Tag Archives: tour

Not in Beijing? You can still wander the hutongs from your home

Shot on anyday — this is a moving glimpse into an average day wandering through the hutongs of Beijing. A visual chance to float through the narrow alleys which contain and represent thousands of years of history and culture.

This isn’t a special day, there are no protagonists and for the most part — nothing is happening. It’s simply life as it was and as it is.

This digital tour of Beijing’s ancient alleys (“hutongs”) was shot with a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 L II USM, Canon 5D Mark II and filtered with a Final Cut Pro SmoothCam Filter. The video was used as a visual background (on loop) for the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Agency’s “Do you hutong? 看!胡同” fundraiser and event aimed at helping to preserve Beijing’s culture that lives within the second ring.

Essentially, this was eye candy for a party.

The smooth camera filter is very interesting. According to the FCP manual:

Unlike other filters in Final Cut Pro, the SmoothCam filter must analyze a clip’s entire media file before the effect can be rendered or played in real time. Using the SmoothCam filter requires two independent phases:

Motion analysis: Pixels in successive frames are analyzed to determine the direction of camera movement. Analysis data is stored on disk for use when calculating the effect. Motion compensation: During rendering or real-time playback, the SmoothCam filter uses the motion analysis data to apply a four-corner transformation to each frame, compensating for camera movement.

So essentially, this filter is cropping every frame of the video to give the illusion of a leveled horizon throughout every frame. I use this quite a bit when I have no tripod handy, or in this type of case where the camera is just strapped to something that is being bumped a lot (in this case a rickshaw). Its much cheaper than renting a crane …

The video has no sound. At the event the loop was played behind a band on a big screen. Although its very simple, for those not in Beijing, its is a chance to see an average day in Beijing’s old city. Some of this footage will also be used as b-roll in a larger project I’m working on about this foundation. Look out for that video in the upcoming weeks.

Destroyed Hutong
Click on the above photo for an enlarged view of this destoroyed block of hutongs.

Other posts on hutong life and photography