Unique filmmaking technique applied to Edinburgh to be transferred to The Helix, Falkirk

A FILMMAKING technique that creates moving footage from time-lapse images is to be used for an arts project in Falkirk after being twice successfully deployed in Edinburgh.

Walid Salhab, a media practice lecturer at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, is to begin work on The Helix, described as “a land transformation project driven by Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals which is turning 350 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a vibrant new parkland with visitor attractions”.

Says a media release announcing his involvement: “Walid has been contracted to produce a time lapse/stop motion film of the Helix project as it moves toward completion. His main focus will be the 75-day construction phase of The Kelpies, two 30-metre high steel-plated sculptures of horses’ heads, weighing over 600 tonnes, which will tower above the Forth & Clyde canal and form a dramatic gateway at the eastern entrance to Helix Park.

“The filming, which started at the end of June and will last for four months, will capture the construction of both sculptures. Each Kelpie head will be positioned either side of a specifically constructed lock and basin, which is part of the redeveloped canal hub. Created by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, The Kelpies are a monument to the horse-powered industrial and agricultural heritage across Central Scotland. Commuters travelling on the M9 can already see the sculptures taking shape.

“Walid will turn his footage, shot over 42 separate days, into a three-minute time lapse/stop motion film. Images of The Kelpies construction will account for 90 seconds, with the remaining running time showcasing other visitor attractions within the Falkirk area including The Falkirk Wheel, Falkirk Stadium, and the newly refurbished Boness Hippodromme.”

His Kinetic Edinburgh I and Kinetic Edinburgh II films comprised images all recorded on a hand-held camera. Despite the sense of movement, no sliders or tracks were used. Each film was made up of over 10,000 individual photos all pieced together to create the illusion of movement.

The media release quotes Salhab, as saying: “For The Helix, we are using a combination of static cameras as well as some cameras on tracks and some handheld work. This will provide more flexibility when it comes to capturing and selecting a variety of images. We believe that the combination of techniques employed over the duration of a project of this length has never actually been done before. It’s the combination of using images from both static and moving cameras that make this project different.”

The release adds: “Walid’s work came to the attention of an international audience in 2011 and 2012 when his short film ‘Bra-et Al Rouh’ (Innocence of the Spirit) was screened at festivals in Cannes, The Hamptons (New York), Las Vegas, Cape Cod, and Rennes. He picked up seven awards in the process. ‘Bra-et Al Rouh’ was also screened in the Edinburgh Filmhouse as part of the International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace in February this year. During 2012, Walid perfected his unique time lapse/stop motion technique during the production of the two Kinetic Edinburgh films which he used as research for his up and coming film, ‘Avaritia’.”

The release further quotes Salhab, as saying: “The last year has been a bit of a surprise. My initial intention was to research the best way of doing stop motion/time lapse techniques so that I could employ them on another film that could enter the festival circuit. So the Kinetic Edinburgh films were my research projects. I never expected to get such a huge reaction from both a Scottish and international audience. It has been overwhelming.

“It’s amazing to think that what was essentially a research exercise has ended up with my involvement in the Helix, one of Scotland largest arts and regeneration projects. I’m excited by the enormity of the opportunity and the chance to create a totally new piece of visual work which will be internationally accessible. I hope I can make a small contribution in helping both the local community and international visitors to see Falkirk through new eyes – as an area which pays homage to its routes as Scotland’s industrial heartland but one which has emerged as a vibrant, sustainable and contemporary attraction which significantly strengthens Scotland’s tourism offering.”