Must-See Tilt-Shift Time-Lapse Shows Off an Incredibly Creative Way to Use the Effect

We don’t typically share two time-lapses in the same day, since most people see that genre as over-saturated as it is, but today we have good reason to. The first is a landscape time-lapse so gorgeous National Geographic took notice, and this one, well this one may completely change the way you look at tilt-shift where time-lapse is concerned.

The video, called “The Lion City,” was put together by tilt-shift time-lapse photographer Keith Loutit in Signapore, and his goal was to extend the tilt-shift technique into new dimensions.

Speaking with planet5D, he explains:

After developing the tilt shift/time-lapse combo as my main style, I’ve been working on a series of experimental focus and light transition techniques that build on many of the same principles.

For ‘The Lion City,’ the idea behind the use of the technique is for focus and distance to be something the viewer can experience. It also doubles to communicate the constant heat and humidity that hits you whenever you leave the comfort of air conditioning in Singapore.


He continues on to explain that the technique is often applied in post (so not true tilt-shift), and is “harder-hitting” in this particular time-lapse as it’s the first time he’s put it into practice. It was, in a sense, a proof of concept. If he were releasing a time-lapse meant to tell a story, he would be more subtle about it, but in “The Lion City,” it really does smack you in the face.

All of the scenes were shot on his Nikon D3s and D4, with a few day-to-night scenes done on his Canon 5D Mark II with help from a Little Bramper. As far as the effects go, he says he “make[s] an effort to use lenses where possible (large format bellows and classic Rodogon & Nikon lenses), or modified enlarger lenses.” Post-processing is done in FC Pro and After Effects.

This one really has to be seen, preferably at full screen, so if you’ve made it this far without watching the video (or even if you’ve already watched it…) be sure to head over to the top and click play. And if you’d like to see more of Loutit’s work, head over to his website or Vimeo profile by following the corresponding links.

  • Dover

    Fantastic piece of video, and what a gorgeous city.

  • Paul G Newton

    I always love tilt-shift. even if done in post.

  • dan110024

    That’s incredible. No matter how much I tell myself it’s tilt shift and completely real, I can’t stop it looking like miniature models. The airport scene looked just like the airport from Wunderland in Germany.

  • Renato Murakami

    Awesome stuff! It’s like some sort of focus deph scanning or something… nice to see more featured work from Keith Loutit

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  • Joey

    this is done in post.
    The transition between the out of focus and infocus areas are inconsistent.
    From the focus plane out – the transition is incredibly abrupt. while…
    From the focus plane in – the transition is incredibly gradual.

    a good example of this is at 1:10. then again the entire video has been heavily post

  • harumph

    Thanks, now I have glaucoma.

    Looks cool though.

  • Viv

    It’s Singapore, not Signapore

  • DesertandSeas

    Thanks for posting this Mr. Loutit. Can’t wait to see more of this techunique!

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  • Genkakuzai

    Fantastic stuff!

  • vroomfondel

    That’s a pretty funky video, if slightly disorienting :)

    A quick heads up on the spelling, the lenses are called Rodagon (a specific line of Rodenstock enlarging lenses) as opposed to Rodogon.

  • Julien

    I think it’s time we find a new name for this effect, because this is not tilt-shift. I’m not saying that because it’s digital, some people reproduce tilt-shift effect in Photoshop, but this particular video looks nothing like real tilt-shift.
    Also, I’m not saying I don’t like the video or anything. Actually I enjoyed it and I think the effect is really interesting. I’m only saying that it’s time we stop naming tilt-shift every image that accentuates depth of field blur.

  • Scott

    I believe the term is selective focus photography.

  • theawefulltruth

    As someone who has seen WAY TOO MANY TIME LAPSE videos…… I actually like this one.

  • Chris

    I actually loved the effect as a transition; but it felt overused by the time I was 2mins in. Had it been used 2 or 3 times as an accent to an otherwise standard timelapse, it might have been more effective.

  • Brian Nugawela

    Incredible art

  • Juma

    i love this video, especially the night scenes. but i feel like there are some points where it may have been a little rushed/too quick. some scenes may have been too quick/a little off focus and that was a little difficult for my eyes to focus on sth.

  • Anthony

    “He continues on to explain that the technique is often applied in post (so not true tilt-shift)” From the article. Readers are leaders, Joey.

  • Don Tusk

    I am sick of boring and uncreative time lapse videos but damn ! this one is amazing !

  • Don Tusk

    But we don’t care. Go live your boring and uncreative life.

  • Don Tusk

    It’s Singapoor because poor people are singing in Singapoor. Poorly.

  • Don Tusk

    I don’t care if it’s real or not. I enjoy the every second of it.

  • JoeNoName

    Magnific, even if it is post (so is said), it was a heck of a post production, great timelapse, just amazing

  • Denis Tan

    Refreshing take on my city. Amazing work there.

    P.S. Its Singapore, not Signapour.

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  • Yvon Maurice

    Nice work!

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  • Mickey

    He has a valid point.
    I too loved the idea of playing with the focus plane the way he did in the video, BUT: the wrong way the out of focus is done in post totally destroys it for me. Take a look at 1:15 for example: the focus plane moves and the circle of confusion grows – to a maximum size! You can also see this clearly in the sequence 1:57.

    Don’t get me wrong: I love the idea and I have no problems with it being done in post, but if it’s not done well (and plausible) the illusion of a miniature city and real photographs/time lapses breaks instantly. I’d love to see this effect done right.