Artist uses vintage still photos to bring to life bygone New York, Boston, Detroit and DC in incredible moving pictures
Alexey Zakharov from Moscow describes his animations as a 'travel back in time with a little steampunk time machine.'
His latest animation is so flawless that it looks as if you're watching real antique footage of the streets of New York, Boston, Detroit, Washington D.C.
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The films show New York spring to life, with horse drawn carriages driving by as pedestrians walk the streets. Here, a horsedrawn carriage passes by the Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge, around the time of its completion in 1909.
HOW WAS IT DONE?
The short film, titled 'The Old New World', was a labour of love for the 36-year-old, who spent more than a year on the project.
The four-minute film takes you on a journey through famous landmarks such as Central Park in New York and the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore.
'I came up with the idea for a full retro-photoanimation project after visiting the Shorpy site,' Zakharov told DailyMail.com.
'This is astonishing place with tons of reconstructed hi-resolution photos. I spent many hours there.
'First I made only one animation shot used a single photo. Then, a year later, I decided to make something more complete.'
Zakharov says there are two main stages to creating animation from photos.
The first involves something known as 'camera projection', which allows him to separate the static and moving parts of each image.
'A picture, cut into layers is projected on the geometry created by 3D software,' he explains. 'I use this geometry to set city backgrounds, buildings and other static elements
'The second stage is creating full computer graphics of characters people, animals, vehicles etc.
Iconic images such as the New York skyline shown here come to life in the video, animating and 'flying' through the city using 3D models created by the artist.
The video pands and moves around the pictures thanks to the 3D modelling techniques used by artist Alexey Zakharov from Moscow
He uses 3D computer models of these objects to help achieve this. 'Then I compiled all the layers in a process known as compositing process.'
The animation is set in a period in whcih America was undergoing a dramatic period of change following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
Chinatown in New York in the early 1900s was brought to life with the addition of people, horses, and in this case even dogs
This brought to end the prosperity of the twenties and triggered the greatest economic decline in US history.
In 1929 only three per cent of Americans were without a job, by 1933, the unemployment rate had risen to 25 per cent.
Cars on the streets drive by, while people walk in the images as the spring to life.
In this scene, people can be seen walking through Central Park in the 1920s.
Pictured on the left is the Flatiron district in New York in 1931, with the Met Life tower in clear view on the right. Today (right), the same area has so many tall building that the Met Life tower is obscured from view when taking an image from the same angle
The animation of New York provide an incredible contrast to what life is like in the Big Apple today.
The skyscrapers are non-existent and the streets are far from bustling. Images of the Flatiron district in 1931, for instance, clearly show the Met Life tower.
Today, the same area has so many tall building that the Met Life tower is obscured in images taken from the same angle.
The Chauncey breaker, 1911 in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, complete with steam pouring from its furnace.
Alexey Zakharov separated moving from static elements after uploading the images into Photoshop. He then added animation to make bring the images to life. Pictured is the Chauncey breaker, 1911 in Plymouth, Pennsylvania
Alexey Zakharov describes how there are two main stages to creating animation from photos. The first involves something known as 'camera projection.' 'A picture, cut into layers is projected on the geometry created by 3D software,' he explains. 'I use this geometry to set city backgrounds, buildings and other static elements. This January 14, 1939 image shown the Capitol building in Washington
The incredible short film, titled 'The Old New World', was a labour of love for the 36-year-old, who spent more than a year on the project. Pictured is Doyers Street in New York's Chinatown in 1901
This image shows a drug store on 7th street in Washington DC in 1921. 'I came up with the idea for a full retro-photoanimation project appeared after visiting the Shorpy site,' Zakharov told DailyMail.com. 'This is astonishing place with tons of reconstructed hi-resolution photos. I spent many hours there'
The left image shows Court Street featuring the Ames Building and Young's Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. On the right is Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore. The visual artist used these images to create his incredibly realistic 4-minute animation
The biggest challenge for Zakharov was grappling with the technical elements of creating computer graphics.
'Photoshop is a lot of work when you need to cut a photo into layers and clean it up. It is not so difficult as long,' he said.
'Animation was the most difficult task for me, because I'm not true animator like the Pixar guys.
'The hardest thing for me is to find a free time for the project. Time is the most valuable resource.
Zakharov says he is taking a break from photo animation for now, but plans to do similar projects in the future.
'As I expected in the professional computer graphic (CG) community reaction was quite calm,' he said.
'For the professional CG-artist it is not very interesting. I did not expect that many people who are very far from CG liked the project.'
'It means that I was able to recreate true spirit of the old times, and it's totally worth it.'
Pictured on the left is an 1905 image of St Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York and on the right is an image of the Queensboro Bridge, otherwise known the 59th Street Bridge in New York, as it was in 1909
Pictured is Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, around 1905. 'I did not expect that many people who are very far from CG liked the project,' said Zakharov. 'It means that I was able to recreate true spirit of the old times, and it's totally worth it'
Pictured on the left is the interior of the Weller's drug store on eighth street in Washington and on the right is a view from Central Park in New York in 1933
The scene shows the Morgan & Wright Detroit Rubber Works in Detroit pictured as it was in 1908. 'I came up with the idea for a full retro-photoanimation project appeared after visiting the Shorpy site,' Zakharov told DailyMail.com
An artist has created incredibly realistic animations of America in the early 1900s based almost entirely on vintage photos. Pictured is one of the images used in the project showing New York's Singer Building looking down Broadway
Pictured is the York Theater on 3640 Georgia Avenue, Washington, DC in 1920. Alexey Zakharov says he is taking a break from photo animation for now, but plans to do similar projects in the future