Innovision Probe – |
A Big Part of Christian Sebaldt, ASC’s Bag of Tricks
When director David Payne wanted to start a shot on an ECU of a mailman’s eye,
pulling back through a large wrought-iron estate gate to a wide shot of a man on
The Addams Family Reunion (1997), cinematographer Christian Sebaldt, ASC had
quite a challenge. “I needed a close-focus lens that could capture a 1:1 Image
ratio (the photographed eye being the same size on 35mm film) and also a wide
angle lens,” he explains.
“The lightweight and wide-angle ‘periscope-type’ Innovision Probe was the
perfect choice. The 35mm Probe is about 18” long and we were able to easily fit
it through the wrought-iron gate and get it about ½” away from the actor’s eye.
“With the Probe and a wide lens, we could get in close and pull back wide
without traveling back 100 feet (which would have been required with most Macro
lenses). Using Steadicam, we didn’t need track that would have been seen at the
end of the pull out. And, using a Technocrane was financially impossible and a
bit of overkill.
“Even though the lens is far removed from the camera (at the end of the Probe),
Steadicam operator Rick Davidson managed to keep the image extremely steady,
even as we fought a slight wind, and reached through the gate.”
Since the 1997 shoot, the Innovision Probe has come in quite handy for Sebaldt.
On one shot for the Moving Forward Toyota campaign, Sebaldt started on an ECU of
a little girls’ face (Probe on Steadicam with ARRI 435) then pulled back through
a bird house she’s looking at. “We widen out and boom down. We see her sitting
on her dad’s shoulders and we follow them walking along the house,” he explains.
“An hour later we used the same lens to do a quick underwater shot of three
seniors diving into the pool.”
On the movie Crossover Sebaldt got a very dynamic and extreme low-angle shot
racing across the basketball court with the players (Probe on a skateboard dolly
with a Sony F900).
“Recently, on Robosapien (starring a photorealistic CGI robot) we needed lots of
low angles and shots peeking out of bags, etc.,” says Sebaldt. “The Probe came
in real handy, shooting with a Panavision F23.”
No wonder it’s his first choice, when faced with one of those interesting
challenges. “I am not aware of any other close-focus, light-weight, long-barrel
lens that would allow me to travel so easily through props and the next moment,
with a 90-degree adapter and the waterproof lenses, quickly dip under the
surface of a pool to capture a last minute underwater shot that we came up with
on the spot,” he says.
“Finding visually unusual angles is easily accomplished with the Innovision
Probe. It helps keep the director happy and the audiences interested.
“Speed seems more and more important these days,” he adds. “And, any tool that
takes too long to use is usually not on the first unit camera cart anymore. So,
the challenge for me is to deliver these visually stimulating shots and not have
the 1st AD staring at his watch, shaking his head and asking ‘how much longer?’
“Never happens – thanks to the Innovision Probe!”