• Frederick Jewson | Oxford

The Ultimate Cinema Lens

Anamorphic.


I won't be getting into the specifics of what anamorphic is... simply put; it's an oval shaped lens that's designed to squeeze in twice as much horizontally compared to that of a spherical lens at the same focal length.


This creates the cine-scope look, the 2:39 widescreen bars we know and love. Instead of simply popping the bars over normal 16:9 footage, the anamorphic lens physically has to be "de-squeezed" and therefore the image is naturally 2:39, meaning when viewed on a 16:9 (normal size) screen we see those black bars at the top and bottom.

We're all used to seeing the black bars and relating them to cinematic story telling, hence why all the arty ads that provoke emotion tend to use them. The anamorphic cine-scope is designed to squeeze in extra footage so that you can physically see more of what's going on in a scene without having to loose depth by shooting on a wider lens, meaning you could get a lovely wide landscape or two people in the same shot far more easily whilst obtaining your desired focal length. However, when shooting spherical and adding the bars in after, you do not get this... In this case you add the bars for effect or because it helps strengthen the existing composition.


The extra width is predominantly the main perk of anamorphic, but it's far from the only perk. Anamorphic lenses have much more character, even their bokeh (blurry areas) stretch and breath in a completely different way, this is another trait that is subtly reminiscent of old cinema that few people pick up on but can tell it's there... Talking about character, there is one huge perk of anamorphic, typically it's everyones favourite, but when over used it can look messy and awful, many people simply do it for the sake of it... LENS FLARES! Stunning streaks of light that cut through the scene in a way only a spherical lens could dream of. These light shafts are instant reminders to the audience that your film was shot on an anamorphic lens, and they're not cheap, therefore it must be a good video/film (maybe that's why people over use them?!).


Overall, anamorphic is great for any video and film production where an emotive story is being told or an artistic flare is needed. Ultimately it is an art choice, there is nothing wrong with choosing either anamorphic or spherical lenses, they both have their reasons for being. For example, many Hollywood films are shot on spherical in 16:9 because it fills the screen which helps to further immerse the audience. Whereas other, anamorphic, Hollywood films want to take you to a new world where you can loose yourself in the beauty and aesthetic of the narrative.


One could speak for hours about the difference in lenses. Even within each category there are thousands of lenses, all with specific characteristics that are desirable for certain projects. Therefore I won't go into any more details...!


Bringing this blog post back to FJ; We're excited as we can now offer the use of anamorphic to those within Oxford who have been looking for this aesthetic at an affordable price. We have a custom anamorphic set up we can bring onto any video production that requires it, our aim is to open up the next level of commercial cinema to all within Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, ultimately helping businesses get the look that's right for them.


The reason we are so excited is because these lenses are rather expensive to rent and insure per production and many small/medium businesses cannot justify the extra cost. We have a custom setup that is of lesser cost yet still of superlative quality, this enables us to offer true anamorphic at a much more affordable rate.


For enquires about using anamorphic for your future video production please feel free to contact us, we're based in Oxford and always happy to chat!