Cy Kuckenbaker’s Time Collapse Videos Let You See Daily Life As You’ve Never Seen It Before

There are apps to track the num­ber of dai­ly min­utes you habit­u­al­ly frit­ter away on social media, but can your smart­phone help you get a han­dle on the auto­mo­tive col­or pref­er­ences of mid­day San Diego dri­vers?

Or the num­ber of planes land­ing at San Diego Inter­na­tion­al Air­port on the day after Thanks­giv­ing?

Or, for that mat­ter, the traf­fic pat­terns of non-pro­fes­sion­al surfers hop­ing to catch a wave at at Point Loma?

No, but film­mak­er Cy Kuck­en­bak­er can.

His “time col­lapse” videos stemmed from a desire to get to know the city in which he lives with the same vig­or he brought to bear as a Peace Corps vol­un­teer in his 20s, explor­ing Iraq, Africa, and East­ern Europe.

This impulse might lead oth­ers to join a club, take a class, or check out restau­rants in an unfa­mil­iar neigh­bor­hood.

For Kuck­en­bak­er, it means set­ting up his cam­era for a fixed shot, uncer­tain if his exper­i­ment will even work, then spend­ing hours and hours in the edit­ing room, remov­ing the time between events with­out alter­ing the speed of his sub­jects.

It’s a form that requires a lot of patience on the part of its cre­ator.

He esti­mates that he spent 2 hours edit­ing for every sec­ond of Mid­day Traf­fic Time Col­lapsed and Reor­ga­nized by Col­or: San Diego Study #3, above, pro­vid­ing him ample time to lis­ten to the fol­low­ing audio­books (get your free Audi­ble tri­al here):

Rev­o­lu­tion 1989 by Vic­tor Sebestyen

How Music Works by David Byrne

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Hen­ry Dana

Super Sad True Love Sto­ry by Gary Shteyn­gart

1493 by Charles Mann

1491 by Charles Mann

With the Old Breed by E. Sledge

The Emper­or of Mal­adies by Sid­dhartha Mukher­jee

The Unbear­able Light­ness of Being by Milan Kun­dera

Each car was keyed out of the orig­i­nal shot, then ranked and rein­sert­ed based on col­or. 28 of the raw footage’s 462 didn’t make the cut due to errat­ic shape or move­ment. See if you can spot them in the extreme­ly ordi­nary-look­ing orig­i­nal footage, below. Extra cred­it for spot­ting the emp­ty Gatorade bot­tle that made it into every frame of the com­pres­sion:

His stud­ies may not reveal much about his home city to the aver­age tourist, but Kuck­en­bak­er him­self is able to inter­pret the num­bers in ways that go beyond mere quan­ti­ty and aver­ages, such as San Die­gans’ appar­ent vehic­u­lar col­or pref­er­ence:

Nation­al­ly, red is a more pop­u­lar col­or than blue. But not San Diego. San Diego, there’s more blue than red, so it’s like, you know, an out­lier. And I thought about that for a while and it’s like, per­son­al­ly, the way I under­stand the city, that makes sense to me. The sort of tone of the city, the atti­tude of the city—it’s an ocean city. I can see why peo­ple would think, “Well, I live in San Diego. Why would I have a red… I want a blue car!”

His Point Loma com­pres­sion boiled an hour’s surf­ing down to 2 min­utes and 15 sec­onds that KPBS’ David Wag­n­er her­ald­ed as “a surfer­’s wildest dream come true, a fan­ta­sy break where per­fect waves roll in one after anoth­er like clock­work, no lulls in between.”

The raw footage and Kuckenbaker’s doc­u­men­ta­tion of the After Effects tech­nique used to com­pos­ite the waves speaks to a slight­ly more tedious real­i­ty. No word on what audio books got him through this one, though he goes into the tech­ni­cal specs and quotes Joseph Con­rad on his blog.

The com­pres­sion of the near­ly 70 arriv­ing Black Fri­day flights that kicked off Kuckenbaker’s San Diego-based time col­laps­es in 2012 feels a bit mar­tial, espe­cial­ly if Ride of the Valkyries just hap­pens to be play­ing in the back­ground. It makes me wor­ry for San Diego, and also wish for a Kuck­en­bak­er to come col­lapse time in my town.

See more of Cy Kuckenbaker’s Time Col­lapse videos here.

via Twist­ed Sifter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

53 Years of Nuclear Test­ing in 14 Min­utes: A Time Lapse Film by Japan­ese Artist Isao Hashimo­to

Becom­ing: A Short Time­lapse Film Shows a Sin­gle Cell Mor­ph­ing Into a Com­plete, Com­plex Liv­ing Organ­ism

The Milky Way in Time-Lapse Video

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 9 for anoth­er sea­son of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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