Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"The Sandpit" - A short film by Aero Director, Sam O'Hare!

UPDATE 10/26/2010:  A lot has happened since we posted this!  Sam's film has gone on to win the Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction and was just selected to show at AFI Fest 2010!  Director, Sam O'Hare also has a follow-up film (also in the style of tilt-shift) called Coachelletta, which he shot at the Coachella Music Festival in early Spring of 2010.  Enjoy and THANK YOU for all the support!

***

Aero Director/ VFX artist Sam O’Hare has finished a short film, The Sandpit, that we’re very excited to be able to share with you. This short is inspired by films like Koyaanisqatsi (really, that’s not in spell check??), and time-lapse tilt shift photography.  Click to see The Sandpit.  (For best viewing, check HD and watch in full screen mode.)


The Sandpit is a day in the life of New York City, as seen in miniature:




After watching it, there are 2 immediate questions, “HOW did he do that?!?!” and “WHAT is that music track?!” Well, the 2nd question I can answer on my own, the former, I’ll have Sam explain…. The original music is by Human, co-written by Rosi Golan and Alex Wong. The piece was created for and inspired by the film. The production team at Human were absolutely amazing and incredibly helpful. Immense thanks to Marc Altschuler, Lauren Bleiweiss, Frank Reagan, and Mike Jurasits, as well as the incredibly talented Rosi Golan and Alex Wong.

Ok… now to the “how.” For this, Sam O’Hare joins me!

ME: Hi Sam!

SAM: Hi Sara.

ME: I feel like Stephen Colbert. This is exciting. My first interview in the blog-osphere!

SAM: Should I be frightened?

ME: (thinks) Maybe. Anywho… How did you shoot The Sandpit?

SAM: It is shot on a Nikon D3 (and one shot on a D80), as a series of stills. I used my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 lenses for all of these shots. Most were shot at 4fps in DX crop mode, which is the fastest the D3 could continuously write out to the memory card. The boats had slower frame rates, and the night shots used exposures up to two seconds each. The camera actually has an automatic cut off after 130 shots, so for longer shots I counted each click and quickly released and re-pressed the shutter release after 130 to keep shooting.

ME: That has to be a lot of stills!

SAM: I shot over 35,000.

ME: Holy shit.

SAM: No kidding.

ME: How did you capture the mini look?

SAM: I did some initial tests a while back using a rented 24mm tilt-shift lens, which is the standard way to do this. However, after my tests, I found it made much more sense to do this effect in post, rather than in camera. Shooting tilt-shift requires a tripod, as it is very hard to stabilise afterwards, and gives less flexibility in the final look. I opted to shoot it on normal lenses, which allowed me options in the depth of field and shot movement in post. I used a tripod for the night shots, and my Gorillapod (which is much more portable) where possible, but many locations—like hanging over the edge of a roof or through a gap in fencing on a bridge-- had to be shot hand held, and the inevitable wobble removed afterwards.

ME: That sounds kinda badass.

SAM: Um, sure?

ME: How long did the shoot take?

SAM: The entire shoot was completed in 5 days and two evenings, during the hottest week of August 2009. Many thanks go to all the people who gave me access to rooftops, penthouses and balconies to shoot from.

ME: So, you’re sitting with 35,000 stills. I’d probably have a Virgo-clutter overload and need a beer… But what did you do?

SAM: At first, I had a beer.

ME: Good man.

SAM: The footage was shot as raw NEFs, which I organised and colour graded in Adobe Lightroom. I always shoot raw, as it gives you so much more latitude when grading. These were then output as 720p jpg sequences and quickly stabilised to do the initial edit. Once the edit was mostly locked, all the final footage was re-output at full 2800px resolution, tracked, stabilised and the DOF effect and movement added in Eyeon Fusion, using Frischluft Lenscare. I output the final shots at 1080p. Although most shots stay with the basic tilt-shift effect, some have focus pulls, or more complex depth mattes were built up along with some paint work to allow buildings to drop out of focus next to the in-focus ground. This would not have been possible if I had shot using tilt shift lenses on the camera, which works best with relatively flat landscapes. New York City is anything but flat!

ME: And you did this all yourself?

