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While they are extremely popular and common place now, tilt shift videos never really get old. They are so mesmerizing to watch that while I find myself saying, “sheesh, another tilt shift video on Vimeo…” I always play it, and almost always click the like button.

Tilt Shift Videos on Vimeo

The Sandpit from Sam O’Hare on Vimeo.

Tough Mudder Time-lapse Northstar 2012 – Cinematic Digital Media from Cinematic Digital Media on Vimeo.

Little Big Berlin from pilpop on Vimeo.

A Model Day At Waikiki Marina from Mark Stockbridge on Vimeo.

The Lion City from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

The Diorama effect: How Tilt Shift Videos Work

This is a technique that creates a video that looks like everything in it is miniature, transforming the movements of regular humans, through color, motion and focus effects into a tiny little world of toys. To do it, videographers record either time lapse, or regular video footage of a scene. They they speed it up a little bit and remove some of the frames so that it is a little stuttery like a time lapse. Then they will usually bump up the color saturation so that it looks a little fake and apply a blur across parts of the image so that only the center of the image is sharp.

Why does this create a “diorama effect?”

I’m not sure,but i found some answers:

In typical photographs, there are no optical cues that specify the distance to objects (how far they are from the observation point)[3] and so distance has to be inferred from the size of familiar objects in the scene.[4] DoF blurring is a visual cue to distance.[5][6] In a diorama illusion, the introduction of the blur cue appears to override this familiar information causing objects to appear miniature and toy-like. [Wikipedia]

I also found a good explanation on Quora of why the tilt shift or diorama effect tricks our brains into thinking the image is small.

The focal plane of most lenses is carefully designed to coincide perfectly with the sensor, such that the two are coplanar. Tilt-shift lenses essentially rotate the focal plane of the image such that it only properly intersects with the sensor along one line, leaving the rest increasingly out of focus.

As to why that makes things appear miniature, that is more of an optical illusion which is easy to demonstrate. Close one eye and hold one finger from each hand very close to your open eye, but at different distances. Focus on the finger that is farther away and, as you do so, try to be conscious of what is happening to the image of the closer finger and also the background. You should be experiencing this as a narrow depth of field where only the finger you are looking at is in focus and things that are farther and closer are blurry; this is similar to shooting photos with a large aperture. In the natural world, your brain only ever experiences such narrow depths of field when things are very close to your face. Thus, when you apply such a depth of field effect to a scene, no matter how large it is, your brain assumes it must be. [Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth on Quora]

A true tilt shift lens allows a photographer to move the position and rotation of the lens relative to the camera sensor to either increase or decrease the depth of field of the image. It’s complicated, but here are some resources to learn more about it:

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