Hawaii // A timelapse film of Mark Twain’s favorite islands

Mustang ConvertibleA week ago, I wasn’t planning on making this film. My wife and I had spent eight days in Hawaii – four in Oahu, another four in Maui – and with all that time I had only filmed about four timelapses. That all changed the last day, when we took a drive around Maui’s northwestern road. When we arrived on the island, I had let the car rental company talk me into a blue convertible Mustang, so you better bet I was wanting to drive it. The northwestern road passes through some of the most beautiful and wild sights of the island, alongside towering 800 foot cliffs, massive waves, and small towns that are a far cry from the tourism so prevalent on the rest of the archipelago. Incidentally, the road is one lane, with no guard rail next to the cliffs, so if you do take it you had to drive very slowly and pull over for drivers coming in the opposite direction. It was easily one of the most enjoyable and terrifying roads I had ever driven on.

While driving on that road, I stopped and filmed five timelapses. When we arrived back in town, we still had half the day left, so we kept on driving up to the summit of the extinct volcano, Haleakala. More timelapse filming followed, up until I found myself freezing at 10,000 feet on top of a volcano wearing shorts and a tiny jacket. Thankfully I met some nice guys from South Korea, and Brazil to keep me company while we all watched the sun setting over Maui from the best view on the island.

SunsetThe last two times I have gone on any sort of vacation, I turned the timelapses I shot into short films – Pagosa and Ozarks. Both of them were incredible to film, but I didn’t travel to Colorado or Arkansas with the intention of creating them. I didn’t want to turn my relaxing trips into something where I was constantly stressing about angles, a shot list, or anything else that felt like a job. They happened organically, and that is what I wanted for my trip to Hawaii too.

On Sunday, March 15th we returned from the trip, and I still wasn’t planning on turning the timelapse clips into a film. Then my wife told me that I needed to, and I really started considering it.

While traveling around the island, I bought a GPS tour guide for entertainment on the drive. We learned a lot about the island’s history, from its creation to discovery. Hawaii has had an enchanting effect on many people that have visited, one of them being the writer Mark Twain. My guide told us all about Twain’s love for Hawaii, and how the writer had visited the Islands in 1866 while writing for the Sacramento Union Newspaper. When I read some of those articles, I knew that Twain’s feelings about Hawaii matched my own.

I knew that I wanted this timelapse film to be an evolution of the others that I have created. It needed to be more that just music and pretty images. I wanted it to bring whoever watched it into the same experience that Mark Twain and I felt when visiting. I reached out to Stan Robinowitz, a voiceover artist from Illinois with a stunning voice, to read one of Twain’s quotes about Hawaii.

Mark Twain’s quote reads:

“Hawaii: No alien land in all the world has any deep strong charm for me but that one, no other land could so longingly and so beseechingly haunt me, sleeping and waking, through half a lifetime, as that one has done.

For me the balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surfbeat is in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud wrack; I can feel the spirit of its wildland solitudes, I can hear the splash of its brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.

It is the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.”

So here we are, one week after my trip, and what I initially thought wouldn’t turn into anything, is now one of my favorite timelapse films.

Special thanks goes out to Sleeping At Last for allowing me to use their music in my timelapse films, and to Stan Robinowitz, for lending his excellent voice to the narration.

You can download the full resolution version of this film below, but be aware it is approximately 1 Gigabyte in size, and encoded at a very high bit-rate.

Download Hawaii in HD
Download: Hawaii 1080p

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Everything was shot with a Canon 7D, Rokinon 14mm lens, and a Manfrotto 055x ProB Tripod with 054 Ball Head. I kept things simple this trip.

Interested in having me filming timelapses or anything else for you? Get in touch!

17 Comments
  1. This is incredible! I'm so glad you made this; it makes my heart sing. I, too, was completely enchanted by the times I spent in Hawaii and you capture the feeling so well in this video. I had no idea that Mark Twain had a connection to Hawaii, but I am so grateful to know about it now; his words are perfect. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful work with us!!

  2. This is staggering! I'm so happy you made this; it makes my heart sing. I, as well, was totally captivated by the times I spent in Hawaii and you catch the inclination so well in this video. I had no clue that Mark Twain had an association with Hawaii, yet I am so appreciative to think about it now; his words are great. Much obliged to you such a great amount for imparting your delightful work to us!!

  3. They got the tree that Mark Twain sat under here on the Big Island. I'm up in Hamakua mauka – love it here. Moved from the mainland, first year was difficult, wasn't used to mold issues in the house and the bugs ate up everything in the garden. But learned the best ways – from UH and locals. Now we have a beautiful piece of property lush in delicious edibles!

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