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Filming with miniatures


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#1 Ashley Wing

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 05:05 AM

I have have been working with some models in my current production and composited them into my film but I want to go further and actually build sets for my next project. Using mattes paintings to extend locations. I'm not sure what lenses I need to get the right depth of field. I did read somewhere about the Fraizer lens but they seem to only apply for panavision cameras. I will be using Mini DV cameras, XL1s or HD, panasonic hvx200. What kind of lens adapters would I need to get clean focused results. I will be building sets around 2.5m square and 5m square. Is there any good books on techniques for scale model filming and lighting, I can't seem to find a dedicated book for this, more of an almalgamation of different types of effects. Any help would be great.

Cheers
Ash
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#2 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 02:18 PM

I have have been working with some models in my current production and composited them into my film but I want to go further and actually build sets for my next project. Using mattes paintings to extend locations. I'm not sure what lenses I need to get the right depth of field. I did read somewhere about the Fraizer lens but they seem to only apply for panavision cameras. I will be using Mini DV cameras, XL1s or HD, panasonic hvx200. What kind of lens adapters would I need to get clean focused results. I will be building sets around 2.5m square and 5m square. Is there any good books on techniques for scale model filming and lighting, I can't seem to find a dedicated book for this, more of an almalgamation of different types of effects. Any help would be great.


Those cameras have such small chips, they have great depth of field you won't need a special lens.
Remember some people actually bend over backwards and get expensive contraptions to decrease the depth of field.
Keep the camera angle as low as possible to get the lens at what would be eye level for the scale of the miniature.
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#3 Chris Durham

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 02:46 PM

I don't know about the XL1, but I think it's the same as the XL2 in that you can use an adapter for Canon ES lenses with a magnification factor, which will get you close if the standard lens doesn't get you close enough. I'm not sure if that's necessary as I've never had to shoot on that scale before.
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 06:03 PM

I don't know about the XL1, but I think it's the same as the XL2 in that you can use an adapter for Canon ES lenses with a magnification factor, which will get you close if the standard lens doesn't get you close enough. I'm not sure if that's necessary as I've never had to shoot on that scale before.


I moved this topic to the General Discussion conference, because it's not about the work of particular cinematographers. Please post carefully.

Ashley, you might take a look at the lens systems made (and rented) by Innovision Optics. You can contact them with specific questions.

http://www.innovisionoptics.com/

http://www.innovisio...ini_probe.shtml
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 08:33 PM

Hi,

One of the (only?) nice things about the servo lenses on the XL series is that they go all the way back into "macro" from the normal focus range. It's a bit of a misnomer to call it macro as they're not really real zooms, but let's just say that the close range of focus is directly accessible from the bottom end of normal focus!

Phil
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#6 Karen Del Rio

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 09:00 PM

I used the Innovision probe on The Thumb Parody series (almost entirely comprised of miniatures) a long time ago, but it worked really well and gave us exactly what we wanted. I liked the fact that it came with interchangeable lenses. It's too cumbersome for handheld shots, but worked great with the camera mounted on a dolly. So I highly recommend it -- if it fits the camera you'll be using. You might also want to look into lipstick cameras, because they fit well into miniature spaces.
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#7 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 10 February 2007 - 02:04 PM

I moved this topic to the General Discussion conference, because it's not about the work of particular cinematographers. Please post carefully.

Ashley, you might take a look at the lens systems made (and rented) by Innovision Optics. You can contact them with specific questions.

http://www.innovisionoptics.com/

http://www.innovisio...ini_probe.shtml


Was it it at all possible to shoot miniatures before the invention of snorkle and probe lenses?

If he's shooting on miniDV and HDV he probably doesn't have the money for these.
1/4" and 1/3" chips are smaller than Super8, so he'll have no big problems with depth of field that adding more light won't solve.
& there are some very small mini DVcameras that'll fit into small places.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 05:16 AM

Was it it at all possible to shoot miniatures before the invention of snorkle and probe lenses?

If he's shooting on miniDV and HDV he probably doesn't have the money for these.
1/4" and 1/3" chips are smaller than Super8, so he'll have no big problems with depth of field that adding more light won't solve.
& there are some very small mini DVcameras that'll fit into small places.


Aside from depth of field, when shooting close-focus subjects and miniatures you also have to deal with relative image size. There's a rule of thumb that says that if the size of an object is smaller than than the front element of the lens, you'll never be able to make the size of the subject larger than the screen, regardless of focal length. So to fill the frame with a subject that's say, 1" across, you need a lens with a front diameter no bigger than 1". This is where probe lenses come in handy.

Besides, the physical size of a camera limits what parts of a miniature set it can access, and a probe or snorkel lens allows more access in tight spaces and from different angles.
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#9 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 03:27 PM

Besides, the physical size of a camera limits what parts of a miniature set it can access, and a probe or snorkel lens allows more access in tight spaces and from different angles.


Look at the cameras he's using.
The innovision lens do not mount on any of them. Sure you can say he can use some DOF adaptor.

Realistically if that's what he's using what are tha chances he can afford to rent innovision anyway.

Moving it to visual effects would have been more appropos.
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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 05:51 PM

Look at the cameras he's using.
The innovision lens do not mount on any of them. Sure you can say he can use some DOF adaptor.

Realistically if that's what he's using what are tha chances he can afford to rent innovision anyway.



He said he may be using the Canon XL-1s or HD model, or the Panasonic HVX-200. The link I provided goes straight to the page for the Miniprobe, which mentions the HVX-200 specifically. ( http://www.innovisio...ini_probe.shtml ). I also know from seeing Innovision's displays at different expos that they make systems for a variety of cameras, so Ashley could pick and chose the camera and system that might work best for him.

I make no assumption that a production can't afford a particluar piece of gear simply because they're shooting with a small format camera. There could be lots of legitimate reasons for choosing a format or camera aside from budget, and obviously Innovision must think it's realistic to use small cameras with their lenses or else they wouldn't have bothered to develop lens systems for them. Given the info, Ashley can then decide if such a system is affordable and practical for his needs. Besides, Ashley also asked for general tips and advice about miniature shooting, and I thought passing along the link to a company that specializes in exactly what he's trying to do would be helpful.

Moving it to visual effects would have been more appropos.


Good point. I've been away for awhile and didn't realize Tim had added a VFX section...
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