The First Hyperlapse Film Was Made in 1995 and It’s Awesome

Ultra high-resolution hyperlapses of cities like Paris, Amsterdam, and Singapore are always floating around the Internet (Instagram even offers a standalone Hyperlapse app), and they’re pretty amazing. Hyperlapses—timelapses in which the camera moves between each exposure—provide an unusual perspective on the world that we can’t really achieve with our own eyes. But before the rise of digital photography they were extremely difficult to make.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, filmmaker Guy Roland pioneered the technique on Super 8 mm film, and made a 1991 short film called Pace in Montreal, Quebec. But his 1995 follow-up Pacer (above) is lauded as the first true hyperlapse, though this term wasn’t coined until 2012. Roland shot the film on a Bolex 16 mm camera, but the original negative is gone.

The only copy of Pacer that endured was a low-quality version that was included in a 1996 edition of a VHS video magazine called Channel Zero. (Video magazines! It was the ’90s after all.) In 2014 that copy of Pacer got transferred to 2K resolution, and it was remastered this year. Roland went on to make Spacer in 2004, which was later renamed Kino Citius.

Pacer has the grainy look of a mid-’90s film, but it also has insane hyperlapse chops that have a visual impact on par with the fanciest hyperlapses made today. The technique is a facinating way to explore any city, but seeing a tripped-out circa-1995 Montreal is especially badass.