Comparing Cinema Lenses To Still Camera Lenses

A lot of people take shots of sets and wonder how the focal length of their still camera lens compares to cinema lenses. Even if the capture format is 35mm film or a digital camera with a 35mm size sensor, the angles of view are not the same as with a 35mm still camera.

The reason is that the the film runs horizontally through a still camera instead of vertically as through a cinema camera, resulting in a larger frame in the still camera which in turn results in a wider angle of view with a similar focal length lens.

The lens angle chart below is similar to the traditional AOV acetates used in Art Departments for decades but this one has the equivalents for still lens focal lengths next to the cinema lens angles. (You can print out a pdf of this below, just have it printed on clear acetate.) Beside each cine focal length you’ll see the equivalent focal length with a full frame DSLR. If you are using a camera with a crop frame factor this will of course be closer to the cine focal length. In fact if you shoot with the Nikon D40 or similar, it will be almost identical in focal length numbers to the cine lenses.

Angle Of View Comparison Chart

On the chart I’ve drawn a full size outline of each sensor/frame size so that you can see the difference between the two mediums. You can use this chart on any size scale plan and it will give you a very close approximation to what you’ll see with a given lens. If you want to use it on elevations you’ll need to divide the angle by 1.33 to get the vertical angle.

For those of you who use iPhones for stills, you can download a AOV chart for the iPhone below, print it on acetate and compare in to the 35mm lenses.

 

Cinema_Super 35 AOV Comparison

iPhone Angle Of View

Your Next Phone May Be A Real-time 3D Scanner

In February Google launched what they call “Project Tango”. They have developed a smartphone which is also a 3D scanner that can map the surrounding area and build a visual map of it. Processing over 3 million reference points a second, the device can build a virtual, scalable model of a room in the time it takes to walk through it.

Schematic of how the Tango device works

Schematic of how the Tango device works

They have currently hand-picked 200 developers to create applications for the device which as of now only runs on Android devices. Imagine what this would do to those never-ending time-consuming location surveys. Would you ditch your iPhone if you could have an Android phone that did this?

 

Can’t wait that long? If you’ve got $4500 and want the latest in room scanners, go over to Matterport and watch their demonstration video of their room capture camera system.

 

 

What Lens Is It? Comparing Apple Device Cameras To 35mm Lenses

A lot of times when you’re using your smart phone camera to take a shot of a set or location it would be nice to know what the equivalent view would be with a 35mm cinema / video lens.

I ran the numbers for most Apple devices and came up with the following equivalent focal lengths for both 35mm still cameras (full frame) and Super 35mm size sensors. Remember that although both formats are based on 35mm film stock, the frame for a still camera is a 1.5 aspect ratio with a frame width of about 1.417 inches. A Super 35mm frame is a 1.35 aspect ratio and the frame width is .980 inches.

Why only Apple? Well, the company readily makes their devices lens and sensor data available and it was easy to calculate. In the next post I’ll show you how to measure for your devices’ angle of view if the exact focal length isn’t published.

Please note in the following table the focal lengths for the given device have been rounded up to the nearest whole number so the equivalent lengths given are approximate.

Apple device lens comparison chart

BREAKING NEWS: German Government Offers Huge Tax Incentives To Hollywood Studios

FÜRNHEIM, Germany (ADAC) – On Monday the German government’s federal film commission, the DDFLM, announced that they were now going to offer a 90% tax rebate to American film production companies who shoot 100% of their films within the country. In a packed room at the Forstquell-Brauerei the commission’s president, Max Furzmann, said the move was  to compete for the American studio projects with states such as Louisiana, New York and Georgia, and countries such as Canada who offer large tax rebate incentives to lure film productions there.

This deal has apparently been in the works for some time as a source at Universal Pictures in Los Angeles reported that there are plans to dismantle all of the sound stages at Universal Studios and rebuild them in Europe. Universal representative Michael Dorftrottel, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “What do we need stages for anyway? Everything’s done in a computer now, isn’t it?”

Removing the stages will allow Universal’s new upcoming Harry Potter attraction to encompass the area now taken up by the only part of the studio actually used for making films. It will also allow the studio space to provide much larger climate-controlled covered parking areas for upper-management.

Late Monday, the Louisiana Film Commission held a press conference where they announced that the state, known among industry insiders as ‘Hollywood South’, was considering increasing the current film tax incentive rate to 95% in response to the German rebate program. This suggested rate increase is still apparently being hotly debated among the state’s legislators. Petroleum oil companies, who currently purchase most of the tax credits from the studios to apply to their own tax debt, are encouraging the state to increase the incentive rate to 125% claiming the increase would be very beneficial to the state as well as to the corporation shareholder’s stock portfolios.

