My summer memories as captured by a Sony Mavica floppy disk camera

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This week at CrunchGear, we’re looking back at some of our favorite gadgets from the not-so-distant past — old phones, computers, media players, toys… those devices that still stand out in our memories despite their obsolescence. Feel free to contribute some of your own nostalgia.

Way back in the balmy summer of 2001, I made sunset time-lapse video using a Sony Mavica and a stack of 3.5mm floppy disks. I did this while working at a Boy Scout summer camp. Yes, I have always been a huge nerd.

Camp Tapico was my summer home for nearly 10 years. I lived and worked at the Boy Scout camp for seven of those years and like everyone else that has visited, feel in love with the gorgeous 1,200-acre camp deep in the northern woods of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The 120-acre Grass Lake rests almost dead center in the camp and can always be trusted to put on a spectacular show as the sun descends into the trees over the most northern campsite, 3Bs.

My dream was to capture that moment during each season and so I set out to record the first one using a buddy’s Sony Mavica digital camera and bunch of 3.5mm floppy disks. So I grabbed a couple of camp chairs for myself and one of the hot lifeguards, and climbed up the observation tower at the beach.

It wasn’t really that hard to capture the necessary images, but it was rather time consuming. I mounted the camera to the wooden railing and proceeded to take a picture every 15 seconds for, like, an hour and a half. That required a stack of floppy disks for the Sony Mavica I was using; it actually took fine pictures, even though they were 640 x 480. From there, I used Flash 4′s auto import function to load the whole lot into separate keyframes and the results are above. It was really that easy back then and still is today, although I’m sure you can use something other than Flash.

Nowadays many cameras have a time lapse function built-in that will produce a much better result. Once mounted to a tripod, the camera should snap the pictures without user intervention, therefore eliminating the wobble seen in my video from me pressing the shutter button and swapping disks.

But that method doesn’t breed memories like I created years ago. Unfortunately I never captured the sunset for the three other seasons like I initially planned, although I did take plenty of sunset pictures that year with the Mavica and the following years with better cameras. But I really should complete that time-lapse set. The tower I used is still there and I could certainly use the break from the Internet and society in general. Maybe as we say in Michigan, it’s time to take a trip up North.

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