I encountered the following, very intriguing short film online a while ago. And while the imagery is haunting and fascinating in equal measure, I was really curious about how the filmmaker had achieved this effect.

So I asked him.

ArtefactoryLab – previously named Artefactory , is a studio, based in Paris, specialized in architectural images – rendering and film for more than 10 years now. The studio works with international architecture studios, such as Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Herzog et De Meuron, Renzo Piano, OMA, Frank Gehry, etc.

The film “5:46 am” is a personal artwork by one of the partner, Olivier Campagne who graduated as an architect from the architecture school in France (Nantes) and has been working in 3d imagery for the past 10 years. The film was made with the help of Vivien Balzi, who is editing one of ArtefactoryLab ‘s animations (WHY) while the music was composed by Brice Tillet.

Check out the video and then scroll down for a short interview with Olivier Campagne, the filmmaker.

Tell us a little about 5:46 am

The film started from the simple idea of Paris been one meter underwater. What would the vision of such scene be? It was however conceived without a link to any actual flood, [it was] more a vision of an abstract reflective surface, it could just as easily have been chromium or mercury. Of course, some might link this video with the historical flood of Paris, but it is actually a coincidence.
The work is also inspired by a Nicolas Moulin work, “Vider Paris”, rather than an accurate simulation (the Pantheon for example, will never be underwater, as it is very high). The main purpose of the film is to produce an aesthetic and poetic view of the architecture of Paris. At the end of the film, the water is almost seen as a mirror, also related to some urban intervention, such as in Bordeaux, by Michel Corajoud, “Le miroir d’eau”.

How did you achieve this effect? Is it all digital or is there an element of live action footage?

The film was  shot in July 2010, in the early morning. Most of the buildings and elements in the shot have been 3D modelled in order to produce a reflection on a CGI water surface. A few things have been erased from the original footage (one or two runners and one car).

Why have you called it 5:46 am?

The title comes from the earliest sunrise in 2010, which was at 5:46 am.

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Olivier Campagne