Tips and Tricks

A Guide to better filming and photograph's of model mechanics.

Tips and tricks to better camera work in photos and films.
This is a series of advices and guides that you can try out for yourself in total or take bits of it as tips to improve your filming and photographing of your models. This is not an absolute guide to what to do but just a series of good tips that may work for you at your own level of interest. I am aware that some of the information in this post may be for the more adventorous and image seeking among you, and there for, all of it will not aply to all. Something for every one here. These tips, advices and recomendations listed here are mainly to use for those that produses their films indoor in a controlled light enviroment. If you film your models outdoor, with a stationarry tripod, you will not need to read mutch of this as your way of filming  your models are fine, and uncomplicated.
What i write up here are tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your hand held camera experience, an erea where I have some experiences i can share with you guys. Tips and tricks that do not actually cost any in the name of funds. However, It is strongly adviced to use some sort of editing program to prepare your film, to take away the bad bits and make you able to compose the film in a much more enjoyable way for the viewer. If available use a camera that has some sort of built in picture stabiliser. For the editing program and camera of use, this is stricktly an advice, not a must for most thing i list up in this guide.

If possible, make your filming erea as clutter free as possible, it is STRONGLY recomended that for a photo or film of your model, only that model and as little else as possible enter the field of view. I have done a lot of films in my times that has been basicly ruined when watching them in later times, just becourse of the lack of the little details like having a free and uncluttered place to work with just that model you are making a film or presentation of. 

Paning and camera movement.
Allways pan the view slowly, to fast movement of the camera or the point of view with the camera will only aid to obscure details in the picture and generally lower quality of the photage. let the viewer get the time to see and inspect the ereas your your self find interesting enough to film ahead of other ereas less frequent in your films. In the serch for better views of the model you film, the slower you can make the movements of the film, will generally be better for the viewer of the film.
If possible, avoid filming on free handheld camera but use any kind of support for your arms and hands you can in order to stabilize the camera as much as possible. one useful tip might be to use some sort of "transport" for your camera that move on the table. If it can be combined with your prefered camera angle on a spesific model, you can try gliding the camera on an matchbox toy car or anything simular. if you have a smooth table surface to film from, you can also rest your hands on a non fricksion fabricks made of something like wool as an example, with this stedy support for your hands and arms you can without fricksion pan around and from side to side, of the object you film vith very little desturbance from the general direction you are moving. very little latteral movement can be achieved, witch is what were after in that setting.
Large movments of the camera wile you are filming can be very effectful filming, but it is very hard to do without stabilizer of any sort or gyro base for your camera. It is therefor a very very useful tip from me to you, to try the best to avoid the large movements of the camera and rather try to find spots and angles on the model that "work" best with your lighting and then simply make a series of more or less sationarry views of the model wile panning the camera as slow as you can from those points of view. stabilizing your hand and arms on whatever you can find. anything from a wool sock to a taller or lower tower made of books. Books can be useful for this as they are so adjustable in the vertical, you can ad a few or remove them to get higher or lower, but provide a stedy base for your arms and camera.
This is the easyest way to reduse drasticly, a shaky camera and all that involves on your films.

When planing a film of a model it can be interesting to do some before hand film tests on at what imagined scale the model looks the best. this you do by using the camera lence as your "imaginarry" eyes, In a horizontal angle of view, as you get closer with the lence to the model, the larger it gets in the frame, simulating the view of a larger object. Get much closer and you may need to pan up in a vertical directional move to fokus on the higher parts of the model and depending on the model and it's original size.. You can make the model apare, in view with the lence and the angle of view, to be big as a car, a bus, a house etc etc. These angles to film models from, very often produse interesting and well detailed views of the movments and looks of the model not comonly available from the normal point of view one see the model in an everyday display setting.
You will need to test this out on any individual model before the planing of the film sequences becourse as you may discover, this aproach will not work well on all models. some models will have their favored angle of view at a much more elevated point of view. For some reason I have found that many KMV models, that are very eye friendly as well, look most delightful from an elevated angle point of view.
Here is 3 example of scale ilusions on photo, the same prinsipple's will of course also be vallied on live film. the first one is clearly a scaled model photo from the angle of the lence. the second image is a realistic scale angle, viewed a few meters away from a live size engine. the third angle is a relaistic scale angle as if you were close up to the model leaning forward to view the cable drum in closer detail, the model then looks as the live size engine would look, absolute huge. 

