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Shooting 16mm anamorphic, tactics, problems?


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#1 Evan Ferrario

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 02:29 AM

I am planning on shooting a short film this coming spring. I have shot 16mm before, but always with regular 16mm framing. I have seen a few examples of anamorphic lens used on a 16mm camera, this turns out to a 2.6/1 widescreen frame.

For this project, I really wanted a super wide aspect like that of the anamorphic method. Another reason I wanted to do anamorphic instead of masking is that I have 2 regular 16mm cameras. It would be much cheaper for me to buy an anamorphic lens instead of a super 16 capable camera.

This project is mostly going to be viewed on dvd, and I plan on keeping the film in the 2.66 and putting black bars in the 16:9 frame.

I have tried to research others who have done this. There was a spanish feature film entitled "Japon," if you look on google image you can see some good shots, they show the right aspect ratio. Also there are a few low quality movies on youtube.

From what I have gathered, anamorphic puts a lot of restictions on how you shoot. I was looking if anyone had shot anamorphic and could tell me the true problems with it. I assume it is used a lot more on 35mm but the principles should carry over, only much less forgiving on 16mm.

What I've gathered so far, please correct anything that i have wrong.

Lens behind anamorphic lens should be between 50 and 100mm
Shooting 1 or 2 stops down helps with the problems associated with focus.
if the lens isn't perfectly alligned, the image will be stretched strange.

Now I've read about how the focus is different for the vertical and horizontal planes because the lens does the 2X stretch on only 1 axis. I don't quite understand this. Does it mean that there is only a certain distance from each lens that can be in focus in both fields. So I would always have to have the actors stand the same distance from the camera in order to be in focus. Or is there a way to focus the vertical and horizontal seperatly.

If anyone who has shot anamorphic or knows the process could enlighten me on the focus method with anamorphic. Also are there any other things to look out for.
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#2 Will Montgomery

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 03:58 PM

In short, don't bother.

Seriously, it's such a pain in 16mm that it will just get in the way of the creative process.

You say you can't afford a Super 16 camera... what camera are you using? So many now can be converted... that's really a better choice for what you're doing.
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#3 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 04:46 PM

As mentioned, it is a world of pain.

And the biggest pain is not having a wide lens. The widest anamorphic lens you're likely to get is a 35mm. Once you slap that on a 16mm lens it will be a telephoto lens. Now, if you were doing a western in Alameida, this could potentially work. But on low budget shoot, where you're more likely than not to be in borrowed flats and narrow spaces, this becomes a total nightmare. Add to this the fact that everyone gets confused, the image is squeezed but can't be unsqueezed for viewing (the best you'll get is 4:3 to 16:9 unsqueezing - which is only 1.33x unsqueeze) and the size and speed of these lenses and you're in for a rough ride. I have done anamorphic on S-16 and it was the most unpleasant and confused post process I've ever encountered. People just don't understand - not post houses, not directors, not producers.

You're better off renting a S-16 camera and cropping off a bit top and bottom.

If you can get your hands on a Bolex camera with their specially made 1.5x anamorphic lenses they did in the 60's, then that could be an option. The french film Seul Contre Tous (from the director of Irreversible) was shot like that and it looked very good. But they're very rare and hard to come by.
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