You’ve never seen Shanghai like this before! Incredibly crafted timelapse

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planetDustin alerted us to this incredible piece of timelapse of Shanghai from Rob Whitworth and JT Singh

Read below for some planet5D exclusive behind the scenes info and photos!

This is Shanghai - Sunrise

This is Shanghai – Sunrise

This is Shanghai

[tentblogger-vimeo 63635193]

Rob's PR description

Keep reading past this for the planet5D exclusives

n 1980 Shanghai had no skyscrapers. It now has at least 4,000 — more than twice as many as New York. ‘This is Shanghai’ explores the diversities and eccentricities of the metropolis that is Shanghai going beyond the famous skyline.

Photographer Rob Whitworth and urban identity expert JT Singh joined forces combining deep city exploration and pioneering filmmaking. ‘This is Shanghai’ is a roller coaster ride seamlessly weaving between the iconic, sparkling and mismatched buildings of the financial district travelling by boat and taxi touring Shanghai’s impressive infrastructure whilst glimpsing some of the lesser-known aspects of Shanghai life such as the lower stratum areas or the stunning graffiti of Moganshan road. And of course there is the opportunity to try some of the vast variety of street food and Shanghai’s most popular homegrown delicacy, the pan-fried pork dumplings, the shengjian bao.

Wherever you travel in Shanghai the cities skyline is always present. The looming silhouette of the almost constructed Shanghai Tower now dominates and perfectly encapsulates the new heights this city is yet to reach. Once completed, in 2014, it will be the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

To understand the city, the team carried out rigorous urban exploration. In the words of JT “we walked, walked and walked, the Jane Jacobs way”. Weibo, China’s main social media platform was used to ask local Shanghainese people to share ideas of different vantage points and what they thought were the over-riding characteristics of the city. Stealth and curiosity were required to find and gain access to rooftops and locations. It became addictive for the team discovering breath-taking vantage points of the city. There was always an adrenaline rush upon reaching the top of a different building to see the vast urban jungle of Shanghai.

Rob Whitworth ( is a creative time lapse photographer from the UK based in Asia. His previous videos, ‘Traffic in Frenetic HCMC’ and ‘Kuala Lumpur DAY-NIGHT’ have received international attention including being short listed for 7 film festivals, and have had received well over 2 million online views.

JT Singh ( has explored hundreds of emerging cities around the world and is a next generation thinker about the value and impact of 21st century cities. Having grown up in Toronto JT is now based in China. He explains:
“The over-riding reason we made this video was to creatively show the world visually how China is rising, in particular Chinese cities. Just as New York City exemplified the strengths and ambitions of emerging America in the 20th century, Shanghai, perhaps more than any old or emerging rival, will personify the power and dreams of rising Asia in the 21st century.”

A ThrillingCities Production –
Engineering cutting-edge Identities for Cities on the Rise
JT Singh
Rob Whitworth
Copyright all images Rob Whitworth 2013 – | Soundtrack used under license Artist ‘Subscape’ Track ‘Shanghai’ © submergedmusic

Rob's info for planet5D

I asked Rob if he'd share some hints about how they managed to pull off the sections where they zoom in and follow the cars on the highway…

The zooms are a mixture of in-camera and in-post with some motion tracking thrown in – oh and loads and loads of planning.

A key part of this project was working with someone else – this is my first collaborative project working with JT Singh ( We did a ton of exploring to find the best locations in town.

I'm not sure if I should mention this but I'm a Nikon user…. it's shot on a single and very hard working Nikon D7000 that has subsequently been put into retirement.

Rob, it is ok! We love Nikon too!

This is Shanghai - Gear!

This is Shanghai – Gear!

I also had to ask about the power blackout scene – did he pull that off in-camera somehow or was that all done in post?

Re the black out, I wasn't sure I'd get away with that. I had it in
mind and then Shanghai helped me out. At about 10:30pm the government
buildings power down one by one to save electricity.

Who knew!

More photos

This is Shanghai - Copyright all images Rob Whitworth 2013

This is Shanghai – Copyright all images Rob Whitworth 2013

This is Shanghai Copyright all images Rob Whitworth 2013

This is Shanghai Copyright all images Rob Whitworth 2013

This is Shanghai Copyright all images Rob Whitworth 2013

This is Shanghai Copyright all images Rob Whitworth 2013

(cover photo credit: snap from Rob)


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He's incredibly happy running planet5D and sharing so much joy of photography and filmmaking with his readers.

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