Turn Captions On, we signed names of attractions and places
Change the language of the article:
About creation of "Paris Day & Night" Video Clip
This article is all about the most complex and interesting we faced when were shooting our movie about Paris. If you are interested in what remains behind the scenes and you have any questions about the process of creating this work, seat back, we will tell you all.
Some of you may not be familiar with the technique of creating such a video and don't know the meaning of words timelapse and hyperlapse, so we start from a little bit of theory.
Time lapse is frame-by-frame exposure of spontaneous events at regular intervals. In urban environment this technique is used to shoot movement of the sky and clouds, transport and human traffic, sunrises and sunsets, etc.
Hyper lapse is a kind of time lapses where a camera moves along a certain trajectory, while nothing may occur in the frame, but it will result in effect of the camera flight or motion around the main subject.
All the time lapses and hyper lapses are shot as a sequence of snapshots. An interval used by the camera to shoot is set on the camera or using an external remote control. If the time lapse is static then, after an interesting view been selected, you should fix the camera on a tripod and wait until it will shoot the desired number of frames with the specified time interval. In hyper lapses an operator moves the camera at specified (often the same) distances, choosing the subject that will be the camera "flight" center.
After the first successful test shot of the Eiffel Tower we deepened for a couple of weeks into planning of a video clip. We needed to define clearly what we want to show to the audience. It seems that Paris is so famous city that all of its sights are already familiar from books, movies and stories. Yet there are places deprived of attention, and we tried not to forget about them on the backdrop of the most famous symbols of Paris. Our list contained about 95 key points: fountains, obelisks, sculptures, monuments, clocks, railway stations, bridges, museums, parks, gardens, avenues, squares, as well as the metro entrances and unusual monuments. It was a guide compiled by our own hands. These are sights that make Paris the city we see and like. We had no problem to get around and shoot all these places. We had to start and then to act using the footage.
Sunset. At this moment we shot movement of shadows, and then started them in the reverse order to create a sense of sunrise (0:09)
The city itself was our director. It often dictated to us what and how to shoot.
During shooting of time lapses and hyper lapses we didn’t need to prepare location and scenery, as they had already been created by the city, but thereby effect of chance had great influence.
For example, we were walking through the Tuileries garden and saw an observation wheel under assembling for the Christmas sales, and it was a fascinating spectacle. Workers were assembling the huge wheel as a kit and they were doing their work very quickly. We also fortuned upon artists that painted a wall of a forsaken house, but then we found out that they're doing it every Sunday on a regular basis.
All together, we shot every day from one to ten small episodes of 2-4 seconds. To shoot this video clip it took us about 40 days in total, but time in a time lapse is measured in other way. All the shooting took place in Paris itself, and we spent there three months (from October to January). In addition to shoot time lapses, we also worked on other projects.
We shot all the scenes using the camera Canon 60D with lenses TOKINA 11–16mm f/2.8, TAMRON 17–50mm f/2.8, HELIOS 44M–4, and SIGMA 70–300mm f/4 – f/5.6
For shooting time lapses the alternative firmware Magic Lantern for Canon is very helpful. After its installation the camera acquires a number of additional functions. One of them is ability to install for the camera the value of the interval between frames to shoot time lapses. The external remote control solves this problem too. In addition, using this alternative firmware we configured an additional digital zoom to aim the camera precisely to the desired point. We always took along a tripod and a mini-truck, and we will tell more about the last one.
We would like to add a faithful assistant to the equipment list: an iPhone with the app Sunfollower
, that predicted the sun position for any point in the city and for the specified time moment. Thus we did not have to wait for the right light on the site. We knew in advance the time when the necessary subject will be properly illuminated.
Oh yeah, the weather itself was the second our director and helped the city. Sometimes we had to cancel the shooting because of the extreme cold or rain. But such situations were very few, and in general the weather in Paris was excellent. Surprisingly, but the November was colder than the December, and we had to wear two pairs of gloves in order not to freeze during the shooting. On December the real spring came, without snow and rain.
Hyper Lapses instead of Drone
You can shoot hyper lapses using various ways. To do it there is a lot of equipment that stabilizes the image, and its main goal is to simplify the complex process of time-lapse photography. But this video clip, including flights over the city, we were shooting classically, without extra gadgets.
