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#1 Rob Webster

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 12:44 PM

Hey Guys,

On an upcoming project I have a total headache of a shot to achieve. It's the opening of the movie (we are shooting S16mm, 16:9, not decided on stock yet- probably 7219), with two guys speeding a car through a dark street (night). They are drunk and they are messing around, continually swapping seats and leaning out the windows/ not paying attention to the road etc.

We want to shoot the whole thing as a two shot from in front of the windshield (something like this http://www.svpu.com/...frontwindow.jpg ), in slow motion (approx 100FPS), showing the guys as they muck around in the car, untill...predictably....they crash the car, sending them flying and showered with glass.

The idea is to create a kind of montage of the events before the crash, as they get more and more bold with their antics. Then the crash happens (from the same angle), as a slow motion long take, that shows the full destruction of the collision. The camera is facing BACK INTO THE CAR at all times, we never see the outside of the car.

Two issues with this:

1) Before the crash, while they are just "driving" (mostly larking about) how do we shoot this?. It's unlikely we can afford a flatbed or a tow truck, so we will have to shoot studio, using blue/green screen or rear projection and shoot the background plate seperately. What seems like the best option? Essentially, all we will see in the background is through the rear window of the car- so we will get a bit of light on the road as it trails off behind them, and the occasional street light.

2) How do we shoot the crash? This is more of a difficult problem. Obviously we want the crash to look as realistic as possible and have glass (fake) flying everywhere. The camera cuts to titles mid-chaos. I'm pretty stumped for ideas on this. Obviously some sort of hydraulic car crash simulator would be good, but we don't have a million pounds.

Any help, or ideas would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 12:49 PM

Hey Guys,

On an upcoming project I have a total headache of a shot to achieve. It's the opening of the movie (we are shooting S16mm, 16:9, not decided on stock yet- probably 7219), with two guys speeding a car through a dark street (night). They are drunk and they are messing around, continually swapping seats and leaning out the windows/ not paying attention to the road etc.

We want to shoot the whole thing as a two shot from in front of the windshield (something like this http://www.svpu.com/...frontwindow.jpg ), in slow motion (approx 100FPS), showing the guys as they muck around in the car, untill...predictably....they crash the car, sending them flying and showered with glass.

The idea is to create a kind of montage of the events before the crash, as they get more and more bold with their antics. Then the crash happens (from the same angle), as a slow motion long take, that shows the full destruction of the collision. The camera is facing BACK INTO THE CAR at all times, we never see the outside of the car.

Two issues with this:

1) Before the crash, while they are just "driving" (mostly larking about) how do we shoot this?. It's unlikely we can afford a flatbed or a tow truck, so we will have to shoot studio, using blue/green screen or rear projection and shoot the background plate seperately. What seems like the best option? Essentially, all we will see in the background is through the rear window of the car- so we will get a bit of light on the road as it trails off behind them, and the occasional street light.

2) How do we shoot the crash? This is more of a difficult problem. Obviously we want the crash to look as realistic as possible and have glass (fake) flying everywhere. The camera cuts to titles mid-chaos. I'm pretty stumped for ideas on this. Obviously some sort of hydraulic car crash simulator would be good, but we don't have a million pounds.

Any help, or ideas would be greatly appreciated.



Have you spoken with the Stunt Coordinator and VFX Supervisor?... because that is what it is going to take to pull off what you just described... and they'll be telling you what (they) need.
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#3 Rob Webster

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 01:19 PM

Have you spoken with the Stunt Coordinator and VFX Supervisor?... because that is what it is going to take to pull off what you just described... and they'll be telling (you) what they need.


AS this is a student production we don't really have any people specialised in that area. Or at least not enough so to be put in the role of VFX supervisor. Any visual effects work will be a collaboration between myself and the editor (who will be doing any compositing/computer based effects) but as far as a stunt/vfx supervisor....not so much!
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#4 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 05:27 PM

I think that this crash as you described it is probably far too expensive and involved for your budget. The best way for you to do the driving shots is probably just to mount the camera on the hood of the car and just have the actors drive around on the real streets (remember to get permits). If you shoot that in a studio, you're not going to have any of the proper reflections on the hood and windshield, nor will you see anything out the back, nor will you have proper lighting interactions inside the car. Doing a car mount is by far going to be the cheapest and best option.

