2012 Digital Video All Stars: Tom Lowe
Named the 2010 Astronomy Photographer of the Year by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, Tom Lowe is an acclaimed time-lapse shooter, cinematographer, photographer and director. His latest work, TimeScapes, is an exquisite portrait of our planet shot in 5K resolution and the first movie available to consumers at 4K. The stunning 48-minute documentary is available on iTunes in 1080p or can be downloaded from Lowe’s web site, timescapes.org, in 1440p. To see the film in its full 4K glory, the 160 GB Cineform 4:2:2 format file is available for purchase on USB drive.
“4K resolution is super important to me,” says Lowe, a former writer and veteran of the U.S. Army who served in the first Persian Gulf War. “Everything that I did in this film was done in a way so I could shoot, edit, color correct, finish and play the film in 4K.”
Shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark III and RED EPIC cameras, TimeScapes is the culmination of Lowe’s experiments with time lapse that he has conducted since 2006. Inspired by night skies while camping near California’s Mt. Whitney, Lowe began to develop his time-lapse technique using a Canon EOS 350D camera before moving on to the 5D and RED EPIC cameras once they became available.
“When the 5D came out, it was a complete game-changer,” Lowe says, referring to the camera’s 3200 ISO image sensor. “I took it out to Joshua Tree National Park and mounted it to the windshield, put the car in low gear and starting driving through the desert. It was the first time anyone had done this type of astro drive-lapse, and it only worked because of the camera’s high sensitivity.”
The short films caused a sensation when they were released on the web, and since then Lowe’s work has appeared in international television commercials as well as various BBC, History Channel and Discovery Channel shows. Lowe has collaborated with Terrence Malick, shooting time-lapse footage of starry night skies for the celebrated director’s Tree of Life, and served as second unit director and director of photography on Godfrey Reggio’s forthcoming The Holy See.
Lowe’s work with time-lapse cinematography has completely changed the field. “When I started doing this in 2006, you could count the number of time-lapse photographers on one hand,” he comments. “There were no off-the-shelf systems you could buy. I had to build everything from scratch, and I even hired a local blacksmith to help me make the dollies and other gear I was using. Fast-forward to 2011 and 2012 and now I know five or six people who are full-time time-lapse photographers, traveling around the world shooting everything from feature films to ESPN tennis matches, music videos and reality shows.”
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
ARRI Master Prime 16mm
Kessler Crane CineSlider
camBLOCK three-axis motion control dolly
Manfrotto 536 CF sticks
Manfrotto 535 CF sticks
Kessler Crane KC-12 12-foot crane
Kessler Crane Shuttle Pod
Kessler Crane Pocket Jib
Manfrotto RC4 quick-release plate
Tamrac Adventure 9 backpack
SanDisk 90 MB CF cards
Kendrick Astro Instruments Firefly lens warmer
Budweiser Light Lime