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December 2015

Anamorphic

The Anamorphic Cookbook – Draft.

December 11, 2015

I was drawing my plans for next year and started to think a good (better?) Anamorphic Guide might be something interesting to work on. EOSHD’s guide is barely ok and now that I look at my own guide, it has its flaws plus there’s a ton of things I learned AFTER writing it that could benefit future readers. Also, the game has changed with the arrival of FM, Rangefinder and Rectilux, totally warping whatever was the standard for double focus and projection lenses. We have more options to choose from instead of using adapters all the way, SLR Magic is making their anamorphic lenses, DSO is coming up with the Olivia, John is always a little box of surprises and so on. 2016 might be the year when Iscoramas officially lose their throne.

So I was thinking of starting such enterprise. I have a rough idea of most chapters and you can see the list at the bottom of this post, but if I’m working on my non-existent budget, this can take a while or not happen at all. Some friends suggested me to start reviewing other kinds of gear so I can get sponsors for the Youtube channel but, you know, I’m not that much into other gear! HAHAHA! These lenses are my thing and if you guys can help me stick to it I will continue to deliver good and new content on a constant basis.

Here’s a brief story of my life so you understand what I mean when I say I have a non-existent budget for this. I’m a film school graduate from Brazil – University of São Paulo -, and the Anamorphic on a Budget guide was my graduation work because I fell in love with the lenses and had the hardest time finding information about them online. Information in Portuguese was NONE, people literally didn’t know what anamorphics were. After that I moved to Vancouver, Canada, where I still am and went through Vancouver Film School’s 3D Animation and VFX program. During this year I got depressed and lost 25 pounds – you can see me getting them back through the first reviews – but being here motivated me to translate the guide to English. I also met a LOT more people interested in anamorphics compared to what I had in Brazil, and started to make the videos, which also taught me plenty new things – about the lenses, about having an eye for image quality, about talking to a camera (that was one of the hardest parts) and about what interests the audience. Now I’m starting a Creative Writing program at Langara College and will freelance with camera work and VFX to pay for school and get food on the table. I still have money coming from Brazil, but the conversion rate is almost 3:1, so it’s more of a last resort.

Back to the book, I was thinking of two very different paths. Path number one would be Kickstarter for this project alone which is a one-time thing. Be a backer and get a digital copy plus version updates, whenever they’re available. The second path is Patreon, and it entails a monthly payment for anyone who’d like to support my research and weekly videos since I’ve already spent some money on them (larger Dropbox account for the original RAW chart files, clearing customs for the SLR Magic gear, Rapido clamps, a ton of step rings that were only used once, a larger bandwidth plan for the website due to increased traffic, renting lenses once or twice, replacing my tripod that snapped in half and that kind of thing) and having a better budget will allow me to dedicate more time and put more effort into the project, pushing for more than one post per week, going into subjects other than lens reviews such as “WHY SHOOT ANAMORPHIC?”, or how the lenses work, how diopters work, more test shots and experiments, you get the idea. Plus, supporters will be able to provide input about what they want to see reviewed next, first chance to buy whatever gear I decide to sell – yes, this will be happening, there’s no need for me to have 30+ lenses while attending to Writing school – and some other cool stuff (like oval apertures, custom t-shirts and whatever I can come up with). The point is neither the channel nor the blog will be paid and there will be a free content anyway. The goal is to increase the amount and quality of content!

Later on, if the book succeeds, I’m considering a fancy printed version, since it will look and feel awesome, but I need to get the content going first!

Rough chapter list and what they will include initially. Very likely to be expanded.

Introduction
– Origins
– Hollywood (failed attempts / it’s a hit!)
– What is the “cinematic look” (flares, bokeh, artifacts, aspect ratio)
– Recent/Famous uses and extra material (True Detective, Total Recall, Interviews, Bordwell, etc)
– Fetish vs Storytelling (flare and bokeh for themselves vs using these elements to strengthen a story)

Anamorphic Storytelling
– Wider frame composition
– Negative space
– Cinematic experience (inherited epicness)
– more in this chapter. needs research and not of the technical kind.

