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Shooting a clean image of a phone screen

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Matthew Beall
Shooting a clean image of a phone screen
on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:52:17 pm

We are trying to shoot video of a phone screen with a Canon 5D.. All the phone screens we shoot are pixelated and look jagged and compressed.. How can we shoot a clean image of the phone? This is on a white horizonless wall, well lit, with the phone filling the screen.. Not to mention everytime we touch the screen it leaves visible fingerprints...

?


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Todd Terry
Re: Shooting a clean image of a phone screen
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:42:48 pm

Do you absolutely have to shoot a real phone screen?

There's a reason that virtually every single commercial for an iPhone, any other smart phone, any computer, or any TV will have the tiny disclaimer at the bottom: "Screen images simulated." It just looks better.

We've done lots of shoots with smartphones, computer screens, laptops, and the like... and almost every time we do it we try to do it practically at first, but after seeing the footage we also come to the conclusion that screen replacement will look a lot better.

If it is a static shot, replacement couldn't be easier. If it's moving, it still can be motion tracked without too much trouble. In fact, most screens make for pretty easy motion tracking since they are rectangular with hard edges and sharp corners...makes it much easier.

T2

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



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Matthew Beall
Re: Shooting a clean image of a phone screen
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:27:50 pm

Hi Todd,

I understand replacing the screen, in fact I am an animator and I have several 3D phones I'm animating for other projects.. Sadly, I have found no way to get a clean video capture of a phone screen that I can use as a texture for my 3D phones.. I'm having to settle for screen captures..

On this project, however, we have to show user interaction.. We have a real person showing several "how-to" examples on real phones.. We have found no way to shoot the phone where we can get a clear image of the screen.. Is it because the 5D is too high-res? Everything is locked down.. I think the director is going for the 'phone in white void' i-phone commercial look..

Thanks



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Todd Terry
Re: Shooting a clean image of a phone screen
on Jun 17, 2011 at 3:16:52 pm

I see, understandable.

Of course, when you see those hands in an iPhone commercial working the phone on that white limbo background while Paul Rudd's voice tells you about it, all those screens are simulated... although I understand for practical reasons you might find it difficult to do it that way.

I don't think it's a 5D resolution issue at all that you are having. I think it's a lighting issue.

First, make sure you have "daylight" lighting... whether HMI, flos, LED, or just gelled tungsten... it needs to be in the 5600K neighborhood, since that's likely close to the color temperature of the phone screen.

Nextly, make sure your lighting plot allows for NO reflections on the screen... or likely even no direct light on the screen. I'm guessing your phone is suspended or rigged at some distance from your white background. If so, that's good, you should be able to light the limbo background completely independently, with NO light spill from those instruments onto the phone itself.

An alternate way to do that, rather than rig the phone on a grip arm or whatever (the way that it is usually done for commercials), is to place it on a piece of white glass and shoot down on it... you can light the glass from underneath for a perfectly shadowless limbo environment with zero light spill onto the phone.

Then, you have to light the hands working the phone. Again, the goal is not to spill any light onto the phone itself. I would use a couple of small fresnel instruments, to the sides at an almost 90° of the phone. You could illuminate the hands nicely, but flag (or use barn doors) to eliminate any of the spill. That would also avoid reflections and eliminate fingerprints or smudges on the phone.

And... the talent (your hand model) should thoroughly wash his or her hands before the first take, and after every few takes... to keep the hands bone dry and free of oil that will smudge the screen.

Here's a not-so-good example, but in this short commercial you can see how the hand itself isn't really lit quite like you'd probably normally want to light hands, but is very back and side-lit in order to keep light off the screen. Incidentally, this was shot practically with a real computer displaying a real screen... although after the shoot the client changed the look of their home page so we had to do a fake screen replacement anyway... sigh.



One last thing, if you just want to try to do some screen captures of the phone's display, you can get great images if you have a scanner that will allow for backlit imaging... a scanner that will allow you to scan slides or negatives. Just put the phone on the scanner and scan it as if it were a transparency. The scanner will think it's using it's own internal backlighting source, but it's really the phone providing that.

T2

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



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Terry Mikkelsen
Re: Shooting a clean image of a phone screen
on Jun 17, 2011 at 5:51:46 pm

Some phones have HDMI out now. Could you record that and replace?

Tech-T Productions
http://www.technical-t.com


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Matthew Beall
Re: Shooting a clean image of a phone screen
on Jun 18, 2011 at 2:17:30 am

Some of the phones do have HDMI out.. Unfortunately, only one of our phones do (we are shooting almost 20 phones) and it doesn't show the homescreen/desktop for interaction.. It just shows photos and videos when the HDMI is hooked up..



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