I met Luxembourg-based filmmaker Jeff Desom through mutual friends when we ended up on the same trivia team and killed it in the film category. Jeff was in New York for the 2012 Vimeo Awards, where he had recently won the Award for Best Remix Video (“a video that is created using images, sequences or audio from existing works to make a new, original, independent piece”) for his stunning timelapse of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Rear Window. If you haven’t seen Rear Window yet (where a wheelchair-bound and voyeuristic James Stewart spies on his neighbors), you will definitely want to after seeing this.

“I pestered my parents until they bought me a camera,” said Jeff, whose other work includes short film and music videos. “The films would become increasingly more ambitious, but the urgency to make films has always been the same.” This urgency and ambition manifested in his panoramic video for Hitchcock’s 1954 suspense film, and Jeff was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Rear Window timelapse for EBcult.

A production still from the set of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" (1954)

EBcult: How did this project come about and why did you choose Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window?

I was commissioned to do a moving loop projection for a venue that has an extremely wide screen above their bar. It takes three projectors to cover the entire width. As for the content, I was free to do whatever I wanted. There was a vague idea for a panorama shot of an urban landscape or skyline of sorts. I wasn’t sure what technique would be most apt. Before too long my mind drifted over to Rear Window but only as a source for inspiration. As I sat down to revisit the original, it suddenly struck me that all the point of view shots were strictly taken from the exact same position. This led me to believe that it would technically be possible to process the original footage in way as to stitch everything together into one giant panorama.

EBcult: The amount of time and attention to detail that must have gone into editing all of this together is incredible. Your Vimeo award is well-deserved! How many hours/days/weeks did it take?

Thanks! I made sure that even the pigeons on the roof would get the special treatment. Usually when I immerse myself into a project like this, I lose all sense for time. It’s much like playing a computer game that’s hard to quit. I didn’t count the hours that went into it. On and off, it must have taken two months, it all seems like a blur in retrospect.

EBcult: Did you face any challenges when you were creating the timelapse?

Because the original dates back to the 50s and even though I used the restored version, there were major discrepancies in color, quality, and other technical glitches. But the greatest challenge was the fan on my laptop. It’s probably the noisiest thing you’ve ever heard. It was like working on an airport runway.

EBcult: Watching your video made me want to watch Rear Window again. Have you watched the film in its entirety since you’ve wrapped up the project?

I haven’t watched it since, but I’m looking forward to seeing it without having to worry about any technicalities. I’m glad a lot of people discover and rediscover the original through this remix. It’s like a bit more of an elaborate trailer. I pretty much reverse edited the entire film. You always hear stories about how Hitchcock had everything storyboarded ahead and that there were barely ever any alternative takes, but when stitching it back together like this, I was still surprised to see how little was missing from his inserts. If Hitchcock hadn’t been so stubborn as to shoot every POV shot from one and the same position, this kind of reconstruction would never have been possible in the first place.

EBcult: Do you have any future projects that you’re working on now? I really enjoyed the music video, “The Key,” by Hauschka, in particular.

There’s a new Hauschka music video now. It’s the third one in a row and we’ll go on to collaborate on more projects after this.

It’s always hard to tell where the next project will come from and which one will make it to fruition. Take this Hitchcock remix for instance. I always considered it more of a side project. Who could have imagined it would generate this kind of resonance?

Check out Jeff’s official website and Vimeo for more of his work, including his short films.

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