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    Practically blurry? Challenge!
    #1
    Chapelgrove Films
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    Okay, here's a practical effects challenge for you.

    We all know that in our close shots, we want our subject to be in sharp focus and our background to be blurred to some degree. We generally accomplish that by a combination of lens focal length and wider aperature setting.

    And we know that one of the drawbacks of using something like a SmartPhone to shoot video is that we don't have the ability to get that narrow depth-of-focus to blur out the background.

    But it occurs to me that there must be a practical effect we can come up with to achieve this. For instance, what if we built a large wooden frame that would stand some distance behind the subject, out of the view of the camera? What could we stretch across that frame that would make things seen through it look at least a bit blurry, but wouldn't be visible to the camera? Is there anything?

    Or is there another practical way to achieve this effect?
    David W. Richardson
    Writer/Producer/Director/Editor
    Chapel Grove Films
    Celtic Cross Films
    Bliss Video Productions
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1400903/?ref_=tt_ov_dr


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    Senior Member abreu-canedo's Avatar
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    On a product shot I once printed a high resolution vinyl image that was already blurry, mimicking the bokeh/shallow DOF effect...but it was only a foot or two behind the product. Because the edges of the Vynil were out of frame, the effect of the background being out of focus / far away was convincing.

    Alternatively, there are filters that are half soft (blanking on the name right now) so that the left or top (or whatever side of the frame depending on how you orient the filter) is tack sharp, but the opposite side of the frame is blurry and out of focus. This can be used convincingly on extreme close ups, or where there are objects or features in the frame that hide the artifice of the filter's transition, making it "make sense" in the composition.


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    Chapelgrove Films
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    Quote Originally Posted by abreu-canedo View Post
    On a product shot I once printed a high resolution vinyl image that was already blurry, mimicking the bokeh/shallow DOF effect...but it was only a foot or two behind the product. Because the edges of the Vynil were out of frame, the effect of the background being out of focus / far away was convincing.

    Alternatively, there are filters that are half soft (blanking on the name right now) so that the left or top (or whatever side of the frame depending on how you orient the filter) is tack sharp, but the opposite side of the frame is blurry and out of focus. This can be used convincingly on extreme close ups, or where there are objects or features in the frame that hide the artifice of the filter's transition, making it "make sense" in the composition.
    The vinyl thing sounds interesting, but most likely that was a very small, controlled area -- a tabletop shoot, maybe? And it may not come across as well on video, since the background won't move at all. But that's kind of what I had in mind -- just a larger frame and some kind of material in the frame that would blur the background just a little.

    The half-blurry lens filter probably wouldn't help in this situation. I have seen those, though. Also half-tinted filters, to darken bright skies when shooting landscapes.

    Thanks for the input!
    David W. Richardson
    Writer/Producer/Director/Editor
    Chapel Grove Films
    Celtic Cross Films
    Bliss Video Productions
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1400903/?ref_=tt_ov_dr


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    Senior Member clang's Avatar
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    I suspect this would require some sort of clear plastic sheeting with just enough surface texture to cause a blur effect. Unfortunately, it would probably be difficult to light to avoid reflections, even in controlled studio-type conditions.


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    You could probably experiment with something like a sheet of plexiglass and maybe some hair spray or dulling spray or something like that... who knows, maybe roughing it up with a very very fine-grained sandpaper would give you the effect you're looking for.


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    Senior Member abreu-canedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David W. Richardson View Post
    The vinyl thing sounds interesting, but most likely that was a very small, controlled area -- a tabletop shoot, maybe? And it may not come across as well on video, since the background won't move at all. But that's kind of what I had in mind -- just a larger frame and some kind of material in the frame that would blur the background just a little.

    The half-blurry lens filter probably wouldn't help in this situation. I have seen those, though. Also half-tinted filters, to darken bright skies when shooting landscapes.

    Thanks for the input!
    Yeah, it was a static shot. And it wasn't a tabletop shot, but might as well have been. The Vynil was a 4' x 8' piece of Vynil. The fact that the camera wasn't moving helped.

    In any case, best of luck. Will look forward to other suggestions, too.

    Ah, if you can swing the cost of rental (if it's even available for rent), you can always use a Lytro! Only half serious


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    Senior Member Mark A. Beal's Avatar
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    I forget the name of it but about a decade ago there was a actually commercially available product exactly like that. It was about the right size for doing a loosely frame head and shoulders shot.



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    Senior Member robmneilson's Avatar
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    I once interviewed a photographer (whose name I cant remember) who shot portraits in front of a black sheet. He went to Africa on a shooting trip, and just grabbed whatever cheap fabric his grandmother had. When he shot his portraits over there he saw that the fabric was a bit too see through, and it rendered the landscapes behind the subjects into a beautiful out of focus painting type effect...very lovely.

    This might work for you (even purchasing a roll of 1 or 2 stop net) for the effect. Though I doubt it would be exactly invisible on camera...but depending on the shot (such as tabletop shooting) it could work nicely. Throw up the fabric and light up the background a bit brighter than normal.
    "That's what happened to this friend of mine. So he had a lobotomy. Now he's well again."
    http://www.robmneilson.com


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    #9
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    I forget the name of it but about a decade ago there was a actually commercially available product exactly like that.
    I was thinking of the same thing. They called it softscreen.

    It was essentially a large sheet of transparent plastic (polycarbonate, probably) with a lightly frosted finish. You could probably approximate the effect with something like Lee 253 "Hampshire Frost" or another light frost. The appropriate grade of frost will depend heavily on the relative sizes of the subject, screen and background, the distances between them, the degree of contrast reduction you can stand, and the concern that heavier frosts will easily receive a shadow.


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    Sound Ninja Noiz2's Avatar
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    What I have seen used on 35mm film shoots is fog. LOTS of fog. The camera doesn't see it as fog but it softens out all the BG's. Not really practical outdoors with out a $$$ budget but indoors a cheap fog machine can cover pretty well.
    Cheers
    SK


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