MUST WATCH! “Mountains in Motion” – majestic vistas and passing time like you’ve never seen

by planetMitch1 Comment

When I say “MUST WATCH!” on this one, I really mean it! “Mountains in Motion” includes some incredibly majestic vistas of the Canadian Rockies and some multi-month timelapses (yes, you read that right – timelapses over several months!) as well as a thoughtful story and incredible scenery. I don't think I could find any more adjectives (well, maybe I could) to describe this one. Just watch and then come back to read more details.

Doug Urquhart (THE UPTHINK LAB) actually sent this movie to me last summer – but I couldn't share it then as they'd submitted it to several film festivals (you can see the awards list in the description below) – but now, he's able to share it with us and all of you!

planet5D will also have some exclusive behind-the-scenes info on the multi-month technique next week – so mark your calendar – or heck, just subscribe to our daily email (box in sidebar) to make sure you don't miss it!

We've also got some additional information here in this post on the making of this majestic movie (I'm going for adjectives that match “Mountains in Motion – all Ms haha) and photos which are previously unpublished!

Mountains In Motion – Behind The Scenes – Paul Zizka Photography

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies

BEST VIEWED FULLSCREEN, HD (with scaling off). Please dim the lights, turn up your speakers, sit back and relax.

planetMitch note: one of the best things about this movie is the sound – make sure you pay attention to how well the natural sounds are weaved in with the video – including one long section where there's nothing but nat sound – no music at all – perfect! [tentblogger-vimeo 45941676]


Banff World Tour Info:

DVD & Blu-ray available for order at

"Flash Frozen" - 2012-13 Winter in the Canadian Rockies - Paul Zizka Photography

“Flash Frozen” – 2012-13 Winter in the Canadian Rockies – Paul Zizka Photography

If you like the short film, we'd love to get your vote for the Cold Smoke awards. Voting is open from January 26th – March 8th, 2013. Vote here: ***Currently experiencing technical difficulties with our film on the voting page. You can still vote, but you will have to view the film directly from this page for now.***

Mountains In Motion - Behind The Scenes - Paul Zizka Photography-1

Mountains In Motion – Behind The Scenes – Paul Zizka Photography

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies is an award-winning short film documenting the life of the alpine landscape through time-lapse photography. In an effort to highlight the wildness of these mountain places and how they have inspired explorers of the past, present and future, time-lapse sequences were patiently gathered from exposed summits, by glacial lakes, and under aurora-filled skies.

Hours and even months of change lapses in a matter of seconds, providing the viewer with a rare insight into the ever-changing nature of the landscape. Weaving throughout the film are reflections of an early mountaineer, who is deeply moved by his own encounter with the mountains and the revelations of explorers who have come before him. “What is this power that lures me upwards, into the unknown,” he wonders, “that pulls me deeper, despite snow, wind and exhaustion?”

Made on a shoestring budget and with entirely volunteer hours, the film brought together artists from two vastly different parts of North America – Banff, Alberta, and Atlanta, Georgia. Strangers at the start, the film team developed strong friendships over the course of production and were united by their common goal of capturing the beauty and essence of a place that inspires them every day.

This 100% human-powered film combines advanced time-lapse photography with an original story and musical score to bring the landscape center-stage and offers a thrilling new perspective that re-establishes the Canadian Rockies among the finest mountains in the world.

2012-13 Winter in the Canadian Rockies – Paul Zizka Photography

WINNER – Best Documentary – Atlanta Shortsfest – Atlanta, GA, USA
WINNER – Best Cinematography – Dixie Film Festival – Athens, GA, USA
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Asheville Cinema Festival – Asheville, NC, USA
FINALIST – Banff Mountain Film Festival – Banff, Alberta, Canada
FINALIST – Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival – Vancouver, BC, Canada
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Banff Mountain Film Festival – WORLD TOUR 2012 / 2013
OFFICIAL SELECTION – ColdSmoke Awards Film Festival – Bozeman, MT

Mountains In Motion - Behind The Scenes - Paul Zizka Photography

Mountains In Motion – Behind The Scenes – Paul Zizka Photography

Photography by Doug Urquhart ( & Paul Zizka (
Original Music by Michael Wynne (
Original Story by Meghan J. Ward (
Motion control made possible by
Voice Talent – Brian Bremer
Pioneer – Guy Thorsby

BTS Photos:

Mountains in Motion is an side-project in collaboration with

Thanks for viewing!

