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Vorticity: A new time-lapse film

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Blood. Sweat. Tears. Joy.  That’s what this spring was for me. The miles, the grind, the failing, the epic days missed, the lack of sleep, the jubilation, the friendships strengthened, and the time away from my family. And when the chasing was all done…wondering, was worth it all?

Heck yeah it was.

I had three goals this spring: Get a tornado on time-lapse, capture the best footage I possibly could, and chase as much as my schedule would allow. That ended up totalling 18 chase days. 20,000 miles driven. Almost 60,000 time-lapse frames shot. Nine total states. Hours and hours and hours of editing. All between April 15th and June 15th.

And the tornado? Not only did I get one, but I got six more. On April 15th, the very first day out, I saw two tornadoes in the Texas Panhandle. May 9th was Wynnewood and Sulphur in Oklahoma (both in this film), as well as Trinidad on June 13th in Colorado. And while most tornadoes will be obvious in the film, you’ll have to use a keen eye to spot the first two, which appear at 2:08 and 2:13. The Wynnewood tornado, which you will see at the very end of the film, was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I was so focused on keeping up with the storm that day, that I barely realized that I had captured what I’d been working so hard to get. I texted my wife a few photos and simply said “Baby I did it“. It wasn’t until she responded “Babe, it’s beautiful. I’m so happy for you” that I completely lost it – live stream going on in the truck, people watching, and tears streaming down my face.

But that’s how much this spring meant to me, and how hard I was going. Most of the time exhausted. My typical routine would be to leave Phoenix sometime in late afternoon, drive all night, sleep an hour or two in the truck and then chase the next few days. And then drive home all night again. I did whatever I could to to minimize the time away from my family. Heck, I once even shot a wedding all day, left the venue, and drove all night to chase. I didn’t want to miss anything this spring.

What’s awesome to me is that some of my best stuff came from marginal days, where it took some effort and crazy luck to get sick storm structures. Those were the surprises – amazing clips worthy of the final product despite the chase day starting out subpar. Combined together with everything else, I think it’s some of my best footage to date!

Technical note…this film marks the first time I used my Canon 5DSR and 11-24 for time-lapse, which I bought right before the spring started (Thank you Martin Heck for the help!). I’m not 100% sure of course, but I believe the tornadoes in the film may be some of the first ever captured in 8K resolution. The 50 megapixels that camera offers was huge for being able to zoom into certain shots and still maintain fantastic quality and sharpness. Couldn’t be happier with that beast. I also used my trusty 5D3 for the tighter shots, with the 35mm, 50mm or 135mm.

I have to mention Kerry Muzzey here…he has surpassed being kind to me. This is the 3rd or 4th time he’s donated a song to one of my projects and I’m forever grateful. His music is powerful, haunting at times, and always, always perfect for the story I want to tell. This year I knew right away that “Found” was the song I would use. Please visit the links below to support his work!

There are a lot of names to thank which are listed at the end of the film. I owe them all so much for helping me this spring. Nowcasting, making me turn around when I was headed to Montana, teaching me about forecasting, helping me choose the right new camera, editing input, and just being good friends. I am very blessed to have some amazing people around me!

Most of all to my wife, Jina. She knows…every year I’m gone longer. I’m sure next year could be worse. But through it all, even when it’s really tough, she’s always right behind me. Making things work when I’m away. There are never enough words to cover how amazing she is.  But she knows and I know – this film wouldn’t happen without her.

I think that’s about it! Thanks to everyone for the kind words of support all year. I truly hope you enjoy this one! On to Monsoon 3!

 


Technical Details:

Captured with A CANON 5DSR, CANON 5D3, Canon 11-24mm f/4, 16-35mm, 35mm, 50mm, 135mm
Processed using Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro

Most clips available in 8K resolution, as well as 4K.

The 2012 Arizona Monsoon in Timelapse

Well this is my baby. All the hard work timelapsing last summer is now in one single place. A short film, 19 minutes long, that is the payoff for all the hours, miles driven and time away from family in 2012. The video took me quite awhile to produce. Most of the timelapses were completed in one form or other last fall, but with the busy wedding and family portrait season upon me, I had to put it on the back burner for awhile. But slowly this year I’ve pieced it together, organized it, cleaned it up, found music and finely tuned my simple presentation.

And now it’s here. I’m damn proud of it.

No, I don’t use a dolly. Yet. I’m not sure it’s important to have one but all the most amazing timelapses usually have some kind of motion in them. But timelapsing while you storm chase is quite a different beast than planning to shoot the Milky Way one night out in Joshua Tree National Park. You never know when or where a dust storm may crop up. Or lightning. Or a ridiculously awesome monsoon sunset. Sometimes I literally cannot get my tripod set-up fast enough. The secondary idea of ALSO having to get a dolly set-up, not to mention figuring out in my brain just exactly how long this dust storm will take to get to me, is fairly difficult. But I may yet be moving that direction this summer. We’ll see.

But for now, these are simple timelapses that show you the nature of the Arizona monsoon. Walls of dust…beautiful clouds, amazing sunsets, rain, gorgeous landscapes…all of that stuff. It’s what I love about this state. It’s what drives me to chase over 7,000 miles every summer.

Some of the clips in here have been posted separately before, but there are a bunch that haven’t been seen, including a storm moving over Tucson over the course of 90 minutes.

My only regret is that the lightning portion is super-brief. I debated putting it in at all, but there are a couple of clips I really loved and they needed a place to be seen. This coming summer I hope to have a bit more patience with timelapsing lightning for longer periods of time. But the monsoon is fickle and lightning doesn’t always last too long. It moves with the storms and makes it tough.

Everything was filmed on Canon 5D Mark II’s, using the Canon 17-40 L, the 70-200 f/2.8 L and a Rokinon 14mm 2.8. I use a wireless intervalometer to run the shutter and then I kick back and watch the storm roll in or take stills with the other camera.

I am showing it here for free, but if you love the movie and feel like purchasing it for your personal collection, or to view anytime on your iPhone, iPad or whatever, it’s available for $5. I will email you a link where you can download the movie. You can click the button down below the movie to buy!

Also…I’m posting this on my birthday! I never ask for these kinds of things, but as a little gift to me, if you enjoyed the film, I’d love it if you could spread the word via email, share this on Facebook, Twitter or wherever. It would mean a lot! When you put a lot of hard work into something that people are supposed to watch, you want to try to get as many people to see it as possible!

Thank you for checking it out, I hope you enjoyed viewing it as much as I did filming it and I truly desire for you to fall in love with Arizona like I have. It’s such an amazing place.