How to Make a Large Format Video Camera, Plus Footage

January 3rd, 2018
How to Make a Large Format Video Camera, Plus Footage

Ever wondered what it would look like to shoot video with an antique 8X10 large format photography camera? Thanks to this unique creation by Filmmaker & Photographer Zev Hoover, we can. Watch this video:

A setup that makes the IMAX format look puny, Zev has ingeniously rigged an 8X10 large format camera to a slider, with a tilt-shift Sony a7S mounted underneath.

The result is an incredibly unique look – razor thin depth of field that has similar subject isolating properties to the tilt-shift macro-look, but on the same plain, in front of your face.

Zev’s interlude in the video does a pretty good job of explaining what is going on, but if you’re still confused:

Complicated as it sounds, it’s actually relatively straight forward if you’re familiar with refraction/projection/capture from depth of field adaptors back in the day.

Light passes through the large format lens on the front of the camera (as it normally would), it then hits the back of the camera where Zev has rigged a matte white panel, an a7S camera then captures the projected image on the matte white panel, using a wide angle lens.

The Sony a7S is mounted at the bottom facing backwards and uses a tilt shift adaptor to avoid distortion (it can’t sit straight with the white panel as it would get in the way of the large format lens).

Lastly, it’s all mounted to a cheap camera slider, with the large format lens mounted to the carriage to allow for smooth focus changes.

My colleague Nino Leitner chatted to Zev a little on how it works. As mentioned before, it’s a system in the vein of old depth of field adaptors – light passes through a 35mm lens onto ground glass, then a camcorder (circa Panasonic HVX200 or Sony EX3) films the projection.

Similar concept from a while ago, widely used: 35mm adaptors on small-sensor cameras (before DSLR filmmaking changed it all)

Rather than a setup using ground glass, Zev opted for matte white:

“My setup projects the image onto a matte white screen instead of a ground glass for two reasons – the availability of extremely matte materials means that the ‘hotspot’ issue is almost completely eliminated, and the folded optical path that my reflective setup uses cuts the overall size of the rig in half.”

Inside the technical solution: a camera filming the projection of the image onto the large matte screen.

“The main challenge was how to image this screen without getting in the way of either side of the primary lens. If I just placed my taking camera directly in front of the screen, it would block the light from the large format lens from reaching the screen. 

The way I got around this was by shifting the lens on the taking camera up, the same way an architectural photographer might to keep their verticals straight. This allowed me to capture the whole, undistorted view of the screen from an off axis point below the centre of the screen.”

Zev also gave us an insight into some of the technical aspects of the camera:

“I used an Industar-37 as the large format lens, it is a 300mm f4.5, which was just about the fastest sub $100 8×10 lens I could find. On the a7S, I had an Irix 15mm f2.4 Firfly (cheapest, fastest, low distortion wide angle that focused close enough) mounted on a Kipon Nikon-Sony shift adapter, set to APS-C mode.”

The results are fantastic. It’s not perfect, the thing looks a monster to move around and you lose around 6 stops of light, but it offers a truly unique look.

22
Leave a reply

guest
Filter:
all
Sort by:
latest
 Stefan Barkla
Stefan Barkla
Member
January 23rd, 2018

Seems pretty cool and much easier to manage than the other 8 x 10 D.O.F type concepts I have seen previously…

I have often wanted the shallow D.O.F effects of shooting stills for 8 x 10 or larger, without having to spend the money on film, whilst also having a more fluid shooting experience.

The only part I don’t really get, is that in all the still images of the rig, the front standard looks like it is racked all the way up? Am a little rusty in LF movements but wouldn’t this effect the overall image by having things like horizon lines etc always quite high up in the image?

Thanks, look forward to your thoughts on this!

 Matt Rogers
Member
January 23rd, 2018
Reply to  Stefan Barkla

That is interesting, I hadn’t noticed that.

I have no idea why he’s shifting the front standard so much, but I’d love to find out.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Matthew Pennings
Guest
January 4th, 2018

Very cool

Paolo Rudelli
Paolo Rudelli
Member
January 4th, 2018

Is funny we did this on 8×10 arca-swiss, 13 year ago at the time of mini35 hype with a 2/3″ 3CCD camera on the studio where a I was the DoP at that time. Is funny 5 minutes but you can’t really use on production.
We even motorize back part of Bellow and camera support for fast focusing and tiling with a joystick but at that time bad low light camera capacity let you shoot only in the death valley at 12Am the 21 June.

