the news frontier

The Kickstarter Chronicles

Time-lapse videos of tilt-shifted fish and books about hyperlocal architecture
August 3, 2012

Each week, dozens of journalistic endeavors turn to Kickstarter for funding. Pitching media projects to this online community brings another meaning to the concept “public interest journalism”; success depends on how intrigued people are by the pitch. From the hugely popular to the barely noticed, CJR’s Kickstarter Chronicles is a look through some of these journalistic proposals.

Alex Kaufman became interested in photography and aquariums in college. He did some photography as part of an internship last summer at the Florida Aquarium (also after hours – “I took tons of pictures and was there until security kicked me out every day,” Kaufman wrote CJR in an email), but felt like his still shots didn’t quite capture the “spirit” of the aquarium. So he made a time-lapse video.

Now that he’s graduated, he’s looking to take it to the next level, using a tilt-shift lens to make a new aquarium time-lapse. Tilt-shift lenses make photo subjects look like toys through a bunch of complicated tricks that I still don’t exactly understand no matter how many times my photographer friends try to explain them to me. All you need to know is that it looks really cool, so time-lapse footage of an aquarium taken with a tilt-shift lens would, in turn, be doubly cool. Kaufman is calling his project “The ToyQuarium.”

Kaufman hopes to raise $6,650, which will enable him to buy equipment, travel to the aquarium to capture the footage (Kaufman isn’t sure which aquarium will be yet, writing that he has “gotten interest from California aquariums”), and produce pledge rewards, from a book version of the video to prints of the photos to ToyQuarium-themed jewelry. Kaufman plans to give the finished product to as many aquariums as possible to use as a promotional tool.

Sign up for CJR's daily email

Deadline is August 26 at 11:59 p.m.

Hyperlocal is more than just AOL’s often-changing take on community journalism. For writer Andrew Michler, it’s a type of sustainable architecture, where structures are designed according to the cultural and environmental needs of regions in which they are built. Michler hopes to write a book called [ours] that explores this more, looking at regions in Japan, Australia, Spain, and at least six more examples of “hyper-localized design movements,” he told CJR in an email.

In the end, Michler hopes to have a book that will “provide a compelling resource for architects and fans of great architecture.” If it looks anything like the gorgeous photos on the campaign page, it will. Michler hopes to raise $10,000 to travel to the places about which he wants to write, talk to their architects, and pay research interns at the Institute for the Built Environment, which is collaborating with eVolo magazine on the project.

Deadline is August 31 at 12:42 p.m.

Correction: The ToyQuarium is trying to raise $6,650. The previous version said $6,000. Also, Andrew Michler’s name was misspelled.

Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.