With the film “The Arrival of a Train to La Ciotat Station”, which met with the audience in Paris in 1895, a new field emerged for artists to express their ideas visually: Cinema. The cinema industry, which grew and became industrialized later on, led to watching movies, which is one of the first activities people use to spend time today.

In addition to the cinema industry, the productions on television, which people can access more easily on a daily basis, have also increased. Meanwhile, the quality of movies and television productions has reached a different dimension with the development of technology . With technologies such as 3D display technology, green screen technology and IMAX, the filmmaking process has improved considerably. The directors created new techniques in film and TV series shooting.

In serial film productions, ‘how did the director shoot this?’ We can encounter the scenes we call. The best example of this would be mirror scenes . The mirror technique can often be used to add depth to the scene or to create confusing scenes. In particular, there are techniques developed for how they can hide the camera for scenes shot right in front of the mirror .

How to shoot scenes using mirrors?

Mirrors can cause many image problems in the filmmaking process.  Serial production crews must avoid the appearance of the behind-the-scenes crew in any scene, and this can make the shooting phases cumbersome. The use of mirrors, on the other hand, can be quite useful for creating fascinating scenes, complex lighting and deep compositions despite this effort.

Mirrors add life to the film as they are also elements that reflect light. Often times, it can help create realistic images that make the audience feel as if they are actually inside the movie . There are also various types of scenes that can be shot with a mirror in today’s movies before moving on to the techniques of mirror shooting.

  • reflection shot
  • point of view shot
  • double reflection shot
  • Horizon mirror shot
  • multi shot
  • Framed shot
  • self face shot

reflection shot

In this type of shot, the camera films a reflection in the mirror. Depth can be added to the scene with the reflection shooting method, so it is a sensible shooting method to use in tight spaces . It can also be used as an effective storytelling tool. The audience watching a scene shot with this technique may have the impression that they are watching the person on the stage as if they are looking from behind .

point of view shot

In the perspective shot, the movie scene is taken from the point of view of a character looking in the mirror. The camera is usually placed directly in front of the mirror, with the actor behind it. In this shooting technique, the audience actually watches the reflection of the actor. 

double reflection shot

In a scene using double reflection shooting, the camera is placed in an area  with mirrors on both sides .

Horizon mirror shot

In the horizon mirror shot, it can be felt as if the camera is pushing the mirror in to give the impression of diving in the opposite direction. Then you move to the other side of the image as if the mirror were just a wall.

multi shot

In a scene with multiple shots, a technique developed by using different shots of the same character in front of their reflections is used.

Framed shot

In the framed shooting technique, mirrors are used as photo frames . You can see scenes through reflection. It can be an ideal method for creating quality scene compositions and using single-frame reaction shots.

self face shot

In the self-confrontation shooting technique, it is ideal for the two characters in the scene to stand face to face , looking at each other. This technique emerges when the characters in the scene are talking to each other, looking at the reflections in the mirror behind them. 

What are the steps to shoot a mirror scene?

Shooting without showing the camera is not as simple as it seems. Things can get even more difficult, especially when  there is a motion shot by the camera or when the characters move on the stage. Today, due to the great development of technology, with high-tech filmmaking equipment and visual effects systems becoming more accessible, TV series filmmakers can become more eager to shoot mirror scenes. On the other hand, there are some steps to be followed by the directors who want the series or movie they shoot to contain more remarkable scenes.

  • First of all, the shooting angle should be decided. It is preferable to shoot directly in front of the mirror or from the side. Of course, holding the camera at an angle where it can’t be seen from the reflection makes the job a lot easier.
  • You have to decide the camera movements . If the camera is moving, you must ensure that the player is centered in the image and is visible. Afterwards, the angle at which the camera shooting will end should be decided.
  • After deciding on the angle and movement, a little more aesthetic issues gain importance. When shooting scenes from the mirror, make sure that the image of the actor is clear in the mirror and lighting should be used if necessary.
  • It should be ensured that the behind-the-scenes crew and equipment, such as the cameraman, lighting crew, boom microphone, are not visible on stage.

What are the techniques that make the camera invisible in mirror scenes?

The techniques used in shooting a mirror scene will vary according to the producer’s and director’s wishes regarding the scene. In mirror scenes, there are some techniques that are often used by directors to make the camera invisible.

  • One of the easiest and most common of these techniques might be to hide the camera for reflection . However, directors who want to shoot a realistic scene may not want to use this technique much.
  • By shifting the camera from its original position, the camera is held outside the frame of the part where the reflection is. This technique is called offset .
  • The camouflage technique can be used when an actor’s back is towards the audience or when there is more than one actor in a scene . In this technique, the camera is placed behind the player, but the camera cannot move.
  • The camera can be hidden by rotoscopy, which is one of the most basic concepts of the visual effects concept. Rotoscope technique , especially animations, is a technique made by combining scene images taken frame by frame to create movement.

Well, is it possible to shoot a mirror scene without using a mirror?

In some scenes, the director may sometimes pretend to have a mirror to create the illusion of a mirror. There are two commonly used methods to create the illusion of mirrors, which are highly used, especially in horror and thriller movies.

In the first method , two-sided installation can be achieved. In other words, an impression can be created as if it is reflected from a mirror by setting up another scene in the same way opposite a scene. Of course, this method is not preferred because it is a bit more challenging.

The other method is to create an unreal but real-looking mirror by taking full advantage of visual effects. In this technique, which is called VFX and is made using a green screen , the shots are made into a single image thanks to post-production, and a mirror that does not actually exist is revealed.

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