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Campus Life

Time … Lapses

Scenes from all around us, seen fresh

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These days, any average Joe can shoot a video and upload it faster than you can say “one-hour film processing.” Video production has gone global, like still photography before it. Enter time-lapse photography, a technique that’s been around for years, but never gets old. Peter Moriarty, a mechanical engineering student, believes time-lapse is a different form of media altogether.  

“Most people view the world in snapshots, blinking and focusing on different objects two seconds at a time,” says Moriarty (ENG’11). “Time-lapse compresses time such that viewers may observe movement — or a peculiar lack of movement — that they might not see otherwise. It’s a way of manifesting the subtle beauty of the world in plain sight.”

Marsh Plaza
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The time-lapse shows Marsh Plaza from the ground on a beautiful summer day. Shooting began at 11 a.m., with a shot interval of one second. The focus was set to manual and fixed on the sculpture to avoid automatically focusing on passersby. The video was encoded at 30 frames per second. 

Charles River Sunset
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to read more. Click here to watch the video.
The time-lapse above shows the sun setting over the Charles River and the Boston skyline on a summer evening. The camera was strapped near the train tracks below the BU Bridge. Shooting began at 5:45 p.m., with a shot interval of 10 seconds. The last frame was shot at 11:30 p.m. The video was then encoded at 50 frames per second.

Comm Ave by Car
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This time-lapse should be familiar to anyone who has commuted to the Charles River Campus by car. Shooting began around 2 p.m. at Brighton Avenue and continued at one-second intervals through Kenmore Square, over the Mass Ave Bridge, ending at MIT. The video was encoded at 15 frames per second.

T Commute
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The time-lapse above captures an afternoon commute on the MBTA’s Green Line B-train, beginning at Blandford Street at around 3 p.m., and ending at Harvard Avenue. The shot interval was one second and the video was encoded at 10 frames per second.

Marsh Plaza Birdseye View
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This time-lapse of Marsh Plaza was taken from the fifth floor of the School of Theology. Shooting began at 3 p.m. with a shot interval of one second. Propping the camera up high enough to frame Commonwealth Avenue and the Free at Last sculpture in the middle of the plaza was the easy part. Making sure a custodian didn’t take the camera down was the real challenge. The video was encoded at 30 frames per second.

A Stage Set Rises Up
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In the time lapse above, members of the student group Stage Troupe build the set for the musical Beauty and the Beast, which was performed on three consecutive days over Parents Weekend. Images were taken every three seconds, for four days of construction. They were encoded for video at a rate of 60 frames per second, and edited down from an original length of about five minutes.

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