Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Barry Smith
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

I’ve recently discovered iTimelapse, an app that turns my iPhone into a time-lapse moviemaker, thereby turning my life into a full-time time-lapse moviemaking pursuit. In fact, I’m pretty much making time-lapse movies 24/7, but once the final footage is done, it’s cut down to 3/1.

Ha! Time-lapse humor! Plenty more where that came from, folks.

My discovery of iTimelapse happened to coincide with some big home projects that I’m finally ready to tackle. I’ve once again enlisted my brother, Bryan, to take the helm on these projects, as they’re beyond the scope of my ability. Honestly, to even insinuate that my home-project-doing ability has a “scope” is wishful thinking. I do, however, excel when it comes to capturing my lack of ability on video.

The first big project is tiling the front porch. This will probably take about three days. Three glorious time-lapsy days!

Since my iPhone doesn’t mount to a tripod, I spent an hour the first morning figuring out how to jury-rig it with a clamp. Also, the phone has to be turned on the whole time, which uses a lot of power, which means that it needs to be plugged in, which means I need to figure out a way to run a power cord across the porch without it being in the shot, which means that while I’m figuring out all of this stuff, Bryan already has the project well under way. I fight the urge to tell him to slow down.

Slow down! Slow down for the time-lapse video!

The process of making a video whose purpose is to depict work being done in a fraction of the time … makes the actual work take longer. I’ve hit the motherlode of irony!

I get everything all set up and help with the tiling for a while, but my main focus is on the camera. Is the angle good? Is it still on? I’m using this app for the first time, so I need to … what? Memory full!? No! I have to unclamp the camera and render the existing footage, then run upstairs and dump it onto my computer to free up space. This takes time. Precious not-filming-the-project time. I suggest Bryan break for lunch. He suggests that it’s only 10:15. I ponder aloud a quick trip to the store to buy a second iPhone, one with more memory. Bryan ponders aloud that I shut up and hand him a tile.

The next project, the building of the chicken coop, is pretty much the same story, with Bryan saying things like, “Cut me a two-by-four at 37 and … where’d you go?”

Where’d I go? Well, duh, I had to go inside to check out the test shots on the big screen, to see if my resolution and aspect ratio were where I want them to be. My brother knows a lot about how to, you know, do things, but he isn’t quite up to speed when it comes to screwing around on the nonessential activities that grind all progress to a halt. Still, he’s trying his best.

As of this writing, I now have a full week’s worth of project footage, all sped up. And in watching it, I’ve discovered that time-lapse movies are not only fun – they also can be educational. I’ve learned some very important things about myself while watching our super-condensed workweek.


• I prefer to work while sitting down, even when the task at hand isn’t sit-down friendly. Using the table saw, for instance.

• If I can’t sit down, I do a lot of leaning.

• When sitting or leaning isn’t available, I stand with my arms folded across my chest.

• I wore the same shirt for the entire week.

Just because the big projects are mostly done doesn’t mean the time-lapse opportunities are behind me. Oh no. In fact, I’ve actually been taking a time-lapse video of me, at my desk, writing this column.

My initial review of this footage shows that column-writing provides the perfect opportunity for the things I seem to do best: sitting, leaning and arm-folding.

Only in this case … all at the same time.

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