October 27, 2013

Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Shooting Anamorphic

The look of anamorphic lenses is absolutely fascinating. The widescreen aesthetic, the oval bokeh, the distinctive flares, the ability to render out-of-focus areas as a mesmerizing mess; these are all things which many filmmakers strive for with their images. There are ways to accomplish most of these things without using an actual anamorphic lens such as letterboxing, adding flares in post, or even using filters on the front of your lens, but when it comes down to it, they don't provide the same aesthetic as a real anamorphic lens. Though the anamorphic process can be difficult to understand at times, Luke Neumann has put together a video that demystifies this awesome technique and gives you all of the resources that you need to get started shooting anamorphic.

When it comes to shooting with actual anamorphic optics -- optics that compress the captured imaged so that it can be stretched out to the proper aspect ratio in post production -- shooters these days have several options. The first, and the one that most low-budget filmmakers use, is anamorphic adapters. These are optical elements that sit in front of your existing lenses. The other option, one which can be prohibitively expensive, is traditional cine-style anamorphic lenses.

Here's Luke Neumann's excellent video, which breaks down these different methods of anamorphic image capture and explains the theory behind "squeeze factor" (as well as how different squeeze factors affect various native aspect ratios.)

For me, the best reason to shoot anamorphic has to do with the incredibly unique aesthetic that the higher squeeze factors produce when they are corrected. It's one of those aesthetics that really differentiates cinema from other visual mediums.

Perhaps the best example of this aesthetic from recent memory comes from the opening scene of Killing Them Softly, which uses the anamorphic look to its full potential. Unfortunately, the version that's embedded below is pretty crappy in quality, and the aspect ratio is wrong, but you should be able to get the idea.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to produce this type of effect with lower-end cameras that are limited to 16:9 readouts of the sensor due to the fact that a 2x squeeze factor lens or adapter will produce an image with an absurdly wide aspect ratio; something like 3.55:1. It's through adding vertical resolution to the sensor readout that these ratios come closer to the traditional widescreen 2.39:1.

Hopefully in the coming years, camera manufacturers will begin to implement anamorphic shooting modes (with high-resolution 4:3 sensor readouts) into their lower end cameras (are you listening, Blackmagic), so that the unique and unparalleled aesthetic produced by anamorphic lenses and adapters can be available to low-budget shooters.

What do you guys think? Do you have any tips for folks who are looking to get started with shooting anamorphic? Let us know in the comments!

Link: The Film Look - Anamorphic Lenses -- Neumann Films on Youtube

Your Comment

41 Comments

Actually, at a 2x squeeze factor, the Red Epic outputs a 3296x2700 image, which desqueezed becomes 3296x1350, equivalent of 3.3K.

October 27, 2013 at 3:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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LumberjackSatan

Exactly, which puts the aspect ratio of the final image around 2.4:1 or maybe a little bit wider. It's when you try to use the 2x squeeze factor lenses on a 16:9 output that you get the crazy wide 3.55:1 ratios.

This is why I think that more cameras should have a dedicated anamorphic mode with more vertical resolution, so that we can use those beautiful 2x squeeze factor lenses and adapters without making our images ridiculously wide.

October 27, 2013 at 3:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4327

To make things less confusing (I wanted to make this somewhat accessible to people that have very little experience with the format) I used a 1920x1080 (16x9) final window to show the resulting aspect ratios. After all is said and done, if you put that RED Epic file into a 16x9 composition and then scaled it down to 1080p...that's what you would be left with. Would I actually use this workflow in post for RED Epic ana files? No. For the sake of the video and a common denominator? Yes.

October 27, 2013 at 4:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hello, how i can get the anamorphic look in post production with an UHD footage without using the black bars?

March 13, 2016 at 3:39PM

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I was about to suggest that. The slr magic adapter seems to be sharper than letus adapter. The slr magic adapter is available for beta testers. I am applying next week for it. It is a 1.3x squeeze which is perfect for dslr, bmcc bmpcc to achieve 2.35:1

October 27, 2013 at 4:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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thadon calico

Fantastic! I hope you can post your results here. Hope it goes well for you.

