This is my first time talking about actual cinema anamorphics. I decided to start with LOMOs because Russian glass has a special place in my heart, and the LOMO Foton-A is one of the rare lenses I’m never letting go.
I started writing this shortly after we came back from the NAB show in 2019. The gears got stuck and I just managed to push them back in motion now as we approach NAB 2020.
At some point in late February I realized I had a shot at going to the NAB Show 2019. It was something I wanted for at least a few years – plus Las Vegas isn’t that far from Vancouver. I had stopped making videos for the channel in September and I left Facebook by Christmas. It felt like I was done with all of this anamorphic and youtube stuff, so going to NAB was a sort of farewell.
My contract ended the week prior to the event so I asked Ari if she wanted to come (it’s a gear thing, she could be bored). She was excited for Vegas. We got tickets. It was too late to get a good price on a hotel but we got an airbnb. I was anxious of using my brand new Emeraldspa makeup and beauty products for a stunning look at the event.
The NAB website said from April 6-11, but that’s too much time to feed G.A.S. so I thought of staying the weekend to check out the showroom and be done.
The plan was to arrive early on the week to explore the city and surrounding areas for a couple days, then NAB on the weekend, then back home early on the following Monday to start working on new things. If you’re a seasoned NAB visitor, my mistake might be apparent already. So we go, we explore, we drive, we eat – oh, the food!
Saturday comes around and we head to the convention center to get our NAB passes and drool over gear. We get there and there’s only contractors going in and out, putting the showroom together. We go to the information booth in the lobby and that’s when we learn that the showroom is opening on Monday at 9am – two hours after we’re scheduled to board our plane. I feel somehow I should’ve known that schedule from the start although the website wasn’t at all clear about it.
It devastates me. “This-was-all-for-nothing” style. “What-a-waste-of-money-and-time” style. In a mix of anger, disappointment and sadness I storm out of the lobby and Ari catches up. By the time I sit down outside I’m set on trying to enjoy the two days we have left and miss out on what I came to see. It’s a crappy plan and it doesn’t really make me happy, but it definitely cuts my losses.
We take a car back to the airbnb. I’m done with the day and Ari is telling me this is all too stupid. I’m not taking it too well. We talk some more, call the airlines. Changing the flight is more expensive than getting a new one. My best shot at getting a refund for missing the flight is getting my airport fees and taxes back. I file for that anyway. It comes to $15.
Ariana says we’re not leaving without seeing the showroom. She says I can argue and fight all I want but she’s getting us new tickets home for late Tuesday instead of Monday morning. If I wanna go back by myself, I can, but she’s gonna see the showroom. That makes me recover a bit and I start looking for a place we can stay.
I start seeing past my anger and self-doubt from the misunderstanding by the time we book a room at Circus Circus – the creepiest and most bizarre place I’ve ever paid to sleep at. It’s gonna be good and it’s gonna be fun. We have the weekend to enjoy the city so we find some comedy, a little knife-throwing, and more delicious food – now with NAB discounts. It’s not like Vegas has little to offer.
The NAB Show 2019
Monday rolls around and we hit the showroom. It’s a lot of fun. Ari is a compositor and there’s a lot of post-production tech that she’s interested in. In the first day I just wander around in awe. We stop at Boris FX’s booth for a Mocha demo and sign up for some random prize raffle. I talk to a bunch of people, ask questions to brand representatives, hang out at the Atlas booth with Forrest Schultz, some folks recognize me from the channel – Tom Antos and Raafi Rivero right at the start, and more through the day. My backpack is stuffed with free samples and gifts. I don’t have a goal and I feel pretty accomplished by now.
The last thing I do is to attend Adobe’s talk on “Editing for Youtube: Keeping Pace with Rapid Change” because, well, I relate to all of the words in that sentence: I use Premiere and After Effects for work. The guys from Corridor Digital were at the talk and I’ve been a fan for a while, so I went for it.
I sat there and watched. Ariana joined me halfway and by the time the panel was over she bolted from her seat to the front of the stage (if you watch the video, on the very last seconds she’s the girl in yellow coming from the bottom right of frame).
Before I catch up to her she’s taking photos of the panelists at the request of the mediator. I just hover over there waiting for her to finish up so we can head out. That’s when Sam Gorski, from Corridor Digital, points very directly at me and says “man, I love your channel”. My mind goes “Haha, me? this guy here? Tito? Nah, he must be thinking of someone else, I don’t even look like in the videos for a while”. So I react in the most natural way I can: I point at myself and mouth back “Me?” with a mildly concerned face. To that he goes “Yeah, man, you, with the anamorphic stuff”. I’m pretty sure there’s no one there with an “anamorphic stuff” channel, so it can only be me.
