In 2014, I discovered an app called 1 Second Everyday. You would record a 1-second-long snippet of video each day, and then “mash” all those seconds into a video. I decide to do a video of the year. That first one recorded Renee’s recovery from brain surgery and our later move from Missoula to the Seattle area for my new job. I managed to keep this little project secret and published it for my friends in early 2015.

I created the videos again for each year. 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. And now 2020, the 7th iteration of the video. And, not surprisingly, one of the more difficult ones to put together and share.

The hardest part of these videos is always choosing the music to go with the year. I think of the songs as a soundtrack for the whole year, and the videos are too long to use just a single song. I need at least two songs, and they need to mesh smoothly. The first few years I could generally pick songs that were fairly happy, songs that suggested the passage of time. In 2017, the year Renee started working at Metro, I stumbled across a song called “Bus Stop” that was perfect.

But this year. 2020. I mean, you know, 2020. I started the year as I always do, adding possible songs to a list as I hear them, always on the lookout for something that might work.

Then 2020 showed its true face and I wondered — how could I ever find the right soundtrack for this year? How could I find music that would both tell the truth of this terrible year, while at the same time, somehow fit with all these video snippets of us and our pets, bouncing around our house, walking the quiet streets in our neighborhood?

The reality of 2020 doesn’t seem that obvious to me in the final video. The big, global events we’ve been talking about all year pop up here and there, but can you really see what was happening with COVID-19 and social unrest and the presidential election in these brief snippets?

There are a few clips when friends visited back in February, back when having out-of-town houseguests was a thing. A shot of Benaroya Hall in Seattle where we saw Brandi Carlile, also in February, back when a crowd of people didn’t seem dangerous. The shots of Puget Sound and downtown Seattle abruptly end on March 2. Then it is all house, backyard, walks, pets. A few scenes of the news on our kitchen TV to give some context to what’s happening in the world. Later, out in the forest or at the ocean, camping, safely away from other humans. The election that dominated the news and is still (unfortunately) in the news is visible in a few snippets — our yard sign, ballots, election returns on the TV.

On the purely personal 2020 front, maybe you’d have to be observant to see that our beloved dog Abby disappears from the videos after July 15. And those shots in the mountains in late July — do you see that our other poodle Myka isn’t with us? She was having glaucoma pressure spikes in her eye, so we couldn’t risk taking her away from medical care. You have to look fast to see the aftermath of her eye surgery in August. Mostly, watch for her absence, as she had to stay with Michele at Northwest Animal Eye Specialists for two weeks while we waited for her pressures to finally stabilize.

I love doing these videos, but I do realize they show such a tiny bit of my life, and an even tinier bit of the big events happening in the world.

Most years, I start making test videos in November to experiment with different songs from my list to see what might work. This year, in November, I was months behind on picking out my seconds for each day. I had been diligent about taking video and photos on most days (I always miss a few), but had not been sufficiently motivated to comb through them and choose the best second each day. I had what felt like a massive backlog of clips to parse. The list of possible songs was overwhelming. I put off making any attempts to try out songs.

The version I finally came up with is below. I wasn’t sure at first if this one really worked. It didn’t come together as easily as most years. I’m still not sure if I got it right, but I’m not sure it is really possible to get 2020 exactly right with 1 second of video each day.

And just because 2020 was such a year, I wanted to also share my playlist of songs I considered for the video this year.

1SE 2020 Ideas Playlist

For reference, links to the past videos: