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Front surface mirror photography


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#1 Jim Cuene

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 11:23 PM

I am shooting a commercial and the director has requested using a mirror to shoot into. The shot is a 2 shot of a man on a sofa, and his friend sitting on a sofa next to him. The room is a bit small, perhaps 12'X12', and the physical space the camera would have to be in for this two shot would put the lens at about a 40mm. However, if we come off axis (into an adjoining room) and shoot into a mirror (placed, I am assuming, approximately where the original 40mm camera position would have been) i can get onto a much longer lens, thus getting a sexier shot of the same 2 shot.

He has worked with a D.P. in the past who utilized this technique...however, in my 18 years in the camera department, I have never witnessed it so i'm looking for advice on technique, mirror size, problems/opportunities...

Anyone mastered this mirror shooting situation?

Thanks for your help!
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 12:03 AM

Done it. You have to keep up with the left-right switch. You can sometimes flip it back in post. Keep up with it in your head. Even, draw stick figures in cartoon panels to manage things (with little L and R assigned to the hands). You can manage the directorial technique to avoid problems in editing.

You can find decent mirrors at local, used furniture shops. When shopping for them, move your head all around broadly, even your whole body, to try to catch warpage. You might look like a 'tard when you're doing it but you can't catch a warped mirror by standing still. If you don't catch the warps, they'll show up when characters move around across its surface.

It can really help in tight locations. But, it can also catch light and be a pain in the arse.
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 12:28 AM

P.S. Keep signage out of the shot. Books with big title lettering and laying flat can get overlooked during shooting and then bug the hell out of you in post.
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#4 chuck colburn

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:06 PM

I don't know how long of a focale length you can get away with on your shot, but if you can get the mirror close enough to the camera and use a smaller mirror here's one that might work for you. It would be best as you say to use a front surface mirror that's optically flat to avoid certain optical problems. Large first surface mirrors are rare and very expensive.

Good luck,

http://www.surplussh...item/l3602.html
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:11 PM

Real front surface mirrors are quite expensive, and only necessary for rather small mirrors. An ordinary furniture store mirror will work fine. I once got a thin unmounted mirror from a glass shop and rigged it on some balsa wood supports as an expendable mirror. With that, we had a stunt car drive right into the mirror. We also had a second smaller mirror right in front of the camera, to fix the left-right issue for the license plate.




-- J.S.
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