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Close-ups on Wide lenses


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#1 Dan McCormick

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 12:57 PM

Hey

I'm preparing to DP a short film (my first), which is basically one long track (we'll probably have people cover the frame to allow cuts, but it should look continuous).

One of my problems is we don't have a great deal of track and can't build a huge set (maybe 2 parallel 5-10 foot walls and a 10-15 foot back wall). The director wants the shot to start on a close up of the actress' face and track back as wide as possible. I'm shooting on 16mm (possibly super16 depending on the camera they give me), and don't have time to do any tests. Anybody have any ideas how wide a lens I can use before the shot becomes very unflattering to the actress or distorted around the edges?

Thanks

Dan McCormick
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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 02:15 PM

I would usually avoid doing close-ups of faces on anything less than 20-25mm, unless there was a specific reason for a wide angle look.

If you have a zoom lens and the budget can stretch to a microforce, why not hide a small zoom out in the dolly move?
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#3 Dan McCormick

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 05:14 PM

Hey

Thanks for the idea, but I'm not sure if we could pull off a zoom on the track smoothly enough for it not to be noticed (it's a really long shot so we only have the stock for 4 takes, unless we add some cut points). What's a microforce, I haven't heard of that before?

I'm pretty sure our zoom lens (it's pretty old) would cause an image shift on a focus pull, or would that be disguised by the frame-change during the track if the focus is kept on the womans face?

Thanks

Dan
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#4 Paul Bruening

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 12:40 AM

Hey Dan,

You can't have both with a prime lens. Close-up lenses are usually something close to twice the length of a "normal" lens. In 16mm a one inch or 25mm lens is more often considered "normal". Therefore, a 40mm-50mm will be a "portrait" or "facial close-up" lens. There's a reason for this: Longer lenses don't warp facial features as bad as shorter lenses. For example, if you use a one inch lens or shorter on a facial close-up, the subject's nose will project weirdly at the camera. The shorter a lens you use the more pronounced the effect will be. Did you ever put your nose up close to a Christmas tree ornament? You know, the chromey-globes? Remember how big your nose looked? If not, try the back of a spoon.

So, to get the close-up, you have to use a longer lens. But, to pull back and get a bigger scene, you'll have to dolly back a hell-of-alot with that longer lens. Typically, directors cheat and use a zoom lens to give them two lenses in one. Personally, I think zooms stink of cheap but directors still use them. In the seventies, they were all over major productions like... well... you get the idea.

Best of luck with your project,

Paul
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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 04:13 AM

Typically, directors cheat and use a zoom lens to give them two lenses in one. Personally, I think zooms stink of cheap but directors still use them. In the seventies, they were all over major productions like... well... you get the idea.

Best of luck with your project,

Paul

Hiding zooms in shots has become very popular over the last few years, especially in TV. I know quite a few steadicam operators who hide zooms in shots all the time. They're very effective and it's almost impossible to spot the zoom when it's done correctly and the camera is moving. I'm not the hugest fan of doing it (it's one more thing to worry about), but if that's what the director wants....
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#6 MattGrover

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 10:59 AM

Hiding zooms in shots has become very popular over the last few years, especially in TV. I know quite a few steadicam operators who hide zooms in shots all the time. They're very effective and it's almost impossible to spot the zoom when it's done correctly and the camera is moving. I'm not the hugest fan of doing it (it's one more thing to worry about), but if that's what the director wants....


What's the principal behind getting it right? Sounds like something handy to learn, also got any videos of it being used (albeit that you shouldn't notice it! :blink: )?

Cheers, Matt :)
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 11:25 AM

You just have to decide which is the lessor of two evils -- shooting a close-up on a wide-angle lens or hiding a zoom-out during the pullback. Just depends. If it's not much of a zoom-out and you can bury it over a couple of feet of dollying, I'd probably try that, assuming a good zoom with a good zoom motor and control.
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#8 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 02:06 PM

One word:
Steadycam
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 07:01 PM

One word:
Steadycam


A Steadicam doesn't give you any advantage over a dolly in this case, as Brad can attest. You're still dealing with the same issues of optics, you just a have more freedom of movement.

It's easier to hide the zoom when it's slower than the dolly movement. In other words, when the zoom causes a slower change in perspective than the dolly movement, if that makes sense. Keep the zoom as slow and steady as possible, and between the ends of the dolly movement. Lens breathing from focus pulling should be mostly masked by the dolly move anyway, if it's done smoothly.
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