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Matte painting for the moon


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#1 Jean Paul DiSciscio

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:57 PM

In the past, I've done forced perspective with frosted, round light bulbs to fake for the moon. It looked good at a distance.

My next step is simply using acrylic paint on glass of a moon, and incorporating forced perspective.

Any suggestions as to the best approach?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:04 AM

In the past, I've done forced perspective with frosted, round light bulbs to fake for the moon. It looked good at a distance.

My next step is simply using acrylic paint on glass of a moon, and incorporating forced perspective.

Any suggestions as to the best approach?


Could you be more clear as to what you are trying to do? Are you trying to put the full moon into a live-action wide shot? When you say "acrylic paint on glass" do you mean painting the moon on clear glass with live action seen beyond? What do you mean by "incorporating forced perspective"?
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#3 Jean Paul DiSciscio

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 01:18 AM

Could you be more clear as to what you are trying to do? Are you trying to put the full moon into a live-action wide shot? When you say "acrylic paint on glass" do you mean painting the moon on clear glass with live action seen beyond? What do you mean by "incorporating forced perspective"?


Yes, I am trying to incorporate the full moon into a live-action wide shot. I just attempted a test, using a miniature light bulb close to the lens in the foreground, and lit my background separately. It looked decent. I had to use a dimmer for my mini light bulb so that it didn't flare my lens. My next step is printing on transparency paper (the textures of the moon), and putting that in front of my mini light bulb (sort of like a cloud plate). So, basically, its a matte shot.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:23 AM

The problem then is holding focus on both the foreground Moon and the background. It might help to use a piece of glass in front of the lens at a 45 degree angle and reflect a large photo or painting of the Moon over the background. The larger and farther away the Moon is from the glass, the closer it will be to the plane of focus for the background. I would try something like a large sheet of black rigid illustration board (I think the large pieces are somewhere in the 5'x4' size), cut a perfect circle out, back the hole with tracing paper, and sketch or paint some craters and seas of the Moon on the tracing paper, and then backlight it. Then reflect the whole thing in a piece of glass in front of the lens. If you still can't hold it and the background both in focus, a split-diopter filter may help as long as your Moon isn't so bright as to flare the cut edge of the split-diopter and create a fuzzy white line.

Years ago, I had a slide of the full Moon that I bought at a planetarium -- I had an 8x10 transparency made of it, then pasted it behind a hole cut into black poster board, the hole matching the circle of the Moon in the photo enlargement. Then I backed the transparency with tracing paper and backlit it. I even had some tiny pinprick holes punched into the black card, also backed with tracing paper, so I could have stars in the sky around the Moon. I used this piece of artwork whenever I needed a cutaway to the full Moon in the sky.

I often used a light fog filter on the camera lens as well so that the backlit transparency glowed a little.
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:45 PM

My next step is simply using acrylic paint on glass of a moon, and incorporating forced perspective.


I'm wondering whether you intend this to be the real moon, or is this a "paper moon" type story, in which you intend the audience to know that it's a hand painted representation of the moon. In the first case, David's idea of a photographic transparency is the way to go. You'd have to be really really good -- like Albert Whitlock good -- to pull it off painting the moon by hand.





-- J.S.
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