Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Virtual Eye Piece

Published : 29th August 2003


I'm going through some past issues of A. C. (Feb 03, p.86) and see this picture of DP César Charlone on the set of 'City of God' wearing some kind of a virtual eye piece. On the picture he uses a 16mm Aaton camera which is connected to this eye piece. I have never seen this device before, does someone know what exactly it is and is it used often?

It doesn't mention it in the article but could it be a portable 'head tv' for hand held stuff, so one is free to move the camera about without having to eye the viewfinder?!

Thanks

Flemming Jetmar
Director of Photography
London

www.flemmingjetmar.com



Flemming Jetmar wrote :

>some kind of a virtual eye piece. On the picture he uses a 16mm Aaton >camera which is connected to this eye piece.

Hi Flemming,

I saw a similar sounding device (5/6)years ago at a rental house in the UK. Memory doesn't serve me as to whether it was Arri or the late great Samuelsons. It was a 'VR' headset that connected to the video tap of any 35mm/16mm camera and had been converted especially for a film (Mortal Kombat I think).

It was exactly for the purpose you describe - specifically fight scenes that were being covered handheld - where the operator could 'fly' the camera around the action without having to prance their entire body with it. Apparently it took some getting used to and operators would get disoriented on their first go.

I've often thought about digging it up myself – one could certainly have some fun with it. Not much help I know but with a little ringing round you'll probably find someone who knows exactly what/where it is.

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.



Flemming Jetmar wrote :

>picture of DP César Charlone on the set of 'City of God' wearing some >kind of a virtual eye piece.

I believe that Declan Quinn used one on Monsoon Wedding for street scenes shot from the back of a pick up truck (pick up shots? To avoid a black eye from the viewfinder. I've used one but only during painful procedures in the dentists chair.

Best,

Anders "had a few black eyes" Uhl

DP, New York



Flemming Jetmar

I remember several (too many???) years ago seeing an article about someone who was making a fibre optic eyepiece extension for the Aaton. As I remember, it was not quite a meter long and allowed you to position a special eyepiece over one eye, pirate-like. Aarrgh…

I'm sure the Aaton folks in Grenoble would remember from where those came. Maybe they're still available to rent somewhere. I've worked with several Aaton owners who use the Olympus EyeTrek FMD-700 video glasses.

Much safer. You can see the video tap display and also see what you are about to bump into. (ouch!)

Rod Williams
Motion Picture First Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California
U.S.A.



Another DoP I know bought one of these systems at B&H Photo and video in NYC. I believe he said they were called Olympus Eye Trek (don't quote me though)? He bought them a few years ago, but in general said the systems range from about $500 - $1000, depending on the quality and model you buy. I've contacted some rental houses and they seem like an item you can only purchase, not rent.

Jayson Crothers
Phoenix, AZ



>where the operator could 'fly' the camera around the action without >having to prance their entire body with it.

I know Sony had a device for "gaming" called a Glastron which was a visor arrangement which did exactly this. I often considered that it would be great for the Betacam and MiniDV material I shoot on the decks of ocean racing yachts but one of the problems for me was that the device was only available in NTSC because all Japanese video games are this format apparently. I understood you could vary the intensity of the visor to adjust how much you saw thru the glass which would overcome the viewing problems

Kindest Regards

Laurie K. Gilbert s.o.c.
Global Cinematography for Cinema & Television
www.limage.tv/



Try this link :

http://www.microopticalcorp.com/



Thanks.

Not sure this is the best of the eyepieces. I've been doing a bit of research on them -- none of them are really ideal yet, and some are quite costly.

Jeff Kreines



I've used a number of the video headgear eyepieces on handheld and crane shots. They make some people nauseous so try it out first. It can ruin your day.

Rich Lerner
DP/film maker
USA



The original prototype Steadicam used a fiberoptic bundle to go from the camera viewfinder to the operator's eye. Garrett Brown actually operated some shots with this setup and told me that it was very expensive to build and very disorienting to use.

