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Capturing Flying Pancakes

Lesson 13 from: Capturing Food in Motion

Steve Hansen

Capturing Flying Pancakes

Lesson 13 from: Capturing Food in Motion

Steve Hansen

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Lesson Info

13. Capturing Flying Pancakes

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of this lesson is capturing flying pancakes in motion.


  1. How can you prevent an egg from oxidizing or overcooking while shooting?

    Submerge the whole egg in room temperature canola oil.

  2. What is the first step in setting up the camera for shooting?

    Zero out the camera and shoot a white balance correction.

  3. How can you remove a shadow in the scene caused by color cards?

    Adjust the position of the color cards to eliminate the shadow.

  4. What is the recommended composition for capturing flying pancakes?

    Crop the image to give room vertically for the pancakes to move, but keep the lower crop line where the crash will happen.

  5. What technique can be used to overlay a drawing of the pancakes in post-production?

    Save the drawing as a PNG file with transparency, then bring it into Photoshop or Capture One to overlay on the image.

  6. How can you ensure that the pancakes stay in place without using complex rigging?

    Drop the pancakes onto the set and take an image at the moment of impact using a flash to freeze the motion.

  7. How can you keep track of multiple items in a complex scene?

    Take multiple shots of each item and flip back and forth between them during post-production.

  8. What type of wire is recommended for creating armatures?

    Use armature wire, which is thick and bends easily.

  9. What is the purpose of using an armature wire for the pancakes?

    The wire helps prevent the pancakes from sliding and provides support for tilting them.

  10. What can be done to make the pancake look like it was done in one shot?

    Use an armature wire to hold the pancake and clone out the wire in post-production.

  11. How can you direct the placement of the pancakes during the shoot?

    Use camera left and camera right directions to guide the placement of the pancakes.

  12. How can you capture the timing of a pancake landing on the ground?

    Take a test shot of the pancake landing on the ground to get the timing right before attempting to capture the plate crash.

Lesson Info

Capturing Flying Pancakes

So we don't want to be cooking while we're shooting, that's a bit no no, we want everything ready to go, everything stabilized, everything, so if you need a whole egg during that time, submerge it completely in room temperature canola oil, and it won't oxidize, it won't overcook and it won't shrink or shrivel. It'll stay for hours. So do we have a white balance correction? First things first, let's make sure, let's zero out our camera. We are at 250 f15, obviously we've been shooting that all day. And we're gonna shoot a white balance again. And this will give us a good, so I'm gonna take a good look at the scene. I want to know what issues we might be having. And I already see one, but that might be the, where did that shadow come from? What, the side? The one that goes, the shadow that goes down the board, that one there, that's not there before. It could, it's there a little bit, in the previous one. And it was being hidden by the white balance. But it could also be coming fro...

