Looking through the lenses is a must in order to understand how they work. Was the time I spent researching, reading and experimenting online elightening? Sure, but it doesn’t cut even close to the very first minutes handling each lens and seeing the world through the camera. The ideas and concepts are very confusing until you get to the practical side of it, where articles and tests fit together and the use of anamorphics makes perfect sense. Having the lens at your hands doesn’t just illustrate what was read before, it’s much more than that. Using them creates new questions and drives more research and reading.
On my first tests, boy, I suffered before getting ANYTHING in sharp focus. Then, a couple more months passed until I could get them aligned properly every time and finally managed to grab the proper diopters. Did I every think about quitting this madness and go back to what I used to do before? SURE! There were times when things messed up and the anamorphic picture just wouldn’t show me any respect. In these cases, I didn’t think twice before unscrewing the bastard out of my taking lens and shooting safe. After each one of these “crashes” I went back a couple steps, retested stuff, figured out the ways of each adapter and worked on their particular problems that made the set experience harder.
It was just very recently that I felt safe enough to decide whether a lens is just a “good lens” or if it’s a “lens that works well with my shooting style”, and this was only possible because I took plenty of time to play extensively and carefully with each and every one of the anamorphics that came across my path (and the ones I changed my path to get, of course!).
The lenses and format’s personality are so overwhelming that they got me past the point of no return. I’ve get rid of almost all my spherical lenses, keeping only the gear that fits an anamorphic workflow. I was kind of “photographically reborn” in which I had to leave behind many old practices that I had as standard and safe, and explore new techniques, ever more and more demanding, seeking visual excellence and a different feel from what we currently see at Brazilian cinema, TV or web productions.
An amazing thing about the anamorphic niche is how friendly and helpful its world community is. It’s very quick and easy to get answers, tips and feedback regarding any aspect of the lenses or videos. This acceptance was a key feature to keep me on track, along which I dealt with folks from various countries (USA, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Spain, Germany, UK, Australia and so forth) with various questions and inquiries, always with good response. During this journey I made many friends – in conversations that went deeper than just buying or selling advice or specific questions – and we still email each other ocasionally to talk, not only about anamorphics, and hear thoughts and comments that are widely different from our own.
Through this series of articles I hope to open doors to enhance the discussion, research and use of these lenses in the Brazilian (now not only Brazilian, I guess) productions and sets. There are plenty of questions and curious people about the subject, so if this article works to gather people around a common starting point, solving some of the most basic doubts and issues, so everyone can move on to their own level of research, conducted by the multitude of different concepts and goals of as many as the number of users – this alone is more than enough to keep me going. This is the (in)conclusion of this essay.
A wonderful aspect of this whole process was that, since it’s a developing field, there are no strict rules, good and bad, right or wrong. There’s more than enough room for experimenting and developing a new visual format, based around a larger frame, widening horizons for all of those involved.