October 27, 2013 at 5:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Norm Rasner

They wouldn't allow me into the "paid beta", shame

October 28, 2013 at 3:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PhinioxGlade

"It’s one of those aesthetics that really differentiates cinema from other visual mediums."

What evidence is there to back that statement up? Since a lot of films aren't shot with anamorphic lenses then I think this statement is ridiculous.

October 27, 2013 at 6:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jessie

Because the aesthetic is often seen in photography, drawing, painting, etc?

October 27, 2013 at 9:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I'mSquishingYourHead

The anamorphic aesthetic is entirely inherent to cinema. It's not something that is often used in still photography. It's almost impossible to capture that visual process through painting, sculpture, theater, or any other visual medium. All films don't have to use anamorphic for that particular aesthetic to be unique to filmmaking. Therefore, anamorphic is an aesthetic that differentiates cinema from other visual mediums.

October 28, 2013 at 1:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4327

I've had get success with anamorphic still photos. The look is so unique, weird and bokeh is greasy. I love it

October 28, 2013 at 3:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PhinioxGlade

I'd love to see some photos if you have links!

October 28, 2013 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4327

I feel we might need to differentiate Anamorphic Cinematography (Where you squeeze at filming and stretch in post) and Anamorphism in painting where you have to view the piece from a certain vantage-point in order for it to look correct (seen often in those photo's of street-painters that produce strange POV-effects on streets).

I've seen very little examples of the cinematographic version of anamorphic shooting done with stills. But I guess one could even do something like photograph an object with a bottle in front of the lens, distorting the image. And then un-distort it in post with photoshop so that the object becomes correct and the rest will become distorted... Hmmm... as a matter of fact... I think I will try this out when I get back home from work. The result shoult become something crazy wide methinks...

October 28, 2013 at 11:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Robert - yes I think everyone is aware that the anamorphic look is unique to cinema. Does that make it "one of those aesthetics that really differentiates cinema from other visual mediums"?

I'd argue that the aesthetics that 'really differentiate' cinema from other visual mediums are editing & camera movement.

November 3, 2013 at 5:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jessie

Grammar Police- the plural of medium is media... just sayin'.

November 1, 2013 at 10:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Evil Betty

anamrophic is just alot of the top and bottom chopped off. kubrick hated this

October 28, 2013 at 12:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ThaiMan

(Shaking head with great tenacity)

October 28, 2013 at 1:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Don't hurt yourself. Too much tenacity and you could very well strain your neck. I reckon it'd be difficult to keep making awesome videos like this one with a strained neck. So let's keep the tenacity to a minimum, despite the fact that it's entirely called for in this particular instance.

October 28, 2013 at 1:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4327

Ha, yeah...I couldn't tell if this guy was being serious or not. Either way it deserved a solid head shaking.

October 28, 2013 at 1:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Neumanns video by-passes the main point of what makes anamorphic look special. It´s not the flares, shallow depth of field or different aspect ratios ( you can have these with spherical lenses also... )

The main thing in anamorphic shooting is that you have two focal lenghts in a one lens. If you have 2X 50mm anamorphic lens you get same vertical view than with 50mm spherical lens and same horizontal view than with 25mm sperical lens.

I think this is so important thing that it should be included in video that is titled under " Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Shooting Anamorphic "

Or maybe flares are THE thing in anamorphics and I am just getting old.

October 28, 2013 at 5:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Juha Kinnunen

I agree. I think there is so much infatuation with flares which reminds me of when the sgpro and letus adapters first came out for the hvx and we ahll started getting shallow depth of field and suddenly, it was dubbed the "cinematic look". For me the vertical view is enticing

October 28, 2013 at 8:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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thadon calico

I meant to say: vertical/horizontal view ratio

October 28, 2013 at 8:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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thadon calico

I have to concur that this is the main thing that is often overlooked when people try to mimic the anamorphic look is that strange way real anamorphs handle x and y scale.