Shooting scenes in La Defense - Paris business district (0:51)
To shoot a 3-second lapse with the camera hovering like a copter over Paris, you should shoot 72 snapshots and say "excuse me" and "excusez-moi" about 10 times. The point is that for such "flights" we used the viewing points of the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and other places that offer a wonderful view of the city. If you are already familiar with technique of shooting hyper lapses, it won’t be a secret for you that to shoot the beautiful snapshot using a mobile camera you need to find the subject and a direct trajectory, on which base you will be able to control the smooth movement of the camera. It may be level surface of outdoor tiles or an even handrail. There always are fences in viewing points, and these fences are usually these handrails that may be used to move the camera. But the main obstacle for the shooting was not technical issues but people who are massively occupy all handrails of viewing points. Therefore, to shoot accurately with the camera displacement, we had to apologize and ask to step away from the handrail for a moment hundreds of times. It is very difficult to do it singly, though snapshots from the Notre Dame were shot by one person. But usually we shot in tandem: one is shooting and completely deepening in the process, and the other one is communicating with tourists, explaining why we will need access to the specific handrail in 30 seconds. In these circumstances the time plays a part of the main and very moody actor. When shooting time-lapse clips, you need to snapshot at regular intervals to smooth the motion of objects (such as clouds). So you cannot just wait until someone will step away.
The time was important globally too. The leaves were beginning to fall in December, the trees were becoming bare, and beautiful streets were being covered with Christmas sale tents, which ugly backs appeared in the shot and obscured the desired perspective. Thus, the concept got some changes, and we had to move the scenes with dense green tree canopies away from the scenes with bare branches, editing the clip. In some cases we repainted green leaves into yellow during postproduction.
Viewing points on the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower
Scenes shot from roofs are not the main part of the video clip, but the principle of shooting from the straight handrails we used many times.
Ever and again Paris offered us to use its ornate small fences and fencing. For example one of the Place des Victoires monuments we wanted to shot for sure: the monument to King Louis XIV that is known as the "King the Sun". The square itself has an unusual geometry: it is perfectly round, and even the facades of houses forming it are rounded by its contour. The monument in the square center is also surrounded by a perfectly round fence with spikes that protrude at the equal distances and are convenient to fix the camera. How cool it would be to take along such a fence resembling a giant circular slider and to place it around the other picturesque sights.
The round Place des Victoires (Apple Maps picture) and the frame shot in this square (2:12)
Camera with Wheels and Linoleum
At the very beginning of shooting, we realized that we needed a tool that would replace the slider. To find something like that, we visited shops of photo products. It is interesting, but in Paris all these shops are gathered in one place: on the Filles du Calvaire Boulevard. Here you can find everything, from camera manufacturer showrooms to old photo optics resellers. In one of the shops we liked the mini-trolley for the camera, and we immediately saw its great potential.
With this trolley you can move the camera on flat surfaces, just roll it and point the frame center to the subject of the shooting. We would be able to shoot perspectives just from the ground. But this solution was not universal because good smooth surfaces were not always available. Our task was to move the camera smoothly on this trolley, but it is impossible to move it smoothly when you move it over the pavement or just over flagstones. So we have come up with how to improve this shooting technology for all surfaces. We went to Leroy Merlin for linoleum. It may seem strange, but the decision to buy linoleum was the most important for all the time of this project. We laid a piece of linoleum and rolled the camera over it. When the linoleum came to its end, the second piece of it was ready to roll the camera on it. It allowed us to shift the first piece forward, not interrupting the shooting. Thus, we have created an endless slider. Of course you can just use a conventional slider for the camera. But it is not so convenient, because you need a long metal slider to move the camera for a long distance. And to travel with it around the city is much more difficult because it is not the linoleum that you can throw in a backpack and climb the Eiffel Tower.
Shooting with a Tripod
In addition to the mini-trolley and the magic linoleum, we used a conventional tripod. The choice of method to fasten the camera for shooting depends not only on what is more convenient to use for shooting, but on the task too. When we roll the camera on wheels over the surface, the movements are not as tangible as when the camera is moved on the tripod. To shoot a scene with the tripod, you should move the camera strictly along the prepared trajectory that was accurately marked on the ground. For example, paving slabs fit for this binding. It is also important to fix the camera itself so that the frame center point will be always aimed to the object "pixel by pixel". Any inaccuracy while shooting complicates subsequent stabilization of the image during editing the clip.
A transparent adhesive tape is almost always attached to the screen of our camera. This tape piece contains an "aiming sight" on it, which is just a point painted with a marker. Before each frame you have to aim the camera to superpose the selected point on the subject with the marked point on the camera. We have long accustomed to this method of combining images. You can always stick a transparent film or tape on the camera screen, and then make marks on the screen with thin marker without risk of the camera damage.
