Signal To Noise was created as an in-house experiment to see if I could effectively combine two of my favorite things: motion-graphics, and time-lapse photography.
The piece was shot over two days near Socorro, New Mexico, at the Very Large Array, which is one of the largest radio astronomy observatories in the world.
The iconic antennas have come to figure fairly heavily in pop-culture, thanks to appearances in films like The Avengers, Contact, and Independence Day. It’s day-to-day job is observing pulsars, nebula, and other astronomical phenomena.
The video you see here was accomplished by using two DSLR cameras and a little GoPro Hero to take a little over 12,000 photographs of the array, at intervals ranging between 2 to 30 seconds.
The resulting image sequences were then combined with a collection of text, icons and faux technical schematics I created in Illustrator. Those graphics were then animated to match the time-lapse footage, using key-framing, motion-tracking, and a fairly substantial amount of masking and rotoscope work.
From there, I assembled my composites into a single timeline, and applied a boat-load of post-production tricks to achieve the final “glitchy” edit. Flash-frames, tint effects, digital grunge, light-leaks– all kinds of fun stuff.
Much to my surprise, and my absolute delight, the piece apparently resonated with people, and it sort of blew up on me. Within two days of posting it, the video had gone semi-viral. It wound up on the Vimeo homepage, and was featured on the websites and news-feeds of The Atlantic, Discover Magazine, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and dozens of other notable spots online. To date, it’s garnered over 150,000 views, and over a million page-loads from places all over the globe.
Since launching this, I’ve upgraded my equipment significantly, but it’s been utterly mind-blowing to me to think that something I shot with a $700 camera has gained that kind of attention. Just completely insane.
I’m unbelievably grateful for the overwhelmingly warm, positive response people have given it.
The music is “What It Is Without The Hand That Wields It”, by Telefon Tel Aviv.
Direction | Time-lapse Photography | Motion-Design | Compositing