Creating A Location That Virtually Doesn’t Exist

One of the greatest assets of filmmaking as an art form is not only the ability to tell incredible stories by manipulating time and recreating different places and locations but also the chance to bring to life whole new worlds that just don’t exist apart from our imagination. The beauty of cinema is some kind of a magical exercise that creates a reality and draws your audience in. This is a place where they experience something emotionally, which gets them deeply immersed in your story far away from the daily routine. There are numerous ways to create virtual reality or replicate real places on-screen by building up scenes utilising various filmmaking techniques and composition elements that overall enhance the plot and serve your story in a way that hardly can be achieved otherwise.

Furthermore, creating artificial locations and recreating one place or another can eventually save you a ton of time and effort, and further expenses.

In the following video tutorial, Tom Antos reveals an excellent, yet simple technique on how to create a location that practically doesn’t exist without using any fancy or too expensive VFX tricks.

The above example showcases perfectly how you can shoot and put together a whole scene that virtually takes place in two entirely different locations. This is a commonly used trick when despite your scouting efforts you can’t find the perfect location for your production or may be the place is too expensive to hire, or you simply don’t have the permission to use a camera there, etc.

Whatever the reason may be, it’s always great to have a back-up plan. And there is no reason not to shoot a certain scene this way.

In the given situation Tom Antos had to combine two locations that were actually two hundred miles apart. The first part of the scene was shot in his friend’s backyard while the second one took place on a beautiful lake side in the wild. Yet, there are certain considerations that you should keep in mind whenever you are about to shoot a scene in separate locations.

First and foremost, you should definitely spend some time to develop a storyboard in advance thus keeping track of all the shots that you need to get in order to pull off the desired effect.


Another recommendation is to keep the settings of your camera as close as possible throughout the whole shooting, utilising the same lens and focal lengths included. Also, be careful with continuity mistakes, especially when you are working on the scene over an extensive period of time. You will want your actors to be dressed and look in the same way, so getting a couple of stills after you wrap up shooting on each of the locations will be quite beneficial later when you move on to the next location.

This is the final result that Tom Antos came with after editing and colour grading his short film “The Big Wild North.”

I’m curious to know what is your experience and personal recommendations on the topic. Feel free to share in the comments section below. Make sure that you also check out the other two filmmaking tutorials produced by Tom Antos related to the above short film by clicking on the following link.

[Source: Tom Antos Films]

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