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How to Create a Black Void Filled With Reflective Water, in Camera

The show Stranger Things created a stunning way of representing the inner mind of the character Eleven, showing her in an endless black void and standing upon a reflective layer of water. How is this achieved, and how do you avoid electrocuting your cast in the process?

A quick note: the video kicks off with an amusing short film — full of slightly British humor — that draws on footage from the movie Under the Skin which shows how the black void was used. Start with the comedy, stay for the behind-the-scenes. And a second note: this was filmed before social distancing was introduced in the U.K.

YouTube channel InCamera, as the name suggests, loves trying to produce DIY practical effects and decided to try and recreate the the distinctive look and feel of this black void filled with reflective water, ideally without spending thousands of dollars in the process. Unfortunately, you will need a large studio space to achieve the same effects, although you could in theory cheat the width of the frame with some digital trickery.

What’s nice is that the InCamera team got a fantastic compliment in the YouTube comments from William Davis, the Art Director on the first season of Stranger Things. “You guys nailed this,” he told them.

Will you be giving this a go? 

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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1 Comment

Looks pretty good!
Back when I was an assistant, car studios would do that trick every once in a while.
Maybe I missed it but did they explain how they got the water out of the studio when they were finished?
I could always tell who had done this before as they used multiple layers of plastic sheeting. A small leak can be a problem...