SAM: The post? Yeah. It’s good fun. I had help from my friends Mary Joy Lu and Alex Catchpoole at Tanq finding all the locations, and you helped with that, too… And you also kept on me to finish this as soon as possible.

ME: I am delightfully bossy.

SAM: Something like that.

ME: The music track is amazing… How did that come about? Chicken before the egg?

SAM: Towards the end of the process I approached Human to provide music for the piece, and they very generously donated their time to produce a beautiful sound track for the film. It captures the feel of the film beautifully. I wanted the track to speak to what it is like to experience the many rhythms, pulses and moods of the city and the composition, especially the peak, does this beautifully. The vocals add narrative and pacing to the piece, and really help draw you through it.

ME: Without getting too artsy-fartsy, what inspired you to make this film?

SAM: I have always loved time-lapse footage, and films like Koyaanisqatsi especially, which allow you to look at human spaces in different ways, and draw comparisons between patterns at differing scales. I also really liked the tilt-shift look of making large scenes feel small, and wanted to make a film using this technique with New York as its subject.

ME: Thanks so much, Sam. The Sandpit is truly beautiful, and we’re so happy to have you as a part of the Aero Film family.

SAM: I'm happy to be here! I'm really glad you like the film, I had a lot of fun making it.

*****

Check out The Sandpit HERE and then click on “like”! Please forward/tweet to friends, family, pets, etc.

More of Sam’s work can be found at the Aero Film website as well as his own personal photography blog and his Twitter page.

Special thanks for locations to:

Alex Catchpool, Mary Joy Lu at Tanq
Grace Kelly at Nice Shoes
Zach Hinden & Even Levy
Susanne Kelly and Chinagraph
Ray Foote & Ann Zagaroli at Big Foote Music
Diane Patrone, Chris Zander & Sean Mihlo at The Family NYC
Ken Duffy at Tams Witmark Music Library
Christopher Marich at The Standard Hotel
Ken Gelman and Dan Real @ One Brooklyn

214 comments:

  1. Hey, really great work, however you could have mentioned Keith Loutit´s shift tilt movies which I am sure you have seen and listened to. He kind of came up with this technique about a year ago, in Germany even Telekom TV Ads exloited the technique. Best, Dennis

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  2. The effect's been around a lot longer than that "Anonymous". Not that Keith's work isn't good, it certainly is, but he wasn't the first either.

    Nice work guys, one of the best examples I've seen of the tilt-shift effect.

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  3. Your work was amazing and I used to promote it on my blog (brazilian blog, in portuguese), with appropriate references.

    Very good! Congratulations!

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  4. amazing breathless like a manierist miniature congratulations

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  5. excelente trabajo amigo muchas felicidades tu esfuerzo esta super bien aprobechado felicidades

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  6. Excellent work here. Your video was fun to watch and appreciate. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. This is a really amazing tilt-shift short film! Thanks for sharing the details. I love the 'HOW' part.

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  8. Yes, congrats, pretty amazing work... really got fooled the first couple of minutes, had no idea i was looking at live action footage, really thought it was stop motion miniature models, hehe... Anyway, great moods, really nice film!

    Adriano Zanetti

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  9. Excellent!!!!!!!!

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  10. There's a Final Cut Pro plugin that does the same thing with any footage. Not tough at all to do.

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  11. Great work x 1000. Most people have no idea what goes into making time lapses and you took it a step further.

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  12. wow ! simply beautiful . congrats for the work

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  13. Hello I’m from Brazil and a photographer, video maker and VJ and I’m in trance with de film.

    The work is perfect and the city of New York is the type of lease that stirs my imagination.

    One day I would like to work with the city of New York as a backdrop for a video.

    My most sincere congratulations for the beautiful work!

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  14. The shift effect here is spectacular! Thanks for the info on your process. Not everyone would be as open about it.

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  15. Any chance you could post the song used in the video as a downloadable mp3?

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  16. I'm very interested with the background music

    Can you upload it?

    I haven't found it in their homepage

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  17. I was as impressed with the music as I was with the film. Could someone please provide us with the means to acquire this beautiful piece of music ? Many thanx in advance !

