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How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass

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Steve Clarendon
How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 7, 2009 at 10:42:07 pm

I will be shooting a film which takes place in a recording studio and a control room seperated by a large window. Many of my camera placements will necessitate shooting over the shoulder of someone on one side of this glass looking directly into the room on the other side of the glass.

The setup is not too different from Silence of the Lambs as Jodie Foster visits Anthony Hopkins, who is being held in a glass-enclosed cell. This was shot by Tak Fujimoto but alas I have found no links to his masterful work.

Does anyone know how best to make the camera and operator invisble to the glass in a room which has to be lit (it cannot be pitch black)? The only idea I had was to drape a huge sheet of duvetyne cloth acroos the room and cut a small hole for the lense so this would "read" as black to the glass. This would limit camera movement, though.

Steve


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john sharaf
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 7, 2009 at 10:53:30 pm

Steve,

You are correct in anticipating issues with reflections in the glass, but it's not going to be impossible to accomplish.

First off, you have to think of the glass a mirror and, just as in a game of pool, plan the bounces. As far as the lights themselves, as long as keep from aiming them at the glass/mirror you won't see them. Most recording studios have windows with non-perpendicular glass anyway. This has to do with sound reflections.

The main concern that remains is the reflections of objects that are lit, like the people, instruments, mikes, console, etc. Here you have two choices; move the camera one way or the other, up or down to eliminate the reflection, or use the reflections of these objects, which you'd expect to see in the studio, as visual elements. This will help in creating interesting relationships and three dimensional composition.

JS



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Richard Herd
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 7, 2009 at 11:23:24 pm

You can always put stuff in the way, too..like props and actors.


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Steve Clarendon
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 8, 2009 at 2:13:35 am

But I've seen moving shots where only the foreground actor (who is lit) as well as that same actors reflection in the glass are seen. The DP, the Grip and the camera set up itself are "invisible". Perhaps they use curtains as well a the techniques you both suggest?



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Mark Suszko
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:54:12 pm

What about polarizing filters? I usually only think of these outdoors, any way to use them inside?


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Richard Herd
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 8, 2009 at 5:08:51 pm

Here's an experiment:
-- Light the room bright.
-- Flag the camera black, if no light hits it, how can it show up?


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Steve Clarendon
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 8, 2009 at 6:34:31 pm

Because of the nature of these rooms (light colored walls etc) - and the presence of the window between them (which we WANT to see some reflections in), light is still bouncing around the room tto much too avoid reflected light from illuminating what we want to hide. Thats why I was wondering if people had ever draped black cloth in front of the camera and crew and shot through a hole.



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john sharaf
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 8, 2009 at 6:37:10 pm

Steve,

Yes, of course this can be done, but you must be aware that the cloth will have to be very large and seamless to the edges or else you'll see the edges. It's therefore nor a very practical nor elegant solution.

JS





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Rick Amundson
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 8, 2009 at 6:47:14 pm

I have used the black cloth trick as well as black foam core mounted to the dolly to allow for moves. Both have yielded decent results. The fact still remains that you must try to keep as much light as possible off of the camera rig. A polarizer can help, but you lose quite a bit of light and it will only help in certain angles.

Rick Amundson
Producer/Director/DP
Screenscape Studios
Bravo Romeo Entertainment
http://www.screenscapestudios.com
http://www.bravoromeo.com
http://www.indeliblemovie.com


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Richard Herd
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 8, 2009 at 7:26:48 pm

Contrast ratio causing reflections can get complicated. Without scouting the location, it's pretty tough to imagine the room, especially since I used to do audio. I can't get that room out of my head.

Two rooms, two cameras?
Or Two rooms, one camera?


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Nick Griffin
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 8, 2009 at 8:32:57 pm

All of the suggestions have merit but no one has yet, IMHO, stated the obvious.

Recording studio windows in my experience are made with the glass angled to prevent internal reverberations of the sound. Almost always (at least in the several dozen studios I've seen and the couple I've built) the control room side of the glass as well as the studio side is angled so the space is wider at the top and more narrow at the bottom. This means the glass is pointing it's reflection downward. Keep the camera above the midpoint of the window and your reflection will never be an issue.

You may need the duvetyne for the front of the console and the area beneath it, though. A site survey is essential otherwise you're wasting time on the shoot day which could be better used.

"Just my opinion. I could be wrong."


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Matthew Romanis
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 13, 2009 at 8:58:30 am

I have shot a lot of projects in recording studios, some of them have angled glass which will be of benefit to you as outlined above, some did not.
In these situations you could use two pieces of black cloth, one with a horizontal slit cut into it (the front one), the other black cloth with no slit placed behind the front one allowing room for the camera and dolly if required. Don't so much as poke the lens through the slit, but shoot through the slit, this will cut ambient light form the front of the lens and reduce the possibility of seeing reflections of lights on the lens in the glass window. Have the crew draped in blacks to help with reflections. Place props and objects in key spots to offer practical reflections in the glass if you feel you need them, you could even dolly through them creating layers.
I use rolls of black velvet from a retail fabric supplier, generally comes in 1.5m wide by 7m long, around $5 p/m.
Matthew.



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Steve Clarendon
Re: How to Control Reflections -Shooting into glass
on Apr 13, 2009 at 3:05:21 pm

This is great info! Thank you! It makes total sense - I can see why this would work. I really appreciate the input. Sounds like you've done this before.

Steve



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