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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 05:32 PM

I may soon need to shoot a restaurant scene at this location:

balcony_1.jpg
balcony_2.jpg

The idea is for this to appear to be a café on the 700th floor of a futuristic skyscraper, and the entire tone is to be clean, modern science fiction. While it's an interesting location and I have some ideas, I'm not entirely sure how to approach doing it, and I'd appreciate any thoughts.

My main concern is that it really is about a hundred feet up in the air, and it's therefore impossible to add green beyond all that interesting glasswork so as to drop in the futuristic skyline, even if the glasswork itself didn't make doing that a chore already. My inclination therefore is to avoid doing this, and ensure all but the establishing views of the location exclude too much of a view of the skyline beyond the glass, but benefit as much as possible from using the glass itself as an interesting backdrop. This encourages me to stage the two-person conversation at a table at a diagonal to the axis of the balcony, with one person facing the view, and one with his back to it, so we can shoot longitudinally down the space and get benefit from the interesting architecture, as opposed to directly out into the unsuitable skyline.

The side opposite the glasswork is just presentation rooms with sliding glass doors (etching visible in one of the shots) and isn't as interesting, although it isn't inappropriate and it'd be our weather cover against a rainy day.

I have a feeling this may actually turn out to be a less than ideal location because, while it's an interesting place to be, any achievable shot will inevitably look out of it into things that aren't appropriate. Tricky.

The scene can occur at any time of day, and doing it at night has occurred. However, that'd involve a much larger lighting rig, which I might not be able to do, and ideally it's supposed to be the morning before the court case with the client and the lawyer talking over breakfast. It could be the evening before, but that's less ideal.

Any thoughts?

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 06:02 PM

Night might work if there are enough city lights in the background. Hard to say just looking at the daytime photos.

If adding digital backdrops is really going to help, I'd definitely look for another location that would make doing that easier, unless you want to roto everyone.
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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 07:02 PM

This may be a totally crazy idea, but what if you shot locked off plates of the location from your various angles and shot the actors on a greenscreen stage?
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 02:25 AM

Interesting idea, but if I was going to do that, I'd probably fire up 3D Studio Max and come up with something really outlandish. The FX load on this thing is heavy enough already that I'd really rather not.

Re Mr. Mullen's comments, the thought had certainly occurred that it'd actually be easier to find a balcony-looking area that's on the ground floor, because at least it'd then be easy to put green outside - but equally, I'm anxious to avoid having to do that too much anyway.

There's very little high rise around here (we're on loam, as a famous author once put it) and I think even the night option would require digital enhancement. That said, it's probably easier to pull off against the night sky, where everything falls off into black.

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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 06:12 AM

Okay here are a few out there ideas.

I'm not sure what kind of a future you have in mind, but could you severely ND all the windows from the inside possibly with some kind of diffusion material as well to make it hard to see what is outside? It could be providing UV protection from all that nasty light now there is no ozone layer. (Which makes me ask the question is it possible to use 2 layers of gel on a window at the same time?)

Could you get away with just some kind of severe diffusion gel that would make it unclear what the skyline actually is? This could also add something in terms of looking more futuristic too if you can find the right gels.

Could you do some kind of art direction that adds something futuristic looking in the way of design to the windows so as to obscure the parts of the skyline you don't want.

Use coloured gels to create a weird stained glass window effect and simultaneously obscure parts of the skyline (this will of course do wild things to your colour temperature situation)

Set this part of the film during some freak solar eclipse. Obviously this will require some stock footage or more cgi unless your characters just mention how weird it is during this solar eclipse. If it is not set on earth then it could be one of those freak solar eclipses that only happen once every 22 years or something and last for ayyyyges.

I realise a lot of the ideas I have for films etc are a bit "mad as a box of frogs" as a friend once put it but please don't dismiss them out of hand as they could be a springboard into some kind of ideas that could work for you!

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 25 June 2009 - 06:13 AM.

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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 06:33 AM

I notice you have a slight issue that the really intresting stuff is going on at floor level and the higher stuff is just big gaping windows.

So heres an idea, completely block out the windows from the bit where they cease to be intresting to the top. This will also block most of the skyline, it does however keep the intresting square windows in the ceiling which are presently less noticable and highlights them and the more intresting stuff on the botom. You might then need to do something about gelling the bottom bit with diffusion or something to hide what remains visible through there. I note there appear to be slanted bits at the bottom and I'm guessing that there must surely be a way to get behined those slanted bits to clean them otherwise they will quickly clog up with dead bugs, thus I am supposing it might be easy to gel the bottom bits even from behined.

You could then add other features where you have blacked out the wall. Such as video screens with adverts for the new world colonies or tigger fun etc or whatever is appropriate for your version of the future.

I think this might also make the actual light more intresting too but I could be wrong. :)

love

Freya
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 06:59 AM

First off - they're not windows. Above all that complicated glasswork is fresh air (and yes, the glass barrier is only about 4'6" high, which is quite vertiginous on the fifth floor).

I guess most of the point of it is the nice view; I have no objection to doing the CG when we need to, but I'd rather avoid having to do it for every shot, I guess.

And... tigger?

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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 07:35 AM

First off - they're not windows. Above all that complicated glasswork is fresh air (and yes, the glass barrier is only about 4'6" high, which is quite vertiginous on the fifth floor).

