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Old May 10th, 2010, 11:08 AM   #1
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Model Ship Kits

Hi, what are your thoughts about using a model ship like this one Buy Santa Maria Models Assembled - Tall Ships Replica - Model Ship Model Boat in the actual sea? I'm contemplating whether to buy one like this, or this very one, and use it in a documentary.

I'm thinking I may need to present it in slow motion if the ship is too light in weight to be convincing. Has anyone used a model ship and had good results? What techniques would I need to employ to make it work?

Thanks.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 12:41 PM   #2
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Those are cool models!
Problem with using it in the actual ocean is the scale of the waves. And the model will get tossed around quite a bit more than the real ship.
Other question...are you planning on having people on the ship? It would look a bit strange to me sailing without a crew.
Depending on your shot needs, you could put the boat on a stand and do extreme closeups on a jib or dolly with a greenscreen. Then go film the ocean and composite. You could even composite in actors for the sailors too. A LOT of work though!

The only decent model ships I've seen used for video were pretty large. Like 10-20 feet. That way they interact with a real body of water better. All were custom made.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 01:00 PM   #3
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I'm not sure if they ever made it across the Atlantic, but the various Gerry Anderson shows - Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, UFO etc all featured ships - and although they're good, they're not realistic by today's standards - and they took huge amounts of resources to do. Most models sit far too high in the water, and water itself doesn't move properly in scale size (Brownian Motion?). Slow motion will be essential - or it will look very cheesy.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 01:19 PM   #4
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You might be better off checking around to see if there is anyone offering DIGITAL models of the ship you want or a similar one that can be modified, then have someone do it CGI.

Actual physical models used to be the standard (I remember going to a presentation by guys who built things like the StarWars trench, X-wing and so on for our model building club), and I think you would still find them in use for SOME purposes, more often you will find it's now easier to "model" digitally where you can control motion to scale, and add or subtract elements (like people).

Whether going digital is cost effective or not will depend on how you want the final production to look, and how big the budget is.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 01:37 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.

Robert, I know it would look strange without people, so I was planning on 'establishing' shots. Also, I saw a nice piece on the History channel where the camera was placed underwater, facing straight up at the surface, and the ship glided right over. I like the greenscreen suggestion, that's an interesting option.

Paul, I know the Thunderbirds series, that was a classic! Slow motion will have to be used in some scenes, especially to avoid that cheesy look. Dave, CGI is a good suggestion but I don't think I can afford it at this point. So, am exploring this option to see if it could work. If the model ships will look too 'toyish' I won't use them.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 02:35 PM   #6
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OK, until some serious Hollywood special FX experts jump in I'll comment as I'm both a video guy and a model maker (in my case trains - if you're remotely interested see some of the special interest films on my website, Thurston 00 being my pride and joy in that area!).

As Paul rightly says (and I've seen it many times in my years as a modeller as various people attempt it), "real" water does not look good with models, no matter how good the model - at all!

I've seen "acceptable passes" at water/boats/ships sailing on it in model form with oil, in "real life", i.e real time. I think with the tools us video people have with high frame rate/slomo that would be the way to go. As the Paul basically says, it's down to physics!
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Old May 10th, 2010, 02:52 PM   #7
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A view like this is what I had in mind. The ships wouldn't exactly be traveling alot, just sitting there observing the new discovery. Thanks for your input very much, Andy.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 03:50 PM   #8
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Hi to all of you again. For information sake, and for the sake of those just reading the forum for knowledge, take a look at this video which shows a fleet of 3 ships, built at a scale of 1:24.

YouTube - Fleet sail 17 September 09

It looks quite nice. A little slow-motion and some ageing of the clip would look really nice, I'm sure!

They've even got some cannons firing!

Here's one done in CGI. Very good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjKVu...eature=related
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Old May 10th, 2010, 04:24 PM   #9
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The CGI one looks acceptable for documentary use. IMHO, it's is because it's obviously CGI.

The other vid with the models just doesn't cut it for two reasons. Physics of the water and the camera angles.
A possible solution to each...
1) find out the "cruising speed" of the real ship. calculate based on the frame rate you will use and scale of the model to figure out how fast the model has to travel to look right once slowed down.
A math expert might know how to do all this! NOT ME!

2) camera angle must be much lower (camera closer to the water) to give the sense of scale
You will want a waterproof housing just in case! might use a small camera like a ContourHD or GoPro which shoot in 1080 and are around $300.

This is the kind of stuff I love to figure out! Wish I had more time. Back in a previous life I used to do scale R/C airplanes and helicopters. A friend used to build for the movies. I could never bring myself to blow them up though! HeHe!

Good luck and let us know what you decide!
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Old May 10th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #10
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Thanks for the suggestions! Got a small Canon camcorder with an Aquapac that would do fine! And no difficulty with doing the math - I've got a relative who lives for the stuff. :-)

I appreciate all the responses. Thanks again.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 03:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
I'm not sure if they ever made it across the Atlantic, but the various Gerry Anderson shows - Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, UFO etc all featured ships - and although they're good, they're not realistic by today's standards - and they took huge amounts of resources to do. Most models sit far too high in the water, and water itself doesn't move properly in scale size (Brownian Motion?). Slow motion will be essential - or it will look very cheesy.
You need really large models to make water work convincingly, plus slow motion. On feature films they can be the length of a reasonably sized yacht.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 11:51 AM   #12
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Thanks Brian. I would imagine that the bigger the model, the better it will look.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 12:31 PM   #13
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Hi

Pirates of the carribean is a good example of multiple techniques used:
1. full scale ships (not too much)
2. miniature (about 1:12 scale) ships in a water tank (try avoiding using models in real water, altough on the "Abyss" it was done succesfully for the storm shots ,done in a real ocean)
3. CGI (mainly long shots)

a good idea would be to try and purchase/shoot footage of a real modern boat in a real ocean.
than shoot the miniature outdoors on a greenscreen and composite it over the real modern boat's wake.
that way you have 75% real footage in the shot.
worst case scenario you'd need a bit of CG to mimick interaction with the model's matte line.

of course, youre gonna face multiple shooting issues, mainly matching perspective, lens, and stock of footage
but as a rule of thumb I would always prefer starting off from a real plate and adding to it.

best of luck

Lior
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Old May 17th, 2010, 01:17 PM   #14
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How about obscuring the model ships or just the water with some fog?
Did you consider shooting some real ships? A number of cities have "tall ship" events from time to time.
Another possibility could be stock footage.
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Old June 14th, 2010, 01:31 AM   #15
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Helen,
Maybe a little off topic, but if it is the ship Santa Maria, used by Columbus, you are interested in, there is a full scale replica (a real ship) at the Portugese island Madeira.
They use the ship to take tourists on short trips along the coast of the island.
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