Lenses vs Adapters/Attachments
(LOTS of individual lenses info in this part, I plan on renting a few cine lenses for tests and all, plus all I’ve gathered from the published and unpublished reviews).
– Renting vs owning gear
– Cine lenses
– Adapters (1.33x, 1.5x, 2x, odd values such as 1.75x, 1.9x, 1.42x)
– Taking lenses and their effects on the anamorphic (russians, Zeiss, Canon L, zooms vs primes, light loss, why is the helios 44 so amazing? taking lens sets)

Diopters and Achromats
– Visual differences (benefits from using diopters, added shaprness)
– How diopters “affect” stretch and bokeh for the better (“the diopter look”)
– Single Focus Solutions (or Variable Strength Diopters): how do they work? FM, Rectilux, Rangefinder comparisons.

Anamorfake
– Cinemorph filter (both the front one and the Sigma version)
– How to make a flare filter
– Modding the Helios 44, Pentacon 29, 135mm, etc (aperture mods)
– DSO lenses (vs MotionSix, etc)
– Faking in post (crop, wide angle distortion, optical flares)

Gear
– Cameras (GH4, 5D3, 50D, BMPCC, Ursa, RED…)
– Monitors and EVFs with anamorphic desqueeze

Post
– Destretching (AE, Premiere, FCP, Nuke, Photoshop)
– Dealing with mumps (irregular stretch along the frame)
– Corner Pin (to fix mild misalignment)
– Tracking and compositing (VFX post)

Day-to-Day

Creative Camera Rentals.

December 8, 2015

I mentioned it a few times in the videos and reviews, but didn’t get to make an official post about the subject, so here it goes.

A few months ago me and my friend Rob Bannister partnered up combining our arsenal of unusual gear (my anamorphics, russian primes and zeiss set, his anamorphics, Dog Schidt Optiks and Kinemini, plus a lot of smaller gear from the both of us) into this gear-renting enterprised named Creative Camera Rentals. Our goal is to reach the people who got bored of shooting Canon L or super clean and sharp and clinical footage and want to add some character that can only be achieved optically. Add that uniqueness to the look of your project, that Hollywood touch without the Hollywood budget.

I reckon this might interest quite a bunch of film students and independent filmmakers out there as I was interested myself and would’ve loved to find a rental place like this while I went through film school. We’re running a small operation, just the two of us, our offices are our homes and we haven’t started advertising anything yet except a few posts on facebook, close friends and the random people that talk to us on the streets with curious looks about the weirdness of the gear in our hands.

So like us on Facebook, share it with friends that might be into this kind of crazy and drop a line if you’re interested or curious about anything!

Anamorphic

Anamorphic on a Budget – SLR Magic Ep 01 – Anamorphot 1.33x-50

December 6, 2015

First episode of the SLR Magic series, starting with their debut anamorphic adapter, the 1.33x-50, I really enjoyed having this lens around and going out to shoot with it. I even went beyond the standard tests and shots just to get to know it better. If I didn’t have too many Centuries, I’d certainly get one of these.

USEFUL LINKS:

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

You can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!

OVERVIEW
Tito Ferradans here for the first of many videos talking about SLR Magic anamorphic gear. I’ll start this one by saying that as soon as their first Anamorphot came out, I didn’t see a point to it. It seemed like a double focus, oversized Century Optics adapter, for twice the price. Almost two years passed before I had the chance to actually see the lens with my own eyes and test it in person, so I’d like to thank SLR Magic for sending me these test units and for all the messaging back and forth to clarify my questions and issues. It made me see many things under a different light.

One of these things is that Andrew explained me SLR Magic’s guidelines are availability, affordability, reliability, serviceability and accessibility, so, instead of making a super expensive and ultra high quality lens on very small batches, they focus on having a product that anyone can use without much further knowledge, that is easy to replace or fix in case of accidents and that can yield similar results over time – unlike most of the used vintage anamorphics where you can have like three Century adapters and each one has its own unique quirk. Knowing these things in advance made a huge difference in how I see their brand now and I definitely believe they’re partly responsible for the increased interest we’re seeing in the anamorphic format these past few years. It’s no longer black magic (no pun intended!).

The Anamorphot was first released in February 2014. I always thought the 50 in the name meant it could only go as wide as 50mm, but that is actually the diameter of the rear element – quite big, compared to other adapters, and that also leads to the information that this anamorphic works best with lenses with a front element smaller than 50mm. Also, Andrew Chan from SLR Magic told me it doesn’t play so well with recessed front optics, such as the Helios 44.