I guess most of the point of it is the nice view; I have no objection to doing the CG when we need to, but I'd rather avoid having to do it for every shot, I guess.

And... tigger?

P


I was impressed at how fantastically clean those windows were!

Ah clearly this must be some very different idea of the future than I might have had in mind. A glass barrier of only 4"6 wuld almost definitely be against health and safety even if it wasn't made of glass and looking at the photos I suspect it would be defined under the category "trip harzard".

Clearly in this future they have come up with the perfect anti-depressents that are pumped into the water supply, hence this architechtural feature never gets used for it's more obvious purpose.

I take it from this you are working on a utopian future where "life is beautiful all the time" and all the problems we might be facing have been solved?

Go figure! ;)

love

Freya
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#9 Paul Bruening

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 07:47 AM

BBC it. Get a short establishing shot with the CG BG. At that heighth the CG would be mostly clouds, haze and just the tops of similarly tall buildings. That's a cheap and easy CG to grind out. You could green screen a window and bounce a mountain of light through one of those top windows to cheat the blocked light just for the opening wide shot. Then, cut back and forth on the characters at angles that don't reveal what's beyond the windows. That way, you can get the cheap daylight from the windows to shoot the bulk of your footage. Ask anyone else what to do and they'll give you a good suggestion. Ask me and I'll think of something cheap, cheap, cheap.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 09:11 AM

> BBC it.

Uaaaaaaargh!

But seriously, yes, my brain was going the same way as yours.

700 floors will be, what, 7000ft plus?

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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 09:15 AM

Something like that, but @ that altitude.. wouldn't breathing be a problem outside? Not to mention extreme winds?
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 09:34 AM

Breathing, not until 10,000ft, though your ears might pop in the lift.

Winds? I'll have you know my artistic licence is fully up to date, thanks very much.

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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 09:39 AM

Damn I would hope to see some nice slow motion CGI shots of whispy hair on the balcony :/ you disappoint!

Good luck with it Phil, it's a gorgeous location just sadly about 100ft too short to make it easy.
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#14 Freya Black

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 10:21 AM

And... tigger?


"Tigger Fun" also known as "Tiger Breath": A deadly poison with immediate effect. Does not cause deterioration of objects. The so called "clean weapon" from the end of the 20th Century.

Basically an obsolete chemical weapon that came in cannisters before the rise of world communism. Used by evil capitalists upon their fellow man. For example if you are trapped on a spaceship and running out of air then you might release "tigger fun" upon your fellow crewmates while they are busy gambling in card games etc. Then the oxygen will last much longer and you need only be concerned that your first mate might stab you in the back while you aren't looking. As it is a "clean weapon", you can take all their "stuff" once they are dead too.

So not "bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!" in quite the way you might have had in mind I suspect. ;)

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 25 June 2009 - 10:25 AM.

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#15 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 04:48 PM

700th floor from ground level (2nd floor) definately adds a challenge for the filmaker...

If you want to have a relieve from the backround you will have to use low angles, I am not sure if this is desirable.
Keeping the location as it is and cover it all with green background the metal surfaces will reflect too much green and cause you a problem so CGI will be hard.
Why not choose a different more ''sky clear'' location? :) You only need a wide balcony with Brutalist architecture spaceball.gif
IMHO
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#16 Paul Bruening

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 08:24 AM

I recall a standard industry handling of a window shot at the end of Risky Business. Tom and Rebecca are sitting in a restaurant. To my thinking, if tall buildings have already been established in the story, then simple mediums and close-ups with customer and waiter extras in the BG along with some fan generated wind and, especially, that dull, relentless wind sound of high altitude... I bet you a tenner that the audience would assume the scene was happening in a high altitude, restaurant balcony. It wouldn't bother me do it that way and skip the CG and GS.

As well, how many times have we seen windows blown out on purpose to hide the fact that the scene was shot on a set. It has always seemed peculiar to me that when people shoot on location, they bust their butts trying to get the indoors matched to the outside. But, on set, they blow the windows to cover the fact that they're not on location. It's like a quirk of DoP ambition. Given that, Phil, how important is all that BG? If you can imply it, briefly, isn't it actually distracting to the scene to have it show up again (assuming the character interaction is the point of the scene)? One of the irksome things to me about the later Star Wars stuff was the tendency to include so much exotic environment that it seemed the characters and story were there merely as a vehicle for indulgent scenery and setting. I'm not trying to direct for you, Phil. It's just some thoughts I've dumped out here for you.
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#17 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 07:19 AM

I see some tree-tops in the BG. How much overexpose for this?
;)
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 12:54 PM

I think Mr. Bruening is exactly right, and that's what I would certainly do; establish the backdrop and then play the scene in MCUs at best.

I guess I can probably deal with one matte painting...

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#19 Keith Walters

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 08:06 PM

Breathing, not until 10,000ft, though your ears might pop in the lift.

Heavily pregnant women and people with heart trouble would not be allowed to dine there.
(Or maybe that will have solved all those problems by then).
Cooking would be problematic, as water would boil at too low a temperature. Or the kitchen would have to be pressurised.
It would also tend to be somewhat chillsome at that altitude :)
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 08:20 PM

Bloody force fields, all right?!

Feh!
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