m the color cards. If you wanna pull it out now. I think the color card might actually be going cross ways and creating that. Yeah it is. Alright we're good, try it again and see what we get. Yeah, it does quite a bit. I don't mind if there's a little bit of a shadow going into it. So, in post version, this is already loose, I'm gonna crop in, this is already, we need to give ourselves room to work. However the lower crop is right on the money where the crash is going to happen. I did that on purpose, I just want that to be an anchor point, and then give us some room vertically to work. So let's start with the pancakes. We'll start with that, and I'll kind of show you how I do it at home. You don't have to have this really complex radio. I'm gonna select three pancakes that are really round. And thank you Malina for selecting these. That one broke. Oh you have it down, that's fine. Just a little bit less heat, yeah, you don't want it bubbling. That looks pretty good. We want three pancakes that are fairly similar in color. And just sort of crumb free. I'm not being too particular about this, I use cloning tool a lot in photo shop, so if there's a little chunk I'm not too concerned about that. But you should always be working as if you don't have that option. So let's take a look, now what you can do, is I think you can actually, if you really want to get into it, you can create a PMG you can bring this image into Photoshop the doodle that you have, and if it's black and white like this, I think you can bring it into Photoshop, just drop the white background and have it black, you can actually change the black to a different color maybe. Or if you draw in the similar color, you can have this as an overlay is what I'm saying as a PMG file. So if you save it as a PMG, with transparency. And you bring it into Photoshop, and just drop out the white background in your sketch. You can overlay it in capture one, and I believe maybe even white room now. Copy that file on this machine? I don't think we do, no. And I'm not worried about it, but you can also, so that is an option, if you really want to get specific, but we're not, and neither should you at home, get so caught up in the little detail minutia, like you have to on a real set. But that is an option, so we've never done that, we've always either, the layouts we get, are the layouts for packaging or editorial you'll get a layout, but it's mostly copy. But it's kind of a fun thing, if you really want to be exacting with how I'm fine if that pancake's a little lower, I'm fine with that. And the pancakes are easy to cut out and move up a little bit, it's not the end of the world. So we're not gonna get that detailed. I wanna make sure you know that's at least an option. So let's do, let's do the pancakes, I'll show them how I do that, and then I don't even know. There's different ways to do it. You can actually just drop it. I can drop it on a, I've got the three on set. So we're gonna do the lowest pancake first, where is that gonna be? That's gonna be right near the crash. Now you can get an arm, you can do this whole rig and you can have something that just has it sit like that, and you can spray it with an adhesive to make it so it doesn't slide. But it's also easy, especially for beginner or at home, to not obsess about all those rig details, and get crazy and spend all the money on the arms. With a flash, you can actually just, and it's the same technique I'm gonna use for the egg, is just to figure out where you're gonna have it, and then just drop it. And just take an image right when you drop it. Alright let's get this off the set, so we have clean set. And so that's gonna be on the middle. And really close to the bottom, so let's take until. When I say go, you just press the trigger, right. One, two, three, go. Too low. Alright so we're aiming down on it. One, two, three go. Still low, so we're dealing with perspective issues we need to go a little bit higher, that's good, we want that. Actually, one, two, three, go. This might work. That's a little bit high. See what I'm gonna do, I'm having. The top pancake. That's one bit, I don't want to move it though. Even though I can get away with it because we're going vertical. Yeah. Let's do this, you know what's really easy, I've held this before with my fingers, when I get really lazy, I hold it with my fingers and just clone it out in Photoshop. We do not want to do that, it's bad form. You can if you want. But I'm actually going to create a little special to hold this, I don't know if this is going to work very well we'll see. Alright so you don't want this facing, I'm gonna go behind the set here. And I don't want the wire facing the camera because that's just gonna be. So you're gonna look through the view finder and kind of see, and let me know when I'm matched up with the image that you see on the screen there. And just guide me. Yep. Down further. Down a little bit further I think. Move it. Tilt? A tiny bit to camera left. Kay and now tilt it down on camera left, that was forward, yep a little bit further down away from you. Yeah, that's pretty close, let's take a look. I like that, that's gonna be right in the crash scene too let's put a plate on the table, because the perspective's a little funny. And I wanna make sure that we're not shooting, because the plate's gonna be right here. When it crashes so take that shot. And then we'll see how it compares. So let's go back and forth between those two. And you'll see, the pancake will be elevated over the, I like that. You guys like that? Do I have your approval to print, are we good, okay. Well you saw how easy that was with the armature wire you just grab onto the loop, and you create a little thing, and then I'll I'm going to have to do in Photoshop is blank out that wire, and that's easy. You don't want your whole hand sticking in there. I've done it, it's not good. But anything heavier than that, it's gonna bend off, it's not gonna be good. So I really recommend, you can make you're own tools where you have really thick, robust armature wire going into a wood handle, you can drill and stick it in there. And then make almost like a spatula, but where the handle is really thin. So when you have it there. If I were to use a regular spatula I'd be cloning out an entire backing of a spatula. Whereas if you had just one wire going it, it's where it attaches, where the support meets the product, is where you have to really be careful because you don't want to be cloning out a whole lot of stuff. I really want to keep it simple in post production. I like, how's the sharpness. You can never check sharpness enough. We have a sharp pancake, and I didn't exactly fling that. We're gonna throw one too. So let's do the second pancake I'm happy with that. It's okay to just be happy with that. You don't have to say, now we need 20 more frames just in case, it's okay to say, we got it. Let's do the second one, so I know where that goes. And don't use the same pancake, I'll look like you cloned it Alright, second one. Yeah just a lower heat on the oil, it's almost