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Old March 31st, 2008, 01:22 AM   #1
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Crazy depth of field in "Life in the Undergrowth"

For those of you who have seen this series by the BBC with David Attenborough, how do they achieve the shots where the insect is close up in the foreground, while he's almost in focus in the background (or maybe he is in focus, I don't remember, but it was striking.) Any ideas?
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Old March 31st, 2008, 04:35 AM   #2
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They may have been using the "Panavision Frazier Lens System", it is a periscope system, designed by an Australian cinematographer. It won a Technical Achievement Award at the 1997 Oscars


PS:
I am obviously wrong as I have just found this legal case http://hd24.com/frazier_case.htm and here http://www.patenthawk.com/rulings/04-1060.pdf

Last edited by Bob Thompson; March 31st, 2008 at 04:49 AM. Reason: Discovered new information
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Old March 31st, 2008, 06:00 AM   #3
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Clever use of a green screen?
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Old March 31st, 2008, 10:50 PM   #4
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Once upon a time there was a special effects filter which was basically a closeup lens cut in half and mounted in a retaining ring. That resulted in half the frame focused on something a few inches (cm) away while the other half was at infinity. It was a startling effect, but after a bit the viewer could pick up the straight line boundary between near and far. I'll bet a computer could effectively hide that interface...Just an idea.

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Old April 1st, 2008, 02:53 AM   #5
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Oxford Scientific Films used to do work for the "Life" series.

http://www.oxfordscientificfilms.tv/...aspx?cid=3&d=8
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Old May 4th, 2008, 06:21 AM   #6
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I tock a look at the "Undergrowth" and I think it is just a clever use of a extreme wideangle lens and a long focus (big "F").
Some times Sir David is on exact focus but the creature are not, take a look again and see...

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Old May 6th, 2008, 08:36 AM   #7
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Split diopters and borescopes

Many shots were achieved using boroscopes and periscope/snorkel lens systems such as the Frazier that Bob Thompson refers to. The diopters are used for split focus shots, tricky to use effectively. The borescopes come in many flavors but generally use a specially designed optical path that retains the great DoF that you see in Life in the Undergrowth.

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