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Why doesn't Kubrick's use of wide angle lenses look typically wide angled?


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#1 cole t parzenn

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 02:33 PM

I don't seem to be the only person to have mistaken his use of wide angle lenses for deep focus. Now that I know to look for wide angle effects, it's as though I see a new fisheye shot, each time I watch "2001." "Eyes Wide Shut" and "The Tree of Life" were shot with similar focal lengths, according to "American Cinematographer," but I have to watch carefully to see just how wide EWS is, while obvious wide angle effects are a defining characteristic of TToL's look. The minimal apparent depth distortion can be (at least partly) explained by Kubrick's tendency to match actor and camera blocking and symmetrical composition but that's as far as I've gotten.


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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 04:04 PM

2001 was shot on 70mm - CInerama... So lens choice doesn't quite work the same as 35mm.

Eyes Wide Shut was 35mm (best I can recall ),

 

As for Tree of Life, the DoP states: "The picture was shot in standard 1.85:1, in 4-perf for maximum resolution and low grain. Lubezki explains, “Even though anamorphic has more resolution, we decided on 1.85 because the close focus was going to be extreme — we were so close to the kids, their faces, hands and feet. And we didn’t want the grain of Super 35."   They used short focal lengths and got real close up.

 

They make lenses that are "fisheye" and they make super-wide angle lenses that are "rectilinear" which don't distort as much.


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 06:26 PM

There are many degrees of wide-angle and some of those lenses have more curvature / barrel distortion than others.  Kubrick used the 9.8mm Kinoptik for a number of shots in his 35mm movies (the record store dolly shot in "Clockwork Orange", the maze chase in "The Shining"), which is a fairly distorting and really wide-angle lens but still not technically a "fish-eye".

 

It's harder to tell how much barrel distortion the 65mm wide-angle lenses used on "2001" had since the sets themselves had so many curves to them.  When 5-perf 65mm was first invented for Todd-AO, there was a "bug eye" lens designed to match the 146 degree field of view of the 3-camera Cinerama process.

 

Cinerama (three 27mm lenses on three 6-perf 35mm frames):

wideangle1.jpg

 

Bug-Eye lens on 5-perf 65mm Todd-AO:

wideangle2.jpg

 

But you can see the curvature problems with designing such a wide-angle lens in the mid-1950's.  I think today you'd have to use a 10mm lens in Super-35 to get a similar field of view, but there are rectilinear 10mm lenses made now for 35mm with no barrel distortion.

 

A few shots in "2001" may have used that Todd-AO bug-eye lens, and other shots used very wide-angle lenses, just not that wide.  I think the only "fish-eye" lens shots though were some HAL POV shots.


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 07:15 PM

Yes, technically people confuse true deep focus photography (which means that objects from very near to far look in focus) with staging in depth using wide-angle lenses.  Kubrick did more of the later -- I think he would have liked the first but his preference for available or practical lighting worked against the sort of light levels you need to achieve deep focus.  But he certainly created compositions with a lot of depth in them.  But often his close-ups were shot on closer-to-normal lenses often with moderate to shallow depth of field.  He wasn't trying to do some sort of Welles or Frankenheimer effect of a distorted tight close-up on an 18mm lens with someone behind them also in focus.


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#5 cole t parzenn

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 08:06 PM

The record store shot is one of few that I'd say are conspicuously wide angled - that the focal length was a mere 9.8mm is kind of my point!

 

How is "bugeye" different than "fisheye?" Here are a few distorted non-POV shots with lots of straight lines. Some shots in and around the pod bay are also distorted and have straight lines:

 

2001-Pod-Bay.jpg

 

Pod%20Bay.jpg

 

I've only seen references to "2001" using Panavision lenses.

 

Changing to a relatively long lens for close ups probably accounts for some of the difference between his look and that of a film like "The Tree of Life" but there seems to be more going on.


Edited by cole t parzenn, 20 September 2015 - 08:11 PM.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 08:27 PM

Actually the "bug-eye" Todd-AO lens must have been closer to what an 8mm would give you in Super-35 today, maybe it was a 15mm.

 

Kubrick used a Fairchild-Curtis 160 degree medium format lens for the HAL POV shots, which must have been around 14mm, which is quite a short focal length for a 65mm camera.  

 

I don't know what he used for those wide shots of the pod bay but clearly they were pretty wide, you'd have to look in a catalog to see what medium-format lenses existed in the 1960's probably in the 25mm range (which would be the equivalent of around a 12mm lens in Super-35.)

 

Most of "Tree of Life" was shot in Super-35 1.85 with an 18mm Zeiss Master Prime.

