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One Hour of San Diego Surfing Time Collapsed: San Diego Study #4

“The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.” Joseph Conrad

One Hour of San Diego Surfing Time Collapsed: San Diego Study #4 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

When I was 17 I got lost on Mount Moffett on the island of Adak in the Aleutian chain. Adak is where I went to high school and my friends and I had great adventures snowboarding there at a time when the sport was brand new. No one knew how anything worked, we were just figuring it out from pictures we saw in magazines. When I was 17 I got lost alone late in the day during a white out. I slipped off a ridge and during the slide dropped my board, which I never saw again. A half hour later, lost and blind in the storm, I had became a committed, practicing, believing animist as I begged the clouds and the mountain to let me out before the sun went down – and they did. The only time in my life since when I’ve felt similar and even greater fear of the environment is while surfing. Cold mountains can be incredibly frightening but big surf is, for me, even heavier: cold mountains that move.

I shot this swell twice. First on a holiday and again on a weekday and the level of surfing was much higher on the weekday presumably because the regulars were in the water. To them – hats off. There are a lot of good surfers on this break and I was especially impressed by the stand up paddle board riders. If you look closely you’ll see the same rider two or three different waves owning this spot. Here he is right behind himself:

SURFTIMECOLLAPSE(samesurfertwice)

There are no CG elements in the video. It’s all documentary footage arranged and collapsed together with After Effects. Compositing water is difficult. The basic strategy I worked out is to have the clips roll behind one another with the leading edge of the hind wave fitted frame by frame to the contour of the wave in front of it. The compositing was done using masks in After effects, which are key frame animated. Here’s a peak at the process:

Making Of: Surf Time Collapse AE Edit from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

And a sample of the raw footage:


Raw Footage San Diego Study #4 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

I call this idea of removing the time between events without altering the speed of the subject(s) a Time Collapse video. Many people were calling the earlier videos in the series time lapse, which is similar but not totally accurate. Hopefully time collapse will make sense to others.

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Making these videos has given me a hint at what animators do and the extraordinary discipline it takes. During the process of assembling this one a new thought began to occur to me about perception and how quickly it breaks down. I got some great insights from a fellow video artist/filmmaker working in Berlin named Gabriel Shalom (@gabrielshalom) that got me thinking about contemporary art’s connections to cubism and the deconstruction of imagery but the place my mind really went to was Dali and surrealism. This was a surprise to me because I was never very attracted to that movement. Somehow I associated it with psychedelia and Dali’s anteater walking made me tick him off the list of possible role models. Now older and wiser, I spent some time reading about the movement and looking more seriously at what Dali and his contemporaries did and found it deeply resonant. The piece that really blew me away is Dali’s Crusifixtion (Corpus Hypercubus)

With it he transforms a motif that’s been repeated endlessly by pressing a new dimension into the composition and the result is an incredible combination of old nd new. By this time in his life he’d become interested in math and science and I feel like he would be fascinated by the code art that’s emergent now. More personally, I feel like I’ve begun to understand what the surrealists were aiming at for the first time, which is the fragility of human perception and the proximity of dreams and…not-dreams.

This project is supported by MOPA San Diego and The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Fund: Individual Artist Fellowship Program. If you don’t know MOPA be sure to check them out on Facebook + Twitter and more importantly stop by the space in Balboa Park. Something I didn’t know until I started my residence with MOPA is that they have an incredible library of photo related books and journals that you can easily access by appointment, here’s the link.

Big thanks for the valuable feedback from Danie Darisay, Bear Guerra, Pablo West and Freerk Boedeltje.

Shot on a Canon C100 + Atomos Ninja in CLog, with a Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5 L lens at 24p. The post work was done in After Effects. I don’t usually hype gear since that conversation is so dominant already but I have to say the C100+Ninja is remarkable.

Update Sat May 24th:

The Youtube version is up:

Designboom.com made a nice gif:

cy-kuckenbaker-time-collapses-one-hour-of-san-diego-surfing-designboom-818

The rest of the series:

Midday Traffic Time Collapsed and Reorganized by Color: San Diego Study #3 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

Departures from San Diego Int Airport Dec 27, 2012 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

Surf Time Collapse Video

Coming soon?

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New Time Collapse Video: Surfing

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I think I’m finally making progress on a new time collapse video that condenses two hours of surfing into a couple minutes. The two waves above were actually minutes apart.

