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Old May 23rd, 2008, 07:37 AM   #16
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I hear rumblings now and then that some folks feel that you don't "need" the adaptor when doing Steadicam shots. The drawbacks that I can imagine are not having a remote focus control that is up to the task as Jonny describes (or not having one at all!) and/or not having confidence in your focus puller to be able to maintain sharps. Sometimes those perfectly practical considerations get translated upwards, where people think that we must shoot Steadicam shots on notably wide lenses or deep apertures to maximize depth of field even on big shows. As an FYI, we do neither--whatever the stop is in the scene will be maintained for Steadicam, be it T1.9 or (gulp!) less. And I have gone up to a 150mm prime on the rig (shooting concerts on video, probably longer). But this is in situations where those above mentioned caveats don't apply.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 07:51 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Jon Palmer View Post
I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say the 'film grain' effect of an adaptor with a spinning ground glass is almost worth it alone.
Hey Jon, I agree, the light coming through that glass gets nicely bent and helps break up the sharp video image in a pleasing way. I wish I could just a get a filter that does that, a vibrating ProMist or something...

As for shallow depth of field, I prefer when it's subtle, have a harder time when it draws attention to itself.

Originally Posted by Larry Secrest View Post
My DP insist that I get an 35 mm, more precisely the Letus that she has already used.
Larry, if I were in your position right now I would want to know how footage shot with the Letus adaptor looks if it's projected to a large screen.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 11:16 AM   #18
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It is true, I hadn't thought of the grain.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 08:18 PM   #19
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the only thing i can tell you is that something like 99.99% of the cinematography has the 35mm look.

You have 2 advantages with a 35mm adapter.

1) as you want to focus on actors, the shallow depth of field helps a lot to focus on certain parts of the image, focusing better on the actor.

2) You have a choice of lenses that go beyond a prosumer camera lens.

If used properly, your film will look much better, more pleasant to the eye and the brain and more professional.

Personally, i don't think that is good making a movie centered on the story and how the actors will convene the message, forgetting that it isn't a book, it's a movie. A MOVIE!

And a movie is photography + story + actors + sound.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:13 PM   #20
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And in this video:
You can see a ponderate usage of a 35mm adapter. The bokeh is sometimes very subtle, but enough to create a great space depth.
You can see many shots done with a 24mm rectilinear lens, which is impossible with a prosumer camera lens, or even most broadcast lenses.

It's not only about look. It's more natural. Our eyes focus to infinite only when they watch at the infinite. So a camera with infinite d.o.f. with a person in the foreground could be interpreted by the brain as a camera watching to the background (!!). And would be annoying and unnatural.
A 35mm adapter makes the image more logical to our brain.
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Old June 7th, 2008, 12:01 AM   #21
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Somewhat playing devil's advocate here (as I too generally prefer the 35mm look when it is done tastefully), I think you are somewhat missing the point, Giovanni. Extended depth of field can be beautiful too--we have all heard the examples such as Citizen Kane. The real key is that video tends to look better when a shallow depth of field is applied, while film can handle it either way. And I would question your "99.99%" figure--there are obviously a great many projects shot on 16mm or various video format that have made it to theatrical release, and some that are quite celebrated for their visuals.

Using a 35mm adapter is unquestionably slower which can translate into less setups per day; due to the stop loss you need a larger lighting package or a different approach for interiors and night exteriors; and particularly for a film that is intended to be projected, a skilled focus puller is desired. All of these are factors that possibly compromise the other aspects of making the film on a limited budget. If one has to drop several planned setups per day or limit the number of takes due to this compromise, how may that affect the final film? What if there is a focus buzz in the middle of the best performance (where the actor spontaneously decided to move differently than he had before, and the AC did not keep up)?

The bottom line is that a well-shot film that is otherwise lacking is not a satisfactory viewing experience for most people, even those who are enthralled by visuals (I should know, as I have a shot a number of these--read this review of the first feature I shot on 35mm, particularly the last paragraph...) I do believe that if the DP knows what they are doing, they can make good-looking images with a 1/3" camera without an adaptor, and if that allows more time for the storytelling and performances, then it may just be a worthwhile compromise. A successful film will do much more for a DP's career and visibility than a mediocre one that happens to be good looking.
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Old June 8th, 2008, 08:18 PM   #22
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Yes, you should use an a adapter because your film will look much better. In your situation I would without a doubt. If your don't want your work to stand out don't buy an adapter.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 02:47 PM   #23
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Trust your DP. Thats why you hired her. The adapter give your DP options and if used will allow your audience to focus that much more on the acting. DOF is elementary in film language and another tool in your tool chest to help tell your story. In the end I would trust my DP. Shes is there to worry about that stuff so you don't have to- I would buy it.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 01:35 AM   #24
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Huh, this old thread. Larry (original poster), how did this all resolve for you?
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Old August 26th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #25
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Bad usage on the long shots ...

