FADE: a short film [Video]

Shot entirely in one week, in and around Lake Powell using DIY video & time-lapse dollies.

A little over a year ago, I was approached by my friend Josh Van Patter to build him a dolly for shooting time-lapse video.  This is now the second version of the original time-lapse dolly.  The overall concept is more or less the same.  The main difference is that the new design is propelled using a winch instead of a high-friction foam wheel.

The downside to the old design was that the pipe tracks had to be almost perfectly level or the foam wheel would tend to slip under its own weight.  The winch corrects this problem and, as an added bonus, gives the dolly the ability to climb.

I designed the winch to be removable so that it could be interchanged between multiple dollies, each designed for different applications.

I have four different gear motors that we use with this dolly for controlling the speed.  For time-lapse, we use both a 1rpm and 2rpm gear motor.  For long track shots and filming in real time, I also have a 4rpm, 6rpm and 10rpm.  All the motors are geared with a 24-tooth, 48-pitch brass pinion gear.  The larger aluminum gear that is mounted directly to the hub of the winch has 203 teeth.

In addition to the new and improved version of the original time-lapse dolly, I also created a compact travel-size dolly.  Both systems utilize the same electronic wench, which can be interchanged to reduce cost.

The compact dolly is really simple; it’s essentially just a drawer box.  The drawer slides I use are under mount, full extension ball bearing slides with soft close.   They are the same drawer slides I use in high-end kitchens.  When the slides are fully extended, the winch pulls the drawer closed giving you roughly 18 inches of movement.

The next phase of this project is making the dolly programmable.  This will allow us to shoot multi-day time-lapses and also give us the ability to throttle the speed.  Peter Kirwin is the brains behind this add-on.  We will be coming out with a post on this as soon as it’s ready.  If you want to stay in the loop, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter.

Behind the Scenes w/ Josh Van Patter

This video gives a quick preview of the gear we used to film FADE.

Image Gallery

Fitted Furniture Design Sketch

Furniture Design Sketch

This is a short clip my buddy Josh Van Patter and I filmed this afternoon.  We had two cameras rolling, a Canon 7D and Canon T2i.  Both cameras were shooting still frame images triggered by a remote timer every 30 seconds.

On a custom mount I made in the shop, I mounted the T2i directly above the drawing shooting straight down at the paper.   The 7D was mounted to a new-and-improved time-lapse dolly prototype.  As soon as I get the new design painted, I’ll do a post on it similar to the one I wrote for the original Time-lapse Dolly.

We’ll probably use this shot in the intro section of my upcoming demo reel.  I’m really happy to be able to check this time-lapse off of my list of things-to-do in 2011!



Click on the images below to enlarge them.

Chevron Veneer Top [Video]

About the cabinet:

The veneering on the tabletop is a Chevron pattern.  Some people refer to this design as a French Herringbone.  This particular style looks awesome on hardwood floors.

For this project, I used Curly Figured American Walnut that I got from Certainly Wood.  The quality of their veneers is excellent.  I highly recommend them.

The finish I used is an oil-based varnish.  The thing that I really like about varnish is that it tends to amber significantly in the first few months; which adds a lot of warmth to the strong character of the wood.

The hardware was hand-made out of brass and leather.  The brass was finished to look antique.  A great place to find hardware like this in the Twin Cities is Nob Hill.


About the video:

This is a 30 second HDR time-lapse that I filmed over the course of 23.5 hours.  I mounted a Canon T2i on a custom-made ceiling mount directly above my workbench, and shot still images on a remote timer every minute for the entire process.

I bought a Tokina 10-17 f3.5-4.5 Fish Eye lens special for this particular shot, and I’m really glad I did.  I love the way this lens bends the light and captures almost the whole shop.

I also used a Canon AC Adapter Kit for Rebel T2i.  An advantage to having it plugged into a cord is that you are not moving the camera at all.  Even a slight bump will show up in the final shot if you’re not careful.

This footage will be going into my upcoming demo reel when it’s complete.  I can’t wait to finish this project; hopefully I’ll have all the shots I need by the end of the year!




Arts and Crafts Vanity

Arts and Crafts style vanity and linen cabinet

This is a small project I worked on for a bathroom remodel with BJ Larson Remodeling. I’ve never been a huge fan of this style of woodwork, but I really dig the way it turned out. The vanity and linen cabinet are made out of quarter sawn red oak. I’m not doing the finish work on this job, but if I did, I would use a gel stain top coated with amber shellac. I’ve used that finish before on this style of woodwork and it looks really sharp.

I filmed a time-lapse of myself installing the drawer boxes and drawer fronts and included it in my Spring 2011 “test footage” demo reel. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that I accidentally bumped the tracks when I was filming the time-lapse. I did a lot of work in post production trying to smooth it out but was unable to do so. My solution was to edit the “bump” to be on beat with the song. If you are a fan of the TV show Dexter, you might notice in the intro to the show they do the same thing with one of there macro shots. I wonder it it was intentional or an accident. Either way, I think Dexter’s intro is brilliant.

Time-lapse Dolly Project

time lapse dolly

I was approached by my friend Josh Van Patter to design him a dolly that could move a camera from point A to point B smoothly at a speed so slow it’s almost undetectable by the human eye.  The purpose of this dolly is to capture time-lapse video.

The time-lapse video dolly is electronically controlled, allowing the user to adjust both the speed and direction of which the dolly travels.  The dolly moves down pipe tracks at a rate of about 2’/hr.  It is equipped with an electronic kill switch that cuts the power to the 1 RPM gear motor when the dolly reaches the end of the elevated tracks.  This allows the user to set up the shot and leave without risking damage to the dolly and his equipment in the event the dolly overruns the length of the track.

Check out the New Time Lapse Dolly.

What makes this dolly especially unique is its ability to accommodate curved tracks without binding or derailing.  The dolly is designed on a three-wheeled platform.  Two  of the wheel sets guide the dolly on the outside rail, while the third wheel set assembly mounts to a telescoping arm that allows the dolly to accommodate for any discrepancies in the curved rails.

The dolly rides on a fully adjustable rail system that has the ability to break down for easy transportation.  The pipe rails used are sturdy 1.375” OD steel pipes, the same that are used for commercial greenhouses.  With the use of an industrial pipe bender, custom bent rails systems can be created to capture nearly any shot.

Tutorial Video

Summer Escape