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Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Time Lapse Portugal

This week a time lapse video of Portugal by Kirill Neiezhmakov, featuring Sesimbra and Lisbon. The scene transition technique is very cool. A beautiful piece but my gut reaction was that the beauty seems at odds with the country’s economic malaise. Best in full screen high definition. if the video doesn’t display for you, click over to Vimeo. h/t Likecool

As a bonus time lapse, here’s another installment in a series on LA, “Time-LAX 3.” If the video doesn’t display for you, click over to Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

J’adore Paris

This week back to a time lapse one can actually enjoy, this a new one of Paris by Paul Richardson, which seems to be everyone’s favorite city for time lapses. One thing I like about this one is that it actually includes some scenes from La Défense, which is usually not included in Paris timelapses. This is great for full screen high definition. If the video doesn’t display for you, click over to Vimeo.

As a bonus this week, the Urban Cincy podcast recently took at look at Seoul. Site founder Randy Simes is currently on assignment there, and he and a Korean-American friend share some thoughts about that city and it’s development. If the embedded player doesn’t display for you, click over to UrbanCincy to listen.

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Cities: Paris
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Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Enter Pyongyang: The Timelapse As Communist Propaganda Video

It’s pretty clear that, in a sense, all of the time lapse videos I’ve featured here are marketing tools. They market both the film makers who created them, and the cities featured. Clearly the genre is all about making places just seem jaw-droppingly cool.

But at what point does marketing become propaganda? That is, at what point does the sales job cross the line from legitimate to illegitimate activity? I’m not sure where that line is, but a recent time lapse video of Pyongyang, North Korea by JT Singh and Rob Whitworth (who have produced other videos I’ve featured here) is on the wrong side of it.

I’m not going to embed this video on my site, but if you want to watch it you can click to Vimeo.

As you can see if you watch it, this video treats Pyongyang as just another cool emerging world global city, complete with lavish reclaimed waterfront parks, subway commuters, neon lit skyscrapers, a thriving bike culture, smiling happy kids, international brands (DHL), and more. It’s a consciously normalizing portrayal. But beyond that note elements designed deliberately to humanize the world’s most barbaric regime, ranging from using the official name of “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” instead of North Korea in the title and splash screen to eliminate negative associations, to a preponderance of very non-threatening looking female (or androgynous) police officers who help mothers with strollers cross the street and such.

For the record, North Korea is a brutal communist dictatorship that’s likely the world’s most evil regime. You’ve no doubt seen the widely circulated satellite imagery of a completely dark North Korea at night:


Image via NBC News

Oddly enough, Singh and Whitlock didn’t show us any pictures of Pyongyang’s thriving nightlife scene…. (The lack of nighttime scenes is telling given they are a standard part of the genre and feature heavily in Singh and Whitlock’s previous work such as their Shanghai video that actually playfully shows all the lights of Shanghai going out! Apparently the real deal is too much for them).

But that doesn’t even scratch surface of the inhumanity of the North Korean regime. Famine is a recurring reality in the country in which an estimated million people died during the 1990s alone. The country also runs a network of concentration camps in which even children are brutalized. Consider this report from a former guard:

Children were savaged to death by guard dogs in a North Korea concentration camp, it was revealed today. Three youngsters died straight away under the snarling jaws of the prison camp dogs, defector and former prison guard Ahn Myong-Chol said. But two others were still breathing when guards buried them alive.

Myong-Chol,45, spent eight years as a prison guard in the gulag camps before he fled to South Korea in 1994. But he is still haunted by the dog-attack on the children as they left the camp school. “There were three dogs and they killed five children,” he recalled at a Geneva human rights hearing. “They killed three of the children right away. The two others were barely breathing and the guards buried them alive.”

But instead of the dogs being put down, their handlers petted them and gave them special food “as some kind of reward.”

A recent United Nations report described the horrors that exist in the country. As CNN reported:

A stunning catalog of torture and the widespread abuse of even the weakest of North Koreans reveal a portrait of a brutal state “that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” a United Nations panel reported Monday…North Korea is a state, it concluded, “that does not content itself with ensuring the authoritarian rule of a small group of people, but seeks to dominate every aspect of its citizens’ lives and terrorizes them from within.”

Why in the world would anyone want to have anything to do with making the North Korean regime look good? It isn’t like the filmmakers simply provided a portrayal that attempted to be nuanced and acknowledging complexities or something. Rather, this is a pure play work of propaganda.

They claim not to have been paid for their work. So what? That doesn’t change the reality of what it is. But even their own accompanying text raises troubling questions about the financing behind this. Their expenses were paid by a tour company that they claim is the market leader in North Korean tourism. Certainly at a minimum this company can’t be in that business without staying on Kim Jong-un’s good side, much less help the filmmakers “gain special access to locations.”

