Silent World is a Breathtaking Photography Series That Imagines the World Almost Uninhabited by People

While not exactly filmmaking related, it seems fitting for this site to take a look at the video of this series of photographs called Silent World. Created by photography team Lucie & Simon, they imagine the world without the bustling humans that take up so much space in several sprawling cities.

Here's the video, originally posted at FilmmakerIQ:

Video is no longer available:

You're probably thinking that it took a bit of editing to get all those people and cars out of the photos, but an interesting technique was used: long exposures were taken with serious ND filters and the people and cars in the photos disappear over a long enough period of time. This is something that's been used on nighttime photography for years (I've used it shooting large format), but I've never seen it used in quite this way for daytime photography. The series has received a couple of awards: the Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet Foundation prize and a grant from the CICRP center Marseille.

While this isn't something you'll be able to do in video, as FilmmakerIQ points out, these would be fantastic for visual effects plates. If you needed to remove people or cars from a particular scene, it becomes extremely simple if you've got plates that are empty except for basic structures. Lucie & Simon have some amazing photography collections and installations, so you should go to their website to check out more of them.

Link: Lucie & Simon - Website

[via FilmmakerIQ]

Here are a couple of the photos below:

Your Comment


Wow, really interesting concept!

April 9, 2012 at 5:06AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Great photos - do you think it works like Content Aware in Photoshop or that they used this technique? Also, Can't believe they don't credit Philip Glass for the music - but they want us to acknowledge their creative genius???!!!

April 9, 2012 at 5:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


They do - here's the Vimeo description:

Lucie & Simon, Silent world.

USA, China, France, Italy.
7'45 minutes film about the work Silent world, 2012.
Music by Philip Glass and Daft Punk.
Direction and editing by Lucie & Simon.

April 9, 2012 at 6:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

I don't mean to put down the work of these photographers too harshly but this concept has been explored in depth many years prior by the Japanese photographer Masataka Nakano. This comes of as a straight copy (with no apparent mention of Nakano's work as inspiration as far as I can tell).

April 9, 2012 at 7:07AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Jonathan Turner

Comments galore about who executed this idea originally, who did or did not credit the music bed, speculation about Photoshop hack techniques. Give it a rest people!

Everyone copies everything. We reference other works, we are deferent to other works, and ultimately, we must create work that differs from other works. It is all an unabashed and unashamed evolution, and we should embrace it, not combat it.

The very first dagueerotypes (proto-photographs by today's standards) resulted in this ghost-world phenomenon as a by product of their technical limitations, not as goal of or expression of their technical wizardry.

Boulevard du Temple, Paris, Spring 1838, by Daguerre

Boulevard du Temple, Paris, Spring 1838, by Daguerre (includes the earliest reliably dated photograph of a person). The image shows a busy street, but because the exposure time was at least ten minutes the moving traffic cannot be seen. However, two men at lower left, one apparently having his boots polished and the other the bootblack, remained motionless enough to be distinctly visible. The image is reversed (as were most Daguerreotypes) as is evidenced by the signage on a building in upper left.

April 9, 2012 at 8:47AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

everything copi...

speak for yourself, plagiarist. i don't copy.

April 13, 2012 at 3:59AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


There are some people that have their own ideas and just do them, then they come to find out that it has already been done before, For me when i think i have this great original idea I search the web and make sure nobody has already done it but sure enough somebody has, which I then end up scrapping the idea. Maybe I am not that creative but we all have similar ideas and the internet is making it even harder to be creative because somewhere around the world somebody has the same idea you have.

April 14, 2012 at 10:15AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I have seen someone make that comment before Jay

April 14, 2012 at 7:07PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Cool Stuff, Reminds me of I Am Legend

April 9, 2012 at 10:27AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Kyle Helf

Of all the wonderful examples of Post-Apocalyptic fiction, you choose I Am Legend? I hope you mean the book...

April 9, 2012 at 7:09PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Don't be a hipster, it isn't cool anymore.

April 10, 2012 at 7:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Nice idea with the long exposure, but the movie is pretty boring. I cant even count how many times we saw something like this before in postapocalyptic movies...

April 9, 2012 at 10:47AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


yea Masataka Nakano is pretty establised , years and body of work on this.

April 10, 2012 at 2:52AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Charles Lim

Yeah, commend these folks on taking ideas of others, namely Masataka Nakano, and claiming it for themselves. The photography is not even all that interesting, to boot.

April 10, 2012 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Nice shots, hated the editing of this slideshow- the images work compositionally on their own- I would have MUCH preferred gentle ease ins on each image, as the crops are way to disjointed and poorly pan-scanned (for me)

Also, ok they may have mostly used NDs, but there must have been loads of content-aware filling and perspective cloning, as plently of cars are parked in these places for long enough - let alone indicators flashing, blue lights from police, flashes from tourist-cams etc that would show up.

Nicely done images though,

April 12, 2012 at 2:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The editing indeed reminded me of an automated moviemaker slideshow...

April 12, 2012 at 3:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Let's not forget Thomas Struth's Berlin portfolio from the early 1990's, where his images aim to explore what public spaces 'might say about the people who live in these sites.'
Nakano's Tokyo Nobody is a wonderful body of original work.
Shame the film was made, the images work well on their own (without animation)... good images but ruined.

May 11, 2012 at 2:42PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM