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#1 Catalin Toma

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 11:39 AM

Hi, I'm a student in cinematography and I'm curious to know how one can obtain those watery distortion effects like in Around The World In Eighty Days (1956) - the sequence where Passepartout is given a poisonous drink. (This one)

I have seen such effects employed in many different movies, and I reckon you could actually shoot through a water tank, but in this movie it's a little different... How was it done?

Also I am interested in any other suggestions for representing hallucinations, and - of course - how I can obtain those effects. For instance, a very impressive array of trickery I have discovered in Wim Wenders' segment from Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (12 Miles to Trona). Halos, colors, step-processing (?!), superimposing...
I haven't a clue how they pulled all of that off, perhaps someone is willing to discuss it. :rolleyes:

Other movies I have in my sights regarding the subject are The Doors, Natural Born Killers, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Dead Man, Pi, Requiem For A Dream. Perhaps I'm missing something very inspirational! Let me know.

Thanks!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 12:02 PM

Most of that was done in an optical printer with filters, but some of it could be done in-camera. There is a lens called a Mesmerizer that does the twisty effect. A rippled piece of glass moved slowly in front of the lens could produce the watery effect. In fact, that was how it was done in the optical printer. Animators at Disney had a rippled piece of glass that they moved over artwork to create an underwater effect one frame at a time.

Ever look through an old rippled windowpane in an old building? It's like that.

You could perhaps even experiment with a piece of flat glass and paint some patterns in with clear varnish or something. Or melt some clear plastic. It doesn't take much distortion to look really heavy in front of the lens, so be subtle.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 09:43 PM

I did a kind of neat effect in an experimental film in school where I shot through some water with oil in it. I mixed it up so you were shooting through the movement of the oil slowly floating to the top of the water, and the two substances have different refractive indices so they will act like wierd little lenses.

Maybe you could seal some water and oil in between two cheap UV filters and have your very own "swimmy filter." You could just rotate the filter to mix the liquids up.

Edited by Chris Keth, 17 November 2007 - 09:44 PM.

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#4 Catalin Toma

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 07:03 AM

Thanks both of you for your prompt reply!

I have started to experiment with a plexiglass tank (I was looking for rather ample water movements; besides it's easier to create the effects on this level by pouring some more water or pointing a blowdryer at it). However this would mean that the camera is bolted on the floor and I certainly don't want that for all of the shots. Mr. Keth's UV filter solution seems more practical for handheld shots, I'm going to try it ASAP. :)
Also I've asked a friend to procure some moldable clear plastic but I'm not sure we know what to look for. Ours sadly fogs when bent.

In any case, this effect seems to be secured. All that is left is to refine it for the big screen; I don't want any imperfections to give the "rig" away and ruin the shot... So now I'm basically looking for other tricks to season the sequence with.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 11:26 AM

It doesn't take much to completely throw an image out of focus, which is why a moving piece of glass with a subtle ripple is probably strong enough.
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#6 Catalin Toma

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 04:40 AM

Since others may be interested in this topic, I thought I'd share a list of movies that contain hallucination scenes.

- Easy Rider (D. Hopper - 1969)
- Altered States (Ken Russel - 1980)
- House On Haunted Hill (W. Malone - 1999)
- Der Letzte Mann (F. Murnau - 1924)
- Natural Born Killers (O. Stone - 1994)
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (T. Gilliam - 1998)
- Naked Lunch (D. Cronenberg - 1991)
- Pi (D. Aronofsky - 1998)
- Requiem For A Dream (D. Aronofsky - 2000)
- Jacob's Ladder (A. Lyne 1990)
- David Lynch : Eraserhead, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire
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#7 Joe Giambrone

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 07:34 PM

I'll just add to the list:

Across the Universe

It qualifies as "inspirational."
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