nothing, it's almost like poaching them long term. Okay. Just one second. Alright the next on I see is going to be tilted so I'm going to stick the armature wire into the pancake to prevent it from slipping. That only goes so far, it will eventually break off that. But if I'm gonna tilt it, and it's okay if it pokes through like it is, that's easy to clone out. I'm much more worried about it not falling off. What I don't want is to see any wire, so you'll have to guide me on that Jack. Yeah. Are you seeing it? I can definitely see the bottom edge of the wire. It wouldn't be hard to clone out, but. No you don't want to, I'll just tighten this up so it's smaller. Let's do that. There you go. Okay so, move it camera right. And up a little bit. That's pretty close. Let's go a little higher, I want to extend this into the frame more. Okay. At least have one where it is a little higher, I want to build this vertically. So bring it up a little higher then. Okay that's good. Let's get a closer look at it. This will get progressively more exciting as we move along. This can be, this isn't all about throwing stuff. It's about going through the steps to get there. So we're going to end with a big bang, but it's gonna take a little bit to get there. I like that lighting, do you guys like that lighting? It's kind of breaking but still soft. You're seeing some of the texture of the pancake. It looks like morning light which is nice. So the texture is not lost, it could be more raking, but when you have massive strip lights, you're not gonna have that as much. And I don't mind that, I want this to be a little bit softer, so the depth of field is deep. I want to soft light this, because it needs to look like breakfast. Good, I approve that. I'm Steve Hansen, and I approve this pancake. When you have a lot more items in the scene how do you keep track of them all, so do you do a quick mock up as you're going along. Or just flip back and forth between the different photos. What we'll do, is when it's really complex like when I did the tropical fruit splash image. There was, to be honest in that one I did cut out a lot. And I did flip a lot, but I only cut out and kind of moved it in it's quadrant. I wouldn't put stuff that was originally shot and ended up in the upper right hand of the frame, I wouldn't move it to the middle. I could flip it and move it to the left as we discussed before. But you're keeping track of a lot of pieces. This one is actually harder than that. Because there I could say, I'm committing to the fact that this is all going to be clipped out, we're just doing it that way. It's going to look very bold, and everyone's gonna know it was Photoshopped, it looks cool though. This is going to be, I want this to look like it was done in one shot, very much so. So when I have syrup blocking the light of the pancake, if that ends up being where the syrup ends up and I want it to be. 'cause I want to have control of the syrup. I need to put a shadow on the side of the pancake if it's close by, that wasn't there before, you can't miss stuff like that. So we're going to go take a look at that and maybe dodge it down a little bit, so that shadow does appear. Steve, can you just kindly remind us, or tell us again what the name of that type of wire is. Armature wire. How do you spell that? A R M A T U R E, is that right? Like amateur? Did I do it? Armature has an extra R. Amateur with an extra R. Armature, A R M A T U R E. We'll find it, thank you. Can you use that in a sentence please? A R, this is handy, it's extremely handy there's different kinds. You want the kind when it bends it does that. I have some that's really thin and it just kind of springs back a little bit. You need full on, heavy duty armature. For people that want to have shoes. They use these, but it's four times as thick as this. It's really thick, but it bends in the same way. It's really nice to have, and I should get more of the thicker stuff, because when you have a heavier product, even like pancakes, it's actually just as easy to cut out, but it will support different weights. So get these in different thicknesses. But I got this at a craft store. You can get them at Michael's or some of the other craft store, just ask for armature wire. When I do stop motion, you can actually create clay this is the internal body of a clay figure for stop motion. So you actually twist the head, and you twist the legs, that way when it bends it stays, it has a skeleton to it. So yeah, that's how we go about this. Any more weight and it just wouldn't work. So we're lucky on this. Let's do, third pancake. Oh I need a, so that was number one, this was number two, this is number three. Guide me, guide me. Is this tilted a lot, it is right? Yeah, it's tilted like this. The other way, okay. Yowser. Oh you have a winner there Malina, that looks good, that is awesome. That's our hero. Malina's got our hero egg. I gotta show it off to everybody. So we're up higher like this? Yeah that, just a hair higher than that. And over, camera left just a tiny bit. Bit further back down. Little bit further, little bit further. Yeah, that's pretty good, and now tilt it, towards the camera left edge is further down. Yeah. That's a little too high, let's do that again. See you should always stay in place, until you get the final call from your digi tech. Now I gotta go back and figure it out. So camera left, down even farther. That's pretty close, let's take two or three, now tilt, so the camera left edge moves down further. And move the whole thing camera left a little bit. Yeah, I think one of those, still a little high, so move down a little more. Little bit more, and move a little camera left. That should do it. Yeah. So you know what we mean when we say camera left right? Okay that's a basic one, but it's a good way to give direction that's meaningful, so you're not questioning which camera, which left. That is very important. So should we take one where we throw a pancake, at least get some tossing in here. Alright Jack in preparation for the plate crash, I wanna test, well you're going to be throwing so you throw and I'll grab it. I wanna capture this pancake, we're gonna get ready so we don't waste time on breaking plates. We're not even to that point yet, but we're gonna hurry through this. I want to capture one image where the pancake lands right on the ground so I at least have the timing right. So we only have so many plates, but we can go through all of them, it's no problem. Okay, just drop it. See too late, actually that would have been perfect for the plate though. Actually throw it down with some force. That's good. Okay one more. Way late, that's alright, we're ready. It bounced, you got that one on the bounce. I know, that's what I want, right after the collision. So let's go ahead and do the egg now so we have it. And Malina do you have a few pats of butter, yeah you do have a few pats of butter. Can you blow torch them so the edges go a little soft? Let me get this guy out. Okay, okay.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Food In Motion Lighting Setups

