends are old timers, and from what I understand, the endless, repellent noise coming from the party buses at Burning Man really go against the spirit of the thing. Many (most?) of them of them don't even seem to have good DJs or care about the quality of their music- as long as it has a repetative beat, it's good enough. Worse, their right to "party" trumps anyone else's right to do art projects that are quieter than them. Most aren't even participating, though they pretend to. They have a few people they want on their bus and that's who gets on, full stop. (If you're a MV, you're supposed to give everyone rides, space permitting.) If I had my druthers, you'd have to jump through a LOT of hoops before you were allowed any amplified music.

That event has spawned an entire market segment for cheap disposable crap like fun fur, EL wire, glow sticks, batteries, stylish steampunk goggles for surviving sandstorms... and so on.

I agree with this, too, and the DMV is making more and more EL wire REQUIRED. It's not just an esthetic- it's an assumption that dozens of stoned idiots will run smack into your vehicle if you haven't lit it up like a billboard. You'd think that that far out in the desert you'd be able to see the stars, but no, not particularly.

My steampunk/brazing goggles, however, I use all the time.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:00 PM on October 18, 2011


Many (most?) of them of them don't even seem to have good DJs or care about the quality of their music- as long as it has a repetative beat, it's good enough. Worse, their right to "party" trumps anyone else's right to do art projects that are quieter than them.

Of all the possible detractions, that would be key for me. Aural environments are the most important aspect of any event like this I go to.
The best part of hippier-raves back in the day was that sound stages were seperated by a magical path through the woods.

For the people that have been, is it a crash of multiple soundsystems? Do they only allow certain soundsystems in certain areas, allow for separation, etc?

I don't think I could stand being surrounded by psytrance and brostep... But whatevs, thankfully there are still smaller events that are more about the things I am searching for. If only those ones were at all near here...
posted by Theta States at 12:48 PM on October 18, 2011


Do they only allow certain soundsystems in certain areas, allow for separation, etc?

The farther out you go towards the edge of the circle, the quieter it's supposed to get, and more or less it works, but not so well that you can actually do quiet things. We had a lot of acoustic musicians and they couldn't play over the noise very well. Also, the Temple is supposed to be a meditative/contemplative place, but party buses would pull up and crank their music for hours, including music referencing in a derogatory manner various bitches, hoes, & Co. As a late 30s woman and certified stick in the mud, I found it the antithesis of inclusive.

One night, a party bus wandered out to our far far away suburb in the wee hours. After awhile it got chased away by our curmudgeons, but they would only go a few hundred yards down the road, which wasn't really far enough to dull the noise. Mostly they were considerate enough to stay closer to the center of the circle. From the outskirts it was like living near a heavily travelled road- noisy but you could sleep through it. (Especially if you had earplugs, like I always do.)
posted by small_ruminant at 1:22 PM on October 18, 2011


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