Time-based techniques — 2nd attempt

I wanted to explore more ways to play with time-lapse. I took a time-lapse of the building opposite my hall room as the sun was setting and I was intrigued by the lights flickering on and off.

The rhythmic nature of the flickering was strangely melodious. This is especially so when staircases at different storeys successively lit up — just like musical scales. This inspired me to create something like a “light orchestra”.

I took several more time-lapses from a different vantage point — but this time round with the scenes unfocused. I wanted to draw attention solely to the lights without distractions from the architecture or moving humans. I set the time-interval to 2-3 seconds per photo and took around 250 photos for each scene.

I then pulled the time-lapses together in a timeline and attempted to sync the flickering of lights to a sound track:

It was quite difficult to sync the lights effectively to the music. If the melody is too sparse, the flickers are often too complicated to match up — rarely does only one light flicker in one scene. Conversely, if the melody is complex, it becomes impossible to correspond the flickers accordingly.

I took a few tries with different soundtracks before arriving at one that has a mix of simple, distinct notes, and a string of flowing, convoluted notes. I feel that this gives more leeway for the time-lapse to harmonise with the music.

I roughly categorised the time-lapse sequences into simple flickering and messy complicated ones. I started with an establishing shot of the night scene to set the context. Subsequently, I let the music dictate the accompanying time-lapse scene. Sequences are sped up and slowed down when needed. I tried to avoid cutting or altering any sequence, but this was done anyway in certain segments.

Here is another attempt with a different soundtrack:

Some reflections
  • creating a soundtrack to sync with the lights is probably easier, provided one knows how to compose
  • time-lapses of isolated, simple light flickers will be helpful when syncing with simple, distinct notes
  • overlaying sequences with different light rhythms can help to convey music with a distinct melody and a complex accompaniment

Time-based techniques

I wanted to capture the atmosphere of my neighbourhood on a quiet and sultry Sunday afternoon. Many things seem to come to a standstill in the heat, except the clothes draped over bamboo poles at every storey. These clothes almost like a staple sight of every neighbourhood in Singapore; hung out in the sun, fluttering to the tiniest gust of wind.

I took about 100-200 photos for each scene, at the interval of 2 seconds.

I added ambience noise along with some chimes in the background to convey an idle, quiet mood.

I also took another time-lapse of a construction site that can be seen from my house’s window. I took over a 35min period, at 3 seconds interval.

This is the view from my house:

The construction site is far away enough that I usually barely see any movement from my end. It was just a curious thought of “what if I just take a time lapse”? I wasn’t expecting much from it at all.

Surprisingly, there were in fact quite many workers moving around the site. There were also subtle movements that I would never have observed in real time — such as the lift transporting the workers to basement levels (?) in the bottom right. I thought the small quick movements contrast nicely with the general stillness of the whole scene.

The bustling around felt really cute and gave the impression of worker ants moving around an ant colony — simply because of how cubed-up the construction site is and how small the people in comparison to it.