Opening credits of Sherlock and other BBC series: toys, animation, or real life processed somehow?

The opening credits of Sherlock and other BBC shows have opening credit scenes that I can’t figure out. They are typically shot from high overhead and show street scenes, with cars, buses and pedestrians moving on well-known London streets.

In one sense, they appear to be real-life scenes, but just processed somehow to make them “jerky”.

Sometimes, though, they seem like stop-motion animation, with toys moved around a constructed neighborhood, or some other animation technique.

Then I look at the pedestrians, and their movement seems much too fluid and realistic to be animated.

Does anyone know how these scenes are done? And does the technique have a name?


They look like real street scenes sped up to me, with some cuts to make it jerky. (Which has surely got to be a whole lot cheaper than animation.)

I’ve never watch Sherlock before, but here’s the opening credits: BBC's Sherlock Opening Titles - YouTube

The first shot is of Piccadilly Circus, and it definitely is the real Piccadilly Circus. Various different methods have been combined though to jazz it up. Obviously some kind of miniature-faking (possibly tilt-shift, but I’d guess more likely some post processing) technique has been applied to the camera and also time effects

It’s definitely tilt-shift. I have used this feature on my DSLR camera to shoot pedestrians in vegas and it’s the exact same effect as seen in the opening credit scenes in Sherlock.

Here’s an example (not mine).

Some of the bumpers on Project Runway in New York are hyper realistic. The street scenes look almost fake but perhaps it’s the opposite of Sherlock. I think both are very attractive.

It just the Koyaanisqatsi technique.

Because I love getting hits on my flickr account, here’s an example that is mine.

Also a Wired article on the technique.

That’s time lapse. The issue here is how everything looks in the individual shots, which someone correctly pointed out is tilt shift.