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  18. God damn, why didn't you just rent a 5dII and a TS-E for $100 for a couple days and save yourself the misery? Jesus. You practically killed your shutter in this one outing, and for what? A played out gimmick.

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  19. C'mon you HAVE to gives props to Keith in Australia - he pioneered this whole thing.

    http://vimeo.com/9679622

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  20. Australian shooter Keith Loutit has been doing these stop-motion videos for years.

    http://vimeo.com/keithloutit

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  21. nizou.xploosivedesignerMarch 4, 2010 at 6:14 PM

    so exciting nice work....good luck....

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  22. yes i think Loutit should be mentioned, because although he's not the first, he's the one who
    pushed the tech to another place.

    but good job, loving it !

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  23. Great work - I have tried some tilt shift photography using Photoshop to create the effect - this is superb!

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  24. This is a really lovely execution of what a lot of people now know is an existing technique. Aerofilm should know that. Keith Loutit´s movies caused a sensation when they were blogged at length in many circles over a year ago. Keith is now signed to Partizan, one of the most prestigious production companies in the World. His work is therefore very familiar. The blogger's exclamation “HOW did he do that?!?!” suggests that he or she has never seen such a technique and that Sam O’Hare has pioneered it. Not to have seen, let alone acknowledged Keith Loutit´s work or indeed those who did it before him is a little short sighted for a creative blog.

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  25. hermoso trabajo!
    beawtifull work, congratulations
    gt

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  26. Josep Oliver i GómezMarch 6, 2010 at 7:31 AM

    preciós de de bó. I a mes a mes ple de poesía

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  27. This is awesome. We are posting to our blog & Facebook on the 16th!

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  28. This is really special! One of the more delightful things I've ever set eyes on, makes me teary-eyed for my old neighborhood, although my new one is growing on me (both in NYC). Keep it coming, this is a wonderful collaboration, truly brilliant!!

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  29. i love to watch it...amazing

    seb

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  30. Nice movie! but if i may say one thing; I think you missed a lot by doing the shift-tilt effect in post... now its just the up-and downside of the frame that's blurred, but a shift-tilt lens uses the depth to create the effect. the helicopters for instance would have stayed in focus, while descending and rising, creating a lot more depth..

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  31. Uhm Any way we can download this? =] Its so...amazing~

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  32. wow... this is totally a ripoff of UNIQLO Calendar. Been out for years before this. I dont usually comment on posts, but this guy stole the whole idea. its beautiful but this is NOT original. Bokeh and time lapse? give credit to the real guys who came up with this...

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  33. @bryan Wow, he captured images to digital media. How unoriginal!

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  34. I still cannot believe it..WOW!

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  35. Simply beautiful.. Looking forward to more..

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  36. Too bad all these haters can't just enjoy a movie. Don't seem them posting their work, so I'll guess they don't have any and ought to shut up.

    As to this piece: Very nice.

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  37. I love the irony of it. If these were actually little models done in like 1955 the photographer would hate the fact that the foreground and background were not all in focus at the same time because it makes the fake obvious. A tilt lens would, ironically, help solve this 1955 problem but what a lot of work. So, we are all used to the out of focus fronts and backs telling us "here comes a miniature like my childhood train set" and then, wow, we discover it is reality. My grandsons watch Thomas the train videos, some shot with miniatures and the more recent ones with computer generated, and there again we have the foreground-background either out or in depending on era.
    More importantly, as a NYC resident, I love having a two-borough project that isn't just Manhattan Manhattan Manhattan.
    Finally, compliments to the location team. Let me tell you all this is some great set of locations and not easily done.

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  38. This looks stunning but you say

    " I found it made much more sense to do this effect in post, rather than in camera" - begs the question, what did/did'nt you do in post?

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  39. Very nice.
    Ok, from a complete video noob...

    'tracked & stabilized'

    Got a feel for what it is...
    Possibly any details?

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  40. Loved the video!! wish I could get my hands on a tilt-shift camera lens. Also love that you have Lijit in your sidebar... :D.

