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#1 Garrett Vitanza

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 11:20 PM

Hello everyone. As you can tell from the subject of this topic I am relatively new to the technequies and formalities of the camera. I am really fascinated with the complexity of the camera and paticularly interested with camera lenses. I would really appreciate a recomendation on a suitable camera for me (20 year old student experimenting with film for the first time) as well as a good treaty or website on lenses. I would also like to know the basics, the standard vocabulary, if you will. you need to walk before you can run.
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#2 Nick Mulder

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 11:48 PM

cool cool cool,

I too am fascinated by the mechanics of cameras, getting inside them can lead you to understand them from a much more ground level than any book will tell you about ...

The more I read up on film making and in particular the films I like to watch, it seems many a shot could only have been developed by someone with some form of this 'inside-out' knowledge ... Stuff that would still require a re-think/code of CGI software to emulate.

Well, take my advice with a grain of biased salt but I think the 16mm Bolex cameras are a really good choice as a starter camera for a person with your interests. The mechanics/timing are accessible via the 8:1 and 1:1 shafts and are easily(ish) opened up for more elaborate mod's (a goody is super-16 for instance) - the Switar lenses, especially the Presets have fooled people into believing the shot was actually 35mm with some fancy Zeiss glass... Well thats what me mate told me, and he makes ad's in both formats, regardless of such 3rd hand anecdotes they are pretty nice... way better than say the K3 zooms.

As always, keep an open mind - and listen to others suggestions - I'm pretty happy talking about Bolexes though if want to know more... In lieu of a real job where I might come across an Arri or three thats all I know ;)

Edited by Nick Mulder, 06 August 2007 - 11:51 PM.

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#3 Garrett Vitanza

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 02:35 AM

Thank you for your reply. Could someone explain what the primary function is of and what the ideal setting is for (Frames Per Second). Like I mentioned above my knowledge is rather limited but Im guessing that a light meter is used to measure light refracting the image into the camera which triggers the shutter speed. However I still dont understand the desired effect and the proper number one would set it to. Is it purely aesthetic? or is it establishing a basic steadiness and consistance for the shot?
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#4 Nick Mulder

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:48 PM

Thank you for your reply. Could someone explain what the primary function is of and what the ideal setting is for (Frames Per Second). Like I mentioned above my knowledge is rather limited but Im guessing that a light meter is used to measure light refracting the image into the camera which triggers the shutter speed. However I still dont understand the desired effect and the proper number one would set it to. Is it purely aesthetic? or is it establishing a basic steadiness and consistance for the shot?


Frames per Second huh !

Well, its a pretty integral thing to cinematography - without it we would be shooting stills ... There is no ideal setting in terms of shooting - but there is a sort of general consensus of an ideal fps for projection (i.e. watching TV, going to the cinema etc..) - the consensus is anything above 24-fps should turn a rapid series of stills into the appearance of a moving picture, it achieves what they term 'persistence of vision' - this is a grossly simplified treatment of the history and current thoughts of different groups however - 18-fps used to be the norm and although when going to see film at the cinema there are 24 pictures per second each is projected twice, hence a sort of 48-fps ... confusing huh! now try TV, it is interlaced so you see each frame sliced up into alternating vertical lines at 25-fps but 50 interlaced frames in PAL parts of the world and 30-fps 60 interlaced (or is it that 29.something'er'other ? I live in PAL world ...) - The persistence of vision in each of these projection/viewing methods to certain degrees works in favor one way and the other - and there are ways to play around with it using shutter weird shutter angle effects but perhaps we are jumping the gun with them for now.

Because of these standards most footage, especially footage that uses sync sound (dialog) is shot in the same fps as the intended presentation format to make it easier (cheaper) in post to sort out - but as you probably know dialog is far from being the standard in many of todays films (sci-fi, action etc...), music videos, nature documentaries etc... etc... the list goes on !

One basic manipulation of fps is the slow-mo shot - by shooting a scene at a higher frame-rate say 48-fps when it is projected at 24-fps everything is moving twice as slow ...

"a light meter is used to measure light refracting the image into the camera which triggers the shutter speed"

Light meters are used to measure the light on a scene yes ... Not quite sure what you mean by the refracted bit, but one slightly less used method of light metering is the reflective light meter - most beginners use incident meters as they tend to be more readily available for less $$$ than reflective meters, they are also slightly simpler to use from a basics standpoint, but once you understand what each does then they can be equally as indispensable as your style allows, there are certain things that reflective meters can do that incidents cannot (measure light sources in frame for instance) so I would say spring for one early on if you can ...

Anyhoo, what you are describing sounds like some form of internal light metering system set on an aperture priority system you might find on a stills camera, where the iris is set and exposure changed for lighting conditions - you'll probably never find one like this in cine (outside of experimental cine where anything is the go) this is due to the fact that the fps is such an integral part of the look of the motion in scene it is almost always set at one speed and synced to stay on that speed down to the barest minimum of deviation so the sound recording wont waver in and out time-wise (read up on crystal sync) -

What you might find instead is a system where a small portion of the light inside a lens is refracted/reflected or more simply 'sent' to a light meter which then affects the iris in the lens, often found on a time-lapse set up when an operator doesn't want to sit for a whole say measuring light for even exposure ... Rarer, but perhaps more useful in some regards (everything has side-effect that the cinematographer at least should be aware of) is a system where the shutter-angle is changed rather than the iris or fps, this would be the closest system to your suggestion (at least as to what I understand it to be)...

I think I've probably dumped too much in one go here - and I am %100 sure I've left out truckloads of info, but to type it all in would equate to a book on cinematography ... there are lots out there and aren't too scary at all for a beginner, old ones even are often better as you learn about how things were done back then and how the same terminology has been carried forward into the computer based editing we do nowadays - blue-screening was actually a chemical process ! neat huh

rant over for the time-being ;)
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#5 Robert Hughes

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 09:40 AM

It seems clear that your idea of research is to wander into internet forums and start asking too basic questions. Tell ya what, go read a book about photography and call back when you're done. <_<

Edited by Robert Hughes, 09 August 2007 - 09:41 AM.

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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 05:19 PM

Recommended books

You'll notice that the site administrator has even "pinned" a topic at the top of this forum, directing first-time filmmakers to these resources.
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#7 Michael Collier

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 08:56 PM

I gotta reiterate Nash....read lots of books! theres too much info to ask others about, and lots you'd never even think to ask. I post this though, to recomend the first book on that list. Kris Malkiewicz' Cinematography. I got that book when I was 12 or 13 (my first book on cinematography as well) and it is a great way to wrap your head around the basics, and sets you up with a starting point.

ps. i think you confused light meter with appeture, or iris. read read read read.....once you know a lot about cinematography, you'll have even more questions for us, but ones that are a little more complex and not a result of confusion or lack of understanding. Books are great for getting a foundation. I have a shelf full of cinematography books. I would recomend the same for you. Also subscribe to American Cinematographer. Reading the words of working DPs helps emensly, and also spurs interest and research into portions of the art that you might have never considered.
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The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

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FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Opal