Many, if not most scale modelers, whether modeling the factual or the fantastic, like to imagine the models they build as the full-scale real things that the models represent. In films, models are used to give the realistic impression that they are the real thing. Filmmakers do this by placing them in backgrounds either altered or fabricated to appear "in scale," or the same relative size to the model. Naturally, as a scale modeler and a photography enthusiast, I wanted to do just that.

    Many of the effects shots seen on these Portfolio pages were composed using "low-tech" methods such as perspective, "modeled" backgrounds or retouching a printed photo. This was often a lot of work and sometimes money had to be spent so it wasn't done often. With the acquisition of a computer and assorted photo retouching software, the task became easier. The advent of the digital camera also eliminated the need to purchase film and then wait and pay for processing. It also costs nothing to just sit at the PC and experiment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If it doesn't, it usually becomes a learning experience and no funds were sacrificed in the process. The following are experiments that worked.


The Early Days:
The Low-Tech Era

This photo was taken with the model placed in front of a light box with a translucent panel
painted to look like the sky. Photos below show the setup.



This image is rotated 90 degrees clockwise.



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The above photo was taken with the model suspended in front of a
rear-projection screen with a slide of an actual astro-photo projected onto it.
The model was hung and photographed upside-down to make
the string harder to spot in the photo.
(Above and below photos by Rob Lind)




Click on the above image for a high-resolution image

This shot was perhaps the easiest of all. The model with base and foliage
was placed on an open window ledge. The camera's exposure was set on
the outside lighting and a flash was used to illuminate the model.

How I did it!




This shot was also easy. In this case, the model sits on a simulated
moonscape with an Apollo Program Moon photo as a backdrop.




Click on the above image for a high-resolution image
For this dramatic picture, a print of the photo was touched up. The image of the model
was masked with Photo Frisket masking paper. The background was then sprayed over
with black paint and "stars" were added by tapping on the trigger of an airbrush filled
with white paint. The frisket was then removed from the print, exposing the image of the model.
The photo below was retouched in the same way.


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This photo was achieved using "Forced Perspective". The model was placed on a table on the curb opposite the house (my house) in the photo. The camera, model and background were then lined up so that the edge of the table was in line with the opposite curb from the viewpoint of the camera. The camera was then set for longest depth of field, allowing a focus on both the model and background, which were about 35 feet from each other.




Later Shots:
The Discovery of Photo-Shop

All of the photos below were altered using photo editing software. For
the earlier photos, Arcsoft Photo Studio 2.0, a very simple program was used
for photo editing. Later on, Corel Photo Paint 7.4 was added.

These photos are in roughly chronological order.

The above and below shots were early experiments with Arcsoft.
The display bases, visible in the original photos, are blacked out.
Background stars were hand drawn, pixel by pixel.


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This was my first experiment with cutting and pasting an image. The 3 inch X-1 model is superimposed onto a photo taken from an overlook at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
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The above picture is a combination of a picture of Saturn taken by the Cassini
spacecraft from the location of Jupiter, a space background courtesy NASA's
Solar System Simulator and an image of the Voyager model.


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Discovery TJI Burn
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In a scene not depicted in the film, Discovery fires its main engines to place it on a course to Jupiter.
 

Below are the two photos that were combined to create the above image. The photo on the right
is an International Space Station image of a Moonset from Earth orbit.

ZAP!
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Lens flare courtesy Corel Photo Paint. I like it!


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The scene above was created by cutting and pasting sections of the archway's
brickwork and re-assembling the pieces as the wall surrounding Skull Island.
The photo below is the original, un-altered shot.

Captain's log, yadda, yadda, yadda.
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The Enterprise approaches the cheesy looking Planet of Big-Haired Women.
 

Discovery at Jupiter
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The above photo combines an image of the model, a hand rendered starfield (pixel by pixel)
and an actual image of Jupiter taken by the Cassini spacecraft en route to Saturn.
 

This shows how photo editing software can fix a bad shot. In the original, below, not only was the cardboard panel that the model is sitting on at an apparent angle to the curb across the street, but Sharon was mistakenly directed (by me, of course) to stand in the street, thereby, cutting off her feet. (Ouch!) The curb was extended on the right using cut-and-paste and Sharon's feet were drawn in.


 
I wish I could take credit for the entire image below but that must go to Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick and Douglas Trumbull, who was in charge of making sure that the film 2OO1: A SPACE ODYSSEY became the cinematic marvel thet it was. The Earth and Space Station 5 are part of a still from the movie. The Orion III spaceplane is my 3-inch model.

Click above for a 1440 x 900 image
 
   The image on the left was made by combining digital editing with "In The Camera" effects. The model of the F4U-4 Corsair was suspended outdoors on an acrylic rod, about 6 feet above the ground. It was photographed while lying on the ground, pointing the camera straight up and using the sky as a natural background.

Arcsoft was used to "erase" the acrylic rod and a corner of the table supporting the model. Two other photos of the model, taken at different angles were copied and pasted into the image and some of the markings on each plane were modified to give the appearance of a squadron of Corsars on patrol. The original photo is below.


 


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I always thought that this would make the coolest of lawn ornaments.



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