Shout Out to New Media Rights

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Well it’s been a very exciting couple of days. It’s rewarding to have my work noticed and shared on all these great sites, by commenters and by facebook friends new and old.

While the traffic is still high I’d like to make a shout out on behalf of a friend. Without a small non-profit called New Media Rights that’s based here in San Diego there’s no way I’d be able to complete my projects. NMR has become a really critical player in our online ecosystem by ensuring that small players like myself have access to legal advice and support that is otherwise out of reach.

Please check their website out. Follow them on twitter or facebook. They do great Youtube legal guides so you can follow them there as well. If you’ve got a little more, make a tax deductible holiday donation. It took me five minutes to give a couple hundred dollars to NMR earlier this month. I gave because they’ve helped me tremendously but also because I think they’re doing very important work for all of us.

A great example of the work they’re doing took place earlier this year when Lionsgate took Johnathan Mcintosh’s (rebelliouspixels.com) remix video down without warning or regard for Johnathan’s careful adherence to Fair Use. NMR got involved and Johnathan’s amazing work is back up where it should be. We have to have players like NMR in the system to keep this thing healthy, to let creators create and keep the internet open.

 

Youtube Version Up + Gatorade Bottle Found

Youtube version is up:

AND engineering student Steven Buccini ‏(@StevenBuccini) from Cal Berkeley found the Gatorade bottle in the video. Nicely done Steven! Steven’s prize is 25,000 chest bumping pixels that will bring Oski the bear out of hibernation.

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And here are those pixels I owe:

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Give a hoot.

 

VICE/Intel Creators Project Vid and a Vimeo Staff Pick

I’ve been watching the Creators Project videos for years now and I find them very inspirational so I’m at a loss of words to really express how happy I am to have my project featured in one.

And a vimeo staff pick to boot!

Midday Traffic Time Collapsed and Reorganized by Color: San Diego Study #3 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

A quick shout out to the filmmaker at Vice that directed the piece Jordan Kinley. He’s got some really innovative projects but you’ve got to see his series Stand Your Ground, it’ll make your palms sweat in the best way.

San Diego Study #3: San Diego Traffic Time Collapsed and Reorganized by Car Color

Midday Traffic Time Collapsed and Reorganized by Color: San Diego Study #3 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

Finally! It’s done. In this new video I took a four minute shot of state highway 163, which is San Diego’s first freeway then removed the time between cars passing and reorganized them according to color. I was curious to see what the city’s car color palette looked like when broken down. We are a car culture after all. I was surprised that the vast majority of cars are colorless: white, gray and black. The bigger surprise though was just how many cars passed in four minutes of what looked like light traffic: 462 cars. I invite my fellow arm chair anthropologist to parse out what those car colors say about us. Do tell…me…on twitter if you can. I think what it says about Caltrans is pretty clear. I had never really considered how many cars the freeways have to support but if you do some conservative math – at the rate captured in the raw video (below) you’ll hit 125,000 cars in 18 hours. If I had a nickle…that’s how much I’d need to fix the road.

A quick note on the colors. They’re ordered by prevalence or popularity within the sample: white, silver/gray, black, blue, red/orange/yellow, green. The group that is actually the largest is silver/gray but I put that group second to white because the silver/gray group is really a set of tones and colors that we don’t have language to easily parse but are visually obvious. In other words, it’s the biggest group linguistically but it’s not one discreet color.

There are no CG elements in the video and none of the cars have been moved from their original lanes or had their speeds altered. The gaps in traffic are due to the different volumes in the lanes. For the tech curious the way I did this is conceptually simple but labor intensive. With After Effects I cut out each car frame by frame and saved it as it’s own new video. Then I grabbed a still shot of each lane when it was empty, laid those over the source video, which produces an empty freeway and then put all the cars back in on top of that. Each car took an average of fifteen minutes to cut out and save x 492 cars, which is around 120 hours. I’m not entirely sure how long it took to put it all back together. Here’s the entire raw shot I sourced, which was taken from the Washington St. Bridge in the Hillcrest area of San Diego looking north.

Raw Footage San Diego Study #3 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

I’ve started to call this idea of removing the time between events without altering the speed of the subject(s) a Time Collapse video. Many people were calling the earlier videos in the series time lapse, which is similar but not totally accurate. Hopefully time collapse will make sense to others.

