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POV shots with hand in frame...


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#1 M Joel W

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 11:53 PM

Hi,

I'm (hopefully) directing a short film that relies strongly on POV shots and, in particular, a few shots where we see someone pick something up and use it from his point of view and we see his hand in frame. In one scene he picks up a plunger, for instance, and pokes things with it.

I've done similar things before but the trick here is the restrictions. I'm going to be using (again, hopefully) a pretty big, maybe 20 pound camera. Also, all the POV shots in this part of the movie are handheld and shot with a 50mm lens. I can't use any rigs or any other lenses for this part.

But I want a sightly wider shot scale than a 50mm lens provides. Any tricks for this or just back the camera up and have the actor perform actions and move his head and legs in sync with the operator?

This may sound dumb but I don't want it to look fake or unnatural...he moves quickly once he sees the monster.
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 01:40 AM

Also, all the POV shots in this part of the movie are handheld and shot with a 50mm lens. I can't use any rigs or any other lenses for this part.

Why not? Is it simply because you have no budget or are there "rules" that say you can't use them for whatever reason?

I would think that the easiest way to get the shot would be to have the operator pick up the objects and manipulate them himself, but that's going to be tough if he has to balance the full weight of a heavy camera on his shoulder at the same time. If he could use something like an easy rig that removes some or all of the weight of the camera from the shoulder, that would be ideal. A really cheap rig you can use is to attach a monopod to the camera and stick the end of it into an open fanny pack around your waist to take some of the camera's weight. One DP I work with does this with an F900 and it seems to work okay.

But I want a sightly wider shot scale than a 50mm lens provides.

If you can't afford to rent a wider lens, then how about using a wide angle adapter or converter on the lens that you do have? Depending on the diameter of the 50mm, you might be able to get away with a cheap one made for DV cameras. Just be aware that converters require the taking lens to macro focus in order to work.
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#3 M Joel W

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:19 AM

Unfortunately, it's rules, not a budget restriction, although there are budget restrictions everywhere else. I am hoping to have 20/28/35/50/85 for lenses... This scene should likely be at f2.8 which will make it even trickier knowing what to focus on and when, and then rehearsing the focus pull, too, between plunger, background, and the monster.

Did I mention I don't have much of a budget, either? Maybe I will practice on miniDV before the shoot?

Thanks for the help, though; your advice makes a lot of sense.
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#4 Alex Worster

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:36 AM

Rules, eh? If you want wider go with the 35mm, that's closer to POV focal length for a 35 camera anyways. Then if somebody says, "No no no, the rules say a POV is a 50mm, so its gotta be a 50mm." Then you say, "Actually, 50mm is a normal lens for 35 still cameras with an 8 perf frame which means the equivalent from a 35 motion picture camera is somewhere between 35mm and 50mm, so I suggest we use the 35mm cause it looks better." (or so I've been taught, hopefully someone wasn't pulling my leg). If that's the kinda rules you're talking about.

Getting it to look natural is just a matter of taking the time in rehearsal to get it right or now if you can use the 35 it might be easier to have the op be the hand and feet in the shot. Op should be able to take the weight, and easy rig is good idea tho (they're usually not too pricey) or maybe the op should start hitting the gym.
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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 05:47 AM

A 50mm is too tight for the operator to use his/her own hands for the shot. Actually, it would probably be OK in Anamorphic, but you did say it's only a 20lb camera....
I think in this case, the "rules" have ruled out doing shots like this, unless you can find a creative and easy way to do it. The key is easy. There are ways to do it (the actor is a few feet in front of camera and just offscreen), but it won't be easy. My one thought is that maybe you could set the frame with the actor's hand in frame, and then tie a rope between the actor and operator to control distance, and then do a bunch of takes until you get in right. I've never tried something like that, but it could conceivably work I think.
My best advice would be to put a 28mm or a 20mm up and do it that way. POV shots do not have to be done with "THE" perfect POV lens (whatever that is). They are done with wider and longer lenses all the time and work fine.
What format are you shooting on? I think with anything other than a 35mm field of view this shot is out of the question with a 50mm if you want it to happen in a reasonable amount of time.
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#6 M Joel W

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 12:10 PM

While I'm aware that a 35mm lens provides as good a "natural perspective" as a 50mm lens, I'm directing and there's this motif with POVs and inserts (each used for equivalent function in tonally different parts of the movie) and they all have 50mm focal lengths. Just some sort of unity, I guess. If worse comes to worse I'll go with the 35, but this shot is meant to recall a shot earlier in the movie with a lensbaby and those are 50mm, so I'd need to buy the wide angle attachment for that, too.

I suppose since there are only two shots where a hand in frame is important, and only one involves complex motion, I'll try something like the rope, which sounds like a smart solution, and also a shoulder rig. As for format, yes, these are in 35mm 1.85:1 terms. Ultimately, I think I may just have to build a set for this scene, because it's in a small space, which sucks since the rest of the shoot is on location and this is a small scene.

Anyhow, thanks for the help. I'm starting to get an idea of what's involved here.
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#7 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 11:51 PM

I would rig a goal post with steel pipe, and hang the camera off of it with surgical tubing. Then, you have a "supported" hand-held camera. The operator would work off an on-board monitor, so it might be easier for the actor to get into the right positions. Or you could have the actor operate the bungee-cam. I guess this would break the "no rigging" rule?
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 10:10 PM

I would rig a goal post with steel pipe, and hang the camera off of it with surgical tubing. Then, you have a "supported" hand-held camera.

Steel pipe....that would be heavy! I'm not sure there would be much benefit to adding that much weight to a reasonably light camera. 20lbs is not very heavy for a 35mm camera. Normal handheld shouldn't be a problem.
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#9 Dan Goulder

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 11:34 AM

An approximate example of the shot you are describing could be found in "Being John Malkovich", in which POV shots of his hands were actually shot with a Moviecam harnessed to the shoulder of John Malkovich. However, the lens on the camera was a wide angle (either an 18mm or a 14mm), definitely nothing even close to a 50mm. There are enough factors working against you in filmmaking, so the last thing you should do is further constrain yourself with self-imposed limitations, such as inflexibly insisting on using a lens that would make the whole shot nearly, if not totally impossible to pull off.
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#10 Jason Debus

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 12:53 PM

For another example I'd also recommend 'Doom', there's a great, long POV sequence of one of the characters shooting monsters.
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#11 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 02:13 PM

For another example I'd also recommend 'Doom', there's a great, long POV sequence of one of the characters shooting monsters.

You can see that shot here, but the gun is CG, so while the idea is the same, the restrictions weren't. This looks to be a lens somewhere in the range of a 25mm to 35mm, at least to my eye.
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