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Need help on an effect shot


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#1 Justin Poon

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:25 PM

I am in pre-production of a commercial shoot in Hong Kong. I need to shoot a giant pack of gum crashing onto the ground, landing in front of a person. I plan to build a scaled model of the pack of gum (roughly 4 feet by 2 feet in dimensions). Any suggestions on how to achieve a realistic outcome? I shoot a lot of live action stuff so I'm unfamiliar with miniatures and effects shots. Can anyone help? Thanks!
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#2 Nick Mulder

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:35 PM

Some info might help:

At the size you state what scale is that compared to the desired apparent scale on film ?

Smaller objects often need the frame rate to be sped up to achieve the same physical effects as the real sized object would... This is especially true of water, fire dust, snow etc... If your gum has any 'moving parts' even just a wiggle you might want to speed up the rate, knowing the scale will help determine the amount... You might want to have some light dust or a puff of wind blowing the actors hair when it lands - A composite shot might be required in this case if you were to use different rates ...

You could play around with wide lenses and DOF like I remember they would do in Naked Gun films (telephones turned out to be about 4x as big as they appeared) - I'm sure there are a million other examples ...
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 12:30 AM

It sounds pretty stright forward, just make sure the prop pack of gun is well crafted, very detailed AND strong enough to be dropped several times without being broken. I would suggest using styrofoam blocks hot-glued to a 4x2 (Although those demensions sound wrong for a pack of gum, I'd measure the gum pack your trying to reproduce and scale it up to as close to 4 feet in length as possible and go with whatever the width and height scale demensions turn out to be) piece of 3/4in' plywood at the bottom for weight so the pack will tend to land on it's bottom each time. I might also use wires running though the syrofoam blocks at each end and attached to eyebolts in the plywood (the nut on the eyebolt countersunk into the ply so the bottom of the prop remains flat) to help control it's drop so it doesn't float off course or tumble while dropping making the take useless and the stunt dangerous, also I would under-crank the camera so that you can drop the gum using the wires at a slower, more controlled rate, allowing it to land exactly where you want it to each time and not bounce on inpact then run it at normal speed to make it look as though the gum were in free fall. I would use a model airplane material called Mono-coat (I think that's how it's spelled, may have a k instead of a c I don't remember) to cover the prop, letter and stripe it because it's simple to apply and gives you a perfect surface and is easy to repair.

I agree with Nick that having a bit of flour of Fuller's Earth under the prop when it drops will add to the illusion that the giant gum pack wieghs much more than it actually will. I would build an A frame with pulleys at the top to haul the gum out of camera frame and have the grips (wearing gloves of course) practice dropping the gum a few times by letting the wire slide through their hands, controlling it's rate of decent as it falls so that they are synced at each end and the gum falls smoothly. If your using video to shoot it, wire removal shouldn't be that big of a deal, it can be done in post with wire removal software. if not use the thinest wires you can that will hold the prop's wieght. I would use a longer lens and set the camera back a ways so you can flatten out the image a little. This will allow you have the talent a safe distance back from where the prop will land and it will appear to the camera that you are dropping it right in front of them. On that note, dropping something around a cast is frought with the potential for utter disaster and if you accidentally drop a heavy prop on an actor they tend to bleed and scream a lot so PLEASE take all appropiate precautions for your cast and crew's safety because if you don't it could be your ass! Just a thought. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 06 January 2007 - 12:31 AM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 12:55 AM

At the size you state what scale is that compared to the desired apparent scale on film ? .


Yes, I'm confused if in the final effect, the pack is supposed to look 4'x2'? Or even much bigger and this is just the size you think is buildable? Because if it's supposed to look 4'x2' in size and you build it for real and drop it in front of the person, I don't see why that's an effect shot.

What size is it supposed to look in relation to the person?
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#5 Justin Poon

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 12:39 AM

Thank you for the suggestions. Very helpful indeed. I really appreciate it. In fact the eventual proportion of the pack of gum should be like the attached file. I will scale down proportionately to build the prop for dropping. I intend to shoot separate passes for the talents and the dropping of the pack and composite them in post. Thanks again for all the help. Any other suggestions are most welcomed!

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 12:50 AM

One possibility if you shoot it outdoors in enough light to stop down the lens is to design a forced-perspective miniature shot where a foreground piece of ground and the enlarged stick of gum is lined up with a background sidewalk and people to look like they are all in the same plane of focus.
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#7 Matthew Buick

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 05:03 PM

I shot something like this, my UNprofessional advice, do it in post. My brother was supposed to be crushed by a lego brick (how peverse) I ended up losing the brick down a drain. :(
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