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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 12:21 AM   #1
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360

Is there any way that you guys can think of where I can do a 360 trick with one camera? Not a fancy one like in the Matrix but just one that's good enough that you don't have all the shaking of being hand held in a 360 degree motion...
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 12:32 AM   #2
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Er, hi Justin...........

Could you run that by me again - I must be missing something here.

What do you mean by a "360" (apart from standing in one spot and spinning in a complete circle?).

Sorry if this comes across as the dumb question of the month, just can't get a grip on what you're asking.


CS
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 12:38 AM   #3
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Sorry, I should've explained it better.

I'm filming a movie and I have a shot where two people are in it. Are there any ideas on how I can get a 360 degree shot going around the two characters without having to do it hand held?
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 12:59 AM   #4
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Aha, now I've got it...

Know exactly the scenes you were refering to.

You know, I've wondered about that myself, and come to the conclusion that the only way to pull it off would be some sort of overhead crane mounted jib arrangement...OR...........

A completely circular track laid around the actors with a dolly.

The only thing short of Hollywood budgets would appear to be the latter.

Can't see any reason why that couldn't be done without breaking the piggy bank (utterly).

CS

PS. Thanks for the memory jog!
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 01:06 AM   #5
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Ha ha no problem and thanks for the info. I'll think about it and get back to you if I think of something.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 01:28 AM   #6
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Hi Again...........

Jeez, I must be getting to old for this, as I've just remembered this gem! (How the heck I forgot this has me stunned!)

I had to shoot a very el - cheapo commercial quite a few years ago, which required doing exactly the same moves.

No track, no track dolly. Just a smooth wooden floor and a central location, which just happened to be a table with a circular central pillar.

Tied a piece of rope to two legs of the tripod after passing it around the central post of the table (the tripod was on a wheeled studio dolly).

Took it out to it's maximum and tracked the dolly around the table tethered by the rope. Worked an absolute treat.

The actors had to be pretty nifty with the footwork tho' - that rope was a killer!

Can't get much cheaper than that.


CS
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 01:40 AM   #7
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There are a number of common methods for achieving such results. Your budget, perseverance, DIY expertise, and the specific needs of your shots will be the determining factors of the methodology you employ.

Certainly, your cheapest option is handheld, with very careful footsteps. It is very difficult to make this approach look good, IMO.

A significant step-up from that would involve equally careful footsteps, but with the addition of a bona-fide steady-cam type device. A good one generally requires something of an investment, and using it properly usually requires a healthy dose of practice. (Some segments of "Dancing with the Stars" have featured some of the finest use of this method I've ever seen.)

The jib mount approach noted earlier can be a very viable and economical option. Careful planning and a few visits to your local hardware outlet can serve you well.

As far as dollys, there are many options. You can drop a load of cash on very nice dolly kits, or you can build your own using plans easily found on the net. I did a half'n'half a few months ago and built a dolly using a Pocket Dolly kit I purchased second-hand, along with a few additions I added from a hardware shop and ended up with a really nice dolly for under a few hundred dollars.

You can also build your own track using a few different types of materials, or you can buy arced or circular track from a number vendors. You can even purchase something called "Flextrack" I think, which is sort of a flexible cable type of dolly track that allows you to design your own dolly path, straight, curvy, or circular or whatever.

A few months ago, I even saw a demo online of a trackless dolly unit that I thought was very clever but was beyond my budget. It involved a wheeled mount system with which the wheels can be set at any number of degreed angles to determine a specific perimeter travel for your round-dolly shot. The angle is dialed in and the wheels are locked into position, keeping the dolly travel following along a perfectly rounded arc or circle. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of that product or where I saw it. It was pretty cool though.

On that note: if your travel surface is flat and smooth, you also might consider seeing if there are any available wheel kits for your model of tripod. Such wheel kits are often very economical and with careful handling, could provide you with the moving shots you are looking for.


Finally, depending upon your needs, location limitations, or compositing abilities, you could even go so far as to shoot your subjects in front of a green screen, while they are standing on rotating surface (like a lazy Susan, only for people), and then shoot some appropriate counter-rotation shots from your tripod at a later time, being careful to match it appropriately in your final composite. This method is used quite alot but can be tricky to make it look real unless you know what you are doing.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

-Jon
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 02:57 AM   #8
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Basically...
1- You have to have some idea about how to composite visual effects shots in general. And how to use the compositing package you have.

2- You need several cameras to take a shot at the same time (e.g. dSLRs). The proper way is to use a lot of cameras... this is what they did on the Matrix I believe.

For people with normal budgets, you'll use optical flow to make up the in-between shots/cameras that you don't have.

It's more involved than the description above and you'll need the software to do it.

3- If your subject isn't moving (e.g. you can get your actors to freeze), then there's easier ways to do it.

One way:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showpost....4&postcount=13

*The ping pong ball is 3-D. Presumably using HDR to make it look right and matchmoving to get the positioning of the ball right.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 03:02 AM   #9
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Here's an "out of box" idea... get a tripod and shoot with the camera stationary, but put the actors on something that rotates... I know, I know, a bit daffy, but you could pull it off. The background wouldn't move, so you'd have to figure something out, but if it was a dark background, it could be shot so you wouldn't notice.

