Advice needed for shooting documentary with letusXL & 20X XL2 lense at

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Old June 6th, 2007, 01:16 PM   #1
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Advice needed for shooting documentary with letusXL & 20X XL2 lense


I am considering shooing a documentary about 21st century farming in New England. Most of the shooting will be out doors. I would like to use my Letus XL with 50mm Prime lens. I would also like to use my 20X XL2 lens.

I realize that there is going to be a big difference in the way each lens will shoot. This is especially true when it comes to focus and grain.

I am trying to avoid a major noticeable difference in footage from one lens to another. Does anyone have any suggestions for using the combination of lenses?


Tim Bickford
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Old June 6th, 2007, 11:44 PM   #2
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My guess is that Phil Bloom may post on this topic soon enough if not busy at work himself. Otherwise you might try a dvinfo email to him to set up a phone call. He is well practiced in mixing and matching footage.

My spin on this would be that any adaptor will be a handful in a documentary environment which requires a fast workpace and instant flexibility and you decision to shoot much of your project direct-to-camera is a wise one..

You have to get in a lot of practice with your adaptor before using it becomes intuitive. Otherwise you will be in for extensive reshoot when you find out of focus shots you just cannot use.

My imagining is that for your project, a lot of your footage is going to be scenic wide shots, close-ups maybe of plants, insects, earthworms, hands doing things, implements, modern technologies etc..

For resolution, your wides will best be shot direct-to-camera. The macro options available for your versatile XL direct-to-camera will likely outperform any adaptor.

Focus pulls through a crop, backlit dews and spider webs will look good with an adaptor. However, because you are not constrained as much by workspace outdoors, sitting off with your XL's own zoom direct-to-camera will probably be more effective and a faster workflow.

It is when you are talking to a human and want to set them off against a diffuse background, that your adaptor will come into its own.

If you are going to do your scenic wides which include sky with your adaptor and 50mm lens regardless, use the camera on a locked off tripod only, no pans or tilts unless you are following a dynamic complex subject large enough in the frame which will compel audience attention.

Movement of a shot which contains bright sky with a few clouds is going to aggravate any fixed pattern artifact which occurs and you won't see it until you are well down the post-production path.

A large object which has bright areas of little textural complexity, such as a caravan or bus moving through the frame, should also be avoided for the same reason.

Standard LCD camcorder viewfinders are simply not good enough for adaptors when using shallow depths-of-field.

When you can, also shoot direct-to-camera coverage of the adaptor footage, at least until when after enough practice, you can reliably predict how the adaptor footage will perform back in the edit suite on a good screen.

The use of the adaptor should be be contained to close-ups where the subject dominates large in the frame.

Any resolution loss will be less evident. Interviewees will look less like a roadmap if they are leathery from lots of outdoors work and may appreciate the kind treatment the adaptor lends to them.

If you can't have somebody to hold a bounce board, wear a white tee-shirt, over warm clothing if need be and stand closer to your interviewee.

The jump from one "look" to another will be less apparent if you choose the adaptor for a specific style of shot.

Hopefully I have not thrown red herrings your way. There are much more competent shooters here than I and hopefully they will contribute.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 07:07 PM   #3
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Thank you for the advice. You always respond with well thought out answers and suggestions.

The documentary will focus on Agritourism Ė which is a fancy word for farmers using their farms for tourism type things. I.E. Hay rides, corn mazes, school field trips etc. Iím still in the process of writing a script.

I intend to use the Letus in those instances where itís important that the audience focus on the speaker or a particular object. Of courseÖ Iím stating the obvious, thatís the whole point of shallow DOF. I will most likely have less that 20% of those types of shots.

Iím thinking that the majority of the shallow DOF shots will be interviews (inside) and some outside. Inside, there is not usually a whole lot to distract the viewer. However, Iím concerned about the outside interviews and will want to use the Letus.

Iím just concerned that the two lenses are going to produce a significantly different look. Iím especially concerned with the sharpness. The 20X is really going to make things look very sharp Ė in focus.

Iíll be using a field monitor for the Letus shots to improve focus.

Iíll keep you posted.

Thanks again
Tim Bickford
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Old June 7th, 2007, 07:29 PM   #4
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You can always filter the 20x if you are concerned with it being 'too sharp'. A Promist or Black Diffusion will take a bit of the edge off. Likewise the low contrast filters, outside in sharper light.
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