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In camera or "Manual" Letterboxing?


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#1 Jesse Lee Cairnie

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 11:34 AM

I am doing a s16mm project for class and we are editing on raw film.. since we are not using computers I cant put a letterbox on the final print..

I have decided that placing Electrical tape on the lens will give me the desired effect.. there will be no focus pulling..

has anyone done this before? does it look good or like tape on a lens? Is there any image distortion on the tapes edge? does the lens have too much "give" to maintain its "levelness"... I would love to test it.. but I will not be able..

Thank you
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#2 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 12:16 PM

I am doing a s16mm project for class and we are editing on raw film.. since we are not using computers I cant put a letterbox on the final print..

I have decided that placing Electrical tape on the lens will give me the desired effect.. there will be no focus pulling..

has anyone done this before? does it look good or like tape on a lens? Is there any image distortion on the tapes edge? does the lens have too much "give" to maintain its "levelness"... I would love to test it.. but I will not be able..

Thank you

I would test it, but i can say that it will look like something, especially if there is anything bright in the frame near the edge of the tape.
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#3 Mike Simpson

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 12:21 PM

I think you'll see right away that that wont work. The tape just wont be in focus...

Plus, when you get to your longer lenses the tape would be unnoticeable, or possibly just vignetting on the top and bottom and on your wider lenses if you did manage to get it in focus it would be pretty distorted.
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#4 Allen Achterberg

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 12:28 PM

I am doing a s16mm project for class and we are editing on raw film.. since we are not using computers I cant put a letterbox on the final print..

I have decided that placing Electrical tape on the lens will give me the desired effect.. there will be no focus pulling..

has anyone done this before? does it look good or like tape on a lens? Is there any image distortion on the tapes edge? does the lens have too much "give" to maintain its "levelness"... I would love to test it.. but I will not be able..

Thank you


S16 is not a projection format. you will need an optical step and in which case you can get the letterboxed image you want. Super16 is a wide screen format.
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 12:39 PM

Tape on the lens won't work. A hard matte in the gate would, but why bother? SOP is to shoot full aperture, and just shoot a framing chart that shows the post people where your ground glass markings are. Be it telecine, DI, or optical blowup, post will go by your chart. Do, though, be very careful to get their attention and make sure they know where to find it. And shoot it carefully so it really exactly lands on the GG lines. Don't make them guess.

A matte in the gate is just a place to catch dirt. Going wide open, there's a much better chance that any small dust particles in the aperture will be out of frame. Plus, if you need to, the extra height lets you tweak headroom in post. You can tilt down to clear a microphone, or do a dynamic tilt to make the operator look like a genius on a stand ups and sit downs.




-- J.S.
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#6 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 01:16 PM

I concur with John, doing it post is THE WAY to go. Anything else and you will very likely regret it tremendously, so do yourself a favor and shoot it full frame.
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#7 Jesse Lee Cairnie

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 12:05 PM

Thanks for the help guys, thats what i figured. so I'm just gonna shoot it full frame, better safe than sorry.

also I wont be able to test it.. and wont be able to modify the negative in any way.. I will be able to telecine after the project is over for personal use.. which is what I will frame for..

thanks again..
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#8 Chris Keth

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 07:57 PM

I don't see what's wrong with 1.66:1 aspect ratio. It's perfectly useable and actually quite an elegant ratio; it's the closest one in use to the golden rectangle which is 1.68:1.

If I didn't know better, I would think that a lot of younger people don't know how to frame for anything but 16:9.

Edited by Chris Keth, 16 September 2008 - 07:58 PM.

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#9 Jesse Lee Cairnie

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 03:07 PM

If I didn't know better, I would think that a lot of younger people don't know how to frame for anything but 16:9.



I wouldnt go as far as saying that.. good composition is good composition.. no?

I think us 'younger people' just havent been as exposed to that ratio as much as 'not younger people' therefore 16:9 has become an aesthetic subconscious. I know it is in my case, as I do prefer it, as I'm sure most cinematographers do, unless a story totally calls for otherwise (please correct me if im wrong)

That and I'm always looking to push my skills to doing as much in camera as possible. I figured in camera "widescreen" would be an interesting feat to undertake.

come to think of it.. I could try some tape on the back glass. see how that turns out.. maybe throw a little shmoo on it to for some sexy.. the gears are turnin.. I'll post the results..

Cheers!
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#10 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 07:45 PM

I wouldnt go as far as saying that.. good composition is good composition.. no?

I think us 'younger people' just havent been as exposed to that ratio as much as 'not younger people' therefore 16:9 has become an aesthetic subconscious. I know it is in my case, as I do prefer it, as I'm sure most cinematographers do, unless a story totally calls for otherwise (please correct me if im wrong)

That and I'm always looking to push my skills to doing as much in camera as possible. I figured in camera "widescreen" would be an interesting feat to undertake.

come to think of it.. I could try some tape on the back glass. see how that turns out.. maybe throw a little shmoo on it to for some sexy.. the gears are turnin.. I'll post the results..

Cheers!


Good composition is good composition but it is always affected by the shape and size of the frame. You generally can't just take a given frame and add more material on the sides or chop some from the top and bottom and expect it to be as pleasing as before.

I wasn't trying to be condescending, though rereading my post it does sound a little like it. I'm 23. I'm not trash talking a younger generation. I was only trying to make an observation.

As for tape on the rear element, that will have it's own problems: the mask line still won't be in focus. The way you would want to do it it to make a mask to sit in the gate of the camera. Most cameras have a place for a frame mask to slide in. That close to the film, the mask would be in focus.

Edited by Chris Keth, 17 September 2008 - 07:48 PM.

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