Weighting 380g, it’s not a heavy adapter. Focus is set between 3 to 4m and infinity, so if you’re going for something closer than that, you’ll have to play with the Near/Normal dial – which isn’t as hard as it sounds. For alignment, the Anamorphot has been recently redesigned, eliminating the traditional three-screws design for a reverse lock ring, which makes the process quite simple and fast. Flares help fine tuning, but I got most of it right just by setting this white line straight up. I kind of wished my other anamorphics had a similar mechanism. Also, as a lens designed to introduce shooters into the anamorphic world, it comes with a few step rings – 49, 52 and 58mm to 62mm, being the rear 62mm threaded and the 77mm for the front thread.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
As one of the few anamorphics currently in production, you can get it straight from SLR Magic’s website, or Adorama, or B&H for around US$900 or hunt ebay for a cheaper used one – not so common there, though. You can also get the achromatic diopters with it, for a total of US$1000, which is not a bad deal, considering they’re +0.33 and +1.33 doublets. No need for months of eBay stalking to have a one-shot opportunity to get it, they’re usually in stock.

RESOLUTION
As I was told, the Anamorphot works best with wide angles and not so fast apertures. Chan told me the fastest aperture supported is f/2.8 and optimal performance is around f/5.6, but of course I had to try it at f/2 and such. Also, longer lenses make it struggle quite a bit. The Near/Normal ring is much less of a hassle than I expected. It moves the rear element back and forth, so the lens doesn’t change size or rotate at all.

Remember how I said the Century WS-13 is double focus but not quite? The same rule applies here, but I got the feeling that the distances vary according to the taking lens too. For the samples below I didn’t use any diopters, just fiddling with the taking lens and Anamorphot’s focus rings.

The manual gives a pretty cool tip about focusing the Anamorphot so I’ll quote it here, word for word: “The “sweet spot” can be found by defocusing the taking lens and observing the out of focus highlights “bokeh” on the subject. The resulting blurred highlights may be elongated horizontally or vertically. Adjust the SLR Magic Anamorphot 1,33x NORMAL / NEAR dial until the blurred highlights appear circular. Once the sweet spot is found, the final focus is achieved via the taking lens.” This tip is valuable because it applies not only to this lens, but to any double focus system.


MIR 1b CENTER

MIR 1b CORNERS


Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 CENTER

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 CORNERS


Helios 44-2 CENTER

Helios 44-2 CORNERS


Jupiter 9 CENTER

Jupiter 9 CORNERS


Tair 11 CENTER

Tair 11 CORNERS

DOWNLOAD ORIGINAL SAMPLES HERE

Edges are bad on the wider end – not as bad as Century’s or Panasonic’s – and it’s not hard to see how quality improves as the taking lens is stopped down.

FLARES
If the Centuries had blue flares, the Anamorphot’s flares almost clip the blue channel for how saturated they are. Extremely sci-fi and modern looking, I don’t remember seeing such strong color in any other anamorphic flare so far. I did the flare test twice, first just the Anamorphot and then adding the Rangefinder so you can see how it affects the flares by basically adding two more round elements – also strong blue.


Helios 44-2


Helios 44-2 WITH Rangefinder

SENSOR COVERAGE
The Anamorphot wasn’t exactly designed to be full frame friendly but it works anyway. Should be from 50mm and up, but the best combination I got with it was with Canon’s 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. The manual – which can be downloaded here – suggests some focal lengths according to sensor size, as you can see on this chart here. It didn’t play well at all with the Mir 1B, just a bit wider at 37mm, since it has a much bigger front element and more recessed optics than the Canon’s pancake.


MIR 1b


Canon EF 40mm f/2.8

Again, I did all the vignetting tests with just the Anamorphot and then added the Rangefinder so you can see how much “wideness” you lose in the process. Here you go from 40mm vignette free to 58mm with slightly dark corners. Because of this, I went on to the world test determined to just use the Anamorphot and its diopters, leaving the Rangefinder to its own video and to the Anamorphot 2.0x.


MIR 1b WITH Rangefinder


Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 WITH Rangefinder

WORLD TEST
This is the first lens I review without having any previous experience with it, so I kind of expected to face a little more quirks than usual. Fortunately, it didn’t happen. The SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x-50 shares too many similarities with the Century Optics WS-13, so handling it was quite simple. Alignment was easy to set, thanks to the reverse lock ring, flares come up very easily at even the faintest light sources and their strong blue can be distracting at times, drawing too much attention to the flares themselves than to the shot overall. For the daylight part, everything was very straightforward, using the Near/Normal dial was fine and the taking lenses slower apertures handled sharpness without a hitch.

