Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Camera Moves Through Miniatures

I've got a show that needs a camera move though cosmetic bottles. The bottles vary in size from hand lotion to lipstick. I've never done a shot of this sort before, and I'm hoping for some of the grand CML guidance.

It's a Super 16 shoot, and my Aaton is about 700% too big to actually do the move though. My idea was to under sling the camera on a jib and use a snorkel to get down between the products, but the snorkel I located will be a bit big. What I imagine would work is a thin snorkel with a C-mount sized prime on the end, but I don't know if such a thing exists, or where I would get one.

Perhaps there are better ideas to be had out in CML land, or maybe someone knows where I could get an appropriate lens as described.

Thanks already!

Frazer Bradshaw
Director of Photography
San Francisco

>What I imagine would work is a thin snorkel with a C-mount sized prime >on the end, but I don't know if such a thing exists, or where I would get >one.

Innovision Probe 1?

Never used it, just seen demos. 1.3" lens diameter.

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"

>What I imagine would work is a thin snorkel with a C-mount sized prime >on the end, but I don't know if such a thing exists, or where I would get >one.

There are a few such lenses, each of varying size/quality. CPT was one of the first US makers (of the smaller C-mount type) back in the late 80's. Made some with right-angle attachments and waterproof shroud and little Tamron's on the end (not certain if its different glass now).
Revolution's a tad bigger, but is better quality optics than some of the older mount-mount probes. Century also has some thin probes and the 2000 is excellent. Lots of options.

One reminder: you need lots o' lumens, not only for DoF, but also because the light loss of the scopes, and the thicker stop you should have for some of the little glass on the end. The CPT probes used to have re-labelled f/stops, but they were essentially t-stops, so what was labelled f/11 was actually more like f/2.8 if you were calculating DoF !

On top of that, when I tested them for a miniature gig a while back I found that none of the lenses were of highest quality and they all vignetted to some degree (its not like you have S4's or Primos on the end) and I liked to thicken the neg even more than usual, so that was another 3rd of a stop more light I needed.

Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP

This sounds perfect for the Innovision Probe 2+ with their small objectives, not the PL mount lenses. Use the right-angle end making it a T4 periscope, not a straight probe. Great quality, not a ridiculously small stop and pretty small; about the size of a quarter, Um....maybe a little bit bigger; 1.8 inches diameter lens. But the new Probe 2+ system looks great on film.

We've used it a bunch recently. You can rent it directly from Innovision and they'll ship it to you. Good guys.

Rod Williams
Motion Picture First Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California

‘Camera move through miniatures’ I did a shot like this a few years ago for the opening titles for "Marvin's Room". The shot was an almost 4 minute long journey through hundreds of prescription drug bottles on a kitchen counter top, and required precise timing for title plament, absolute smoothness for titles, and precise focus at minimal depth of field; all things you will still likely encounter.

The table top set through which we travelled the lens was approximately 30" deep by 6 feet wide. Bottles passed so close to the lens that sometimes the lens pushed them, other times some bottles had to be pulled as soon as they were off camera. We did it motion control using an Innovision right-angle snorkel. Still, it took days to complete, and there was even a re-shoot after seeing dailies that had to be scheduled some weeks later.

It was shot at 24 FPS for theatrical release, so the depth of field was touchy. Reasons for shooting real-time was the rain storm in the background and the fact that some of the bottles were hand-removed as soon as the camera moved of them to make room for the lens to pass through maze of bottles.

The re-shoot was for creative reasons. The first shoot did not contain the richness the production required in their opening sequence, especially in the background visible out the kitchen window beyond the countertop. The length of time it took to shoot was largely due to the requirement that it be one long continuous shot...I think it just fit on a 400 foot 35mm load. There were many elements besides the motion control that caused the length of time...Precise focus, rain elements, precise replacement of removed bottles on subsequent takes, live lighting cues. Motion control actually probably made things take less time in the long run because it removed the variables of camera move problems and miss-focus.

If your shot is of this length kind of, I suggest you try to find cut points and avoid extreme focus throws if you do this live on a jib. The Innovision snorkel has really small objective lenses (an inch or 2 across). An alternative is the CPT Super scope. Most other right angle snorkels are still large, or use larger objective lenses. Possibly you might consider the Revolution, or even a Kenworthy snorkel system.

Good luck.

Don Canfield
Gear+Rose Motion Control
New York

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