There is a discrepancy between the time collapse and the source footage. For technical reasons some car shapes and movements were unworkable and those cars were dropped. I only counted this once but here’s the breakdown:

Lane 1 (far left): 111 cars passed 107 appear
Lane 2: 82 cars passed 71 appear
Lane 3: 143 cars passed 137 appear
Lane 4 (far right): 134 cars passed 127 appear
Overpass: 22 cars passed 22 cars appear
Total cars lost: 28

That means that the real traffic in that four minutes is actually about six percent heavier than the time collapse depicts.

163

Dupont does a Global Car Color Survey every year that correlates to my results in the video except for one difference. In Dupont’s 2012 North American survey red is more popular than blue nationally but in my sample blue is more popular than red in San Diego. If my video is accurate, that would make sense to me. Red is thought of as an aggressive color and blue is considered a calm color. If you know San Diego, you know this is a (notoriously) laid back town. So I think if the video reveals anything really novel about San Diego’s preferences, that may be it. We’re way more blue than red…bro.

A few frame grabs:
1_WHITE

2_SILVER

3_BLACK

4_BLUE

5_RED

6_EMPTY

Here’s some trivia – can you find the empty Gatorade bottle in the video? I didn’t notice it for weeks but it’s featured prominently in every frame of the video. Tweet me if you find it and I’ll ask Gatorade to send you a case of coolant.

A few making-of notes: While I cut this I got hooked on audio books. During the edit I listened to 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 (hero) Gary Shteyngart, 1493 by Charles Mann, 1491 by Charles Mann, With the Old Breed by E. Sledge, The Emperor of Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee and the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera all of which reminded me, happily,  that I’m doing something preposterous with my life. I liked all of these book but 1493 reorganized my understanding of the world. It is remarkable.

I tried to use an app called IOgraphica during the long edits. It’s a mouse movement tracker. Computer work is so odd because it can feel almost motionless at times, it’s hard to understand why it’s tiring. The app is free and it’s an interesting way to visualize the physical activity behind a project. The images below represent about a third of the total for this video. The app helps further prove that I’m, happily, spending my life making digital yarn balls.

2013_11_26_IOGraphica---8.3-hours-(from-9-50-to-23-25) 2013_11_27_9.5-hours 2013_11_29_6.5-hours 2013_11_30_8.7-hours 2013_12_01_7.6-hours 2013_12_02_9.6-hours 2013_12_04_10.4-hours 2013_12_08_14.1-hours 2013_12_09_10.5-hours2013_12_15_10.5-hours2013_12_16

This project is supported by MOPA San Diego and The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Fund: Individual Artist Fellowship Program. If you don’t know MOPA be sure to check them out on Facebook + Twitter and more importantly stop by the space in Balboa Park. Something I didn’t know until I started my residence with MOPA is that they have an incredible library of photo related books and journals that you can easily access by appointment, here’s the link.

Big thanks for the valuable feedback from Bear Guerra and Freerk Boedeltje who looked at early versions and thanks to Luis Guerra for his deft audio touch.

The video was shot on a Canon C100 in CLog with a canon EFS 17-55 f/2.8 lens at 24p

I drive a green car known as The Pickle. That’s true.

Fraction Holiday Print Sale

I’m happy to be part of Fraction Magazine’s Holiday Print Sale.  I’m offering a 10″x10″ print of the image below for 100 dollars. Click the picture below to jump over to Fraction’s page.

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Over the Wall at Night

Night was my favorite landscape in Baghdad. The dust mixed with the glaring lights around the base and was cut by the concrete walls as if consciously imitating film noir. This photo was taken beneath the T-wall in the Sully Compound near the Baghdad International Airport where I lived and worked for 21 months.

aPhotoEditor Blog Mention

I’m honored to be mentioned along side some incredible photographers in a post on the aPhotoEditor blog. Take a look. They ran a couple pictures from a new series I’m working on called So Your Friends Will Really Know It’s You. That’s the prompt facebook gives you to upload a photo when you create your account. Again, credit goes to the Medium Festival of Photography for bringing all these great photographers, editors and curators into town.

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Title: Kristina and 32 others like this.

Room #4 Baghdad Photo Series Published In Fraction Magazine

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I’m honored to present selections from my photo series Room #4 Iraq in the Dec 2013 edition of Fraction Magazine.

Fraction Magazine features the best of contemporary photography, bringing together diverse bodies of work by established and emerging artists from around the globe. Each monthly on-line issue focuses on a central theme, creating an implicit dialogue between differing photographic perspectives.

I met Fraction’s editor David Bram during the Medium Festival of Photography portfolio reviews here in San Diego last month – an event I would strongly recommend to other photographers.