View Full Version : Camera Techniques?

12-01-2005, 11:16 AM
Does anyone know any good tutes on camera angles & techniques? I have no idea how to use the different aperture heights or what zoom to use. Most of the books I have read on LW cover this stuff very briefly, but it seems that camera placement and the right settings makes all the difference in the world when it comes to capturing the mood of the scene. Thanks!

12-01-2005, 11:32 AM
You must look elsewhere. Look at photography sites. Look at moviemaking sites.
That is where your best lessons will come from as they've been doing it for at least 100 years. We are but neophytes in this realm; look to the masters of the art.

12-02-2005, 01:36 AM
He's right--photography sites are the place to go.

But here some stuff I've learned. (if any of this is inaccurate, feel free to correct me)

The frame aspect ratio refers to the relationship between width and height. The typical aspect ratio on most TV's is 4:3, or "square." This means that per 4 units of width there are 3 units of height. Widescreen is 16:9. Modern feature productions also use even wider standards. Not that these ratios can be reduced.

Be sure not to confuse this with the Pixel aspect ratio!!! They are not the same and confusing them may cause you much trouble!! The pixel aspect ratio is the width and height relationship of each indiviual pixel. Generally speaking, you want to have square pixels, so the pixel aspect ratio will usually be 1. The only situation I can think of when you would use this is if you wanted to show something that was widescreen using a projector that used an anamorphic lens. On projectors, anamorphic lenses stretch an image horizontally, so that you can have a widescreen presentation recorded on 4:3 film. On cameras, they compress incoming light horizontally to allow a widescreen image to be captured on a 4:3 film or CCD.

IIRC, focal length has to do with the distance between one piece of glass and another within the lens. The farther apart they are, the closer in something gets zoomed. (So high focal length = zoomed in) I could be totally off on how it works, but this relationship is what matters most, imo. Also note that the more zoomed in you are, the lesser the effect of perspective is. There is a trick called "blowing out the background" which involves moving the camera closer to the subject while zooming out. This is done in such a manner that the subject occupies the same area on the image, but since perspective becoms exaggerated as the camera zooms out, the background appears to be stretching. I think they used this in the film "Vertigo," and I could have sword I saw it used once in "Fantastic Four."

I don't really know what aperture height does, but I am familiar with some of the formats there. I usually go with 35 or 65 milimeter motion picture, because in most cases I am trying to acheive that coveted "film look."

f/stop refers to the size of the hole light has to pass through. The number is a denominator, so the smaller the number the bigger the hole. As you would expect, a larger aperature means that more light gets into the camera. To compensate for this, filters are used. Also, the larger the hole, the lower the depth of field. (Light going through a small hole increases DOF--this is why things look sharper if you squint). LightWave only considers the effects of f/stops on DOF and not brightness, however. Because 35mm and 65mm film are much larger than even the biggest CCD's in digital cameras, film will have much shallower DOF than video, so I like to have rather shallow DOF. Also remember that to get good DOF you will have to take a hit on render time.

Motion blur is concerned with how long the aperature is open--this has to do with exposure time. Basically, the longer the film is being exposed, the more positions of various objects it will be exposed to. If an object moves one meter in the time that the film is being exposed, motion blur will be seen, because the object was in more than one place while the film was trying to record it. In real cameras, very fast exposre times will create grainy images. Long exposure time also increases the brigness of the scene (more light will hit the camea). LW only uses the exposure time to determine motion blur, however.

Stereoscopic rendering is used to create 3D images, the kind you need 3D glasses for. Basically, as I understand it, its like position two cameras where the viewers eyes would be (this is why the distance between a person's pupils, or eye separation, is important) and putting them together in one image. When viewed, the two images are spearated again--one image is blocked to one eye, the other to the other eye. Anaglyph stereo can be used on anything pretty much. This is the type of 3D image that needs the two color (usually blue and red) glasses to be worn. The eye with the red side will see only the blue colored image, and the blue eye will only see the red. The other type is polarized. I do not entirely understand how this works, but I know that each image is interlaced and the 3D effect will ONLY work if the image is seen from a light polarity preserving source (silver screen, last I checked) In the same way that polarized sunglasses block out glare, the polarized 3D glasses block out the corresponding image.

...and I guess thats a whole bunch of technical stuff. It sounds like you are seeking adivce on composition as well. Keep in mind though that the artistic composition of a shot is by no means solely dependent on your camera settings. You might also want to study storyboarding.

hope I could be helpful, and good luck! :thumbsup:

12-02-2005, 04:23 AM
Wow, thanks a truckload!! This is a big help.