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Eric Adkins Shoots With Fujinon HD Cine Style Lenses"Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow" benefits from 5-50mm lens (June 21, 2004)
Independent Director of Photography Eric Adkins, whose credits include feature films "Mars Attacks!" and "Inheritance" and the FOX series "The PJ's," shot the forthcoming film "Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow" with Fujinon HD Cine Style zoom lenses. The film, starring Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, is scheduled for national release on September 17.
Described by Adkins as a "retro" science-fiction/adventure film, the unique, visual effects-heavy project required that 85% of the total 2,100 shots comprised of live action elements were composed entirely against blue screen. The entire film was pre-visualized using low-resolution CG animation. The 3D layout data and 2D viewpoint reference of each scene was tracked before shooting the live action and then matched to the blue screen stages.
Knowing in advance that this process would generate a huge amount of digital composite shots influenced Adkins to shoot in the HD digital format as opposed to his traditional medium of film. Furthermore, quality HD lenses were vital to provide the sharp edges necessary for clean keys. And the post-production process was considerably streamlined with the elimination of film development and handling - further saving on production time, costs and effort.
Adkins selected Fujinon 5-50mm (HA10x5B-10) lenses following weeks of intense testing of industry-leading HD lenses, renting a total of three matching lenses from rental houses Plus8Video of Burbank (two) and Birns & Sawyer of Hollywood (one). The lenses were affixed to three Sony HDW-F900/3 HD cameras, rented from Arri Media in the United Kingdom. Noting that the film wrapped early last year, Adkins said that the 5-50mm, Fujinon's leading HD Cine Style zoom lens at that time, far outperformed anything else on the market. Although attracted to the compact build of the Fujinon lens, Adkins pointed to technical brilliance and product stability as the deciding factors in his selection.
"Among the many benefits of the 5-50mm was that it did not breathe whatsoever when we had to rack or follow focus," said Adkins. "This was critical considering that we needed to match data on blue screen and couldn't afford perceptive focal length changes, even while focusing. Otherwise, we'd have to track those changes and build them into the CG background. The more stable the lens, the less trouble there is in putting all the elements together. We had to track shots for composite, so with even a minor camera bump or shake, that movement had to be added into the background. If the lens breathed when the shot wasn't supposed to have a focal length change, it would have added many unwanted complexities. And the lack of breathing makes it far less obvious that it was shot on 'video'."
Adkins pointed to several other technical advantages of the Fujinon HA10x5B-10 as beneficial to the project, including reduced chromatic aberration, zoom accuracy, and a subtle aperture falloff. He also pointed to excellent product support and communication as a bonus that has kept him up to date with Fujinon's recent advances in Cine Style zoom lenses.
"Chromatic aberrations usually appear on the edges of objects, especially toward the outside and corners of frame, due to the unusual alignment of any B4 mount lenses to Sony's 3-CCD prism block. When you're pulling a key, the edges are of most importance when dealing with a blue screen," said Adkins. "If the edge wasn't clean or had false color, it would affect the quality of the edges when pulling a key. The Fujinon lenses were completely free of any color aberrations between 9 and 30mm and addressed our requirements far better than the competition."
He added that the feature was completely pre-visualized to provide a reference for camera line-up. All three lenses required that the nodal offset was measured and built into the virtual data as a preset since the HD ENG-type cameras aren't nodal at the focal plane as they are in film cameras.
"Since the HA10x5B-10 zoom lens keeps the offset accurate throughout the range of the zoom, this allowed us to simply fine-tune our lens adjustments for camera line-up. Had we used prime HD lenses or a variety of other HD zoom lenses, we'd have had to calculate different offsets on the blue screen stage every time we changed the lens. And the aperture falloff, where there is a dip in the exposure after 40mm, had a very gradual change that was almost unnoticeable. Our waveform monitors allowed us a very critical look at exposure that confirmed the subtlety of those changes," said Adkins.
Fujinon HD Cine Style Lenses have been used to shoot the recently released features: "Spy Kids 3D: Game Over," "Star Wars: Episode III" (tentatively scheduled for a fall 2005 release date), "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones," "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," and a 3D Imax film called "Ghosts of the Abyss." Numerous episodic television shows and commercials have also been shot with Fujinon HD Cine Style lenses.
Fujinon is a major manufacturer and distributor of optics and lens assemblies for the broadcast, digital cinema, and industrial markets. The company's line of television zoom lenses are used in virtually every segment of the broadcast industry, including electronic newsgathering, studio and field production, and high definition television. For more information about Fujinon broadcast and communications products, call (973) 633-5600 or visit our web site at www.fujinonbroadcast.com.
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