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Filming technique (glare/reflections) suggestions


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Dear fellow filmmakers

I am going to shoot a film for a company that builds yachts. One of the requirements is to achieve an effect (photos attached) by filming people at work, I guess through glass. Has anyone done anything like this before? How to achieve it? Any ideas?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions



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You can build your own 'mirror box' - which can be elaborate, or as simple as you want. Usually made from anything that diffracts light in interesting ways...prisms, glass ornaments, clear plastics etc. The results depend on material used, light source intensity and proximity to the camera lens.

Still photographers have it slightly easier, as they can offer up diffracting objects in front of the lens by hand. But for motion work you may need to devise a way to statically fix (or hang) in front of your lens, either as a simple box frame mounted in front of the lens or clamp to a stand and dolly the camera through or past - to achieve 'revealing' shots, or interesting transitions.

The trick is to have a bag of pre-tested objects and a few clamps and a stand or two - to offer up a few things on the day of shooting. It is the kind of thing that with a little bit of preparation beforehand, you can achieve some interesting shots.

Experimentation is key, but the example image looks consistent to results from either glass or plastic prism with multi facets or a crystal 'sun catcher' type ornament- since the image is being repeated through reflection/ diffraction. Sometimes offcut clear perspex pieces can have interesting results when given enough light and allowed to reflect at odd angles to each other when placed in front of the lens (defocused).

You can buy cheap prism effect filters for lenses, that split the image up in even sections - but they look like a kaleidoscope 1970's disco video effect, rather than what I think you are after. 

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@Bioskop.inc That makes perfect sense - the example pic looks like the lens center could be left clear, but flanked by two other mirrors that can be angled or hinged in to the desired angle (close to lens to create soft edge).

The CA on the edges kind of suggests a prism type effect, but could simply be a result of using plastic mirrors - or thicker edged glass mirror at sufficient angle to cause halation and aberration.  

Rigging plastic mirrors to flank the sides of the lens front could be the easiest/ cheapest thing to initially experiment with. 

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If one has to shoot a lot of "prismatic" imagery, it is probably easiest to use a prism camera filter.  Here is an EOSHD article that features a few of these filters.  Here are a few photos shot through prism/prism-filters.  This page names different types of prism filters and gives tips regarding depth-of-field, subject distance and sandwiching filters.


The look of the images that the OP posted could probably be achieved with a linear prism filter -- if it weren't for the oddly placed window pane overlapping in the foreground.


Mirrors could be used, but they are much more of an involved set-up.  Unless one wants a kaleidoscopic effect, one would probably shoot away from the subject, into adjacent/overlapping mirrors that reflect images of the subject.  To recreate something similar to the oddly-placed, overlapping window-pane image, a piece of clear glass  could be positioned at an odd angle in front of the mirrors.  By the way, front-surface mirrors will give more clarity than normal mirrors, but, of course, front-surface mirrors are rarer.

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Hey guys thank you for all the suggestions, really appreciated.

I had already asked them to provide some good sized glass frames with a solid base that I can use for moving them around, however the linear prism filters looks to me the best option, it would make my life much easier! Probably going to get one, if anyone has suggestions where to buy them online, feel free to post it. I have a couple of weeks time until the shoot. 

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