Underwater scenes for new film shot with single HD, ENG lens

Wes Skiles shoots an underwater scene for the upcoming Sony Pictures feature “The CAVE” using a Sony HDW-F950 camera coupled with Fujinon’s HA13x4.5ERM HD super-wide-angle ENG-style lens. (Photography courtesy Jill Heinerth.)

Director of Photography/Producer Wes Skiles shot all of the underwater scenes for Sony Pictures’ film “The CAVE” exclusively with Fujinon’s HA13x4.5ERM HD super-wide-angle ENG-style lens. The film is scheduled for national release Aug. 26.

Many of the film’s scenes take place underwater. Skiles, an expert cave explorer, was tapped by the filmmakers to shoot these scenes, serving as the production’s Underwater Unit Director of Photography.

Skiles shot the underwater scenes in Romania in a large tank filled with water and on location in real caves on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Chief among his concerns was maintaining a clear image in this environment. Water contains millions of microscopic particles, nearly or completely invisible to the naked eye, yet easily detectable by the camera. To capture a clear image, he had to shoot as close as possible to the subject. To do so, Skiles needed to shoot subjects up to 7ft. long from only 3.5ft. away.

Skiles turned to Fujinon’s HA13x4.5BERM ENG lens to address the challenge. According to Skiles, the 13x has minimal focus breathing, holds back-focus well and is versatile.

The HA13x4.5’s relative long focal length (for a wide-angle lens, up to 118mm with the lens’ 2X extender) allowed Skiles to zoom in on a subject. At the same time, its wide field of view made it easy to capture the entire length of the subject.

To protect the lens, Skiles worked with Amphibico, a provider of underwater imaging equipment, to custom build a protective housing around the HA13x4.5 coupled with a Sony HDW-F950. With the assistance of Fujinon and Amphibico, he also designed special aspheric glass, placed in front of the HA13x4.5, to correct the water’s reflection and distortion.

Another major challenge for Skiles was changing looks in different scenes underwater. Skiles zoomed in or out with the HA13x4.5 until he got the desired angle, and then locked it in, using a feature of the HA13x4.5 that allows operators to “save” zoom points.

For more information, visit www.fujinon.com.

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