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Spotlight #4
Practical and Digital Visual Effects Hybrid with Cinwiz

Welcome again after the Christmas and prolonged New Year break. It’s gonna be a short, but hopefully interesting Spotlight. Daniel French of Cinwiz shares some of their know-how on their latest production mixing practical with digital visual effects.


And what’s your latest project? Share your stories in the next spotlight.

Cinwiz is small vfx shop based in Copenhagen that specializes in visual effects using a combination of digital tools and practical models and miniatures.
Over the years, many traditional photography techniques have been replaced with computer graphics, but we believe that miniatures and practical effects are actually more viable than ever, especially when combined with digital tools.


One of the key elements to successful miniature effects are shooting multiple passes. Earlier, this was really expensive if the camera was moving.


Because the movement has to be repeated several times and could only be achieved with large, and sometimes overkill motion control rigs. The DitoGear™ OmniSlider has made it possible to create complicated shots way cheaper and quicker then ever before.
Kandidat, one of the leading commercial production companies in Norway, asked us to establish the christmas spirit in a commercial directed by Andreas Rønning. We created a large town by combining practical models and miniatures with CGI. Here are some of the things we did to get it to work:

To get rid of the miniature-look you want to have the entire frame as sharp as you can. It’s kind of the opposite to tilt-shift photography. Adjust the aperture as tight as possible. We shot at f/22. This requires a massive ammount of light, and thats possible to achieve, but if you use tiny LEDs like we did in our case, you’ll find most of the frame turns really dark. To solve this you can do long exposures, but that will result in long light streaks – unless you shoot frame by frame.


This is where the DitoGear™ OmniSlider saves the day with the drive-shoot-drive mode. We ended up shooting all the material on a canon 5D frame by frame in raw format and it worked perfect. We could program the slider to do various exposures for each pass, making it possible to get all the juices out of the lighting, even the small LEDs. The time it takes to shoot a pass varies. LED’s will take some more time to expose, so for our move it could go up to 40minutes for 300 frames.


But it’s definitely worth the wait. Once the passes are comped together it will look perfect. Another great thing about the slider is that you can use the power of forced perspective. To get more details in the foreground, we built the foreground houses at scale 1/12 but the mid ground buildings are scale 1/48. We shot the two scales separately and calculated the right length so the the camera movement would matched up.


Once all the passes were shot it’s on to digital compositing where the passes are mixed to achieve the right look. Having all the different lights separate gives a tremendous amount of control. Additionally we added some cgi elements to create the final result.


by Daniel Fench, Compositor and VFX Supervisor at Cinwiz


Follow the work of Daniel French and Cinwiz:


Cinwiz on Vimeo
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Cinwiz on Twitter

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