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Camera trick that worked pretty well...

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Todd Terry
Camera trick that worked pretty well...
on Jul 30, 2014 at 7:37:04 pm

Had good success with a little shooting trick on a commercial production this week, and thought I'd pass it along.

I've long heard of people doing this, but never actually did it myself...

We produced this commercial for one of our clients, a historically-black university, promoting football season ticket sales. The meat of the commercial is a long dolly shot in a locker room, landing on an ExCU of a player's face (at about the :19 mark)....









Even with end chocks on the dolly track and hard stops on the focus wheel, I was having a hard time nailing it razor sharp just as the dolly move lands. I was shooting a 35mm prime wide open at f/1.3 so at the closest point my DoF was less than an inch, and even the tiniest position change by the talent was throwing his eyeballs soft.

After a few bad takes I decided to try it another way, and we did it backwards. I started the dolly move with the extreme CU, and pulled back throughout the shot, just dollying out rather than in... with the actor doing his blocking backwards (it was easy since since his action was just a head move). When the footage was reversed in post, it looked like I landed what would have otherwise been a pretty darn hard focus pull.

It's not a technique I've used before, but I wouldn't hesitate to try it again. It actually worked better than I expected.

If you need to precisely land on something... dolly, pan, or whatever... give it a try!

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rick Wise
Re: Camera trick that worked pretty well...
on Jul 30, 2014 at 8:18:00 pm

As always, nice work, Todd! Yes, shooting the end of the shot first and later reversing in post is something I've done a lot of times, especially with table-top where the shots needs to end perfectly framed on a logo/box/item. Saves a lot of stress and time. Highly recommended!

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Camera trick that worked pretty well...
on Jul 31, 2014 at 2:02:27 pm

The eye blink might give it away, but most people would attribute that to a deliberate effect. Looks awesome. Reminded me of the story of that aerial shot of McGarrett on the balcony of the Hotel Ilekai in the opening credits montage of Hawaii Five-O. The turbulence in he air was making it impossible for the helicopter to track properly for a zoom-in effect, so finally, they decided to do your same trick, starting in tight, and backing away, then reversing the film in post.

(I remember when we had to shoot upside-down to make the film "reversible" :-) )


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Todd Terry
Re: Camera trick that worked pretty well...
on Jul 31, 2014 at 5:31:37 pm

[Mark Suszko] "I remember when we had to shoot upside-down to make the film "reversible"


Ahhh yes, I did that a few times in the Super8 days of my twisted youth.

With dual perf 16mm that was no problem, but with S8 there were only sprocket holes on one side, so you not only had to flip the shot end-to-end but front-to-back as well. It worked and still gave you backwards action, but the downsides were that it created a left-to-right mirror image... and the emulsion was then on the "wrong" side relative to the rest of the footage, so the focus was a little soft if you were intercutting it with "normal" footage.

As I recall though, those were the least of the problems with the films I was making as a teenager.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rich Rubasch
Re: Camera trick that worked pretty well...
on Aug 29, 2014 at 8:50:46 pm

How big was the crew on just the locker room dolly shot?

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Camera trick that worked pretty well...
on Aug 29, 2014 at 9:26:02 pm

[Rich Rubasch] "How big was the crew..."

There were three of us there that day, which is typical for almost all of our shoots. Locker room was shot in the morning, all the exteriors in the afternoon. I probably should have planned that the other way around, since it was about a thousand degrees outside that day, but the locker room required a lot more precision and was the hero scene so I wanted to do it first when everyone was fresh and not beat from the heat.

In this case it was myself as director/DP/camera-op, my biz partner as dolly grip, and an AC (who is usually our editor, and cut this commercial) who was pulling focus... although I ended up pulling focus myself for most of the takes, it was just easier that way.

Oh, we did have a tag-along, this wanna-be filmmaker kid who wanted to hang out... I think the job we gave him was to occasionally push the button on the haze machine.




More behind the scenes stuff here, if interested....

http://fantasticplastic.com/portfolio/news033.html

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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