Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Pool Table Low Angle

Published : 6th September 2003


Hi

I am shooting a 35mm film that involves a number of shots of balls on a pool table. For several shots I need to get the lens right on the table and if possible looking up at the pool balls, in effect making the balls look as large as possible. Because we are not going to be cutting any holes in the pool table, the diameter of the lens becomes an issue.

Any ideas on good devices to get these low angles.

Thank you for your help.

David Jones
LA



David Jones wrote :

>any ideas on good devices to get these low angles.

A low-angle prism or a high quality (front surface?) mirror on the pool table surface. (It doesn't have to be a large mirror - 1'x1' or 2'x2' might do.)

Just be careful not to show too many numbers or you may have to flop the neg later (not a big issue if you are doing a digital intermediary or video finish)

You might need a macro or probe lens as well.

Best o' luck!

Rachel Dunn
Los Angeles
http://www.racheldunn.com

"...you start out wanting to make the greatest movie ever made,
and you end up just wanting to live through it." - Truffaut



David Jones writes :

>"I am shooting a 35mm film that involves a number of shots of balls on >a pool table..."

If the budget is there use the Frazier/Panavision lens.

The package comes with a collection of lenses.

Jason Thomas.
Perth, Australia



David Jones wrote :

>any ideas on good devices to get these low angles.

Oh, I just thought about it, and if you use a table-top mirror, you will probably have to invert the camera, so you may want to put a weaver steadman balanced fluid head on your rental list. (I think you can get away with a 2-axis one.)

Thanks,

Rachel Dunn
Los Angeles



David Jones wrote :

>"For several shots I need to get the lens right on the table and if >possible looking up at the pool balls…”

Some time back, David Samuelson had invented a particular type of mirror or prism design for lens attachment that does exactly what you want to do. I believe he put it into production, and you may find one by asking around at rental houses.

Ira Tiffen
VP, R&D
The Tiffen Company, LLC
Hauppauge, NY 11788



Ira Tiffen wrote :

>Some time back, David Samuelson had invented a particular type of >mirror or prism design for lens attachment that does exactly what you >want to do.

An inclining prism? - Does indeed do what seems to be required and would work well in combo with a Weaver Steadman head (enabling shots that track over the table right up to balls). Only covers up to a 12mm in S16 (can't remember 35mm equivalent, probably 32mm or there abouts - you'll need macros if you want to fill the frame with a pool ball anyway).

Gives a perspective as though the camera is physically below the height of the table, looking slightly up at the balls.

You could also try ringing around prop hire companies - you might well track down oversized pool balls (you never know till you try!)

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.



With the Kenworthy-Nettmann snorkel camera rig you can get the angles you want (looking up at the balls from table surface) and do moves all around the table.

Sam Wells



Tom Townend wrote :

>An inclining prism? - Only covers up to a 12mm in S16

The large one, Century Optics?, covers an 18mm on 35.

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS

Director of Photography
EU based
www.cinematography.net



Any of the right angle snorkel type lenses should do the trick –

Nettman / Fraser / CineWand / Revolution / Innovision Probe or the SuperScope, etc. or the inclined prism, or two front surface mirrors as in a periscope or if budget is a consideration, remove the side (bumper) of the pool table, most of them disassemble; however, some disassemble a lot easier than others in order to replace the felt, etc.

Brian "trouble right here in River City" Heller
IA 600 DP



I am proud that there are some people out there who remember a little gadget I invented many years ago.

Where the inclining prism differs from other devices id that it puts the entrance pupil of the lens below the surface...it is as though the lens is set in a hole.

Re possible lens focal lengths...the first one we made using 'ordinary' optical glass, only covered a 28mm lens for 35mm usage. I then asked a friend, Gordon Cooke ( who designed the speed panchro lenses if he would look at it for me, He came up with a design using very special high refractive index glass so that it could be used with a 20mm lens.

The thing about is that it bends the light through about 30 degrees without reversing the image and with very little, if any, loss of light. T2 remains T2. You cannot do that with mirrors or kinky lenses.

Another thing about it is that you must not put anything touching the surface of the prism to mask off extraneous light...you must always leave an air gap.

Sincerely

David Samuelson



Look at the low angle prism Century manufactures. It's in many rental houses. Also right angle probe lenses might be a solution.

Good luck.

Mark Woods, Director of Photography
http://www.markwoods.com/
Stills That Move, Pasadena, CA



Brian Heller wrote :

>Any of the right angle snorkel type lenses should do the trick

The Kenworthy-Nettman pretty much gives you all of the above in one. Plus all the mobility.

You may have to choose a bottom mirror size based on favouring amount of tilt-up vs. how close to the surface you wish to get, but there can be a happy medium.

(I've used it - slight disclaimer I used to sort of sell Kenworthy Snorkel camera system services with Paul's partner long ago in the pre-Nettman days but have no affiliation blah blah...)

Sam Wells



The snorkels, Frasers and other such things only do the same thing as an inclining prism if they put the entrance pupil of the lens below the elbow of the lens tube (which I doubt) and if they can work at f2 or whatever is the aperture of the prime lens, and if they do not upset the geometry of the image.

Sincerely

David Samuelson

(Disclaimer: I have no connection to vendors and hirers of inclining prisms today)

(Claimer :  But I did invent it. . . a very long time ago)



Kenworthy-Nettman : No "elbow", it's a thin tiltable first-surface mirror; (pans & tilts on nodal point) does not upset image geometry; f2 not possible with the standard 2:1 zoom supplied, may be with some wide angle primes - but does he want to shoot 2" from subject at f2 ?

I mean if he wants to look UP at a billiard ball from the table surface he's pd close.

Totally agree with the efficacy of your invention, and I would OWN a Century inclining prism if only I had the dollars$$$.

Believe you me

-Sam Wells



http://www.centuryoptics.com/products/film/low_angle_prism/index.htm

Clairmont I'd think, probably others

-Sam Wells