Shooting The Ocean on a Lake

IMAG0803As mentioned in my previous post, I cannot shoot The Ocean in an ocean. Surprise, surprise, I’ll have to resort to movie magic to place my characters at sea.

I prefer to shoot in a real setting, though, and with the closest and largest body of water to me being Lake Ontario at the foot of Toronto, this great lake will substitute for the Pacific.

As you’ll see from the diagram above, I intend to shoot in one direction — south, towards the middle of the lake, giving me about 180º of horizon. The raft will be afloat about 30 feet out and tethered to weights on the shore. Since the characters are sitting directly opposite one another, all of Bowman’s angles will shot in the morning for example, and Carter’s angles shot in the afternoon, to maintain a proper continuity of light direction.

Of course some things beyond my control will make their ways into the scene and ruin the illusion that WE are in the middle of the Pacific — such as birds, boats on the horizon, etc. If a large disruption enters the frame, we’ll stop shooting. If a small object passes in the background along the horizon, I’ll remove it in post.


The process involves exporting each affected frame of video as a JPG image, opening in Photoshop and removing the disruption one frame at a time using the Clone tool. While this is an arduous technique, the end result can be flawless.

On that note, I’ll share this crude example with you. Note the man standing in the water.

I exported all 136 frames of this short sequence and removed him by cloning his surroundings over top of him. In the edited portion you will see a slight visual distortion. This is caused by hastily completing this example. The solution would be to import all frames into one Photoshop file to ensure that all frame editing is consistent from one to the next. It took me 20 minutes to edit the 136 frames. I estimate it should take three to four times longer for a more polished look.

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