What Mythbusters Got Wrong About the Kubrick Collection

Adam Savage takes you on a tour of the Kubrick Exhibition, giving a lot of great context and getting one point terribly wrong.

We’ve covered the Kubrick Exhibition before. Hopefully, you've had a chance to see it. Either way, it's worth taking a look at this tour given at the San Francisco edition by Mythbusters' Adam Savage:

Before he was a TV host, Savage worked in the model-making department at ILM and brings his experience working on Spielberg's AI—originally a Kubrick project—and his deep knowledge of the art department to lend a new perspective to some of the materials in the exhibit.  

But he does make one glaring error. Savage says that Kubrick went to an "old camera guy" to modify his Mitchell camera, but the subject, Ed Di Giulio, wasn’t old at the time; he was only 45! He had worked at Mitchell Camera previously, and his company, Cinema Products, would go to on great success with the CP-16, a mainstay of indie cinema for many years. (You might remember it fromThe Blair Witch Project—​it was used both to shoot the film and as a prop.)

Joshua Leonard holds a CP-16
Joshua Leonard, actor in THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, holding the CP-16 camera designed by Ed Di Giulio.

While the art department insight is strong, a few cinematography points might have been glossed over a bit too quickly as well. The true reason why so much modification was required to make the F/.7 lens (built by Zeiss for NASA) work on the Mitchell was that in order to design a F/.7 lens, the distance from the rear element of the lens to the image plane was very, very small. This pretty much ruled out any camera with a spinning reflex shutter (like Kubrick’s beloved ARRI IIC), since the mirror would interfere, hitting the back of the lens. The Mitchell, being an older design with a non-reflex viewing system—you didn’t look through the lens to frame—allowed for a much smaller rear element to film distance.

Kubrick, of course, did this so he could use strictly candle light inside the historic buildings where they shot—though contrary to popular belief, he used cine-lights outside the windows to create consistent daylight throughout the day.

Small errors aside, Savage is a great tour guide, and if the Kubrick show hasn’t made it to a town near you, it’s well worth watching.

[Full disclosure: I worked with both the Mythbusters on a project for Discovery and they are both pretty amazing fellows.]

For more, watch this complete guide to Kubrick's lenses    

Your Comment


What a pointless article.
He meant "old camera guy" as in a person who knows a lot about old cameras.
I love No Film School, but this is just dumb.

July 18, 2016 at 2:12PM


When I read the article's title : omg ! Can't wait to see what they did wrong (...well not exactly but...)
When I read the article : meh.

July 20, 2016 at 5:38AM


Heh, the guys at Tested should write a follow-up piece, "What Nofilmschool Got Wrong About The Difference Between Tested and Mythbusters"

July 18, 2016 at 3:42PM


You're forgetting that those guys have actual journalistic talent and integrity. They probably won't even bat an eye at this article. NoFilmSchool should stick to reposting content from people who know what they're doing.

July 19, 2016 at 9:48AM

Tobias N
Director of Photography

I was going to say the same thing but you nailed it first.

July 20, 2016 at 3:41PM, Edited July 20, 3:41PM

Caleb Pike
Shooter, Educator


July 18, 2016 at 3:51PM


I know he said 'old camera guy' but I feel he meant it in the context of a guy who works on old cameras! Awesome collection and great video.

July 18, 2016 at 4:04PM

Simon Monk
Video creator/Filmmaker

What a fucking joke of an article. What has No Film School come to? You guys have been pumping shit after shit articles for the past months now.
Unfollowed. I'll never visit this website again.

July 18, 2016 at 4:10PM

Hubert Hotte

No one will miss you.
Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

July 19, 2016 at 10:58PM


I'd rather have these types of articles where small mistakes are corrected with real knowledge than those of Renée where there's huge idiocies are swallowed as knowledge.

July 18, 2016 at 4:29PM

Martin Brewer
Director, DOP

Hey guys, put a lock on the lip service. If you don't like what's written here, move on.
And keep yer negatism to yourself.

July 18, 2016 at 6:01PM, Edited July 18, 6:01PM

Richard Krall

Negatism, really?

July 19, 2016 at 11:53AM

Gareth Rhodes
Film Student

Yep, negatism. I said it and I ain't takin' it back

July 19, 2016 at 5:00PM

Richard Krall

I looked up the definition of negatism on the urban dictionary.

"Retarded way of saying negativity for moronic teachers like Ms.Bent."

Just thought it was funny.

I agree with Mr.Krall that there is too much negativity. I was just happy to watch the video.

July 20, 2016 at 6:20AM, Edited July 20, 6:20AM

d shay

Honestly, saying the lenses were only made by NASA is a bigger mistake. They were made by Zeiss (commissioned by NASA). Appart from that there were other lenses made by other manufacturares with such apertures made with other applications in mind, like x-ray machines, and I believe they were made arround the same time as these ones (I may be wrong on that one).

July 19, 2016 at 3:09PM, Edited July 19, 3:09PM


Yeah, the NASA/Zeiss thing and the discussion of why the BNC had to be modified were the bigger errors I was interested in correcting, the "old" thing was more an excuse to talk about Ed Di Giulio, who is kind of a forgotten bad-ass.

Didn't know that about X-ray glass being super wide-aperture, but it makes sense: you wouldn't want to shoot more X-rays through someone than you have to, so wide-aperture would be useful. Wonder what the optical quality is like: X-ray is monochromatic, so chromatic aberation wouldn't be corrected for in the design.

Personally, now that we're in a digital era, I'm waiting for more .7 lenses to come out again: a man can dream.

July 20, 2016 at 8:04AM

Charles Haine
Filmmaker, Tech Nerd

I guess Ed won't be forgotten so easily =) you can rest assured.

Yes, I guess that's the mais reason they were used in x-ray. Search for De Oude Delft, they're a Dutch company that made some f.75 lenses (and a f.6 too, I belive). I guess there is a post somewhere about a photographer adapting one to e-mount and snapping some shots with it.

I guess we won't be seeing much modern glass this fast... There are some companies making f.95 modern glass, but not really that usefull. Also, the evolution in sensor design, with higher ISOs being available and giving more satisfactory results every year, the manufacturers should be making relatively fast lenses that wield usefull results in the entire aperture range, like Sigma is doing.

July 20, 2016 at 11:42PM, Edited July 20, 11:44PM


This article could have been a lot less hostile towards Adam Savage, This just feels like you got a little but hurt for no reason and decided to write a pointless blow post. Next time I suggest you don't attack someone for getting something wrong you just actually inform people of what may have been left out.

Oh and FYI this is tested not Mythbusters.

July 20, 2016 at 4:12PM