We strongly believe in the power of video to create an impact. And the power of time lapse photography to illustrate change - whether it’s progress, growth, deterioration or movement. The Seed Vault, a film created for the GoPro Cause initiative is a great example of this power to raise awareness of a very important issue and cause.
The cause is Crop Trust. Crop Trust is an international organization that aims to secure the world food supply by safeguarding crop diversity, forever. The issue is that our agriculture varieties are dying off. Since 1903, over 93% of fruit and vegetable varieties in the U.S. have become extinct.
The video, created by GoPro, specifically highlights the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway -- the world’s largest and most secure collection of crop diversity. This Seed Vault now contains 930,000 samples sourced from every country in the world. With a changing climate, the only way agriculture can adapt and continue to feed the world is with crop diversity. The Vault is meant to ensure—regardless of what happens to the planet—that agriculture can survive and thus, the human race can survive.
Daniel Sherer, a filmmaker for GoPro and the director (among many other things) for this beautiful film, utilized our Time Lapse Intervalometer (which has now been replaced by the Blink time lapse controller) to illustrate the point of the potential for extinction by time lapsing the full decay of pieces of fruit.
Watch the full film here:
Daniel was kind enough to give us a bit more background on the this initiative and film project.
What is your role within GoPro and what was your involvement specifically with this project?
"Being a filmmaker at GoPro is unique because we aren't specialists. The work environment and sheer amount of projects we produce requires you to be proficient in every aspect of filmmaking. That's why I love it! Each project is different and is always challenging you in new ways. For this film, I wore the hat of director, shooter, and editor, but even though I wore so many hats, this film was truly a collaborative project that pulled together talent from all over the globe."
Why is this cause important?
"There is not much in our world more personal than food, and if the agricultural systems we rely on cannot adapt in time for us to feed our growing population, then it's truly going to be an issue we cannot ignore because it's going to take place at the dinner table. We cannot exist as a species on this planet without the agricultural systems that provide us with food, and if demand increases and supply dwindles, prices are going to increase fast, and the poorest people are going to suffer and that will create much political instability. There is a ton of debate about the right way to produce food, modern farming, more traditional methods, or even permaculture, but the one thing that underlies all those systems is diversity, without the diversity there is no agriculture."
What is the one thing you hope viewers take away from this film?
"At the very least, I want it to bring awareness to the fact that our lives depend on agricultural diversity. If it makes anyone think twice about the variety of corn, wheat, or rice they are consuming that would be stellar!!!"
The film as a whole is beautiful - what was the inspiration behind the creative direction/approach?
"I knew I wanted it to be visually captivating, clean and really cinematic so that was my north star from a visual standpoint. For story and structure, there is so much inspiration out in the world right now and it's never been more available, and as far as other films that influenced my approach, I can think of three.
The first being Chef's Table. I love the cinematography and editing in that show. It's brilliant, beautiful, and so engaging. For me, a lot of that comes from the music, so when scoring this film, I really wanted to keep it classical, I knew I wanted it to be unique in terms of GoPro films because it was such a different story than anything else we've done, so I knew from the very beginning I was looking for music that would create drama and help drive the narrative but also stand out from our typical soundtracks.
Another film that was incredible for me in terms of editing was Justin Kurzel's Macbeth (2015). When making selects and testing cuts, I would listen to the sound track, and channel the films editing style. The visuals in this film are so strong, but a lot of that power comes from combining the shots so that each shot compliments and impacts the next.
The third notable film I used for reference was the Cohen Brother's No Country For Old Men. Brad Schmidt, one of the creative directors I was working with pulled it up during our first review and told me to watch the intro, and that was the moment that it really clicked for me, the pacing of our intro and the story our character tells at the very beginning were all really a derivative of that experience."
What equipment was used? And how did you land on using CamDo products for the time lapse portions?
"CamDo Intervalometer. It's one of the first GoPro films where nothing actually happens. If you think about it, a man walks into a door, through another door, and finally into an icy door to look at boxes on a shelf. Because of this, I was really able to experiment with creative storytelling and my favorite example of that in the film was the long-term time lapse sequences which we called "the nightmare sequence." It was decomposing fruit that was meant to symbolize extinction. It was an idea that had been tossed around at work and finally we had a film that really beckoned it.
So I spent months trying to work it out, and wildlife filmmaker Taylor Turner had suggested I try this [CamDo] intervalometer he had used for wildlife filming, and literally after that moment, every time lapse I tried going forward worked perfectly. It was a good moment for me, a mini triumph. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed because one camera malfunction would ruin the entire process. For instance, I had a number of time lapses that would malfunction two or three weeks in, so there would be these massive chunks of time missing, I would try to salvage them but the camera malfunctioning was never predictable, it was so frustrating and it wasn't like I was wasting a few days here and there, it was weeks. Finally after getting the [CamDo] intervalometers everything was much more controllable and reliable, so that was a huge breakthrough for me."
Did you experience any unexpected challenges while creating the film? Specifically for the time lapse portion?
"Yes, aside from all the overheating issues and camera malfunctioning, I was also having power issues as well as limitations on the length of time between shots. The [CamDo] intervalometer totally solved the power issues because it would turn the camera off after every shot, and the time between shots can be customized using the intervalometer so I was able to find the ideal length of time between shots and I landed on ~10-15 mins, which allowed me to speed ramp in and out of the decompositions as I needed."
Is there anything else you'd like to add about this project?
"It was actually a perfect storm of interests all coming together for me into one film. I've always been fascinated with humans’ relationship to food. I grew up close to gardens, farms and parents who loved cooking so it was a big part of my childhood. One thing that always struck me as interesting was when we would go to the farmers markets, there were so many different types of citrus, apples, or tomatoes compared to the grocery stores which had the same types of fruit all year round and the grocery store options didn't taste nearly as good. So I began favoring different varieties and looking for them. It was that noticing and seeking of new types of varieties that lead me to an even greater relationship with food.
I studied plant biology for a few semesters in college and ended up focusing on animation instead, but I always said, "they were both hobbies, one just seemed like a better career move at the time." Looking back, it's obvious that I would be so fascinated by food, my favorite tv shows; Iron Chef, Good Eats, Anthony Bourdain, and preferred readings; Michael Polan's Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food, were my top choices if I had any leisure time. It still is my favorite topic and I don't think it's the last time I try to tell a story about it. "
To donate to Crop Trust, click here. And if you need even more reason to donate, donate at least $25 you’ll be entered to win a GoPro HERO5 Camera and Remo or the grand prize of a $1,000 donation by GoPro to a qualified non-profit of your choice!
About Crop Trust:
Crop Trust is an international nonprofit organization which works to preserve crop diversity in order to protect global food security. It was established through a partnership between the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research acting through Bioversity International.
About GoPro for a Cause:
GoPro for a Cause aims to inspire social engagement by using GoPro expertise to help nonprofit causes tell their stories with GoPro-quality production.
Each cause receives GoPro products, production assistance and the powerful reach of the GoPro global platform to get the word out about their mission and to assist in their fundraising efforts.
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