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'Ride the Sky': A Mind-Blowing Timelapse Video Unlike Any You've Seen Before

Ride the Sky TimelapseSeveral years ago, motion-control timelapse was an unexplored frontier in the field of video production. Then DSLR video happened, and company after company came out with their own line of automated motion control equipment. Vimeo nearly exploded from all of the gorgeous timelapse videos from folks like Tom Lowe and Preston Kanak. Unfortunately, the internet became over-saturated with these videos, and the age-old technique of timelapse became a cliché by-product of the DSLR revolution. However, there are still filmmakers out there pushing the boundaries of the timelapse medium. Lance Page is one of those filmmakers, and his new video Ride the Sky is unlike any timelapse video you’ve seen before.

First, here’s a brief description of Ride the Sky from its Vimeo page

Ride the Sky takes you on a journey through the forest and on into the Universe.

I had the idea of a new astro time-lapse technique in which the camera is pointed right at the north star and mounted to a motorized pivot point directly lined up with the sensor so the camera is able to spin with the stars through the night. This is where inspiration for the title came from. Sit back, relax and Ride the Sky.

My initial reaction to the unique effect that Page created by syncing his motion-controlled rotation to the movement of the stars was that it must have taken some serious mathematical calculations in order to get the two in sync. However, in a detailed BTS post on his website, Page describes how simple this technique actually was to pull off repeatedly:

I already had an Emotimo TB3 motion control time-lapse head so I figured out a way to mount my DSLR to the head pointing straight up so the pan feature would cause a pivot or roll motion instead of a pan. Then the whole camera rig points directly at Polaris and pivots counter-clockwise a little less than 180 degrees in about 4.5 hours. After trying it out for the first time I was surprised at how well it worked and how loose you can be with the calculations, I felt that a little bit of variation in the speed of the rotation and warpage of the lens added a sense of a human interaction to robotic motion.

Page also walks us through the opening shot of Ride the Sky, a shot that was easily the most complex of the bunch.


The setup for the opening time-lapse sequence of the film was especially complex as I had 2 different controllers doing different things for the same shot. Dynamic Perception’s MX2 was in charge of moving the camera forward on the 12 foot slider and Emotimo’s TB3 ramped up a roll motion about a third of the way into the shot. The controllers were communicating via a split camera signal cable. This was the last shot I got for the film and definitely the most challenging.

To read more about this unique film’s production —  including all of the gear and location specifics – head on over to Page’s website and check out his Ride the Sky BTS post.



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  • makes us remember that we’re not the center of the universe ;)

    • Is the earth in the center of the Universe? No. Is mankind the center of God’s creation? Yes.

      • I’m sorry what is a ”God”? I looked at my uni biology texts books and could find mentioning ”God”? Strange!

        • You’ll find mention of God in plenty of other books.

        • I read “Romeo and Juliet” and “King Lear”, and so no mention of this “Shakespeare”… God is the Author of Biology…

        • Keep basing all existence and the reasons for existence in what you found written in a biology text book and you will remain forever lost for all eternity. Only Jesus Christ can save you from your lost state.

          • And had you been born in Pakistan, you’d say the same about Allah and the Prophet. Can’t you see religions are man-made constructs, most of them invented thousands of years ago by people with not even a basic understanding whatsoever about the universe and origin of man?

      • Sorry, I know this is very much off-topic, but by God, do you mean Jaweh? Allah? Buddha? Vishnu? The old Nordic Gods? Roman Gods?.

        That’s were all the trouble starts….before you know it, you, me and others will start to disagree about this or worse. Too many wars and acts of violence were done in the name of God…..So let’s get back to the topic, which is film-making. The world and universe around contain stunning beauty. No matter what belief or theory one may have about it’s origin.

        • Buddha, Vishnu, Roman and Nordic gods were not called God. There was no such thing- some may be more powerful but none are God. They are gods- in fact Buddha isn’t even a diety. He was a guru who is praised, and that’s an issue amongst sects of Buddhism. God would reffer only to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, although people tend to refer to Islam as Allah (even though that means God) and Judaism/Chrisitanity have the same God.

          I can do anything in the name of anyone, that means nothing about them. It’s hard to judge God when there are just people slaughtering his name.

          And yes, this comment section sohould preferably remain on film-making, but we have to stop taking the bait.

          • Seems like some talk of God is permissible in this thread since the video is not just about the time lapse but God too, and is a significant part of why it’s fascinating, by where your mind is carried from what is said about God.

          • No the Norse gods were called gods as in plural as in more than one. So Allah or God with a capital letter would get his ass kicked by them and let’s not get started on Indian gods there are a shedload of them and they have mad skills…

            • Keith, seeing as how these other gods do not exist then no, God wouldn’t be getting any trouble from them. However, you remain in a lot of trouble already, so why make it worse for yourself?

      • Will Jones on 07.6.14 @ 4:07PM

        Please define “Centre of the universe”

        Also, what if there is life on other planets, did god make that as well? If so, logically the centre of creation is the average point between all life, no? Probably billions of light years away.

        Somewhere in the entire universe, life is being created right now, literally as you read this, is that where god is?

        Is it healthy to anthropomorphise a gut feeling?


      • Define “center”, as in pertaining to the UNIVERSE.

  • Elliot Kramer on 07.5.14 @ 9:22PM

    Wow. Really nice work. The universe can definitely freak me out if I think about it too much.

  • This is stunning

  • I have a goto head that will do this all by itself once calibrated. Put in your co-ordinates. Point it to the Pole Star then chose the object to track. Track the moon behind buildings, through trees etc….

  • This was incredible. Great use of technology and creativity

  • shaun wilson on 07.5.14 @ 10:54PM

    tech question – is it possible to push this style further with drone time lapses?

    • Drone Timelapse? It would have to be tethered. Drone’s average flight time is 15-20 minutes. Maybe 25-30 minutes with a second battery.

      A shot like that clearly takes hours, so the power supply would have to be on the ground and the wires to the drone suspended in the air. The higher you fly it, especially in an area without tree cover the more forceful and unpredictable the winds become. There are PID controllers for drones on spatial positioning but their capabilities are limited by the size of the motors and propellors of the unit.

      Also factor in that most drone’s payloads are only several ounces to maybe a few pounds at most. A DSLR is decently weighty, Add a 3 axis gimbal and its not only downright hefty but also bulky as well.

  • I like it so much, I wish I could have it in the future.

  • Great visuals, guys. No, amazing visuals. But the soundtrack was disappointing.

  • Enjoying Some GK Chesterton Quotes on 07.6.14 @ 12:43AM

    Hawking got that from Einstein.

  • Very nice.

    How are these two? Even better? (contains the now famous Moon crossing behind the ADIA Building)

  • Awesome!

    But also have a look at the beautiful timelapses of Matthew Vandeputte, a promising young Flemish (Belgian) photographer, based in Sydney. Graduated only two years of film school and already an international career.
    Some examples:

  • well, I found it dizzying, the musical choice poorly made and the narration contrived. I see how many may like this, but if it were my job producing this kind of stuff in serie, I’d kill myself.

  • If you like this then I definitely recommend Ron Fricke’s Samsara and Baraka, he mastered this art of motion timelapse using 70mm film cameras, its beautiful work!

  • I have dabbled in astrophotography and you can do some amazing thing by aligning frames and stacking them- could you take regular shots of the night sky and use certain stars as alignment points so they stay stationary and the landscape rotate around them. Maybe someone more familiar with that software could chime in.

  • You know what? I dug it. Well done :)