200 years in 200 seconds: Images of early Singapore come alive in ST bicentennial video series

From the early years of hard labour and turmoil to the vibrant First World nation it is today, Singapore has come a long way in 200 years. This video series celebrates the spirit of Singapore in its bicentennial year.

SINGAPORE - The first of six videos in a series on Singapore's bicentennial year with the theme "200 years in 200 seconds" was launched on Friday (Feb 8).

The series is a collaboration between The Straits Times' video team, picture desk, and heritage and community correspondent Faith Melody Zaccheus.

The first video succinctly captures key milestones in Singapore's history in 200 seconds, through the use of rare pictures from as far back as 1819.

These old images, which include the earliest surviving drawing of Singapore, literally come alive in the video through the use of cinemagraphs.

Turning the old photos into cinemagraphs was no easy feat.

"The animation work for each photograph took time as painstaking detail was needed in order to bring a static image to life," said acting video editor Yeung E-Von.

"Motion animation work included etching out visuals like people and objects in the foreground, separating the image into several layers, and creating motion effects like camera movement," she added.


Visual effects, such as a billowing column of smoke coming out of a moving train, or trees swaying in the wind, helped to add movement and realism to the photograph, said Ms Yeung.

The motion graphics work was done by motion graphics designer Alexis Gabrielle.

The video took about three months to complete, as producer Olivia Chang worked with Ms Zaccheus to highlight the milestones across 200 years of Singapore's history.

They worked with ST picture desk's chief photographer Joyce Fang to source for the corresponding photos to tell the story visually, and some of these photos took a month or two to be sourced and approved for use, said Ms Yeung.

Ms Fang, who was in charge of sourcing the photos, said: "Melody put the timeline together and Olivia developed the themes, and they gave some suggestions of the visuals they wanted to use for the video."

She then followed up by going through the online photo collections at the National Archives of Singapore and the National Heritage Board (roots.sg), as well as the collection from the archives of the Singapore Press Holdings.

"The collections are vast so it took time to comb through the various categories of photos. And it was also challenging to find historical photos that dated to specific milestones. For example, a Malay kampung in the 1800s," she added.

For milestones that were impossible to pair with photos, the team used paintings and postcards, said Ms Fang.

The video team, with more than 20 people, has been ramping up video production and experimenting with different formats.

In the coming weeks and months, five more videos will be launched in this bicentennial series, covering iconic buildings, heritage foods and fashion.