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Shooting through a narrow grill

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Any advice for lens or other technology options for shooting through a narrow gap?

I have a situation where I need to film top-down through a fairly narrow grill (haven't been able to measure the exact dimensions yet, but around 2cm (1 inch) width.
I only have access from above and need to film the scene below without seeing the grill mechanism itself. 

I'll be filming the majority of the piece on a GH5S.  I'm looking for options of how to get this additional footage.  Lightweight and simple to rig are important considerations.

So far 3 things come to mind - 

- A probe lens, but these don't seem to work very well as regular (non macro) lenses.

- A go pro pressed up against the grill, though I really don't like the loss of technical control they offer

- A high-end phone camera with a thin lens attached - totally new territory for me

Anyone have any thoughts or experiences?  Bearing in mind this will be for a professional (non broadcast) production.

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great post, interesting. not that i could help, but...

 

my first question is: what do you want your shot to look like? WHAT are you shooting, top down? is the ceiling in the actual room, "through" the grill, 8ft or 23ft? (am i getting this, what youre doing?)

obviously, we can do a ton in post, but my next question is, what is the "look" you want for the final shot, in the edit, is it cinematic, reality-ity, what...?

those thoughts would influence my decison greatly, might allow for all sorts of weird cameras i wouldnt otherwise use, etc, etc

if i was the DP (i am NOT a dp lolol), i would ask Mr Director to draw me a lil storyboard early on, and then id draw on it too. "Whats the shot?" id say. "show me" *scribble scribble*

💐

edit: my first question to the director would actually be 'can we remove the grill?'

what is said "grill", like an air vent...? @Mmmbeats send in a marine itll be gone in .25 seconds trust me i kno a guy

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Our access to the location is conditional on not removing the grill or rigging a platform in the room itself, but we have great access from the room above looking down.

I need a reasonably wide shot (essentially something like a 35mm - 50mm FF equivalent).  The room is around 14 feet high.  It's a geometric birds eye shot - straight down.

None of that is negotiable unfortunately.

Stylistically I need to end up with something adhering to 'realistic' - well controlled distortion, neutral colours, etc.

I've been looking at the Laowa 24mm f/14 probe lens, but it looks incredibly soft from what I've seen so far, and f/14 might be a problem too.

 

 

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One option as you are using an mft camera are the Olympus body cap lenses as you should be able to get pretty flat, although the grip will limit just how flat.

The 15mm would be the one for the FOV that you are after but I would definitely try and have a go with one to make sure you are OK with the performance.

Another option would be the Osmo Pocket as you can get that butted up right to the grille and the big advantage is that you can remote monitor it with a phone so it makes it easier to set up. The FOV is wide but closer to what you are after than that of a GoPro.

The other one would be a 1" compact like the Panasonic LX10/15 which you could mount slightly above and use the optical zoom to get through the grille. As with the Osmo, the advantage there is that you can use the phone app to monitor as well as control the lens. The LX10/15 can take the Cinelike D hack as well so you could match it better to the GH5 if you are using Cinelike D on that too.

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Could you forget about the grill altogether, hang a mirror at 45 degreed from the ceiling and then put your camera up close the the ceiling - shooting into the mirror and down into the room? Then you can use whatever lens you want to. Flip/flop the footage in post and nobody will ever know :) 

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37 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

One option as you are using an mft camera are the Olympus body cap lenses as you should be able to get pretty flat, although the grip will limit just how flat.

The 15mm would be the one for the FOV that you are after but I would definitely try and have a go with one to make sure you are OK with the performance.

Another option would be the Osmo Pocket as you can get that butted up right to the grille and the big advantage is that you can remote monitor it with a phone so it makes it easier to set up. The FOV is wide but closer to what you are after than that of a GoPro.

The other one would be a 1" compact like the Panasonic LX10/15 which you could mount slightly above and use the optical zoom to get through the grille. As with the Osmo, the advantage there is that you can use the phone app to monitor as well as control the lens. The LX10/15 can take the Cinelike D hack as well so you could match it better to the GH5 if you are using Cinelike D on that too.

These are a very interesting set of options, which I am off to research further...

33 minutes ago, Anaconda_ said:

Could you forget about the grill altogether, hang a mirror at 45 degreed from the ceiling and then put your camera up close the the ceiling - shooting into the mirror and down into the room? Then you can use whatever lens you want to. Flip/flop the footage in post and nobody will ever know :) 

No access for that sort of thing unfortunately.  Nice idea though.

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Actually just had an idea - I don't use MFT lenses an awful lot (usually EF lenses with adapter), but looking at the couple of panny lenses I have, they have quite small front elements.

I'm thinking perhaps I could press them up against the grill and crop out the grill elements at the side.  I'm delivering 1080p, so could shoot 4K for this and even possibly stay with the GH5S!  It seems like I would probably cover a clean 1080 frame like this.

Only issue - not sure I'd get a wide enough angle of view.

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lots of good ideas here from smart ppl

a thought: why couldnt you stick the camera to the ceiling of the interior room...? not a rhetorical question, im sure theres an answer...

if u want a rlly wide shot, why not gaff tape a gopro to the ceiling of the actual room youre shooting? and then correct in post for the distortion as much as possible...?

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As explained, our access is contingent on not doing any rigging in the actual room.  We're being granted quite a favour with the location and can't push any more.  We just need to make the setup work within the parameters we have. 

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gotcha. id just be like "see, its tape?"

i rlly would lol. and id smile and b cute 🎨

ofc, if the location is someplace "special", like a church, or a cave, where there is no way anybodys taping fuck all to the ceiling, i totally get that lol

hmmm...

what if u had a 10 ft pole and put a camera on it. i know that sounds retarded, but....

someone in the room could just hold it...?

idk lol ill think abt it...! this is a Fun Filmmaking Challenge™ imo

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I think the probe lens will be about it unless you can find a VERY small camera.

 

You could also just use as long and fast a lens as you can get and get as close as you can and MAYBE it might work like shooting through a cage or wire fence?

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gopros have a small lens however that picture gets wide very quickly  which makes it pretty easy to get a finger stuck in the picture somewhere. Dont ask how i know this .The lens would be less than an inch or 25 mm wide so it may fit between your grate. whether the lens protudes down through the grate enough not to block your fov is the question.  the gopro  fov is about 170 degrees however you can also change that fov from superview to wide and linear modes which are kind of like a crop.  the other thing i could suggest is rage cam and one other company can mod your gopro with alternative lenses  which would give you a narrower fov as well which may help in your situation.

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