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Return of Anamorphic?


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#1 Ravi Kiran

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 08:42 PM

It seems like more movies are being shot anamorphically these days. If there are indeed more anamorphic films, what could be the reason for this? Is it really just the stretchy bokeh and lens flares? I'd think that the sharpness benefit is largely negated by the 2K DIs many of these films go through.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:00 PM

It seems like more movies are being shot anamorphically these days. If there are indeed more anamorphic films, what could be the reason for this? Is it really just the stretchy bokeh and lens flares? I'd think that the sharpness benefit is largely negated by the 2K DIs many of these films go through.


But not the grain benefit. Plus if you are going through a 2K D.I., at least the scan of the anamorphic frame is taller, has more vertical resolution, compared to the 2K spherical image that will be cropped vertically. But yes, some of the benefits over Super-35 of increased information are minimized.
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#3 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:42 PM

Maybe to try to squeeze the maximum amount of information (and on-camera visual stylization) from 35mm. Could directors and DPs be responding to the pressure from production to get the best out of the format, or risk going to RED, Genesis, D21 or something like that?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:52 PM

Maybe to try to squeeze the maximum amount of information (and on-camera visual stylization) from 35mm. Could directors and DPs be responding to the pressure from production to get the best out of the format, or risk going to RED, Genesis, D21 or something like that?


I doubt it is some drive for more quality; I think if anamorphic is making a comeback again, it's just because of the look of the lenses, the flares, etc.

Considering that anamorphic means shooting 4-perf in a day and age when producers are automatically budgeting for 3-perf, I doubt that proposing anamorphic is some way of counteracting a move to the Red, Genesis, or D21.
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#5 Steve Zimmerman

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 11:52 AM

Interesting interview here with the director of the upcoming movies "Legion" and "Priest". He mentions the reason he could not shoot both in anamorphic is Michael Bay's fault! :o

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43720

Edited by Steve Zimmerman, 22 January 2010 - 11:52 AM.

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#6 Ravi Kiran

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 12:21 PM

With the ubiquity of HDTVs and letterboxed DVD/Blu-ray transfers (at least in some countries), are producers and filmmakers less concerned with the 4:3 versions of their films, and hence, they feel more comfortable shooting anamorphic?
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#7 John Allardice

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 12:24 PM

Interesting interview here with the director of the upcoming movies "Legion" and "Priest". He mentions the reason he could not shoot both in anamorphic is Michael Bay's fault! :o

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43720


Bay is also, in part responsible for the re-embrace of anamorphic...His refusal to shoot super-35 on CG laden shows started to erode the fallacy touted by a lot of FX Houses that anamorphic is just way too difficult to use on big FX pictures.

I think, in some part, it's also a rise in a generation of directors brought up on late-60's - early 80's movies

Or maybe that's just me.
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#8 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 01:52 PM

In an FD times a few months ago Jon Fauer predicted a resurgence in anamorphic production in 18 months after 3D had settled down citing rumours of several companies with new anamorphics in development. And low and behold RED announced their anamorphic lenses in development last week. Id love to see a front element Cooke S5 anamorphic regardless of how big the lens is so hopefully Cooke will get in on the act one day.
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#9 stevie wara

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 09:02 PM

With the ubiquity of HDTVs and letterboxed DVD/Blu-ray transfers (at least in some countries), are producers and filmmakers less concerned with the 4:3 versions of their films, and hence, they feel more comfortable shooting anamorphic?



Anamorphic is such a silly format. I really don't very much care for it. At the moment, I can only think of one example of a feature film where the format actually worked. If I tried very hard I might find two. If my life depended on it I might possibly find three.

Until the studios panicked in the early 1950s over the growing curiosity of television, filmmakers were generally just fine with their academy aperture affairs. It wasn't as if the filmic artists of the era all banded together to demand their 2.40!

It WAS as if the studios just wanted to find a new gimmick, and that new gimmick turned out to be scope.

This "return to anamorphic", if it is even so, might be viewed as a modern re-adoption of the gimmick that is scope, in a renewed effort to separate from today's widescreen television with its now very common (and not so awful) 1.77 aspect ratio.

The big budget boys have their own new gimmick, and that's what's known as today's 3D.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 09:43 PM

You're a bit behind the times to still be referring to a 1950's format as a "gimmick"... It's long since moved past being a gimmick. What's next, are you going to refer to sound movies as a gimmick?

I can think of plenty of great movies shot in anamorphic -- look at European movies such as "La Dolce Vita", "Contempt", "The 400 Blows", or all of Kurosawa's movies from "Hidden Fortress" to "Red Beard". Not to mention David Lean's widescreen movies ("Bridge On the River Kwai" and "Dr. Zhivago" were specifically shot in 35mm anamorphic.)

I could on and on -- it's one of my favorite formats. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was the movie I saw in high school that made me want to make movies. "Blade Runner" is another great anamorphic movie. "Dances with Wolves". Terrence Malick's last two movies. Much of Robert Richardson's best work was in anamorphic: "JFK", "Snow Falling on Cedars", "The Doors", "Nixon", etc.
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#11 Tom Jensen

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 09:58 PM

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 10:45 PM

I'd also add that purely from a technical standpoint, anamorphic uses nearly twice as much negative area as Super-35 cropped to 2.40. The anamorphic projection format uses more print area than the 1.85 projection format.

Well-shot 35mm anamorphic photography, such as Wally Pfister's work on the Batman movies, will generally look finer-grained and more detailed than Super-35 photography cropped and blown-up to 2.40, as well as compared to standard 1.85 photography.
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#13 Tom Jensen

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 12:31 AM

David,
I'm surprised you bit. This guy is a troll. He has two posts and already he's calling anamorphic a silly gimmick. Please dude, as David pointed out, some of the greatest films in the world were shot on anamorphic by some of the greatest cinematographers in the world. You obviously have no clue as to what you are talking about.

