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

    The Cities Americans Want to Flee, and Where They Want to Go

    An Apartment List report reveals the cities apartment-hunters are targeting for their next move—and shows that tales of a California exodus may be overstated.

  2. photo: a pair of homes in Pittsburgh
    Equity

    The House Flippers of Pittsburgh Try a New Tactic

    As the city’s real estate market heats up, neighborhood groups say that cash investors use building code violations to encourage homeowners to sell.  

  3. Life

    Can Toyota Turn Its Utopian Ideal Into a 'Real City'?

    The automaker-turned-mobility-company announced last week it wants to build a living, breathing urban laboratory from the ground up in Japan.

  4. Equity

    What ‘Livability’ Looks Like for Black Women

    Livability indexes can obscure the experiences of non-white people. CityLab analyzed the outcomes just for black women, for a different kind of ranking.

  5. 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.

×