Simple optical ilusions that can be a part in portraiting a model with variations and different effective looks.

Easy light setting.
The easyest form of lightsetting for your films are of course to put the lights in a fixed position that is not viewable from the camera picture, and from there, work out how they, the lights, should be faced and placed to give the model you film the best image quality and light setting that are available and then, simply take all shoot of films with that lighting that indivuidually fit your models best. This works exelent on a wide number of models, and I to use this way a lot when filming models of lesser complexity. standard Mamod stationary's, Wilesco and KMV stationary's etc etc. It works in general on all models with fewer angles of reflections and that are less complexed with surface erea direction changes, sutch as details of decor and structure differences and variations.
To play around with light and lighting effects are NOT mandetory for a improved result of your films, but it will surely help you a long way if you do. I spent most of my first few monthes in this hobby with not bothering too much about the light setting as long as it was enough light there, and it gave me the image views that i wanted at the time. There are no rights or wrongs here, as long as there is ample light for the camera to do the imaging.
One more thing, it is highly advicable to use a few light sources during your filming, even in the most basic of fixed light setting. I use a variation between 3-4 up to 8 different light sources from various or basically the same angle and point of view. I will say for a good result in filming or photograph, even with a very good cam corder or camera, 3-4 good light sources are pretty much a minimum on a complexed model. Try out different lux grades at your own enviroment to find the right balance where you do your filming og camera shoot's.

A quick view on how to aply basic light setting on a model and it's effects.
Here is 6 images, all of them taken from the exact same spot in the enviroment. Here you can very clearly see the different stages of ambient reflections and direct lighting on the model and the enviroment in witch it stand. you see a gliding difference from the first to the last image in the way it rest on the table surface in image 1 to become allmost partly afloat in borderlands between the ambient reflections and the enviroment around it, on the last image. 

I take this here a bit to the extreme in order to clearly show how incredebly important and changing a film or photo of a model can be, just by moving a few lamps around. You guys must experiment and find what works were you are, and what does not.

Advanced light setting.
To make your films with this kind of attension to details of this sort described below here, will take you enormous amounts of time, some of it very tedious work. a 4 minutes film with trials and errors that will occure, can easy take 10 hours or more of work to make. I made a resent experimental film on the HB5 Kraftwerk, 2:33 minutes long, that took me the best part of 2 days hobby time, probably 11-12 hours or there about. you might wish to skip this part of the tips and advice guide if this sort of time waste, is a time waste to you. For many it will be, and it is nothing wrong in skipping reading this part of the guide.

Plan your camera movement vs your light setting and then use an editing tool/program. Repeat all takes multiple times to be able to pic the best one in combination with the sequence before and after in the film. You need here to be filming with sound enabled on the camera or recording, in voice name the individual take with an ID number and your own code (see further down) of what differences are done with light etc etc, this you edit out in the finish film, but is a VERY valuable aid to seperate eatch take and puting them together in the right sequence. example, if you use one light setting on one take, to much change on light setting the following sequence, for then to go back to previous setting or a third alternative, can very often produse a very bad finishing result that is not favoured for the eye's and the overall consistency of the film as a finished product. image plessure in the details of each sequence is the idea here.
Light setting can be difficoult if you wish to produse consistently good image of the model, try your pre planed camera positions on each take to see what overall light seting that works best to the images you wish to produse. On serten models or items you film, that has a destict reflective surface, this can be very important for the quality of the end product.
Note; If you are using light setting that involve large changes from take to take and/or with changes in reflective light and filter (ligtht reflecting from mirrors etc, with collorized filter in the reflections, normal collored plastic sheets film etc). It will be HIGHLY advicable that you do your test filming properly, and "name code" each light seting and position setting individually, physically marked with cheat markers on table lamp and mirror directions etc etc. Otherwice you will NEVER be able to find the same positions consistenly for eatch take, and you will end up with a film that has no consistent lighting at all, and in general a rather unwanted product.
The goal for the advanced lighting set will be to do this light changings in changes that it not noticable to the viewer, so without notice help to reflect this or that point of surface on any model for imaging pleassure by the viewer without altering the overall look of the film picture collor or depth of lighting.
For best possible controll on light and reflections, avoild filming in places with any natural light, near windows, outdooors or inside but in direct sunlight of view of windows.