Shooting of the metro entrance from linoleum and the resulted frame from the video (3:48)
Three Motion Scenes: Tunnel, Street, River
The video clip is divided not only into the day Paris and the night Paris. It contains the so-called sub-chapters united by a general logic. Also, there are 3 scenes with motion through the city using a car, a boat and the metro. These scenes differ from the rest ones with other dynamics and shooting principles. To shoot the view from the first train metro car, you have to do no complex actions because there are no drivers in several Paris lines. Trains ride automatically and are controlled by a computer. They have no cabins, anyone can go to the window of the first or last train car and stare at light at the end of the tunnel. We simply mounted the camera on the window, and it shot everything by itself.
To shoot the water scene, we had to occupy the vessel deck front part and just follow the Seine. However, due to strong pitching during the journey we had to do a lot of work after during the editing.
The most complex motion through the city was a vehicle traveling along the winding Montmartre. To shoot this scene an operator had to mount the camera on him/herself and go along the road, step by step, very accurate aiming through the camera screen. After several experiments, we came up with the best tripod fastening on the person that provided the camera fixation in one position while the person was moving step by step. And the operator can shoot a snapshot every 5 seconds, without wasting time to move the camera on the tripod. This scene can be shot in another way using the additional equipment but it had been left in Moscow. So we invented solution using our improvisation and all available materials.
Postproduction and Stabilization
Almost every evening we turned on automatic rough assembling of all the footage for this day. Thus, we planned the project timeline to understand better what defining points we needed for the whole picture. It helped to choose in the morning the places to go and shoot missed scenes.
As a result, the rough edited material duration was about 11 minutes. This material required more thoughtful analysis and high-quality image stabilization, and we were puzzled by these tasks already in Moscow.
Shooting from the ship deck (2:29)
By the way, about the stabilization. Perhaps, many readers that are not specializing in video production, not quite understand what stabilization we have mentioned several times. The fact is that it is not enough to make several dozens of images by moving the camera in the space at regular intervals to obtain a beautiful smooth picture. Shooting is only half of the story. The second half is to process images and to combine them into a smooth video. To do it, you need rotate and move each snapshot using software (in this case, Adobe After Effects and Mocha Pro) in few pixels to combine the snapshot perfectly with its neighbors. Thanks to technologies that help us to save time and in most cases stabilize video in a semiautomatic mode. But, of course, we had to align some scenes manually, frame by frame. This stabilization may take a long time. This video contains scenes, which alignment took us several days.
It is important to understand that the more accurately you shoot the footage, the easier you will stabilize it and then create a beautiful live picture from the set of photos.
Let’s return to the editing. When all the scenes have been prepared and stabilized, you need to gather them in a single video with specific logic. We have really a lot of footage, and discarding extra scenes is not the most pleasant work. From the 11 minutes we had to get about 5 planned minutes, and it meant that we had to get rid of half of the footage. First of all we excluded the scenes with stabilization problems, where the picture was not pure enough (in comparison with other frames). Then we began to assemble the remained material in one video clip, reducing duration of scenes or throwing very vague moments. In any creative process the most difficult thing is to refuse part of the finished material, which creation was, of course, a serious work. But we have done this travail, and then invited Sergey Akimov, a professional video editor, to help us with final editing. He spent few days to handle the footage and discarded some more scenes. We had no heart to remove them because to shoot these frames had been not an easy affair. However, a fresh look is always able to breathe new life into the project. Sergey made a number of changes in the edited material where something was going amiss to our mind.
In total, we shot about 1 terabyte of material in RAW format, and then we carefully turned it into this mini-movie about Paris.
Adobe After Effects screenshot during manual stabilization of the scene with the Statue of Liberty (0:29)
Music and sounds were written remotely by a music composer and sound designer Fab Martini [fabmartini.com
] from Italy. We asked Fab to write music with the Parisian spirit and dilute it with silence and sounds from photography. At first we thought that the whole video clip may be sounded using only sounds and noises of the city, maybe adding some background music as music soundtrack often interrupts video integrity. But soon we stopped on domination of music composition over the noise. We began to discuss the music with Fab yet during the shooting. Working on the project, he wrote some melodies, but several times we had to take a decision to choose another musical conception, and musical process began from the beginning. After one iteration, we sat down to reassemble the edited footage, because the melody inspired us to return some previously rejected scenes to the timeline. It was the night musical theme that was the fastest to find: we had imagined something like it, shooting the footage. The material was edited to accelerate the video sequence rhythm at transition to night, and the music conveys these feelings. It reflects modern dynamic rhythm as well as echo of Parisian accordion sounds. Then we worked long on the day composition. Along with this work we were implementing several other projects. Our and Fab’s letters often began with words "Sorry for delay", but with each new version the melody became more and more synchronized with the video clip, until we suddenly realized that the clip is ready.
