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I read in a recent article on moviefone that there is a common technique of shooting scenes inverted (left is right and vice versa).

Apparently this was used in Star Wars to shoot a scene including Darth Vader, which causes his breast plate to be reversed.

Unfortunately I read the article on my phone and I seem to be incapable of finding it again. (If I do, I will link it here.) It didn't say anything about the purpose of this technique though.

Question:

  • Is there really such a "trick" that is commonly used to shoot scenes with everything the wrong way around and then mirror the image horizontally?
  • If there is, what is the purpose of this technique? I really can't think of any advantage, only of problems. (In contrast to say, shooting scenes backwards for special effects.)

UPDATE:

I finally found the link again!: Sci Fi Movie Mistakes

enter image description here

Star Wars (1977)
We guess Darth Vader's uniform is always messed up. When Vader (David Prowse) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) are fighting in the original 1977 "Star Wars," Vader's chest plate and belt buckle are on backwards. However, that was due to the entire shot being reversed -- a technique often used in movies -- as the light grates and walls in the background are also switched around.

Maybe the exact quote will help identifying this alleged technique and it's purpose.

  • I'm wondering if it is so much filming it backward vs. flipping it after filming has taken place. I've also seen a lot of shots where they will reverse the filming sequence, such as film a scene from close up and draw back and then during the post filming production reverse it. This makes fire look oddly strange and flags to fly in reverse. Unless you are really looking for it (or are anal like me) you'll not really notice it, but the mind says there isn't something quite right there. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 1 '14 at 11:54
  • After a long search, I finally found the link again and added it above. – magnattic Jan 27 '15 at 11:43
  • Seems less of a 'shooting technique' and more of an 'editing hack'. – DA. Jan 27 '15 at 19:53
  • Incidentally, the entire embarking scene in Titanic was shot in reverse: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic_(1997_film)#Production – Michael Itzoe Jan 27 '15 at 22:49
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This is something usually done in post production, usually because something is wrong with the shot that wasn't noticed/couldn't be remedied on location.

Often this can be lighting, with a particular persistence of direction needing to be maintained, and can sometimes be in order to crop out a blemish without sacrificing the framing of the shot.

The most common reason is maintaining the 180 Degree rule, which dictates that in order to spatially orient your audience you should never move the camera more than 180 degrees from your line of action.

enter image description here

When breaking the 180 rule is necessary (sometimes walls and other non movable set pieces can cause obstructions or movement impediments, an easy solution is to shoot from the other side and reverse the shot.

As you yourself have noticed, this is largely undesirable as unless everything in the scene is symmetrical, it creates a noticeable mirror effect.

There are no 'advantages' to doing this, it's typically just a way to rectify an error without having to re-shoot.

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Perhaps it also allows the same set to be used multiple times whilst giving the impression of it being a different location. I could imagine the Star Wars scene you mention lending itself to this quite well - grey corridors with occasional lights. When shot from approximately the same angle but with one scene reversed in post production it may give the illusion of being a different part of the same facility. This is not founded in any genuine knowledge, its just an idea.

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