October 16, 2012

“Empty America”: A San Francisco Time Lapse

“Ross Ching, the director,” writes Gizmodo, “used Adobe Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere to delete every human and moving car from all the timelapse sequences. His short, the first of a series called Empty America, shows every landmark from the Golden Gate Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf to Lombard Street to Ghirardelli Square to the Bay Bridge, ‘wiped empty of tourists and traffic.'”

Here’s a peek behind the scenes:

Pro tip: You can shoot videos like this any day of the week here in San Jose (population 1 million) and never need to do any post-processing. “It’s more necropolis than metropolis,” says my wife. [Via Dave Helmly]

Posted by John Nack at 8:08 AM on October 16, 2012


  • Josh — 9:07 AM on October 16, 2012

    Love it.

  • Steve Laskevitch — 12:38 PM on October 16, 2012

    A lot of elbow grease there. I usually achieve my “passers-bye-bye” effect with Photoshop Extended. I take 4 to 10 shots (depending on how crowded a scene is and how fast folks are moving). Going to trusty Photoshop, choose File>Scripts>Statistics and load those images. Choose Median as the “stack mode” (or Mean for ghost people). It’s like magic.

    Oh yeah, you’ll then have to do that for each frame of the time lapse. But hey, little or no masking required.

  • Andre — 1:03 PM on October 16, 2012

    Awesome work, thanks for the behind the scenes tutorial too!

  • Jan — 12:00 PM on October 17, 2012

    I can still see traces of human activity.. how to remove streets, buildings and the cars? :)

  • imajez — 1:51 AM on October 20, 2012

    Like Steve when I saw how it was done I thought, that’s the really hard way to do it.

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