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Another complex shot - merging three different shots into one


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#1 Raymond O'Neil

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 10:30 PM

Hi, basically here is the set-up.

1. Actor will be lying down on a flat surface, camera (suspended from a crane) will come down very slowly from above until extreme close up of the actor. This first shot will be done outdoors.

2. Next shot: actor's face will be slowly covered by water. Basically he is sinking slowly into water. As soon as his face disappears under water he "comes to senses" and starts pulling his face out of the water. At one point I'd like the transition to happen before his final emergence from water

3. Next scene: he basically wakes up on a third location. Again, I'd like to keep extreme close-up and then finally pull out to medium close-up to show that he is not in the same location as the first one - third location will be in-doors. Middle location acting as a transition.

Ideally, I'd like to have all three scenes to be merged in a way that it leaves the impression of being one continuous shot without cuts/transitions. Basically: camera comes down to extreme close up, then suddenly he starts sinking, then he begins to emerge from water and his final emergence is on a different location.

Is it possible to accomplish?

Thanks a lot in advance

Edited by Rati Oneli, 17 October 2006 - 10:31 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 11:06 PM

I don't get what the middle location is if it's an extreme close-up. And does the last location have water in it? Or does he sit up from water that suddenly disappears? What exactly are the first and last locations?
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#3 Raymond O'Neil

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 11:21 PM

I don't get what the middle location is if it's an extreme close-up. And does the last location have water in it? Or does he sit up from water that suddenly disappears? What exactly are the first and last locations?



Hi David,

This is basically a dream sequence.

first location is ground (outdoor). the actor is lying on the ground, we crane down on him until extreme close-up and we keep extreme close up. Next location could be anywhere where we can put the actor in the water so his head can be submerged. Third location is bedroom where he wakes up. All the time is the same extreme close-up shot without pan, tilt or anything.

So just to re-iterate: main idea is that a spectator knows that the actor is lying on the ground, then we crane-in to extreme close up (one continuous shot), then all of a sudden the actor's face goes under water (still one continuous shot), then he begins emergiing from the water (all the time we see his face only) and then finally he wakes up in his bed - all one continuous shot/frame.

I realize that in the second shot the actor's face will be wet and in the third one, when he wakes up in his bed, it will be dry. I also realize that transition between the second shot (in the water) and third (in the bed) doesn't have to be as smooth as transition from first (on the ground) to the second (in the water), it can be a subtle cut/extremely fast dissolve or something like that. But in the end one should have a feeling that the actor didn't move, but the locations changed (something akin to the laws of "dream-physics" - universe can move around you but you don't have to move).

I am afraid, I am still being vague. I try to be as clear as possible. Does it make sense?

Or does he sit up from water that suddenly disappears?


This is almost the efect. He will try to emerge from the water, but the actual sitting-up will happen in the last scene - in his bed...

Edited by Rati Oneli, 17 October 2006 - 11:23 PM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 11:28 PM

So his face goes underwater but he doesn't break the surface of the water as he sits up, but the water disappears before that or he simply sits "thru" water without breaking the surface? And if he's in extreme close-up, won't he end up even tighter in frame if he's sitting up at that moment? Or are you planning on zooming back faster than he's sitting up in order to end up wide enough to see the bed?

It may be easier if you can have him sit up from being underwater (break the surface of the water in his extreme close-up) and hide the switch to the dry version of himself in the zoom-out wider as he is sitting up. Otherwise, you have to switch to the dry version of himself while he is still underwater so he can "emerge" from the water dry (i.e. morph from his face underwater to his face dry with water composited over him, which may not look correct.)
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#5 Raymond O'Neil

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:01 AM

David, you are absolutely right. He should break the surface of the water. When he sits-up I can either zoom out or dolly out very fast. But the main issue if of transitions between shots/scenes - so they are not noticable.

I forgot to add that frame will be 16:9 and even though it will be extreme close-up his face will not cover the whole frame. For this purpose the background will be dark (dark ground, dark water [we will light the scene correctly] and a dark throw over the bed. In essence, the transition could be dramatic: from dark solid ground background to liquid water background, etc.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:18 AM

It sounds like the grassy ground he lies back on should be in a large bathtub-type tank so that just as you crane / zoom into the tight close-up, you can flood the tank, then have him sit up as soon as his face is submerged, zooming out, then do a matching zoom out as he sits up in bed and morph the two shots together somewhere in the fast zoom out.
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#7 Raymond O'Neil

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:25 AM

The only problem with the large bath-tub and grassy ground in it is that from the crane there is quite a large area visible before it comes down to a close up. It should be clearly visible that he is outdoors. So that's why I have to do three different scenes. In your experience does morphing work well in this kind of situations - to cover up abrupt transitions? And I will try to keep exact same frame...

