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Time Travels: Marsh Plaza Bird’s-eye

Looking down on the open space in the middle


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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.

The technique of time-lapse photography has been around for years, but never seems to get old. This year, with the help of mechanical engineering student and photography enthusiast Peter Moriarty (ENG’11), BU Today is bringing you familiar sights in a way you’ve never seen them before.

The key to successful time-lapse photography is to determine how to manipulate time to produce the most interesting images. The photographer must set two key variables. First, how often do you want the camera to record an image? Second, once you’ve gathered images, how quickly do you want to play them?

Got an idea for a time-lapse on or around campus? Share it with us. Think large or small, indoors or out. If we follow through in our weekly series, you’ll get credit, but even better, we’ll all get a great new set of images and a deeper appreciation of where we stand, and live.

Edward A. Brown can be reached at ebrown@bu.edu.


5 Comments on Time Travels: Marsh Plaza Bird’s-eye

  • Anonymous on 10.01.2009 at 8:07 am

    Very nice video! However, it makes clear that Marsh Plaza is highly under-utilized by students. No one stops to hang out there; it’s just an outdoor hallway. Replacing the granite with grass would make it a more inviting area.

  • Anonymous on 10.01.2009 at 8:36 am


  • AK on 10.01.2009 at 8:36 am

    wow at least 10 people crossed the seal…

  • Anonymous on 10.01.2009 at 2:46 pm

    I’m a fan of how infrequently the T goes through the image. And when it does go through, it’s in groups of trains going in the same direction!

  • Anonymous on 10.01.2009 at 4:32 pm

    I am interested in the selection criteria

    As ‘Very nice video!’ noted, my initial thought was – yup, no one seems to have enjoyed this space. Then I stopped to do some math.

    At one frame per second, 30 fps video replay, and a 30 second clip, we are looking at 900 seconds/ 15 minutes of activity.

    Over a 15 minute interval “making sure a custodian didn’t take the camera down” would not be a large challenge. To me this means the video was a selected excerpt from a longer period of observation.

    How long was the camera on?

    What was the selection criteria?
    (most activity?)(aesthetically pleasing trajectories?)

    What was Peter trying to say with his selection Criteria?

    With the name of Moriarty, a Sherlock Holmes Villain, how critical/receptive should we be to responding to selected videos without knowing the selection process?

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