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Shooting Through Glass and Controlling Reflection / Glare


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#1 Jason Chua

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 01:25 PM

Hi Cinematographers,

 

I am looking to shoot a short film soon and there's a particular scene involving glass and reflections which I need your expert help and advise for. 

 

Basically, it's a handheld/slider shot looking through a shop window. However, what I am trying to achieve is a focus-pull of sorts where initially we are able to see through the glass and into the store, and after the pull, we see the actors as they look through the glass.

 

Appreciate any help and advice you have in terms of how I might achieve this!

 

Best,

Jason


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 01:52 PM

If you want to do this with focus, the background has to be deeper than the distance from the camera to the glass and back to the actors, so there will be a difference in the focus for a pull, which can be helped by shooting at a wider f-stop for shallower focus.  Of course there is the exposure balance issue, making sure the reflection is bright enough.  Hopefully this is a night scene because otherwise a bright exterior being reflected in the glass will overpower the interior view.  If it is a day scene, you'll need something to create a lot of dark area behind the actors, dark trees, a dark truck, etc.

 

You might try all of this with a pola effect as well.  I was watching the movie "Murphy's Romance" and there's an interesting shot where you see the reflection of a bit crossing a daytime street in a glass window with a Help Wanted sign, and then they rotated the pola to reduce the reflection so you could see the boy enter the store and apply for a job.  I tried this trick once, but it requires a very specific angle to the glass for maximum effect from the pola.

 

if this is a night scene, the actors could step into a small spotlight at the moment you rack to their reflections so that they weren't reflected earlier when you wanted to see clearly into the store.  Or have the light dim up as well.  "Munich" did something like this, for a scene in Paris at night of Avner looking into a kitchen store.


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#3 Jason Chua

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 03:04 PM

Wow! Thanks David both for being so quick and for your advice!

 

I was also thinking of using a circular polariser but would definitely need to do some tests for that. Like you said, polarisers require specific angles and I won't have the luxury of being in a controlled studio environment - will be shooting on a public street and into an actual store. This, and the fact that I'm looking to add some camera movement in the shot makes it all really complicated!

 

Will definitely have to keep that point about having dark backgrounds in mind since it'll be a day scene (and unfortunately, in the interests of the story, it has to be!)

 

Thanks again for your amazing input and hopefully I'll make something to be proud of!


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 06:19 PM

Generally you'll find that in a day situation, the people reflected in the glass become silhouettes unless you pound them with a lot of light, but it's hard to front light someone facing a glass window (unless the HMI is inside shining out.)  You can side light them, or put  bounce card above the window and top/front light them, but all of this will be easier with a darker background or late in the day with a lot of shade.


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#5 Maximilian Motel

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 10:38 AM

Concerning the camera movement: What about shooting at a higher resolution and then use fake movements in After Effects to make the shot feel organic. I think Mad Max did that for a lot of the shoots as they used Russian Arms which were too steady for their taste.

This might at least make the Polarizer thing easier to pull off.


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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 11:08 AM

Concerning the camera movement: What about shooting at a higher resolution and then use fake movements in After Effects to make the shot feel organic. I think Mad Max did that for a lot of the shoots as they used Russian Arms which were too steady for their taste.
This might at least make the Polarizer thing easier to pull off.


Or just use a Rota Pola with a geared tray and a wireless follow focus to 'pull Pola'...
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#7 Maximilian Motel

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 07:43 AM

@Satsuki That would probably be the more real thing to do. :)
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