Thursday, May 3, 2012

Venice in a day

photo by Joerg Niggli

Dreamy colors, aren't they? This is just one of myriad still images that were strung together to make a film depicting a day in the canals of Venice—in three minutes. The creative person behind it is Joerg Niggli—Click here and have a look. If you've been to Venice, you'll especially love this!

I mentioned to Dan how a lot of the scenes look "fake," like a miniature set or something, and he told me it's a pretty popular technique for photos and films these days (and very well done in this example). Here's Dan with more:

The effect that makes the scenes look like "miniatures" is called a tilt-shift or diorama effect; if you're really interested, here's an explanation of traditional methods of doing this, and look at how the effect can be simulated. Basically you blur the foreground and background so only a narrow range of the image is sharp. Bump up the saturation and contrast and there you have it.

Here's an example using a photo we took in Rome 
(click on photos for larger view). 



This was my first try at the effect and it's pretty simple. You can really see the effect by looking at the people in St. Peter's Square, and the cars entering from the side street to the left of the obelisk. I used Photoshop; the filmmaker above probably applied the look in After Effects

As some of the links above explain, the effect works best on photos that are looking down on a scene. Below are more of our photos; the effect works better on some than others:

The photo above (before, left; after, right) was taken in Amalfi. Being able to distinguish faces, etc., takes away from the "fake" effect a bit, but still pretty cool. (Diane says this looks like an old post card.) 

The photo below, taken in Florence, is similar; the blurred guys in the foreground look the most "miniature." Maybe the looks is less effective on vertical photos?

The photo above, was taken in Venice. You see how the depth of field and saturated colors make the buildings and water seem model-like. Even the boats have that miniature look. But again, being able to make out faces detracts just a bit. it's a neat enough look if you're not quite after the full diorama effect.

Finally, the effect works fine without people; this patio at our hotel in Positano turns into a toy set with just a few steps:

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