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    Faking actors in the foreground of a dirty frame
    #1
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    I assume stand-ins get used from time to time in place actors who would be the foreground element of a dirty single shot. But these would be for reasons like freeing up the main actor or maybe they left the set and productiion realised they actually do need the dirty shot rather than the original plan of it being clean. I don't know how common this is but it's not that important, mostly just laying pipe for my real question:

    Are person-made shapes ever used to allow even more control over the negative space? For example, a cardboard cutout, outfit on a mannequin etc.

    This comes from watching 'Joker', which had many dirty singles, some with huge amounts of an out of focus, extremely dark area. I can't remember where but at one point it nearly felt like a head wasn't connected to the shoulders! While this was probably more an affect of the lenses and dirty frames are obviously nothing new but it was the first time I've wondered whether custom shapes get made. I'm sure many actors could stand as still as a statue so this would be more about cheating the shape that a natural head/shoulders doesn't provide. Or maybe extra "blobs" get added in post..


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    #2
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    Fun question, Rob! I've definitely shot overs with photo doubles standing in for the foreground, but generally we avoid this sort of thing for the more critical scenes--most actors feel like they should support each other by being there (even for off-camera dialogue). But scheduling sometimes forces our hand.

    I can't think of a time when we replicated the foreground with a cutout or dummy, though. Unless the shot was handheld, it feels like the lack of motion would be too much of a giveaway.
    Charles Papert
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    #3
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    That makes sense, I'm sure actors would hate performing with a dummy.

    I knew it had to be a long shot, just thought there might be some stories!


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    #4
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    I think the term is "Fake Shemp", coined by Sam Rami on the Evil Dead series. I haven't used this technique much in dialogue scenes, but we did use it extensively for action scenes in my movie, "Leap: Rise of the Beast". Nobody was paid so actors weren't always on set together. Those that would show often had a friend with them, so we would regularly have the friend wear a similar costume to a character that wasn't there and play out the scene. Then I would reshoot the same scene with the missing actor when they were available and have another person dressed as the actors who where there the first time. It all cut together great and nobody has have questioned it.


    Independent Filmmaker
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    #5
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    WHen I gripped/sparked/advised (yes one role on a micro budget) THe laura mariln mysteries..

    https://www.mandy.com/films/142296/t...dead-mans-cove

    The young female star was on child hours, we did loads of reverses using her coat and Ashleigh her stand in who knew her lines possibly better than her (being a grown small grown up who took the role seriously)


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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    I added out of focus foreground and background people in my film. Used some stock green screen elements of police officers and placed them out of focus in the background. I even shot my torso in different outfits against a green screen walking past the frame to fill out a couple street shots.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    Sometimes the main actor commits an act so egregious that the crew won’t work with him. I worked on a couple of films for a director who used a lot of the same crew. A year or two earlier the lead actor had injured/ crippled a stunt person thru arrogant stupidity in a rehearsal. The last week of the shoot the director just left the main actor off the call sheet. Every morning the actor would come down and be told he wasn’t needed. Lots of extreme long shots of a double. Sad thing was it really didn’t change the quality of the film.


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    Senior Member clang's Avatar
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    Faking the presence of an out of focus actor is common enough, but cutouts don't seem the ideal solution - in most cases, an appropriately dressed/wigged extra will be more convincing (and often easier to arrange) than a cutout.

    These days, it could also be done in post - compositing an out of focus person into the foreground is pretty easy. Doing so into the background isn't quite as easy. I've done it to correct a framing mistake during shooting, but of course a planned effect is always better than an unexpected 'fix it in post'.


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    Great example of using last minute stand ins here https://youtu.be/QjyDdE2WF3M


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