Tom Ryaboi, a.k.a. The Roof Topper, is a Toronto photographer with a reputation for taking jaw-dropping photos from the tops of tall buildings and other raised structures. In this stunning time-lapse video, Ryaboi takes us up on the roof tops of Toronto to watch the city come alive through a series of amazing aerial views.
Ryaboi says he wanted to bring others up to this unique perspective and show them the city as they have never seen it before: “Where the boundary between earth and sky is unclear and the placid beauty of the city lays spread out beneath you, quietly humming along. City Rising takes the viewer straight through rush hour traffic to the highest urban peaks and the clouds above it all… all in under four minutes.”
Ryaboi says he started experimenting with time-lapse photography about a year ago and he thought it would be something he could quickly master, especially since he’d been shooting still photos for nearly a decade. However, he says he was quickly humbled by the new medium and struggled to put together worthwhile footage after repeated early attempts.
“I soon realized this was a whole other animal,” says Ryaboi. “Although time-lapse sequences are composed of still images, the methods and processes needed to put together the final video are completely different.”
After joking around with friends, we put together a list of the buildings I shot from. Added together they reach higher than 23,000 feet. If stacked up on top of each other, I’d be facing a hefty Himalayan mountain.
After battling with motion control gear, camera settings and aperture flicker for several months, he says he didn’t feel like he was making any progress at all. “I never had such a hard time capturing a vision with photos. But the more I struggled, the more I was intrigued: how do the greats like Ron Fricke do it?”
In addition to the new skills involved in learning time-lapse photography, Ryaboi says he also had the additional challenge of climbing a mountain of stairs to complete his project. “After joking around with friends, we put together a list of the buildings I shot from,” he says. “Added together they reach higher than 23,000 feet. If stacked up on top of each other, I’d be facing a hefty Himalayan mountain.”
After much frustration, patience, and perseverance Ryaboi finally felt like he was making some progress. The turning point came on Canada Day when he shot his first flawless day to night scene, although it was one that also featured an overcast sky. “At a certain point you can actually see some fireworks go off in the background,” he says. “And that’s what it felt like in my head too.”
CanPhoto.Net contacted Ryaboi to get some behind the scenes info about the technical aspects of the video and he was kind enough to share the information below for all the gear heads out there.
“The scenes in this time-lapse were shot RAW with two bodies, a Canon 5D Mark III and a 50D. The 5D handled the bulk of the work with a Nikon 14-24 AF lens (plus adapter of course). Nikon glass works really well on Canon bodies because you don’t need to use auto focus and the lack of aperture flicker is nice too. Other lenses used on this project include Canon 24mm 1.4 II, 135mm 2L, 50mm 1.4, and a Canon 10-22.”
“Although I do have a Dynamic Perception dolly, it was not used very often here. It’s too awkward to carry up to roofs. I’ll put it into use on my next project for sure. Most of the moves you see in this video were done in post (see After Effects below).”
Lightroom > After Effects > Premiere Pro
“Lightroom: All color corrections, levels, white balance, lens corrections were done in Lightroom and exported as full res jpegs.”
“After Effects: Put together the sequence, and made the scene move using key frames and position, scaling and sometime 3D rendering to shift the perspective of the shot. These sequences were then dynamically linked to Premiere Pro.”
“Premiere Pro: Clips brought in, sliced up and put to music, all transitions done here too.”