Special Effects – The Giant

We all need more giants in our lives. They’re big. They eat oak trees like broccoli. And they can teach us valuable lessons about perspective, distance, gentleness, and sharing.

That being said, if we’re going to bring a giant into our Video Story, we need to establish some rules. Directors tell your giant they need nice feet, nice hands, and eyes on the mark. They will also need a spotter to assist and insure safety.

How to Grow a Giant

Giants are a trick of perspective and distance. For the sake of discussion we’ll use J for Jack, G for Giant, S for Spotter, and C for Camera.

Jack stands furthest from the Camera. The Giant stands in the middle, but here’s the special effect – our giant stands on a bench, step, or low platform. The spotter positions themselves behind the giant and out of the view of the camera. The Camera then aligns its view to include both the Giant and Jack.

Being a Giant

Giants need a little help to really be convincing. One trick is to disguise the platform, blending it with the horizon where Jack is standing. Use sand, grass clippings, or a carpet sample. Or you can simply carefully align the camera to include the giant’s feet but nothing below the feet. The idea is you don’t want to reveal the platform.

Line of sight is important with Giants, too. Let the Camera person direct the placement of an action figure on the platform to the angle at which Jack is positioned. Then mark that spot with tape. Make adjustments from the viewfinder until—as the Giant is looking at that tape—it appears he or she or (in the case of giant lizards) it is staring our Jack in the eye.

Being Small

Jack may need a little help learning this trick of perspective, too. The critical thing is for Jack not to look at the platform. To pretend that the platform doesn’t exist. Rather, he or she needs to imagine that perpendicular to the line of the camera there is a gigantic thing hunkering toward them. It may help to point out a tree or light poll and use that as a mark.

Jack will also need to shout both because giants are legendarily hard of hearing and because he or she is furthest from the camera and mic.

Lessons

Giants are a fun and magical story element that can teach students about an array of virtues including: playing nice, respecting differences, and celebrating diversity.

Giants also give students a hands-on lesson in geometry, perspective, folklore, and engineering. Do you have students with fantastic imaginations who need lessons in angles, distance, or measurement? How could a Giant help carry the load?

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