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Matias Nicolas

Shootin miniatures

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Hi! Im going to shoot a miniature: a tree falling down breaking a fence on the woods scale 1:10. The art dept is building rhe maquet. I read in the AC manual that for scale 1:10 I need to shoot al 75 fps to feel real a miniature tree falling. But what about lenses and T stop? And light? How should I do to feel It realistic and natural?

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light? How should I do to feel It realistic and natural?

 

That depends largely on whether you have to match it to something real. If that is the case, you should absolutely shoot the real part it has to match to first and shoot a reference from a position that will match the miniature shot most closely. You should have that reference and the rest of the scene on set when you shoot the real thing, including a DIT that knows what he is doing and a bigger reference monitor to compare it to the rest of the scene and check it out with a quick on set grade. Also, as these effects shots are most of the time one offs or at least cant be done 20 times in a day, I would strongly advise shooting raw and maybe with multiple cameras.

 

In terms of lighting the miniature. Observe the direction, position and character of the light at the time of the shooting of the rest of the scene (take reference pictures and notes) and just try to imitate that as best as possible. If you shoot just the miniature and it doesn't have to match anything, than you can of course do what you want to do. In any case you will probably need a deep t stop to make the miniature shot seem real and to counteract the narrow depth of field you might get from being closer to your fake tree. How big will your tree be at 1:10? Dont underestimate the amount of light you will need for this. Deep t stop + 75 fps equal a lot of light. This might decrease the maximum size of shot that you might be able to light convincingly.

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This is a big subject, but there's lots of material out there to study. Here's a great article on the history of miniature effects:

http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/2014/12/magicians-of-miniature.html

 

One lighting trick that is often used is to shoot in natural light. Here's some footage of a miniature setup for Inception, shot outdoors:

https://vimeo.com/15115350

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This is a big subject, but there's lots of material out there to study. Here's a great article on the history of miniature effects:

http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/2014/12/magicians-of-miniature.html

 

One lighting trick that is often used is to shoot in natural light. Here's some footage of a miniature setup for Inception, shot outdoors:

https://vimeo.com/15115350

 

OK !! COOL.. Bu what about the f stop?

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You need a ton of light, especially if you're high-speed. Shallow DoF kills modelwork dead. If you're between 11 and 16, you're probably gonna be okay.

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Shoot it in real sunlight.

That's ideal, but also, depending on how hard the shadows look, you might want to use a scrim or piece of screen door material to cut the shadow a bit. A shadow would be slightly more diffuse on a full-sized object than on a scale object. If you can find any youtube vids about how the Skotaks shot some of the creature work in TREMORS, that might be useful, too.

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