Monday, May 08, 2006

Shoot a syringe in close-up

[People find this weblog for strangest of reasons. For the record / geeks is what I learnt trying to get a decent close-up of a syringe]
1) For that 'technological' look use a glass syringe not a plastic one. In extreme close-up the plastic looks rough scratched and greasy even if its brand new. See how the one I used looks crude and cheap? :-( Also you can't really use plastic ones twice as you can never really clean them up to new again.

2) Never work with used syringes. I did and I stabbed myself with one (despite being super careful). Mine came from the friend of mine who was in hospital. By now any kind of a virus should be dead (HIV for example cannot survive once its carrier fluid is dry) but even as a budget-less filmmaker its still dumb to work with used syringes.

3) Don't use milk or cream if you want to make a 'mysterious cream fluid' (or a semen look-alike). Working near lights the milk will soon curdle and become unreliable. Use concentrated lemon squash or diluted tinned chicken soup. Thick fluids will clog the syringe. Flour grains will only visible in clear fluids - remember the view from inside the syringe in Trainspotting? Soluble tablets might work but I would never waste one of my precious Solpadeines unless it was absolutely unavoidable. Filming blood is whole other topic which I won't go into here because getting movie blood to look almost unquestionably real is very difficult.

4) Take gravity into account. Its easiest to dip your syringe into fluid vertically. My syringe was mounted vertically but was filmed to look horizontal. As the syringe fills with fluid air bubbles can be seen moving downwards. A 'Revealing mistake' for the 'Goofs' section on IMDB perhaps...

5) Choose the aesthetics of your syringe wisely to start with. The plastic used to manufacture the syringe I was using did not accept paint. I tried everything but the best I could manage was a thin coating of silver enamel (to turn the plunger from distracting orange into metallic grey). But repeated plunging take after take caused the enamel to be slowly scraped off, revealing the orange underneath.

So now you know.


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