Additional info

We used Canon 5DmII, 7D, T3i, 400D for the time-lapse. The ancient 400D was mounted inside a custom-built solar-powered camera for the multi-month sequences. For the opening scenes, we had a very brief opportunity to shoot it all in a fairly rushed fashion using the RED EPIC.

Edited in Lightroom, After Effects, Premiere Pro

Packing Gear - Behind The Scenes - Paul Zizka Photography

Packing Gear – Behind The Scenes – Paul Zizka Photography

We usually had 2 cameras (7D/5D) on-hand. Sometimes only one. A good portion of this material comes from locations that required travel on foot or skis with all the other required backpacking / ski touring / mountaineering gear taking priority in some cases over the camera equipment. Locations closer to the Icefields Parkway got extra attention with additional gear. We have over 30 minutes of unused time-lapse from this production!

When the SolarCam was running, it was considered our 3rd camera. We started shooting March 2011 for 1 week (deployed the SolarCam). Continued for another 2 weeks in Summer of 2011, returned again for 2 weeks in March 2012. In between my visits, Paul Zizka was shooting for the project solo. All in all, it was about 1.5 years. We wrapped June 2012.

Mountains In Motion - Behind The Scenes - Paul Zizka Photography-3

Shooting Red – Behind The Scenes – Paul Zizka Photography

from Ian Swarbrick
Glorious. It nearly brought me to tears. The beauty of the Canadian Rockies that you`ve captured so artfully.
I`m now going to wade through the other 57 comments to see if anyone else has wondered how you did the side-move in the trees from summer to winter. I`ve seen that clip of yours before and wondered.

It looks like you`ve used some kind of soft-edged masking to combine the two sides when they change, would that be right?
And did you leave a dolly in place for that time? If not, how on earth did you match the two seasons up so seamlessly?

from: The Upthink Lab
I used the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero to capture the winter pass in March 2011. I snapped some reference photos on my iPhone and noted focal length (which is lost in camera due to the lens twist trick) and other basic details that would make my life easier upon my return in summer. I returned in July 2012 and almost didn't find the time to return. When I did, the conditions were sub-par and the resulting sequence had so much flickery shadow/sun/cloud play that it was unusable.

I was heart-broken to potentially loose this shot, so I diagramed my set-up and location and got help from a friend in Banff, Dan Evans. He didn't have a DP rig (nor did Paul Zizka at this time), but he was able to use his Phillip Bloom pocket dolly to capture the summer pick-up pass. After some rotoscoping and time-remapping in After Effects, I blended the summer and winter passes together. The shot was saved!

Trecking in the gear - Behind The Scenes - Paul Zizka Photography

Trecking in the gear – Behind The Scenes – Paul Zizka Photography

Ian Swarbrick
At 5.02 is that real time video sped up or time-lapse work remapped?

The Upthink Lab
240FPS video (shot on the EPIC). We arrived to an impressive set of frozen ice falls in Kooteney, but ice climbers beat us there and routes we're being climbed by 5-6 different groups. We were unable to shoot time-lapse, so I picked up a few high speed close-up shots before the risk of falling ice turned us back. On our way out a friendly ice climber tipped us off on a hidden ice cave further up the canyon. We grabbed all our gear and made the slog through waist deep snow above the canyon and eventually wrapped around back into it.

We were rewarded with the impressive ice stalagmites seen in the opening of the final montage. This location was so spectacular that Paul Zizka made the hour trip back to our van to get the solarCam. While installing the SolarCam near the cave entrance to document the stalagmite formation, it suffered an unexpected electrical problem that was not repairable in the field.

Come back next week!

Remember, we'll have more on the multi-month time-lapse technique next week!

(cover photo credit: snap from Doug)


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