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Discussion Starter #1
I have a half-baked idea for a cool effect in which the underside surface of a tub of water is used as a mirror through which a hand could emerge, or a face, or whatever...

The setup is pretty complicated and would require a few other mirrors as well as some heavy-duty prop building.

Aside from a few concept tests I have not yet built such a thing but am curious to know whether anyone has seen or heard of this kind of effect.

Basically, the way it works is this: a plexiglas tub is set up with several other mirrors such that the underside surface of the water becomes reflective. This happens if the light strikes the underside surface at less than 45 degrees. The glass mirrors are set up such that the first one reflects the view upward to the second, which reflects the view to the water surface, which reflects the view to the third mirror. The third mirror is angled to reflect the view directly back along the same path.

The net effect is that the viewer would see a mirror surface a short distance away, but this surface would allow a hand to emerge from it as if it were passing in from within the mirror.

Comments?
 

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I sort of get what you are doing...
I see it in terms of what people are doing with floating heads... the whole plexiglass at 45 degrees reflecting a projection.

I think it could be done that way - it's just a matter of how clearly it can be projected.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sure.

Please excuse the crudeness of the drawing, but it shows the angles and basic concept well enough.



The viewer stands in front of a little portal and sees a mirror hung on a wall. In actuality, the mirror they are seeing is the surface of water with a frame around it, and a faux wall (probably some fabric stretched tight) with "candles" to the right and left. The image they are seeing is reflected off of two other mirrors in order to right the image such that they look straight ahead. The last mirror reflects the image back, such that they see themselves as a distant reflection - assuming the lighting is proper.

The trick is, when something such as a hand is passed through the surface of the water, it looks to the viewer as if it is coming right out of the mirror.

There is no projection, and it isn't a faint image. It's real, and it's coming right at you.

If I get the chance, I'll set up a crude version and post a video of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
No. I tried that first.

The angle on the water's surface needs to be 45 degrees or less; otherwise you see right through. It has to do with the index of refraction on the air/water boundary.

It's like when you stand near an aquarium; at a certain angle, an internal surface of the water will look like a mirror. Move to another angle, and suddenly the reflection is gone and you're seeing straight through.

I am going to make a miniature mock-up of this next weekend (or try to) and see if I can get a reasonable effect out of it.
 

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Looks like an interesting idea. The issues I see as possible hangups are...

1. The distance between the viewer and all of the reflecting surfaces will create sort of a tunnel-effect, where the reflection of person will appear rather far away, as if the mirror is really a distance away that is the sum of the paths from the viewer to the final mirror behind the water. It would be interesting if some optical tricks (lenses or curved mirrors) could be used to counteract this.

2. The water is being viewed at a sharp angle. Necessary for the reflectivity, of course, but it also means that whatever comes through it will appear to come out at an angle. Let's say you decide to have a face protrude.. to have it appear to be facing the viewer, it'll need to come down into the water at a 45 degree angle. The face will appear to be facing the viewer, but the water surface on it will clearly be at an angle.

3. Resetting for the next viewer is hard, in that the water will not be a still, perfect mirror. Everyone will see it wavy at first.

If you're OK with all of these, then it sounds like an interesting effect! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Necro -

Yeah, the angle and the water ripple effect will be hard to mitigate.

I'm thinking I might just nix the final mirror, so instead of seeing their own reflection as in a tunnel, instead they'll see the reflection of some other object. Then it won't look so strange to look at a mirror that's at an angle to your line of sight. I'm hoping I can come up with a set up that looks like you're peering into another room, with a mirror hanging on a wall that's at an angle to the view. I'm sure I'll be modifying my above drawing quite a bit.

As for the water ripple, I'm hoping that it can be reduced to a minimum with careful practice of inserting and removing whatever ghostly object is to be used.

The other thing I found out during my concept test is that October tap water is dang cold, and sticking your face in it over and over again is not something fun to do.
 

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I like this idea. Also, what's wrong with a wavy mirror? I've seen effects like that on movies, when the mirror looks like water as something is about to apprear in it. Another thing is that the whole apparatus would have to be rather large lest the viewer ends up looking at a very tiny mirror because of the added distance of reflections.
 
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