Saturday, April 23, 2011

Perspective and Motion control to create the illusion of scale differences...

I have a love hate thing going on with digital. I know I need it it my life, but I also hate the dependency it creates. I have this romantic notion of an animator just drawing.. needing the minimal equipment necessary to put exhibit the final film.  I came across this excellent technique the other day in a link a friend sent me (watch the video below!), no digital used!  Good stuff on how they did the scale difference with the Hobbits.

The idea is that you put one actor really far from the camera and the other one really close to the camera, then shoot at such an angle that it appears they are next to each other and that one of them is really big and the other really small. Which sounds simple, until you realize that you need to build everything on the set so that the actors can interact with it at the same time while hiding the fact that they're far away from each other. The simplest example is with Gandalf's cart. In the movie, you see them sitting side by side ...
but the real cart is built so that if the camera is stuck in that spot, it hides the fact that Frodo is actually sitting about four feet behind Gandalf, with Ian McKellen's body hiding where the bench is split:
But the complication comes when you realize that this works only if the camera remains perfectly still. So any shot where the camera moves around has to involve a computer, right? Nope. In scenes like this one, where they share a table ...
... they are actually sitting at two different tables, one human-sized and one hobbit-sized ...
that are made in such a way that each piece slowly turns with the camera, so that the whole time, they appear to be one simple table, shifting with the perspective of the viewer. This required that the camera be put on a motion-control rig and half of the set be put on another rig that counteracts the movement of the camera. So when the shot moved, the set, props and even the actors moved accordingly (yes, while McKellen was trying to stay in character as Gandalf, he was on a stool that was slowly scooting him around the room).







3 comments:

  1. wow, this is awesome! i was always wondering how they made frodo appear shorter.

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