It’s A Small, Small World …Potong Pasir and Sydney seen in miniature

Togusa Chan’s Miniature Town: Potong Pasir, a striking entry into the WHERE THE HEART IS competition, gives a totally new perspective on one of the smallest HDB estates in Singapore, known for its slated roof flats and the school in its neighbourhood.

The film is one of 19 which played in a series of openair screenings at Martin Place at the Sydney Film Festival in June, and in Perth as part of the Commonwealth Festival for the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Togusa is a final year Digital Visual Effects student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and a freelance photographer who enjoys shooting fashion, portraits, and panoramas. He is currently working on his final year project: a short film shot in Stereographic 3D format.

Of Miniature Town, Togusa writes:

In simple terms, Potong Pasir is my hometown. I stayed there since i was a baby, went to school there, So obviously Where my heart was, was in Potong Pasir. It is one of the quieter and smaller HDB estates in Singapore and well the only few opposition-controlled areas in singapore. That may change on 7th May. Many Singaporeans may think, the town is outdated and old looking as other housing estates that is under the ruling party got updated, but really as you watch the short, it is just like anywhere else in Singapore. And to give it an interesting effect as Potong Pasir was one of the smaller estates I used the miniature effect to further add to the point.

On the technical aspects of this short, there were some planning i did ahead before i started shooting. I kinda did a pre-viz with the music i wanted to use. to get the timing and gauging how much footage do i need to shoot from a certian angle. As for Location recee, it was easy as I knew the town quite well. I used 2 cameras ( a nikon D300 and D300s) to capture the stills at 1sec intervals timelapse and used lens like 18-55, 50-150 to catch the action. I spend about 30 hours of running from block to block, stairwell to stairwell for about 20GB or 6000 plus still frames.

After shooting, i had to process all the stills into a single clip for each shot. Then using After Effects to make the Miniature effect. As i shot at full res of 12.3 megapix, i could crop or make fake panning in the video. The whole process from Pre-production to the finished short took about 2 weeks. Post production took like 8 days with 2 days of rendering.

During the whole post production period, i did not dare to check the competition gallery as there were many films i felt were better than what i am doing. The only one i checked out was my friend’s (as we were in the same room, rendering the film) short: Bus/Stop which to me had more story than mine, which was more like a visual feast.

Miniature Town: Potong Pasir was the first short film that I did for myself. Before that i did make some shorts for school work. Not long after the competition, I shot my Final Year film project, the first live action Stereoscopic 3D short film done by Polytechnic, titled “LAKME”. I was the producer and director of photography this time round. Spent about 14 days of shooting and about 3 month in Post Production. Till now i am not sure when is the release date for the film as it is handled by my school.

Currently I am working on another project revolving around the General Elections in Singapore which this year is the biggest one since Singapore Independence.

Miniature Town: Potong Pasir played at these year’s Sydney Film Festival as part of a series of special open air screenings in Martin Place and in Perth as part of the Commonwealth Festival for the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. It uses the tilt-shift / time-lapse technique pioneered by Sydney’s Keith Loutit, who has attracted world attention with his BATHTUB series of short films that transformed both iconic and familiar Sydney scenes into miniature wonderlands.

In Loutit’s films, scaled down and sped up realities, real world subjects become their miniature counterparts. Boats bob like toys in a bathtub, cars race like slot-cars, and crowds march as toy armies. Loutit’s aim is create a sense of wonder in our surroundings by “challenging people’s perceptions of scale, and helping the viewer to distance themselves from places they know well”.

SMALL WORLDS is Loutit’s most ambitious project to date, documenting the world’s great cities, landscapes and monuments of the ancient world in miniature. In a time of population explosion, impacts to our environment, and concern over limited resources our world feels smaller than ever. But through Loutit’s lens the world seems simple and uncomplicated, the differences between people are reduced, and obstacles seem easily overcome. By presenting a view of the world from ‘the outside in’ Loutit aims to tell an inspirational story of mankind working together as one. We will see cities being built, the world’s great events, and daily life all in Loutit’s trademark style of miniaturization.

Keith talks about his process below.

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