There's also that new HD viewfinder (name escapes me at the moment) that showed at NAB and is going to be incorporated into the Panavised f900s as well as be available for the Varicam. It's about the size of a director's finder (Mark V style) and is full rez color. It trails a very small flexible cable, so it can be used as a director's finder, in the manner mentioned in this thread, or mounted on a rod like an extension eyepiece. I think optical extension eyepiece tubes are vestigial in the electronic world and can easily be replaced by devices such as this.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP


style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0">
MitchGross wrote :

>There's also that new HD viewfinder (name escapes me at the moment) >that showed at NAB and is going to be incorporated into the Panavised >f900s as well as be available for the Varicam. It's about the size of a >director's finder (Mark V style) and is full rez color.

You're probably thinking of the Accuscene. It's not full res -- it's 1280 x 1024, but then letterboxed to 16:9.

I was quite unimpressed by it. First off, it's big for what it is (there is a big circuit board needed to drive it that they try to keep hidden when demoing it). It's 4:3, so for widescreen images, you waste a lot of the real estate. It's expensive (about $12K). And at least one of the company guys is a very grumpy Scotsman. (Russell Branch, the other guy, is nice enough.)

I also saw it on the Viper. Can't decide whether it was worse than the Angenieux optical finder, which Steven Poster described as being akin to the reflex finder on a Pan Cinor 17-85 Zoom (I think he was being generous).

Accuscene was somewhat dumb in licensing it exclusively to Panavision for camera viewfinder purposes, not realizing that that would limit sales to perhaps 100 cameras owned by Panavision (as I assume they don't plan to sell it).

I thought Sony's overpriced finder looked better, when used with the expensive Chrosziel optics. But I didn't love any of them.

Jeff "viewfinders are the Achille's heel" Kreines



MitchGross wrote :

>The original prototype Steadicam used a fibreoptic bundle to go from >the camera viewfinder to the operator's eye. Garrett Brown actually >operated some shots with this setup and told me that it was very >expensive to build and very disorienting to use.

Les Zellan tried to sell these back in the late '70s -- I remember he had one on either an Aaton or an NPR. Back then it seemed like a cool way to avoid big and heavy video viewfinders (all used tube cameras and monitors) but it was dark, lots of dead fibres, and expensive.

Of course, I'd love one for my collection...

Jeff "um, just kidding, I think, unless it's really cheap" Kreines



I tried using a virtual eyepiece (gaming goggles) on an industrial once - it's very disorienting and a lot less useful that you might think. I would much rather operate off a camera mountable LCD screen.

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
http://www.cinematography.net



>Though the younger generation of video-game kids might feel >differently...

I kind of doubt it. The brain is wired in such a way that if there is incongruity between head movement and movement in the visual field, it produces nausea as a protective mechanism - the emptying the stomach is a safeguard against accident poisoning.

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List



Jessica Gallant writes:

>I kind of doubt it. The brain is wired in such a way that if there is >incongruity between head movement and movement in the visual field

I can attest to that. However some people can get used to it, but it's not a pleasant process. A little publicized aspect of the space program is that nearly all astronauts get motion sickness in zero G. Again, it's the disconnect between what your brain senses that your body is doing and what your eyes tell it.

Brian "some things we don't need to see on TV" Heller
IA 600 DP



Jessica Gallant wrote:

>The brain is wired in such a way that if there is incongruity between >head movement and movement in the visual field

Ah, that explains the barf bags that they put in all the seats at
Matrix Uploaded....

Jeff "like I went to see it... right" Kreines



On a film I shot last summer, we had a situation where our Steadicam guy was not available on a very crucial day.

We had a scene where the lead actress & her father had to talk & walk thru a park…some 6 pages! Meaning somewhere about a 300' dolly move!! Of course, we had only 64 feet of track. So, we broke down the action into 60' moves…but I needed to be framed in a frontal/neutral position 2 shot, thus allowing us cutaways to side 45 degree coverage [to help mask the short 60' track]. The lead actress insisted that she not have to walk over dolly track.

Ok...So we rigged the Moviecam Compact out on a jib arm extended from a dolly who's track ran parallel to the actors. I had to operate walking backwards. My 1st had those really cool video-goggles!

I was able to view the video assist while I walked backwards AND was still
able to maintain my footing.

Those video goggles really rock!

Cheers,
Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.
US based DP
www.barklage.com