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Floating Display


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#1 John Young

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 10:00 AM

So I need a floating display. As I have thought about this effect for some time, and how to pull it off.

I have so far come up with some sort of glass or plasticized screen hung, suspended like.
Then, using a projector I could make the display show whatever I wanted. Now sure, I
could do it in After Effects or whatever, but I really don't want to if I don't have to. The display is going to be about 2 or 3 feet away and above the talent, so they can look at the display, but there will be no interaction.

I want to rotate/dolly the camera around the display to show the rear side, and the display would be reversed (of course), which is why I would like to do it 'for real' rather than digitally. That, and I rather dislike digital... but, if that's the only way, so be it. The other thing I am worried about is spillage over the physical screen. I have done some tests and digital projectors (like the kind in most offices) are bright and can throw a good distance, but most of the time there is an overshoot that shows on the wall. Hopefully with testing I can get it right, and just tight enough to not show on the wall, as it's rather bright.

So? Any thoughts?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 11:32 AM

If it's OK to sense or see a piece of glass or plastic hanging in the scene, then you can have one cut to the size of the image and have it frosted like a groundglass or rear-projection screen, then project directly onto it. Otherwise, if it's supposed to be magical, then it needs to be a huge sheet of glass and you're better off reflecting a projection screen that is off-camera, but this will limit your ability to dolly around the projection (it's not a real hologram after all.)

If you saw the Disney movie "The Black Hole", you'll recall the spaceship in the first scene with a hologram of the black hole floating in the middle of the room, which was done with glass reflecting a projected image on a screen.

Just shining the projector directly onto glass only really works (barely) because imperfections (haze, dirt, etc.) in the glass cause some of the light to be blocked, reflected, etc. So it's really just a weak groundglass in reality. You're better-off reflecting a projection screen or large TV monitor over the surface of the glass.
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#3 John Young

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 02:55 PM

Wow, first, thanks for replying David...

Your saying it would be better to have a large sheet of glass or projection screen, rather than one cut to size?
I'll have to review "The Black Hole" as I haven't seen it is a long while. The dolly move is why I wanted to
suspend the glass. I guess I could change the dolly path or something.

Is it that I would project the image on a mirror (off camera) and then to a piece of glass?
I guess I should say that I want to film the whole scene in a White Cyc. Does that make a difference?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 05:13 PM

You're going to see that projection best in a black room and worst in a white room. Just think about it -- it's like a double-exposure. How would you see something double-exposed over a white surface??? White is already the brightest thing you can have in a frame, so nothing is going to read layered over white. Even if you added it in post it would be a conceptual problem using a white background -- it would have to look like a solid cut-out pasted into the white, not something translucent. Because if it really were an image floating in air, then all the dark areas in the image would be filled with white.
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#5 John Young

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 03:41 PM

Hmm, now that you mention it, I agree, it would be better all black. I may have to re-work my scene...
So what about a green screen composite deal?
I think my options so far are: Film in a black out cyc with just the talent lit, do it in post....

Wait I just had an idea... What if the entire room, walls and all were not a cyc but frosted glass/opaque plastic ground glass type stuff. Then, the room could be
mostly white, and I could just project an image on the outside of the wall. The camera couldn't see through the frost, which would allow dollying, and the image could
be seen. That does take away the floating 2D panel idea... but, whatever works. Thoughts?
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 05:06 PM

There's any number of ways you could approach something like this.

If you want an image hanging in mid-air with nothing physically there to receive it, then it's going to have to be a post effect.

Otherwise, stick a chunk of plexiglas in there with some diffusion gel stuck on it and project, then it'll look like some super advanced thin film display or something.

P
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#7 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 05:45 PM

The idea of doing it on the wall isn't bad. I don't know how well it's going to work to actually project an image on there, or how to rig that up, but you could do it relatively easily in compositing. Just make sure you've got some points/tracking marks on the wall if you're going in for a closeup. The other tricky thing about this effect is actually designing the display and having it actually animate properly to correspond with the on-screen action.
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