October 28, 2013 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Totally agree, in fact i tried to put this across as a comment on youtube and came back for a reply to find my comment deleted. Mr Neumann, the video doesn't really tell anyone anything about shooting with anamorphic lenses, you don't even feature different examples, just the same shot cropped or stretched? you are actually giving very simple information across but include references to how it will look on a Red Epic? and whats with rating the aspect ratio created? your personal opinion on an aspect ratio is the right material for getting started with anamorphic, if the film calls for 2.39:1 or 3.55:1 then so be it, i pick the anamorphic lens for the job. Also don't use 1.33x with a 4/3 sensor configuration, the old LA7200 was designed to take the old 4/3 image and give you a 16/9 aspect ratio on the old panasonic sensors (key word is old), there is really zero reason to shoot 4/3 anamorphic on the Alexa or Red only to give you a 16/9 image, in fact you would only do so because like most amateur anamorphic shooters you're only concerned with the flare (as is everyone :0I). Getting a true 2.39:1 and being able to use a longer focal length while maintaing a wide field of view is the real benefit and talking point of anamorphic cinematography, it opens all kinds of possibilities in composition but its always, flares and oval bokeh…..

October 28, 2013 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anthony Brown

As an anamorphic shooter I can recommend the Sankor 16C 2x Projector Lens coupled with a Helios 44-2 or Super Takamur 55mm. I can also recommend when using the Vid-Atlantic VClamp you attached it to a UV filter so adapter is flush against something, helps keep the whole frame in focus.

October 28, 2013 at 3:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PhinioxGlade

Hi, great report, loved lukes video. If I may, I'd like to share that Alan Doyle from Redstan is also a great resource for custom clamps, acromat doublets and even advice. They're always more than helpful and can get you what you need quick. Here's his email antiochus66@yahoo.co.uk. 2 weeks ago I did an unscientific test with my hypergonar/helios rig to test the sharpness and see what the flares look like. Its a 2x squeeze so maybe too much for some but the Hypergonar is pretty sharp opened up (which is rare for most anamorphic attachments) its a good lens, check it t out if you like, vimeo.com/76792263. Thanks

October 28, 2013 at 4:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anthony Marino

Anamorphicy haha. I hope this becomes a common term. What would the verb be? Anamorphicing? Anamophisising? When I grow up, I want to be a anamorphicer

October 28, 2013 at 6:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dave

October 28, 2013 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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It's also worth mentioning what happens when you use an anamorphic lens on it's intended format/size. Using a 50mm anamorphic lens on a 4:3 Alexa or 4-pert Academy 35mm film means that you have double the field of view horizontally AND vertically vs a spherical 50mm on a super35 sensor cropped to 2.35. Spherical = 11° by 26°. 4:3 2x Anamorphic = 20° x 45°. That's a huge difference. That means your medium and wide focal lengths now have a lot shallower depth of field. You are also using much more resolution on the larger format—2x as much on Alexa and 35mm film. Add the shallower depth of field and the higher resolution together, and you get a great image with sharp in focus areas and beautiful extra blurred out of focus areas. Win Win. Oh, and it flares too.

October 28, 2013 at 2:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Boyd

Remember the film Cowboy and Allien
The film came out in theater or in the big screen as a 1;85 image or like a full 16;9
people how like western do not like this because they expecting a scope format like we have
normally with western... after near 2 or 3 week they stop showing the film in theater and they did a fast
print in Blu-ray and DVD but this time in scope ratio or with the letter box.

The scope film is not for every thing the film need to involve scenic view and be outside.

October 31, 2013 at 7:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pierre Samuel Rioux

Redstan products are poor quality - do not buy.

June 5, 2014 at 9:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Andie Reid

DSLR: I got started with using anamorphic adapters with DSLR lenses. The x2 adapters worked fine on a 1.6 crop camera with an M42 Takumar 55mm (the lens' focal length was just enough to eliminate vignette). The need for double-focus and the lack of stability have always made this combo painful (vintage lens with anamorphic adapter).

CAMCORDER: Now, instead of a DSLRs, I use large pixel camcorders (Canons with HD CMOS PRO sensor). The camcorder's picture quality is acceptable. You just zoom in past the vignette, and you're shooting anamorphic with a stabilized camera, focusing just the anamorphic adapter by hand as needed. The bokeh is good enough since you're zoomed in half way.

