It’s been more than a year now since lockdowns began to affect the entire world. This is a film that documents Manila, the capital of the Phillipines, during its first lockdown through a timelapse. I wasn’t sure at the time what I would be doing with the footage, but I wanted to capture what I had never seen—the densest city in the world, emptied of its cars and pedestrians.

I shot in timelapse to find the little pulse that was left of the city, as if I were extracting and amplifying a feeble breath of life in an environment of stillness and death.

Lockdown or [Metempsychosis] (the title of the soundtrack), attempts to capture what I felt, and perhaps what many of you felt, during the shutdown of our borders.

It was shot from the same location from March to June 2020 (with a small intro from 2016) using two Sony a7R II cameras and the internal timelapse app. The stills were assembled with LRTimelapse 5 with the help of Gunther Wegner and Adobe After Effects. The real-time footage in June was shot with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K with help from Raffy Yllana.

Aude Nguyen Ngoc played with some of the clouds in Autodesk Flame, and the sound design was created by Yohann Bernard with music made by Vix Neiv. 

In June, the Philippines opened up. By then, I had finished editing Lockdown. I put the film away, unable to watch it—until I realized about a month ago that it was going to be one year since I had shot it.

I was uneasy watching it again, but it helped me re-discover those very first moments when the pandemic had hit us with all its force, and we were still reeling, trying to figure out what was going on. It is finally time to write the next chapter, so it is important to remember where we came from; hopefully, we will never have to endure this situation again.