The crash, though, is going to require lots of physical interaction, including physically moving the car to jostle the actors, and breaking the glass. You would need someone experienced with practical special effects and with stunts.
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#5 K Borowski

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 05:48 PM

Do you have the lighting necessary to get exposure with '19 at 100FPS? I suppose it wouldn't be that difficult to light the interior of the car, but it sounds like you are going to need to light the surrounding environment too unless you want it to fall off to total black.

Sounds expensive. . .
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 06:43 PM

100Fps @ night is going to be a bit of a problem unless you have some lighting inside that car.... as for the crash... maybe cut into close ups in high speed inside the car of glass shattering (falling pieces of "glass") over the actors with some kind of blown dust/smoke. I'm thinking closeups of their arms/hands as the fall downwards, or jump upwards, lots of quick cuts on that slow motion, sound will sell it, as well as doing some crazy things with lighting (like mimicking the car flipping over by moving the lights outside of the car (you can get away with it in slow motion, cutting to a close up of the actors hair as they move)... just a thought which avoids major CGI/efects. Just lots of planning and SHOT LISTING.

Anything which is even remotely dangerous, make sure you consult with professionals on set....
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#7 Rob Webster

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 08:26 PM

I think that this crash as you described it is probably far too expensive and involved for your budget. The best way for you to do the driving shots is probably just to mount the camera on the hood of the car and just have the actors drive around on the real streets (remember to get permits). If you shoot that in a studio, you're not going to have any of the proper reflections on the hood and windshield, nor will you see anything out the back, nor will you have proper lighting interactions inside the car. Doing a car mount is by far going to be the cheapest and best option.

The crash, though, is going to require lots of physical interaction, including physically moving the car to jostle the actors, and breaking the glass. You would need someone experienced with practical special effects and with stunts.


Hi Scott,

The problem with shooting this on a real road with the actors actually driving the vehicle is that they are supposed to be driving the car (in the script) in an incredibly unsafe way. i.e. not looking where they are going, continually swapping seats etc. I'm thinking there would be no way to make this convincing and safe at the same time.

The issue of wattage is the main reason for shooting studio. I have shot car interiors before in studio (on 7219) and used spinning light rigs (for windshield reflections), torches etc as well as miniflo tubes in the car to get enough stop to shoot 100FPS. We have a fairly big light store at uni so wattage shouldn't be a problem.

Adrian, the idea of shooting the crash (or parts of it) in close up was an idea i had right before i read your post and i'm thinking this is a good way around it. Something along the lines of those super slo-mo shots from Hurt Locker (ignore the ridiculous editing here, but 0:44 on this clip ). Obviously we won't be able to go anywhere near that slow but that way we can shoot a master with the actors showing a split second of the collision, and then pick up a few details in close up.

It has always been an issue for me that shooting this in slow motion means that it can only be done 100% practically and we simply don't have the budget to do it justice as a long take.
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#8 Matt Read

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 07:54 PM

I have an idea for how to do the crash in the same wide as the other driving shots.

The key to this will be to keep the camera locked off completely and will also require you to shoot in the studio.

Get all your other shots of the two guys in the car done first and get them out of the car. Set up some sort of makeshift greenscreen inside the car right in front of the seatbacks of the front seats and extend it to the sides so that the only thing seen through the windshield is greenscreen and part of the dashboard. You'll also need to paint two sledgehammers green as well as make two green shirts and pairs of gloves for two people to wear. You might want to consider replacing the windshield with a regular pane of glass (as real windshields are laminated glass and made to not send glass flying everywhere) and finding a way to secure it in place. Roll camera and have two people smash the glass from the inside of the car with the sledges. You'll want to be extremely careful with this and make sure whomever is breaking the glass is wearing plenty of protecting and that no one is anywhere near the front of the car.

Then, clean up all the shattered glass. Get rid of the greenscreen and put your actors back in the car. Shoot them miming a crash.

You might also want to shoot a clean shot of just the car before taking off the windshield, just in case you end up needing it.

You should be able to composite the two shots together using the breaking glass shot as the foreground element and the actors as the background. If you keep the shot quick in the final cut it should be totally passable.
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