Photo-realistic Motion Graphics

Using 48 hours worth of time-lapse footage I digitally recreated the facade of I.M. Pei’s Kips Bay Towers and turned it into a giant digital display.

"DB230804"by gmpicket is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 2010 my parents moved back to New York City.

Their apartment was across the street from legendary architect I.M. Pei’s Kips Bay Towers.

I found the austere brutalist architecture mesmerizing but oppressive,

unable to grapple with its magnitude and concrete uniformity.

Late one night,

 I was watching the building as it’s inhabitants begin retiring for the night. The lit up windows of their apartments squares powering down.

"pixels"by JSmith Photo is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

It occured to me;

Each of these windows, row after row, resembled the workings of a digital display.

If I could find some way to control the lights across the building,

I could draw images on the facade.

I set about capturing 932 images over 48 hours

Using a Canon 60D with Magic Lantern firmware’s time-lapse feature.

Next, using Photoshop, I created two images:

One with all the lights in the building on and one with all the lights off. 

In After Effects I could now use a simple grid of black and white

To animate any pattern I wished. 

To accomplish the shutters opening

I followed a similar technique creating two images of the shutters fully open and closed.

Then animated a short clip of them opening

And used a time-displacement effect to open and close them using shades of grey.

The sequence was set to Dimlite’s “In Groups to the Hydrandd” 

In Premiere Pro.

The result was a new technique of creating photorealistic motion graphics

Which I’ve re-used for professional projects since. 

Taking an unpleasant part of my reality and bending it to create my own through a novel technique.