Miniature Motion-Picture Photography

Miniature Motion-Picture Photography


the filming of various objects, structures, machines, and so on using scale models. Two main types of miniature photography are distinguished: filming of the miniature alone and composite photography, in which the miniature, in the foreground, coincides in perspective with full-scale objects in the background. Filming of the miniature alone is used when the shooting of objects or scenery in full size is impractical or requires too great an expense.

Panoramas of cities, battles, and volcanic eruptions are depicted by means of miniature photography. To make the difference in the speed of the actions taking place in the real objects and the models undetectable when viewed on a motion-picture screen, the filming is speeded up (overcranked) in proportion to the size of the image and the scale of the miniature (60-90 or more frames per second). The reproduction of the object in the miniature must be highly accurate, since the images of the models are enlarged several hundred times during projection onto a screen. Therefore, miniature photography is done mainly in panoramic and long shots, with the addition of full-size pieces of scenery in the foreground.

Composite photography is used mainly to portray those parts of especially large and expensive scenery that do not serve as a background for action. Miniatures are often used for depicting large objects visible in the background or to one side and the upper parts of complex interior scenery (stucco ceilings or domes), which must be shown in different aspects (foreshortenings). In such cases, in addition to a reduction of expenditures for scenery, it becomes possible to create effects otherwise impossible with the construction of scenery on a 1:1 scale. Photography with a miniature in the foreground is also used as a method of changing the external appearance of a real object. For this purpose, a real landscape is combined in a frame with miniature structures depicting, for example, a castle on top of a hill or a magic city on the bank of a real river.


Ptushko, A. L., and N. S. Renkov. Kombinirovannye i triukovye kinos”emki. Moscow, 1948.
Tolmachev, V. B., and K. N. Polianskii. Proektirovanie i postroika kinodekoratsii. Moscow, 1956.
Gorbachev, B. K. Tekhnika kombinirovannykh s”emok, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1961.


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