The miniature city of Samba

The miniature city of Samba

We strongly advise you to watch and appreciate the video first, before you read the rest of the article. If you’re the impatient sort, go ahead and skip to 02:15 – it’s where the party starts! 🙂

This video was made by Jarbas Agnelli and Keith Loutit.

Both were winners at YouTube play, a Biennial of Creative Video at the Guggenheim Museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin & Venice in October 2010.

Keith Loutit is an Australian filmmaker based in Singapore.

Keith attracted an internet and media sensation, following the release of his ‘Bathtub’ series of short films, that transformed both iconic and familiar Sydney scenes into miniature wonderlands. Known as the pioneer of the tilt-shift / time-lapse technique, Loutit was the first to recognize how time and focus combine to support the powerful illusion of miniaturization in film.

In his 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”.

Beach - City of Samba

Jarbas Agnelli is a Brazilian multimedia artist who uses film, photo, illustration and music to communicate ideas. In 2001 he founded AD Studio, a production house in São Paulo, Brazil, which over the last decade has become internationally recognized for its work in advertising, music videos, shorts, internet and TV content and soundtracks.

In his many years as studio head, he has directed over 450 films, the majority of which utilize his unique mix of special effects and alternative filming techniques. Always interested in technology, Jarbas’ development as a filmmaker has paralleled the rise of digital media and computer processing.

The miniature city of Samba

Here’s what follower Mark Bruce had to say after watching the video:

I can’t quite place it but there is just something about the tilt shift effect in this video, making the people, vehicles, buildings, and whole world appear as miniatures, and combined with the little jerky movements that the people make. I don’t know whether it is sadness, nostalgia, or pity that is combined with a sense of happy satisfaction and contentment.

King Kong - City of Samba

For me it gives a visceral feeling for how small our world really is, how fragile and delicate we really are; seemingly powerless individually yet able to move mountains and walk on the moon collectively. The funny absurdity of little organic automatons flying helicopters along the beach and dancing in the streets; the city as an organic hive of activity, a figurative ant’s nest.

Beach - City of Samba

The hopes and dreams of all these little organic automatons living out their little lives, most of whom seem focused on their immediate concerns and unable to take in and comprehend the big and really broad picture that affects them all. What this super-organism will become, what legacy this super-organism leaves on its fragile little world, and what transformations lie in store for the individual is anyone’s guess at this stage.


To provide a small glimpse as to what is actually happening behind the scenes, here’s another video: