T Is for Timelapse: #10YearsofYouTube

May 21, 2015

Nearly nine years ago, an artist named Ahree Lee posted a timelapse video on YouTube called “Me.” The minute-long piece features over a thousand portraits of Lee taken over the preceding three years: all close-ups of her face in nearly the exact same position and with the same expression, cycled through day by day in chronological order.

A New York-based photographer named Noah Kalina discovered Lee’s work and was inspired to transform his own timelapse project into a similar piece of video art. (Coincidentally, he, too, had been photographing himself everyday - but for six years rather than three.) Kalina’s “Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years” became a sleeper hit and earned him one of the first spots in the YouTube Hall of Fame, as well as a feature in the New York Times, a segment on VH1, and an homage by Homer on an episode of “The Simpsons.” The video of Kalina’s 6 year transformation has racked up more than 26M views in its lifetime, and ~7.2 years of time watched.

YouTube’s 1.7M+ timelapse videos have offered us new, eye-opening perspectives on the people, places and things that surround us. From watching the world spin on its axis from 250 miles in space, to witnessing the poignant transformation of a young girl from birth to adolescence, to seeing through the eye of a storm, timelapse videos alter our perception of time and the natural metamorphoses of everything around us in a way never before possible.

Overall, more than 4,400 days (or 12 years) worth of timelapse footage have been uploaded to YouTube, the sum of which has been viewed more than 3.9 billion times. Check out our playlist below for some of our favorite timelapses from the last 10 years.

-- Christine Huang