At long last I’ve finished editing my documentary about the southern pine beetle.  I have tons of thoughts about it and ideas for the future, but for now, here it is:

(Watch it in HD if you have a good connection!)





While clumsy on land, the southern pine beetle excels at swimming through toxic, sticky resin.  Here is a stringout of nearly all of the clips I gathered this summer of beetles swimming through resin (more beetles + resin than anyone could ever want).  Some clips are at 24x speed.

Editing Away

editingcaptureToday I finally got clips on the timeline stretching from the beginning of the film to the end.  It’s mostly unedited, just a string of interview clips in the general order I want them in and some notes about narration, but still, it’s excited to start to finally put the story together.  Right now its ~ 20 min so it’ll probably change a bit but be near that range.  Above is a still from final cut today.

Micro Stringout

At long last I’m back to work, and I just threw together all the clips I had from the inside of SPB-attacked-tree bark.  It’s pretty fun to watch these microscopic mites running around on the fungus they seem to cultivate (that’s the famous blue stain fungus).  As my professor said, it’s a jungle in there:

Animating Theories

Well it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted, which might be correlated with the academic calendar.  I’m disappointed that I haven’t been keeping up the posts this term, but I’m excited to get back to editing over winter break and get a rough cut of the documentary together.

Until then, here’s one thing I did do this term and at the end of the summer.  My professor asked me to work on visualizations for two theoretical concepts.  First was a comparison of hypotheses for how a populations range will change as temperatures increase.  Will they stay within the same temperatures, shifting their range towards the nearest pole (Climatic Envelope), or will they simply move northward (Tyranny of Thermodynamics)?  The question is really about what is limiting their range on the warmer end – is it warm temperatures or something else like competition?  Here are the visualizations:

Next is a simulation of population dynamics with two attractors (similar to equilibria but not necessarily static).  This kind of dynamic could be common in an animal that gains new resources after reaching a certain population density threshold (say, pine beetles when they reach a density capable of killing trees).  I wrote code to simulate these dynamic in python and saved pictures at each time step to make a gif.  The graph on top is the abundance over time and the graph below is the per capita growth rate ( r ) as a function of abundance, with the points flashing on it representing the actual growth rate (with stochasticity factored in).

Process / An Excerpt

Right now I am about to enter into what is probably the least exciting phase of this project – going through all my footage, taking notes, and organizing it.  It’s necessary at this point for me to take a look at what I have and what I need (which hopefully I can get) so that I can begin writing and putting together a longer piece.

But first I decided to jump right in and try to edit something.  I captured a few specific clips I remembered and made a rough edit of a theoretical excerpt from the film.  I did this for two reasons: 1) to give myself a preview of how putting together the film will work and to get a concept of the style I’m going for and the obstacles I’ll run into, and 2) to give myself a little jolt of excitement about the whole thing, a teaser.
So here it is, a rough teaser-excerpt-thing with process music (I probably won’t actually use this music in the full film).  Enjoy, and please let me know if you have feedback (comments or email –

Back in the editing room: Sounds of an SPB spot

After a long break leading kayaking trips in the north country, I’m back in Hanover, and I’m just beginning to sift through the footage from this summer.  Now that I’m away from the action, I’m hoping to post more frequently, and especially this coming week, because I’m just starting school.

This video is a collection of some of my favorite wider shots (since most of my shots have a field of view that can be described in centimeters anything remotely wide counts) from the summer, paired with the audio from one long shot taken at an active Southern Pine Beetle spot.  The sound is that of a unique ecosystem – one created by the mass coordinated attacks of SPB.  These spots are a hotspot for insect, and therefore bird, activity, and I think you can really hear that in this clip.