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1900s America as it really was: Artist uses vintage still photos to bring to life bygone New York, Boston, Detroit and DC in incredible moving pictures

 Alexey Zakharov from Moscow spent over a year painstakingly animating old photos from the early 1990s
The 36-year-old separated moving and static elements of each image, and used 3D models to create animations
Titled 'The Old New World', the short film features landmarks such as the Capitol Building and Central Park
Artist also created series of still 'postcards' for each city using the 3D models 


An artist has created incredibly realistic animations of America in the early 1900s based almost entirely on vintage photos.
Alexey Zakharov from Moscow describes his animations as a 'travel back in time with a little steampunk time machine.'
His latest animation is so flawless that it looks as if you're watching real antique footage of the streets of New York, Boston, Detroit, Washington D.C.

The short film, titled 'The Old New World', was a labour of love for the 36-year-old, who spent more than a year on the project.
The four-minute film takes you on a journey through famous landmarks such as Central Park in New York and the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore.
'I came up with the idea for a full retro-photoanimation project after visiting the Shorpy site,' Zakharov told DailyMail.com.
'This is astonishing place with tons of reconstructed hi-resolution photos. I spent many hours there.
'First I made only one animation shot used a single photo. Then, a year later, I decided to make something more complete.'
Zakharov says there are two main stages to creating animation from photos.
The first involves something known as 'camera projection', which allows him to separate the static and moving parts of each image. 
'A picture, cut into layers is projected on the geometry created by 3D software,' he explains. 'I use this geometry to set city backgrounds, buildings and other static elements
'The second stage is creating full computer graphics of characters people, animals, vehicles etc.

He uses 3D computer models of these objects to help achieve this. 'Then I compiled all the layers in a process known as compositing process.'
The animation is set in a period in whcih America was undergoing a dramatic period of change following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

This brought to end the prosperity of the twenties and triggered the greatest economic decline in US history.
In 1929 only three per cent of Americans were without a job, by 1933, the unemployment rate had risen to 25 per cent. 

The animation of New York provide an incredible contrast to what life is like in the Big Apple today. 
The skyscrapers are non-existent and the streets are far from bustling. Images of the Flatiron district in 1931, for instance, clearly show the Met Life tower.
Today, the same area has so many tall building that the Met Life tower is obscured in images taken from the same angle. 

The biggest challenge for Zakharov was grappling with the technical elements of creating computer graphics. 
'Photoshop is a lot of work when you need to cut a photo into layers and clean it up. It is not so difficult as long,' he said. 
'Animation was the most difficult task for me, because I'm not true animator like the Pixar guys.
'The hardest thing for me is to find a free time for the project. Time is the most valuable resource.
Zakharov says he is taking a break from photo animation for now, but plans to do similar projects in the future. 
'As I expected in the professional computer graphic (CG) community reaction was quite calm,' he said.
'For the professional CG-artist it is not very interesting. I did not expect that many people who are very far from CG liked the project.'
'It means that I was able to recreate true spirit of the old times, and it's totally worth it.' 

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