Dream Music 2 Pushes Timelapse To The Limits - Exclusive Interview And BTS Stills

Marc Donahue and Sean Michael Williams first wowed audiences with their Dream Music video back in March. They're back with a new video that blows the first one away completely. Using highly calculated photo timelapses with match edits, they have created very surreal looking videos.

Marc Donahue is a California-based videographer who has been shooting weddings, commercials, and documentary projects for about 10 years with his company Permagrin Films. He and Sean Michael Williams initially worked on this project out of the love for what they do, and that is experimenting with new timelapse techniques and visual storytelling styles. Armed with their creativity, a Canon 5D, and a Dynamic Perception Dolly these guys were able to make some amazing sequences.

I had a chance to talk Marc about Dream Music Part 2 earlier this week. His answers are below in italics.

What inspired you to do the first Dream Music video?
I've been doing timelapses ever since I was in college. I actually have some old videos that are kinda similar to Dream Music but they were all more experimental test videos that I never really finished or published. I really got into editing in college filming my friends and I skateboarding, downloading cracked versions of editing programs because I had no money at the time. I made a video called "I Like To Dream" in college which resembles Dream Music in that I filmed a friend in different timelapsed scenes. The inspiration was simply to show the viewer what your eyes cannot see. And not to use any CGI or greenscreen "shortcuts". I started looking into animation and found out there are only 10 mouth positions needed to make any animated character look like they are talking. This is when I threw everything into one basket and came up with our new "lyric-lapsing" technique. I linked up with my friend Sean Williams and I finally found a partner to work together with, therefore expanding these "experimental" videos into a solid structured film.

Were you surprised by the reaction to the first Dream Music video, which got over 150,000 views on Vimeo in the first 2 weeks?
We were very surprised. One of my friends posted it on reddit saying "this is what my friend does in his spare time when not filming weddings" and it just blew up. I was up all night watching the numbers go up. It was such a rush! We never really pushed it on youtube so vimeo got all the hits. For Dream Music 2 we are putting it on youtube to potentially get a bigger audience.

What's up with Part 2? Why did you decide to continue this project?
Part 1 was an experimental video. It had no real story behind it and we came up with ideas as we shot. Part 2 is a whole different ballgame. We planned out every shot and marked up 15,000 frames in the timeline, counting out each shot to the exact frame. Part 2 was made to really blow the minds of the viewer. It was made to be watched repeatedly. There is so much going on we feel the viewer will see something new even after watching it over a dozen times. We also want to further our careers and start doing major commercial and music videos, and travel the world doing them.

Has making these (unpaid) videos provided you with contacts, clients, a larger audience for your work, or any other benefit? And would you consider the time spent to have been worth it?
Making these videos has started the process of gaining a lot of exposure. Part 1 kinda got us on the map and we received a lot of emails but no real job opportunity came out of it. Although we've made a bunch of contacts. When I was out in Las Vegas filming for part 2 we met a talent scout that we were playing blackjack with. My buddy showed him the video of Part 1 and next thing you know he flew out to San Jose to talk about future projects and really getting us the exposure we wanted. These videos took a lot of patience, and with only the money in our pockets to work with which we spent on gas and red bulls.. The time spent was definitely worth it. I feel I've conquered a lifetime goal of mine to make a successful viral video. It makes me feel so accomplished and the support we are getting from people is the best feeling ever.

What's next for you and Sean?
What's next is bigger and better projects. We hopefully want to get some big time music videos or commercials. We have so many ideas, but some of them require more money than the lint in our pockets. We want to create travel documentaries, work for Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, MTV etc. We feel we have been producing breathtaking videos, and if we could travel around the world to breathtaking locations to do future work, its a win win win situation and can only multiply how amazing the final product becomes.

From the YouTube Description: "Dream Music: Part II is a musical voyage into the depths of the subconscious. This lyrical narrative reflects on the perception of time within dreams and waking life. Filmed on location in 2 states over the course of 6 months, we explored our new production technique of what we call 'lyric-lapsing', to achieve the surrealistic feeling of movement. We built upon the foundation of Part 1 with ambitious ideas that usually took around 6-8 hours of work for 3-4 seconds of footage. Our goal was to pioneer a new film genre by telling a story through art and music. Part 2 was made to transport the viewer from their own reality into a world of dreams and at the end, they awake to wonder how we were able to take them there. Each scene was born from the symbolic meaning of the lyrics and overall message of the film: "Time is the illusion within the dream of life."

Songs by, Joelistics: Days, Rabbits Running: Making Castles, dredg: Brushstroke-Reprise/Matroshka/The Ornament

Here is the video on YouTube, which is a bit better quality -

If you dug this video, leave a comment below! I've asked Marc to check on this page, so feel free to hit him with your gear and tech questions as well!

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6-8 hours for 3-4 sec footage! I applaud you guys! Do you think the long time it takes to produce the final product will discourage big companies to hire you? How long would it take you to make a 4 minute music video for a big artist given you had all the equipment and money you wanted?

 thx we will put in the time if its worth it..... right? we already got sponsored (dynamicperception.com) so it feels like our time was worth it

That's an uniquely creative time-lapse video with great editing. Would be great if Marc could share his 'lyric-lapsing' technique along with his set up and work flow.

We are just really meticulous, usual commercials are 30 seconds long... u know how hard we would work to get paid?

Jason Zeis's picture

Awesome video, if you need some funding, I am sure that Kickstarter could help you guys! (I'm sure you have already considered that though!) Set up a project on there, and people would be more than willing to help!

Can't wait to see more videos. 


Bruce Moyle's picture

Very cool, I would almost equate this as stop motion, timelapse, astrolapse and hyperlapse mixed together. I love the night car internal shots with the dolly shot.

My only question would be, why not drag the shutter more on the outside hyperlapse parts to give a smoother sense of movement rather than the staccato effect?

Regardless, it very good and well done to keep it together for such a long project.

 thx for your support, we always kept the shutter above 250 when doing those shots

Tam Nguyen's picture

Epic video! Although, I think it should be categorized as stop-motion and not time-lapse.

 can i borrow a hyphen?:P

I thought the first one was better. Maybe it’s because I preferred the music in it???

What i don't get is how did they manage to get it lip-synced? This is so awesome, great job!

It's not easy to share so called "secrets" and Marc & 
Sean Williams   seems to have taken that route and still the compliment stays.

PixBeat Photo's picture

Holy wow. This is most definitely the most amazing time lapse I have ever seen. Even the final credits are incredible. The sequences offer so many different zooms and angles and pans and techniques, and the fact that you guys made it flow so seamlessly is a huge feat. Well done and I can't wait to see the next one!

Jacques's picture

Can't watch this video in Germany, due to the music inside of it.

Mike Wilkinson's picture

 Try watching it on Vimeo - https://vimeo.com/47793390

I could barely watch it in the US due to the music in it.

Kamo's picture

Great work guys, I love the creativity and want to keep watching the video over and over again! I really hope you get the success and recognition that you deserve for your efforts.

I'm not quite sure why this is news! this technique is quite old now and quite tired as well...all that's missing is a swing tilt lens and you'll have the 90"s all wrapped up.