Bruce W. Berry Jnr has amassed a huge number of views in just a few days for the above time-lapse, The Day Wonderland Stood Still. As well as being filmed in infra-red, the other immediately striking feature about the film is the lack of people and cars. It generates a rather spooky and surreal viewing experience that’s quite enthralling to watch.
Ordinarily, cars and people are prime objects for a city time-lapse, as time-lapse is generally all about things moving. A city time-lapse without moving cars and people is almost a paradox. However, it is partly this paradox that makes The Day Wonderland Stood Still so compelling. There is enough movement – trees, neon signs, clouds, shadows – for us to recognise it as a time-lapse, and therefore to be stuck by the simultaneous lack of movement. Combining all this with the haunting IR colour palate makes it quite remarkable.
From a technical point of view, the interesting question is how Bruce W. Berry Jnr took the cars and people out of his photos. Berry took his inspiration from LA director Ross Ching’s time-lapse series Empty America, which in turn was inspired by photographer Matt Logue’s Empty LA series. Ching goes into detail about how he removed cars from LA’s busiest freeways and other locations in a blog post that has unfortunately since been removed.
Ching showed how, because the cars have moved from photo to photo, it’s possible to layer multiple photos and remove the cars on one photo to reveal the same car-less space on the layer beneath. You can then take this composite photo into After Effects and use it as a mask over the rest of your time-lapse.
Sounds simple, right?! Well, Ching followed up with, “And then you just gotta do it about forty or fifty more times, so good luck with that!”
We agree – if you have the patience for it, all the best to you! Get to work and make something as striking as The Day Wonderland Stood Still. We look forward to watching it.
You can also read the Vimeo Creator Q&A with Claire&Max who used the technique in their video hypocentre -short film- and generously provided a detailed description of their workflow.