World War II Time Lapse of Berlin: How it was shot [INTERVIEW]

Berlin after World War II vs Berlin today. Read the story behind this World War II time lapse project in this interview with its creator!
Thomas Poecksteiner

Thomas Poecksteiner

Co-Founder of FilmSpektakel and Time Lapse Magazine

Time lapse photographer and filmmaker Paul Wehden, also known as @timelapseworlds, has just released a great time lapse video which blends Berlin at the end of World War II with the city today. We asked Paul a few questions about how he accomplished this awesome project. Watch the video right here and read the interview about this World War II time lapse below!

The Interview

Time Lapse Magazine (TLM): Paul, please introduce yourself and tell us how you found your way into time lapse photography.

Paul: Hi, my name is Paul Wehden. I’m 22 years old, and I’m a professional time lapse photographer and filmmaker living in Berlin. When I was 13 years old, I watched a tilt shift time lapse video called “Tiny Town Berlin” which fascinated me. However, I didn’t have a camera, so I had to download an iOS app to try to create tilt shift time lapses. But the results were not satisfying at all. So, a real DSLR camera climbed to the top of my wish list, and I luckily got one in the end. A Sony A57 was my first camera. And to this day, I have stuck with the Sony brand.

TLM: What fascinates you about time lapse, and how do you make a living from it?

Paul: Firstly, I simply love creating new things. Secondly, I love the adventure of going somewhere unknown and trying to get the best out of it. But above all, I think time lapses and hyperlapses look just awesome. So, I really am glad that I managed to turn my hobby into my profession.

At the beginning of this year, I put all my eggs in one basket and tried to make a living just from time lapse photography and filmmaking. I mainly shoot music videos, time lapse stock footage and other film productions. The project I am most proud of is my work for the German Bundestag, for which I created five videos (one for each building) plus a best-of video featuring all buildings in one video:

TLM: Very cool. Let’s talk about your latest project: The World War II Time Lapse of Berlin. How did this idea come to your mind?

Paul: I think I had had this idea in mind since 2019. Back then, I watched a documentary about World War II, and it struck me that I actually knew a lot of the locations shown. I recognised not only the buildings, but also the locations where they were shot. So, I thought that it would look really interesting to blend these old photos together with time lapses of how these parts of town look today. I did a short edit of this idea last year and uploaded the results to Instagram on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Berlin.

TLM: How did you start production of such a project?

Paul: I simply googled “Berlin 1945” and picked the photos I knew the location of. I picked 18 different pictures. I managed to find the exact spot of twelve of them. After that, I created a route of these locations on a map to efficiently plan my visits. In the end, I found that the transitions of eight of them were good enough to make it into the final video.

TLM: What did production for this project look like? Were there any difficulties you had to overcome?

Paul: After reaching the location and finding the perfect spot, I worked hard to get my shot as close to the original of 1945 as possible. To achieve this, I concentrated on the edges of buildings and statues to find the perfect angle.

The most difficult part was to find not only the exact location, but also the exact spot and angle. For some locations this was easy; for others it was tough. In a lot of cases, the spots were really hard to reach because the pictures in 1945 were taken from spots where today traffic is rushing through the city. This is why the transitions of some pictures did not work as well as I wish they had.

TLM: And once you got the shot, how did you proceed in post-production?

Paul: Firstly, I used the basic standard time lapse post-production workflow to turn my image sequences into a video file: I used Adobe Lightroom to do a basic grading and Adobe After Effects to turn the image sequence into a video file. I did the edit of the video in Adobe Premiere.

It took me roughly 10-60 minutes to put the layers perfectly above each other. If there were any problems and it did not fit as well as I wished, I used the “CC Power Pin” effect in Adobe After Effects.

TLM: The resulting video looks awesome! Are you happy with what you have accomplished?

Paul: Yes, I’m very happy with the results. But what I’m most happy about is all the positive feedback I’m getting. Not only from time lapse photographers from all over the world, but also from people that are usually not into time lapse. This gives me tons of motivation to continue my time lapse photography. Within one day I got 20,000 plays and got mentioned in 250 stories on Instagram, which feels crazy to me!

TLM: That’s well deserved in our opinion! What are your plans for the future?

Paul: Besides some other projects, I’m planning on doing a behind-the-scenes video about the work I put into this World War II time lapse, which I’m going to release very soon.

Furthermore, I’m a big fan of collaborations. I love working with other time lapse photographers via Instagram. In the next few weeks, I’m going to release a little project I’m doing together with emericstimelapse and the Instagram channel @filmmkrs.

TLM: We’re looking forward to seeing more of your projects in the future. Thanks, Paul, for taking the time to do this interview.

Please check out Paul’s website, YouTube and Instagram to be updated on new projects of his.

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