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View finder markings for film cameras


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#1 Nick Mulder

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 01:52 AM

Hi,

I've been abusing my Bolexes into super16 and have finally done the finder mod's required - I have had a proper mask made to the actual super16 gate dimensions (made by a gobo manufacturer) - under this steel mask I am going to sandwich finder markings photographed onto E6 film to the correct dimensions from a acetate printout on a light box - I have a medium format camera here in which I can access the GG directly to make measurements - using the E6 so the film is clear as I can get it - they will sit right above the GG of the bolex...

So basically I can have whatever markings I want - pictures of snoopy, color, greyscale/alpha etc...

I'm going to make a series of hard masked 4:3, reg16, 1.66, 1.85, 16:9 and 16mm 1.5x & 2x Scope masks (when I get the lenses) that I can replace when I shoot whatever format...

But I wanted any suggestions for a 'multipurpose' mask that somehow showed all frames with out getting to messy in there - as I have heaps of E6 I can do whatever i want really... Any suggestions ? a good grid pattern ? should the grid be square or follow the aspect of the frame ?

Maybe the frame could have thirds marked out ?

Or a list of composition mantras/feel good quotations etc...

I'm particularly interested in your ideas on masks:

What would you do and why ?

What do you dislike and why ?


any suggestions appreciated,
cheers,
Nick
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#2 Nick Mulder

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 04:49 PM

hmmm,

Usually when I get no response on a query its because I've gone off on an arcane tangent or have blabbered on too much about all and sundry thereby drowning my question in a sea of mostly unrelated side-hooey ...

Probably both of the above in this case ...

But I would have thought someone would have had an opinion re. viewfinder markings - for many of us it is what frames our existence the large part of many a day ...

Did my question get lost in the forum makeover ?

anyhoos >> BUMP!
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 05:04 PM

Been working; not posting, not sleeping... :blink:

The viewfinder I want has the LEAST amount of crap in it. One frame line, and mild crosshairs in the center. Nothing else.

Having too many frame lines at once is just distracting. And keeping them as little corner-only marks is even more confusing. I'm thinking when you're following fast action, handheld, you don't have time to doublecheck the frame references, you're just "feeling" the composition and anticipating the action.

I'd also be suspicious about laying acetate on a viewfinder, especially a small one. With film the viewfinder optics are your only reference for what you're getting (for the operator, anyway), and I wouldn't want to compromise that quality.

There are special groundglasses made for some cameras that contain different grids, when that kind of framing is essential. I think you mighty be better of developing multiple "frame overlays" instead of an all-purpose one.

Don't underestimate the importance of "arriglow" or "panaglow." This really helps when shooting night exteriors and dark interiors. These work by having silver framelines that are front illuminated by a small dimmable light source in the viewfinder (usually red, to contrast with most subject matter).
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#4 Nick Mulder

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 06:06 PM

The viewfinder I want has the LEAST amount of crap in it. One frame line, and mild crosshairs in the center. Nothing else.


Okidoki - I thought that might be the case - so far the cameras I have used dont have anything but a hard black mask without even crosshairs - but looking through a super35 Arri 2b a little while back I was assaulted by a myriad of lines, isobars and the topography of the Auckland Isthmus - I thought this was the norm so chucked it in as an option -

I'd also be suspicious about laying acetate on a viewfinder, especially a small one. With film the viewfinder optics are your only reference for what you're getting (for the operator, anyway), and I wouldn't want to compromise that quality.

I dont know how else to do it - to get markings put on a glass slide at those tolerances means another call to the gobo makers who can do markings on glass from file down to 10uM - but that around $200 each, E6 is mucho cheaper and I can take pix of the cats chasing frisbees and getting a hose down after on the leftover frames

I am not going to scratch/etch or otherwise touch the actual GG either - the cost of a new prism = the cost of a new camera on eBay, and a bunch of other 'spares' thrown in...

Don't underestimate the importance of "arriglow" or "panaglow." This really helps when shooting night exteriors and dark interiors. These work by having silver framelines that are front illuminated by a small dimmable light source in the viewfinder (usually red, to contrast with most subject matter).

sounds really nice, I think though the amount of room on top of a bolex prism will be somewhat restrictive for that sort of carry on

I'm thinking I'll make hard masks in 4:3, 16:9, 1.66 with non-rounded edges (I never understood rounded edges) with cross hairs and the same aspects again but with thirds grid pattern (following the same aspect in thirds vert and horizontal) for time-lapse, locked off 'techy' shots etc... - I've lost wideness/film real-estate in the past because of dodgy horizons (tilting and using the top or bottom of frame to set horizon on a tripod not balanced itself never helps)

thanks for the input Michael !
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#5 Mike Rizos

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 10:32 PM

Ideally, I would want some extra area around the framelines, but I don't think this is possible with a Bolex. I would keep the finder uncluttered, with only the framelines showing. And although most cameras have them, I don't see the point of the cross-hairs.
One option from jkcamera looks pretty good to me:
Posted Image

The next image I got from visual products and it has 16:9, 4:3, 1.85, but seems very confusing and distracting:
Posted Image

My CP viewfinder looked like this before super 16:
Posted Image

After conversion looks like this:
Posted Image
Not the best, but works well.
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 10:47 PM

Maybe it's because I do so much ENG video work, but I've gotten used to the crosshairs and have found many uses for them. When you want a well-centered or symmetrical composition they're indispensible. Just yesterday I had a shoot with the HVX200 that doesn't have them, and I really needed them...

They're also useful to check your horizon for those "ruined" shots that Nick mentioned, although you usually need to use both the frame lines and the crosshairs for that. I rarely need a reference for "thirds" as that goes more by feel and doesn't have to be precise. But when you want a perfectly split frame, there's almost no other way to do it.
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#7 Nick Mulder

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 11:16 PM

Ideally, I would want some extra area around the framelines, but I don't think this is possible with a Bolex.


The masks I am having made are the exact dimensions of the gate itself - which are super16 12.35mm x 7.42mm and the rounded corners ... (The tolerances of installation and milling/filing the gate means the measurement should swing this way and that somewhat)

The ASC aperture dimensions are:

reg16 = 9.65mm x 7.26mm
1.66 = 11.8mm x 7.1mm
1.85 = 11.8mm x 6.38

I dont have the measurements for 4:3 or 16:9 but can work around the above values and work out something of my own...

My point is that they are smaller than the gate, maybe I could have them in partial grey so the actual gate frameline can still be seen... I suspect this might be the case anyway as I wont get the full black of a steel frame with the E6 (prob only noticable in v bright light though) ...

I rarely need a reference for "thirds" as that goes more by feel and doesn't have to be precise.

Yeh, I dont mean to be too literal here as I find I often shoot using half symmetries/dead centres myself - But if I want a grid it may as well be thirds ... or some factor of this - maybe thirds and a centre horizon and vert so the density of grid gets higher in the centre, not suggesting this is the perfect pattern for everyone, but its what I'd personally find useful now I've had time to compare your suggestions and my intuition ...
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