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The secret of Lotte time lapse video's viral success

April 25, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • A still from Frans Hofmeester's viral video "Lotte Time Lapse: Birth to 12 in 2 minutes, 45 seconds."
A still from Frans Hofmeester's viral video "Lotte Time Lapse:… (Vimeo )

When Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester put the video "Lotte Time Lapse: From birth to 12 in 2 min. 45" on Vimeo one week ago, he thought it might generate some interest.

After all, he had been filming his daughter Lotte once a week, every week, since she was born, and by stringing those videos together and speeding them up, he had amassed an impressive time-lapse-like record of his daughter as she grew from a wide-eyed baby  into a coy girl with a penchant for flower barrettes.

But Hofmeester never dreamed his short video would go viral -- getting 3.7 million views on Vimeo in just one week, with dozens of stories about the video (including ours) in the online media.

"I'm flabbergasted," he said in an email to the Los Angeles Times. "For a proud father that is overwhelming."

Overwhelming, sure, but totally unexpected? Not really.

Of course, one can never know exactly what videos will go viral, but the online audience has a history of clicking on time-lapse videos.

(And yes, we know Hofmeester's video is not technically a time-lapse because Hofmeester shot it with a video camera rather than a still camera, but like a time-lapse video, it shows change over time).

There has been a string of time-lapse "virals" including the Internet's first big time-lapse hit "Noah takes a photo of himself everyday for 6 years" has amassed 25 million views since it landed on YouTube in 2006. Another time-lapse video, "Natalie," which is a true time-lapse of a little girl growing from 0 to 10 in 1.25 minutes has racked up more than 7 million views since it showed up on YouTube in 2008.

Matt Fiorentino, director of marketing at the online video analytics firm Visible Measures, said he thinks the success of the Lotte video may hinge on how much real life time it covered.

"We found that the longer amount of time that the time lapse shows, the more views those videos are producing," he said. "And watching a baby go from 0 to 12 -- that's a huge amount of time."

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