Originally Posted by Dylan Pank View Post
If shallow depth of field is essential to the story and the visual style you're (collectively) going for then it's worthwhile investment, but shallow depth of field is only one look, not the only look.

A bigger problem seems to be that you and the DP seem to be pulling in different directions. She has one set of priorities, you have another. Why are you so against the adapter? That's not a rhetorical question, there may be good reasons - if your DP wants such a shallow depth of field, you'd better hope she has a really good focus puller working with her. I'm not a big fan of the adapter look myself, but then being a long time Kubrick/Welles fan I'm partial to bit of deep focus. Personally I think it's way overused, (in the way that 70's movies overused zooms) in some cases making every shot look like miniature; check out this example of too much adaptorising Gone in a Flash - HD on Vimeo. ...
The over use of the adaptor is the long shot where the dog master is walking down the street.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 09:04 AM   #26
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For me, I always thought of that as a good use of DOF. Rather than the subject walking out of frame, he walks out of focus.

That said, there were spots where I thought the DOF could have been a bit deeper, such as the 3-shot at :17 but overall I like the DOF aesthetic on this one.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 10:07 AM   #27
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I'm probably going to get a lot of flack for this but personally I find the strong lens blur rather too artificial and a bit kitsch. This earlier quoted piece is a good example:

Gone in a Flash - HD on Vimeo

I quite like a wide depth of field and there are only a few cases, say on an actor's emotional close-up where I think mild, but not heavy, bokeh is acceptable.

But we all have our personal tastes and if all directors used a lot of lens blur it would be very dull wouldn't it?
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Old August 27th, 2008, 08:36 AM   #28
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My personal feeling is that what a lot of the adaptor users don't realise is that on true 35mm projects, the DoP is often aiming for a stop of around T4, whereas with an adaptor as you're usually loosing a stop or so of light, and you can stop down in the camera's native lens anyway, adaptor users are often using a 35mm stop of about T1.8, with the whole "The more the better" attitude, plus on some models I believe you can zoom back to create the effect of an even bigger (therefore shallower) sensor.

A friend of mine shot a pilot for a TV show (for Turkish TV) on one of these things (a Letus 35 I think) and every seemed to have a rack focus or extreme shallow depth of field set-up. It's like those 3D movies where people are forever pointing throwing things at the camera in case audience miss the effect.

If you look at the many examples from the Red One cam on Vimeo you'll see nothing like the exaggerated amount of background blur that you see in most adaptor-shot movies, and in fact on many shots the depth of field is quite deep.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 11:13 AM   #29
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I entered a 48 hour film Project which occurred last week. Before that, in May, I had shot nine days with a Letus (actually 2, as one crashed during filming) adapter in a fantasy type film, and it was clear to me that at times, the adapter created issues, and time consumption. So in the 48 hour shoot, I decided to shoot FX1 and Z1 without adapters. I did use the dreaded Cineframe24, and the end result was not half bad, considering the rush of those type of shoots.

At the screenings, I detected perhaps three of the 14 films were shot with an adapter. Two were otherwise worthy films. One made masterful use of the adapter. In the other, the DP was obviously in love with the adapter, and he rack focused constantly during conversations, racking to focus on speaker of the moment. It was distracting, and actually hurt the film, which otherwise carried a good story...
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Old August 29th, 2008, 11:09 AM   #30
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It all very much depends on what you want to achieve in your shots. 35mm adapters will help you create a depth-of-field that will help separate your subject from the foreground and background and create an "area of interest" that the audience will subconsciously focus on -- something that's seemingly difficult to achieve on the apparent inifinite DOF of 1/3" sensor cameras. It's no different from wanting to apply a back-light on your subject.

Lots of movies and TV shows use DOF techniques subtley for this very reason (just watch an episode of ER).

It all very much depends on what level of artistic merit you want to give your shots.
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