Creator Q&A: Emptying the streets of Paris
Longtime Vimeo members, world-travelers, and super-cute couple Claire & Max have been uploading travel videos to our beloved site since 2008. With their most recent upload, however, they've taken a different route, combining timelapse footage with post-production trickery and archival footage to create their first video with a narrative arc:
VVS: What was your inspiration for this project? Both with this technique, but also the narrative you created?
C&M: We were inspired by Ross Ching’s video “Running on Empty” about an empty Los Angeles. We wanted to pair the technique with a theme and a story to make a short film. As we are committed to the environment, we decided that these deserted streets could be the result of human actions.
VVS: How did you create the effect?
C&M: On our website (we have installed a translation tool for all languages) we explain in detail the technique used. We provide before and after pictures of some sequences, and provide links to all the resources that we used, including music, archive footage, and sounds.
We think it’s important to share our technology and resources. It is thanks to filmmakers who shared their techniques that we have progressed in our own craft.
To briefly explain the technical process, to empty the streets, you need to shoot a scene for a few minutes and export the movie in pictures (one second of video = 25 frames). Then you only need to choose the areas of the pictures without people and replace them on the original picture.
Claire & Max used post production trickery to empty La Défense, Paris' usually-bustling business district.
VVS: How did you master this technique? Did you take a class, or teach yourself the programs?
C&M: We both have jobs outside of our passion for photography and video, and we have never taken video classes (although Claire took some photo workshops 15 years ago). We always say that the Internet is the best school that exists — you only need motivation.
Specifically for this video, we followed the instructions that Ross had shared on his website.
VVS: Had you made anything like this before?
“Hypocentre” is very different for us. We wanted to try something new in making a short movie by using a new technique. We have been making travel video (kind of travel postcards) for the last five years, but “Hypocentre” was different because we decided to tell a story.
VVS: How long did the project take?
C&M: We started testing and shooting the first sequences in November 2012. But due to our busy schedules, we delayed the project until July 2013.
For each sequence, it takes between two and eight hours of work and we shot about 70 sequences. The work was long, but we are very patient.
Patience (and a tripod!) come in handy when shooting a video like this.
VVS: What would you do differently next time?
C&M: In this video, there are still mistakes. The sound design of the voice could use some work, we left a person at 00:45 which has raised many questions, and some sequences were shot with bad light at midday. With more time and greater access, we would have liked to shoot in more private places or from private terraces.
However, all the feedback we have received from Vimeo users or from other websites has been very useful. We love this type of interaction because it helps us progress.
VVS: What was the most challenging aspect of creating the video?
C&M: The biggest challenge was to link the technique to a theme and a story to make a short film, because this is our first short film.
We asked many friends for their advice and input last year. We thought about making the film humorous (people at home before a football game for example), or darker and science-fiction based. In the end, our favorite was this story about an environmental cause.
VVS: What was the most rewarding aspect?
C&M: The most rewarding part was to be chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick. It's been incredibly encouraging. We were also amazed to see how quickly the video was shared in the media, and were pleased by the very nice reviews from experts of short films.
VVS: Tell us about yourselves!
C&M: We have been making travel videos together for more than five years now — actually, since we met. We share the same passion for photography and video.
We try to travel at least once a month, and sometimes even four times (in January and we went to Rio, Shanghai, Rome, and Cape Town). Our jobs have nothing to do with video, as Claire works for an airline, and I (Max) work at the French Post.
We try to find a video theme for each destination. We also try to evolve our style. We are always learning new techniques, trying new post-production techniques, and buying "new toys.” In our first videos we staged ourselves in front of the camera a lot. Now we are trying to produce two videos each time we travel: an artistic clip and another one that is more "behind the scenes," where you can see us having fun with the equipment.
VVS: What are the pros and cons of making films with your significant other?
C&M: For us there are only benefits to making videos together because we are very complementary. Video is our passion, and we only do it for our pleasure. We are also fortunate to both be good natured — we’re more inclined to laugh and be joyful than to argue. Plus, there is no financial pressure, so there’s no downside to doing this together — it’s quite the opposite in fact!
VVS: You're also long-time Vimeo users! Can you explain how you use Vimeo to share your work?
C&M: On October 4, 2008, three weeks after we met, we bought our first HD camcorder. At this time a single video platform offered to host HD video, and that was Vimeo.
We are really big fans of Vimeo. The high quality of videos and user comments encourage us to progress and always do better. There is no other site as rich and innovative. Vimeo has a great sense of community, which keeps us engaged.
Also, it's thanks to Vimeo that we have met exceptional friends, such as Shawn and Caterina, who commented on our first videos. We have been on many trips together since then. We also met Jon and Romain, both talented videographers.
Long-time Vimeo members, world-travelers, and super-cute couple Claire & Max share the process behind their latest video "Hypocentre."
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