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Excalibur - Final Scene


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#1 Jason Debus

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 03:24 PM

This sequence has been a favorite of mine ever since I saw it as a child. There are a number of effects used, some of which I know but others I'm wondering how they were done. Also if the present DI technology versus the photochemical methods of 1981 if this scene were done today, which would be cheaper and which would be optically superior?

This appears as if it was done on a soundstage:
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But then the following shots, which Boorman says on the DVD commentary have the sun 'super-imposed', yet show a reflection on the knights armor:
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This is the same shot as the previous screen. If the sun was super-imposed it blends seamlessly in this panning shot:
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As well as in this beautiful shot:
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Boorman says this was shot on bluescreen, I'm guessing they were going to try to blend it more with the other shots. Ultimately it's just a black background:
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Appears to be some optical zooming on the later half of the shot, but amazingly no visible grain (at least on the DVD).

According to Boorman this is a front projection shot:
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Boorman says they used a model boat for these:
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But then the final shot, just amazing! Love the 'spotlight' of sun on the boat:
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Would love to hear everyone's insights into this sequence and how it was accomplished. There's a low quality version of it on youtube here:
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 10:35 PM

The fogged-in battlefield was shot on a stage; the sun was made out of 3M Scotchlight material, the type used for front projection screens, and a red light was projected onto it (I don't know if they had to use a 45 degree glass in front of the lens to reflect the light or if just having it right next to the camera was good enough.)

The reflection on the armor would have been lighting.

As for the sun added to the lake and ocean shore shots, I don't know if that was an optical or done in-camera -- if Boorman said it was a reflection, then it would have been added in-camera by using a piece of glass at a 45 degree angle to the lens and reflecting the red light onto the glass -- not sure how they handled the pan in the shot though.

The catching of the sword by the Lady in the Lake was optically printed in reverse (the sword was pulled out of her hand).
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#3 Jason Debus

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 12:58 PM

Thanks for your thoughts David.

I can't believe that most if not all of this was done in camera! The panning shot is pretty incredible if the sun was super-imposed with a mirror, not sure how you could get it to look so steady.

I love that last shot, must be a matte painting is my guess.
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#4 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 03:52 PM

I can't believe that most if not all of this was done in camera! The panning shot is pretty incredible if the sun was super-imposed with a mirror, not sure how you could get it to look so steady.

I love that last shot, must be a matte painting is my guess.


Those are the darkest I've seen those scenes.


As for the lengthy panning shot, I'm sure the sun and the rocks on the horizon which the sun is setting behind is/are a cutout. The rocks are in silhouette and the sun is an exact color and glow match for the large scotchlite sun the previous shots. Panning is possible with foreground miniatures and glass shots by setting the nodal point of the lens over the pan axis of the tripod head.

If the entire shot is done in a single pass there are no registration problems.

The sun at the lake would be with the 45* mirror like David says.

Percival's vision of the grail at the entrance to Camelot, is also an in camera mirror shot and is far more complex than the setting sun shots.

If you want to see another even more amazing in camera effects sequence, watch the Hoichi the Earless
tale in 'Kwaidan'. The scene where the ghost comes looking for Hoichi at the temple.
At first I thought it was multiple passes, now I'm inclined to think it was mirror shot with two matching sets. It's definitely on original camera neg, not dupe footage. In a theatre the quality difference between original neg and dupe footage in 'Kwaidan' is readily apparent.
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