Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by S-Harkey, on 2009-03-26 14:02:01

Creating depth?

Sorry if this is in the wrong section, I wasn't sure- please move if needed I am trying to create a sense of depth for a scene. Theatrical scrim was suggested to me but I simply can't afford a $50+ yard of fabric on a student income. Are there any cheaper alternatives anyone knows of? What I'm doing: I have a carnival scene. I want to paint a background going back into space, but I also want to make some small-scale carnival rides to appear in the background. They would not be to scale of the puppets. I'm trying to find a way for the rides to register well on film as being further away and not just look like tiny carnival rides, haha Thanks for any help. If my setup isn't clear in words, I can draw a diagram or something of the sort to be more clear.

Posted by idragosani, on 2009-03-26 14:40:47

You'll need to do some forced perspective tricks to make the stuff in the background appear to be far away, like having some characters in the distance as well as up close. Having a short depth-of-field in terms of your focus can help, too, the distant stuff will be slightly fuzzy compared to the foreground. If you can do post-processing, you could also shoot different elements separately via chromakey and composite them (akin to using a multi-plane camera) and even add a little bit of 'atmosphere' to the distant elements, as the air will be hazier in the distance. In general also, the further you are away from the camera, the less saturated colors will appear and this will also help create an illusion of depth.

Posted by bristolius, on 2009-03-27 09:43:36

Any transparent plastic will work as a scrim. We used to use "visqueen" in live action film shooting. It's just transparent painter's drop cloth. Anything like this will work though, large plastic bags, saran, etc. If you have layers in your set separated by clear plastic film, the slight milkiness creates the illusion of aerial haze. Letting some light spill on the plastic helps, just no reflections. doubling and tripling the plastic as you go deeper, builds up the effect. Theatrical scrim is like window screen, only white. This works well on a theater stage, but wouldn't work as well in miniature because you'd see the pattern. emmyymme's suggestion of muted colors is a good idea because you don't have to fight reflections when you're lighting. Mix white into your background colors, the deeper, the whiter. Or fade all colors towards the sky color...

Posted by S-Harkey, on 2009-03-26 18:20:08

Thanks- I'll certainly look into some post-processing options. The scene is supposed to be deserted aside from the main 2 characters, so characters in the distance to help force the perspective wouldn't work out- and makes things that much more difficult Is there anything else that could be used to create a haze illusion besides post-process? This is one of 4 production classes I'm taking... any time that I can cut out without losing too much quality is a plus (not slacking, just trying to make sure things actually get done). My instructor suggested finding a material like a very fine screen to use in place of scrim- any ideas on the effectiveness of this? I'm afraid I might get screen-patterns picking up on the film. -Sarah

Posted by emmyymme, on 2009-03-26 18:47:44

Hi Sarah, I did a fair ground scene and tried to create a further-away background as well - I don't have any stills on this computer but here's the link: You can create more depth without using the scrim by using muter colours in the background, and playing with focus.

Posted by Jim Aupperle, on 2009-03-27 10:25:03

I remember we used a sheer white cloth called bridal veil that could be purchased fabric and yardage stores. It came on a roll and I don't think it was very expensive. The lower two photos from FROG AND TOAD in the attachment will give an example. Jim Aupperle

Posted by Nick H, on 2009-04-24 02:48:53

Bridal veil is still available in fabric shops, and is much finer weave than the scim used on full-size stage sets, so it works well for stop motion. Also it is totally non-reflective. The only limitation is that you can't have a puppet walk from behind a layer to in front of it, and you have to make sure you can still get to the puppet to animate it.

Posted by I_make_cartoons, on 2009-05-09 12:01:49

Do you know if there is an equivilant of bridal weil, but in black?

Posted by Nick H, on 2009-05-10 02:49:44

There might be a fine gauzy material in black - you can only go to fabric shops and look. My guess is, it would very nearly disappear on camera, just darken down whatever is behind it very slightly. If you could control where the light goes with barn doors, or bits of card, that would give a similar effect. But if you started with black veil, then airbrushed some white paint onto parts of it, you might be able to give a graduated fog effect. Something like low ground fog maybe, or stronger fog in some areas than others.

Posted by catizone, on 2009-05-10 07:14:27

All good suggestions... things to think about when creating depth: *things are less color-saturated the further from the camera *the shadow areas have more fill, so less contrast *things get more blueish as they get nearer the horizon *they get less sharp as well SO, if you can slightly overlight, use more fill, and perhaps a very light blue gel on the farthest lights, that would be a good start. Now, bridal veil, as Jim mentioned will probably do a lot or all of that by the nature of its color, mesh,etc. They used it between the layers of Walker shots on Empire Strikes Back. Best, Rick

Posted by Nick H, on 2009-05-10 18:31:08

I've sometimes managed atmospheric perspective just by having a soft bluish fill light set up so it only hits the set further back. If it's from high above the set, there will still be some shadow areas where it doesn't reach, which takes away from the effect. Usually I can't put it near the camera without also hitting part of the foreground as well, so additional lights from each side are usualy needed to get into the nooks and crannies to prevent dark shadows. I tried actual fog once, with 2 steam irons filed with smoke juice (borrowed a smoke machine from the special fx dept but it broke down), a fan to mix the air, and a sealed studio. It looked great in a still photo, but I couldn't control the smoke levels well enough for animation and the levels kept flickering. It's easiest to get a foggy effect with a painted backdrop where the distant parts are just painted that way. But any camera tracking movement reveals which parts are a flat painting and which are actual 3d models in front of it. I figured next time I'd try shooting in layers, with maybe 3 passes, and tracking at an even speed so I could repeat the tracking movement each time.

Posted by I_make_cartoons, on 2009-05-10 18:21:23

I like how I just ask you guys things, when the google toolbar is right up there at the top right =P yes, there is 'funeral veil' it's a little too thick I think though, and expensive too! also thanks for that one, Rick