September 27, 2013

Blow Your Mind with This “Infinite Zoom” Timelapse Shot on a Smartphone

Nokia recently released a smartphone that shoots 41 megapixel images. What exactly can we videographers do with a phone that shoots photos at 16x the size of high-definition? Paul Trillo shows us, with a video that creates an “infinite zoom” effect by photographing one image per block for 41 New York City blocks with the Nokia Lumia 1020. Check out the video below, and an interview with Paul where he explains to No Film School how he made it.

Shot between New York City's Central Park and the Flatiron building, here is a 52-second video showing off what the Nokia Lumia 1020's PureView technology can do:

Paul Trillo was cool enough to sit down and answer a few questions we had about how he made the Nokia NY 41x41 video.

NFS: So this Infinite Zoom is essentially a picture within a picture within a picture -- Inception style? Can you break down what is happening in this video, how you achieved the effect?

Trillo: In order for this effect to work properly, it was important that the images align to the same one-point perspective. The camera had to be placed in the center of the street and taken from exactly the same height. There are a few different grid overlays, so the cross hairs came in handy for matching the horizon line.

The photos were sequenced and stitched together in Adobe After Effects. First, I centered all the photos to the same vanishing point. Each photo had to be masked and retouched in order for the edges to blend seamlessly. After that, I parented the images together with a series of nulls and simply animated the scale. For a quick understanding of how to accomplish an image-within-an-image zoom, I recommend Andrew Kramer's Earth Zoom tutorial.

Take a look at Paul's behind-the-scenes video that gives a quick look at the stitching together process:

NFS: So what are some other real life applications for being able to take a picture of this quality on your smartphone?

Trillo: What's useful about having all that extra wiggle room, is it allows you to re-crop your photos. Lose the extra head room, rotate and level out your horizon line. The Nokia Pro Camera editor allows you to makes all these changes in a non-destructible way. It's really powerful and the processor handles these Photoshop-like edits with ease. Also allowing you to zoom in on things that are normally too far for a standard camera phone to see. The zoom feature on other cell phones is pretty useless.

NFS: Hypothetical use of Nokia Lumia 1020: a guy grabs my Domke bag full of expensive lenses, and I snap a pic of him running away. Will the police be able to zoom in and make an ID on this lowlife?

Trillo: Absolutely, this will prevent crimes. It's totally the camera designed for CSI-style "enhance -- enhance" or to notice weird and funny people you didn't even know you were taking a picture of.

NFS: What is the workflow like when shooting these images on the Nokia? How practical would this be to use for, say, photojournalists? Pro photographers?

Trillo: The saying goes "the best camera you have is the one you have with you." This definitely proves that point. The phone has all the manual settings you'd expect from an actual camera. This allows you to rack focus, exposure, shutter speed and white balance. Controlling exposure opens to door the a more shallow depth of field and with the shutter speed you can take long exposures. The camera has the option to shoot at a smaller resolution, if you don't need all those extra megapixels.

I'm looking forward to traveling with it. I could see it being useful if you're looking to be discreet as a photojournalist, the image quality is definitely good enough for print and editorial. Pro photographers will appreciate the camera's functionality, but this phone isn't meant to replace anything at that level.

NFS: Does it shoot video?

Trillo: Sure, the video quality is great. I haven't spent a lot of time with the video feature, but the one thing I did notice is the "jello-warping" is greatly reduced compared to other camera-phones.

NFS: Lastly, how did you not get hit by any NY taxi drivers?

Trillo: With careful tai-chi fluidity, timing traffic lights and running like hell.

***

Thank you, Paul!

Anybody have any other good ideas on how to use a smartphone that shoots pictures this big? Let us know in the comments below.

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36 Comments

Really cool - I had kinda wondered how they achieved that effect in Limitless

September 27, 2013

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Cris

Yes... Limitless opening credits was made like something like that... :-)
...
Great job...

September 27, 2013

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João Marco

looked so amazing

September 27, 2013

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cool!

September 27, 2013

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hansd

Great work and amazing visual. When it comes to AE, AK is the man.

September 27, 2013

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Too bad they messed it up in the beginning with too or three photos that looked darker and weren't joined properly. It made the effect evident. I wonder why they left it like that.
But then it went smoothly and was a cool effect. And very time consuming it seems!

September 27, 2013

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DOPE!!!!!!!!

September 27, 2013

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JAYEEE

Really great! Interview made this post really helpful.

September 27, 2013

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Dope effect , limitless was a very nice movie, Amazing dp work, always wondered how they acheived effect

And hands down this confirmed that the 1020 nokia pure 41 megapixels is the best camera cell phone to date.

It still amazes me how this phone takes such amazing pictures with such a small sensor and crowded pixels, the software/processor engineering in this phone is amazing, only if it had android

September 27, 2013

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JAYEEE

reminds me more of the opening sequence in limitless than inception.

September 27, 2013

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dibakar

I'm pretty sure the Inception comment was a joke [(a dream) (within a dream) (within another dream)]

September 28, 2013

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Grant

no mention of how they got the cars out of the shots. seemed to be a pretty empty manhattan. maybe its just really good timing?

September 27, 2013

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dv

This is pretty goddamn cool

September 27, 2013

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Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer

This post is an ad for the phone right?
This is something that's been done in the commercial world many times over the last 20+ years (we used to have to do the move by motion controlling a camera over large slide prints).
/I love the camera in that phone, but i'm not switching to WinPhone for it.

