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Artist Creates Mesmerizing Time-Lapse-like Videos that Trace the Flight Paths of Birds


Artist and professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, Dennis Hlynsky, is interested in studying the way small-brained animals flock in groups. Using a special editing technique, he can visualize the paths of each individual in the flock, and though he’s recorded everything from ants to fish to flies, the most fascinating examples of this technique in action involve flocks of birds.

We can’t think of a perfect term to describe Hlynsky’s technique, so we’re going with ‘time-lapse-like’ (feel free to suggest your own alternatives). Most of the image is captured the normal way, but the birds themselves leave behind a record of their flight, twisting and turning into captivating patterns that are captured on the screen instead of fading away.

On his website, Hlynsky explains how it’s done:

I call [the process] “extruded time”. There are no digital additions to the video. They are processed by stacking a sequence of frames and adding the darkest pixels together. The frame at the beginning of the stack is dropped and the next frame in sequence is added to the end of the stack.

This process is repeated until the entire video clip is rendered. I do not use time-lapse in the traditional sense of the word but offer a glimpse seconds long of the paths these creatures take. I find each “flock” has a form, a rhythm, and pattern to the glyphs they leave as they perambulate.

Here are a few more examples of extruded time in action:

To see more videos like this — the ants ones are actually pretty cool as well — or if you want to follow Hlynsky as he creates more of these videos, head over to his website of follow his profile on Vimeo.

(via Imaging Resource)