City film-maker’s Kelpies video wows New York

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A STUNNING film by a Capital cameraman which shows the creation of the two Kelpie ­statues in Falkirk has wowed audiences in New York.

Being screened as part of Scotland Week, the time-lapse film by the award-winning Edinburgh film-maker Walid Salhab had its world premiere in the Big Apple, while two smaller versions of the Kelpies are exhibited only a few blocks away from the Empire State Building.

Walid Salhab with a scene from his film on the Kelpies at Falkirk. Picture: Toby Williams

Walid Salhab with a scene from his film on the Kelpies at Falkirk. Picture: Toby Williams

His unprecedented access to the Falkirk-based building site – part of The Helix – meant that he could spend days and nights filming the seven-strong crew’s progress over five months.

The film portrays the Kelpies in an intimate way, highlighting every feature of the two imposing giants – during the day, at night, in rain and wind.

To produce this effect, Mr Salhab used a technique that consists of taking one picture, then moving the camera for an inch, framing the shot and taking another.

Later, the images are put together to produce motion. In a world where film-makers are used to immediately see what the camera is filming, in this project they had to wait several hours if not days to see the images as a sequence.

Mr Salhab said the painstakingly complex and time-consuming method of filming meant that sometimes he would spend hours waiting for the perfect moment.

“It took me two months to get a shot with the moon just in the right position,” he revealed.

And there were no second chances if a mistake was made. “We couldn’t just ask them, could you lift that twenty ton horse muzzle up again. One time was all we got,” Mr ­Salhab explained.

Even though there was almost no colour editing done to the images – he achieved the film’s striking colours by using a relatively long exposure – having a total of about 120,000 photographs to work with meant that he often spent his evenings choosing and editing the total of 12,000 images eventually used in the seven-minute film.

And for the Queen Margaret University lecturer and his technical support partner, Bill Annua, this was the only way to do the Kelpies justice.

When shooting began on when the commission from the Helix it was for a three-minute film documenting the Kelpies’ construction.

But it grew to seven minutes to not only show the building phase, but also to examine the finished horses from every angle and in any weather condition imaginable.

“I owed it to the Kelpies,” Mr Salhab said to explain this change of plans.

And he is not finished yet. He plans to capture the fireworks during the statues’ international launch on the April 17 prior to their opening to the public on the April 21.

The Kelpies’ creator, Andy Scott, called the time-lapse film “absolutely stunning”, with The Helix also being particularly impressed with the finished article. And their ­opinions were echoed by viewers at a screening at Queen Margaret University, where people found it to be “an emotional document of architectural history”.