[Question] Using 35mm Adapters and cg



Im looking at using some form of 35mm adapter (with a z1 camera) on an upcoming film im shooting and I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with using these and comping cg into the footage (I’ve never used an adapter before and also have only done cg integration in a few short tests)

I hear they (especially the cheaper diy versions which are probably the only ones in our price range) have alot of barrel distortion and other loss of quality issues, im mainly worried about whether these would cause tracking to be a nightmare, and to a lesser extent keying?

Also a fair few of the shots will be in low light conditions.

Many thanks




If you hit the Gallery you’ll see the first 2 images are stills from the short. They are VERY grainy on PURPOSE - don’t think that’s how your footage will look. It can actually be very clean - I turned the gain up to get it kind of chunky while shooting.


Again, if you click on the Gallery you’ll see the stills - of which there are 10 I think. Again, it’s a little grainy on purpose - I’m not a fan of video, and I don’t want my video to LOOK like video. Too clean and everything sharp, so I did everything I could to be shooting as close to wide open for each lens as possible, and have “grain” so there was movement and an organic element to the footage. This is all personal preference - everyone likes their footage to look a certain way, this is just mine.

No barrely distortion to speak of, but there WAS a loss of light to deal with. Outside it’s not a big deal, but using lights for interiors… You’ll need some bigger lights than 250ws…

Keying, it turns out, is like any other footage - especially HDV. You’ll be doing masking/roto work along with the key to make sure you don’t key out any elements you wanna keep (The Plague of Man short - their uniforms have green in them, some of their skin shadows have green tints, etc. - you can lose those details in the key).

A very nice guy from R&H made a tut for me and posted it here either in the Compositing or After Effects Forum - if you do a search for out of focus greenscreen keying you might find it. If I have a minute later today I’ll find it and post the link here.

Do not underlight/underexpose your shots - give good contrast in your lighting just like with film, but don’t let the shadows go completely black. Pound some light in there and make it darker in post. You’ll have more latitude and options with what you wanna do if you have more image information to work with.

Write everything you do down, if it’s possible. There will be no information saved as far as the focal length and such - write down what length lens you used for each shot you want to integrate elements into, and write down the general distance if possible which will also help. If you want to get even more specific, do camera tests with each lens and figureout what angle of view you are REALLY getting and you can plug that into your 3D software for the camera for a more accurate render and a better comp later as you won’t have wide angle footage with a 3D element that was obviously rendered with a longer lens - get it?

We used the RedRock setup and hand-holding that thing was a nightmare (on a JVC HD110, the total length was 3 feet or more depending on what lens was used - your Z1 would be much easier to hand-hold) so it stayed on tripod either locked down or on the dolly for movement.

On the Plague of Man short:

Part of what I’m going to do as a last element to add is 'm going to take regular footage of a wall with multiple markers and motion track the hand-held camera movement. Once I’ve added the 3D elements and composited all elements I’m going to give it hand-held camera shake before rendering out and putting it back in the timeline.

I hope this helps - lemme know if you need any further clarification, or have any questions about obstacles we ran into and overcame.

Happy shooting and good luck!

-Lew :wink:


Hey Lew thanks alot for the response some very useful advice :). Im with you on the film look (at least for this film im making), the z1 without a lens has that corporate video look which I want to avoid at all costs!

I have a question about recording the camera data, how do you determine final focal length with an adapter, as you have the video cameras focal length plus the external lens focal length. Is it a simple formula or something?

Im hoping to get hold of a redrock if possible mainly because of less light loss even with the image flipper but it depends if anyones willing to take pity on us and cut us a deal as otherwise its out of our price range! Did you have the flipper or was the image in the viewfinder upside down?



Hey djflat-

Nope - I flip it in post :wink:
I bought an Ikan LCD monitor and it actually has an M2 mode (RedRock flipped image) so you can compose your shots - which is how I didn’t go insane acting like I’m using a view camera.

GENERALLY SPEAKING all you need to do is write down the focal length of the still camera lens you used. That’s the lens with it’s field of view being used and projected onto the ground glass - not the zoom which is solely on the ground glass of the adapter (rendering it’s zoom length moot).

While I say generally speaking, the possibilities are almost unlimited because it also depends on how zoomed into the frame you are with the camera’s zoom lens - which is why I mentioned to write down your field of view if possible when it’s a shot you will be integrating composited elements for a better match.

Yes - whatever I can to make it not look like video. I know that’s really snobby - I like video for video, but not for movies unless it’s something used to the extreme like the Crank series, which is very appropriate for that material. Our first short as a group, we didn’t have any adapters yet - the guy doing the audio mixing made the crack that it looks like reality TV…

Big SIGH, shoulders drop, frown appears, muddle back to my desk to figure out how to make video look like film…

Talk to ya later-

-Lew :wink:


This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.