Thank you for your time. I really appreciate your advice.
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#8 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:51 AM

there are two categories of solutions to your shot-- do you want to achieve it simply/photochemically (meaning clever use of dissolves) or do you have the resources for post work (meaning compositing and/or morphing)? also, what focal length do you want the xcu to be in? because the shorter it is, the more expotentially difficult it's gonna be to pull it off. i would maybe suggest a dolly & zoom combination, so that you can have the short lens parallax as the shot begins, and have a comfortably medium focal length on the xcu.

if going the simple/dissolves route, then this is what i'd suggest...
1. once you have the actor framed in xcu, have two/three/four people with buckets pour water towards his head. hopefully it will be bubbly/splashy/aggressive (lots of visual movement).

2. during all that movement of the water, dissolve to the shot of the actor submerging, and try to roughly match up the direction/tenacity/splashiness of the water's movement from the first shot. it will help sell the shot if your sound effect is aggressive. quickly dissolving between two shots of similarly splashy foreground water has been a workhorse in visual effects for decades.

3. when he sits up, do a snap zoom and dissolve on a matching snap zoom of the final shot in bed. cutting or dissolving on snap zooms or whip pans are the easiest way to create an invisible cut.

3A. or you can have the actor do some sort of distinct movement with his head (like turn it side to side very quickly) while in xcu as he emerges from the water, and you can just cut on the same action of the final shot.

obviously, it will help a lot if the lighting matches up in all shots.

if you wanna go the post/compositing/morph route, then there are literally dozens of ways to do it. i'd suggest you speak to whoever will be doing the vfx and plan it around what techniques they feel comfortable with. but regardless, remember that vfx shots are kinda like a good magician's trick-- they rely heavily on a distinct movement to distract the audience's attention from the element that is changing, in order for no one to notice that it ever changed. this goes for digitally-aided vfx shots as well. unless you're ILM, then you probably don't need decoys/distractions. some of the most common decoys/distractions are aggressive camera movement, fast & intense lighting changes (ie. lightning), splashy water, sparks/pyro, smoke, and the always popular something-quickly-moving-past-the-camera-in-the-immediate-forground.

hope this helps.
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#9 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:53 AM

The only problem with the large bath-tub and grassy ground in it is that from the crane there is quite a large area visible before it comes down to a close up. It should be clearly visible that he is outdoors. So that's why I have to do three different scenes. In your experience does morphing work well in this kind of situations - to cover up abrupt transitions? And I will try to keep exact same frame...

Thank you for your time. I really appreciate your advice.


Where exactly is the last scene?
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 01:25 AM

The only problem with the large bath-tub and grassy ground in it is that from the crane there is quite a large area visible before it comes down to a close up. It should be clearly visible that he is outdoors.


It would probably be easier to shoot him in a tank large enough to surround him in grass and just matte that into a larger area in post, since you'd just be extending grass past grass with a little digital matte painting. So you'd start you crane / zoom back enough to shoot off of the tank area, then that could be pasted into a larger plate of the grassy park, hopefully a high-rez still, then you could do a digital zoom-in that ends where the crane / zoom move begins.

The other option is to forget putting him on grass in the first place and have him lie in a tank with a greenscreen or bluescreen bottom and add the grass background -- trouble with that is that you'd need motion control to match the move on the background plate to the move on him.

At least with the other method, having him surrounded by grass in the tank, full-figure, that you could just do a digital zoom after pasting him into a larger shot.

I'm just trying to get you to avoid moving into a tight close-up in a real location and then having to match cut that to a close-up of him in a tank where the match would be the hardest since his face would be not moving at that point and filling the frame, and you'd have a mismatch in lighting on his face if he was shot outdoors in one shot and indoors in the next.

And it has to be a tank that can be quickly filled with him rigged safely so that he doesn't float up when filled -- safely as in he can easily free himself from whatever is holding him down from floating. I just did a similar shot for a dream sequence except that it was a tank filling with mud, not water.

Are you sure this concept is even possible on your budget? It would be easier to do a wide shot of him lying in the grassy park, cut to a close-up of his head lying on grass but now in a tank, then fill it with water, have him sit out of it, match cut as he sits up in bed with a zoom out to show the bed. It's the water part that makes this hard, since it requires a tank that can be filled quickly.
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#11 Will Earl

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 04:10 AM

Agree with David here, the tricky part is the water...

Using a greenscreen tank is possible, although you'll need either a moco crew or a VFX house to track the shot and matte in the new background - you could probably get away with a couple of simple digi-matte paintings for both the grassy background and the bed he wakes up on.

