Yesterday I took Dave Hanagan’s Make Your Own DSLR Lens workshop at the NW Film Forum. It was super fun and finally let me understand how cameras work a little better. With a body cap, some mailing tubes, tape and re-purposed old lenses from 16mm projectors you can make a lens that will fit onto your DSLR and can be focused. You have to add an aperture cut out of black card, and here you can play around and cut shapes into the aperture that give various effects to your still images. Effects can also be played with depending on what type of lens you choose.
Most people do this DIY lens stuff for still photography, but it can also be used for filming with video or film cameras. I, of course, would use them for frame by frame animation. Here is the 50mm lens I made in the class. I also made a 230mm lens, but it’s too long to be used on my stand, because I need to focus on things closer than a few feet. But this one works quite nicely.
Last year I took Jon Behren’s direct-on-film workshop, took some found footage back to the studio and tried to re-photograph it on my stand. Unfortunately my 35mm kit lens couldn’t get close enough to the tiny film to have it fill the screen. But with this homemade lens it’s possible. You can see in this photo that the film is almost filling my laptop screen (running Dragon frame grabbing software). I would have to keep the sprockets and sound track, but I kind of like that. And if I really wanted to I could punch in to these shots because Dragon takes really high res photos. So maybe there is a found footage direct-in-film animation in my future!
I also bought a Nikon manual lens for everyday use with my camera, which I’m looking forward to trying out.