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  41. I have experience with tilt/shift lenses. Canon and Nikon both have them. They cost a lot, are heavy, and lack autofocus; they require setting the exposure before shifting [probably not before tilting]. I have owned a 28 Nikon [discontinued] and a 24 Canon and Nikon. The longer focal lengths 45 or 90 would be more suitable for this project I think. The optical quality of the ones I know is amazing. Given the Photoshop ability to fix perspective, the shift is not as vital as before. The tilt is amazing for table top work.

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  42. This is absolutely beautiful. While the technique may nor be totally his the images are, For those that seem to think every video must be a totally new thing from technique to content to whatever, think about it. Most movies are unique stories (as this is) using techniques in use. The music is both original (purpose made) and amazing.

    Nonetheless, I am sure some of his post-production techniques are proprietary.

    I hope this gentleman has a career making this. I enjoyed seeing it.

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  43. Re T/S vs. post, and "johannez" above:

    Adding blur like this in post or doing it with a T/S lens when shooting are pretty similar. Both look a bit fake to me, for the reasons you describe: in a real model, there is a plane of focus in the scene, not a zone of focus half way up the frame. So lamp posts which stand up, and helicopters moving up, will be in focus against out of focus backgrounds.

    However I found this effect less objectionable here than in stills, because for the most part you don't have time to notice this.

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  44. Gr8 Work ! Best of Luck !



    Regards,
    Abhishek http://shortfilmspromotionanddistribution.blogspot.com/

    Thx.

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  45. I simply loved that clip....can't find "human" music on itunes...too bad

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  46. Simply incredible and beautiful
    I am in awe.

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  47. I just stumbled into the site and viewed the clip, amazing is too easy to say, "stunning" would be better! I am a wildlife photographer from Colorado and I am shooting a D 300 Nikon every day. It still astounds me the range of creativity accessible with "Digital imaging" today! I think we are just now scratching the surface and need only to apply ourselves to reap huge rewards as artists, creators, perpetual students of the craft! dusty

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  48. Great stuff, enjoyable read!

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  49. naveed ahmad khanApril 13, 2010 at 3:36 AM

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  50. THIS ABSOLUTELY ROCKED!

    For those of you whining about the technique not being unique..... how unique is your technique shot every day for your work? How unique is any movie or photograph for technique, really?

    The art is what is all about. Your look, point of view, the time it takes to be in the moment to create something beautiful is what each piece of art is about.

    I think this is amazing - not only for the look - but for the artistic feeling and mood it creates.

    I do think it's a shame that the music is not available on itunes or something though. I'm sure the musicians would have made a killing. :)

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  51. Beautiful and amazing piece of work.

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  53. Интересный пост заслуживает внимания. Однозначно в закладки.

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  54. I like this video so much and i will share it on motionn.com

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  55. Fantastic!!

    Where can I get the music?

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  58. ME: That has to be a lot of stills!
    SAM: I shot over 35,000.
    ME: Holy shit.

    Don't you mean "Holy Shift!"

    Or, maybe "Holy Shift, Batman!"

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  59. WOW! I'm speechless. This is a great work of art.

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  60. ilikeit!

    how do i get the music? can somebody tell us, pretty please? great work by the way, iloveit. i was inspired to buy a tilt-shift lens.

    good job!

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  63. I simply loved that clip....can't find "human" music on itunes...too bad

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  64. Really usefull and interesting material. Thanks for your job!

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  71. wow... this is totally a ripoff of UNIQLO Calendar. Been out for years before this. I dont usually comment on posts, but this guy stole the whole idea. its beautiful but this is NOT original. Bokeh and time lapse?

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  72. I love this "mini" style of the video ! Great job !

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  77. Cool mini video snap shot great post !

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  85. Agree with all who say give Australian Keith Loutit a mention. Sam's finished product is just too similar to Keith's to be coincidence. Even when the blogger asks "what inspired" he was not mentioned. C'mon even the name of the piece seems to lend "Sandpit" to Keith's "Bathtub" series. Disappointing.

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  91. its a great post thanks for sharing

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  92. wow, well done for the great work!

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  109. Thanks for your film the sandpit. i like your film very much. Its very interesting. Damn interesting..

    premieres

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  113. its a great post!thanks for sharing

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  122. Great movie, extremely interesting article! Thanks for sharing http://www.allfilmtrailers.com @Sophia!!!

