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There Will Be Blood and Anamorphic Craziness


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#1 cal bickford

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 08:58 PM

Ok so I just saw There Will Be Blood and besides noticing that it was an absolutely amazing film and probably the best movie I've ever seen in an actual theatre, I also noticed a very peculiar characteristic relating to the focus in certain shots. I realize that shooting in anamorphic presents some DOF issues etc but in many shots throughout the movie the objects/people on the left side of the screen are significantly out of focus while objects/people on the right side of the frame AND at the exact same distance from the lens are in sharp focus. This didn't persist in every shot so it wasn't a smudge on the projection lens or something like that. How can this be? I understand how anamorphic lenses work (at least i think i do) but I don't understand how they can create a non-perpendicular focal plane.
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 09:23 PM

It could be a projector lens is a bit out of alignment. Any lens can create a tilted plane of focus, you just have to tilt the lens in relation to the film. It's done all the time in large format photography and you see it every so often in movies.

See Scheimpflug Principle for a good explanation of the major rule relating to this type of focus manipulation.
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#3 cal bickford

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 09:40 PM

I don't think it was the projection lens as the focus was only "thrown off" in certain shots. Furthermore, if the lens was misaligned than I would think that the critical focus on the right side of the frame would be shifted somewhat also and this was definitely not the case. A misaligned projection lens would also dramatically affect vertical lines in the image if I'm thinking about it correctly, so I don't think that was it.
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 09:45 PM

Oh, I got the impression it was an all the time thing. In that case, there were perhaps some tilt focus shots. I haven't seen it so I'm speculating. Near the end of this thread, there are a couple of shots from Big Love where David did some tilt-focus work.
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#5 cal bickford

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 09:52 PM

thats interesting, I wasn't aware that a tilted focus plane was posible. How exactly is this achieved?
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 09:58 PM

thats interesting, I wasn't aware that a tilted focus plane was posible. How exactly is this achieved?


I don't recall any tilt-focus shots in "There Will Be Blood" -- more than likely, the theater wasn't properly projecting the movie. It's not unusual for scope projection to have problems holding sharp focus across the screen.

Panavision adapted the 45mm Arri slant-focus lens into a 90mm slant-focus anamorphic lens. I used it in some of my movies:

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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 10:38 PM

I really enjoyed the shift & tilt focus in Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

But, recalling my memory of "There Will be Blood", there were some great scenes achieved with a zoom lens where we could see the background slowly shifting out of focus. Perhaps this is what you saw.

The most noticeable one was when Daniel was frantically carrying his son away from the oil geyser. For a moment I thought the background might have been digitally blurred out, but knowing PT Anderson and Elswit's work, I highly doubt it wasn't done in camera.
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#8 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 11:51 PM

I really enjoyed the shift & tilt focus in Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

But, recalling my memory of "There Will be Blood", there were some great scenes achieved with a zoom lens where we could see the background slowly shifting out of focus. Perhaps this is what you saw.

The most noticeable one was when Daniel was frantically carrying his son away from the oil geyser. For a moment I thought the background might have been digitally blurred out, but knowing PT Anderson and Elswit's work, I highly doubt it wasn't done in camera.


If I recall correctly, oil/water had sprayed against the lens in that shot.

There were some digital vfx credited on the film (work by ILM) but I honestly couldn't see the seams. I guess some of the oil fire stuff may have been enhanced...
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:16 AM

If I recall correctly, oil/water had sprayed against the lens in that shot.


Not THAT shot, but the tracking shot as Daniel was running with the boy in his arms. Too far away at that point for oil to be falling on the lens.
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#10 cal bickford

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:28 AM

It was most noticable in wide and medium two shots where the actors were equidistant from the camera and distinctly seperated on opposite sides of the frame and with no camera movement. This is why I thought maybe it was intentional as it was supposed to be indicative of some kind of distinction between the two characters. Most shots however didn't display this "tilt focus" so I presumed it wasn't the projector. But then again, I can't claim that I have any real cinemagraphic experience or that refined of an eye so maybe I'm just imaging things and it was the projector, but it was definitely there. If anyone out there reads this then goes and sees the movie watch out for it and let us know if you see it too.

