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How the Miniature effect works
Ok, anyone who has been reading these blogs, or watching our videos, will know that I am slightly over fascinated by the miniature effect, both in stills and in video. On one level, I guess this effect just brings out the inner child in me. The stills are designed to make the subject look like a toy and the video option has everyone moving around as if they are in a Charlie Chaplin film. But I think it is mainly because, whilst most of the effects can be reproduced post shot if needed, miniature effect is an effect which could only really be done in camera while shooting.
So what makes the miniature effect so different? Well the idea is to draw attention to the middle of the image. In order to do that the effect pushes the rest of the image out of focus. In fact, it pushes the top third and the bottom third of the image out of focus. Interestingly, the middle band of the image is kept sharp. This pulls the middle band into sharp relief, making it stand out more. It also seems to saturate the colors so that it looks like it has been shot through the a highly saturated vivid option (an option in ‘set picture control’ in the shooting menu). This has the effect of making the colors bright and bold – like candy in a sweetshop. I think the combination gives the image a visual simplicity and concentrated color, which we find attractive for its lack of subtlety.
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Of course, the idea is that you shoot miniature from a distance, so that the effect is compounded, but shooting close up gives quite an interesting semi-bokeh effect. Whist this isn’t something you would want to do every day, it can enhance an image and make it much more eye-catching. Turn the camera and shoot vertically and you can get a really punchy image.
With Video, the effect is excellent. As well as blurring the top and bottom thirds, the camera effectively takes a time lapse video. Consequently it takes about 5 minutes to shoot 20 seconds. The overall effect is a vibrant, miniatured jerky video. How would anyone hope to use it for any serious movie making? I have no idea, but it’s comic possibilities are endless….
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