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?


6 Answers 6


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 examples of this 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

  • 1
    I believe the mirror scene from "Brad Stoker's Dracula" by Coppola used a body double as well. Commented May 4, 2012 at 17:47
  • 5
    The basic method used in terminator needs a lot of aptitude in mimicry indeed!
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Dec 31, 2012 at 6:34
  • 1
    No mention of tilt shift lenses? Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 16:07
  • 2
    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
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 11:05
  • 2
    @Flimzy That link is not working for me.
    – kasperd
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 14:35

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


One simple way is to use 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, Premiere or similar software.


There's a great demo video on that. Thanks Rob for the comment

Read more:

But for complex scenes people will have to use CGI anyway

  • 1
    Excellent explanation. loved it ! Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 15:06
  • 1
    This is a great answer, here is another video example clearly demonstrating this technique.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 12:04

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: http://www.fxguide.com/featured/divergent-making-the-mirror-room/

Snow White and the Huntsman example:


This is a very old question, and there are some good answers. I just wanted to add another excellent example from the movie White Nights (1985), starring Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov. In the scene where Gregory tap dances in a studio, the camera pans with him as he runs in front of a wall of mirrors. You can see it at 2:11 in the YouTube video below.

I had to watch the movie twice in a theater to figure out how they did that! If you look closely, you'll notice that Gregory's reflection disappears briefly. That's because the two mirrors that should be reflecting the camera are actually angled slightly away. Specifically, the mirror to the right of the camera is angled to the right, and the mirror to the left of the camera is angled to the left. Neither of them reflect the camera. You can see this when Gregory runs past; his reflection disappears for a few frames.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

The third picture above doesn't show his reflection (and not just because he's blocking it).

  • 1
    Nice use of still from Youtube Video ! Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 15:06
  • 1
    Thank you! I moved one frame at a time through the video by pressing "," and "." on my keyboard. Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 22:01

There are many ways to do it, depending on the scene. A common way to do it is with post processing, by covering the camera with an image of the same static background before placing the camera.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .