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Sooting On screen Talent writing text on screen

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Greg BallSooting On screen Talent writing text on screen
by on Sep 21, 2012 at 1:13:35 pm

I'm trying to figure out the best way to get talent to write some financial information on screen as he talks.

One thing I've seen is a plexiglass look where the talent is seemingly writing on glass between himself and the camera. This can't be real as he's have to write backwards. I have access to a green screen studio, but I'm not sure where to start on this. Any thoughts? Any examples you can point me to?
Thanks so much.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Sooting On screen Talent writing text on screen
by on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:04:19 pm

Sometimes, they really *are* writing backwards on glass. Even if not writing physically, the finger motion has to be the same anyway. That's when hiring actors pays off.

I imagine you're going to use a motion tracker program to capture the live performance and map any small camera motions to the writing?


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Nick GriffinRe: Shooting Talent writing text on screen
by on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:22:50 pm

Greg-
There was a lengthy discussion of this here several months back. Check the archives.

Remember the UPS spots from a couple of years back where the spokesman (actually the Creative Director of the Martin Agency) drew detailed diagrams in what appeared to be real time on what appeared to be a white board? I've never done this before, but it seems to me that the simplest way to do this would be to 1) have the finished illustration, text, numbers, whatever as a completed work, 2) using masks in AfterEffects or another compositing program animate a reveal of the drawing, and 3) have the green-screened talent imitate the path of the reveal. Then again I've never done this, so it's a guess.


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Todd TerryRe: Sooting On screen Talent writing text on screen
by on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:33:28 pm

[Greg Ball] "This can't be real as he's have to write backwards."

Yes you can do it that way... you just horizontally flip it in post.

Writing on the back of actual glass would definitely be by far the easiest, and probably look the most natural and non-produced. I think the harder part would be finding talent who can do it well enough (and write well enough) for it to work.

I'm always impressed by actors who can really multi-task very well... like when you see a scene in a movie where a character has lots of heavy-duty acting, and difficult business to do at the same time... i.e., obviously really making an omelet, or tying a bow tie, etc.

If you did it practically and flipped it you'd really only have to worry about the elements that would give away the flipped shot... buttons on the wrong side of a jacket, a shirt pocket on the wrong side, hair parted wrong (if the actor appears in non-flipped footage).

T2

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



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Mark SuszkoRe: Sooting On screen Talent writing text on screen
by on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:47:42 pm

If the actor had a reversed image to refer to, next to the camera, it might help. Or hire ex-navy Carrier Flight Ops crew, who do that kind of stuff all day:-)

I like the idea of the reveal, but I foresee difficulty in match-moving the pen or finger to the reveal in a wide shot.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Sooting On screen Talent writing text on screen
by on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:49:37 pm

Just had an idea; could we use a reflection of the finished copy projected onto the glass that the lens can't see, but the writer CAN? Something like the Pepper's ghost/teleprompter idea.


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Greg BallRe: Sooting On screen Talent writing text on screen
by on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:06:41 pm

Al always you guys are great! Thanks for all of the suggestions. This may be a bigger can of worms than I thought, considering the client's budget. But I really appreciate your suggestions. This is one of the best forums on the cow.



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Jean-Fran├žois RobichaudRe: Sooting On screen Talent writing text on screen
by on Nov 27, 2012 at 6:38:17 pm

Totally agree with this. Having the actor write on the plexiglas for real and flipping the shot in post would yield the most natural result (though maybe not the cleanest in terms of the writing).

Having the actor pretend to write in mid-air and adding the text in post is a bad idea IMO. When people write for real, they use the visual feedback of what's already on paper (or plexi) to guide their movement. If you remove that visual cue, the movement will be off (like writing with your eyes closed). When tracing the movement of the pencil in post, the result is distorted letters and overwrite. The tracing must be tweaked and smoothed somewhat to get legible and aesthetically pleasing writing, but that means lines will not appear exactly at the location of the pen tip.


To OP:
As for shooting through plexiglass, if you've never done it, you must run tests during pre-production and prepare for a somewhat complex lighting setup. Backlight will amplify scratches and dirty areas on the surface: flag your backlights, treat the plexiglass with care and wipe it good between shots. Your actor's hand should never touch the glass, as it will leave oily residue. Front light will reflect in the glass, so flag it, move it further to the sides and/or up to get rid of reflections.

You also need to test multiple types of markers to see what looks best, in terms of opacity and colour. It must absolutely stand out from the background.


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