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Capturing Food In Motion Gear List

Ratings and Reviews


This course is so fun to watch! I love how hands-on this course is even while watching it 3000 miles away on the other side of the country. I love how Steve Hansen is like a mad scientist just throwing food everywhere just to capture the "right moment". It's great to watch a professional at work especially the behind-the-scenes that we normally won't ever know just by look at the final product. It's amazing how much work goes into this and actually gets me excited to try my hands on capturing food in motion as well - first need to find a place that allows me to get it messy :D I do prefer this type of course set up than the lecture-style some of the other courses are.

Christy cwood56

This course will NOT disappoint! So much quality info that can really help a photographer move to the next level. To see the actual shoots with food flying everywhere and how to capture all of it and turn it into an incredibly stunning image is worth every penny of the price tag. To spend an afternoon with Steve on a one to one basis would cost more than most of us could afford but that is exactly what this class offers! We see into the mind of an incredible artist and his creative process. This class has been invaluable to my personal education as a photographer. There is so much here and I will continually come back to it again and again to learn and refine my techniques and images. You opened up a world of possibilities to me with this class! Thanks Steve!!!

a Creativelive Student

I attended this class in person and I found it to be wonderful. Steve is awesome at what he does and he is great at explaining what he is doing and why he is doing it. This course will lay out all the steps needed to help you create awesome splash and crash photography. I highly recommend it.

Student Work