What would you do if you wanted to give your portraits an edgy, futuristic look, as if they could’ve come straight out of “Blade Runner”?
I like to literally blur the boundary between stills and motion, which often results in unexpected images like these. And if you’re thinking you need all sorts of fancy sets and gear, think again. All you really need is your creativity. Oh, and a DSLR, some lenses, and an old iPhone that you probably already have lying around in a drawer somewhere, along with FinalCut Pro or other video editing software.
The idea came while I was filming and editing the video below. I wanted the visuals to have an edgy, somewhat gritty feel. I started out by setting the camera to a very contrasty black & white look. Although that would make it difficult to do any color grading later, it gave me a much better idea of how the footage was going to look, even during filming.
First, I filmed my model using a Canon 5D mkII with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. The set-up was pretty straightforward. A black cloth was taped to the wall and the model stood in front of it, lit by two LED lights positioned to the extreme left and right, as water rained down on her, reminiscent of the “Tears in Rain” scene. So far, so good, right?
What followed was the "post processing" phase. Here’s where it starts to get really interesting. Most of the post processing was not done on a computer as usual, but in-camera. Based on the equipment mentioned earlier you might be able to tell what I did.
I took selected film clips and played them on an iPhone 3GS. Why a 3GS, you ask? Because unlike the newer models, the low res display of the 3GS creates highly pixelated images. I then put a loose 50mm lens (from a DSLR) on top of the iPhone. I turned the aperture ring so that the aperture was wide open and you can easily see through the lens, and filmed the pixelated video playing on the iPhone from a camera hanging directly over the loose lens.
Some of the pixelated footage was then overlayed onto the original in Final Cut Pro, using different blend modes. This is how you get interesting "double exposures", where one version is sharp and one is pixelated. As if that wasn’t enough to abstract the images, I then added some extra graphics and effects into the film for extra visual interest. The simple graphics, consisting of lines, circles, and grids of rectangles, were made in Apple Keynote.
From the resulting film I captured the stills shown here. They really have a "Blade Runner" aesthetic to them, don’t you think?