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Help for my licence film?


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#1 Ovidiu Dumitriade

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 09:54 AM

Hi, all!

I recently found this community, and I am really fond of it. I found a lot of answers here, but now I would really like some more help from you.

I am in prep for my final student film, and this is going shot on 35mm stock. The thing is that I am making a thesis about visual effects (masks, rampings and different filters) and I need to implement these things in the movie.

I have a shot like this: A man looks at himself in the reflection, and when he turns around and leaves, the reflection stays there. I thought about shooting it with masking, but it would be extremely hard for the actor to synchronize himself between the takes (one for himself and the other one for the reflection). Then I thought about making this in post; shooting both situations and then just masking it out in the lab.

Do you guys know how this works? Can it be done optically? The movie is shot in 35mm and then projected in 35mm - no digital process involved here (due to my student budget).

Thanks,
Ovidiu Dumitriade
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 11:34 AM

I don't see any choice but having the actor have to match himself since at one point, version one of the actor does something different than version two, so unless you want to make a sudden jump-cut of one of the actors to then change their action, you have to have two continuous pieces of action where they match their action up to a certain point... but then one leaves and the other stays. Unless at some point, the actor leans out of the reflection, like to wash their face in the sink, and then stands up again into the reflection, giving you a hidden cut point for the version reflected in the mirror.

If the foreground actor doesn't actually cross physically in front of the mirror, the two halves can be composited in-camera with a split-screen. That doesn't solve how they will time themselves to each other though. Maybe some sort of video tap could be used in the camera to record the first half's action, then play it back in a monitor for the second half's actor to see while they look into the mirror. The trick would be to find a way to start at the same point of time. This would be easier if you could marry the two pieces of film using dupes in an optical printer, not in-camera.

Of course, the easiest thing would be to hire twins and build a fake mirror set (glass instead of a mirror with a mirrored version of the same room visible through the glass.)

The other possibility is to make the mirror a projection screen instead and rear-project the image of the man onto it, and have the actor match his own movements in the foreground. This would allow you to have the foreground actor cross in front of the mirror.

Otherwise, if you can't do a simple split-screen, you get into the world of travelling mattes (matting the foreground actor against the mirror background), which you can't do in-camera, and doing it in an optical printer is very difficult.
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#3 Douglas Sunlin

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 05:48 PM

I guess it depends on how much action you want the relfection to do after the real guy leaves. If you just want him to stand there, and cut after the real guy leaves, then you could use split-screen and freeze-frame. Or maybe even reverse.
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#4 Ovidiu Dumitriade

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 07:07 PM

Thanks for your answers, guys.

I want the reflection to just stay and watch for a couple of seconds, and then cut. Nothing fancy, just need to use some sort of masking.
I figured it would be better to do this in the laboratory than having to match "frame accurate" the actors' move up to the point in which he leaves or just watches.
My question was if you guys know whether this is possible to do in the lab or if I am stuck with the mask filter option. I would like to be able to shoot both versions full frame, and using only half of each in the final shot.
David, you were saying something about the actor leaning out of the reflection. That can be done, no problem there. The camera will be in lock-off position, so no motion tracking is involved. Also there is no superimposing involved between the character and his reflection. But can I link the two shots together in post production, without using film printing?
In this region the film printing option is... out of reach, at least for a student like myself.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 09:15 PM

The lab would use an optical printer to combine the two halves, so they could put the split where they want to, you don't need to shoot with masks. They would make an IP of the original negative for both parts, then reprint one IP with a hold-out mask onto a new dupe neg, leaving an unexposed "hole" for the other half -- then print in the other half with the opposite hold-out mask which keeps out exposure in the area already exposed onto the dupe neg.

I did a movie with some simple optical printer split-screens:

Posted Image

Posted Image

However, it still takes some skill with an optical printer to do these sorts of splitscreen effects, and your camera needs rock-steady registration and the camera itself has to be rock steady.

If you did a split-screen in-camera using double-exposure, then you'd have to use masks in front of the lens for each half of the split.
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#6 Ovidiu Dumitriade

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:45 AM

Thank you very much for the tips and thoughts. I will keep them in mind. I have the shooting planned for 24th and 25th November, and I'll keep you updated in how it goes during shooting and post processing.
I have obtained an Arri 535 for this project, so I don't thing I will have any problem with the registration. Or at least I hope I won't.

Cheers,
Ovidiu
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#7 Ovidiu Dumitriade

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 04:12 AM

I went yesterday at Kodak CineLabs here in Bucharest, and they said it's gonna take them some time, but it's doable. Then I went to the people that made the effects in back in the 50's and 60's, and after some time discussing the matter at hand, we came up with the solution of shooting separately the two halves and then just superimposing them in post. That way I can sync the guy from one half with his reflection in the other half.
I can't wait to shoot it. I'm starting the shoot monday, and until then I'm going to be on set, prepping.

Cheers,
Ovidiu Dumitriade
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#8 Edgar Dubrovskiy

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 11:44 AM

Use twins.
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#9 Ovidiu Dumitriade

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 07:59 AM

Thanks to everybody for the ideas.

I masked one half of the frame and shot the other side, and when I was satisfied with the take I changed the mask with the one for the other half, and did the same thing for the other side.
Now I had 3 takes for the right side of the picture and one for the left one.
I went to Kodak Cinelabs Romania and processed the film, then asked for an inter-positive for the good takes. With those I went to an Oxberry machine and superimposed the two strips of film.

I wanted to upload the take in divx format, but it's to big. I attatched a single frame.

Thanks again for the ideas.

Ovidiu

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