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VFX artist makes Vancouver's city life look like stop motion miniatures in spectacular video (VIDEO)

Want to see Vancouver from a whole new perspective?

  'Vantage' gives an uncommon perspective of Vancouver.

The short film is the passion project of Jack Dunn, who wanted to make something about the city he lived in for more than three years before he moved away.

"I moved to Vancouver for a year or so and I just absolutely loved the city to bits so I stayed for a few years more," he tells V.I.A. from his new home in Øyer, Norway.

Originally from London, Dunn moved from Germany to Vancouver to join the local film industry as a VFX artist. Those skills came in useful for his farewell project to the city.

'Vantage' required a few techniques to give the viewer the experience of a giant looking down on the world, while Vancouver looks like a set of toys come to life or the world's most realistic stop motion film.

Vantage from Video Exposure on Vimeo.

HOW IT WAS MADE

Dunn used a few of his specialized skills to create that feeling. One is a more advanced version of what's commonly called tilt shifting; he used his VFX skills to separate the shots into layers to better create the feeling people, buildings and vehicles were toys.

He also changed the frame rate, which makes it feel more like an animated work than real-world video.

"I felt that would certainly help sell the effect," he explains.

He filmed the shots at regular speed, then sped up the footage and halved the frame rate.

"Another big thing that made it feel like a toy miniature world was the perspective," he adds.

To look down on the city from dozens of angles Dunn had to get above the city from dozens of angles. That meant talking to friends, friends-of-friends and hotels to get up high (this was pre-pandemic).

"It's not just a dead city, if you go up a high building there so much to see," he says, adding he is still thankful to those who helped him and the city in general for the generosity he experienced.

Only a couple of shots required drones.

SPOT THE PLOT

While there's no plot per se, the video does have a couple of threads running through it. One is it runs from morning to night to dawn, creating a 24-hour capture of the city. There's also a turning of the seasons throughout the video.

"I don't think it has a weak time of the year," Dunn says of Vancouver. "That was one thing I was trying to capture in the film, you can film at any point of the year and it's stunning."

He admits that with Vancouver's famously inconsistent weather most of it could have been on one day.

HOW IT CAME TO BE

An injury while skateboarding in early 2019 (a weekly activity for Dunn) meant he was stuck at home in the middle of the ski season, watching friends head off to have adventures on Cypress.

To keep busy and get out of the house he picked up his camera and went for walks. After hitting up a lookout point, he started looking for more high vantage points.

At the same time, he and his partner were discussing moving; she'd gotten a job offer in Norway.

"So I had an idea that soon I might be leaving the city," he explains. "I felt really compelled to make an homage to this wonderful place I lived in."

Between the idea for an homage, needing something to do, and enjoying getting shots from high up, the project started to coalesce. 

"It went from a few experiments to a passion project very quickly," he says. "It became a real obsession."

Luckily he got the shots he needed before the arrival of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic actually shifted what the project looked like.

"I started to notice after all this time of being locked into your house it felt the world was craving normality," he says.

Instead of going with all the glamour shots he'd collected, he swapped a few out for more everyday life shots.

AND NOW...

'Vantage' has been picked up by a couple of film festivals as part of their selections.

"I was very surprised to get responses since there's no real narrative, but I think people respected the imagery," Dunn says.

He hadn't considered it at first, but friends convinced him to send it to some places. Having it be selected by things like the Canadian International Short Film Festival sent him "over the moon."