The goal of independent film-making is simple. Make the film you want to make, without answering to a studio. The beauty in this is the Auteur of the film retains the full creative control of the content of the film.
The down side, is that without a studio, the financial backing often is significantly less than one would receive in a studio situation. Today we can achieve stunningly good image quality from HDSLR cameras half the size, and half the cost of just the battery of a 35mm Motion Picture Film camera. There has never been a time where more image quality was derived per dollar in the moving picture. The HDSLR can offer the indie filmmaker a damn good representation of 35mm film’s essential characteristics. Light sensitivity, shallow depth of field, low grain imagery, interchangeable lenses, 24P and the 60P over crank. All the convenience of tapeless Digital HD Video and most of the look of 35mm film. A dream scenario. The beauty of this is that everyone can now have the look of film, in a nice tidy 1080P package.
For many people looking to make narrative films, the 16×9 aspect ratio doesn’t quite fit the scope of their idea. Enter the cine anamorphic lens. These beautiful, oft hand made lenses optically squeeze a wider image 2.4:1 aspect ration image onto the film plane. The problem with anything thats hand built, ESPECIALLY in the film industry… is cost. Anamorphic lenses as beautiful and desirable as they are come with a hefty price tag, both in terms of rental and support equipment.
One way around this cost, many indie filmmakers wanting that look often matte a 2.40:1 image out of their 16:9 footage. Thats great, but the difference is this. Anamorphic lenses provide certain tell tale characteristics, that get imparted onto the image. The two main characteristics are the bokeh and the lens flare. The bokeh on an anamorphic lens expands vertically as a point goes out of focus faster than it expands horizontally. The result is oval shaped out of focus circles, a by product of the front element that compresses the image horizontally.
That being said, why cant we take the amazing image quality of the HDSLR even higher…..
On a recent shoot i needed to match a canon 7D “B” camera to my A camera, a RED MX which was using anamorphic lenses. I devised a contraption that gives the standard spherical lens we all have the visual charachteristics of an anamorphic lens. There by helping to sell the effect far more convincingly. IE: the footage looks like it was shot on an anamorphic lens. The best part is that the contraption is relatively inexpensive. I am in the midst of patenting the concept, and i am going to give you guys a sneak preview of what it does.
This is the origination of the concept. I had to create a horizontal flare to match the elites. So i did using the simplest tool in existence. 🙂 Its not perfect, but it made the little light over my head go off. This is a excerpt from the music video i devised the concept for. I hadn’t integrated the second phase, that changes the aperture of the lens, so the bokeh is still that of a spherical lens.
Flash forward a few weeks:
I figured out how to control many aspects of the anamorphic effect. The intensity, and apparent “strength” of the effects. This is the state i’m at right at right now. Far more refined and getting more refined each day. It works better on longer lenses, starting around the 40mm. I have tested it on a Canon 50mm F1.4 USM, Canon 85mm F1.8 USM, Helios 44-2 58mm F2.0, the Jupiter-9 F2.0 85mm, as well as the 135mm FD, 200mm F2.8 SSC FD lens and pretty much any wide aperture lens. My goal it to have it fully functional from 35mm focal lengths and up. In general when shooting for a 2.4:1 framing, you dont go much shorter than a 35mm lens. Because of the aspect ratio a 50mm seems wider on screen because of the additional width of the frame. Having a functional 35mm should be plenty wide.
While the device doesnt actually squeeze the image into the frame like an anamorphic, when the image is cropped to 2.4:1 the combination of the lens effects, and the aspect ratio will help sell the effect for a fraction of the price of renting a single anamorphic lens for one day.
I figure this device will help many independent filmmakers create a beautiful high quality cinemascope effect for a low price, in camera in a fully customizable configuration…
If you think this is cool please email me, or comment!