Socratica Backstage: Behind the Scenes look at Mirrored Overhead Shots

We’re launching a new series on Socratica called “Study Tips: How to Be a Great Student.” An essential part of the videos in this series will be overhead B Roll and Insert Shots, to demonstrate things like how to take notes, how to use flashcards, etc.

overhead camera rig

Where do you put this thing when you’re not using it?

Many people use a large frame and suspend a camera overhead in order to do overhead shots. It’s one thing if you’re using a GoPro, but this isn’t something you really want to do with a larger camera with a nice lens. Other drawbacks include the amount of space an overhead frame takes up, and the fact that the camera is not easily accessible. You can’t zoom in during a shot unless you have a sophisticated remote control setup. You can’t easily move the camera from its fixed position, which limits the kind of filmmaking you can do (no pans, tilts, or slider shots).

Today on Socratica Backstage, you can watch how we mounted a large mirror in order to do better overhead shots. We immediately put it to use, filming B Roll and Insert shots for our first video in the Study Tips series, “How to Take Great Notes.”


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A little physics would help here.

Why don’t animators use well-known physics equations to make motion more believable?
Check out Rhett Alain’s  plot comparing the falling Mosasaur from Jurassic World with a falling ball.  This isn’t complicated – it’s simple mechanics, what you’d learn in high school physics.
Falling Ball vs. Falling Masosaur in Jurassic World

From Plotly by Rhett Allain

What would Galileo say?!

I don’t want to pick on Jurassic World – this is a problem endemic to all movie animation. Superheros jumping as if their bodies were weightless and elastic. Buildings being destroyed by minor explosions. Bodies flying around from the impact of a gunshot.  Heroes outrunning fireballs.  I know it’s fantasy – but we have a lifetime of experience with gravity on this planet, and our eyes know in a fraction of a second when we see an object falling incorrectly. This doesn’t enhance fantasy – rather, it breaks that beautiful meditative spell that movies can put us under.  Break it enough times, and you’ve lost your audience. They’ll never believe what they’re seeing in that gut-instinct, “eyes of a child” kind of way.
Can you imagine how refreshing it would be to see convincing special effects motion? And it wouldn’t be that hard. Just crack open a physics textbook. Hey, if you can learn how to use studio-quality animation software, you can learn how to do a little high school physics.

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We recommend:

The Mechanical Universe (this is Volume I of the textbook we used for Freshman Physics at Caltech)

Mechanical Universe