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San Francisco Sure Looks Creepy Without Any People In It

Filmmaker Ross Ching explains how he managed to depict the Golden Gate Bridge with no traffic, among other famous locations.

Ross Ching's Empty America series begins with a tour of San Francisco's most famous landmarks, unobscured by crowds or moving cars. There's no traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and tourist destinations are free of tourists. You might recognize the effect from Running on Empty, in which Ching cleared the busy freeways of Los Angeles to make a point about the "love-hate" relationship between humans and their cars. The project was inspired, he says, by the still photography of Matt Logue (check out the Empty L.A. series on his site). The new video, below, kicks off a series of time-lapses produced for Thrash Lab. Stay tuned to the YouTube channel for future episodes. 

Ching reveals how the effect works in this making-of video. "Believe it or not I didn't close off every street in San Francisco," he explains. Instead, he painstakingly layers still images and erases the cars one by one in Photoshop, and then composites the resulting stills with moving footage in After Effects.

For more work by Ross Ching, visit http://rossching.com/.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

  • Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore
    Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.