[Video] Breathtaking Timelapse of an Insane Asylum

There are some styles of photography which have been beaten into the ground. Take, for example, the trip to an old asylum; it seems like we've all seen a thousand HDR images of the local loony bin. Graffiti-covered walls, derelict operating rooms and spooky wheelchairs ad-nauseum. But every once in awhile, something comes along which makes my jaw drop and revisits what is possible in an ages-old subject. Drew Geraci's Asylum is exactly what I'm talking about.

Filmed over the course of seven (!) months, this beautifully composed and directed time-lapse video is an evocative look into an abandoned asylum. Made from over 35,000 individual frames, many of which we processed in an HDR style, the movie is epic in scale. Perfectly composed shots with narrow beams of sunlight reflecting off of dust which hasn't been disturbed in decades, a haunting carcass lying abandoned in the hallways at sunset, and beat-up and decayed operating equipment are all visible. The cinematography itself is mind-bending: take a look and you'll see what I mean. I'm trying to wrap my head around how he created some of the sequences here, as I don't believe I've seen anything like it before.

On creating the film, Drew says:

"Our 7 month journey into the Asylum led us on many adventures; from dodging security vehicles, ghostly figures and even a meth head. This is no place for the faint of heart. Asbestos blanketed every room we entered like new winter snow, so shooting was sometimes difficult."

Drew, you're a braver man than I. I don't think I would have lasted a day, and he brushes it off like it's a walk in the park. Asbestos? No problem. Living a scene from Breaking Bad? I'll pass on that, too. I tip my hat to you not only because you're an incredibly talented editor, but you've also got balls of steel, my friend.

Drew's website, which can be found at thevoder.com, has a few other amazing timelapse videos, and I highly recommend taking a few minutes to poke around.

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Nyaj Timautes Yaaj's picture

a bit creepy

Benicio Murray's picture

stunning. I'd love to learn to edit like this.

Love the dead dog shot. And the roller skates.

Jaron Schneider's picture

The editing really makes this. Really nice :)

Shelle Ettelson's picture

I like the way the light illustrates the passage of time.

Nitsan Simantov's picture


Van Gachnang's picture

This isn't an insane asylum! It's Forest Haven Developmental Center in Laurel, Maryland. Just because it's a run down building, doesn't mean it's an insane asylum.

Paul Ritzkat's picture

Just stunning!

dillpicklegraphics's picture

WOW! Reminds me of fallout 3
great visions there, and timelapse and hdr process only helped the look. Well done

Chris Helton's picture

amazing video but I hate to say they did not implement actual time lapse very well throughout. A few shots with the light on a wall or floor were good, otherwise the rest of the shots (I think) would have looked much better shot at regular speed. Speeding up the shots just made the dust fall faster, or made things look jittery.

Andrei Zdetoveţchi's picture

I agree with you, this video doesn't justify using timelapse for it's entire duration. The shots with the light passing on the floor, wall, etc are great. But for the rest it's overuse. Timelapse technique should accelerate time where there are processes that develop slowly, like the moving shadows... Everything else is too static and only the music and edit bring dynamism to the video. I would've used slow motion shots instead... I suspect this video used timelapse everywhere because it's a way to bring this gritty HDR on, and personally I'm not a fan of exaggerated HDR processing.

But this is just my personal opinion, and the bottom line is, I admire the authors.

Anyway, most of the people will just say wow :)

Gorgeous work!  Does anyone know the name of the musical piece in this video?