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DI-Production in scope: 3perf spherical vs. 4perf anamorphic?


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#1 Marc Roessler

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 10:24 AM

Hello Guys,

for 1.85:1 productions, 3-perf makes perfect sense when the rest is done via DI (i.e. no optical or contact printing).
But what about Scope? The image area is definately smaller than with 4-perf, but those in favor of 3perf argument that
the anamorphic lenses introduce so much distortion and loss of light (so faster, grainier stock is needed) that no real
advantage of 4perf remains. However, i'm critical. What are your experiences?

Greetings,
Marc
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 11:30 AM

Actually, regular 4-perf 35mm Standard 1.85 makes the most sense for 1.85 projection since it allows you to make contact prints and avoid a D.I. altogether. Same with 4-perf 35mm anamorphic.

However, if you need a D.I. anyway, for color-correction reasons or whatever, then it makes more sense to shoot in 4-perf or 3-perf Super-35 (Full Aperture) for 1.85, the main advantage of 3-perf over 4-perf is the savings in film stock.

For making scope prints, the obvious advantage of anamorphic photography is the larger negative area used for the 2.39 image compared to cropping 3-perf or 4-perf Super-35. Now if you're going to do a D.I., the graininess problem of Super-35 is reduced somewhat, making it closer to the look of anamorphic. However, the anamorphic frame uses more pixels vertically for scanning and outputting back to film, so it still has more resolution, although if you do an all-2K D.I., you're throwing away enough information to somewhat blunt the differences between anamorphic and Super-35.

In other words, a 2K D.I. will tend to make a Super-35 blow-up look less grainy (than an optical printer blow-up using an IN/IP) but make an anamorphic image look less sharp, so you end up closer together in quality. In that case, you might as well shoot in Super-35 simply because it's easier to deal with, lens-wise, and then as well, you might as well shoot in 3-perf instead of 4-perf and save the money on stock.

Now there are some DP's, like Roger Deakins, who would rather work with spherical optics no matter what, so the larger negative size of anamorphic is not enough of an incentive.

There is no loss of light with anamorphic -- a Primo anamorphic, for example, is a T/2 lens -- it's just that because the focal lengths are usually longer, because they behave more "wide angle" due to the doubling of horizontal view, people will tend to pick something like a 40mm lens for anamorphic when they would pick a 20mm lens in Super-35 to create the same angle of view horizontally. And a 40mm lens has less depth of field than anamorphic. Combine that with the fact that the distortions increase as you shoot wide-open, people will tend to shoot anamorphic photography more stopped down, like at a T/4.0 minimum. You can shoot wider-open if you don't mind the shallow-focus look and the optical distortions. But since the negative is larger with anamorphic, one can get less grainy results with 500 ASA film. Now one can shoot 200 ASA film in Super-35 to compensate for the smaller negative area used for 2.39, but it is rarely done these days -- 500 ASA is too popular.

So it really comes down to look. Anamorphic photography tends to look "smoother" more than "sharper", although it seems to record more detail in wide shots. It also has lens distortions (like barrel distortion and breathing), flaring, and generally a shallower-focus look, but it really depends on how you shoot Super-35 too. Anamorphic tends to look less grainy.

Edited by David Mullen, 31 December 2005 - 11:33 AM.

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