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Shooting reflections & shadows...hmmmm, scratch, scratch


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#1 Paul Nordin

Paul Nordin
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  • Emeryville, CA

Posted 01 November 2006 - 01:38 PM

I'm in the early stages of pre-pro planning for a noirish, martial arts, heavily stylized feature I'll be shooting in January. This is not your every-day action pic, and there are a couple of shots I'm mulling over trying to figure out the best approach for. Both shots are of action sequences involving one - against many fighting.

#1) In the first shot, the scene starts in a downpour, then when rain stops camera tilts down to a puddle and films the bulk of the scene in a puddle's reflection. Obviously this reflection needs to have a certain level of "image fidelity" for the shot to work. I doubt I can get that without some on-set effect help. I was considering two options. First one is to place a mirror or other reflective surface in the puddle just below the surface level. The second approach would be to try to work out the angles with a half-silvered glass oriented so the tilt is horizontal. The challenge to that approach will be the tilt-down from a view of the action directly to the puddle reflection. I've not worked much with half-silvered glass before, though I do understand the basics. The other challenge with that approach is at the end of the shot, the puddle's calm surface will be disturbed and break up the image into ripples.

#2) Similarly to #1, the scene is in an alley and starts as a normal dark/night sequence. At a certain point, the camera pushes past talent and watches the rest of the scene play out in silhouetted shadows on the wall. Sounds pretty simple, but I'm not sure where to place camera so that its shadow is not also in the frame. I want the shadows of talent to be full figured, so anything else in the path of the light will obviously be on the wall as well...like camera. I was thinking of using a very long lens and orchestrating a designated clear line of sight between talent. But I don't think the physics will work for that approach. I need to see clearly diliniated shadows of 2-4 characters on a wall. Obviously they need to be close to the wall or their shadows will diffuse, so I can't shoot a long lens and not them and keep them close enough to the wall for good shadows. I guess another approach would be to again use some form of a half-silvered mirror and shoot it from above pointing down with the key light passing through the mirror and camera still seeing the wall on the mirror.

I know that I could get a lot of this done as post/CGI work. But, I was quite inspired by the work of Dick Pope on "The Illusionist" who did so much of the "magic" in camera rather than in post. I very much want to take that approach on this project, and am willing to go to some extremes to get the exact look I want in camera. Any suggestions or advice would be welcome.
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Visual Products

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Willys Widgets

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Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Opal

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS