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Marta Teixeira P. Simoes

Nosferatu (1922) - superimposition

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Hello,

I'm shooting on super16 and there's a scene in the film where the caracter has to disappear very slowly in the landscape, something very similar to the Nosferatu (1922) scene attached.

I'm wondering if we can achieve this just by shooting both the empty landscape + same landscape with the actress and then create the dissolve in post, or if I should do a real double exposure on camera .

Looking forward to hear your thoughts!

nosferatu.jpg

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Depends if your camera allows backwinding.

I would say do it in post- then you have control over densities and timings. Nailing it in camera is potentially going to burn through more stock..

Also in camera I'm assuming you'd attempt to do the dissolve by adjusting the Iris - if your camera iris doesn't fully close it's going to be impossible to do a smooth fade without it getting lumpy at the end.  As the silent era proved its possible to impressive in camera effects, but if you can better looking results in post faster and with fewer mistakes..i'd always advise that.

Unless your desire to do it in camera is part of the process you want to experiment with and the potential flaws to become part of the look.

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You're talking about doing an in-camera cross-dissolve where you would fade out on the shot of the woman + landscape, and then rewind the film and start a fade-in on the same frame you started the fade-out in the previous pass. If you have a camera that runs in reverse and a frame counter, you might be able to find that spot.

You'd also have to be able to fade out and in from pure black to full exposure, so hopefully your lens closes down completely.

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If you are shooting two passes in a landscape and there are moving trees, grass, clouds and the light will change, you can dissolve the character away but you will also dissolve the background into a slightly different one. The Nosferatu example looks like it was done on a controlled set, where you can shoot two identical passes with and without the actor.

In a landscape, you could shoot one pass of the background and then one pass of the actor in the same landscape but with a blue screen behind him (depending how big in frame). In post you can cut out the actor and fade off when you like. If the sun moves only slightly between passes, nobody will notice.

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Does the character need to be completely opaque at the start of the effect? Because if you do a simple double exposure, then some of the landscape will show thru the character at the start of the shot.

That said, if you’re going for more of a hand-made effect with this, then it might still be what you want.

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If you do shoot the character separately, then I would consider shooting her on a dark stage with a black background, taking care to match the lighting to the location. Then fade the lighting on her to black.

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Thank you all for the suggestions!

The main goal is managing to do the disappearance of the character very very slowly. 

Even though it will be a bit of an experimental project, this shot in particular should be smooth. Which makes me more inclined not to do it on camera!

I thought about the moving landscape just like Uli mentioned. Green screen is an option but I'm a bit scared because I never tried it before!

I got some advice from the VFX artist who'll do the post production: make sure the green is as bright as possible, that the light hitting it is uniform and that the fabric is a bit lighter (since it's an exterior shot and it can be windy).

Is there anything else I should watch out for?

Thank you again, this is so helpful 

 

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I think the main issue with the greenscreen is if you see head-to-toe so need to key the feet and preserve the shadow of the person on the ground. This may mean a greenscreen carpet or floor to walk on plus the greenscreen ahead.

The VFX person may be OK with just having a plate with the person walking, no greenscreen, and the plate of the same but empty background because rather than do an overall lap dissolve, you could isolate a window around the person (like an oval "split-screen" or a vertical strip) so that what little landscape is around the person in their plate might change a little but the overall landscape comes from the empty plate. But the empty plate has to be shot right after the plate with the person, in fact, just keep the camera running and have the person run out of the shot after you have enough of them walking away.

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Here’s a similar reference for this effect to study, which works quite well: 

‘Stand by Me’ (1986)

(spoiler warning, if you have not seen the film)

I think they probably did it very simply as an optical dissolve from the actor walking away to an empty plate shot immediately after, the way you suggested initially. It’s kind of hard to tell since the movie has been cleaned up digitally in this version.

In the theatrical release print, there would have been an increase in grain and softness for this shot compared to the shots around it, if it had gone thru an additional optical printing step. But you don’t see that here. If anyone knows for sure how the shot was done, I would love to know!

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3 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Here’s a similar reference for this effect to study, which works quite well: 

‘Stand by Me’ (1986)

(spoiler warning, if you have not seen the film)

I think they probably did it very simply as an optical dissolve from the actor walking away to an empty plate shot immediately after, the way you suggested initially. It’s kind of hard to tell since the movie has been cleaned up digitally in this version.

In the theatrical release print, there would have been an increase in grain and softness for this shot compared to the shots around it, if it had gone thru an additional optical printing step. But you don’t see that here. If anyone knows for sure how the shot was done, I would love to know!

He fades away as he is over a shadowy part of the background where there isn't much of a light change. I can imagine that they quickly shot a second "clean" pass and then used a blurred junk matte in optical post to cut out the character.

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It's just a lap dissolve, not a matte. It could have been done in an optical printer using dupes (most likely) or it could have involved an A-B roll cut negative and an allowable lab length dissolve. However, most studios demand a single-strand negative and often A-B roll dissolves have a slight exposure bump. "E.T." on the other hand was A-B roll cut and there is a series of lap dissolves in the opening scene.

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6 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

It's just a lap dissolve, not a matte. It could have been done in an optical printer using dupes (most likely) or it could have involved an A-B roll cut negative and an allowable lab length dissolve. However, most studios demand a single-strand negative and often A-B roll dissolves have a slight exposure bump. "E.T." on the other hand was A-B roll cut and there is a series of lap dissolves in the opening scene.

I just looked at it on a monitor and you can see a slight shift in the foliage as the dissolve happens (as much as you can tell looking at a Youtube video). In which case it is a straight forward dissolve. Hardly any movement in the background makes that possible.

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