Hanging Foreground Miniature

As a young draughtsman, John Graysmark encountered this simple technique on Anastasia (1956). Wallace Smith's drafting was used for the construction of the miniature. Details of the process follow:

Shot: A Trans Atlantic crane, very high, slowly panned across the nighttime expanse of the city of Paris (circa 1928, during Russian Easter) to the bell tower of the Russian Orthodox Church. The shot was held, faded, and then tilted down below the miniature, hanging piece to the street and church below.

Scenery: An architectural miniature of the bell tower (Fig. 4-12) was suspended in the foreground above, with the nighttime city of Paris in miniature in the background. This hanging miniature was in quarter scale (3:1), corresponding to the full-scale church and street built on the studio lot below. The miniature was bordered on the bottom with a course line of bricks and finishing moulding—this acted as a hard cutting edge for the transition between the miniature bell tower model and full-scale church and tower on the studio lot.

Technique: "There were two issues to consider: the depth of field and the nodal point of the camera lens. The same camera lens was used for shooting both the model miniature in front of its Parisian background miniature and the full-scale church and street scene. By using the same lens but adjusting for focal distance when shooting the miniature tower and full-scale tower, the transition was smooth from the bottom of the suspended tower miniature to the body of the full-scale church." According to Graysmark, "Using a tilting pan head would've been incorrect—the camera must have a nodal head because the center of the lens had to be stationary, acting as a fixed fulcrum point for the movement—in this case, by tilting.5

Explanation: The reason for transitioning from the miniature to the full-scale church is to create a believable opening shot for the movie (the skyline of Paris looked different in 1956 when the movie was shot, as opposed to when it was scripted to take place in 1928). "The POV, or the focal distance from the camera lens to the miniature, stayed the same. That way the scale of the miniature didn't distort, and it worked beyond depth of field as the camera refocused on other objects."6

The reason why John differentiates between the tilting pan head and nodal head is fundamental (see Fig. 4-13). A nodal head operates much like a human head as it nods up and down "yes" (tilt), or turns left and right "no" (pan) while the body is seated in a fixed position (fixed fulcrum). The tilting pan head works exactly the same way except the camera base (body holding the head) rides an arc, much like being on a playground swing (changing fulcrum point). A change in fulcrum, or position, for the camera lens located in the head, also changes the depth of field and focus as it moves along an arc. If the body were sitting still on the swing with no movement at the


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