Benjamin Trancart is the director of Paris, The city of Light and thanks to this amazing little film so beautifully photographed and put together, he is about to become very well known.
The film Paris, The city of Light is a time lapse project and portrays Paris in a way it has never been seen before. Created from more than 100,000 photographs taken by Benjamin and set to music by Yasawas-Amon Tobin, the film of just under 4 minutes portrays iconic landmarks in a fresh way creating an intensity and intimacy with the viewer. The film gives a surreal picture postcard perspective of the city of lights which the director says is named as such because it was “the city where, during the eighteenth century, the lights of science (with the biologists like Buffon or Jussieu and with the encyclopaedic writers like Diderot or d’Alembert) and the lights of philosophy (Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, Montesquieu, …) have been lit…”
After studying literature at university in Paris, Benjamin Trancart began working with digital effects with the help of friends at Onickz Artworks. He created his own company, Trak, and works as a freelance motion designer with film production agencies and teaches digital effects (After Effects) on the web and at a production institute. He says that he loves teaching “I’m always curious to learn – and there is so much we can learn from one another”.
Benjamin started to make time-lapse films 18 months ago with a regular tripod. Although he didn’t know much about this medium he was impressed by light trails and photography tricks. He decided to create a night time project in his home town, Paris. Using a motion control system enabled him to add more movement to the time-lapse footage. Benjamin says “Paris is a fantastic playground for this kind of video with a lot of views and monuments which inspired me very much… This town is a huge source of inspiration. I wanted to make a contrast between modern architecture like La Defense, Beaubourg, la Tour Montparnasse and old buildings like Le Louvre, Notre Dame. “
Each shot of about 8 seconds represents two to three hours of waiting depending on the exposure and interval time.
We asked Benjamin how many nights did he spend filming? “That’s difficult to say… I spent a lot of time after work, at night, doing each shot. Sometimes bad weather caused me to reshoot but I like time-lapse with clouds, it adds a dramatic dimension to your shot… Paris is often cloudy so I was lucky!”.
Benjamin’s nightly “routine”, was to go to his chosen standpoint, set the rail and camera up and film for around 2 hours though often more. As the project became more addictive and he realised he would be spending hundreds of hours taking photographs, he added items to his photo bag: “camping chairs, red wine, dominos…”
Passers-by, commuters, tourists would stop and watch Benjamin at work. After he had set the movement, the motor would do its work and he could relax. One night whilst shooting stars he spent five hours talking to a passer-by about the sky, Milky Way and galaxy. He says he noticed “that when you shoot with a dolly system people come and take the same pictures as you. It’s funny, as if they thought ‘If the guy with all this gear is shooting here, that MUST be a good shot’”.
Benjamin says that as “you cannot know what the render will look like until you’re home… It’s always surprising to see how clouds evolve, people, and little details your eye cannot catch in real time”.
For his next venture Benjamin says he would like “to find point of views that cannot be reached easily, like roofs or even subways stations. Everything can be interesting. With the help of my film, I’m trying to push new doors and access hidden places, asking people if they can open their doors and let me shoot for a few hours. The next one will surely be about people in Paris… I want to tell a story and maybe underline gaps between the beauty of this town and the difficulties to live in it for certain people. Something with more narrative”.
You can contact Benjamin Trancart and find out more about him on his website Trak or Facebook page Benjamin Traknart.