A lot like this ghostly CGI visualization, created by a Parisian architectural-imaging studio.

Ah, Paris at dawn! Straggling notes of late-night jazz echoing off of alley walls, the smell of fresh-baked bread wafting from boulangeries, the gentle lapping of waves as the tide rolls in....

Wait – does that last thing really happen? To believe this dreamy film from the Parisian architectural-imaging studio ArtefactoryLab, it certainly does, at precisely “5:46 a.m.” (the film's title). The seas-soused brain behind the visualization, Olivier Campagne, created the project back in 2010 after wondering what his city would look like submerged under 1 meter of water. Although his camera caught a couple of joggers and runners while he was shooting, Campagne chose to erase them digitally, saying he was inspired by the empty, computer-generated cityscapes of artist Nicolas Moulin.

Paris hasn't been subject to a major deluge since 1910, when the rain-swollen Seine gushed out of sewers, drains and railway tunnels, turning the metropolis into an impromptu Venice. But you wouldn't know that looking at “5:46 a.m.” The fakery is near-perfect, with fluttering birds casting reflections onto the sudden lakes inhabiting the streets. To achieve the effect, Campagne and associate Vivien Balzi modeled most of the buildings in 3D, allowing them to create mirror images on the water's surface. Geeks might be interested to know that the liquid then “received a VRaySSS material” and that the gusts of wind were “controlled by displacement maps and masks.” (The eerie audio track arrives courtesy of electroacoustic musician Brice Tillet.)

5:46 am - Paris underwater from ArtefactoryLab on Vimeo.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?

    A lot of software developers, according to an unprecedented new analysis.

  2. The facade of a casino in Atlantic City.
    Photos

    Photographing the Trumpian Urbanism of Atlantic City

    Brian Rose’s new book uses the deeply troubled New Jersey city as a window into how a developer-turned-president operates.

  3. a rendering of the moon village with a view of Earth
    Design

    Designing the First Full-Time Human Habitat on the Moon

    SOM, in partnership with the ESA and MIT, wants to accommodate research and maybe even tourism on the moon.

  4. Transportation

    Electric Scooters Aren’t a Transportation Revolution Yet

    New data show a staggering rise in shared dockless e-scooter use nationwide. But commuting habits have seen little change since the dawn of micromobility.

  5. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.