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. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

  2. a map of London Uber driver James Farrar's trip data.
    Transportation

    For Ride-Hailing Drivers, Data Is Power

    Uber drivers in Europe and the U.S. are fighting for access to their personal data. Whoever wins the lawsuit could get to reframe the terms of the gig economy.

  3. a photo of a woman on an electric scooter
    Design

    A Bad New Argument Against Scooters: Historic Inappropriateness

    The argument over whether electric scooters belong in Old Town Alexandria reflects an age-old rationalization against change.

  4. A row of electric dockless scooters on a sidewalk
    Transportation

    The Philosophical Argument Against Banning Scooters

    New technologies like dockless e-scooters can generate unexpected harms—but regulations aren’t always the answer.

  5. a photo of a BYD-built electric bus.
    Transportation

    A Car-Centric City Makes a Bid for a Better Bus System

    Indianapolis is set to unveil a potentially transformative all-electric bus rapid transit line, along with a host of major public transportation upgrades.

×