x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Time-lapse photos portray Dubai: a 'futuristic city in a faraway galaxy'

The Dubai-based photographer Sebastian Optiz is attempting to make a time-lapse movie that portrays the city in its futuristic glory. He explains the challenges he's facing in making this film.

The photographer Sebastian Opitz focuses on Dubai landmarks such as the Palm Jumeirah. Courtesy Sebastian Opitz
The photographer Sebastian Opitz focuses on Dubai landmarks such as the Palm Jumeirah. Courtesy Sebastian Opitz

With the constant stress of the daily grind, sometimes it's easy to forget how impressive Dubai's futuristic landscape can appear.

Sebastian Opitz is set on trying to remind us of this fact.

By day, the 34-year-old German works as a marketing manager at a hospital in Dubai. But his evenings are spent stationed on lofty balconies, using his camera equipment to create stunning time-lapse footage of the city.

Search for his name on YouTube and you'll see the fruits of his toils: a short trailer for an as-yet-unfinished feature film capturing Dubai's astounding cityscapes.

Doing time

Opitz started photographing the city's finest buildings after he moved there in 2008. But he soon realised that time-lapse was a more apt way of portraying the city in its full glory.

His first work, and one that gained him much acclaim, was of fog rolling in over Downtown Dubai with the Burj Khalifa poking through the enveloping shroud.

Earlier this year, he invested in a proper motion-control system for his camera, which allowed him to improve the quantity and quality of his output.

This can be seen in the recently completed trailer to his movie. "It's composed of several hundred images shot over half an hour while the camera is sliding along a balcony on the 85th floor of Princess Tower in Dubai Marina," he says. "From there, it was still two months of spending almost every free minute working on the project just to finish the trailer."

Time flies

In his films, Opitz says, he wants to depict Dubai as a "futuristic city on a planet in a faraway galaxy".

"People will and should recognise that this is Dubai," he says. "But I want to add an air of science fiction to it. That's why I am focusing on new Dubai: Business Bay and the towers along Sheikh Zayed Road."

He also aims to instil a sense of pride in residents about living in such ultra-modern surrounds.

"For someone living here, the ongoing traffic diversions, the dusty construction roads and the generators running 24/7 on construction sites throughout the city are rather perceived as a nuisance," he says.

"I want to show people the incredible feat of vision and technology that has been accomplished and yes, I really want to make them feel proud of Dubai."

Hard times

The process of making a time-lapse film is prolonged and problematic. One wrong turn of the camera dial and a whole evening's work can go to waste.

Another hurdle has been gaining access to high vantage points.

"I usually ask friends or even forum users for permission to shoot from their balconies," he says. "A very good friend owns two apartments on the 84th and 85th floor of Princess Tower, offering fantastic views of the Marina and Palm Jumeirah.

"I have spent many nights up there shooting New Dubai from every angle you could possibly think of. Many of these shots can be seen in the trailer."

Timely reminder

Opitz believes time-lapse paints the city in a whole new light.

"Whether it's the movement of cranes, changes of building illuminations and more, very slow and seemingly static progress looks vivid and fluid when being time-lapsed," he explains.

"Construction cranes look like they are dancing, while car traffic turns into fantastic streams of light flowing through the veins of the city."

Time in hand

Currently, Opitz is focused on finishing his Dubai film. But he has plans to take his techniques further afield.

"I am looking forward to doing this all over the world one day. It would be great to turn this into a profession," he says.


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