Thread: Helmet/visor reflection

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  1. #1 Helmet/visor reflection 
    Hi! I know that most major films removes the glass in space helmets, due to the reflection issues. One of my next projects has three days of shooting an astronaut with a helmet, and removing the visor/glass is not an option. I understand there's no easy way to do this, some of the tips I have gotten so far is:*

    -Bring cardboard cutouts of the location you are shooting at, and make a hole in it for the lens.*
    -Shooting at an angle (obviously). Only problem is that a lot of dialogue is with only the helmet man, and I can't be shooting only from the sides.*

    Any other tips? Lighting for close ups is also a major challenge I guess, as *reflectors/bounce will show. Im thinking about bringing a hard source and gel it warmer, so I might be able to sell it as the sun.*Im doing both day ext and night int, and hoping to do LED strips inside the helmet for night, that can take care of his lighting, and everything else are practicals perhaps..

    Best regards

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  2. #2  
    Senior Member PatrickFaith's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    This is for still photography, but when taking pictures of paintings in museums using a polorizing filter on the camera and a large polorizing film for the light, that cuts reflections considerably.
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  3. #3  
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    Dec 2017
    Might be too close, but this is an idea.
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  4. #4  
    Yep, polarizers will definetly be used. Another question regarding that. Is there a special glass or on-helmet filter perhaps, which reacts together with on-lens polarizers? Or perhaps just a glass finish that has a minimal reflection, if I can control the helmet at all.... I don’t believe dulling spray will work, as the glass can’t be matte.
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  5. #5  
    Hmm, Difficult.

    For a reason most films have lights inside their helmets and no glas. Basically the camera is not the only thing that will be seen but basically you need a 360 set with only practical light and as you say hide the camera behind set walls that you shoot through. And even if you do all that... the glas of the helmet and the light difference between the inside the helmet and outside will pretty much give 100% reflection in the helmets / you will not see much of the actors in there which is usually not whats desired.

    If it was me I would talk to a post house to add reflections in post. Not to difficult. Just leave the helmets open and design them with some natural tracking points. Then capture reflection plates of the whole set.

    Guestimate to get the work done, 3D track the helmets and add in the reflections would be less than 3 USD / frame. To me that is a considerably low cost compared to the other option of trying to solve it / make it look good on set.
    Björn Benckert
    Creative Lead & Founder Syndicate Entertainment AB
    VFX / Flame / Motion capture / Monstro
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  6. #6  
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    Sep 2009
    I just filmed with some astronauats training in a cave in spain. I made up some low level leds to go inside the helmet - a combination of leds in heatshrink to go around the top, then a single slightly stronger led to go in the chin. Online, there is a big community of sci fi fans that really hate in helmet lighting, as its tru to say it serves no real purpose, its akin to driving at night with your interior lights on. I watched a ton of sci fi before and found the original alien quite helpful - they have the most realistic solution. They have the traditional gold fish bowl helemet with a top light fitted - that has enough spill to subtly light the face. I didnt have that option as the helmets we had were more like motorbike helmets, so I attached a small aputure amaran 3 inch light on a noga arm to the side of the helmet. It looked pretty convincing as general suit gack, provided a bit of environmental lighting in the cave, lit the other guys and had enough spill to get into the helmet. Interiors were fine for reflections, I used the helios 58 so had a lot of flare. Outside was more tricky - I had to shoot from a low angle and place the other astronauts around me to mask any camera reflections with silhouettes of actors. If you have a look at Prospect - there's a bts film somewhere and they go thru their problems with the helmets - they tried to embrace them and had the crew hide or cover up with drapes. Had we been able to see the helmets before travelling to spain, it would have made things much easier. Their helmets had some crappy led torches in them that were all at different frequencies, which proved a pita for slomo.
    Another cool trick to pull off if you had the time and resorces would be to have some backdrops printed up to get in the reflection.
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  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by Håvar Karlsen View Post
    Hi! I know that most major films removes the glass in space helmets, due to the reflection issues. One of my next projects has three days of shooting an astronaut with a helmet, and removing the visor/glass is not an option. I understand there's no easy way to do this, some of the tips I have gotten so far is:*
    Why is it not an option?

    insta: @paul.inventome
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  8. #8  
    You just have to accept that there will be reflections, so whatever gets reflected in the helmet has to be justified -- hence why either you design the space capsule console to have lights in it that also light the face, or you use a distant hard light that represents the sun. The camera lens hopefully can be surrounded by black or by sections of console with lighted buttons (if you look at "The Right Stuff" you see they did this, panels of instrumentation surrounded the lens and the button lights were bright enough to fill in the face, along with fluorescent work lights in the capsule, more than the actual Mercury capsule used. I went through all of this research when I did "Astronaut Farmer".)

    In this shot, the window reflection of the blue sky was done in camera with the actual window (it's a tiny capsule) but in space, we had to add the reflections of the Earth in post -- "The Right Stuff" did it live with rear projection. Today I might have tried an flatscreen monitor out the window with real footage playing to get the reflections.
    Last edited by David Mullen ASC; 10-04-2019 at 11:06 AM.
    David Mullen, ASC
    Los Angeles
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Mark Phelan's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Great ideas, David!
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