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Thread: Focal Length and Cinematography

  1. #1
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Focal Length and Cinematography

    "Poverty is the biggest cause of poverty." Rutger Bregman

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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt View Post
    Good examples and explanation of how lens "focal" lengths should be used.

    ~Opening scene from Clockwork Orange~ Note how a wide focal length range zoom is used by Stanley Kubrick.~
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI-mDTdeKR8

    Angenieux 12-240mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens with a 1.6x extender was used "enlarge" the zoom lens image circle to work in S35mm film.
    This is what the hardware looks like:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The other and IMO, more significant aspect of image making.. lighting..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOLZMr52Wcc



    Bernice

  3. #3
    Les
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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt View Post
    Sure, the focal length matters, but there are soooo many things-nuances to propel the story. It's always about the story. Sometimes the special effects get in the way of that, tho it suppose to further propel it. Most cinematographers know the renderings of different optics.....between Angenieux, Cooke, Panavision, Schneider (to mention a few) and they use each to acquire specific look.

    To follow that, the DP on Bonnie and Clyde used old and trusty set of Cooke primes. Vilmos Zsigmond often used Angenieux zoom to provide "softer" look vs Panavision's biting-sharp zoom. In fact, sometimes Dior hose (panty hose), was used to obtain the desired consistency, in order to give further softy look. The Godfather DP had little to worry about consistency (optics), since the camera and the optics were set aside for him in the NYC rental house....as if for his personal use :>). Lots of these little tricks in cinema are not discussed.

    Overall tho it's about motion (as in motion picture) and I might be too generous including My dinner with Andre, since there is a myriad of decisions to be made on the set (10000 places one can set up the camera). The focal length of a lens, and I don't mean to minimize it, while there are more important issues of lighting, matching scene consistency, bla bla bla.....so the editor actually has something to formulate towards the story. Case in point, Woody Allen "finished" production on Annie Hall and was reminded by the editor, that the story was different than intended....needless to say, more material had to be shot - consequently it became a funny moomie.

    Les

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    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Good examples and explanation of how lens "focal" lengths should be used...
    Bernice
    A good watch! I am always getting in trouble for saying that perspective changes with focal length.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    Well, it does if you keep the subject the same general size in the frame, and the people who regularly harp about this should realize that.
    "Poverty is the biggest cause of poverty." Rutger Bregman

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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    More examples..
    https://www.cinema5d.com/understandi...ove-your-work/

    IMO, more than a few image makers do not fully understand how to use and fully exploit the power of focal lengths for image making to all it can be. This is directly tied to composition ( Structure-Rules !! NO !!) and lighting, then tonality and more.


    Bernice

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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    So Kubrick used essentially a zoom lens designed for 16mm cinematograhy with an extender to cover a four perf 35mm frame? Hmmm.
    interesting. I would think fall off and loss of sharpness around the edges would be pretty bad. But I'm sure he ran tests and really knew his lenses.
    Most behind the scenes photos of Kubrick at work on Clockwork show him using an Arri IIc with wide angles. Some exteriors with the Angenieux zoom. And a good 'ole Mitchell BNC.

    I like most of David O. Russell's work (directed Three Kings). He works with excellent cinematographers. Check out "The Fighter".

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    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    This is a good reason to remember to slow down and get the shot in the camera. You can't change composition, angles, perspectives, etc in PS.

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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    Kubrick used this converted 12-240mm Angeniuex in Barry London and ... He was quite fond of this creation, optically more than adequate.

    More recently, these folks did the same for Canon DSLR video.
    https://www.cinema5d.com/crazy-peopl...to-go-with-7d/

    Mitchell BNC's were not valued much at that time, Kubrick understood well how excellent these cameras were, began collecting them. One was modified to be used with that Zeiss f0.7 Planar used in Barry London.

    Later, Tim Burton used a Fleet of Michell cameras to produce Nightmare Before Christmas. The Michell was THE only 35mm cine camera with enough precision frame to frame to meet the needs of frame to frame animation.

    Regardless, there is MUCH still image makers can learn from Film makers including lens choice, how they can and should be used, composition, lighting and a LOT more..

    Keep in mind Stanley Kubrick worked for Look Magazine.. his still image ways and habits followed him and served him well for Film making.


    Bernice






    Quote Originally Posted by TrentM View Post
    So Kubrick used essentially a zoom lens designed for 16mm cinematograhy with an extender to cover a four perf 35mm frame? Hmmm.
    interesting. I would think fall off and loss of sharpness around the edges would be pretty bad. But I'm sure he ran tests and really knew his lenses.
    Most behind the scenes photos of Kubrick at work on Clockwork show him using an Arri IIc with wide angles. Some exteriors with the Angenieux zoom. And a good 'ole Mitchell BNC.

    I like most of David O. Russell's work (directed Three Kings). He works with excellent cinematographers. Check out "The Fighter".

  10. #10

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    Re: Focal Length and Cinematography

    Bernice,
    You'd be surprised. I actually gave a lesson on hyperfocal distance and depth of field to a very experienced and busy cameraman. It was like I flipped a light switch. On a shoot the other day, I suggested to a cameraman that we could narrow the field of view of a background by moving the camera away from the subject and zooming to a longer focal length. "That did the trick!" was the response. BTW. I'm not a camera operator or DP!
    Thanks for the Kubrick info. I'm a big fan. Once the Arri 35BL became available, the Mitchells were relegated to efx shots.

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