Following up his 2012 viral video hit "Fall," Filmmaker Jamie Scott has only become more focused and experienced as exhibited in his timely new time-lapse titled "Spring." Watch the amazing video and get a behind-the-scenes look at how he pulled it off right here.
As told by Scott, this short film was made as a companion piece to “Fall.” That film was shot in 2012 at Central Park, New York City and garnered over 850,000 views as it made its way across publications such as The Huffington Post and The Atlantic. He planned for this time-lapse to be distinctly contrasting in many ways other than just being different seasons, such as using close up shots, shallow depth of field, classical music, and placing a camera on a slider for constant movement, all of which are the opposite in the previous work.
In all, "Spring" took Scott three years to complete using a Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm prime lens, Dynamic Perception Stage One slider, and a whole bunch of hard drive space; A total 8 TB of 5K video was recorded for the project.
Scott related that because the flowers were living things, they didn't always behave as he wanted or expected them to. To deal with this, he formulated an initial plan for shooting which he could then allow to evolve as time went on. One instance where he needed some flexibility was with the very narrow depth of field look that was desired. What Scott found was that the flowers moved around far too much as they bloomed for this to be possible. In another instance, Scott had planned for his lighting to come from the side in a dramatic fashion. The problem was that the light source was also the grow light, and lighting from the side made the flower bend towards the light source after only a few days. The compromise had to be made, and lighting almost directly from above was how it needed to be instead.
"There were also a lot of happy surprises that ended up really enhancing the piece," said Scott. "In a way the experience of shooting this reminded me of shooting with film in the olden days because you didn't know what you were going to get until a week later." Admittedly, he had some shots that he thought would have been great turn out to be duds, pointing out his tulips as an example. However, he said had welcomed surprises as well such as the dancing grape hyacinths at 0:41 seconds and peonies opening at 2:30.
As the film started to come together, Scott worked with Composer Jim Perkins to create a unique and perfectly synchronized soundtrack. As a full-on collaboration of imagery and sound, Scott would send his work in progress to Perkins who would then further compose the track to fit. Perkins would then send the music back to Scott, and this constant roundtrip would be the progression throughout the creation of “Spring.”
While the final video is light and beautiful, there were many difficult challenges being worked through behind the scenes. After he already began work on this project, he discovered that many of his flowers looked more interesting blooming from above rather than from the side, and thus changing the direction of the video continuing forward. "This added a huge technical challenge because I had to add a 90 percent tilt into the piece," said Scott. His work with the horizontal movement was already difficult, and adding in an angle change to start filming from above took it over the top.
One of the more "What?... How is that possible!?" moments in the time-lapse video is the transition into Central Park starting around 1:25. According to Scott, this was actually a combination of several plates composited together. "The camera speed and angle and the lighting had to be constant across all elements," said Scott. He explained that the main plate is from the Conservatory Garden in Central Park with additional trees added in which were shot by the reservoir. In addition he used plates of the tulips blooming and plates of the cherry blossoms both against blue screen.
No stranger to technical challenges by now, Scott also produced another difficult tilt transition at the 3:00 minute mark. "This had to be shot in many plates because of how many flowers I needed to fill that space," said Scott. "Because of the angle change, the plates had to line up precisely — they couldn't be moved around in post." Upping the ante further was the fact that the two flowers in the shot bloom at totally different speeds, the red ones taking three weeks to open and the orange ones needing only a couple days.
One of the inherent issues with having flower blooms as your subject is that it's not an every day kind of thing. Flowers only became available to Scott seasonally, and he said that by the time he figured out how to shoot them they would be gone. "The cherry blossoms, for example, take at least two weeks to bloom and are only available for about six weeks of the year," said Scott in relation to his timing troubles. "I only got three attempts per year."
Watching the completed project, “Spring” is a celebration of life and its natural beauty. The filming techniques used by Scott, as well as Perkins’ soundtrack, enhance the drama of it all, but at its core we are watching something that really needs no over-the-top special effects to create and enjoy. Sometimes creatives get stuck on trying to come up with an extremely complex idea to stand out, but this film by Scott proves that focusing on a simple and routine event — such as a blooming flower — is just as good of a starting place than anything else. People can easily understand and relate to the simple ideas, and then using creativity to mould that idea into something unique can turn it into something special.
If you want to see more of Jamie Scott's talented work in visual effects and filmmaking, head over to his website.