To answer a couple of the comments above:
a) Shooting anamorphic is not chopping off top and bottom, it's adding cinema width and style without degrading image quality.
b) Redstan products are a bit expensive, but in my case the best I have found to connect an anamorphic adapter to a lens, and to connect front filters to your anamorphic adapter (magnifier for close-ups, ND filter for daylight, etc). I noticed someone posted a negative comment about them, and it's a shame - the products are top notch.

July 3, 2014 at 1:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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andi reid above you said redstan is poor quality :)
what a slimy joker i have never sold someone with your name anything who are you fella?

July 15, 2014 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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redstan

So now the GH4 has a 4:3 ratio 4k-ish (3328x2496) video mode (it's one of the new Photo Video modes, so basically you get a lot faster AF, were you to use it) does anyone have any suggestions for 2x Anamorphic adapters to go on the 58mm filter threads of the Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 zoom?

October 11, 2014 at 11:19AM

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For a bit of low budget Anamorphic style fun, I’ve built an iOS 8 app called Scope Flare that shoots HD video with real time simulated but realistic lens flares. It’s got a range of color grades based on actual film stocks and a selection of different lens flares. On an iPhone 5s or newer it will shoot 1920x810 1:2.39 video and has an option for Wes Anderson style wide angle lens distortion. I’m a Cinematographer and I essentially built the app I wanted to have.
http://itunes.com/apps/scopeflare

December 8, 2014 at 8:26PM

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Marcus Struzina
Director of Photography
81

Interesting article, nowadays you can use projector anamorphic lens like sankor schneider cinelux, Kowa, and many more to achieve the cinematic look.
You place these anamorphic lens in front of a taking lens, usually you need to use a prime lens.
The only problem is that you need to focus on both lenses.
But these it is not a problem anymore since the anamorphic shop guys made the FOCUS MODULE ,which allows you to have a single focus system.
For more infos please have look here:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anamorphic-Shop/774607322559772?fref=ts
or more on the single FOCUS MODULE here:
http://www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/7540-the-fm-lounge-discussion-of-any...
or you can check many videos on vimeo about it:
https://vimeo.com/115491561
https://vimeo.com/115491561
https://vimeo.com/114181173
https://vimeo.com/113620030
https://vimeo.com/115723948

January 1, 2015 at 8:36AM, Edited January 1, 8:36AM

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Thanks Cosimo for the links!! That is unreal!

February 28, 2015 at 4:30PM

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This may be in the comments somewhere, so forgive me if this question has been answered. With a 2X squeeze, shooting on the Epic at 5K Ana, will I get a reasonable 2.40 (give or take) ratio? (If so, is the camera automatically doing the cropping of the sides?) Or will it be much wider? Having used 1.33 anamorphics on the Blackmagic, I get the proper ratio of 2.35, but not all of the anamorphic characteristics. I've got a shoot coming up, but no time to do tests, unfortunately. As a lover of the 2X look, I just want to know if it'll be ready to shoot once I attach the lens. Again, if this was covered already, I apologize. Thanks, guys!

April 14, 2015 at 10:20PM

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The uploader has not made this video in your country :-P C'mon Luke Neuman.

August 28, 2015 at 3:08AM

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Jeff Waweru
Photographer / Filmmaker / Designer
234

Please correct me if I am wrong, but filming anamorphic doesn't in itself increase resolution, it merely preserves what's already there since less of the image is cropped.

From example, if you use a 1.3x lens in a 16x9 camera with a resolution of 1920x1080, your captured resolution is still 1920x1080 but your aspect ratio after "de-squeezing" is no longer 1.78 (16x9) but now 2.35.

https://acinematographersjournal.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/part-1-optical...

March 28, 2016 at 1:55PM, Edited March 28, 1:55PM

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John Dimalanta
Freelance Photographer/Cinematographer
487

that makes it very interesting read Robert. Thanks for sharing the insight.

May 4, 2016 at 11:18PM

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Bhushan Gaur
Director / Writer
168