 

Again, the lenses made for 65mm cameras are generally adapted from medium-format still camera lenses and you usually are using twice the focal length to get the same horizontal field of view as in 35mm.

 

You can see here that Panavision's legacy 65mm optics started with a 24mm:

http://www.panavisio...mm-prime-lenses

 

Maybe that lens was used for those wide shots in the pod bay.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 08:34 PM

I guess "bug-eye" and "fish-eye" are overlapping terms, though most people consider fish-eye lenses to have almost a 180 degree field of view, but I think the 146 degree view of the bug-eye lens would count.

 

But those wide-angle master shots in "2001" are not truly fish-eye just because they have a lot of barrel distortion. With a fish-eye lens you are almost seeing behind the lens, the view is so wide.  If those shots were made on a 24mm medium-format lens, the field of view is more like 90 degrees.

 

The 18mm lens used in "Tree of Life" would have a 68 degree field of view in Super-35.  There are also 14mm and 16mm Master Primes that might have been used for a few shots.


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 10:49 PM

I see from looking online that while Cinerama had a 146 degree field of view, the Todd-AO bug-eye lens meant to compete with Cinerama "only" had a view of 128 degrees.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 September 2015 - 12:00 AM

That Panavision catalog also lists a "specialty" 65mm lens with a 19mm focal length, similar to 10mm in Super-35 in view.

 

Looking at my Kubrick Archive Taschen book, I see one camera report that lists a 35mm lens used for the master, I think in the "Dawn of Man" set.

 

There is also a photo of Kubrick lining up a low-angle dolly move in the centrifuge set that looks a lot like the Todd-AO bug-eye lens is on the camera, it certainly has a huge front element:

http://cinetropolis....-centrifuge.jpg

 

There are photos online of the Todd-AO bug-eye lens, like here (which says it was a 12.7mm):

http://www.widescree...een/wingto3.htm

 

Kubrick used Zeiss Super-Speeds a lot starting with "The Shining" and I think going through "Eyes Wide Shut", which 18mm is the widest-angle in the set.  He had that 9.8mm Kinoptik as well, but I don't know what he had between 18mm and 9.8mm -- there are a 10mm, 12mm, and a 14mm in the Zeiss Standard Speed sets, so maybe he had those as well.

 

Since some wide-angle lenses are more rectilinear than others, it's hard to judge how wide they are by how much barrel distortion there is.


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#10 Brian Siano

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 03:52 PM

I recall reading that Doug Trumbull claimed that they'd used Nikon lenses for a lot of 2001 shooting, and that they'd kept it quiet so as not to anger Panavision. A quick Google serch came up with this article: http://articles.lati...ment/et-hal27/2. The two salient paragraphs here say:

 

"In a detailed e-mail on the subject, Trumbull said, "Any claim by Kirk that the Fairchild-Curtis lens was used for the HAL [point-of-view] shots is just not true." He contended that the Fairchild-Curtis image would fill the entire frame of Kubrick's 70-mm movie, whereas the point-of-view shots of HAL are round and have vignetted dark spaces to the left and right of the 70-mm frame. Therefore the point-of-view lens would have to have been smaller."

[...]

"Though not taking sides, Frewin, Kubrick's assistant, recalls that the director used a 160-degree "mapping lens" borrowed from Fairchild-Curtis for HAL's point-of-view shots and later returned to the optical company. Frewin said Kubrick also used a "normal, commercially available Nikon fish-eye lens" for other HAL shots. The debate underscores not only the respect experts long have held for Kubrick's filmmaking techniques but also the enduring fascination moviegoers have had with HAL."

In another interview (http://parallax-view...uglas-trumbull/), Trumbull says:

"There was a commitment to Super Panavision, they called it Cinerama, but he was feeling kind of frustrated with the lenses available from Panavision for that medium. So we started experimenting with Nikon lenses and he found out that the Nikon lenses, which were designed for the 35mm slide format, actually had a field of image at the back of the lenses that was enough to cover the 65mm film format, which was just a little larger. And so, even though we were forbidden from publicly announcing that Nikon lenses were being used, we were using them all the time. But he was involved with that. And he would shoot shots. We had these Panavision cameras with various different lenses, some Nikon, some not, shooting the Discovery spacecraft for instance, and he would test everything until you were ready to just tear your hair out, because he was so meticulous. The shooting ratio on 2001 was 200-1. That is like way out there. And the difference between a 60mm and 55mm lens was big for Stanley."


 


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#11 Jay Young

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 03:56 PM

Off topic, but still interesting - Mr. Trumbull recently stated that the shooting ratio on the whole film of 2001 was something like 900:1,  Especially for the visual effects works.


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