Monday, January 26, 2009

Camcorder nerdiness

We're shooting Meat Love on a Canon Optura 30 camcorder. That giant black tube of doom attached to the front of the camera is a 35mm depth-of-field adapter, made (mostly) off the plans at Daniel's GG-holders.
The adapter lets us use Nikon AI lenses on the camcorder as well as allowing us to control aperture (and so also depth of field). We've got four lenses, and they've all come in handy: 100mm, a 50mm, a 35mm, and a 28mm. The great thing about these lenses is that they're from the Nikon F series camera and have been phased out - you can't use them straight on a new Nikon digital SLR. This means they're super cheap (comparatively) on Ebay. It's pretty neat.

So what goes into the adapter?
From closest to the camera to closest to the lens:
-a 34-37mm step-up ring
-a 37-55mm step-up ring
-a 55mm 10x Opteka macro lens
-a 55mm circular polarizing filter with the glass removed
-a 55-58mm step-up ring
-a 58-60mm step-up ring
-a size 2 Canon macro extension tube
-two size 3 Canon macro extension tubes
-within one of those size 3 tubes, a screen holder (fabricated by Daniel Schweinert holding a Canon EE-A focusing screen
-a size 1 Canon macro extension tube
-a canon EOS bayonet mount
-an EOS body to Nikon lens bayonet adapter

And a tube inside to hold the focusing screen to the right focal flange.

But I'm not done yet! One of the things that the adapter does besides providing beautiful depth of field is it flips the image upside down. People who know say that this is because of physics. It is entirely possible! I'm an art school dropout so as far as I know, it could be because of reversed photons or something.

It's hard to frame shots when they're upside-down... but fortunately we are Resourceful. This is our solution:

A firewire cable hooks the camcorder to a Macbook running FlipFlop, a program written specifically for 35mm adapters, turning your laptop into an on-set monitor. It flip-flops the image, it can magnify to aid focus, it can do crosshairs and safe areas and show 16:9.

And FlipFlop, like the plans for the 35mm dof adapter, is totally free. The internet is a wonderful place.

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