PHOTOGRAPHER FOCUS: TIM PLATT
24 July 2019
We catch up with member Tim Platt and talk to him about his recently launched mindfulness app, 'Moodlapse'. Having shot stills and motion over the years, Tim combines these elements creating time-lapse photography.
© Tim Platt
You have recently tapped into the world of mindfulness and launched an app Moodlapse. Can you tell us more about how it came about?
I began to explore time-lapse photography about a year ago when I built a small home studio in my garden. It’s important to have a dedicated space for time-lapse as equipment needs to be set up for long periods of time and you need to be able to control the lighting and leave things alone for extended durations. The idea for Moodlapse grew from my personal experiments with shooting time-lapse footage of flowers blooming. I started to arrange these clips into symmetrical patterns in post production, and realised that the kaleidoscopic “mandala” effect can be quite mesmerising.
The effects were quite hypnotic and I began to think about creating an applied art project that could help people to quickly focus on something beautiful and relaxing, and reconnect with the present moment. This led me to the idea of creating an app that could be tailor-made for the mindfulness/ mental wellbeing space.
I find photography in general quite a mindful process as it doesn’t tend to work well unless you can find your zone. It is all about focus, both literally and metaphorically. Time-lapse photography is a slow and methodical process that requires both time and patience and I find both the shooting and the post production aspects quite contemplative.
© Tim Platt
What does the app aim to do for the user?
My hope is that people find it a useful tool to slow down for a few minutes, as I feel quite strongly that the modern world we live in bombards us with endless scrolls of distraction and sensory overload and shortens our attention spans and lowers our boredom threshold to the point where we no longer spend time in neutral. I think of time-lapse as a glimpse into the world of slow time. A dimension we are only dimly aware of where natural phenomena are happening constantly but too slowly for us to notice.
The app allows users to create their own kaleidoscopic patterns from a menu of different flower clips by tapping the screen to add layers and combining the effects with ambient binaural music that I commissioned from an expert in the field of ‘brainwave’ music.
The visual and audio elements combine to create a very immersive experience. Each flower offers a different combination of colours and patterns. The patterns can be quite simple or quite complex but are continually moving and evolving, as they are created from video loops.
The app offers an expanding library of time-lapse videos that once loaded into the playback screen can be engaged with via the touchscreen. Layers can be added or subtracted by tapping, and moved by sliding the screen or by tilting and rolling your device. The visual experience can be augmented with a series of specifically commissioned ambient audio tracks that work on the 3D binaural principle where different frequencies correspond to different brainwave states. These might be relaxing, dreamy or energising. The plan is to continue to add content that users can opt in to via micropayment in-app. This will add value to user experience and encourage retention.
© Tim Platt
How has your photographic career played a part in the apps content?
I have been working as a professional photographer since the early 90s and have worked mainly within the commercial marketing and advertising space. During this time I have always found time for personal projects which in turn has frequently led to a diversification of work that created an interesting variety of jobs. Over the last 9 or 10 years I have been increasingly interested in and engaged with moving image. Time-lapse photography is a combination of both moving and stills imagery in that it is essentially a stills process that is subsequently turned into video in post production. In some ways it is an ideal hybrid for anyone interested in both stills and motion.
Besides working on your app, you have continued shooting and running your studio. What has the challenge taught you?
That’s a good question! It has at times proved incredibly difficult to find the time required to build and design and develop Moodlapse while maintaining the day job. I think as photographers we can find it difficult to articulate what skills we develop in order to bring the many strands together that we need to succeed. However one of the skills we need is an ability to spin a number of different plates simultaneously… at the risk of making it sound like a circus act. Building and developing an app is a completely new direction for me and continues to be a steep learning curve. I am proud though of the fact that in December last year this was just a proposal in my head and by April this year we actually had a product on the App Store. It took more effort than I can begin to describe!
We had to think carefully for instance about the back end, that no-one ever sees. We built a separate app that acts as an admin tool that allows me to upload test clips to my server and publish them to a sandbox version of the consumer app for testing in simulation mode before they get published to the user base. All media content can be deleted and re-installed by users at any time.
Building and developing it was really hard work but I now realise that I had underestimated how much additional effort will be required to market the app and try to bring it to the world’s attention. There are in excess of 2 million apps already on the App Store and that number grows daily… you realise quite quickly that you are the proverbial needle in a haystack and you’ll need to work pretty hard to create some traction. I am pleased though that I am getting good feedback from those who have explored it. We have already completed a number of upgrade cycles including creating a universal app that runs full-screen on iPad as well as iPhone, and a number of other improvements with many more in the pipeline. I hope it continues to be a meaningful and, at a personal level, rewarding adventure.
Please follow @moodlapse on Instagram to stay in the loop. Some exciting developments are on the way!
View Tim's profile in Find a Photographer
NOW AVAILABLE ON THE APPSTORE!
A mood enhancing app for mindful people