When I moved to the dark shots, focus became harder to achieve and the diopters played an important role. The Near/Normal adjustments also become more noticeable due to the faster apertures. As for close up shots, the best approach would be to cap at 85mm and use diopters to get closer to the subject instead of going for a longer lens, since the Anamorphot doesn’t handle it too well on full frame. Rack focusing was a little troubling sometimes, especially when entering the Near zone, which required a brief planning and rehearsing before actually rolling. Just emphasizing, most of my favorite shots in this test were result of the combination Anamorphot + Canon 40mm pancake. The 1.33x stretch out to Cinemascope is useful because it doesn’t require much thinking, but ends up trumping the oval bokeh – which is better achievable through the use of diopters.

It would be rude of me not to thank SLR Magic once again for the gear, so, thanks a lot guys! Next week is about the Anamorphot 2.0x-50, the Rangefinder comes afterwards. I’m also planning a 1.33x shootout, since I’ve reviewed all of these and it would be fun to see if we can tell the difference between them just by looking at some shots. Now, subscribe if you haven’t yet and head on to the blog for downloads and links and more pretty pictures. Thanks a lot for watching and if you have any questions, shoot them below in the comments! See you next week, Ferradans out.



Day-to-Day

The Stuff Dreams are Made Of.

December 2, 2015

You (more than) once said you liked me and I replied “I like you too, and maybe a little more than I should“. I never got to explain, so here it goes.

There couldn’t be a better time for you to show up. Actually, scratch that, there couldn’t possibly be a worse time for you to show up and that is part of the reason that makes it so good. I was broken. I am broken. I’ve been broken and it’s not new. After the latest turn of events I thought I could use the time alone to figure myself out and gradually shine some light onto the things I’ve stored away in my memory, in my dustiest inner shelves. That strategy would play out nicely and in a few months – few? months? – I’d be back to what I assume is my normal state. I’ll just go ahead and admit it was a failed plan which wouldn’t work because it takes more than me to fix whatever is wrong in my head, result of a 1+ year of a messy life – in all possible aspects.

A 1+ year of going mad and trying to fix things I didn’t know if could or not be fixed. Things I didn’t know if should or not be fixed. 1+ year of feeding fears and insecurities, of making myself smaller and as invisible as I could, as quite and by myself as humanly possible.

So, in a direct answer, I wasn’t ready for this. I am not ready for you. You can’t be real, you fit in too many of my dream categories – including some of the weirdest and most secret ones -, so you can only be made of the stuff dreams are made of. The fact that I’m not ready didn’t stop me from keep going – well, it did at times, and then you revealed yourself to be even more dream-like than before – and this desire to continue fuels my resolve to fix myself faster and better than I’ve been before.

I’m not BEING sweet. I do the things I do because they’re the only viable option at the time. It’s like we talked the other day: I can’t imagine being any different because that’s how it is and I don’t feel the need to think about it. It’s simple – but quite complex at the same time – just how it should be when it works. I know I usually think too much about pretty much everything. One of the few things that escape my awful overthinking habit is the way I am when I’m with you.

I don’t know if this is indeed Something or if it’s just a temporary state. I know it creates a mess and I apologize now – as I did before. I tried to avoid it as much as I could but it’s not just up to me. I’ve played a few different roles in situations like this before, I do have an “ideal outcome” in mind, but I’ll play with whatever comes out of it because I want you as part of my life.

You were (more than) patient when you didn’t have to. You were interested and honest when all I could think of myself was “boring” and all I could reply to your daring questions was “I don’t know”/”I don’t remember”/”I never thought about it” even though I had a million other answers that I didn’t feel comfortable enough spitting out yet. You’re changing the way I see myself and how I go about life. You’re warm where I’m cold and you got me figured out from the start. I care so much I have to pretend I don’t care at all so I’m never disappointed. I play safe because it’s the only way I know how to play.

Time for a bit of chaos. Will you still dream with me, or I better wake up now, and let it all go?

Day-to-Day

Tito e a Busca pela Felicidade.

