Traditional time-lapses are constrained by the idea that there is a single universal clock. In the spirit of Einstein’s relativity theory, layer-lapses assign distinct clocks to any number of objects or regions in a scene. Each of these clocks may start at any point in time, and tick at any rate. The result is a visual time dilation effect known as layer-lapse.
In early 2016 I started learning scripting in after effects, and began writing code to create different layer-lapse ‘looks’. To create a layer-lapse effect, I am assigning a unique equation to hundreds of buildings simultaneously. For each frame, every building is calculating and deciding which time of day to reveal. One example of a script that yields a â€˜lookâ€™ are the waves of day or night that move through some of the shots in this film. To achieve the â€˜lookâ€™ I can set parameters like the speed at which the wave moves across the screen, how rapidly each layer will switch from day to night or vice versa, and I’ll often use a random sinusoidal function to create a subtle oscillation inside the wave itself.
The final step is linking an action or a script to a piece of the music. One way I’ve found this can be done is creating a set of audio triggers for a song, so that every note or beat triggers a change. By linking a certain script to each of these triggers one can create computer generated layer-lapses that are animated in response to music.
The ambitious video involved 22 trips to New York; 232,000 pictures taken; $1,430 in parking fees; 352 hours of filming; and 9,988 miles driven. To learn more about the project and see behind-the-scenes click here.