One of the biggest challenges when filming is not having enough space. Whether for yourself, camera, talent, or the other essential crew in the space.
So what can I do about it?
There’s plenty you can do when strapped for space. Usually this ends up happening in small rooms like bathrooms or closets. However there are plenty of places people have found they don’t have enough space that aren’t even indoors. Projects that film in caves, alleys or even crowded events have to deal with restricted space and come up with creative solutions. Here are some tips if you find yourself short on space during your filming.
What kind of Camera should I use?
If you know you’ll be facing small spaces, it’s good to try to get your hands on a full-frame camera. These cameras can give you some extra freedom in small environments by allowing you to have less space between the lens and your subject, which frees up you as the operator to move around and experiment with shots. Cameras like the Canon 5D and Nikon D750 are some popular choices for full-frames.
I assume I should also have a certain lens?
Of course, a camera is no use without a proper lens. In this case, the kind of lens to look for is a more wide-angle lens. This expands the view of the camera and makes up for the shot being close to the subject. A wide-angle lens also helps create the illusion that the space is larger than it really is. Done right they can completely turn the scene around.
Okay, but what if the room is like, really small?
While wide-angle lenses can help get around the issue of minimum focus distances, sometimes the space can be too tight. So tight that you physically can’t get far enough away for proper focus. One of the first solutions people go to is often just finding a way to not be in the room.
You mean I have to go outside?
Well, maybe. Placing cameras outside the room through things like windows and doorways can provide extra space for focus distance and the subject. Actors have more room to move around the room without having to worry about bumping the camera, and shooting through a window can provide opportunities for experimenting with new kinds of shots. If you’re shooting somewhere high up that you can’t reach the windows, however, people have found that you can fake the distance with a mirror. That’s right, shooting into a mirror can work to essentially fake minimum focus distance to your camera. Your shot will be flipped left-to-right doing this, but can be solved in editing.
Very sneaky. But will it mess with the lighting?
Not unless you’re pointing the lights at your mirror, no. But one of the harder things to fake in editing is light, and light can make or break your shot. In small spaces, it can also fake your shot. Using lighting tricks, you can make things look further away than they are. Lighting subjects in the back less will make them appear farther than if they were lit the same as the foreground. Darker shades of light and color can give a greater illusion of depth to your shot.
Ideally, this short guide was enlightening and now you’re more ready to take on the shots that take you to cramped spaces!
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