Directors Viewfinder / Pre-Production Camera

Hi, I am doing a short film that is taking place in a singular controlled indoor space that I have access to and I was trying to beef up my pre-production process and come up with some storyboards and a floor plan etc. I have seen the elaborate 3d storyboarding software that could be applied to this use.

But I was wondering whether anyone knows if their exists such thing as a storyboarding camera. Essentially what I want is a directors viewfinder with a camera on the back so that I can take pictures on location after doing blocking and rehearsals with the actors. I can have a storyboard taken on location with specific lenses, heights, aspect ratio choices already made on the storyboard( hence the dir viewfinder) before I bring in the lights, grip ... and the rest of the team at a later date.

Thank You for Your time

Roberto Brillemburg

Hi Roberto,

G o to :

This is a very nice and affordable system that will do what you are asking.


Anders Uhl
The DoP Shop

There are several very easy ways to go about this.

As has been suggested, one way is to buy the following :

If it does what it says, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, you can see in your viewfinder of your SLR what your coverage would be WITH THE FOCAL LENGTH OF THE LENS ON YOUR CAMERA and you can see it on the prints too when they get back from photomat.

If you have an SLR with a removable ground glass and don't want to spend too much money, you can take out the ground glass and draw the frame with pencil on it (you look in the ASC manual or the Panavision catalogue or on shurco's website to find out what the dimensions are of the format you are shooting and measure out that size rectangle on your ground glass).

Then you put tape marks on a wall at the right aspect ratio as what you are going to be shooting and move your still camera around until your rectangle on the wall is framed to match your scribe marks.

Shoot a shot and when the prints come back, cut out the rectangle from a print turn it over and you now have a mask with which to look at all your other pix to show you what you would see with that focal length from that position. This is cheap and easy - if you get double prints or even just a handful of extra NG prints from the photomat, you can cut masks out of a pile of them and tape or paste a mask on each storyboard photo...and you can write notes on the frame that you have

I've done this a bunch - it is very satisfying in an arts and crafts sort of way.

If you have an SLR camera that does not have a removable ground glass you can still do this but it will take some math :

Make a target on the wall with tape that is the correct aspect ratio for your film. Take a photo of your chart with the left and right edges at the edge of your cameras viewfinder.

Now, when you print that, you can cut out a mask, but you will also have to do some math to correlate the angle of view of your SLR with the angle of view on your taking camera..

You can either use pCAM (the wonderful palm pilot program devised by David Eubanks) or field of view charts that can be found in the ASC manual (use the vista vision angles of view for your 35mm still camera) or you can actually use the lens angle of view formulas if you are a math-friendly person

What you would do would be to make a little chart you can tape on the back of your camera with your motion picture camera angle of view and its corresponding still camera angle of view.

I hope this gives you a start...pre-boarding angles will certainly help you a lot, especially in confined spaces.

Bear in mind that your motion picture camera takes up more space than your still camera...somehow the mag always ends up scraping against the wall or wedged in the corner.

I will also get flack for saying this, but in my pea-sized brain, I still think of motion picture as being a two dimensional medium portraying a three dimensional world, and as such, for my own head, I think that shooting pix for storyboards is more useful than working it all out in 3D...and will keep your head looking through a lens and developing your compositional skills instead of working on a computer and developing your 3d CG skills.

Having said that, I often plot VFX rigs, set-ups and shots out in 3D (the old fashioned way as blueprint plan and section) so I can see what all the technical issues are, so I am not against this when it is appropriate.

Mark Weingartner
LA based

>Essentially what I want is a directors viewfinder with a camera on the back

Well this is what the original P&S adaptor for the Canon XL-1 began life as, right ?

But Procopio's invention sounds very cool. And you wouldn't need a set of lenses ahead of time.

Sam Wells

I haven't used Fortunes finder, but it looks like a great idea. Etched glass for your 35mm still camera's viewfinder. Burns frame lines right onto your still film.

Good luck,

Kurt Rauf
Las Vegas, USA


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