Paper City – an Urban Story: UN-Habitat launches video on urban challenges

By on 10/10/2014

As part of its Urban October celebrations, UN-Habitat has launched “Paper City”, a stop-motion video animation portraying today’s urban challenges using a paper and cardboard mock city.

Aimed at an audience not yet familiar with urbanization processes, the video intends to draw attention on current issues caused by rapid and uncontrolled city growth. It points out possible urban solutions in a visual and attention-captivating way that is fun and easy to understand.

The video was done using a stop-motion technique. Over 1500 photo stills where taken of a 4 sqm mock city including buildings, streets, trees, cars and people made out of paper, cardboard and polystyrene. The frames were then added together to create motion.

The “Paper City” video is currently available on UN-Habitat’s website (unhabitat.org/papercity) and on YouTube.

What is Paper City?

Paper City is a stop-motion video made of animated photo stills portraying today’s urban challenges and possible solutions using a paper and cardboard mock city.

Why Paper City?

The intention of the video is to show the urban challenges caused by rapid, poorly controlled demographic growth of cities, as well as pointing out possible solutions in a visual, easy to understand, fun and attention-captivating way, while, at the same time, emphasizing on the urgency of immediate action.

How was Paper City done?

The video was done using stop-motion technique. Over 1500 photo stills where taken of a 4 sqm mock city including buildings, streets, trees, cars and people made out of paper, cardboard and polystyrene.

The different items of the city were moved around, frame by frame, to illustrate different scenarios, such as slum growth, traffic jams or urban sprawl. The frames were then added together to create motion, totaling to 3 minutes of video.

Who should watch Paper City?

The video is aimed at an audience not yet familiar with urbanization issues, but everybody should see it as it gives a good overview of the problems some of our cities are currently facing.

Do your own Paper City!

This kind of project is great for school classes, associations, clubs, or even on your own. All you need is a photo camera, some basic photo and video software (often already part of your OS bundles), a bit of time, some creative ideas, and, of course, paper… Now go and get building and share your results with us!

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