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Unusual Optics


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#1 John Edds

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 05:51 AM

A number of years ago, back in the early to mid '90s, I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel called Invention. On this particular episode, a cinematic lens technology was shown.
At the time I thought it was cool, but was only a kid and not interested in film-making, so didn't give it too much thought, other than committing it to memory that it exists.

About three years ago I started thinking about what I'd seen again, and started trying to find whoever still makes it, if anyone does. I've spent over the last three years trying to find it again, with no success.

What the lens technology invention featured on the show did was have every depth in focus at the same time: a wristwatch a few inches from the lens could be read crisp as if the lens were only focused to that depth, while the store across the street out the window behind the watch was also in focus. Another video shown had a caterpillar munching on a plant, close in (like a macro lens not being used to its full capacity), while a crop-dusting plane hundreds of feet in the background was in focus the entire flight as it passed from the background to overhead and out of frame.
The invention also let various visual effects be done in camera, instead of post. Like rolling the image. I don't know the technical term, if that's not it. Like the view one would have out a clothes dryer door if one were inside the running dryer, being tossed around.
The effects could be done by turning various cranks. As far as I know, it was entirely mechanical in nature, no electronics or computer hardware of any kind made it possible.

What is this invention I saw called? Who makes/made it? Is it still used in the cinematic industry? It apparently was at the time Invention aired over ten years ago: the show showed a commercial that used the "lens thing" to pull off a shot where everything was in focus.
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#2 Matthew Parnell

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 08:42 AM

Created by Australian Nature Cinematographer Jim Frazier. Called the Frazier Lens System. Avaliable through panavision.

Edited by Matthew Parnell, 31 May 2007 - 08:42 AM.

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#3 chuck colburn

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 01:47 PM

It's been done for years by large format photographers by using a combo of front and rear standard movements.
Can't recall the name of the technique, but it's something like the "Schlempenfluger rule" lol
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#4 John Edds

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 05:51 AM

Created by Australian Nature Cinematographer Jim Frazier. Called the Frazier Lens System. Avaliable through panavision.



Thank you so much.
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#5 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 01:32 PM

What the lens technology invention featured on the show did was have every depth in focus at the same time: a wristwatch a few inches from the lens could be read crisp as if the lens were only focused to that depth, while the store across the street out the window behind the watch was also in focus. Another video shown had a caterpillar munching on a plant, close in (like a macro lens not being used to its full capacity), while a crop-dusting plane hundreds of feet in the background was in focus the entire flight as it passed from the background to overhead and out of frame.


The caterpillar reminds me of a similar shot on an episode of 'Nova about Lennart Nilsson, who is probably best known for the foetal development photos in Life magazine.

http://www.lennartni....com/index.html

http://www.pbs.org/w...ey/nilsson.html

I can't find anything about the deepfocus exterior shots on the web, but I think they predate the Frazier lens.
The lens used was similar to the endoscopes he describes in the second link.
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