September 27, 2013

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marklondon

I have a hard time believing people who say stuff like "What’s useful about having all that extra wiggle room, is it allows you to re-crop your photos. Lose the extra head room, rotate and level out your horizon line." to promote a product.

if you are shooting with this many megapixels this theory only makes sense when you do pretty radical crops. but if you need to do those kind of crops, you are doing something wrong as a photographer. I'm assuming that you still look at the screen or viewfinder when you take a picture, but if your intent is to crop this much, then why bother doing that? just point the camera at a random space and click.

so in real life situations people will still compose their shots in some kind of way, and then possibly do some minimal cropping in post. hardly a real advantage when the big disadvantage is the HUGE files that eat up your SD cards and home storage space. it sucks to have to swap out your SD card after every ten shots ;)

September 27, 2013

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Eric

Not only that but technically its a medium format compressed camera

You could technically take a photo with this phone and then have it sent off and used as a BILLBOARD picture, albeit it will require a lil editing but technically no other DSLR with exception of d800 is even capable of that without use of phase one soft ware other than that you would need a medium format camera and they are pretty expensive

Dont see what the fuss is about this , its not that serious just a tool and fundamental video write up

September 27, 2013

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JAYEEE

@JAYEEE, a high resolution camera is unnecessary for billboards as they are, typically, printed at a very low DPI. With no up-rezing, I have had many billboards printed from files I shot on a 5Dmk2. And the resolution from that camera is not necessary for billboard work.

September 27, 2013

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Also there was a time when 'photojournalism' consisted of getting as close as possible to the subject with a 35mm prime lens, taking snaps and 'zooming' in on them should not even be considered the same occupation, it should be called 'cellphonecropjournalism' or maybe just facebookupdate - instagramism!

September 28, 2013

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Nice joke mate. Lumia's pixel-level quality is horrible. The only way you can compare this to a proper camera with sensor of m4/3 size or larger is if you downsample the image to around 8Mpix. And even then the pixel-level quality is lower than pretty much any m4/3 camera with a kit lens. But of course, all m4/3 cameras nowadays have 16Mpix.

Not all megapixels are created equal. Lumia is great camera for a phone, but it's incomparable with dedicated cameras with large sensors and lenses.

September 29, 2013

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PeterK

Would make for a pretty cool 360 degree or even full sphere environment panoramic pictures.

September 27, 2013

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Antony Alvarez

You know this site has reached consumer rock-bottom when it's posting videos made with phones

September 27, 2013

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john jeffries

Well, what's so wrong with phones? Anything that makes an image is an image-making tool, right? One example: Parts Unknown recently won an Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography in Nonfiction. http://www.emmys.com/shows/anthony-bourdain-parts-unknown

On shooting the show, Bourdain says: "In fact, we’ve used our cell phones to shoot footage for the show in the last few weeks... what we’re allowed to do, when the situation calls for it, is really mix it up. We’re using Letus, we’re using Sonys, we’re using Canon 7D SLRs, we’re using cell phones, we’re using Go Pros. It’s a whole mixed bag we can really mix it up more technologically on CNN."
http://rocknrollghost.com/2013/04/13/tv-interview-anthony-bourdain-parts...

Why not?

September 27, 2013

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Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer

@john

If this would have been a basic repost or an ordinary cell phone i would hear you loud and clear, however this is not an ordinary phone.

This phone and pureview technology captures photos in the right condition better than point and shoot or dedicated professional camera.

They even did a comparison with this phone compared to hassleblad

September 27, 2013

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JAYEEE

And the hassleblad won the prize for being a better camera. Dont' trick yourself. A hassleblad is made for production. It's built for production. It can do everything this camera can do, but better.

I don't even know why this is relevant. This guy is taking photos, not video. Jesus. What is even happening here anymore?

September 27, 2013

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Tyler

Tyler, do you live near Boston? If so, you should let me know where you live so I can dive your dumpsters for the hundred-thousand-dollars worth of cameras you must just toss out every few months as soon as they're no longer the best, and thus no longer relevant. I'm especially interested in these cameras that manage to take video without taking several photographs per second. It must be nice not to have dropped frames and everything.

Also, by running down a piece of viable equipment, you run the risk of stifling innovation on the off chance someone decided to listen to you and that would propel you to the status of being a bummer incarnate forever immortalized on the internet. Think of your great-grand children.

TL;DR (recommended) This is cool and nobody really cares that you think it's not relevant.

September 27, 2013

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July_No_October

Cool effect, noticed it in "Limitless" couple years ago.

September 27, 2013

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Natt

This is really cool.

September 27, 2013

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Ian B

awesome!! love the breakdown! Paul is a film-maker who knows how to use smart visual techniques to tell good stories! you should check out his other projects too!

September 27, 2013

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HaZ

yeah limitless

September 27, 2013

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Sebastian Roland

It's the Google Street View effect on steroids.

September 27, 2013

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Anon

Tough crowd. This article just showed us moving 8k images that looked amazing, so what it's from a cell phone? Wait till the mechanism comes out that takes 24, 48, 60, 120 fps from this puppy and an app that mimics hawk lenses. Haha, then what?

September 27, 2013

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Anthony Marino

The video was cool. But this article felt like an advertising rather than related to filmmaking.

September 27, 2013

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maghoxfr

Running red lights is always fun to watch.

October 4, 2013

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Dave

i actually think this looks really bad.

October 4, 2013

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kat

Great joke.....we all had a great laugh here lol. Even if it could be done....the quality would be extremely poor.

October 5, 2013

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DENNIS JACIW

WoW!!!
Infinite ZOom!!!! Incredible way of showing pictures.....something like prezi....but created by....YOU!!
WoW!!!

xD

<3 NOKIA <3

November 15, 2013

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halaluja