It remained only to clean the frames from birds. Yes, from the birds, because they often flew in front of the camera during the shooting, and after assembling the frames they turned into irritating flicker like dust on an old film.
Thank you very much, Fab, thank you, Sergey, for your help in creation of this video!
We still think that Paris is a city that was specially created to shoot movies. In this city all the buildings are worth to see. It is a museum city. We could not understand why people are standing in long queues to the Louvre, if they can just walk and examine the architecture and geometry of the city. We visited the Louvre only on the 85th day of our live in Paris. Of course, it is interesting to see a pillow artfully sculptured under the girl-boy body. But Mona Lisa charms already not with her eyes, but with two ads on its sides: "Beware of pickpockets". The center of Paris is mainly low-rise. For tourists there are many viewing sites, from which you can shoot comfortably.
In Paris there is a great network of urban bicycle rental Velib and bicycle road strips connecting all parts of the city, a lot of bicycle parking, established cycling of bicycle transport, low speed of vehicles, friendly car drivers. All this helps to move quickly around the city and to enjoy every small picturesque street.
And football fans may seem aggressive but, in fact, they are just very glad for their team. Have you noticed flashes lighted up the house next to the Moulin Rouge in one of the video scenes? This is the story I want to tell apart. One evening we went with linoleum and the camera on the wheels to shoot the Moulin Rouge. To determine the exposure of the frame we calculated how many seconds it takes the mill to make the quarter of the turn and started shooting. But during the shooting a crowd of people of Arab appearance with fireworks suddenly appeared. Something told us that we need to go away urgently. It was unclear what they wanted. But we kept shooting, because the beginning was good and we didn’t want to leave this scene unfinished. One of the guys came up to us and asked what we were doing and why we laid linoleum on the ventilation shaft. We explained everything to him, and then he immediately wished good shots. And he shouted to the other crowd asking not to interfere us. Indeed, we continued to shoot, and they continued to have fun. So we divided the square into halves. The reason for their joy was the ball scored in the Ukrainian national team gates by their compatriot at the Paris Stade de France.
Fun football of fans in the Blanche Place while shooting scenes with the Moulin Rouge (3:27)
The Paris metro is very distinctive. The metro with its narrow passages, traffic and ornate entrances by architect Guimard was immediately included in our shooting plan. We generally returned home already by the metro, as we lived on the Montmartre and were too tired to pedal our bicycles uphill.
Right in Paris we got an idea to puzzle out the intricate scheme of the Paris metro. First we had discovered a hidden ring line that connects all the metro branches like a ring line in the Moscow metro, but consists of two lines that have no characteristic shape that will differ them from the other branches on the official scheme. Since then, we began to work on our own version of this scheme and to test it on all the friends traveling to Paris. Now we have collected a set of feedbacks and prepare an updated version based on remarks. For this project we even registered the website metromap.fr
where we plan to announce the final version of our scheme.
In Paris the police is good-hearted and, in contrast to Moscow, you have freedom to make photos in the metro. For all the shooting, and sometimes we were shooting very long, twisting in one place in strange poses, the police came to us a couple of times only. Once it happened in the metro. At that time we filmed at the station, putting a piece of linoleum on the platform and half-sitting, aiming all the time, not looking away from the camera screen, and move it to small distances. The police simply asked what we were doing, they were wondering what was put under the camera. Of course they wished us good shooting.
One copy of our version of the Paris metro scheme
Like many people, Paris charmed us from the first glance, despite the fact that our first glance was at the airport and then at the North Station. Paris is a contrast city and therefore it is very interesting one.
Paris became not only our director, but also the main actor of this film.
About the creative team.
Our names are Constantine Konovalov and Irina Neustroeva, we are form creative association Teeter-totter-tam. Basically, we work in Moscow and create stop motion animation, time lapses, video and graphics.
The music composer and sound designer Fab Martini from Italy is writing music and sounds for our works.
For cooperation please contact us by e-mail:
If you're interested to follow our projects, subscribe to our group in Facebook
We will be glad if you share our film about Paris with your friends.
Panorama of Paris with the Arc de Triomphe while shooting the scene with sunset (3:09)