x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Filmmaker takes two-and-a-half years to create amazing time-lapse video of Abu Dhabi and Dubai

The video compiles the work of photographer Beno Sanadzic and shows the minutiae of everyday life on a wider scale.

A dramatic still of Abu Dhabi's skyline, looking along the Corniche towards Al Reem island. Courtesy of Beno Saradzic
A dramatic still of Abu Dhabi's skyline, looking along the Corniche towards Al Reem island. Courtesy of Beno Saradzic

ABU DHABI // Filmmaker Beno Saradzic wants to change our perspective – by playing with time.

His new stop-frame film, Beyond: Memoirs in a Time Lapse, seeks to do that for not only the way we see the UAE, but wider mankind, from atop cranes and alongside skyscrapers.

“I always look for a point of view that is not the point of view of a normal human being,” Mr Saradzic said, after releasing the video earlier this week. “I play with this perspective.”

The film, lasting more than seven minutes, arranges 11,250 still frames Mr Saradzic shot in 2011 and 2012 for various assignments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He chose the best frames from more than 225,000 that he captured in those two years, and then spent six months editing them.

While the finished film comprises images from the two cities, linked in three “movements”, the message goes wider, said Mr Saradzic, 45, a Slovenian who is executive producer and art director at Timesand Studios in Abu Dhabi.

“This is a collective success not just about the UAE, but of mankind in general,” he said.

In fact, he calls it “an ode to mankind”, the physical manifestation of vision, dreams and determination.

The images take viewers from the Abu Dhabi Mangroves to Downtown Dubai, above the cities’ bustling highways and out to Abu Dhabi airport.

He said every shoot is an adventure, even though they are time-consuming. The shots of sunlight and shadows moving over the mangroves amount to four seconds in the video, but took an entire day to photograph.

He found DP World at Jebel Ali port particularly fascinating. “When you actually enter into this place, you’ve got these giant machines. It looks like you’re in an alien world,” he said.

He felt especially proud of the shots of fog rolling into Dubai. While in real time the mist seems to hang motionless, with time lapse, he could see it rolling and curling around the buildings, like water around a rock in a stream.

“You can never really tell if the fog is happening the way you want it to happen,” he said.

He collaborated on Beyond with the television and film composer Vladimir Persan, who had worked with Mr Saradzic on his previous time-lapse film, Abu Dhabi 2011.

“I was quite impressed. I really liked it because I never saw time lapse of that dimension, to be honest,” said Mr Persan, an Azerbaijani based in the UAE.

“You just look at this and it sinks in place. The music is already there,” he said. “The meaning speaks for itself.”

Mr Persan said he hoped to match the drama and scale that Mr Saradzic wanted for the film, which Mr Persan described as being “like an organism”.

“It’s like life. You see the vessels and the blood passing by,” he said.

The film also reflects the country’s transformation since Mr Saradzic arrived in the country as an architectural visualiser in 1991.

“That’s why all of this impresses me a lot more than a newcomer,” he said. “It has been unravelling in front of my eyes.”

On Thursday, his film had been viewed more than 45,000 times. This includes a number of highly influential people, such as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, both of whom posted Twitter messages linking to Mr Saradzic’s video.