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While I was recently watching some of the battle scenes in Outlaw King (2018) I found myself wondering how they avoided getting blood all over the camera. The battles are particularly bloody in that film and there are other movies with especially bloody scenes like this.

What methods are used to keep getting the camera lens covered in the blood that is spraying and covering everything else in the scene?

  • I'm pretty sure there's a dupe around about camera protection in wet or messy scenes. – Paulie_D Nov 12 '18 at 19:36
  • I couldn't find anything but by all means if there is one, link it and I'll delete this. – sanpaco Nov 12 '18 at 19:41
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    Can't find anything. That said, two things come to mind. Lenses means that the camera can be a lot further away from the action than you might think and secondly, there's probably a great deal of CGI blood being spattered about. Finally, if it does get on the lens that that can add the action or just be wiped off and the scene reshot. – Paulie_D Nov 12 '18 at 20:19
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There are a few things that a cinematographer can do to protect the lens from get splattered. The first is to use a lens hood, or other type of baffle that sits just outside the field of view of the lens and keeps not only water/blood/food/special effects, but also lights, the sun, etc. from hitting the lens, too. This protects against lens flares as well as splatter from nearby objects. It can either be something that is directly attached to a lens, or it can be something put up near the camera.

The other technique they can use is to use a longer lens. Shorter lenses have a wider field of view, while longer lenses have a narrower field of view. But they can both get the same objects in a picture if you move the camera with the longer lens farther away. This has the added advantage of putting the lens far away from the splattering item.

For example, here's what a lens with a 45° field of view overlaid with a lens with a 30° field of view looks like when they focus on the same thing. You can see that the lens with the smaller field of view has to be further back to capture the same area:

2 cameras in a 3D modeling app, one with 45° field of view and one with a 30° field of view capturing the same area.

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As mentioned the camera may be somewhat further away than it appears indeed for close-in battle scenes a long lens may be an advantage to keep the camera physically out of the way and to reduce the depth of field (ie a more blurred background) to focus attention on the immediate action and reduce the need to have a lot happening in the background.

Also blood effects are likely to be a mixture of physical effects and CGI. Typically fake blood will be used where you have in it contact with surfaces eg around wounds and digital blood in post production used for big splatter effects as this ends up being easier to control and fine tune and makes it easier to do multiple takes.

Battle scenes are highly choreographed and tightly cut so it is easier than it looks to control where the blood goes and to keep it away from cameras. Equally multiple takes are part of filmaking so if you get blood on a camera and it is a problem you just wipe it off and go again.

In fact in some cases, especially with handheld and steady-cam shots which actually are pretty close into the action the director may embrace a certain amount of blood and mud spatter on the lens as a way of adding to the immediacy.

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Uh, they wipe it off.

Sometimes, the camera is behind protective glass, though that often makes the image problem worse, but better to damage a sheet of glass than an ultra-expensive lens or the even more expensive camera behind it.

More often, well, shit happens. In Children of Men, during one of the famous long-takes blood spatters on the lens at 3:17 and stays there until it was digitally removed in post at 4:30.

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