Biolapse Episode 3, Timelapse a Shitake. And news/updates.

Happy Holidays everyone!

I present Biolapse, Episode 3.  RIght after the intro i have the results of the shoot, also at the end of the video, just in case you have no desire to listen to a fat guy drone on and on.

What a busy last couple weeks, preparing for the holidays, preparing for this next project, and trying to get this damn mushroom to grow.

So a few updates…..

The Shitake mushroom log produced a single glorious mushroom. It was not much, but hey, I’ll take it.

Things are starting to come together

The vision of my next project is really starting to take shape. I had mulled around some ideas in the beginning, things I wanted to try, many of those ideas will be shelved for future projects. I know that there are plenty of timelapse’s of mushrooms, but nothing quite like what I will be attempting to pull off with this shoot. This will combine a lot of different techniques. My set building skills are going to be pushed to the max. I will also be adding in some chromakey work, and possibly mixing in some live video, but it will contain a lot more timelapse than the carniverous plants.

Much like the carniverous plants, the mushrooms are almost a hobby in themselves. The information on mushrooms is a bit spotty. Things seem to classify down into two distinct sets of growers. The first one is all about growing edible mushrooms for culinary purposes, the second group seems to focus on getting bugged up on magic mushrooms. This ends up causing me some problems, because quite frankly I don’t like eating mushrooms, and I’m not particularly interested in getting high on them.  Some of the mushrooms I want to film fall into these categories, however, I am more concerned about their looks than flavor or psychoactive effects, and unless you can make a tasty dish or you are planning to go to Burning Man, there is not much information on how to cultivate them.  It all make sense though, most mushrooms are extremely short lived, and most people have a hard time justifying putting in months of work for something that is inedible and will only live for 7-10 days.

I suspect many of the ones I cannot find information on will not be incredibly hard to grow. However getting a hold of the spores may be pretty difficult.

However, if all of this had already been done before, i wouldnt see much point in doing this. Not that there are not already some wonderful mushroom timelapse sequences, I just want to go farther than anybody else ever has.

Project Partner

So it seems I have picked up a partner for this film by the name of Creigan.  He is an old friend of mine who really has nothing to do with photography or time-lapse in any form. However if it were not for him I would not be doing this now. There would be no Biolapse, no Chronos Project.  About six years ago I started working on a barndoor tracker for astrophography, I was going through a divorce and trying to keep my mind occupied. I was running into issues with accuracy using a voltage regulator and DC motor, and he told me about something he read about called an Arduino.  Next thing you know I was diving headfirst into microprocessors and teaching myself how to code.

In my day job I work with a lot of very intelligent people, engineers, technicians, etc. By far Creigan is the smartest person I have ever met, his ability to “re-purpose” old items is flat out genius. My thought process is totally different as I tend to build things from the ground up. The mushroom incubator we will be using is his brainchild, this is a perfect example of what I am talking about. He used an old Jagermeister machine and turned it into an environmental controller.




Not only does it lock down and maintain the perfect internal environment, but well… it has been shot with a bullet.  What can I say?… I love my friends.


Using a camping cooler for the chamber. It has internal lighting, and even removes excess droplets from the vaporizer used to achieve the high humidity levels, and keeps fresh clean air moving though the system.



I am very excited to have his help with this project.  He never backs down from a challenge, and he is very excited to be involved. There will be a lot of technical difficulties on this project that will be difficult to overcome, and having an alternate perspective on how to achieve certain goals will be refreshing.

It is also an excellent reason for us to work on stuff and drink beer together. Of which we will be doing a lot.



I have my first mushroom!

It is just a single guy, and he is pretty small, but i do have a mushroom. This log may start sprouting all over the place after all



Now the question is, which camera did this come from? Is this a photo backdrop? or is this the chroma key backdrop?

On the educational and process/technique front involving the finer points of growing mushrooms, I have learned quite a bit about the processes involved, but run into the realization that most of the instructions out there are for psychadelic mushrooms.  Which itself is not that bad, however they are pretty illegal here, and the last thing I want to do is get in trouble, but the psychedelic mushrooms do sort of have the look i am going for. I very well may have to get a few pre-made kits, grow the mushrooms, then collect the spores for my own cultures. I also have to learn how to make various types of substrates.

Should be fun!



This log isnt doing Shitake.

So the Shitake log I was excited about is not doing what I had hoped.


I read the instructions, followed them to a T… yet no mushrooms.

It does not matter what new cool thing you are working on, this sort of thing will occasionally happen. I have learned this is not always a bad thing. I dont think I have actually failed at anything in life except for romantic relationships. Normally when there is something that  does not immediately work out, rather than being a failure it is the motivation which drives me to succeed.