Shooting on a patch of grass in a tank for the first two parts of the shot would be probably look better than the greenscreen method. All you need then is to have a VFX house extend the area around the patch of grass. The problem with this method is still the breaking of the water into the dry set. You going to have to find away to hide the wet/dry transition, hiding it within a camera move/zoom is probably the best place to hide it - although the your not going to find out the best spot until the edit.

How about shooting dry-for-wet? Shoot the first and last parts of the shot on-set or location and try match the end frame of shot 1 to the start frame of shot 3. Shoot shot 2 on a black background or greenscreen with the shot in XCU, at the start of the shot run the camera @ 24fps then ramp it up (I'm not sure what the going frame rate is for dry-for-wet shots is, 150fps?), have a cue for wind at the same moment. At the tail of the shot, just before it mixes into shot 3, ramp the camera back down to 24fps and kill the wind. You'll probably need a VFX house to finish off the dry-for-wet look. The only catch with this is that the water won't rise up over the actors face, which sounds like it's the most important part of the effect - that sinking feeling.

Otherwise the other solution is to shoot each shot in it's own location - grass, tank, bed. Plan the camera move as one long shot - WS dollying in to XCU and then the dolly out to a WS, match the tails and heads of each shot and hope that a morph or a transition works in the edit.

Good luck.
W

PS. Storyboard the shot and take it to an VFX house/artist. Discuss your options with them and production. Figure out what resources and budget you have to pull this shot off.

Edited by Will Earl, 18 October 2006 - 04:13 AM.

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#12 Raymond O'Neil

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 08:15 PM

Thank you for such detailed replies! I am reading them now and try to distill them. Lots of issues arise of course from my low budget production, but things are clearer now and i will help me come up with a solution I am sure. I will keep posted as how it goes.
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#13 Raymond O'Neil

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:19 PM

I realize I wrote too much and my writing may be very convoluted. So I apologize before hand. I don?t expect anyone to delve into this in detail, all I am hoping for is if anyone has a general advice/comment or if anyone notices a huge discrepancy in my rationale to please tell me. If anyone has a more detailed comment I?d really appreciate.
==================


I've been thinking about this scene and probably the best way to do it is to make locations as simple as possible and add some lighting effects? I will describe it below. What do you think?

By the way, just to clarify the one technical aspect: I am working with JVC HD100 HDV camcorder, with stock lens.

I discarded the ground and bed scenes. Instead, first and last scenes will be in the back seat of a car, while the middle scene stays the same. Seats will be of dark material, most likely leather. It will be a night shot - dark, so I will light the shots which gives me certain flexibility in terms of creating an effect that might help with transitions.

Let's assume the following:

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The protagonist lies on the back seat of the car unconscious. There is light (may be just a streak of light which crosses narrow path of his face or very subtle soft fill light which barely illuminates his face) coming from the outside. The light comes and goes, in other words it flickers. (What would be the best way to produce flickering light?)

When the light goes out the actor is not (or barely) visible - its very dark There is also the driver in the scene. The driver comes around the side of the back door and opens it (car lights come on) ? the actor?s face is illuminated. (I was also thinking it would be nice to produce the effect of human eyes getting-used-to-the-dark-after-a-while. Should I play with the iris/aperture? Keep it closed and then open up a bit? Would it look amateurish? )

The driver might splash some (just a little bit) water in his face and then shut the door. As soon as the door shuts, at that precise moment lights go out and he stays in the dark. I think cut or very fast dissolve is possible at this moment.

The thing is I don't want to use excessive movement of the actor or very splashy effect such as lots of water pouring etc, because the water scene is supposed to be very subtle and quiet.

----------
After the cut, I can have the flickering lighting effect come back on and barely illuminate his face - it would be very dark in the water scene as well. I wouldn't want the audience to realize right away that the background has changed. Ideally, the realization would come when he (his head) slowly starts sinking into the water, enhanced with very quiet water sounds.

(Is it possible to somehow add a ?well effect? to this particular shot visually not sound wise? So that one thinks the actor is somewhere very deep, like in a shaft or a well? This question might be irrelevant since I decided to keep the XCU on the actor)


-------------
Third scene happens in the same car, in the same back seat.

In the second scene, when the actor begins to submerge, at some point he opens his eyes (Is it possible to light the scene in a way that camera sees through the water his open eyes? Would I need a special filter for that?) and begins to re-emerge. As soon as his face emerges from the water I can make another cut. I will be filming the actor from behind his head, so on the screen the image (his head) would be upside down. At the moment the actor begins to emerge from the water there could be a cut at a moment when the back of his head fills the camera frame. I could probably make a very fast dissolve/ cut at this point to the third scene where he continues to sit up.