Furzmann did not explain the German tax incentive in detail during his remarks but instead presented a short animated video by Jan Vetter, Dirk Felsenheimer and Rodrigo Gonzáles of the FKK group which outlines the various aspects of the program.

 

 

UPDATE: The Georgia state legislature held an all-night session which resulted in plans to raise that state’s tax rebate incentive to 300% of labor and sales tax. Also, 20th Century Fox Studio announced they would follow a similar course of action as that of Universal Studios and have completed tearing down Stages 14, 15 and 16 with plans of replacing them with much needed office buildings along Pico Blvd.

 

Just Shoot It

Quote

Scene from Days Of Heaven - Production Designer Jack Fisk

Scene from Days Of Heaven – directed by Terrence Malick – Production Designer Jack Fisk – cinematography by Nestor Almendros

“It’s one of those foolish truisms that a lot of what is perceived as great cinematography actually is really good production design or really good location choice. Often it’s that easy – it’s so damn good, just photograph it.”

Stuart Dryburgh , Cinematographer

Tomorrow You’re Going To Hate Yourself

There’s just one day left to pledge to the Spike Kickstarter program and get the early release Spike laser measuring accessory for smartphones. For a pledge of $389, you get a Spike Pro device and software for less than half of what it’s going to cost when they are released on the retail market.

This isn’t an ad and I’m rarely so excited about tech devices considering how many of them are released every year, but this thing is flat-out amazing. If you do many location surveys it will save you a lot of time and frustration.

Take a look at the previous post for the full story on it and another scanner called the Sensor. The more I investigate the Spike the more excited I get about getting my hands on one of them next April. The developers are writing code for more applications even as we speak and are working on a beta app to enable the device to create a point cloud of a non rectangular shape like a gravel pile. This device is going to completely change my work methods of location surveying and make some jobs possible that would have been unthinkable before. It’s also designed to work with Sketchup and will export kmz files that import right into the program.

They have extended the range of the device to 950 feet and have released a number of videos to explain the range of possibilities. The video below shows using the company’s Ike3D device to measure an interior. I’m guessing, and hoping that the Spike will be able to capture interiors in a similar fashion.

Watch this.

You might want to act fast if this looks interesting, as of this posting there are only 40 of the devices left at this pledge level.

3D Scanners For Your Pocket – Coming Soon, Very Soon.

There must be something in the water in Boulder. A lot of technology is coming out of that little town including two new devices which could continue to revolutionize the way we work. Location survey work has never been much fun and always comes with unknown challenges that often leave you stymied, ike that billboard you suddenly learn you have to measure, or the block-long row of buildings that you have to survey with two hours of sunlight left in the day.

Using 3D scanners for location surveying and object duplication in the past has been something people have wanted, but the price of most of these devices usually makes their use too cost prohibitive. The iPhone and the many apps that accompanied its popularity have been a real help in many Art Department workflows but their uses are currently limited as far as true 3D capture and augmented reality functions.

Two companies, Ike GPS and Occipital are trying to fill a need for low cost 3D scanners with two inventions which act as add-on devices for digital phones and tablets. By harnessing the power of these devices, their creations enhance products that most people are already using.

Ike is a company which has had previous success with hand-held scanners and was looking to create a device which could be small enough to fit on a smart phone. They’ve come up with a small device called Spike which attaches to an iPhone or other smart phone and uses the devices built-in accelerometer, compass and GPS functions to make it possible to measure the size, height or even the volume of buildings and even create a 3D model to export to a modeling program.

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The company is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise interest as well as funds to develop the device which they plan on having ready for the market by next May. The device will come in two versions; the Basic version and the Pro version which will generate 3D model files, geolocate buildings and allow for pulling measurements from the digital image.

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For a donation of $389, you’ll get a prerelease Spike Pro which the company says is around half of the final retail price, meaning the street price of the Pro unit is going to be somewhere in the $800 range. That may seem pricy but the next closest device I know of that can provide similar functions is about 5 times more,  both in size and price.

Here’s a video from the company website:

 

 

Occipital has developed a device they are calling the Structure Sensor which attaches to an iPad and can create 3D scans of objects or rooms up to about 550 square feet with a range of 3 1/2 meters. The file can be imported into a CAD package or output for 3D printing.

Structure Sensor

The Sensor Kickstarter program is fully funded but for a $330 pledge you can still get a Sensor at a significantly reduced price than it will retail for when it becomes available early next year.

Check out the video below:

Here are the links to the Kickstarter pages:

Structure Sensor

Spike Pro