Flying through Shanghai
Last summer at a Brooklyn art gallery a friend curated featuring a cityscape-like artwork, I took a camera and moved it around through the cityscape to make short movies that looked like you were flying through a city.
They looked great. Unfortunately I did it with the camera of another friend, who deleted the movies.
Now when I see a cityscape I like to make fly-through movies of it. Shanghai’s Urban Planning Museum has a bunch of scale models of Shanghai. I couldn’t help make the movies below. This time my camera battery was dying so I made them too quickly.
This model is on the ground floor, near the entrance.
This model was on a wall, on an upper floor. It’s smaller so I would like to have gotten closer, but the camera body got in the way.
A bridge in an upstairs installation. Not quite as interesting as a fly-through, but I like seeing the giant hands come through to move the camera. I don’t remember the order I took all the movies in, but the battery died just near the end of this movie.
Another take of the first movie, but I moved too jerkily. Still, some ideas I’d want to pursue next time, like getting very close.
More interesting ideas, but the camera moved too quickly, not fluidly enough, and faced down too much… should have aimed forward or up more, which would make you feel smaller and more in the model. I’d like to have the lights out in the rest of the museum.
Another model of Shanghai’s downtown — the Bund in Puxi — on the first floor of the museum. I was about to meet a friend at the Peace Hotel, so I spent extra time on the model of it. My arms were too short to get the angles I wanted.
Here’s a view of the real-life Bund, which the video above simulates:
I visited the museum that day with a friend in the art world. We developed the idea of proposing to the museum letting us go in after hours with professional equipment and make high quality videos of the huge model of the city, as seen in these pictures.
New York City has a similar scale model, called the Panorama and built for the 1964 World’s Fair at the Queens Museum. I don’t think anyone has updated it in about twenty years.
This article in the Atlantic says there are many city scale models and people are trying to figure out what to do with them. This web page lists many — Beijing, Chongqing, Indianapolis, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, Minato-ku, Quito (Ecuador), Moscow, Nanjing, London, Rome, Imperial Rome, New York City, Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore, and Toronto.
I should get a grant to record fly-throughs of all of them, carefully done, not quick like my videos above. Wouldn’t it make a great exhibit?
Here is the Panorama of New York City, just not flown-through.
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