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Hello everybody. I just got my chance do a music video for an accomplish singer. I will be the cinematographer. There are two shots the director wants to get. Fortune cookie is the main element in the video and the story. The director wants to see the shore line filled with fortune cookies as the waves are bringing them to the beach. As an alternative we can use  a mountain of fortune cookies at the beach. Since we don't have permit to shoot at the beach and throwing the fortune cookies in the ocean is not possible I am trying to find a way to achieve this by using practical effects. The biggest problem is that we need to shoot it this coming Tuesday. Not much time. I already rented a Laowa 24mm macro probe lens to get some of the shots we need. I was thinking of using this lens and forced perspective to get the effect of mountain of cookies. I am thinking of using a table covered with the same sand from the beach we will shoot. Then make a mountain of cookies on the table. By placing the singer in a distance place I am hoping I can get that shot. It would be better if we had smaller scale of fortune cookies but in this case it will look like a mountain of giant cookies. I am assuming that I can get this shot. How would I achieve the cookies hitting on the shoreline by the waves? The director herself will edit the video and I don't think she can do it in post. I can help her maybe if I can get some advice on how to shoot it. I was guessing that maybe we can do something with greenscreen. Maybe have them swim in a small pool in front of a green screen and some sand. I don't know. If anyone has idea please share it. I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance. 

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If you want the cookies to interact with the waves and wash up on the beach, thats going to be hard to mock up on a model shoot. You'd need some form of "wave tank" - possibly doable but quiet a complex build. 

To be honest its probably easier to do on an actual beach with a ton of cookies (they are bio degradable after all), then you know its going too look real - and you don't have to mess around with compositing and green screen. If you time the tides right and maybe use nets to contain the action. Multiple cameras could be used to give you a couple of angles. 

Anything else and your dealing with issues of scale - where would you get mini fortune cookies etc... 

Beaches are big things, I'm sure you could find a quiet spot to shoot something quickly san's permit. I would put my energy into scouting a secluded spot, finding a time when the tides going out early in the morning or at magic hour and doing it that way. Then you know it will look "real". Putting the artist in pool in front of greenscreen is going to need a proper compositor to sell that - water and greenscreen is challenging cos of all the reflections etc... if the Director is doing the post, you want to keep it simple and active the effect in camera. 

The Sea Gulls would probably be pleased about the free meal if you do it for real as well. 

Obv's if your do put the performer in the sea - make sure you've thought through all the Health and Safety aspects and mitigated any issues etc...

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Thank you very much for the reply. I think your comment just opened up my mind and realized that I was setting myself for failure just to avoid disappointing the director. However after your message I just spoke with the director and convinced her that using the shots like that won’t even add to the story but take away. If it’s done very well it could be used but even then I believe those shots were not necessary. She also told me that she was worrying that it was going to be more like cookie commercial than the singer’s journey in the story. I was feeling horrible but after sharing my opinion with her and seeing that we were on the same page made my night. Thank you so much for the reply. I’m not sure what to do. I don’t post here a lot. So I don’t know all the features. Should I delete this post or not. I feel like keeping it so that beginners like me can see and learn something from this experience. Sometimes you have to accept the circumstances and you shouldn’t be afraid of sharing your worries or concerns. This I believe will save me from failing on this project. 

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It sounds like it doesnt serve the story and you're ditching it, but I think if you wanted to do this a hybrid approach would be best - photograph the cookies under real light, then duplicate them or texture models with the lit photographs. This was one of the approaches for the tall standing rocks in the Episode 1 pod race sequence (granted rocks not fortune cookies), and has long been a short cut when budgets are tight and exact shots are known. think of it as a 2.5D (as oppose to 3D) trick. 

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Hi Robin,

thanks for the reply. I actually thought about photographing the cookie wall and composite it to the beach footage but I feel like it will take a lot of time and effort. Considering it doesn’t really serve the story I’m happy it’s ditched. We will only have 1 day to edit the whole thing. So instead of stretching ourselves too thin I think it’s better to get the best out of what we can. I will check it out now to see if it is doable in a short time. If so we can try that if any time is left. Thanks again. 

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Why not do a foreground painting?  Put a sheet of glass between the camera and shore, then paint what you want onto the glass.  If you paint them so some real elements show through gaps in some cookies, it will have more "life" to it.  There doesn't need to be a ton of detail so you can get it done very quickly.  You could probably comp in a second pass of the painting with a little bit of motion, for the cookies right at the water line, bobbing with the current.

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Hi Osman,

I think its a good idea to use the forum as a sounding board for ideas. Sometimes you can get stuck on an idea and an external input helps.

One of my film students was struggling to get permission to shoot in a grave yard. I asked him why he needed a grave yard. He responded that he needed to show one of the characters had died. I asked him if there were other ways he could he could achieve that visually. That was all the prompting he needed to come up with a better solution. Sometimes you can't see the wood from the trees. 

I've done similar things where I wish I'd talked ideas through and taken suggestions. I think often we try to overcomplicate things and ignore the simple/obvious solution. Maybe because its "too easy" but very often the most straight forward approach is best.

Don't delete the thread it shows working out and illuminates your thought process for others. 

Good luck with the shoot and do post the completed video when its done - I'm curious to see what you had in mind.

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Hi Larry,

Thank you for the comment. That’s what we ended up doing. One of the shot was set at the beach. I set up the camera on the sand. Then placed cactai in the foreground spreaded as if they were in a deserted area. Then I had the singer walk behind the cactai at a distance making the cactai looking like trees, taller than her. It looked really cool. We don’t see the ocean, we are looking at the opposite side in that shot. We used the same technique with the cookies but that shot was set in a warehouse. I will post some images and my experience with the shoot after the singer releases the song. There were many things challenged me. Especially working with a director who knows exactly what she wants. There were shots I was like oh no it’s shaky, or out of focus etc... she was like no I love it like this. I have been worrying that she will just release it with all the imperfections and mistakes. However since she has been extremely happy with what she got for the images I started to think that it’s ok. She is the director and that’s what she wants. There weren’t prep time at all. Anyway I’m the end it was a great experience for me. I’ll explain it later. Thanks again for the comment. 

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I look forward to seeing some shots!

Music videos have always been my favorite projects to shoot because you can get away with just about anything you want.  If you can pull off some effect, great!  If it doesn't work, it's part of the art form, so no big deal.  It's like when I shot a music vid and luma-keyed in some ethereal junk in the background just because it was a plain black background otherwise.  The luma key ate into some of the foreground but that just made it cooler!

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