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how to film photographs, documents, etc. in close-up?


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#1 serge

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 04:06 PM

I'm sure the topic title is very vague. I'll try to explain: I've seen many film where the camera scans a document, or a painting, or a photograph, very closely. I suppose it's done with a macro lens, by getting very very close to the image, but that's not the issue. The issue is that the movement is very smooth -- the camera must be on a tripod -- but panning or tilting at such close range creates awful line distortion (I'm not sure I'm using the right term): in other words, lines don't look straight when one pans at close range, they tend to curve up, etc. In the films I'm thinking of (many many classic films, like Andrej Rublev) the movement is perfectly even, as though the camera is tracking. Are they really tracking with a dolly at such close range?

I know that one can just import an image into FCP or equivalent and generate movement, but it looks dreadfully mechanical (though maybe there's a way of making it look more natural?). and suppose you wanted to do it with a film camera?

It seems like a really simple problem, but I can't figure out how to slove it without building some kind of a moving platform on which to place the document?

thank you for reading my post...

Edited by serge, 12 January 2007 - 04:07 PM.

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#2 Matt Bizer

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 06:20 PM

I'm sure the topic title is very vague. I'll try to explain: I've seen many film where the camera scans a document, or a painting, or a photograph, very closely. I suppose it's done with a macro lens, by getting very very close to the image, but that's not the issue. The issue is that the movement is very smooth -- the camera must be on a tripod -- but panning or tilting at such close range creates awful line distortion (I'm not sure I'm using the right term): in other words, lines don't look straight when one pans at close range, they tend to curve up, etc. In the films I'm thinking of (many many classic films, like Andrej Rublev) the movement is perfectly even, as though the camera is tracking. Are they really tracking with a dolly at such close range?

I know that one can just import an image into FCP or equivalent and generate movement, but it looks dreadfully mechanical (though maybe there's a way of making it look more natural?). and suppose you wanted to do it with a film camera?

It seems like a really simple problem, but I can't figure out how to slove it without building some kind of a moving platform on which to place the document?

thank you for reading my post...


I have shot a few things with a Macro/ closeup lenses using both a steady cam and a small home-made dolly set up. It works for getting those close shots. I mounted a bogen hi hat and a small table top skateboard dolly before and it seemed to work. The camera used was a XL-H1 so it was pretty light weight and I weighted the dolly with some sandbags for a smoother pull. If I can dig up some video clips I will try and post em.

best luck
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 07:00 PM

Usually it's just very smooth operating, sometimes on a geared head, using macro lenses or zoom lenses that focus closely enough. Occasionally, the work is handed over to a title / commercial graphics company that might do the work on an animation stand like an Oxberry.
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