Edited by Tom Jensen, 23 January 2010 - 12:32 AM.

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#14 stevie wara

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 02:16 AM

I had the chance to see "The 400 Blows" again on TCM awhile back, and thankfully, it was broadcast letterboxed. The distortions in this dyaliscoped film were quite apparent. Some of the pans looked as though they had been shot through a wavy piece of glass, which of course they were not. I wouldn't want to argue though that this film is great for having been shot in scope. I'd rather think how stunning it is despite having been shot in scope. That is to say, I don't think 2.40 (and an optically poor iteration of 2.40 at that) helps this film.

Truffaut was so brilliant. I love his films. He had already lashed out against the "cinema de papa" when his chance arrived to turn "The 400 Blows". He may have even been capable of a yet wider format had it been available to him. I wonder if all of that dyaliscope real estate ever even hit the French screens, or if a good deal of it was left to fall on the curtains.
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#15 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 03:27 AM

Anamorphic is such a silly format. I really don't very much care for it.

:blink:

I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone here who agrees with you (except maybe Thomas James, who I guess would prefer to only shoot 3D 48fps VistaVision ;)). The unique look of anamorphic distortion, the increased depth compression for the same field-of-view, the flares, the sheer width of the frame, all make it very attractive IMHO.

At the moment, I can only think of one example of a feature film where the format actually worked. If I tried very hard I might find two. If my life depended on it I might possibly find three.

Just a few:

Last Year at Marienbad
Yojimbo
The Apartment
Klute
Manhattan
Jaws
Alien
Blade Runner
Scarface
Amadeus
The Road Warrior
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Empire Strikes Back
Ghostbusters
Big Trouble in Little China
JFK
The Thin Red Line
Bringing Out the Dead
Rushmore

So you think these films would have been just as amazing in flat 1.85? Really?!
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#16 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 06:48 AM

Anamorphic is such a silly format. I really don't very much care for it. At the moment, I can only think of one example of a feature film where the format actually worked. If I tried very hard I might find two. If my life depended on it I might possibly find three.



Firstly, HILARIOUS.

Secondly, I/we don't know you, and who knows, you could be a filmmaking genius who has a nearly divine understanding of appropriate format, frame composition, lens choice and lighting. But I'll give the benefit of the doubt. You think of all the superior cinematographers who have utilized the scope format, have achieved astounding visual results and have used the format to drive the story rather than distract us from the story, that YOU yourself are the one to judge? Your opinion sounds ignorant and uneducated. Watch some more films.

I'm usually not this passionate in the forums...and comments from random unknowns don't usually erk me, but yours did. Congrats.
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#17 Tom Jensen

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 12:51 PM

Firstly, HILARIOUS.

Secondly, I/we don't know you, and who knows, you could be a filmmaking genius who has a nearly divine understanding of appropriate format, frame composition, lens choice and lighting. But I'll give the benefit of the doubt. You think of all the superior cinematographers who have utilized the scope format, have achieved astounding visual results and have used the format to drive the story rather than distract us from the story, that YOU yourself are the one to judge? Your opinion sounds ignorant and uneducated. Watch some more films.

I'm usually not this passionate in the forums...and comments from random unknowns don't usually erk me, but yours did. Congrats.


JB,
I'm just curious as to the one film, maybe two if he thinks really hard, that was appropriate for anamorphic. I'm dieing to know.
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#18 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 02:42 PM

JB,
I'm just curious as to the one film, maybe two if he thinks really hard, that was appropriate for anamorphic. I'm dieing to know.


Probably "Armageddon", if he thought really hard "BMX Bandits", and if his life depended on it "ABBA the movie"
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#19 K Borowski

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 03:30 PM

Ravi, are new 4:3 pan-and-scan copies even being made anymore?

I don't think *anyone* worries about 4:3 copies in preparing theatrical movies these days, although unfortunately, it has reared its ugly head again now that television has gone back to a stupid center-weighted extraction from teh center of a 16:9 frame.

I think scope is a tough sell with S35 DIs looking quite good. They have more grain if they come from film, but either way, the results are soft regardless of what you're shooting with if you are coming from a 2K.


SOT, I wish they'd use 4-perf. on all release prints prints now that you can easily resize files digitally, and just start using anamorphic lenses of a different focal length to fill up a "flat" screen size.

If you think about it, save the expense of buying a new lens, flat prints cost $400-500 just in the black areas between the frame.
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#20 stevie wara

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:18 PM

So you think these films would have been just as amazing in flat 1.85? Really?!



Hi,

I haven't seen all the films that you listed but, for those that I have, I wouldn't necessarily agree that they are all amazing. I wouldn't break down and cry if, for example, the very last print of "Ghostbusters" was accidently recycled and lost to this world.

Now as for "Blade Runner", well there you have me. What a beautifully photographed film. What beautiful lighting by Jordan Cronenweth. I think the 2.40 works better for me here because of the futuristic aspect of the film and its synthetic themes and designs. 2.40 feels synthetic.

But generally, in most other films, the 2.40 strikes me as odd. It's as if the cinematographer is spending most of his or her time compensating for an overly wide screen. It's as if every framing is a forced compromise. A modern closeup in 2.40 routinely consists of cropping off half of the subject's head. It's so violent.

I should probably be clearer in that it's not so much the anamorphic process that bothers me as it is the final aspect ratio. I think that less wide aspect ratios give the cinematographer expanded compositional possibilities. Even 1.85 seems a bit too wide.
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