General advice on lighting.
I will only breafly mention this as you will figure many things out as you try different things. The very dark blue models are the worst collor to film. it is very hard to find light and the right lux balance to view a dark blue model right. Also orange, in case you have anything that simulate that range of collors, you will find problems with in the order of the light blance and lux gradient. Orange can take on a vide arange of different red collors, depending on light reflection settings and lux variations Here is a example with the orange Twin Bengs Nick Vacuum. the first image is the right lux and collor, but with a slightly different camera position and other light setting the model turn into a red collor.

This kind of variations, you wish to avoid in a photo series or film. There for,, preliminary testing of film situations and lights are very important if you wish to make the better image quality photos and films.

You might wonder, why not use collored light that nearly mach the collor of the model and in that way help to bring out the collor of the model surface. This would actually work to some extent, but it leave a huge problem in the more reflective ereas of the model, example is this Bengs model that has shiny reflecting flywheel surface. If a collored light is used, it will be allmost impossible to film this model from various angles and camera points of view, without this also refelct, not the true collors of the model reflected in the reflective surfaces on the model, but also reflect to a much greater degree the collored light that will be the far dominant light source. It is not what you wish to show in the case that the model is the main focal point that shall shine. I did some reserch with collored blue lamps when i was in the prosess early last year of fimling my Markie Showman engine that is dark blue. but found the problem with collored light reflections impossible to avoild with the size and complexity of the model combined with the fact that it has white wheels and roof ceiling.
Even with extra strong background lighting in various degree of lux depth, the simple 25W blue lamp made its way through. The use of reflective light from mirrors with the above mentioned collor plastic sheets, will not be suficcient light to aid in the collor balance of a dark blue model due to the fact the light from a mirror setting like described above will have to point somewhat away from the model not to send it's light sourse directly in the model, thsi will show and it will not look good in the same way that a collored light bulb will not look good. light reflected from mirrors will need it's light to be directed out of view point of the camera lence, but within the reach of the model to spread a non directional light in the field of view, camera and model and its enviroment. In case of the danger of missunderstandings, The mirror reflective lights can only be used as an overall light effect, the use of various light sorces with various lux in combination will allways be essensial for the light setting of your films or photos.

This Böhm Film below is shoot with mirror reflective lights thrue 1 and 2 layers of orange plastic film to simulate a eavning sun light setting. The begining with the welcome, and the end with the engine stop are NOT shot with filtering light, this was an experimental film mainly, but published becourse it became slightly better viewing then the one i had actually made as short film for the then sequence i made of short Stirling films. you will observe how faint the colloring effect are in the film but the various effects it has on the image and looks of the film. Let me also ad that i am fully aware that this sort of fokus on lightning and workload on films and photos will not be everyones, or maybe not anyones cup of tea. but you have here at least the information on how you might be able to achieve this in case you wish to. 

Write up.
More and more of my daly doings in the hobby part from cleaning allready clean models, has become in the form of film making and photographing. I have taken more and more of my available time to explore newer and varied ways to effectively show models on film in particular, but in images as well. I have not ivested much in the means of film technical equipment like camera and editing tools. I use a higher end Panasonic cam corder all right, but it is well within most peoples ability to accuire a simular image quality product. I have gradually found the need for a "more" stabile camera platform and is using a table mouinted fully adjustable all directional movement "arm" originally intended for use with PC monitors. it works for my needs. my seeking of the perfect image of any model i accuire in my collection is one of the things that drive me in the hobby that we share.
I started off with filming without idea or structure, same with photos. From there things have amurged. I hope that by reading about some of my experiences and the things i have found to work from my basic start point in the film and photo of model mechanics, That it can be of aid and some good advice to take steps that do not cost anything but aid you in making better and better views and images of your collections. You have all of you some amazing models in every stage of technical standing. They all deserves to be presented in the most delightful way. Dont you think ?
I am slowly moving forward in my seek for what i like to show in images and films, future plans will be a properly high end camera and take the steps into the world of 3D filming, filmed at 4K hyper details on models and motions, full feture films as well as short demo films for every days lessure views on the forum.

Knut Amundgaard. 2015.