Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I want to take a self-portrait every day over a period of a month. I want to turn these photos into an animation, so it is important that the face is in the exact same position on each shot (the background may vary). Ideally I would like to use the built in webcam on my Mac for this (quality is sufficient).

Are there any tips, techniques or props to make this easy ?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I have seen complex setups involving rings around your body/head to make sure you are positioned perfectly in the frame. You could also do something simple like mark the position of your webcam(monitor) with tape and mark the position of your chair, then simply sit up straight.

Personally my favorite option is simply to use a ruler or similar measuring device, and position your eyes so that they are directly aligned at that distance. Pretty simple procedure, and you will be close enough to see the daily-self-portrait progression

All of this may be unnecessary though, you can use software to remove any of the jittery frames and balance out the slight imperfections if you wish.

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2  
I love the simplicity of this - reminds me of the great scene in The Dam Busters when the guy realises at the theater that he can use two spotlights to measure the altitude accurately. What I will do is use a rectangular bit of card that hangs on top left corner of monitor, and align my eyeball with the bottom right corner of this card. –  Kevin Oct 17 '11 at 22:34

Keep roughly the same distance from the camera and do the rest post.

Shift and the faces to align and use zoom if necessary then crop the background slightly.

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There is some software available for the iPhone called "Watch Me Change" which is intended to make this easy by superimposing the new image over a translucent "ghost" of the previous image.

I've not been able to find anything similar for a Mac, unfortunately.

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This is a guess...

Fix camera mount above mirror. Leave camera on mount for duration if possible.

Place chair in front of mirror. Mark position of two of the legs on the floor (e.g. using tape).

Mark positions of eyes, chin, etc. on mirror using tape/lipstick/whatever.

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This is just an IDEA, not a tested procedure, but I think it should work:

You need to find the way of repositioning YOR EYES in the same position relative to the camera, so your face will occupy the exactly same spot in the composition, even if the rest of your body, location or background changes. To do this, you need to use 2 position markers that you can easily put in the same position relative to the camera, and then you simply use your eyes to align yourself with the markers. Voila!

Let me attempt to make my idea to be more clear: using scrap cardboard (or similar material) and the hot shoe accessory holder of your camera. The idea is to craft two cards held parallel to each other and attached tho the cameras hotshoe. The cards should be one in front of another from YOUR point of view WHEN you are ready to take the shot. Then you should make a small hole in the card in front an a clear marking in the card on the back (like a haircross or something) Naturally you should see the marking in the second card through the hole in the first one.

As long as your "alignment device" does not get deformed between uses, you can remove it from the camera so you can use it normally for other shots. Every time you need another pic for the project, simply install the cards on the camera and position yourself where you can see the marking through the hole.

You should remember that only one of your eyes should see the marking, so, you must use the same eye to align yourself for ALL the shots. However, if you want to use both eyes, you can either make two markings and one hole, or two holes and one marking (This can be a little complicated and get some trial and error process, or a few math tricks). Using both eyes to align yourself with the camera can get a bit tricky also, because if you align perfectly, you'll see only one marking and one hole... ;)

Using both eyes will also help you with the tilt angle for your face and, depending on the precision or your markings, the distance to camera. But the distance to camera es much simpler to measure with a long ruler or a stick, or a telescopic antenna from an old radio, etc...

I really hope my idea is clear enough to work with. I might elaborate one to be able to show it. I think of a lot of different ways of implementing the concept and or upgrading this one.

Enojy! ['O]

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