Day Per Second

Back at the end of 2012, I saw a cool video and accompanying TED talk about a guy who was going to record a second of his life each day, then compile each snippet into a 5 minute video of his entire year. He planned to do this for his thirties, and beyond, so he could watch a feature length film of his entire life. The more cynical view was that he was just trying to raise funds for an iPhone app that would enable users to make these clip compilations.

So I said, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot.

I carry an HD camera on me at all times (iPhone) and figured it would be a fun project. At the very least I’d end up with some decent footage of my family and lifestyle during the span of the year. As opposed to normally, where I end up with a few chunks of lots of images (holidays, vacations), and blanks gaps everywhere else.

So on New Year’s Eve I started, recording the ball drop, revelry, a big bonfire. Some great footage. But I could only use 1 second of it. The next day I was stuck in the office, staring at cubicle walls, lines of code, parking decks, trying of find something to record. I ended up taking a shot of walking in the front door, greeted by my son. The next day was much of the same.

Halfway through January, an awesome ski trip, seeing old friends, snow covered mountains, a wedding. I could only use 4 seconds of it.

That’s been the maddening reality of it all. The boring parts get stretched into a long stream of clips of my kid rampaging around, jogging with my dog, sunsets. The good parts: travel, scenery, spontaneity – get compressed and mostly edited out.

But I think that’s part of the goal of the project. My memory will naturally emphasize and highlight those awesome trips. This project is not to record those. The project is about expanding and focusing all those boring days in between. Helping me find presence and attention in the moment.

If anything, I’ve had to remain aware. I’ve had to think – did I record my clip for today?

At first, I’d try to be artsy, and find some way to tell a 1 second narrative of the day. But 1 second isn’t enough time to be clever. You can’t have much movement, or transition between focal points. You just have to pick a single image and capture it competently.

I’ve found a few common trends, things that I naturally find myself recording: jogging with my dog, watching my son play, brewing beer, cooking food. And then all those ubiquitous shots (computer screens, elevators, parking decks) in a corporate complex.

I’m two and a half months in. We’ll see how the whole thing turns out in a year.

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