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  125. The boats had slower frame rates, and the night shots used exposures up to two seconds each. The camera actually has an automatic cut off after 130 shots, so for longer shots I counted each click and quickly released and re-pressed the shutter release after 130 to keep shooting.

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  126. Great job!!! Alo thanks to Laura for sharing that site!

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  128. Thanks everyone for your comments!

    The track by Human is not for sale. If/when it is, we'll let you all know.

    Also, all comments deleted were spam. All comments, pro and con, regarding The Sandpit are still here for the discussion to continue.

    Thanks for the support, guys! :)

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  129. Your blog is so nice.I am impressed with your vivid expression.I will

    bookmarked you…keep up the good work!!!!

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  132. Really nice post..... and Nice photography too...

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  138. This creative animation by Mike Swartout, the Classic Design Director, shows how the Aero Table Top assembles.

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  147. Aerofilm should know that. His work is therefore very familiar. Camera actually has an automatic cut off after ... 130 shots - too bad
    Thanks to Laura for sharing that site!
    iagra

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  148. great post dude. a conversation that provides the motivation in developing the film industry. SAA was also included film audiences

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  149. wow amazing and unbelieveble for me. is this true they build that place just for this film?

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  150. This is a really amazing tilt-shift short film! great work

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  151. amazing video!!! great share and great work ^^

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  152. WOW..
    It's cool..
    Especially the miniature, beauty..
    Good job..

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  153. great, the miniature town incl. infrastructure so good, i can't imagine the technique of angle camera to make a realty scene.

    just for share to you, I have a brother in film community industry but I don't know about "making film" and I got info/clue from you not from my brother LOL

    regard
    author of business format

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  154. i heart this film, thanks for sharing

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  155. nice work for short film, it's really amazing and unbelieveble masterpiece ...

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  156. The boats had slower frame rates, and the night shots used exposures up to two seconds each. The camera actually has an automatic cut off after 130 shots, so for longer shots I counted each click and quickly released and re-pressed the shutter release after 130 to keep shooting.

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  157. wow..nice way to make a movie
    never found before..very inspired

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  158. just amazing stuff...looking forward to more films

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  159. Hmmm, a good video, but I do remember seeing this style of video on the UNIQLO site last year. One of many such examples is http://www.uniqlo.com/calendar/

    So this begs the question, is this video by the same person or a rip-off? I suspect the latter.

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  160. If you're interested in short films, check out Filminute 2010, the international one minute film festival. With 18 countries represented on the festival shortlist of 25 films, there's an incredible variety of styles and genres. Visit the Filminute 2010 Facebook page of watch the films at vimeo.com/filminute. View. Vote. Rate. Comment. Share.

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  161. Great read, will share blog and subscribe piff

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  162. Any chance you could post the song used in the video as a downloadable mp3?

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  163. Your video amazing & was fun to watch and appreciate. Thank you for sharing!

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  164. Fantastic short film, really inspirational. The music couldn't be more perfect and the effort you clearly went to, to shoot and develop it was definitely worth it. It has really pushed me to make a film of my own.

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  165. It is great. I tried once sda make a film from an airplane and it was great. I had a camera performance and still not out just fine but what you see from there is awesome.

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  166. Pretty amazing work, I like Sam's film. Thanks for sharing.

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  167. Fantastic! Most people have no idea what goes into making time lapses and you took it a step further. Your video was fun to watch and appreciate. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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  168. Absolutely amazing film, I've never seen a film done like this before. I'm almost speechless, fantastic technique, everything just look miniature. My friends had no idea that this is real, until I told them. Great work, Thank you so much for sharing this to us. Cindy@ silk bouquets

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  169. nice work for short film, it's really amazing and unbelieveble masterpiece ...

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  170. I simply loved that clip....can't find "human" music on itunes...too bad

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  171. The boats had slower frame rates, and the night shots used exposures up to two seconds each. The camera actually has an automatic cut off after 130 shots, so for longer shots I counted each click and quickly released and re-pressed the shutter release after 130 to keep shooting.

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  172. The boats had slower frame rates, and the night shots used exposures up to two seconds each.
    amazing post

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