How to determine how big to make your stage for a project?

Right now I have the average sized stage for a DIY/amature budget. Probably about the size of this or maybe a little bigger https://lyndarollins.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/stop-motion-stage-on-...

But for one scene in my short film, there is a wide shot where the characters enter a large ball room. The shot I have in mind encompasses the ceiling and all. Something like this but not as elaborate lol

I wanted to create the ballroom because I love set design and wanted to challenge myself. But I'm not sure how to scale my set. My smallest puppet ( a child) is 6 inches, and the largest (adult) is 10 inches. How large would the room/stage need to be in order to fit this? I have space to make a larger stage, I'm just not sure how big I would need it.

One option if it's TOO big is to place my characters in front of a green screen, scale them down using software, and then create a smaller sized ballroom that doesn't need to take up a lot of space. This way it will look normal and scaled to size when they're both combined... if that makes sense. 

However there is another big room that they are in where they actually interact with things in the room so I would rather, in this scenario, actually have the set built up as opposed to green screening the characters separately. 

Either way I don't want the ballroom itself to be completely green screen. I have a bit of an aversion to virtual sets. lol

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Depending on how involved you want to get, you could *possibly* make a forced perspective set. That pretty much locks you into one plane of motion and one camera position.

Perhaps you could use some elements close to the same scale, such as the pillars and curtains in the picture,, and make the windows in forced perspective or green screen. If you have several chandeliers, the closest one could be in the real set, and others stretching away done as virtual ones duplicated from your first.

Forced perspective was also a thought. But there's also a shot of them walking to the other end of the room (the room doesn't actually look like a ballroom like this). There's another door and the intention would be to see them go through it. 

If you were to assume the largest adult at 10" would be 6 feet tall in real life then you can divide all other dimensions by 7.2 (6 feet in real life is 72" thus 72" divided by 10" = 7.2). So if your ceilings are nine feet  (108") high in real life then it would translate to 15" (108" divided by 7.2) in your model.

If you don't want to make the whole ballroom, is it possible to use the editing to restrict the size of your set? What I mean is: Shot 1 - characters dancing in the middle, set behind with door (forced perspective). Shot 2 - reverse using the same set but with some elements changed and the direction of light on the opposite side. Characters come towards the camera as they make to exit. Shot 3 - over shoulder shot of characters approaching full-size door and exiting.

Even if you have to make it all full-size, you should be able to swap walls around for a reverse shot to give a sense of wide space.

Thanks Darius that's exactly what I needed to figure out. And I really like the idea of swapping walls to change perspective. I think it will be some combination of everything suggested here. Thanks!

  My bigger sets were usually built on a tabletop made of an 8' x 4' sheet of particle board.  A couple of objects in the foreground (like a tree or column or two) could give the impression there was more closer up where the ground is out of shot.  They could also cover where the edge of the set was.  But usually there was no floor there, so I could get in to reach the puppet. 

Another option is to extend the set in post, in the areas where the puppet is not going to walk.  I've added ground and sky to make a much wider shot than the set I built.  You could photograph the same section of wall in different positions, then have it behind the puppet when you actually animate.  (For that ballroom, you could build one side, and use it for both sides like Simon said, and composite it together so they are both there in the one wide shot.)  In a layered program like Photoshop, you can add the images where the wall was off to the side, and it should match in lighting and perspective because you shot it from the same camera position.  Blend the edges, and erase the parts of the frame you don't want, then flatten the image.  You still need a table to support it and to see the ballroom floor, but you can place the table on the left with the wall on it and shoot that, then the same table on the right and shoot it there.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcyunk_gezc   In this clip, at 0:15, the column in the right foreground was not actually there while I animated, it is one of the two columns supporting the arch, so I shot it beforehand in that position with the same lighting and camera setup.  Even i I had a 3rd column, it would have got in the way of animating. It was supported on a tripod I think, the set did not extend that far forward.  I put it on a top layer in TV Paint Animation and erased everything but the column.  I think I also added some of the stalactites, because I bumped into them when I started to animate and had to take them away.  As long as the puppet or it's shadow, doesn't affect that part, you can add it in.

This cave set is about 5 ft wide.  The background painting is a bit wider, but not quite wide enough, so the column covers the right hand edge and lets me shoot a little wider.  For other projects, I've more than doubled the width of the set by adding bits at the sides in Photoshop or TV Paint.

Alright, this definitely helps me think about things some more. In terms of getting a shot from above (say from the chandelier looking down at the characters in the ballroom) would I need to make smaller scaled puppets and raise my tripod way up to dwarf everything? 

StopmoNick said:

  My bigger sets were usually built on a tabletop made of an 8' x 4' sheet of particle board.  A couple of objects in the foreground (like a tree or column or two) could give the impression there was more closer up where the ground is out of shot.  They could also cover where the edge of the set was.  But usually there was no floor there, so I could get in to reach the puppet. 

Another option is to extend the set in post, in the areas where the puppet is not going to walk.  I've added ground and sky to make a much wider shot than the set I built.  You could photograph the same section of wall in different positions, then have it behind the puppet when you actually animate.  (For that ballroom, you could build one side, and use it for both sides like Simon said, and composite it together so they are both there in the one wide shot.)  In a layered program like Photoshop, you can add the images where the wall was off to the side, and it should match in lighting and perspective because you shot it from the same camera position.  Blend the edges, and erase the parts of the frame you don't want, then flatten the image.  You still need a table to support it and to see the ballroom floor, but you can place the table on the left with the wall on it and shoot that, then the same table on the right and shoot it there.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcyunk_gezc   In this clip, at 0:15, the column in the right foreground was not actually there while I animated, it is one of the two columns supporting the arch, so I shot it beforehand in that position with the same lighting and camera setup.  Even i I had a 3rd column, it would have got in the way of animating. It was supported on a tripod I think, the set did not extend that far forward.  I put it on a top layer in TV Paint Animation and erased everything but the column.  I think I also added some of the stalactites, because I bumped into them when I started to animate and had to take them away.  As long as the puppet or it's shadow, doesn't affect that part, you can add it in.

This cave set is about 5 ft wide.  The background painting is a bit wider, but not quite wide enough, so the column covers the right hand edge and lets me shoot a little wider.  For other projects, I've more than doubled the width of the set by adding bits at the sides in Photoshop or TV Paint.

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