John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A roundup of some of our favorite city-based tilt-shift videos.
What if a debigulator ray actually existed? You could point it at cities and shrink them down to the size of molehills. A ferry would fit in a teaspoon, a skyscraper in your pocket. It wouldn't be a very nice thing to do to the thousands of city residents turned sea monkeys, but it sure would be a neat thing to keep on your desk at work.
People on the Internet have been playing around with this idea for years, using a bit of camera trickery known as tilt-shift photography, (Architects also occasionally use the technique to get the perfect perspective on a building or, if they're jokers, will shift but not tilt to make a building look like it's falling over backward.) Tilt-shift photography has become well-known enough that it's appeared in a Thom Yorke music video and has inspired several websites devoted to the fun visual effects it can provoke. The technique really shines when used by competent videographers, though, as you can see in the following examples from cities all over the world. Can you tell the difference between these metropolises and super-realistic train sets? (Hat tip to ArchDaily for featuring some of these videos.)
"Little Big Berlin," by pilpop:
"High on London," by 24/2 Productions:
Tel Aviv-based Efim Graboy and Daria Turetski, aka threeshot, took five days to shoot their delightful "MiniLook Kiev" with a Canon EOS 550D:
"Downtown Nashville Tilt-shift," by Kelsey Wynns:
"Paris Plages," by Alta Media Productions (warning: contains powerfully French music):