Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Fake Shadows

Published : 18th November 2003


I've just been having a discussion with some guys I work with about how the shadows were made in Coppola's 'Bram Stoker's Dracula'.

There are three scenes in particular with "fake" shadows :

1/. Keanu walks into the huge door of the castle and on the wall to his left is a huge, out of sync shadow. (CG?)

2/. A left to right dolly starting on a shadow on the back wall of a figure walking with the shot. The shadow grows and softens and as it stops and turns Dracula enters from frame right holding a lantern. The shadow is meant to be his but isn't. (A light from left side behind pillar with someone moving in front of it?)

3/. Dracula talking to Keanu with a map behind them. The shadow on the map which is meant to be Dracula's is not in sync with his movements. (Rear projection with someone standing in front of the light?)

Any thoughts?

Cheers

Earle Dresner
AC/DP Sydney, Australia



> a huge, out of sync shadow. (CG?)

I'm pretty sure it's not CG - as I recall, there was an effort made to do as many of the effects in-camera (or using "old-school" techniques) as possible.

The Criterion laserdisc (not DVD) had a supplemental disc with great information, if you can find it anywhere - along with the usual commentary track and "making of" stuff, there's also a laserdisc version of the Cinefex article on the effects. Well worth seeking out if you want better information.

I don't know if any of these supplements made it to the DVD version – I doubt it, as Criterion didn't release the DVD, and they probably own the supplements.

If you know you can't track down the laserdisc, I could certainly go through mine and get some more specific answers for you - but I think you're better off going to the source, if you can!

George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada



>I've just been having a discussion with some guys I work with about how >the shadows were made in Coppola's 'Bram Stoker's Dracula'. There >are three scenes in particular with "fake" shadows.

From the Cinefex article, Alison Savitch (credited as visual effects supervisor in the IMBD) is quoted . . . "We used dozens of different shadows to create Dracula's presence. Being supernatural, he can misplace his shadow;
and we use that idea a lot… “

Michael Manning
SF Bay Area



>Being supernatural, he can misplace his shadow; and we use that idea >a lot.

This sounds like a great (one of the best) after-the-event justification for shadows that didn't really match the action as well as they hoped they would.

"if there's a bug, document it and call it a feature"

Dominic Case
Atlab Australia



>This sounds like a great...after-the-event justification for shadows that >didn't really match the action as well as they hoped they would..."if >there's a bug, document it and all it a feature"

I didn't realize Microsoft produced "Bram Stoker's Dracula".

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
http://www.cinematography.net



>One of the ways we created the shadow effect was to use a projection >screen and put a mime behind it dressed in the same costume and wig >piece that Dracula wore...."

Absolutely brilliant.

Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best.

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC



> Absolutely brilliant. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best.


Sometimes? I've ALWAYS found that simpler is better.

Walter Graff
Producer, Director, Creative Director, Cinematographer
HellGate Pictures, Inc.
BlueSky, LLC
www.film-and-video.com