See a Swarm of Airplanes Take San Diego

January 28, 2013 | Andy Cush

Photographer Cy Kuckenbaker created the above film, in which six hours of departures from San Diego International Airport happen in just 30 seconds. But it isn’t done in the timelapse style you’re used to–Kuckenbaker doesn’t simply fast forward through each takeoff; he shows them all at the same time.

How did Kuckenbaker pull it off? Here’s how he described an earlier iteration of the same concept:

I locked the camera (canon 7D with a EF-S 17-55 f/2.8) on a tripod and shot the planes with 1080p video at 24fps with an exposure I’d tested the day before (50/s, f/13, ISO 100) that would keep the sky deep blue with no blowout for a good chroma key. To give the video a sense of temporal change as the planes fly by I did an 8 hour time-lapse under a bridge nearby shot at the same angle and composited it over the planes. Without it there’s no sense of time passing. I used an intervalometer to shoot about 800 images with the same exposure as the video. Once I had it posted as a regular video clip, I keyed the sky out of it as well. I put everything together in adobe premiere, which challenged my system since I needed 40 video tracks to stack all the airplane clips together. The last piece was to put a new sky back in — a still image with depth and clouds that’s panned using key frames in premiere.’