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Old September 25th, 2013, 02:25 AM   #1
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Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

I don't know if this is the best section to put this in but I'm not sure which is.

I have a client who wants me to shoot an instructional video on how to configure a smart phone. The video has to feature the screen of the smart phone filmed from directly above. A finger will touch the screen of the smart phone and adjust the settings.
My big question is,
how can I avoid seeing a reflection of the camera I'm filming with in the smart phone's screen?
I have to film the phone in my client's office (lots of natural light from big windows) as there isn't a budget to film it in a controlled environment ( studio).
Any advice would be most welcome!
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Old September 25th, 2013, 03:12 AM   #2
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

You could try using screen captures of the phone interface and putting the touches in afterwards, perhaps?
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Old September 25th, 2013, 06:10 AM   #3
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

Hi Tim,
it's a nice idea. How would I screen capture video on a smart phone?
The biggest problem I see is that I'd have to add a finger in After Effects.
Any more ideas anyone?
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Old September 25th, 2013, 06:23 AM   #4
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

Hi Andrew

I was meaning to capture the screen and use that image in the video. You can then simulate the touch event with a red, or some other colour dot and maybe a noise. This doesn't actually have to show the phone at all, necessarily. Just an idea.

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Old September 25th, 2013, 09:57 AM   #5
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

A polarizing filter will get rid of reflections on the screen, the down side is you'll lose 1-2 stops of light.
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Old September 25th, 2013, 10:54 AM   #6
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

If the camera is at a slight angle to the screen, you won't see the refection of the camera. Then use black flags or duvetyne (black cloth) hung up where you WOULD see a reflection and all you will see is a reflection of black, which will not look like a reflection at all.

Have fun!

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Old September 25th, 2013, 02:18 PM   #7
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

Here are a couple of alternative options depending on the type of phone....

1) if the phone has a video output, (my Droid 4 has a mini HDMI connector) you could capture the output and add the finger in using after effects.

2) what kind of smartphone? If Android, look into the developer tools from Google, they include an Android emulator, you could use the emulator with screen capture and use that the same as with above.

Last edited by Ralph Gereg; September 25th, 2013 at 02:43 PM. Reason: corrected typo
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Old September 26th, 2013, 12:55 AM   #8
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

Had to do this just a few days ago.

No controlled setup, run and gun for the most part.

Relied mostly on a black flag to remedy reflections. polarizer didn't have any appreciable affect on reflections. And remember that phone screens are polarized, so a polarizer at most settings will make it look screwy.

Do a test shoot. Keep the light sources large and diffused. And have black flags

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Old September 26th, 2013, 05:28 AM   #9
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

Thanks for the replies.
I have to film 3 phones, an iphone, a samsung android and a blackberry. I don't know which ones.
I looked into screen recorders on andriod but they all seem to require rooting the phone and messing about and as I have to film 3 types of phone I think it'll be easier just filming them.
My problem is that I have to film the phone straight on so I keep seeing a reflection of the camera.
Here's an example of the style my client is looking for ( although our video will be different, my client wants the straight from above look).

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Old September 26th, 2013, 07:41 AM   #10
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

Every time we shoot a mobile phone these days, the screen is burned in (i.e. done as an effects shot). If you wanted to avoid roto-ing the finger, you could put a little green material over the phone screen. Then it would be relatively easy to shoot all of the screen material in a controlled environment and composite into the original footage.
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Old September 26th, 2013, 09:56 AM   #11
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

Charles,
i don't have a problem rotoing the finger ( although i'd prefer not to).
My problem is shooting the screen straight on.
How do you shoot the screen material? What method do you use to 'burn' it in?
Thanks!
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Old September 26th, 2013, 10:53 AM   #12
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

Charles is referring to doing a green screen key. placing a cell phone screen sized piece of green cloth/paper neatly over the screen, and then keying it out and replacing it with the recorded screen you're looking to do via rooting the phone. this solves the issue of the finger,

the two considerations are that it needs to be lit properly, and the screen needs to be recorded in advance, so it can be shown to the finger model so they can match up the movements accurately, or if you want to keep it really simple, just have them see the points on the screen that need to be hit, better yet place small greet dots that will stand out just a little bit from the rest of the green screen, and they can have their hand enter frame just to hit each spot, and leave frame each time instead of staying in frame.

lighting it you'll need to get that diffused light in there quite well, as the finger will cast a shadow if you dont, and be harder to key, two large diffused sources at 45 degree angles from the phone should be a good starting point to try out.

you might think to use the phone's screen and load in a green tile onto it, which has a slight chance of working, but will likely cause more issues, such as casting green spill onto the finger, or being washed out by your lighting. but hey, give it a shot if you'd like to try everything under the moon
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Old September 26th, 2013, 01:51 PM   #13
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Re: Filming a mobile phone screen without reflections

thanks darren.
the problem I have is that I have 4 hours to shoot this and i won't have the phones until the day of the shoot. That makes looking for a screen recorder and installing it successfully on each phone a difficult task.
Apparently the office is very bright so I see more problems. I think that it might be better to take the phones into a dark closet or room and film the screens in pitch black with the camera way up on a tripod ( but zoomed in ) to avoid reflections. The budget for the project won't cover anything that doesn't involve filming the phones on site.
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