How The Amazing “Through The Mirror” Trick Shot From Contact Was Taken

Feb 12, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

How The Amazing “Through The Mirror” Trick Shot From Contact Was Taken

Feb 12, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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If you saw Contact, you know it is a marvelous film, not only for its plot, but also for its wonderful cinematography. In one of the more memorable scenes in the movie, Ellie (Dr. Eleanor Ann) discovers that her father died, and runs to the bathroom medicine cabinet to get his pills. It is a single shot that follows Ellie from the bottom of the staircase all the way until she reaches out to the mirrored cabinet and opens it, only to reveal that the entire shot was taken “through the mirror”.

How is this possible without us seeing the cameraman?

Here is the shot again, only explained by Contact visual effects supervisors Ken Ralston and Stephen Rosenbaum.

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1st Asst Film Editor – Carin-Anne Strohmaier – explains how the shot was taken. Not trivial to say the least:

this was how it was done – a Steadicam person with the Vista Vision camera strapped to his chest ran backwards in front of Young Ellie as he goes up the stairs and down the hallway – there was a speed change – we ramp from 24 to 48fps (though I can’t remember exactly – we could have ramped through three different speeds) – by the time she stops and puts her hand to open the medicine cabinet door (“A” plate ) – we are then inside the reflection. The medicine cabinet was the “B” plate (second plate) and then the door closes and we have the “C” plate (third plate) which was the reflection of the photo of Young Ellie and her dad. By the way – the first time we received this CGI shot as a final (completed & ready to be signed off) Bob Z noticed that the picture frame did not match the one in the Arecibo Puerto Rico bedroom with older Ellie and Joss so they had to have an insert crew reshoot the “C” plate with the correct picture frame and re-composite the shot over again – not an easy thing to do since timing was critical in getting everything to match up. #

[via steadishots.org]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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7 responses to “How The Amazing “Through The Mirror” Trick Shot From Contact Was Taken”

  1. meatcurry Avatar
    meatcurry

    Great movie, great shot!

  2. Ed Selby Avatar
    Ed Selby

    short answer “we faked it in post”

  3. John Flury Avatar
    John Flury

    such an effective way to carry narrative with VFX – as opposed to bombard the viewers with flashy CG just for the sake of it.

  4. Shachar Weis Avatar
    Shachar Weis

    tl;dr – green screen. Big woop.

  5. ext237 Avatar
    ext237

    I remember this sequence in the theater thinking wait, what did I just see? There’s a big difference between “let’s throw in some green screen” and “let’s make the viewer question the reality they are watching and throw them off balance so we drive the emotion in the story home.” This was clearly the latter.