December 1, 2015

É engraçado escrever sobre felicidade nesse momento da minha história. Sempre me considerei uma pessoa feliz, mas de uns tempos pra cá, acho que ela resolveu tirar férias e a vida ficou complicada pra caramba. Foi difícil do tipo “qual o objetivo disso tudo que eu to fazendo?”, e faltava justificativa pra sair da cama. Tinha menos de um ano morando fora, longe de tudo que eu conhecia, falando uma língua diferente, estudando o que eu quero fazer todos os dias da minha vida – efeitos especiais, caso você esteja se perguntando. Parece um cenário bem positivo, mas não era. Enfim.

Esse texto não é pra ficar chorando sobre os entraves da vida, mas essas informações aí são relevantes porque pra sair desse estado eu tive que pensar e descobrir muita coisa sobre mim mesmo, especialmente “o que é que me faz feliz?”, porque é um processo muito mais interno do que externo. Pra ser feliz eu preciso estar em paz comigo mesmo, eu preciso de Sol, eu preciso estar empenhado em algo que goste, trabalhar, de preferência em mais coisas do que eu acho que dou conta, que me motive a testar idéias que nunca pensei antes. Ser feliz pra mim é descobrir que sou capaz de coisas que não achava possível. Eu sou feliz comigo mesmo, sendo minha companhia pra aventuras de bicicleta, idas ao cinema sozinho e incontáveis conversas com todo mundo que mora dentro da minha cabeça. Felicidade não é um estado permanente – o que é uma bênção, porque senão a gente provavelmente cansaria muito rápido – mas eventos pontuais que dão aquela descarga de euforia e a sensação de que meu corpo não é suficiente pra conter toda aquela energia.

Depois de todo esse drama, de perder 12kg e ganhar tudo de volta a muito custo, eu consegui definir algumas metas pra vida e são essas as coisas que me fazem levantar todo dia às 7 da manhã – inclusive aos Domingos. Como da vida a gente não leva nada, tô determinado a deixar uma marca pros que ficam ou vêm depois. Ainda não sei exatamente que marca é essa então tenho trabalhado em muitas coisas ao mesmo tempo. Meu objetivo é fazer o que eu gosto com pessoas que gosto e confio, mesmo que o retorno financeiro não seja essa maravilha.

Não faço muita questão de uma vida segura – acho que minhas mudanças de Salvador pra São Paulo pra Vancouver já dão pista disso – mas faço questão de uma vida onde cada dia tenha algo digno de lembrar e onde eu acorde pensando “Ae, hoje eu vou fazer (preencha com atividade) e vai ser muito daora!”. Pra conseguir chegar onde estou e continuar seguindo essa minha rota, tenho uma pá de gente que me apóia até nas decisões mais estúpidas – aquelas que nem eu mesmo me apoiaria! – e são essas que fazem toda a diferença no caminho. A todas elas eu sou grato, começando pelos meus pais e Lila – piegas? é só porque você não conhece o trio, e se conhece, tenho certeza que entende meu ponto! -, seguidos de perto pela Paperball Productions, que é minha segunda família e a quem eu recorro quando o assunto é daqueles que a gente não conversa com os pais.

Tito Ferradans, escritor/fotógrafo/filmmaker/vfx artist – 26 anos – 29 de Julho, 23 de Novembro.

(só pra fechar, eu TIVE que ir com esse título por causa do filme – que não é bom e não vale a pena assistir!)

Day-to-Day

Viver é foda, morrer é difícil

December 1, 2015

Fazer um filme é um puta desafio. Fazer um filme a dois então é um desafio muito maior. Tudo é dividido, todas as decisões são discutidas e o produto é resultado da combinação de duas cabeças completamente diferentes.

Sei que muita gente já começou a fazer um filme e abandonou no meio. Chegar no fim e dar por terminado é absurdamente complicado. Geralmente é o prazo de entrega pra um festival ou contrato, mas quando esse não é o caso, a produção pode levar anos. O nosso levou anos. Achamos que ia levar muitos mais, que ia ser daqueles que nunca ficam prontos e que o processo é mais importante que o produto.

Não foi assim, infinito, mas o processo ainda foi muito mais importante que o produto. Não que o produto tenha ficado aquém do esperado. É um clássico, daqueles que quando não tem nada acontecendo, vale a pena voltar na memória e assistir um trechinho ou outro, lembrar do roteiro, de todos os pontos de virada, rir nas partes mais engraçadas, aprender com as partes mais trágicas e vibrar com todas as nossas conquistas ao longo desse tempo. É, May, você acertou em cheio:

Nosso filme ficou lindo.