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Spotlight #14
Miniature History by Bartek Hlawka

In DitoGear™ Spotlight #14 we are sharing an interesting project, created in 4K resolution by Bartek Hlawka. ‘Miniature History’ contains a mixture of events that are largely memorable for humanity.
And what’s your latest project? Share your interesting stories in the next spotlight.

Bartek Hlawka is a graduate of the Academy of The Fine Arts in Poznań (Poland). He had started making short films in high school but became fully devoted to this subject after graduation.
Most of the projects emphasize his enthusiasm to motorization as well as fondness for vintage goodies.
‘Miniature History’ stands out from his previous works, nevertheless he couldn’t resist to revive some unforgettable moments captured in a park of scale models, known as Mikroskala.
Check out the earlier Spotlight #9 with Bartek Hlawka.

Natalia Brzakala: What were the main inspirations in creating ‘Miniature History’?


Bartek Hlawka: I always wanted to try making a short film with miniatures. I’m in love with movies from 80′s, back then most of special effects were made by a camera or by optical printers. Miniatures were essential in a lot of iconic films from history of cinema, so I thought it would be quite a challenge to make my own film with miniatures.


A few weeks ago, by accident I visited Mikroskala. It’s a great mini amusement park with dozen of miniatures. You can visit this place and immerse in a world of space exploration, star wars models, historical places and many more. When I saw the potential of this place, It was clear to me that – this is my next project.


NB: Do all the miniatures included in the project are from Mikroskala park?


BH: Yes indeed. The construction of the dioramas on Mikroskala exhibition took about three years to complete. This is a great piece of miniature art.


NB: Could you describe motives influencing the selection of places?


BH: The main idea was to shoot historical ‘places’, important for Polish, European and world history, but when I saw a miniature from Spielberg’s film ‘Close Encounters of Third Kind’ I couldn`t resist to film it too. Finally we have a mix of real events with one fictional place.



NB: Which diorama was the most demanding to shoot?


BH: I think that the spaceship model was the toughest part of work on set. All the miniatures were filmed in stop motion or timelapse mode, but in case of ‘Close Encounters of Third Kind’ we had to make an exception. The specific miniature had already installed the animation rig with LEDs and sound effects, so we had to film it as a video clip.


Surely it had a negative impact on the quality of the film, but we couldn’t do it any other way. We only had a little time to make a particular shot, it was last shooting day and last miniature, furthermore I wanted to replicate as many shots from Spielberg’s film as possible.


NB: Could you please let us know the time-consumption of this production?


BH: Before shooting I made a research – I wanted to have as many information as possible about weather conditions and light on those historical events. It took me a few days.


Mikroskala park is open for visitors all the time, so we had limited time for the project in every shooting day. It took us five days to finish work on set.


NB: How is this film different from other projects with miniatures?


BH: I think that the main difference is 4K resolution. I decided to shoot this project in photo mode to have a deep focus and complete control over the image because of RAW files and it also let me edit in 4K.


It is possible to download the ‘Miniature History’ in 4K resolution directly from DitoGear™ account on Vimeo.



NB: How long the postproduction lasted?


BH: Postproduction lasted for more than two weeks. It was my first project in 4K, also shooting in RAW photo mode gave me a lot of opportunities to change image in postproduction, but it was time consuming for me and computer. Sound design was a tricky part, It took a lot of time to find appropriate sounds to Normandy and Titanic scene.


NB: Did you apply any special shooting technique to make the piece more interesting?


BH: First we tried to use only a DitoGear™ MiniJib, but after a few test shots it became clear that we need a greater range of motion. The best solution was to try a traditional DIY dolly attached to the DitoGear™ OmniSlider. You can check this in the‘Making of’. For best ‘cinematic look’ we used a green screen and motion tracking to immerse miniatures into the ‘real’ world. Not always it worked out perfectly, but I wanted to make as little CGI as possible.



NB: How much time did you spend on CGI effects?


I tried to find the right proportions within established budget and the amount of work. What could be done on the set – I did it. Some scenes have very little CGI as Titanic, where I added just the smoke from the chimneys and the sky in the background. The scene with the amusement park have no CGI at all.


The most CGI effects are visible in Normandy scene – I wanted to add the effects of explosions and gunfire. Of course, it would be possible to do most of the work on the set but we didn’t have enough time due the opening hours of the Mikroskala park.



NB: What role played the DitoGear™ equipment in your production?


BH: It was absolutely essential to have a wide range of fully controllable and repeatable motion. DitoGear™ MiniJib attached to the OmniHead, connected to the wireless Evolution tablet application was a great experience to use. Without motion control rig it would be almost impossible to make such complicated and precise movements.


NB: Are there any things that you would do better today?


BH: I didn’t have resources and budget to make sound design at the highest level. It would be nice to have scientifically accurate sounds in Normandy and Titanic scene.


NB: Bartek, thank you for taking the time for us. I look forward to seeing your future projects!


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Follow Bartek Hlawka and the video:


Miniature History in 4K
Making of Miniature History
Mnono – Production & postproduction company

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