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Indie Horror Utilizes HD Probe to Create Unique POV

10/01/04, Santa Monica, California

How does an indie horror feature film like “WithIn” achieve the shocks and suspense that keep audiences squirming in their seats? For writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi, it means portraying the action from previously unimaginable angles. The story follows a team of spelunkers as they struggle to survive against a mysterious force of evil. Osunsanmi wanted to depict the feeling of being trapped in a cave by following his actors through the “eyes” of the cave itself. By working with Innovision-Optics he found the solution in Innovision’s new HD Probe, the first long tubular lens system that allows the camera to see at 45-degree and 90-degree angles of view.

Innovision’s HD Probe, made specifically for high definition production is the ideal instrument for intimate shots in hard-to-reach confines. The lens comes with three attachments that allow the camera to see in different directions: straight ahead, 45 degree, and 90 degree angles of view.

The HD Probe proved so versatile that Osunsanmi and his crew found themselves using it for 90% of the shoot. “It captured the randomness of the cave’s layout,” Osunsanmi explained. “We were able to shoot all kinds of angles – the ceiling, the wall, inside crevices – everywhere that it was impossible to actually be.” At one point Olatunde used the 45-degree attachment and followed the actors from the cave floor. “We got an extremely low angle, without having to dig a hole in the ground. The actors stepped over the Probe and then we rotated the lens 180 degrees, following them as they went.” The Probe automatically oriented (?) the image, keeping the actors in an upright position.

The Probe incorporates a 15" long lens barrel with a diameter of just 1.7" (42mm) and five prime lenses (5mm, 8mm, 12mm, 17mm and 23mm) that are interchangeable at the front mount. “We had planned to use a Fujinon lens on our Sony F-900, but the Probe ended up being so flexible that the Fuji was almost never on the camera. For extreme close ups, Osunsanmi chose the 5mm prime to show every iota of fear on the actor’s face. “We’d start out with a wide shot, then move right up to the actor’s nose, with everything still in focus.”

One of Osunsanmi’s favorite uses of the HD Probe came from a discovery he made during the initial testing at Innovision. “We found that switching a prime on or off the Probe would shake the image.” They put the effect to work, calling it a ‘hypershake,’ because of the way the image jumped back and forth. “After a certain point in the story, things start to happen pretty fast,” Osunsanmi said. “We used the ‘hypershake’ to add a sense of panic and confusion as the kills and scares start to pile up.” Osunsanmi adds, “The only way we were able to discover this was because the testing environment at Innovision was so open. It allows for that kind of creative innovation.”

The Innovision HD Probe is waterproof up to ten inches from the front lens. This proved invaluable in the scene where Olatunde wanted to portray the monster’s POV. “We have one scene where the monster is underwater, looking up at a potential victim. Because of our budget – we’re an indie production, after all – we couldn’t afford a full underwater unit. So the Probe proved a great way to get what we wanted. We submerged it about 1 ft and it worked flawlessly. We combined that with the hypershake for a really exciting effect.”

In retrospect, Osunsanmi explains that Innovision’s HD Probe changed his filmmaking experience. “We used the Probe so much it practically became its own POV. It gave us such a unique visual style that without it we’d have a completely different film.”

For more information on the HD Probe, please contact Mark Centkowski at 1-310-453-4866 or sales@innovision-optics.com.

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