When it comes to photographing small things up close, macro lenses and diopters are the obvious tools to make sure the job gets done correctly. But every once and a while a curve ball is thrown into the mix that has me changing plans and solving problems last minute. Such was the case on a job for Bud Light. We needed to shoot inside the bezel of a small smartphone screen and then ‘dolly’ out from the screen to reveal a hand holding the phone recording the scene in the background. Calculations suggested a 200mm macro at about 18″ away. But we realized that maintaining focus on a dolly would be impossible since the depth of field would be way too thin. So, we decided to execute ‘Plan B’. I’ve always said filmmaking is about ‘The Art of Plan B’.
Since we didn’t have a RED Dragon for the job, we couldn’t use its resolution to our advantage. I decided to use our biggest lens, the 24-290mm Optimo. Having the lens connected to a Micro-force zoom controller we transformed the dolly into a smooth zoom-out. At 4′ minimum focus at 290mm we just squeaked inside to have a full view of the smartphone’s screen. In short, we couldn’t have used a shorter lens! From this point it was smooth sailing and the easiest of ‘zoom outs’. The shot was a success because the zoom was smooth and focus was tack sharp. What was scheduled to take 90 minutes to complete ended up taking less than 20.