Viral Video: Burning Man Time Lapse

The lyrical images from burner Roy Two Thousand's "Lake of Dreams" make fears about cyclonic dust storms, 24-hour drum circles and forced “sharing” fade away.
The lyrical images from burner Roy Two Thousand's "Lake of Dreams" make fears about cyclonic dust storms, 24-hour drum circles and forced “sharing” fade away.

Assuming that you’re tired of watching the video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice cold cock his fiancé and then drag her limp body out of an elevator, I thought instead we could move onto happier times and watch their wedding video.

Just kidding.

How about we take a 7-minute journey to a land of peace, love, art and music in the middle of a tranquil desert? Such are the promises of the annual Burning Man festival, held two hours outside of Reno, Nevada in a temporary enclave called Black Rock City. The event that began humbly in the early 1980s with a few dozen participants now draws more than 60,000 people who pay $300-$600 apiece for a one week bliss-out “dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance,” according to the Burning Man website. The 2014 edition came to a close two weeks ago.

I’ve always wanted to go to Burning Man, to give in to my journalist’s curiosity, to dance at dawn, to wear a rainbow coalition of scarves. Then I hear reports about cyclonic dust storms, 24-hour drum circles, and all that forced “sharing” and I wimp out. 

But when I watch this video I think, well, maybe it would be kind of groovy to go. Just once.

The video, called "Lake of Dreams", was produced by a Burner named Roy Two Thousand (why not?), and it isn’t entirely a time-lapse film. It also features several diaphanous moments of ultra-slow motion, gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, and extreme wide shots which capture, not the sand in one’s underwear (if it's worn), but the beauty of the art and communal harmony and the lovely flow of time.

Roy Two Thousand's film avoids the predictable “city arising out of the desert” sequence, opting instead for a daydreamer’s collection of images. I especially liked the shots of all those bikes scooting through the desert. (You can drive your car to Black Rock City, but you can’t drive it once you’re there.)

There are moments when Burning Man looks like another version of Las Vegas, all glitz and glitter. And there is one afternoon dance scene full of tanned vegans who look like they’re tripping on Pinot Grigio at a Jason Mraz rave, but they are still damn pretty people.

Next year, or maybe the year after, I’ll stow my skeptical ‘tude and check this thing out.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Rustin Thompson

Rustin Thompson

Rustin Thompson is a filmmaker, film critic and indie radio deejay. He enjoys strong coffee, red wine, IPAs and his wife and grown children. He is comfortable with the fact he will never be rich, but grows petulant if he thinks too much about it.