Sorry if this is a stupid suggestion, just a thought.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 06:52 AM   #10
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Are the actors supposed to be completely static, as in frozen?

[QUOTE=Jonathan Jones;769424Finally, depending upon your needs, location limitations, or compositing abilities, you could even go so far as to shoot your subjects in front of a green screen, while they are standing on rotating surface (like a lazy Susan, only for people), and then shoot some appropriate counter-rotation shots from your tripod at a later time, being careful to match it appropriately in your final composite. This method is used quite alot but can be tricky to make it look real unless you know what you are doing.
-Jon[/QUOTE]

Good Call, That would have been my method too (not that I've ever done it). The trick is to light the actors with a following iighting rig where you can fool the eye into believing the subjects aren't spinning. Maybe a rotating lighting rig, or multiple lights which you fade between on dimmers and DMX control. That would imply the light on them is constant and from the same position.

Get the actors to turn and gesture whilst they spin, it would draw more attention away from the constant linear motion of the lazy suzan.

If you want some fun, the 'Bullet TIme' effect is fully explained on the Matrix DVD extras. IIRC it took some fixing in post as the registration of the cameras was still off, even after days of tests and lineups.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullet_time
http://ryanw.michaelfrisk.com/pwr/pr...te_rabbit.html

- Duncan.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 10:20 AM   #11
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The first thing that came to mind was similar to what Bert said, I was thinking what about a " lazy susan "( ala playground ) with the actors on it.The camera on a tripod and green screen behind. You could then shoot a seperate background and match the speed either in camera or in post, to the rotation of the " lazy susan ".You would need soft even lighting in both shots or not for a non real look.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 10:45 AM   #12
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I'm certain this has been done in some of the non-fx-heavy feature films with just a camera operator. It doesn't look quite as smooth, but you can still get the same effect, if it's just circling the actors for the mood-- either claustrophobia, vastness (yes, it could do both, depending), or bringing the two closer, etc.

In fact, I see a problem with any sort of device-- it becomes visible in the shot. There are workarounds, though.

Quote:
A good [steadycam device] generally requires something of an investment,
Nah.
Just make the $14 steadycam. Works great.
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/steadycam/

The only problem I have with it is the camera mount itself, but that's a problem in any home made device. Welding can completely fix that, or some other solution. As is, it works out ok, too.

If I were doing this, I'd use that steadycam (built one a while ago, and I love it), and wear rollerblades. I happen to be a good skater, so that may not apply to everyone, but it's quite convenient for shoots where I want a moving camera. The steadycam balances everything out (but don't start falling-- that counterweight is a killer). I'd recommend getting more leverage with so much more motion (skating), so I use a 5lb weight at the end of an 18" pipe from the t-joint, and a 10" up to the camera.

Stepping (to gain momentum) will make the camera sway unless you are VERY good, so you will want to go into the shot with speed, then turn this forward motion into circular motion; it takes some experience, but it's certainly not impossible, especially if your camera operator can skate backwards; one option would be to turn your front skate backwards and leave the back skate as is, creating a very wide V, from which you can simply roll and you will go in a circle. To pull that off, though, you'll need a good bit of practice, at which point you probably don't need to be told that anyway.
And, hey, if that doesn't quite work, what's the harm in the director giving him a little push? :)

This is a good way to break a camera if you don't know what you're doing, so be cautious. Might also be a good idea to have someone, or maybe the actors (but don't distract them from their roles) ready to grab the steadycam if the operator trips. I've been skating for a long time and used this method on and off for years, but I did trip once. The counterweight was impossible to balance once I was thrown off, like the evil version of one of those poles that tight-rope walkers have. I manged to land on my knees without breaking anything, after about 20 seconds (really) of bouncing from leg to leg. Would have been amusing, except that the camera was in danger. Ha.
I'd also recommend knee pads. So nice to just be able to land on your knees (I wasn't wearing them that time-- ouch), if something goes wrong.

Anyway, roller skating with a steadycam is something to look into-- cheap and effective, if you can pull it off.

The only real trouble is terrain, but any sort of street, etc., or inside on a non-carpeted floor, would work.

Here's an example clip, from an old project.

This was sidewalk on the corner of a street, so as I did the shot, I had little room to maneuver, and that wasn't noticeable in the final shot, I don't think-- promising.

http://ci-pro.com/misc/spin.mov (232kb)

The original footage (not available at the moment) continued a bit longer than that, with the fade, but there is a limit to how long such as shot can be, just due to momentum. However, with enough practice, you would probably be able to keep up the shot for a couple rotations.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 11:55 AM   #13
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The shot of Neo and Mr. Smith shooting each other in the air was partly CGI: http://www.virtualcinematography.org/

Quote:
Originally Posted by http://www.debevec.org/Items/SoftImage1999/
The level of realism that the crew at Manex was able to deliver is impressive. There is a scene that takes place in a subway tunnel where the lead character, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is fighting one of the Matrix Agents on the tracks. The only elements that are, in fact, real are the actors, who were shot with Manex’s specialized "flo-mo" rig using 120 still cameras.
Not bad eh?
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 12:09 PM   #14
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Depending on where you're shooting, you could try something like this http://www.metacafe.com/watch/783799/orbit_cam/
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 12:14 PM   #15
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Hahaha, nice. But try getting the timing down on such a shot.
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