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Location and shooting ideas for mars?


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#1 David Cronin

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:02 AM

A friend of mine, who is still in school, is trying to shoot a mars dream sequence, kind of mythical and fantastic. Not going for realism, but more of a kiddy feel. Like Princess Bride.
Its a daytime exterior.
Any guesses or tips to tweak camera? Thanks
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#2 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:33 AM

Maybe try a stretch of fairly wide, deserted beach with rocks and barren cliff faces behind as a back drop, use a red, rose or sepia filter, graduated possibly with the denser portion towards the bottom of the frame and lightening up toward the sky, try to shoot on a cloudless day during magic hour and use a fish bowl or silly looking home made space helmet and space suit on your actor with a 30s style rocket model using forced perspective to make it look enormous. Add a bit of fog coming from the rocket and I think you'll have it. B) Take a look at Amazon Women on the Moon for the actual Amazon Women on the Moon sequences. you may find some inspiration there.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 01 January 2009 - 05:36 AM.

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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 06:22 AM

There are actually clouds on mars occasionally, although they're made of frozen particles of water rather than vapour.

P
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#4 Sam Wells

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 12:08 PM

There are actually clouds on mars occasionally, although they're made of frozen particles of water rather than vapour.

P


Phil can find a little piece of England anywhere :lol:

-Sam
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 12:15 PM

Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave Desert right along Highway 14 is one choice not too far from L.A..
http://en.wikipedia....rk_(California)

The opening badlands scene for "Jurassic Park" was shot there.

Otherwise, you need to go farther into Death Valley and Panamint Valley, especially if you need to find areas devoid of vegetation.
http://en.wikipedia....Panamint_Valley
http://en.wikipedia....ki/Death_valley

"Robinson Crusoe on Mars" was shot in Death Valley.
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#6 Tom Lowe

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 02:26 PM

I know the PERFECT location:

36.217687,-117.860641

Just paste those coordinates into google maps.

It's just due east of North Haiwee Reservoir. The entire ground is red and looks just like mars.
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 03:56 PM

The entire ground is red and looks just like mars.


Please don't take this as me picking on you Tom, but, in general, Mars is actually *not red*.

There is a very prevalent attitude in filmmaking towards stereotypical, generalized representations of extra-terrestrial or even extra-continental locations. I mean, there has been one movie that I have ever seen that got sound in space (lack thereof) right, ONE! So if you want to do a stylized Mars that is one thing, but I don't like the attitude of fooling Joe Six-pack and not worrying about getting the location right in anything other than a stylized manner.

In reality, Mars is a brown color.

And, no spot on Earth really is going to look like Mars.

http://www.astro.psu...-pathfinder.jpg

Obviously you want to avoid plants and find somewhere that is really brown.

I'd actually try to find some private location that you could legally "dress up" with brown paint or take out/hide plants. You can't pull off the Star Trek spray-paint approach anymore. BTW, if you're in CA, the location where they shot that one episode with the green Gorn alien fighting Captain Kirk has become sort of an iconic Sci-Fi locale. I've seen it used in other movies probably because of that episode.
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 04:09 PM

Some more photos. Notice the dusty environment interspersed with large boulders, likely due to ancient floods. . .

http://www-k12.atmos.../81732_full.jpg

http://marsrovers.na..._L257atc_br.jpg

Notice also the color of the Martian sky varies from light pink to brown depending on location or season or weather. So you probably do want to shy away from clouds (Martian clouds are probably not going to look anything like their Terrestrial counterparts) and maybe try to use a graduated filter to shade the sky the right color, or try to do that digitally for moving shots.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 04:25 PM

The particular shade of brown to red is less critical than finding a place with a lack of vegetation. You can always shift the color of the ground in post color-correcting.

One trick that Stephen Burum did for "Mission to Mars" was to use copper foil reflectors for fill to cancel out the blue cast in shadows on the actors. Some tan bedsheets may also be a good idea for bounced fill.

But the sky will always be a problem. At least with a hazy washed-out sky, a brown / tobacco / sepia grad filter would help, but on a clear blue day, it will be hard to shift the sky to brown without digital post tricks.

Unless you did something like what "Red Planet" did, which seemed at times to involve pulling the color out of the image first and THEN timing it brown-red, giving the whole frame a monochromatic sepia pallet. Not completely believable but it worked. But the faces then looked like brown-tinted b&w faces.

Many U.S. deserts like the Mojave have a rather light-colored sand which is not as good for a Mars substitute as those places, like Monument Valley, which have a copper-colored sand.

You even see that difference in a movie like "Lawrence of Arabia" -- Jordan (see below), like in Wadi Rum, had this beautiful deep ochre-gold sand while the sand in the locations in Spain had that grey-tan color like our Mojave Desert.

Posted Image

Just occurred to me that one should test a Color Enhancer filter, which tends to push warmer objects to a redder look. May add some life to a desert location with less exciting sand colors.
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#10 Matthew Buick

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 04:39 PM

I've found that simply upping the bais of the picture to the reds can produce quite a mars-like tone to sand. You may need to do something with the sky as well, I believe the martian sky to be a sort of turquoisy green. Maybe just removing the blue colour record altogether would help.

I just tinkered with a photo of a desert scene, and I found that lowering the blues to -50, the greens to -14, the reds up to 42 (zero being the default colour level), and lowering the saturation and upping the contrast just a tiny bit made something that resembled a martian landscape while still being suitably dreamlike.

Good luck!
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 04:54 PM

I believe the martian sky to be a sort of turquoisy green.


No offence, but huh? That is the exact opposite of the empirical evidence. . .



David, do you think that digital is a better option than a filter these days? I was just watching "Die Hard" the other day, and found the split filters to be obvious and distracting, although obviously they weren't trying to conceal anything.

