Friday, February 11, 2011

Talk about Math: Forced Perspective

In geometry we've been talking a lot about the use of camera tricks to create various optional illusions related to scale.  One trick often employed in the theatre is to use different scaled back drops and flats to make the stage appear to be deeper than it really is by having the scaling shrink as you move away from the action.  Only if an actor walks upstage and stands next to the small scale tree do you realize that the tree is not 40 feet away, but only 10. 

It's nearly impossible to talk about these kind of scalings without talking about The Lord of the Rings, a cinematic masterpiece that combined computers and cutting edge digital technology as well as some good old fashioned 1920's era camera manuevers to create the illusion that Elija Wood was a 4 foot hobbit, towered over by Ian McKellen's Gandalf. 

But how did they do it?  Click below to see:

We begin with a short video on the use of Forced Perspective and what it means:

But static cameras are a little boring, aren't they? We like motion, to feel like we're there, moving with the scene. So what do you do when the moving of the camera will break the illusion?

Sometimes the computer really does help, but the less you ask it to do, the easier it is. So what about building two different sets of props and shooting the actors on them, then merging them into a single scene?

And finally the oldest trick in the book: Just use actors of different sizes:

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