Dubai: He has travelled 4,000 kilometres and taken 300,000 pictures to show the beauty of the UAE and to challenge himself.
Lewis De Mesa is the man behind a time-lapse video that captures nature in five emirates. He calls the video "Emirates Winter" and says the video has gone viral on the internet since it was posted on November 13. De Mesa said it has received 27,000 hits since, and the number is growing.
"I really didn't expect such a large number of hits for my video. It was more of self fulfilment to achieve this result. I was fascinated that such beautiful natural places exist in the UAE," he told Gulf News.
De Mesa, who is a motion designer, has been living in Dubai for the past ten years. He moved here in 2001 from Manila and worked as a graphic designer for an advertising company for three years. He then took up jobs at various companies and is now freelancing, mostly doing motion designing and interactive videos and clips.
De Mesa says he is fascination with time-lapse videos. He said he got interested after watching some from various countries on CNN.
"Not everyone knew how to do it [time-lapse videos], when there was a boom of digital camera some three years ago, a British professional had done a time-lapse video of Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis. That's when I thought I can also do it," he said.
De Mesa said he did not have the money to buy the camera immediately and by the time he bought it, there were many time-lapse videos. "I wanted to challenge myself to do something different and big. I was doing it purely for myself and not for commercial purposes at all. I also wanted to share the knowledge of doing it with everyone, that's why I have listed the equipment I used for this video in addition to the exact places I went to and its coordinates in a map on my website," he said.
De Mesa said he used a "time-lapse dolly", a moving rail on which a camera is mounted. It makes it possible for the camera to move in both directions or up and down, which explains the motion pictures in the video. He said he researched the locations he had chosen and watched various images of the places. He started his project from Fujairah.
He said it took him from January to May just to shoot the pictures, since he shot 300 photos of every location. He said every 300 photos made only 12 seconds of the video. The entire video includes 300,000 photos. It took him about six months to edit the video. "I had already put a famous song track on the video, but then I thought I should find someone to compose an original score," De Mesa said.
The original score for the video was composed by Ryan Scully, a New York-based composer, who got interested after seeing the video.
For the project, De Mesa travelled in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. He could not shoot in Ajman and Umm Al Quwain due to some permission issues.
"The whole trip was very exhausting and time consuming, but it's all worth it in the end. I've seen so many beautiful places here in the UAE, plus I enjoyed all the long drives as well as being close to nature and far away from city for a while. I'm hoping to find more time and discover new places and capture it again on video," De Mesa wrote as part of the video description. He said, he came across places with beautiful scenery that were "hidden".
"One such place is right behind Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, where there is a tomb. It is kind of difficult to get to that place but it is really beautiful and not many people know about it. Another one is a cave also in Al Ain, but it is closed and nobody is allowed to go near it as it is too risky," he added.
He said during the journey, he had to camp for days, which was difficult, and he had to borrow 4x4 vehicle from his friend. De Mesa said he met some Emiratis who helped by showing him around some places and explained the history to him. He said he was especially interested in capturing moving clouds, so he kept a close watch on the forecasts.
"Moving clouds are important in timelapses, so I was literally chasing the clouds and setting positions to shoot them. That also took a long time," he said.
Alia Al Theeb is an Emirati writer based in Dubai.
Where to find the time-lapse video
The "Emirates Winter" video is about four minutes long. It starts with a photo of a dam in Fujairah, and moves along to Al Hamra area in Ras Al Khaimah, then Al Ain, then Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It mostly focuses on nature in the areas where it is shot. It was posted online on http://www.artlifeflip.net/emirateswinter/ on November 13 and has received 27,000 hits.