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Behind the Scenes: Bexley Time Lapse

Brent Davis
Columbus Neighborhoods: Bexley producer

We use time-lapse video in all of our Columbus Neighborhoods episodes, sometimes to suggest a passage of time or a chapter change. Sometimes these beautiful and striking sequences are used to inject a little energy in the story, or are incorporated to provide a visual when nothing else is available.

In this video I’m with cinematographer Ryan Schlagbaum, who also edited the Bexley episode. We’re shooting a time-lapse sequence that also incorporates a dolly move—the camera moves left or right as  single frames are shot every three seconds. Ryan designed and constructed this ingenious device. He purchased an RC car motor at a local hobby shop and then used a series of gears to turn a spool ever so slowly that reels in a string attached to the camera, pulling it along a track. You’ll notice that we’re using what appears to be a still camera rather than a large video cameras you see TV news photographers carrying on their shoulder. This is a DSLR camera which is quite affordable. It records a remarkable image and allows us to swap lenses depending on the desired effect.

And I shot this sequence using the time-lapse function on the iPhone 6. I just propped it against the curb. This $200 dollar phone shoots an image that is vastly superior to the one captured by the $40,000 video camera I used as a TV reporter when I got my first job in 1979.

Who knows what technology we’ll be using in the production of Columbus Neighborhoods in the next 10 or 20 years?