I am big on personal accountability. Lets look at this scenario a bit more. I wanted to grow mushrooms on a log. So I went to amazon, I found a kit that was well reviewed. I buy it, figuring sure, this will be a simple project. Just some quick and easy gratification for some excellent shots and i can focus directly on the fruiting process of the mushrooms and the proper way to film them. The kit arrives, I follow the instructions, it is in an environmentally controlled room which has been tuned for the optimal levels. Yet, nothing. No mushrooms.

Should I blame the log?
no…. it is just being a log, following its exact purpose.

Should I blame the seller?
No i do not think this is appropriate either. The seller has a good reputation, and they have been in the business of mushroomery for a while now, I see no reason to believe they have intentionally ripped me off. The instructions were very clear. I do not believe them to be the issue.

Should I blame the Biolapse set?
That would just be silly. It is doing exactly what I told it to do.

Should I blame some unknown factor i have not taken into account?
Nope. It is not the responsibility of every factor to walk up to me and introduce itself.

So I blame myself. That to me is the only logical conclusion. However, i do not blame myself in an angry way, I do not consider myself stupid because I failed to yield the desired results with the mushroom log. I do not even consider this a failure, rather a learning experience to grow upon.

In my day job I work for a major telecommunications company. We offer Voice and Data solutions to small to large businesses, no residential services. We have an impressive network serving businesses world wide, and I work on some of the most cutting edge VoIP solutions. It is a pretty challenging job with a strong learning curve. It has taken me the past 18 years to get where I am with my understanding of Voice and VoIP networks, how they behave, how to predict the behavior. My position leaves me working with some very talented customer vendors in which I will work to not only build and activate their service, but troubleshoot it with them when thing are not working properly.  From time to time I find myself working with a customer, or vendor, or even somebody within our own organization that has a basic idea of how certain things work. They get this false confidence that they understand the networks well enough to isolate and troubleshoot problems. However, in reality, they understand enough to be confidant, but they do not know enough to really understand exactly how little they truly know. I can usually recognize these people pretty quickly by the way in which they try to describe things. “I hear Jitter on the call”…… That is one of the things i hear often from customers and vendors. However, Jitter is not something you can actually hear. That is because Jitter is a method of measurement of a phenomenon involving delay in packet delivery, it is just a measurement. Not the audio issues that may or may not be a result of it.  That is a prefect example of what I mean by “Not knowing enough of a subject to understand how little you actually know”

So this brings me back to the topic at hand. Here I am trying to grow mushrooms on a log.

To be honest, i dont even know exactly what a mushroom is. I mean, i think i can probably identify a mushroom by sight, and I understand some of them are edible, some are not. I know it is some sort of a fungus, I know it is related to mold and stuff. But I dont know how they attach, I do not know if they have roots, I do not know the processes in which they sprout, or in which they grow, i do not know if they obsob water like plants, I do not believe they photosynthesize, so I have to realize and accept the fact that I have no idea how little I actually know about mushrooms.

If I am going to be using mushrooms in my next film, I do not want to be at the mercy of the mushrooms, and simply hope they will behave as I desire. That just is not how they work. I have some ideas for some shots I would like to get with mushrooms which will require very specific timing, growing in specific places, and have a very specific look and feel to them. In order to do this, I need to take a step back from the “Kit log” approach and really invest some time into learning mushrooms. How they work, how they grow, what do they need, what is happening on from a biological standpoint, the various stages of their life and forms in which the fungus lives, the lifespan, all of it. I dont want to have them as props in a clip, rather I want them to be the stars, and for that I need expected and predictable behavior to pull the proper shots off.

So I will keep playing with this Shitake log, who knows if it does start to sprout i can probably shove it under the cameras and get some footage. But for now the cameras will probably go dark for a little while.

I have a friend who has this large cooler that has been hacked with a Jagermeister chiller to create a mushroom farm. He recently moved and dropped it off at my house, as my home seems to be the place where my friends leave that sort of thing. This friend of mine is a lot like me in many ways, one thing we both understand what it truly means to do things the easy way vs the hard way. When results are the goal, the “Easy way” normally involves a bare-roots approach and learning as much as possible, then building and designing systems to achieve those results. In the end, you will find that all that work takes a lot less time and energy than the “Hard way” which involves taking shortcuts, dealing with repeat failures, and trying to wrangle the results from less than optimal situations, then trying to convince yourself that you are actually ok with the results.

After all, anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Time to hit the books.