A while ago, I happened across a time-lapse video of San Francisco scenes. In less than five minutes, it seemed to capture the sublime unfolding of one day here and convey a notion of the city’s beauty and vitality. Much more recently, one of our online producers, Lisa Pickoff-White, engaged former KQED staffer and noted photography experimenter Ken Murphy to shoot a time lapse of the last 49ers game at Candlestick Park, which she then mixed with voices of fans reflecting on the end of the Candlestick era. The result was moving and compressed the experience of an evening, and of memories that stretched back for decades, into less than two minutes.

So, those pieces got us thinking about what other time-lapse projects we might take on in the future. And also, about time lapses videos we’ve seen that amazed us. Here’s a short list, with an emphasis on California places.

SF to Paris in 2 Minutes, by Nate Bolt
What we love: There are few visual/geographic experiences better than watching the landscape slide by on a long plane flight. Here, you’ll get to see the trip from SFO to CDG by way of the Arctic. As an inveterate airliner-seat picture-taker, what I need to see is how the photographer set up his rig.

The City, by WTK Photography
What we love: A sublime unfolding of San Francisco in 4 minutes and 56 seconds.

Timelapse Reel 1, by Andrew Walker
What we love: Nighttime shots of Los Angeles on the move, with a sudden detour near the end to a couple of very familiar Bay Area scenes.

Bay Bridge weekend, by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission
What we love: There are several time lapse views of the installation of the (infamous) Bay Bridge S-curve in 2009. This is the sharpest and features a cool second perspective.

The City Limits, by Dominic Boudreault
What we love: A poetic vision of four big North American cities — Montreal, Toronto, New York and Chicago — juxtaposed with what’s beyond the urban frontier. Amazing high-def clarity here, too.

A History of the Sky, by Ken Murphy
What we love: 365 days’ worth of the sky above San Francisco’s Exploratorium.

The Rim Fire, by Yosemite National Park
What we love: The night sequences, reportedly shot at Yosemite’s Crane Flat helibase.

O.Co Coliseum Conversion, A’s to Raiders, by Oracle Arena
What we love: Shot last October, the video captures the entire frenetic process of changing the major leagues’ last dual-purpose park from a baseball venue to an NFL stadium. It’s a little mind-bending how all the pieces fit together.

Last Night at the ‘Stick, by Ken Murphy
What we love: Well, first, this was a great call by our producers to do this piece. And second, compressing the pregame, the game, and the stadium cleanup into 1 minute and 45 seconds while preserving a sense of the event? Amazing.

Into the Atmosphere, by Michael Shainblum
What we love: California’s natural magnificence, accompanied by a somewhat overwrought soundtrack (keep your sound low).

Into The Atmosphere from Michael Shainblum on Vimeo.

Idiot With a Tripod, by Jamie Stuart
What we love: I am sneaking this one in here: It’s not a time lapse but a short film documenting a blizzard that hit New York City in December 2010. A must-see, IMHO.


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

Twitter: twitter.com/danbrekke
Facebook: www.facebook.com/danbrekke
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/danbrekke

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor