Anamorphic: digital vs film

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FelikZ

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Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 9:34 am

Hello Forum.

I am researching anamorphic question, whether it worth it and what is the benefits compare to round lenses.

So far those are image differences that I have found:
    1. You have wider angle on higher focal length, compare to round, depending on stretch (i.e. 2.0 anamorphic 80mm should have similar (distorted) angle as 40mm)
    2. You have shallower depth of field on the equal focal length because of the above ^
    3. Your image is distorted even when desqueezed - but this is not a bad thing*
    4. Flares and different bokeh light shape

If something is missing, please update me.

My question however is about 3). Since anamorphic lenses were invented when there were no digital sensors but only a film cameras, the resulted image end-up physically on a film stock.

If I got it right, desqueezing digital image from modern sensors will lose details while desqueezing light coming from a physical film stock will maintain more information? Like, there is no pixels on a film stock - so you can potentially recover some information, does it makes sense?

If somebody did that kind of testing or know more how it works, you are very welcome to educate people like me!

Thanks
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 12:46 pm

Hi,

it doesn't have to distort when desqueeze, maybe the distort comes from focus breathing in old (or classic) primes. This means fat faces in close ups, not so good for divas in the past.

Most anamorphic films were printed compressed and desqueeze in theaters physically with anamorphic projector lens.
Other than that is just aesthetic right now. Astigmatism DOF, barrel distortion, CA in corners and so on...
I love it! It gives a nice 3D look. However theres new anamorphics pretty clean that look almost spherical.
I don't think shot anamorphic in digital era will lose much details. No matter, the digital roll-off and electric colors still there. It's all about stop down the anamorphic lens = need more light.

About new cheap anamorphic primes, mostly aren't double achromatic and those looks really bad, this is why some projector lenses still having better quality, because were builded for cinemas
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 1:02 pm

I think what really matters, and its above all technical aspects, is how the image is seen. There are some beauty and magic to the anamorphic process. Might not be the case for every project, but sure it adds to the magic. And forget about light streaks. Thats not what makes it pretty.
My humble opinion, of course.
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 1:38 pm

My experience is with SLR Magic’s 1.33x-65 Anamorphot Adapter. As Roberto mentioned, it’s an adapter whose image looks more like a spherical lens than traditional vintage 2x anamorphic lenses as bokeh is a gentle oval and blue streaks are not included.

The only thing I try to be careful about is perspective: keeping the principal subjects reasonably close to the central portion of the frame and keeping the centre of attention in approximately the same focal plane if they are nearer the camera.

The effective squeeze is reduced for near objects versus objects at a normal or far distance. The desqueeze in post can be applied to the height of the pixels (keeping the horizontal dimension unchanged) but I wouldn’t claim that desqueeze loses details.

You don’t want to use a constant value for that desqueeze if there are near objects, you vary the desqueeze value. For my 1.33x anamorphic, I transform the pixel height between 0.7518x (normal distance) and about 0.82x (near objects) to get the correct look for circular objects. You fiddle with the value until it looks correct.

Might sound a bit strange until you actually have the lens and then it all makes sense.


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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 2:28 pm

It gains detail the same way a focal reducer would work in terms of sharpness and resolution. Theoretically speaking.
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 3:50 pm

FelikZ wrote:If I got it right, desqueezing digital image from modern sensors will lose details while desqueezing light coming from a physical film stock will maintain more information? Like, there is no pixels on a film stock - so you can potentially recover some information, does it makes sense?


The anamorphic process is the same whether you're shooting with film or digital. Film can have more detail if it's a big enough format, but these days the resolving power of digital is surprisingly close to that of film -- in fact I'd say that it's now surpassed film, based on the scans I've done of my 35mm and 4x5 slides.

Most of the time, if a production is using an Alexa with an open gate, it's actually to shoot anamorphic. Shooting open gate rather than in a cinematic aspect ratio gives you more vertical resolution, which makes for a nicer looking de-squeezed image.

The distortion that you get from anamorphic is essentially built into the shot by the lens. You can shoot 4x3 aspect (or crop to it if the camera doesn't have that as a built in preset) on your Pocket 6K or 4.6K camera, get an approximately 4K image, then de-squeeze it in Resolve and get a theater quality image out of it, provided that what the lens is seeing deserves it (i.e. lighting, composition, production design, makeup, etc).

Keep in mind that a lot of films are shot on Alexas using anamorphic lenses an open gate... and that's a whopping 3.8K. LESS resolution than 35mm film in an Academy frame, and yet it looks great projected on a 40 foot screen. So you have nothing to worry about technically speaking, all you need to do is get familiar with the anamorphic distortion, learn how it affects the image, and learn to use it to your advantage.

Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing is approximately 142% due to style and preference. Roger Deakins for example prefers to shoot with spherical lenses, even though shooting anamorphic would clearly be a viable option for any production that can afford someone of his caliber, yet he continues to choose not to.

I'd guess that if you chatted with audiences who aren't filmmakers, you'd find that almost all of them wouldn't notice the difference between films shot in anamorphic vs spherical Super35 unless you specifically brought it up or showed them on 4x3 TVs with letterboxes to draw their attention to the aspect ratio.

I've only had one opportunity to shoot in anamorphic, and honestly I found that I liked it, but then I started out as an old school landscape photographer and if I'd had the budget I'd have gotten myself a 6x17 panocam for panoramic shots rather than relying on stitching. :)
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 3:55 pm

FelikZ wrote:My question however is about 3). Since anamorphic lenses were invented when there were no digital sensors but only a film cameras, the resulted image end-up physically on a film stock.

If I got it right, desqueezing digital image from modern sensors will lose details while desqueezing light coming from a physical film stock will maintain more information? Like, there is no pixels on a film stock - so you can potentially recover some information, does it makes sense?


On paper yes, in practice it's not an issue. Film works on an atomic level, so there are naturally a lot more atoms than pixels in a digital image. If you're concerned, you can always squish the image vertically so that effectively you increase the vertical resolution while keeping the horizontal one the same.

Pixel-peeping and anamorphic shooting is IMHO a fool's errand. Typically one tends to lose quality and sharpness particularly when using budget solutions. Fans will argue that is exactly this loss of quality and sharpness that gives anamorphic images that "magic."
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 4:09 pm

Kays Alatrakchi wrote:On paper yes, in practice it's not an issue. Film works on an atomic level, so there are naturally a lot more atoms than pixels in a digital image. If you're concerned, you can always squish the image vertically so that effectively you increase the vertical resolution while keeping the horizontal one the same.


Actually, film grains are quite a bit larger than atoms, and they are visible. What makes film appear to have more resolution than digital is that the film grains are arranged randomly rather than organized into a grid, so there's no discernible pattern to them unlike in digital.

I didn't transition off using film for fine art photography until just a few years ago, so I've had lots of opportunities to make comparisons between them... if you're using large formats like 4x5 and up, you can get more detail from film, but if you're using a 4x5 with a Better Light imager, you can get so close that the difference would end up being mitigated by the film grain. I've had 400 MB scans made from 4x5 slides and printed, and yes they look stunning... but I've also seen Peter Lik's galleries in Vegas, where everything shown originated digitally, and that also looked stunning. It made me want to print everything henceforth on Fuji Crystal Archive...

Pixel-peeping and anamorphic shooting is IMHO a fool's errand. Typically one tends to lose quality and sharpness particularly when using budget solutions. Fans will argue that is exactly this loss of quality and sharpness that gives anamorphic images that "magic."


Pixel peeping is for the most part a fool's errand. If all else is equal, an image captured with anamorphic lenses will look as good as one captured with spherical lenses.
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostThu Sep 19, 2019 7:42 pm

Kays Alatrakchi wrote:Film works on an atomic level, so there are naturally a lot more atoms than pixels in a digital image.


That's kind of an urban myth. As Rakesh explained, the silver halide crystals are several magnitudes larger than single atoms. The crystals have a relative size between 1-10 microns - which is 0.001 to 0.01 mm

Atoms have a size between 0.1 and 0.5 nm - which is 0.0000001 - 0.0000005 mm

A grain has many sensitivity sites and can form from 3 - billions of atoms of Silver metal, but grain is stacked and with color film you got three layers. And after film is developed grain is reduced thoroughly.
The more you enlarge the more the captured information gets fuzzy/scattered, like when you try to make a thin line with an airbrush.
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 9:40 am

Thank you guys for your input! That clears up a picture a little.

Pixel-picking is not what I wanted to do but rather to understand technical details of the process :)
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostFri Sep 20, 2019 3:55 pm

Hi Alexey

Buddy I think if you get your hands on some anamorphics and use them go for it! For me, whatever the true reason is I don't know, but I love the look of anamorphic footage, mostly because of old films I like probably.


I have a couple of old HI Fi 2x adapters and I am trying to use them. One thing about them is correct, I do lose some stops of light. How much exactly I don't know, but they do reduce light. Maybe that's the old adapters, but if it is the newer lenses then factor that in.


I think that digital cameras record so very well these days that you shouldn't worry too much about loss of any kind. Just worry about making sure there is enough lighting being used and you'll be grand. Light it up buddy!


I just filmed the clip below a few days ago in a forest, click on the link for a look - the first 1min 10 secs were filmed with a BMPC at UHD, a Helios 44-2 and a HI Fi 2x, then I just zoomed in. It's not shot or graded in any professional way like you guys can do it, but I still think the anamoprhic footage of the first 1 min 10 secs has that extra 'something to it' simply becasue of the anamoprhic adapter. Have a look anyway!


Whatever is the truth of it, I think you should go for it buddy if you are able to.


Gary


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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 4:14 am

Some good use of anamorphic images there, Gary.


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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 10:35 am

Hi Rick

Thanks buddy, not much but they're all I can do yet, I need a 0.5 diopter I think for better use, I'm stuck filming from a great distance all the time. Hopefully I can get one before this Christmas so I can make good use of the adapter. I'm sold on anamorphic for life Rick, think you're pretty much the same too! Hope all's well with yourself.

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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 7:45 pm

As long as I’m busy, life’s good.


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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSat Sep 21, 2019 8:50 pm

Gary Collins wrote:Hi Alexey

Buddy I think if you get your hands on some anamorphics and use them go for it! For me, whatever the true reason is I don't know, but I love the look of anamorphic footage, mostly because of old films I like probably.


I have a couple of old HI Fi 2x adapters and I am trying to use them. One thing about them is correct, I do lose some stops of light. How much exactly I don't know, but they do reduce light. Maybe that's the old adapters, but if it is the newer lenses then factor that in.


I think that digital cameras record so very well these days that you shouldn't worry too much about loss of any kind. Just worry about making sure there is enough lighting being used and you'll be grand. Light it up buddy!


I just filmed the clip below a few days ago in a forest, click on the link for a look - the first 1min 10 secs were filmed with a BMPC at UHD, a Helios 44-2 and a HI Fi 2x, then I just zoomed in. It's not shot or graded in any professional way like you guys can do it, but I still think the anamoprhic footage of the first 1 min 10 secs has that extra 'something to it' simply becasue of the anamoprhic adapter. Have a look anyway!


Whatever is the truth of it, I think you should go for it buddy if you are able to.


Gary




That was my second anamorphic lens. Quite heavy and bulky, nice look tho.
Then I got a Sankor 16, much lighter and smaller, same look.
Also I got a few x1.33 ones, just crap but nice blue flares
I tried the Focus Module with Cinelux. Cinelux is a great lens, FM not! bulky, shoft and undesirable diffuse effect.
Lomo Square front 35mm T2.5 was the only one I had that felt I'm really shooting anamorphic. I also disassembled the front block to use it with a 24mm prime as adapter, insane wide angle anamorphic. Also experimenting with 30mm f1.4, pretty fast wide angle anamorphic, but not so cool to focus.

If anamorphic developers are reading this, please, just buy a Lomo and copy it, the mechanism is so easy and works nicely, there's just two cylindrical achromatic lens pretty close each other and a small spherical group of lenses.
Or rent a Panavision Series and do the same, but please, stop copiying x1.33 for MFT, it's not good business.
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSun Sep 22, 2019 8:51 am

Hi Roberto

Roberto I'm just checking here - are you the guy who filmed the sequence with the saxophone? I THINK maybe it was you, that was AWESOME.


Yeah the Hi FI is big, must see can I get my hand son a sankor

If you have any links to any footage you have, I'd love to see it buddy.

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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSun Sep 22, 2019 1:13 pm

Gary Collins wrote:Hi Roberto

Roberto I'm just checking here - are you the guy who filmed the sequence with the saxophone? I THINK maybe it was you, that was AWESOME.


Yeah the Hi FI is big, must see can I get my hand son a sankor

If you have any links to any footage you have, I'd love to see it buddy.

Gary

yep, glad you like it.
Sankor have same look, even better flares, but still double focus headache.
That one with 35 Lomo on Pocket, not much DOF with 16mm sensor size:


This one with cheap 1.33, hard work removing chromatic aberrations:
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSun Sep 22, 2019 2:51 pm

I gotta say, I recently bought some vintage lens and Im absolutely in love with it. I even dont want to shoot anamorphic anymore (for now). Even considering selling my SLR Magic Anamorphot.
But I didnt shot with both enough yet. Im gonna shoot more with the vintage before pairing up the two to see what I can get.
I think above it all is what a lens do to the image, if it makes it more pleasing and beautiful, no matter what is happening technically underneath it. Technicality just helps us understand whats happening but the end result is what matters.
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSun Sep 22, 2019 3:24 pm

This is what I mean:

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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSun Sep 22, 2019 3:36 pm

Those vintage lenses were used on film cameras of course so it’s probably those two together that will get you where you want to be. The vintage lens on a digital sensor may not be a match for the classic film’s we watched decades ago.

My name isn’t Mr Tarantino so I just can’t make old magic today.


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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSun Sep 22, 2019 6:30 pm

Yeah, you are correct. But I dont think we should replicate that exact look. Its outdated. What I think we should do is sell magic. And maybe the character of a good lens vintage or not, is an important part of the recipe. I love how a lens can add a character to an image.
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostMon Sep 23, 2019 12:22 am

Agreed.


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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostMon Sep 23, 2019 10:53 am

Gary Collins wrote:Hi Alexey

Buddy I think if you get your hands on some anamorphics and use them go for it! For me, whatever the true reason is I don't know, but I love the look of anamorphic footage, mostly because of old films I like probably.


I have a couple of old HI Fi 2x adapters and I am trying to use them. One thing about them is correct, I do lose some stops of light. How much exactly I don't know, but they do reduce light. Maybe that's the old adapters, but if it is the newer lenses then factor that in.


I think that digital cameras record so very well these days that you shouldn't worry too much about loss of any kind. Just worry about making sure there is enough lighting being used and you'll be grand. Light it up buddy!


I just filmed the clip below a few days ago in a forest, click on the link for a look - the first 1min 10 secs were filmed with a BMPC at UHD, a Helios 44-2 and a HI Fi 2x, then I just zoomed in. It's not shot or graded in any professional way like you guys can do it, but I still think the anamoprhic footage of the first 1 min 10 secs has that extra 'something to it' simply becasue of the anamoprhic adapter. Have a look anyway!


Whatever is the truth of it, I think you should go for it buddy if you are able to.


Gary




Hello Gary, beautiful footage! I am also owning helios 44-2, very cinematic lens. Here is some footage that I did using it:


Anamorphic video that you've made definitely has some magic into it. How heavy this adapter? I guess run-and-gun is not an option with it.

Cheers
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostMon Sep 23, 2019 11:42 am

Hi Alexey

Beautiful footage and lovely grading, very nice to watch, just watched it! Yep I think the helios has a very nice look to it especially since it is cheaper than a lot.

The HI FI 2x is about 7 inches long and about 4 inches wide at the front, and it's heavy buddy. I think run and gun is not on the menu for it, maybe just a few shots here and there but my arm would tire very quickly - the proper Steadicam suit would be great but I don't have one (yet.... :lol: ).

Also I need a 0.5 diopter for it to get closer shots, that would make things better. But I think it does definitely look fantastic. At home here this Christmas will be the first time in 4 years I will have time to actually go out and get some nice footage with the hi fi of my local area, it will be my first real go at it so you'll be able to get a look at what it does then.


Another guy on here called Roberto has shot something with the HI Fi that is perfect, I'll put the link to it so you can watch it. He recommends a lens called a Sankor 16mm I think, check out his clip, he knows what it's all about!


Gary



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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSat Sep 28, 2019 12:05 pm

One of the interesting things about anamorphic cinematography is the way the out of focus areas contrast with the focused subject. They look thinner and a little squeezed. This draws your attention to the more natural looking subject.
To maximise this effect we might want to block our composition with the subject in the near field contrasting with an interesting background. This may require the use of a Diopter with some setups to achieve close focus.
BenHurI.jpg
Scene from William Wyler's Ben Hur 1959, Robert Surtees DP, Panavision Auto Panatar
BenHurI.jpg (189.78 KiB) Viewed 4201 times

ChariotRaceE.jpg
Scene from William Wyler's Ben Hur 1959, Robert Surtees DP, Panavision Auto Panatar
ChariotRaceE.jpg (177.03 KiB) Viewed 4201 times

What I am trying to figure out is what style of lens to choose for modification to shooting anamorphic. Should I look for a spherical lens that has a softer rendering of it's out of focus areas to imitate the look of the vintage Panavision Auto Panatar or C-series lenses (Helios 44 series, etc.)?

Would a low contrast lens with a simpler vintage coating be better? This would accentuate the flare in night scenes.

Emmanuel Lubezki the cinematographer for Terrence Malick's The New World chose the hybrid of the Panavision E-series mechanics with the optics of the vintage C-series lens. This allowed for close focus while solving the contradiction of resolution with depth of field. It was nominated for an academy award in cinematography.
NewWorldA.jpg
Captain John Smith and Pocahontas in The New World 2006
NewWorldA.jpg (69.85 KiB) Viewed 4201 times
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSat Sep 28, 2019 6:37 pm

What do you guys think about that Siriu lens that's coming out soon?

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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSun Sep 29, 2019 6:15 pm

I liked the image the Siriu lens produced. One of the attendees that was out of focus in the background had a definite squeeze on him. I would like to see tests in more dramatic compositions.

I liked the blue flares. Is this a low contrast lens? Would the colored lines show up in focus assist on a mirrorless camera using contrast detect for displaying the focus?

Would I need a large monitor to focus with peaking focus assist selected on a BMPCC 4K to focus it?

Here is another example of the "waterfall bokeh" of a modern hybrid anamorphic lens. Notice the distortion in the soldiers morion helmets.
TheNewWorld044-580x250.jpg
Terrence Malick's The New World, Emmanuel Lubezki cinematographer
TheNewWorld044-580x250.jpg (34.88 KiB) Viewed 4094 times


Here's another example of the dramatic separation from the background in Ben Hur.
BenHurB.jpg
Scene from William Wyler's Ben Hur 1959, Robert Surtees DP, Panavision Auto Panatar
BenHurB.jpg (107.1 KiB) Viewed 4094 times
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSun Sep 29, 2019 7:48 pm

rick.lang wrote:My experience is with SLR Magic’s 1.33x-65 Anamorphot Adapter. As Roberto mentioned, it’s an adapter whose image looks more like a spherical lens than traditional vintage 2x anamorphic lenses as bokeh is a gentle oval and blue streaks are not included.

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Hi Rick,
Do you have any thoughts on the Anamorphot-50 2.0x vs your 1.33x?

From the test videos, it seems like 2x would look better on the Pocket 4K sensor but I have no first hand experience.
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostMon Sep 30, 2019 1:24 pm

You are right that 2x seems to be the standard squeeze and it does have more exaggerated oval bokeh and edge distortion. There must be some samples online but at the time I remember seeing them, I wasn’t interested in the 50mm Anamorphot primarily because they won’t work with my SLR Magic APO primes but also if I remember correctly because they required a dual focus operation in which the operator must focus both the taking lens and the Anamorphot.

The latter concern has been addressed by the PD Movie follow focus which uses two motors working together to focus both gears synchronously. Others also can provide this functionality that makes the operation of an adapter easier.

The first concern for me was solved with the 1.33x-65 Anamorphot, but that doesn’t meet the goals of many shooters that want 2x squeeze (and blue flares) on a 4:3x frame. If that’s the look you want, that’s the way to go. Just be aware, the 2x squeeze with ‘character’ isn’t likely to be mistaken for the ‘fake’ anamorphic look provided by spherical lenses on a 2.4:1 sensor window so it has a lot to offer the cinematographer!

The 2.4:1 frame is fine when you don’t want all that character but want to frame your subject in a way that provides more visual context. That’s also provided by the real squeeze anamorphics too and that’s what I like about 2.4:1 regardless of whether or not you get there by 2x, 1.33x or cropped spherical views.

If you don’t think that visual context is important for most of your content, just create a 1:1 or 9:16 deliverable of your favourite content and watch it. You may feel differently, but to me it’s claustrophobic and destroys the viewer’s anticipation of action and overall involvement. Great if you’re filming a jail cell but little else?

Aside: I think a tendency to very tight and extremely dark shots predominately is a cheat to keep costs down, not to enhance the viewer’s appreciation of the scene.




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Rick Lang
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Re: Anamorphic: digital vs film

PostSat Nov 16, 2019 8:56 pm

I got a modified 1966 Soviet era Mir-1 37mm F/2.8 lens that had it's aperture replaced with a F/3.5 oval plate. I used a Russian Zenit DSLR adapter to go from M39 to EOS and shot some tests using an older Blackmagic URSA 4K Mini. You can see it here:

I bought the lens for $132 from HeliosModifications on Etsy.com.

Thanks to City College of San Francisco's Cinema 54 Cinematography class for the use of their equipment and facilities.

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