David - This movie has has a unique look to it that I've noticed in Elswit's other recent movie Michael Clayton, as well as Deakin's No Country and Assassination of Jesse James. This "look" seems most apparent in exterior day scenes and I'd describe it (maybe not so aptly...) as a kind of low contrast and soft feel. There seems to be a very subtle yet very white light that washes over the image - if that makes sense. I'd be very interested to know if you understand what I'm talking about and how you might think this is achieved. Is this all just color manipulation done in post? Are these guys using huge bounce boards or something? In fact, thats how I might best describe it - it looks like what Imagine a bunch of bounced OVERCAST daylight would look like or maybe like their throwing a bunch of 6500ishK diffused light on the actors, even in non-cloudy daylight. I don't know if I'm making any sense lol but i guess thats the only way I know how to describe it.
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#11 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:39 AM

Not THAT shot, but the tracking shot as Daniel was running with the boy in his arms. Too far away at that point for oil to be falling on the lens.


yeah I'm talking about the same shot, it was oil that had already hit the lens.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:40 AM

I haven't noticed that washed out effect you are describing -- again, like the focus, it sounds like a projection problem. These films should have normal blacks and contrast. They were shot clean (no diffusion filters) on normal stocks and nothing unusual was done to them.
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#13 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:48 AM

I haven't noticed that washed out effect you are describing -- again, like the focus, it sounds like a projection problem. These films should have normal blacks and contrast. They were shot clean (no diffusion filters) on normal stocks and nothing unusual was done to them.


except perhaps removing the matte box :)
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#14 Tristan Noelle

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 06:43 AM

The low contrast exteriors in There Will Be Blood are probably the result of the extensive lens modifications that Elswit, Anderson and Dan Sasaki did. It's covered in January's American Cinematographer here.

I really can't wait to see the film but it isn't playing anywhere close to me (sigh).
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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:13 AM

They seem like people after my own heart! :)

Apparently they have been using an ancient lens off an old Pathe movie camera (not quite sure what they mean by that, whether it is an old newsreel camera or perhaps even a 9.5mm!) and I was wondering how this works in the context of an anamorphic film as presumably this is a spherical prime of some sort? Unless they connected it to an anamorphic element of some description?

Just curious!

Any ideas?

love

Freya
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#16 John Sprung

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:17 PM

I don't think it was the projection lens as the focus was only "thrown off" in certain shots.

It could still be a projection problem. Perhaps the gate was loose on one side, and the film sometimes was in the right place, and sometimes drifted out. If you like the movie enough, see it again in a different theater.




-- J.S.
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#17 John Holland

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:27 PM

Freya Panavision did the business on the Pathe lens convert Anamorphic . David Watkin used very old Ross Express Lenses to shoot " The Charge of the Light Brigade " 1967 in think ,Panvision did same sort of thing then , if you havent seen it ? you should .
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#18 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:51 PM

It was most noticable in wide and medium two shots where the actors were equidistant from the camera and distinctly seperated on opposite sides of the frame and with no camera movement. This is why I thought maybe it was intentional as it was supposed to be indicative of some kind of distinction between the two characters.

It is possible that you just saw a soft shot or two. Although I don't remember seeing any soft shots like you describe.
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#19 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 03:36 PM

Freya Panavision did the business on the Pathe lens convert Anamorphic . David Watkin used very old Ross Express Lenses to shoot " The Charge of the Light Brigade " 1967 in think ,Panvision did same sort of thing then , if you havent seen it ? you should .


http://www.moviemail...p;type=Articles

"The first camera I encountered on coming into the business in 1948 was a Newman Sinclair carrying Ross Xpress lenses in beautiful heavy brass mounts. I was only just in time as they were in the procees of being replaced by the much harder looking Cooke Speed Panchros. I felt certain that those Ross lenses would be closer to what Fenton had used,"
---David Watkin
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#20 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 03:37 AM

yeah I'm talking about the same shot, it was oil that had already hit the lens.


Saw it again, nope wasn't oil on the lens as the shot wasn't a single take from underneath the derrick where oil might have fallen on it. It was a separate shot that started about 40 yards or so away. and Daniel Day Lewis was in near perfect focus & clarity. But it did look better in the theatre I saw it in the 2nd time.

Also, I read this on IMDb, but really couldn't believe it:
Director Paul Thomas Anderson owns a vintage 1910 Pathe camera which contains a special 43mm lens. The lens was specially modified to be used in the film as it has very low resolution and can shift colors at corners. Only certain shots of the film used this lens; for example a shot of Plainview sleeping in the train with an infant H.W.

I know they used the Pathe camera for a part of the intro in "Magnolia". But that memorable shot didn't seem to have any of the artifacts mentioned.
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