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Shooting plates for a floating flower

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I'm in the testing stages for a commercial, where one of the storyboard shots calls for a flower floating through the air (& down a mountainside,) and I'm somewhat stumped on how to achieve this look. 

Initially, I tried to do this in-camera: first, by designing & printing a rig to hang the flower ~10" from the front of a consumer drone (minimum focus distance of the Mavic 3), but found that the prop wash made our small flower flutter wildly. The second attempt was to hang the flower behind a small glider, but again found that the wind speed made the flower behave erratically. 

Now, I'm searching for advice on achieving this look through VFX. 

How would you approach filming this? 

I'm considering shooting a very tight plate of a static flower, then compositing it into some out-of-focus aerial footage of mountains - but would be unsure of how to make the final shot appear coherent, with changing lighting conditions and small amounts of wind. 

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If it was me I would talk to a VFX artist about the best way to achieve this.

But off the top of my head, I would say that you could get a plate of the flower (and it doesn’t have to be tight) moving it around using a wire or whatever you need to make it move the way it needs to move. In post, remove the wire or whatever you used and composite the flower to the aerial footage.

As long as the lighting and colour temps match somewhat, a good VFX artist should be able to use live action of the flower instead of having to actually make one. Then you’ll have petal movement, lighting changes etc all baked in and looking natural.

For the out of focus aerial shot, that might prove to be trickier. I think most consumer drones like the Mavic are fixed focus and I’m not sure how well VFX can mimic DOF to really sell the idea that it was all captured optically in camera.

Another option might be to have a flower made which is much more rigid than a real flower and try that on your drone or glider. The petals might not move at all in that case though. Look at sugarcraft flowers - they’re super realistic but very rigid and cheap to have made.

If there is a budget for it, I would consult with VFX artists. 


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As the flower will be something like 2m away from the drone’s camera, while the background is something like 50m away, you will not be able to shoot this „in camera“ when you both have to be sharp. (Depth of field etc.)

As flowers tend to shake/quiver/„whatever is the best English term“ very fast when getting transported, I would try to shoot the flower in front of a green screen at 120fps. This should turn any quiver into a „smooth movement“ when combined with the aerial shots. (Not to mention that both will be in focus when needed.) You could simply use an hair dryer or a ventilator to simulate any wind.


Is it possible to simply embrace the fact that you cannot get it done properly by having an artist drawing some cartoon style flower for the aerial sequences and then have the cartoon flower getting morphed into the real one later?

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Micro-budget, so unfortunately the VFX Artist is out of budget. Cartoon/hand sketch was originally proposed, however the client really wants practical so we're heading in that direction. 

Out of focus aerial footage isn't really a concern - you can now set the focus manually on most consumer drones. Personally, I have a flight mode where one of my sticks controls focus and panning, whereas the other stick controls elevation, tilt and acceleration. 

Joerg, I think that shooting a plate at 120p is a good idea: I'll try that. 

Steven, excellent idea on sugarcraft flowers! We're having some delivered for a test tomorrow. 


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Im not quite sure how you do this with no vfx. are you using one drone to photograph and another drone to hang? if so, I'd run the line to the flower as much longer below the drone. but tbh you'll likely still need to do some paint out work. High speed will definitely reduce your wobbliness or fluttering. 

that being said if it were me I'd figure out what lighting I need to match, take it outside with a blue screen and some monofiliment lines, and photograph that way then do a composite 

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