Thank you for your time.
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#14 Will Earl

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 06:42 AM

Rati,

What you've come up with sounds like a perfectly good plan. I do have some thoughts through...

I'm not sure the environment or context that the car is in, but it might help the effect if you have the only light source as passing traffic or a flickering shop-light or street-lamp. So as the first shot progresses the character goes in and out of the dark, then during the third or so passing car you transition/cut into the water shot.

You could also use this passing light effect to bring the scene back into the 'real-world', although it's possible that having the scene take place in a car, the audience might think that the water rising means the character is drowning in the car that has been driven into a lake or off a wharf (I don't know the context of this in the story so this may not apply).

When the hero wakes back up, are you specifically after the jolt of the character waking into an upright position? Could you get away without the jolt and just have the character unconsious in the backseat of the car with his eyes now wide open, in whatever emotive state he's supposed to be in - drowsy, panic, confusion?

There's probably a few other things you could do, but without any context it's really just a guessing game on this end.
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#15 Raymond O'Neil

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 10:07 PM

I'm not sure the environment or context that the car is in, but it might help the effect if you have the only light source as passing traffic or a flickering shop-light or street-lamp. So as the first shot progresses the character goes in and out of the dark, then during the third or so passing car you transition/cut into the water shot.



Hi Will, thanks. That's is roughly what I was thiking of doing. I'll have to go through my choices of light. I am thinking of using a Halogen lamp for either a passing light or flickering light. I am not sure how to simulate flickering light though. I'll have to work on that.


You could also use this passing light effect to bring the scene back into the 'real-world', although it's possible that having the scene take place in a car, the audience might think that the water rising means the character is drowning in the car that has been driven into a lake or off a wharf (I don't know the context of this in the story so this may not apply).


I will have a Wide Shot showing that the car is not parked near the water, but rather in an urban area.


When the hero wakes back up, are you specifically after the jolt of the character waking into an upright position? Could you get away without the jolt and just have the character unconsious in the backseat of the car with his eyes now wide open, in whatever emotive state he's supposed to be in - drowsy, panic, confusion?


I could do it and this would be an even better solution for me, but how can I cut from him emerging from the water to the back seat again without an apparent/too obvious cut?
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#16 Stuart McCammon

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 10:13 PM

Replying to the original scenario, with the grass - on a super-low budget, I would:

1) Do the crane shot with a jib
2) for the XCU's of water creeping up on his hand & face, rig a frame of 2x6 covered with a tarp, then covered with aritificial grass. Keeping the shots tight minimizes the water volume issue, although you can also rig a raised tub full of water with a suction hose to direct the water flow better. Getting enough light on the water will be a bigger issue.
3) for the reverse angle, make a box with a plexi bottom, fill it with water and shoot up through the plexi
4) when he gets up, sound effects will nicely reinforce the impression of him getting up out of water (if you are worried about wide shots) and contrast to his dry appearance.

Would shoot them 1,4,2,3

Cheers!
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#17 Greg Kowal

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 10:37 PM

is the actor laying down on the back seat or sitting up? I was thinking that maybe what you can do is lay down leather( same material that is being used as the seat in the car) on the wather and have the actor lay his head down on it , then once the head starts pushing on the leather it will all sink in the watter and it should create this sinking in effect (actor still having his eyes closed )( which gives you the ability of the close up )... then as you were saying that shoot from underwater looking into interior of the car or whatever you think matches your movie...have some sweat on the face or something...
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#18 Greg Kowal

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 09:52 AM

is the actor laying down on the back seat or sitting up? I was thinking that maybe what you can do is lay down leather( same material that is being used as the seat in the car) on the wather and have the actor lay his head down on it , then once the head starts pushing on the leather it will all sink in the watter and it should create this sinking in effect (actor still having his eyes closed )( which gives you the ability of the close up )... then as you were saying that shoot from underwater looking into interior of the car or whatever you think matches your movie...have some sweat on the face or something...


ok i don`t know where my head was last night but i must have been very tired to spell WATER - wather and watter... hahaha
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#19 Brian Baker

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 02:07 PM

Lot of good stuff in this thread.

I really like the new additions of the lighting effects (barely illuminated, flickering) to the concept -- and think you can really utilize those to match together your cuts... but I'm iffy about the whole car scenerio.

Are you still going to be jibbing in, or owkring more with cuts now?
I assume the the WS will in some way establish the driver... but if we're in an XCU when the water gets throws on, how do we know he did it? Or do we (the audience) not know?

Maybe its just becasue I got a very clear, visual description of the first concept, and don't entirely understand the latest concepts shots as well as I did the first.
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