Mesmerizing Tilt-Shift Perspective Shows German Mountains in Miniature

Joerg Daiber — the German filmmaker behind “Little Big World” — has created a mezmerizing, miniaturized showcase of the Ore Mountains in Germany using a tilt-shift perspective.

This latest project was created in collaboration with the local tourism board and showcases the Ore Mountains, which recently were granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage site. Daiber had come across the location whilst on a personal trip and enjoyed the area so much so he thought it would be a great fit for his series.

The unique effect seen in Daiber’s films comes from miniature faking, also known as the diorama effect. It is a process in which a still or a video clip has blurring applied to simulate shallow depth of field which is generally seen in close-up photography. This method takes life-size locations and objects and transforms them into what appear to be miniatures. In the case of video footage, increased playback speed also contributes to this effect.

Using wide-angle lenses from elevated positions and adding contrast and saturation to the image also helps “sell the effect,” Daiber explains. Some filmmakers insist on using tilt-shift lenses exclusively while others, like Daiber himself, prefer to apply the effects in post-production as it leaves room for additional creative freedom. Although Daiber enjoys the shots from drones, he rather shoots from high vantage points if possible.

“Also, I think that shooting too much with drones is sort of a lazy filmmaking,” he adds.

Although this method is an intrinsic part of Daiber’s work today, he first came across it ten years ago when he saw a tilt-shift film by Keith Loutit. Daiber became intrigued by the technique and introduced it into his own work.

“I like how tilt-shifting puts things into perspective and makes humans look insignificant because, in the grand scheme of things, we’re just tiny little bugs on this planet,” he tells PetaPixel.

For his first film, Daiber took his DSLR on a trip to Thailand and Crete, Greece. The films he shot during his trip eventually became finalists at the Vimeo Awards in New York and also signify the beginning of his “Little Big Series,” with over 130 episodes today.

Before Daiber films any of his chosen locations across the world, extensive research takes place. Daiber uses Google Maps and searches for other videos and images available online to determine which places might work well and where he can find good vantage points. Then, a rough shooting itinerary is drafted and the time-consuming work of organizing necessary permits begins. For the Ore Mountains film, Daiber filmed a lot of his content on a drone which meant that he spent more time collecting all the required drone permissions from authorities and property owners than the actual filming process that took 15 to 16 shooting days.

The pandemic-enforced restrictions and canceled events, such as the closure of Christmas markets, further added to the complexities of creating his latest film, as did the inclusion of footage from inside the local mines. Most of the underground spaces are dark and have narrow tunnels which makes it hard for tilt-shift work, however, Daiber was lucky to find that tin mines have large underground caves from the depletion of tin, which gave him the best vantage point considering the circumstances.

Daiber has created timelapse and tilt-shift films covering popular and lesser-known locations all around the world. They can be found on his YouTube channel, with his portfolio also available on his website and Instagram.

Image credits: All images by Joerg Daiber and used with permission.