August 26, 2019

Here's How You Shoot 30 Years Worth of New York City Footage

Joesph DiGiovanna is doing a 30 year time lapse project
Here's how one guy is capturing the evolution of the Big Apple over 30 years.

Location. Location. Location. We keep hearing that's the secret to success. And when you're a photographer who moved into a prime apartment across the river from the New York City skyline, location seems to breed inspiration for shooting a timelapse.

But not just any time-lapse, this is a thirty-year time-lapse in the making.  And you can watch it as it happens on Instagram.

“I wanted to film everything,” DiGiovanna tells documentarian Emeric LeBars. “I wanted to film boats going by. I wanted to film the sunrise and the sunset and the clouds and a storm and a rainbow. And I wanted to film buildings being built and things changing.”

Currently in the fourth year of his project, DiGiovanna has a perfect view of Manhattan from his apartment in Weehawken, New Jersey. It's the perfect view, and you get the feeling he could have seen Ben Gates emerge from the Hudson after escaping the FBI in National Treasure.

DiGiovanna uses a Sony a7S, mounted to the top corner of his apartment window, which is tethered to a dedicated MacBook Pro. It shoots images every 30 seconds, and then sends those images to his MacBook, where has a program that automatically processes and assembles each image into a time-lapse as it happens. 

 

 

DiGiovanna chronicles his progress, posting clips as he shoots them on Instagram. At the outset, that only meant sunrises because of the social media app's early days mandated a 15 second time limit. But when Facebook lifted the time limit to allow for longer-form video posts, DiGiovanna moved up to sharing daily time lapses as the City that Never Sleeps went about its long day.

As technology advances, DiGiovanna wants to improve on his time-lapse setup, to capture the Big Apple as it evolves day-by-day. And he mentions he wants them to be intelligent and beautiful on their own. So could he be looking for an AI solution? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, DiGiovanna is on quite a journey, and it'll be fun to go along with him.      

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1 Comment

I initially was disappointed this wasn't actually a 30 year timelapse. but even the ~4 year timelapse it currently is shows a lot of changes. Going to be insane to see the difference in 26 years.

I hope he can finish and I hope I can remember it in 26 years.

August 26, 2019 at 4:24PM

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Alex Everingham
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