But that’s not even worth investigating since regardless of where the money came from, they created a video that serves the propaganda aims of the North Korean dictatorship. Without a doubt it’s “cool,” but that only makes their decision worse, not better. If in fact “Amazingly, we were given complete editorial control in the making of this piece,” that only adds to their shame in giving propaganda assistance to North Korea’s dictatorship of their own free will.

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Discovering Vancouver

This week’s time lapse feature takes us to Vancouver, with two video look at that city. The first is called “Discover Vancouver.” If the embed doesn’t display for you, watch on Vimeo. h/t Likecool

The next one is called “Vancouver City.” If the embed doesn’t display for you, watch on YouTube. h/t Greg Randall

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Cities: Vancouver
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Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Las Vegas Timelapse

This week back to the timelapse with a gorgeous high definition look at Las Vegas by Keith Kiska. This is one for full screen high def to be sure. If the embed doesn’t display for you, watch on You Tube. h/t Likecool

As a bonus, here’s another timelapse of Los Angeles called “Above LA.” If this embed doesn’t display for you, watch at Vimeo. h/t Likecool

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Cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles
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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Timelapse In Lyon

Mayeul Akpovi is back with another one of his timelapse productions, this one of Lyon, France. This one is definitely for full screen high definition. If the video doesn’t display, watch on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

New York Noir

This week’s video is a cool take on New York with a black and while noir theme, but with select colorized elements left in. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here. h/t Likecool

Here’s a bonus time lapse of Bern, Switzerland with a title of “Zu nachtschlafender Zyt” – whatever that means. If this one doesn’t display for you, click here h/t Likecool

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Paris in Motion, Part Four

Mayeul Akpovi is out with the fourth installment of his “Paris in Motion” series of videos. Like the last ones, this is really good. It definitely should be watched in full screen high definition. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here. h/t Likecool

If you missed them, here’s part one and part two (part three is a bit different and not as good and I didn’t post it). Akpovi also did a sweet video of Cotonou, Benin that’s a rare entry into the time lapse genre of an African city.

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Cities: Paris
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Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Indianapolis: The Sound Map Video

I post a lot of city videos. I also write a lot about authenticity in cities and marketing. Last week Indianapolis artist Stuart Hyatt sent me this one that I think manages to be very cool as a video but also provides a very authentic look at the actual experience of Indianapolis.

Stuart is working on a project called the Indy Sound Map designed to create, well, a sonic map of the city. He did this for Washington St. end to end across the city. Rather than stop at that, Jonathan Frey filmed his journey and Forrest Lewinger used the recording to create a soundtrack for the film that’s part of a forthcoming album. You can read more in this Nuvo article about the project.

First the video, then more commentary. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here.

What I like is that this shows Indianapolis as it really is, not as a fantasy world city of nothing but shiny downtown hipster joints. I also really like that there’s a big focus on actual people. That’s not to say this is a completely 100% portrayal of everything. The bus is overly stressed whereas the auto dominated nature of the city doesn’t come through. But on the whole the feel I think is right.

Obviously this was an art project not a marketing film. But I think it’s easy to see how you could take the basic concept of this and adapt it to marketing. Will that happen? Nope. All civic marketing is inherently ultra-conservative, and as someone rightly pointed out about a recent Cleveland video, the funders who underwrite such ventures expect that the end product will heavily feature them and be consistent with their brand values. But this I think shows that there are ways to show cities other than ultra-slick time lapses that can work.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Tiny Sydney

Remember the Cleveland video from last week? Well, the Cleveland folks already yanked it and replaced it with an edit that’s more usual suspects and less Cleveland authenticity. It’s still an advance, just not as far. The fact that they couldn’t even stand behind their video for a week and yanked it even after people were linking to it and even saying nice things about it speaks volumes how far Cleveland still has to go. You can go back and check out the new video if you’d like.

This week it’s back to time lapses. This one is, as the title implies, a short tilt shift of Sydney. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here. Enjoy. h/t Likecool

See also: Miniature Melbourne.

As a bonus, here’s a Danish advert that’s gone viral. It encourages Danish couples to take vacations (I believe the sponsor is a travel agency, so this appears to be a purely money making scheme) to have sex that will hopefully result in pregnancies to boost Denmark’s flagging birth rates. Prove you got pregnant about the time of your vacation and be entered to win amazing prizes. Actually, Denmark’s fertility rate of 1.75 isn’t bad, especially by European standards, but it shows that despite all the nominal livability of the continent, the environment there hasn’t proven to be very pro-natal. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here.

The Guardian has more on this.

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Cities: Sydney
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