Magazine article American Cinematographer

Cinema Workshop

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Cinema Workshop

Article excerpt


There are few cinematographers these days that work in only one format. More often a Director of Photography will find that there is as much variety in formats as there is in types of assignments. Most features are still shot in 35mm. However, there is a growing popularity for both 16mm and video within the documentary, educational, and industrial markets. In addition many cinematographers, like myself, often employ a 35mm still camera during set preparation and while scouting locations.

It is quite obvious that what is learned from one assignment can often be applied to another, no matter what the format involved. Often I find myself trying to duplicate on one format a particular perspective achieved on another. This usually requires some quick and rough calculations to establish the equivalent focal length. For example, that nice high-angle shot of the large warehouse turned out great on the 35mm slide, so what lens do I need on the 16mm camera to give me the same coverage and perspective? This situation has cropped up with sufficient frequency to motivate my creating the chart reproduced in FIGURE 1. A quick reference to the chart will quickly convert a given focal length from one format to another, as well as give an approximate horizontal angle view.

Note that the 35mm slide column is based on a 1.33:1 format, assuming that the width of test slides has been reduced from the full 36mm to 32mm. The 35mm Cine column is based on a full aperture and should be reduced by slightly over 10% to yield an equivalent for an Academy aperture. Of course, most numbers have been rounded off for simplicity.

Critical film tests are always most significant when the actual production camera, lenses, emulsion, and lab are used. As previously mentioned,' preliminary tests of location, lighting, sets, etc., can often be conveniently and effectively recorded with a 35mm SLR camera. This process becomes even more meaningful if the same film stock is employed in the SLR camera as will be used on the actual production.

Since most 35mm and 16mm productions employ Eastman color negative (5247/7247), many cinematographers load short ends of Eastman color negatives into 35mm SLR containers in order to use this cine stock in their still cameras. In addition to the obvious benefits of a closer match with cine footage, some believe the 5247 emulsion and print systems offer other advantages over the more conventional color still film. …

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