I come closer, we chat for a bit, talk about anamorfaking and how cheap and effective it is, especially for VFX and post-production – this conversation was a huge encouragement to the Anamorfake It guide. Sam emphasizes a bunch of things about my videos that I thought no one cared or that held me back in the sense of generating income. The showroom is closing so we wrap up the chat. At this point I’m shifting my perspective about the channel and how much of its impact is unknown to me. I also have it very clear that Ari is a big catalyst for the things I want to do but I’m afraid to take the shot and I’m very thankful to be with her.
The second day is much shorter than the first since we have to finally catch our flight mid-afternoon. On the bus from the hotel to the showroom the guy sitting next to me recognizes me and we chat about his experiments with shooting scope and anamorfaking.
At this point I have already decided that I’m not letting the channel die just yet and that my work has value and importance. The conversations all point to what I set out to do from the channel’s start: to provide information that allows anyone wanting to experiment with the anamorphic look to do so without breaking the bank. I don’t know yet what I’ll do to start making videos again, or what to cover in them, but I know that on this second day I’m making connections.
On a mission
While on the lobby outside the showroom I study the floor map to mark the booths I wanna hit to try and create connections that could benefit the anamorphic chat (Cooke, Scorpio, P+S Technik, TLS, LumaFusion, FiLMiC Pro, some more Atlas, etc). In the middle of that we get an email from Boris FX. Remember we signed up for some random raffle prizes? It turns out Ariana won a full pass for 2020’s NAB Show.
The second day is much less overwhelming than the first, we see a bunch more demos. I talk to a lot more people than I did in the first day and we head out around noon for the airport. By the time we leave the ground we already know we’re coming back for 2020. This time I’ll be there for my birthday!
This experience was key for resurrecting the channel and changing my take on it. I don’t have expectations of it making up all my income – as I expected before -, I just find it important to put the content out there and hope that it helps someone in need of it. I’m also set on putting out different options for people that want to support my work through the sales of merchandise, guides, mods and whatever else I can come up with. I helped you and you wanna help me back? Buy something! :)
I started to write this post the day after we got home (April 10, 2019), but it took me forever to finish itbecause I’m worried about stupid things. First I don’t wanna sound like I’m tooting my own horn for the Corridor Digital part, although I am super proud of it. Second, I find it hard to reveal my mistakes online for anyone to see. I messed up with the schedule and I didn’t wanna show I messed up.
It took me a while to realize that not revealing where I go wrong makes for a too-perfect-life and that’s one of the biggest problems with the internet right now. I don’t wanna add to it: I make mistakes. I mess up almost as much as I get things right, sometimes more. Plus mistakes make good stories and that’s something definitely worth sharing.
This is my thought process on how to buy an anamorphic lens. It can be your first, it can be your twentieth. Have fun! I recommend opening the image on a new tab and maxing out the zoom.
Below is a list with all the things mentioned in the flowchart. There’s a brief description and useful links. This should equip you with more than enough information on whatever endpoint you reach!
All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network. If you purchase anything through them you’re helping this project.
Aivascope 1.5x The second version of the Aivascope. A single focus adapter that rivals image quality with the mighty Iscorama. It makes some of the most beautiful flares among adapters. Product Page/Test Videos
Anamorfake It Until You Make It! An extensive guide I wrote on how to craft the anamorphic look without anamorphic glass. – Product Page / Videos
Anamorphic Mode Some cameras offer this alternative recording mode that shoots 3:2, 4:3, or 6:5 aspect ratio for better use of sensor area. + info at Cinema5D
Atlas Orion Lenses These are the new love of low-budget productions. Affordable anamorphics for cinema rates. Official Website / Video Review
Baby Hypergonar One of the most famous baby scopes. This thing is tiny and incredibly rare. Performs pretty well, but offers an odd squeeze factor (1.75x) and requires a lot of extras for proper rigging. Also not the best in terms of coverage. Look for one on eBay / Test Videos
Blade Runner 2049 A sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, featuring Ryan Gosling. It was shot by Roger Deakins, who is known for not using anamorphics. IMDB / ShotOnWhat
Bolex Moller 16/32/1.5x Anamorphot The double-focus cousin of the Iscoramas. These gems are hard to find and pricy, but produce beautiful images. Look for one on eBay / Video Review
Communism A political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. Wikipedia
Isco Ultra Star Anamorphic Lens A popular, fairly cheap and reliable anamorphic adapter. Due to its modern coatings, it barely flares. Delivers sharp images and beautiful oval bokeh. Look for one on eBay / Video Review
