eames_fastcompany

In 1977 Charles and Ray Eames made a film for IBM called Factors of Ten.

The film begins with an overhead view of a man and woman picnicking in a park at the Chicago lakefront — a one-metre-square overhead image of the figures on a blanket surrounded by food and books they brought with them, one of them being The Voices of Time by J. T. Fraser.

The man dozes while the woman starts to read one of the books. The viewpoint then slowly zooms out to a view a ten metre area. The zoom-out continues (at a rate of one power of ten per 10 seconds), to a view of 100 metres, then 1 kilometre (where we see the entirety of Chicago), and so on, increasing the perspective and continuing to zoom out to a field of view the size of the observable universe. The camera then zooms back in at a rate of a power of ten per 2 seconds to the picnic, and then slows back down to its original rate into the man’s hand, to views of negative powers of ten—10−1 m (10 centimetres), and so forth—until the camera comes to quarks in a proton of a carbon atom at 10−16 metres.

It’s an object lesson in the use of lenses in storytelling.  The man and woman are in each of these stories but the contexts vary dramatically.  My point is that changing the lens in a narrative is a very useful means of finding new ways to engage and audience whilst not losing track of the core purpose.  Here’s the film. Enjoy!