Time Lapses with District 7 Media: The Creatives Behind the House of Cards Intro

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All images by Drew Geraci/Arthur Breese and District 7 Media. Used with permission.

If you’re a fan of the hit Netflix show House of Cards, then you’re already familiar with the show’s opening sequence. It is one of the few shows out there to exclusively use a timelapse. This timelapse was done by Andrew Geraci and District 7 media: who do a large number of creative video and timelapse work. We got a chance to talk to the team about working on that timelapse and about shooting in general.

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Phoblographer: When you were approached and asked to create the timelapse for the House of Cards opening sequence, how much creative direction were you guys given? Was it mostly your idea?

Drew: I was approached by David Fincher back in early 2012. We met at Union Station in Washington, DC and discussed the project and what he was looking for. I think the most remarkable thing was that he didn’t really give me any direction other than to make it dark and gritty. He pretty much gave us creative license to do anything we wanted.

Phoblographer: Setting these shots up logistically must have not only been like and arduous, but logistically nightmarish. What was it like?

Drew: Location scouting for us was key and thanks to our knowledge of the area it was actually pretty easy to do. One of our favorite locations was on the bank of the river in Anacostia, DC shooting towards National’s stadium. It was a very gritty location!

Phoblographer: You guys have created loads of other timelapses. Where do you find the inspiration for your specific creative vision?

Drew: Inspiration comes from all around. I love looking through images on photo sites and thinking “wow, this location could make for some amazing time-lapses!” and then we go out and shoot. I also draw in a lot of inspiration from fellow time-lapse shooters. We feed off of each other and it’s great!

Phoblographer: Tell us about the gear you guys use.

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Drew: We use all Canon Gear. At the time we were using the Canon 5DMKII with an array of lenses such as the 16-35mm f/2.8 II, 100-400mm, 24mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm. For our time-lapse equipment we used the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero. In season 2 we used the Canon 5DMKIII with the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero + Emotimo TB3.

Phoblographer: How did you first get into photography and then transition into timelapse shooting?

Drew: My passion for photography started in highschool when I took a black & white processing class. I was hooked. When I left high-school I joined the Navy as a Photographer’s mate and my love for the craft really grew into an obsession. At the end of my enlistment I transitioned into time-lapse when I started messing around with HDR photography. It was really exciting to shoot and compile the photos together and see the results. It’s like christmas morning for me every time I get to see them in motion.

“Inspiration comes from all around. I love looking through images on photo sights and thinking “wow, this location could make for some amazing time-lapses!” and then we go out and shoot.”

Phoblographer: You’ve shot in NYC, DC, and large concert venues. If you had to list your top five locations that you’ve shot timelapses in, what would they be?

Drew: Top five locations I’ve shot;

1) Barcelona, Spain
2) Slack Hill in San Francisco, CA
3) Foz do iguacu falls, Brazil
4) New Orleans, LA
5) Top of World Trade Center in NYC

Phoblographer: You’ve shot a special timelapse on a NYC taxi cab. Considering how reckless most of them drive (I’m a native New Yorker, so I’d know) how did you go about mounting the camera and ensuring that it didn’t break off?

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Drew: Ha, that was an incredibly nerve racking shot. We used a 3-suction cup system (Camtree) with ball head to support the camera. We needed something that had a lot of stabilization for the shots so they wouldn’t be too shaky since we were dragging our shutter (1 second). My head was out the window the entire time ensuring that the camera hadn’t detached or it was in danger of hitting something. We also had 2 safety lines attached to the rig incase something bad happened (which it didn’t). Our cab driver was really accommodating and drove very slowly which made for a great shot!

Phoblographer: Where do you see the future of timelapse shooting and creation going as far as both trends and technology.

Drew: The future of time-lapse shooting seems bright. There are tons of ways to utilize this medium and in multiple media realms. There has been an explosion of time-lapse use in TV commercials, feature films, TV series, corporate ads, small business videos and more. I think this trend will continue for a while until everything is either time-lapsed to death or something better and more interesting comes along. As the technology becomes easier to use I believe we’ll see more people doing time-lapse, but since it’s a very time oriented craft with a lot of processing I believe it will remain a speciality for a while. People may spend lots of money on the technology but if they don’t have the drive or passion to utilize it, they’ll more than likely just keep it as a hobby rather than a career.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.