I've never been out in the California desert, but I would think it'd be very difficult, except in a close-up to find any sort of shots completely devoid of flora. You'd almost need a private location or a set so that you could go in and modify it.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:09 PM

David, do you think that digital is a better option than a filter these days? I was just watching "Die Hard" the other day, and found the split filters to be obvious and distracting, although obviously they weren't trying to conceal anything.

I've never been out in the California desert, but I would think it'd be very difficult, except in a close-up to find any sort of shots completely devoid of flora. You'd almost need a private location or a set so that you could go in and modify it.


If you're on a low budget, then a grad filter is the easy thing, but otherwise, digital sky replacement and or color-correction is more effective and flexible.

Death Valley has some areas that are almost entirely void of vegetation. A dry lake bed can be that way as well, and sand dunes, but I don't recall if there are dry lake beds and sand dunes on Mars -- the second, likely, but the first, not sure.

The Mars sky is apparently a pinkish color, but it is very thin so you can see stars through it at times even in the daytime.
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#13 Ira Ratner

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:10 PM

I've never seen a scene taking place on another planet that comes CLOSE to looking like it's another planet.

The best that comes to mind is that end-scene in Jodie Foster's "Contact," and that looks so good because of camera angle, soundtrack, dialogue and PLOT, and I'm guessing Green Screen.

If it's going to be other worldly, it ALL has to be other worldly.

Edited by Ira Ratner, 01 January 2009 - 05:10 PM.

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#14 Matthew Buick

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:10 PM

No offence, but huh? That is the exact opposite of the empirical evidence. . .


I've seen pictures of Mars from probes and the sky always seems to be that colour when it's clear. Your pictures show the sky full of sediment, perhaps kicked up by the probe that took them landing, or a meteor.

Please stop trying to be such an egotist.
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#15 K Borowski

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:21 PM

The best that comes to mind is that end-scene in Jodie Foster's "Contact," and that looks so good because of camera angle, soundtrack, dialogue and PLOT, and I'm guessing Green Screen.


Yeah, but that was a representation Pensacola Florida likened to Ellie's childhood drawing of it, not a representation of another planet. Sorry to call you out on that Ira. Just saw "Contact" the other day ;-) In any case though, it was quite highly stylized. Hard to tell from SD TV, but when I saw it in theatres 11 years ago I seem to recall it being vivid and dream-like.

Now I'm starting to wonder if and when I've ever seen a representation of Mars or any other planet that was realistic (i.e. not Earthlike).

They've done some interesting stuff with sky replacement on "Earth-like planets". Does anyone remember "Space: Above and Beyond"? But an Earth-like planet is, in and of itself a cop-out in my mind.

"Mission To Mars" was one of the better representations of Mars I've seen, but they got the gravity wrong and I think that was too red too. Eh. . .



And David, IDK about dry lake beds either, but there are definitely dried up rivers and canyons, and flat land due to ancient cataclysmic floods, so probably there'd be land that would resemble a dried up lake bed on Mars. I'll see if I can find out for certain.
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#16 Matthew Buick

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:23 PM

I've had a peek at photos of Mars' surface on Google Images, and it seems that the sky can take on a wide variety of colours, sunset red, dusty red, plain ol' dusty, green, turquoise, and an earth-like blue. So it seems I was correct. Anyway Mr. Cronin wanted something dreamlike and surreal, and I feel a turquoisy blue would suit that look. Secondly, Mars has an atmosphere, and as Phil Rhodes mentioned it sometimes has cloud. It's more than possible the dust in your pictures has been blown up by the wind. Mars must have wind.


There! Saved a big argument all in one post! Now back on topic...

Edited by Matthew Buick, 01 January 2009 - 05:26 PM.

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#17 K Borowski

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:28 PM

I've had a peek at photos of Mars' surface on Google Images, and it seems that the sky can take on a wide variety of colours, sunset red, dusty red, plain ol' dusty, green, turquoise, and an earth-like blue. So it seems I was correct.

[. . .]

There! Saved a big argument all in one post! Now back on topic...


I was just going to let your comments slide, but since you are so adamantly posting incorrect information, here you go. . .

http://www.webexhibi...fcolor/14C.html

"Similarly, Mars? atmosphere always contains a lot of dust, and its sky is permanently tan."
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#18 Matthew Buick

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 05:30 PM

Then I made a simple mistake. You even commented yourself on thinking you had not seen any true replications of the red planet. For goodness sake don't get this thread closed!
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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 06:30 PM

At least some of the MER images of the surface aren't precisely true colour, as if any photographic representation of anything really depicts colours accurately. They're taken with 1k by 1k monochrome CCD cameras with multiple filter wheels (specs) and, because of the woefully tiny bandwidth available back from the vehicles, some of those released as colour images were taken with IR filtering for the red channel, probably bending the chromatic reproduction. I believe JPL feels they're "reasonable", though.

Mars is subject to severe windstorms which whip up a lot of dust, which are odd because the wind speeds are enormously high but the thin atmosphere means you don't get too severely battered, even as the dust appears to whip by at hundreds of knots. Some of it gets dumped on the solar cells of any intrepid vehicle, which is what was expected to kill the MER vehicles much earlier than it possibly has.

There was probably liquid water on mars and the Mars Global Surveyor mission photographed what may be one, so you may be OK with lake beds. There is also solid carbon dioxide on the surface at the poles, which is another option if you can find a surface approximating dry ice.

You might also look at the testing locations used for hardware intended for mars. I don't know where this photo was taken, but you could look into it. By Sagan's attire, it looks rather like high altitude cool desert rather than somewhere hot.

P
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#20 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 06:31 PM

I've seen areas of Lake Powell that looked other worldly at dawn.
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