 Henry Eckstein
Henry Eckstein
Member
January 4th, 2018

We kinda did the same thing when in the 1990’s we recorded onto Betacam SP and Digital Betacam decks while shooting off a high end 20 inch computer monitor frame-by-frame of 3D computer renders.

There is a natural anti-aliasing effect which seemed to give the image a more cinematic look and the resulting image looked more “photogenic” than directly recording using a scan-converter.

I suspect the vignetting and natural anti-aliasing that results from the loss of light caused by the projection process itself, resembles that “Film Look” which to many human eyes looks more “Natural” than the over-saturated and too-sharp imagery of direct-from-lens digital RGB/YCbCr pixels.

Also when we did a lot of 8mm, 16mmand 35mm film transfers of documentary footage, we would project onto a bright white textured 8×11.5 inch paper which we then shot with high end scanners which further add a “gritty old news reel” flavour to such footage which many DOP’s and Editors LOVED. That footage also seemed “More Realistic” that direct film scanning.

We once did a side-by-side comparison and without fail everyone in our studio chose the onto-paper-projected footage over the direct film scans of the same imagery.

Kuba Kędzia
Guest
January 3rd, 2018

Well I guess the point is that the footage looks rather unique and this is simply a brilliant idea :D

Daniel Remer
Guest
January 4th, 2018
Reply to  Kuba Kędzia

Brilliant? Why? Because it’s so portable and ergonomic?

Kuba Kędzia
Guest
January 4th, 2018
Reply to  Kuba Kędzia

Because it actually works :D

cinema5D
Guest
January 4th, 2018
Reply to  Kuba Kędzia

We agree, it looks amazing!

 Dan Hyman
Dan Hyman
Member
January 4th, 2018
Reply to  cinema5D

I also agree! Innovative way to capture a very unique depth of field. This kid is going places.

 Keith Mullin
Member
January 3rd, 2018

My question, is it the “large format” projected image creating the look? Or is it the fact that there is a tilt shift lens involved. Lots of the sample images have a tilt shift feel to them.

 Matt Rogers
Member
January 15th, 2018
Reply to  Keith Mullin

From what I understand, the use of a tilt shift in this project it to ensure that the 2nd camera doesn’t introduce any extra distortions to the final image.

Because camera 2 is filming a flat image projected onto a ground glass it would be very easy to be positioned slightly off centre and produce an unpleasant result where you can see converging lines due to looking slightly along the ground glass, which introduces perspective into the mix.

In terms of depth of field; if anything a tilt shift will help you make sure that the focal plane is aligned with the ground glass therefore removing any additional dof from camera 2.

So, in short, I think that all of the shallow dof stuff in the resulting image is from camera movements in the large format camera, and not introduced by the use of a tilt shift lens.

I hope that helps.

 Matt Rogers
Member
January 15th, 2018
Reply to  Matt Rogers

Slight correction: he’s not using a ground glass, he’s projecting the image onto a white board.

But the principle is the same.

Member
January 3rd, 2018

I love ‘just because’ projects like this. Great to see someone taking an interesting path instead of the easiest, cheapest and fastest one.

Aram Khachaturyan
Guest
January 3rd, 2018

Like peter griffin said. Why ?…..

 Miguel Gomez-Pardo
Miguel Gomez-Pardo
Member
January 3rd, 2018

Amazing look. Great post.

Daniel Remer
Guest
January 3rd, 2018

and the point of this is…..????????

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
January 4th, 2018
Reply to  Daniel Remer

Thinking out of the box, innovation, creation, fun, sharing information.

More?

 Ari Kirschenbaum
Ari Kirschenbaum
Member
January 4th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Exactly! I don’t understand the objections. This kid is obviously, imaginative, inquisitive and someone to watch. I applaud these kind of experiments.

Member
January 4th, 2018
Reply to  Daniel Remer

It’s an aesthetic no one has ever seen translated to video!

Paolo Feliciano
Guest
January 5th, 2018
Reply to  Daniel Remer

To emulate the large format look…… Yes it’s not the simplest solution. But there is literally no camera in the world that has done this

Filter:
all
Sort by:
latest

Take part in the CineD community experience