First thing, I assure you that I will not be including audio of that cloying song from the Disneyland/world/place/spot ride. The one that everyone loves to hate. I do hope that something appropriate occurs to me by the time I finish the post, because I’m really enjoying adding the audio tie-ins.

This isn’t exactly groundbreaking material in the on-line universe (I first encountered the phenomenon last November), but it’s been infesting my thoughts lately, so I may as well write about it.

Eiffel tilt-shift II

from AnarBi's flickr photostream

What you see above is an example of tilt-shift photography, which got its start in the 1960s. It’s a technique that can be accomplished in-lens with special equipment, or post-production with special software tricks, or through a combination of both. I don’t know the details, have no need to learn them, and will accordingly not discuss such specifics. If you’re curious to learn how to make images like this, there are any number of on-line tutorials to be investigated.

Remember the in-retrospect-laughable special effects in movies of a certain vintage? No, I don’t mean those latex Godzillamen or wobbly flying saucers, not even those hand-drawn laser beams and bolts of electricity. I thinking specifically of movies featuring collapsed dams, sinking ships, maleveolent maelstroms, California sliding into the ocean, etc. Movies where miniatures just didn’t cut the mustard because no matter what you do, a small mass of water will never look like a huge mass of water. Little ripples don’t look like monster waves, eensy droplets of water can not masquerade as building-sized entities. It’s almost painful to sit through such sequences. They don’t have the charm of expertly engineered stop-motion (à la Ray Harryhausen (whose 89th birthday will be 29 June) or the more recent and gorgeous-looking Coraline) nor do they possess the savoir faire of contemporary CGI.

So why is it that so many people, including me, are enchanted by the results of making real things look miniature and fake in a manner eerily similar to those excruciating effects of yore?

HK Disney

A before-and-after comparison of the Hong Kong Disney Hollywood Hotel getting the treatment; although this time around the technique is called "Smallgantics," which I suspect is a trademarked variation of the style. Images taken from the Wikipedia page of that name.

I don’t even have a hypothesis, much less an answer. I’m content to remain fascinated, charmed and mesmerized, especially by the videos.

Click to watch the video 'Bathtub IV' by Keith Loutit

Click to watch the amaaazing video 'Bathtub IV' by Keith Loutit

It’s amazing how the drama is heightened when you know that it’s real even though it looks so artificial. I suppose I could ramble on like some graduate student’s thesis, invoking existentialism and making connections with other bits of the human condition, but why bother? Sometimes you’re better off letting go and enjoying things. Not wondering.


Bonus multimedia tie-in:

oblique sessions

“Prime of Life”

Pascal Comelade
from the 1997 Disques du Soleil album Oblique Sessions

A ‘supergroup’ of weird musicians most people haven’t heard of: Pascal Comelade, Pierre Bastien, Jac Berrocal, and Jaki Liebezeit. Three crazy Frenchmen and one insane German. This ditty, a cover of Neil Young’s song, is actually played by only one of the four musicians: Comelade (on pianos, plastic guitars, and melodica).

~ Fin ~

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