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‘Boston in Flux’ blends modern Boston with city of old

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Apartment buildings seem to grow behind the George Washington statue at the Public Garden in the short film ‘Boston in Flux.‘

Boston is being remade, with towering skyscrapers and new luxury condominiums sprouting up in neighborhoods from the Seaport District to downtown.

But the future is being built on the past.

That's what two local filmmakers tried to portray in a short film they released this week called "Boston in Flux."

The three-and-a-half minute clip uses color video of Boston in its present state and blends it with footage from the 1920s and 1940s to show both how much the city has transformed and how much it's stayed the same.

"There is this tension between the history and progress in this city that you can feel every day," said Paul Villanova, one of the video's producers. "People are always complaining that everything is changing, and it's not the way it used to be. But they say that as they walk past a building built a century ago."


For example, in "Boston in Flux," Villanova and co-creator Richard T.K. Hawke morphed a shot of the Boston Public Library from the Twenties with footage of the building today, as a duck boat goes rolling by.

Another moment in the video shows the George Washington statue at the Public Garden standing on its own in a grainy, black and white landscape. Then, suddenly, it comes to life with vibrant colors, and apartment buildings seem to grow behind the monument.

Shots of Charlestown, the North End, Faneuil Hall, and East Boston are also featured in the short film.

Hawke said it was much easier to pinpoint photographic images of old Boston than it was to locate video footage.

"It was a challenge," he said.

But the duo pulled it off.

The project took Villanova, who has an MFA in film production from Boston University, and Hawke nine months to complete.

They collected black and white footage from the past from commercial archival film companies, and a non-profit historical archive, they said. Hawke and Villanova also located older film online and got the permission to use it from individual owners.


The color footage from Boston as it looks today was captured by the filmmakers in the spring and summer last year.

Villanova said they relied on Adobe Creative Cloud to integrate the video clips from past and present. Then they enlisted the help of Marc Valois, a producer and founder of Somerville's Starlab Studio, to add a soundtrack that mixes a "blend of period recordings and new compositions."

"The motivation was to create a film that was distinct to Boston that we thought a lot of people would want to see," said Villanova. "And we thought we would comment on some of the distinct qualities of the city — specifically how it is so tied to the past, but is also in a state of constant change."

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.