Last year, when Cesar Kuriyama turned 30, he made a decision to catalog his life by shooting at least one second of video a day. It just so happened that he also picked that year to leave his job and see a bit of the world. But the resulting second-a-day montage of Kuriyama, age 30, is hardly all action and adventure—there are clips of sunsets, clips of relatives, clips of him eating burritos. The individual moments are often mundane, and they’re fragmentary by design, but taken together they comprise a fascinating, comprehensive audiovisual time capsule.
That resulting video is an incredible memento for Kuriyama (and it’s proved oddly watchable for others, too), but the process of making it may be what he values most. The whole experience made such a profound impact on Kuriyama that he wants to give everyone the chance to create their own second-a-day supercut. And that’s exactly what his new app is designed to do.
The initial project was born out of Kuriyama’s desire to remember not only the big, marquee events in his life, but all the days in between—the quiet moments that typically get carried off by the eddies of time and memory. One second might seem like a mere blip, but watching Kuriyama’s montage, it quickly becomes clear that it’s perfectly suitable for capturing a moment. "Coming from a background in animation," he says, "I was well aware of what an eternity a second can actually be."
The video, says Kuriyama, offers "a priceless ability to reflect," but it’s not just about reviewing life in retrospect. The project also helped the former ad-man learn to live in the moment, as trite as it sounds. Knowing he has a second that’s going on the books has been a small but persistent incentive to try to make the most of each day.
"I’m more mindful of doing something notable every day," he says. "That’s not to say that I don’t have lazy days anymore, but at least I’m aware of them and how often they come about. If a couple of days have gone by, and I haven’t done anything outside of my typical routine, I know it immediately and take measures to adjust. I’m hoping others will have the same effect."
But the project and its constraints have also had the unexpected effect of helping him work through that unfortunate symptom of the smartphone age: recording when you should be experiencing. Knowing he’d only save a second, Kuriyama says, "helped me hone in on my old tendencies to over capture a moment or event. Like many, I used to take too many photos and videos … Now I record less and enjoy the moment more."
Kuriyama eventually presented his year-30 clip at a TED talk in Long Beach, and the response there, as well as on the web, was enthusiastic. But along the way, he decided he wanted to give other people the chance to make their own second-a-day videos, so he started hashing out a smartphone app to make it possible.
The app, currently in development with the Brooklyn-based studio Alchemy 50, essentially takes the organizational legwork out of the whole endeavor. It provides a calendar, which gets populated with thumbnails for clips as days pass. You can shoot video directly from the app, or snip shorter, second-long clips out of videos from your camera roll, with helpful nudge buttons for zeroing in on just the right bit. You can set the app to give you reminders to shoot video at certain times during the day, and, of course, you can export the full, second-by-second montage whenever you deem it ready.
Kuriyama’s currently raised more than twice the amount he needs to get his $20,000 in funding, so, with any luck, he’ll have the resources he needs to finish up the app and get it out there for the rest of us. Now we just have to come up with our one-second bucket lists.