Flip it over
Ok I'm not sure if I have the correct forum to post this question on, and if it is incorrect, then Cow moderator please feel free to move it. Here is my question:
In my production, I am shooting a pilot and co-pilot from the rear of the cargo plane forward. Simply put, the plant flips over 180 degrees. We are going to green screen the cockpit windows, however short of building a a cockpit and actually flipping the interior what are some other ideas.
During the flip we were going to CG items falling from the floor towards the roof in AE that were shot on a green screen. Any other thoughts? I have also looked at a carnival ride company who would create something but frankly I don't want to put the actors in any danger of really flipping them (the insurance guy cringed when I described it). If I can flip the camera and the image through the window and have crap fall all over the place, thats the direction I would like to head.
Creative Juice time.
Sounds exciting. As you mention, CG items can be added in post. The more difficult part, is the actors.
Gravity and humans together is the one thing that are difficult to fake. Maybe do a close-up where you just flip the actor around (without the whole set) to get the realistic feeling of hair and glasses following gravity - and the actors horrific look? :-)
Use of fans at the right moment is another way of doing it.
Just a few thoughts - but it sounds like you've got it covered.
All the Best
@madsvid, London, UK
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I think the complexity of what you're doing depends entirely on how you see the final sequence.
If you're going to track the shot throughout the entire roll, then there's really no realistic way to do it other than to build a rotating set and turn the whole scene upside down. That gives you the proper geometry for everything from their hair to the moment and angle where the pilots caps fall off.
OTOH, you can certainly cheat this and save a fortune.
Wide shot cuts to CU reverse of one pilots face - where HE rotates - something you can do pretty easily with a climbing harness and a small camera locked to relative position maybe on a upper body rig that rotates with him.
Then you can just cut back to a stable shot with both pilots upside down - which is again a static set that you can rig pretty easily just using seatbelted chairs on an overhead structure.
Point is, you've got to decide the level of realism and the cropping/sequence/nature of the shot you're trying for first. That will tell you what you need to do to rig it.
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How does the plane enter the inverted flight? If it barrel rolls, there will probably be negative G's, which might make loose items tumble around. If it goes inverted from a pull back on the controls, it should stay in positive G's until the last moment, then go negative, possibly going back to positive G's. Lost pencils, fuel sample cups, old sectional maps, POH book are all items that are generally seen when flying non-aerobatic planes in 'unusual attitude'.
It's not just as simple as things fall when your upside down. Aircraft are moving through 3D space, so you have to visualize if the plane is experiencing positive, or negative G's. When you fly inverted, things don't always fall 'down'. Sometimes you are upside down, but falling (top down), which pins everything to the floor (+ G's) as if you were right side up flying straight and level. The reverse is often true when flying right side up. A sudden abrupt push forward on the elevator can put the plane into a short period of zero or negative G and cause loose items to float out from their hiding places.
Plus if the instruments are visible in the shot, don't forget you have to have them change as well. Most non-aerobatic planes gyro instruments will tumble or show pinned if the plane is inverted, or spun hard.
Multi-Camera Director, VFX and Post Production
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Thanks everyone for giving your input. I have taken in everything you have provided and now my AD and I have a lot of tests to do. We actually did a simulated set up using my Jeep with the rear hatch open and green screened the wind shield. Not bad. With camera shake and fans blowing crap around we are getting closer.
Scott to answer your question, the actual plane lost it's left wing and engine flipped left (facing forward) stayed at 180 degrees as it came down and clipped the top of some trees before hitting a lake and sinking.
The plane was a twin engine Howard 500 being used as a dope plane. It crashed into Upper Merced Pass Lake in 1976 while in route to Nevada to drop off a load. No witnesses but photos of the crash site and what was left of the plane. Pilot and Co-Pilot DOA. We have a look a like PV2 Harpoon for the film and will be shooting footage of the tree tops skimming the plane. That will be used when we green screen the planes windows just before the engine tears off. Then using a cable system to fly a camera through trees hitting them for the plane descending into the forest.
But as one of the other posters commented, it will be quick short shots to the viewer will not have time to over analyze the shot. If any of you still have ideas or comments I am all ears.
Thanks again to all for the help.
The audience doesn't know how the camera is placed. Leave the pilots and their seats upright, spin the CAMERA. Technically, you could do that virtually in AE as well a practically on set. Use a tank of compressed air and hidden hoses to blow the hats and hair out at the right time, or pull the hats off their heads with fishing line and roto it out. Add your AE flying debris, done.
You only need the seats and pilots, the cockpit front AND windows can all be green screened.
If shooting this from the windscreen looking IN to the cockpit, I'd put the camera up high looking down at the floor, at a green turn-table set on an angle, with the pilots laying on their backs. As the table turns, their heads become "downhill" without having to be suspended in the air, and the hair will tend to look like it is floating/hanging.