Disney Parks, Tilt-shift and Time-Lapse style

Olivier S. (NDD#263) (27 Posts)

Born in France (and still living there) I discovered WDW in the mid 1970's when I was 10 during a trip to Florida with my parents. Since then, I am a Disney fan, but also a WDW fan with EPCOT as the prefered park. The Contemporary is my "mythic" hotel even if I never stayed there: it´s because of its futurist look. By the way, I also encountered space exploration during the same trip by visiting KSC. And I am today working as the chief editor of a space news website for a scientific park in France. Guess you can see the importance of this Florida trip and the others after...

Recently, in this article, The Disney Blog wrote about an official Tokyo Disneyland video that shows the park as a miniature. The effect is rather surprising. It’s really worth looking!

Tokyo Disneyland (Japan)

How was it done? Digital SFX? No, it was filmed combining two old camera tricks. The first one is based on tilt-shift lenses. Such special lenses can be shifted or tilted in order to get some interesting effects. For example, if you shift the lenses (moving the lenses up or down but staying parallel to the image plane) you correct the effect of perspective. In architecture, you can get an image of a building without having the top looks smaller than the basement (parallel lines stay parallel). But you can also use the tilt movement (the axis of the lenses is no more in line with the image plane) and then your picture is in focus only in a very tiny band (narrow depth of field). With this last trick, you can film something big like a theme park while giving the impression that you are filming a miniature train set in macro-photography mode.
For this Tokyo Disneyland video and the ones below, Disney used the Tilt-Shift method combined with Time-Lapse where you take a picture at a determined pace and speed it up in editing. For example, if you take one picture every minute but play it at the speed of 30 images per second, then you see what happened in 30 minutes in just one second. Confronted with the narrow depth of field of the Tilt-Shift and the accelerated pace of the Time-Lapse, our brain immediately “sees” these videos as a film about miniaturized worlds! The effect is rather poetic: it’s a small word after all…

The first video of this kind from Disney Parks was published in October 2009 and was about Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida (see below).

This was a huge hit on Internet (more than 2 million views on YouTube now) and so a version about Epcot was done and put online in December 2009 (see below).

In March 2011, Disneyland Paris got its official Tilt-Shift/Time-Lapse video (see below).

Then in October 2013, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure got their version (see below).

Nice isn’t it?