x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Time-lapse: a different view of Abu Dhabi

Beno Saradzic, an Abu Dhabi resident for two decades, has created a time-lapse film of the capital.

Beno Saradzic, an Abu Dhabi resident for two decades, has created a time-lapse film of the capital.
Beno Saradzic, an Abu Dhabi resident for two decades, has created a time-lapse film of the capital.

ABU DHABI // Imagine a city as a living, breathing, organism; its inhabitants scurrying about, the lifeblood pumping through its streets and alleyways. This is how Beno Saradzic has come to view the capital.

A resident of the emirate for almost two decades, Saradzic recently completed his first time-lapse film of Abu Dhabi; a process that has, he said, consumed him the last five weeks.

Time-lapse is a method of photography where a number, in this case tens of thousands, of photos are taken of one scene, at regular intervals, over a period of time. The images are then sped up in an editing suite to give the viewer the feeling that time is flying by.

The technique is relatively simple, but the process of putting it together is long and painstaking. It has been, the amateur photographer said, a labour of love.

Abu Dhabi - 2011 (ver #3 FINAL) from Beno Saradzic on Vimeo.

The film, called Abu Dhabi 2011 and which is online at http://vimeo.com/22936856, shows sequences from different vantage points in the city. It may be less than four minutes long, but required 21,000 images and plenty of man hours.

"Part of me thinks if I'd known about the work I have had to put in beforehand, I'd never have done it," Saradzic said, an art director and filmmaker at Timesand Studios.

"I'm glad I did though because I discovered something I truly love doing."

The film begins with a montage of black-and-white photos and video footage of Abu Dhabi from the sixties, before launching into present-day images.

Traffic in the small city, a daily hindrance to its inhabitants, is turned into something mesmerising and transfixing; lights, flickering on and off in blocks of flats, or the Emirates Palace, look like futuristic fireflies.

"Something like this twists people's perceptions," Saradzic said. "The reflections of cars speeding by on the windows of flats look like sparkling diamonds.

"You have to see that. To quiz that perception. We are hard-wired to see the world in a certain way, but change that point of view slightly, and you will be stunned."

The zero-budget film has certainly had an effect on Karl Coutinho, who works as a general manager for the Ivory Hotel apartments in Abu Dhabi. He has lived in the capital for five years.

"I watched the clip again and again, and each time it filled me with the same sense of awe and wonder."

Although Mr Coutinho is a fan, he has some criticisms.

"The clip somehow tends to convey the impression of drastic change - however awesome it may be - from what the peaceful, sleepy village of Abu Dhabi used to be. I personally feel this may be a wrong impression to convey, because Abu Dhabi still manages to retain a connection to its quaint history and past."

Regardless, Saradzic's video left a positive impression on Mr Coutinho.

"All in all, I still thought it was wonderful and fascinating. It left me with a feeling of pride and had me thinking, 'Wow! This is where I live'."

Ayesha al Blooshi, an aquaculture scientist who was born in the city, also liked the concept.

"I loved the video. Although I am generally not a big fan of any concrete jungle, I must say the film actually made our little city look almost magical," she said.

She was concerned that the film would leave viewers thinking that Abu Dhabi is all about the city.

"Being an Emirati, I get to experience a lot more of what this emirate has to offer, and the crowded city of Abu Dhabi is only the tip of the iceberg. I would like to humbly suggest that Saradzic film the sunrise and sunset in the desert, the fishing port of Delma Island at dawn, or the island of Marawah in the Western Region."

Saradzic said he had considered these concerns, and so plans to create time-lapse films of Dubai and perhaps the whole of the UAE further down the line.

The filmmaker was able to receive permission to film many of his sequences from some of the city's tallest buildings, including the as-yet-unfinished Trust Tower, in Abu Dhabi's Central Market.

Aldar Properties, the Abu Dhabi-based company in charge of building the tower, supported him.

Ousama Ghannoum, the marketing and media director for Aldar, said the film was breathtaking. "The sequences at night were fantastic. I have lived here for 15 years, but the first time I saw it I thought, 'It can't be here.'

"I've never seen Abu Dhabi like this, from that height. It's emotional and fantastic."

zalhassani@thenational.ae