Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Fancy Camera Angle Calculator and Why I Never Use It

When I was starting out, fresh from Drafting School, all I ever dreamed of was being a Set Designer. I gathered all the tools, I was rapidly developing the greatest collection of tools and templates. This did not go unnoticed, in fact, I received several gifts to ad to my kit. One of them was a really nice Camera Angle calculator.

At first, I was overwhelmed with it, as I was undereducated when it came to understanding the camera angles. As I learned more about Camera Angles, I would pick it up and figure out how to use it.

By the time I was actually working as a Set Designer, I hadn't yet used the calculator. I had yet to design a complete set. But the day came: I was asked to calculate the backdrop needed on a set. I proudly pulled out my fancy calculator. The Art Director just stared at me. "What?" I asked.

"What are you doing?" He asked. I showed him my nice shiny calculator. He stared back, blankly and said: "And how the hell do you know what lenses and angles they are going to use?"

He had a legitimate point. In fact, I had indeed wondered that myself: It was part of the mystery of the gadget. He then educated me on the reality of designing for film & TV. He taught me how to calculate for (realistic) worst-case-scenarios. By covering every possible angle, regardless of what the camera's angle would be, the set would be covered. To this day, I use his methods. I still have my shiny calculator, and Its still never been used.

The bottom line is if you can see off the set, so can the camera.

1 comment:

  1. Well, if your calculator is what I think it is and does what I think it does, I have used such a thing to sketch a specific shot from a plan. Sort of like what a Vectorworks camera object now renders.