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It always makes me wonder how do they place the cameras and crew members while filming a scene which is opposite to a reflecting object, such as mirror. Because, when filming the reflected objects we should see the camera and cameraman because of their reflection. But this does not happen in the movies.

How do they film the scenes with an actor facing a mirror? Why don't we see the cameras and crew?

What is the technique they use to film the scenes with reflecting objects?

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Reminds me of this great shot: Mirror scene in Contact – atticae May 3 '12 at 10:44
Let me add the Divergent Mirror Scene – System May 25 at 19:57
up vote 103 down vote accepted

If you look closely, you'll almost always note that the mirror is angled so the camera is out of its view. This is sometimes masked by the actor looking directly into [the reflection of] the camera, which gives the impression that he is looking at himself in the mirror.

However, there are at least two other options for getting a shot in which the camera should, by rights, be visible but isn't:

  • one is using visual effects (optical or CGI) for the reflection.
  • The other was used by James Cameron in Terminator 2: Cameron wanted a tracking shot (camera moving sideways) behind Linda Hamilton removing a chip from Arnold's head in front of a mirror. If done with a mirror, the camera would have been visible as it moved around behind the actors.

    Rather than do this with effects, the set was built so that the mirror was actually a window, and on the other side was a complete mirror-image version of the set on the camera side. Schwarzenegger and Linda sat on the far side facing the camera, and a fancy Arnold puppet and Linda's twin sister sat with their backs to the camera, mimicking all of the moves of their counterparts.

Other example are:

  • In the case of Being John Malkovich, where the shot was from his POV the camera man just stood in front of an empty frame in the wall with Malkovich standing 'inside' the wall on a reverse set of the scene...

  • In the bad attempt of Sucker Punch scene in the dressing room when Sweet Pea, Rocket and Blondie talk about not helping Baby Doll, their movements not matching their mirror images (especially Sweet Pea's). Doubles are being used. This is done so the camera can move behind them without being reflected. You can watch it at this link

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I believe the mirror scene from "Brad Stoker's Dracula" by Coppola used a body double as well. – System Down May 4 '12 at 17:47
This prank uses the same basic method employed in Terminator 2. – Flimzy Dec 30 '12 at 19:38
The basic method used in terminator needs a lot of aptitude in mimicry indeed! – Mistu4u Dec 31 '12 at 6:34
I find myself watching these scenes now. A lot of recent films CGI it, but older ones or films where they don't have that budget, they either use a good angle or fake it old school like T2 (as Ankit references - BTW, the filming of this scene can be seen on some editions of T2 in the extras). Every now and then I spot a quick scene where there's a slight mismatch - I guess they did the best they could and hoped no one would notice. – user27684 Nov 18 '15 at 11:05
@Flimzy That link is not working for me. – kasperd Mar 15 at 14:35

Black Swan featured several shots in mirrored dance rehearsal studios where the crew were digitally removed - see below


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One simple way is using tilt-shift lens. It's often used by photographers for static images although I'm not sure if it's commonly used for animated movies or not. Simply put the camera aside from the mirror then shift the lens towards it. The perspective will be fixed by the lens so that viewers will think that the camera is in front of the mirror. However those lenses are very expensive so nowadays people may use a normal lens then correct the perspective later by Photoshop or similar softwares.

Read more:

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There are several techniques when mirrors or reflective surfaces are involved in movies.
One is simply to remove digitally the camera and the crew that could appear in the reflection. Sometimes this (already classic) technique involves taking pictures of the real set, and using them to "cover" what should not be in the image.

And a more interesting technique is to use another cameras to capture "what should be seen in the reflection". This means that the main camera keep the story going, but another cameras placed in strategic points register what might be seen in reflective surfaces. Example of this could be seen in Divergent (2014) and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Divergent example:

Snow White and the Huntsman example:

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