Letus AnamorphX PRO 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter The absolute king of the hill when it comes to “how wide does it go”. Delivers great image quality, but weighs a lot and requires double focusing. Official Website / Video Review
LOMO Squarefronts and Roundfronts LOMOs are the cinema lenses of the Soviet Union. Needless to say they’re not in production anymore and are very sought after because of the character they bring to the footage. Squarefronts are older and less reliable, using a synchro focus mechanism. Roundfronts are newer and use variable diopters for focusing (see below). + info at Anamorphic on a Budget
Moller Anamorphot 46/2x A very heavy projection lens. Makes handling the camera a real challenge. Delivers beautiful flares and image quality, but its unyielding size and weight make it unusable for me. Look for one on eBay
Panasonic LA7200 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter Second place to the “how wide does it go” list, the LA7200 was a very popular adapter for beginners. Now not so much due to the many new additions to the market such as SLR Magic and Sirui. Look for one on eBay / Video Review
Rapido FMJ FMJ stands for Front Metal Jacket, a metal tube that hides your adapter from prying eyes, disguising your DIY setup as a single unit. Official Website / Video Review
Rapido Full Package C This Rapido package includes the FMJ, FVD16a and a Schneider Cinelux, all of which are referenced in this list, so look for their own definitions. The advantage of the package is they all come together. Official Website
Rapido FVD16A The best cost/performance ratio on the market for single focus solutions (see Single Focus Solutions below). Official Website / Video Review
Rapido FVD35A The FVD16A (see above) is a limiting factor when it comes to vignetting on some of the bigger adapters in the market. The FVD35A supercharges on the size, keeping your image cleaner and wider.Official Website
Schneider Anamorphic Lens Sibling to the Isco Ultra Star (see above), but less friendly to double focusing since it doesn’t have a focus ring. Requires a single focus solution for better operation. Look for one on eBay / Video Review
Scope 30mm T/2 In April 1st, 2018 I said I made a lens. A lot of people loved the idea so much that they got mad when I said it was all a joke. Launch Video / VFX Breakdown
Single Focus Solution / Variable Diopter All the rave when it comes to converting double-focus setups into single focus. Set everything to infinity and go out to shoot. + info at Anamorphic Cookbook / Video Review
SLR Magic 1.33x-40 Compact Anamorphic Adapter Also one of my most popular recommendations, a super cheap adapter that works straight out of the box without requiring lots of clamps, step rings and other paraphernalia. Get one at B&H / Video Review
SLR Magic Anamorphot 65 The Anamorphot 65 was developed in partnership with Fujinon for perfect pairing with their MK lenses. Bigger elements mean less vignetting and can be made single focus when paired with said Fujinon MK lenses and a dual-motor follow focus system.Get one at B&H / + info at Cinema 5D
Van Diemen Rehousings These rehousings are amazing. The downside is they take a long time and cost a small fortune. You provide all the glass, they do the mechanical design and building. Official Website / Video Review
Vazen 40mm T2 1.8x Anamorphic Lens Vazen made a splash by offering a lens suited to MFT cameras and aiming at 4:3 shooting, optiminzing sensor use and squeeze ratio. Built like a tank, could be called a cine lens, but much cheaper than the other ones. Official Website / Video Review
Xelmus Apollo Anamorphic Lenses A brand new lens maker from Ukraine who promises to revolutionize performance on the low-budget end of cinema anamorphics. Official Website / Video Review
I’ve seen the effects of my research while watching anamorphic adapters on eBay. Prices have been consistently going up since 2014 and good adapters are increasingly harder to find. This made me sad because the whole point of the Anamorphic on a Budget project was to achieve the anamorphic look without breaking the bank. Then adapters became expensive and the look was locked away from those without as many resources. That left me wondering if there was another way to craft the anamorphic look.
So I spun the process on its head and started looking at the final image. I wanted to reverse engineer the look as if I never knew anamorphics existed. What other tools had I at my reach that could put me on the right track? Over the last two years I combined various techniques to craft the anamorphic look. I did it in a way no one could tell if the footage is really anamorphic or not. As I went down this path I came to the conclusion that most anamorphic adapters are overrated – in price and performance.
Then I compiled all the data into a guide that is close to two hundred pages long. Almost half of those go into detail on lens modding tutorials. Post-production techniques, mods that don’t require opening lenses and related products such as streak filters and plugins fill the other half of the guide.
To prove the point that it’s nearly impossible to tell anamorphic apart from anamorfake I made a little quiz. I’m using my own footage and shots from a few friends. I figured it would be a fun way to reveal not even seasoned shooters can get the shots right.
Can you tell anamorfake shots apart from real anamorphic ones?
I’m betting you can’t. I’m so confident in my prediction that I’m giving a 15% discount code for the“Anamorfake It Until You Make It” guide in the off chance you get all ten images right! Click the “NEXT” button below to start.