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Shooting scale models to look life size


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#1 Jon Capogrossi

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 05:11 PM

Hi, I am a film student. I am currently in a Cinematography I class.

Our instructor is having us start out learing still photography, so we can learn to properly shoot and expose on 35 mm film.
THis is before we shoot our final project on 16mm.

One of our assignments is to re-create, as closely as possible, a scene from a favorite film, trying to match the lighting as much as possible.

Being that I am a huge fan of James Cameron's films "Aliens" and the first 2 "Terminator" movies, I decided to attempt to re-create a scene from the beginning of Terminator 2. This is where the cyborg endoskeletons are marching through the future war shooting "Plasma rifles"- the scene lasts about 5 seconds, but it is one of the coolest things in the film

My idea is to re-create this scene using a 18 inch tall "terminator endoskeleton" high end action figure- It is a sort of artificial reflective chrome... I'm planning to have set up on a table a miniature "wasteland" of broken concrete and rubble, with likely some sparks added from some leftover 4th of July fireworks-

My question...How can I make this model look 6 feet tall?
I want to make sure this photo has depth of field, proper lighting, smoke, sparks, etc...the light has to be very bright and bluish/white, and have some type of "raking" effect to bring out the detail, then likely some red to suggest fire/explosions also... I want to use dry ice for the smoke, but I am not sure how that will come out

I am thinking of trying to borrow/ rent a macro lens, just to shoot this photo...

But, my question.....any advice on shooting something like this....

I know that it may just end up looking like a cool toy commercial ("new from Hasbro!!" etc) but I want to try and see how realistic this can come accross...

Thanks for advice to a newcomer

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#2 F. Felix

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 05:50 PM

It's a still shot, right?

Use a digital camera so you can get instant feedback, then shoot dozens of shots until you get it right before you commit to film.

Just start with your best guess & keep tweaking it until the pics look like the grab you posted. Add/take away lights, change their colors, fiddle with depth of field, adjust exposure, vary the shutter speed. When you're happy, then shoot it on film, but remember to bracket your exposure. Maybe use a film stock that emphasizes blues, like Ektachrome.

The laser things are going to be tricky if you have to get everything on a single frame of film without compositing several layers. Might want to double-expose your film: paint streaks with a red flashlight in the dark, then re-expose the same film with the scene. Check YouTube for PikaPika, if you can't visualize what I'm saying.

I think the idea is that you will learn a lot by using your eyes, experimenting & figuring it out for yourself. Good exercise.
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 01:07 AM

Well one way to add perspective to your FX shot is to all elements of common nature most people recognize. Let's take Terminator for example, In the first one, the robot tanks run over miniature human skulls, crushing them and are placed in scenes with wrecked, burned out model cars. All this was done to give perspective to the scene so you can see how big the tanks are, If I remember correctly there's a scene where an endoskeleton foot steps on a human skull crushing it as well in the beginning of Terminator 2, That was also in there partly to give a perspective. NOW if you want to get REAL creative, try finding a burned out car maybe in a junkyard, build a base for the endoskeleton model that can copy the look and contour of the junkyard ground and shoot a forced perspective shot using a fairly wide depth of field so both items, the model and burned out car are in focus (Long lens set back to help compress the image). It would be good practice for FX shots. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 09 October 2008 - 01:10 AM.

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#4 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 02:20 PM

There is an interesting article in this months ICG magazine about a commercial for Nascar shot with miniature cars that might be helpful. You should check it out.
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#5 Mark August SOC

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:42 PM

Hi, I am a film student. I am currently in a Cinematography I class.

Our instructor is having us start out learing still photography, so we can learn to properly shoot and expose on 35 mm film.
THis is before we shoot our final project on 16mm.

One of our assignments is to re-create, as closely as possible, a scene from a favorite film, trying to match the lighting as much as possible.

Being that I am a huge fan of James Cameron's films "Aliens" and the first 2 "Terminator" movies, I decided to attempt to re-create a scene from the beginning of Terminator 2. This is where the cyborg endoskeletons are marching through the future war shooting "Plasma rifles"- the scene lasts about 5 seconds, but it is one of the coolest things in the film

My idea is to re-create this scene using a 18 inch tall "terminator endoskeleton" high end action figure- It is a sort of artificial reflective chrome... I'm planning to have set up on a table a miniature "wasteland" of broken concrete and rubble, with likely some sparks added from some leftover 4th of July fireworks-

My question...How can I make this model look 6 feet tall?
I want to make sure this photo has depth of field, proper lighting, smoke, sparks, etc...the light has to be very bright and bluish/white, and have some type of "raking" effect to bring out the detail, then likely some red to suggest fire/explosions also... I want to use dry ice for the smoke, but I am not sure how that will come out

I am thinking of trying to borrow/ rent a macro lens, just to shoot this photo...

But, my question.....any advice on shooting something like this....

I know that it may just end up looking like a cool toy commercial ("new from Hasbro!!" etc) but I want to try and see how realistic this can come accross...

Thanks for advice to a newcomer



Here is link to Panavisions Fraiser Lens demo video just to give you an idea of the sysytem and it may open up ideas on fliming this project (see below link). I would also think about using smoke (not dry ice) by filling the room with smoke to give the same look just remember the temperture of the room and the outside temp will play a factor. However its fun to learn what works and what does not! Wish you all the best on this project! Sounds like it could be alot of fun...

http://media.panavis...ml/Frazier.html

Mark August, S.O.C.
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#6 Jon Capogrossi

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 07:30 PM

Much thanks to all for the advice- I am looking to get a digital camera very soon, still dont own one...and gotta say WHOA re: the Frazier Lens, hadn't seen that yet until now...amazing stuff !
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#7 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 11:13 AM

Hey, Jon!

Hope this helps. I've attached a formula taken from page 112 of this book: http://www.amazon.co...g...0518&sr=8-1
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#8 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 11:25 AM

Hmm, it won't let me upload the file no matter how small I make it.

Here's a link to the jpg I was referring to: http://www.dzyak.com/minatures4.jpg
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#9 Jon Capogrossi

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 04:43 PM

Major thanks Brian on that link.... I will for sure try to utilize that formula....

I was looking for something like that on wikipedia, etc (they had a page on Special Effects Cinematography, filming miniatures, etc, but did not have any formulas like that.....much thanks on that link

Edited by Jon Capogrossi, 14 October 2008 - 04:45 PM.

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Technodolly

Visual Products

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Rig Wheels Passport