December 3, 2013

How to Create Anamorphic Lens Flares for Dirt Cheap

Creating Anamorphic Lens Flares for No Money

We talk a lot about shooting anamorphic here at NFS. With its unique aesthetic, including horizontal lens flares and oval bokehs, it's no wonder why so many indie filmmakers are wanting to get their hands on these awesome, albeit expensive lenses and adapters. And because the price tag causes most of us to miss out, we have to get creative to achieve at least a portion of what anamorphic lenses provide. Here's a DIY tutorial that shows you how to use fishing line to produce horizontal lens flares with a similar look to those made while shooting anamorphic.

There is definitely no replacement for the effects an anamorphic lens produces — not only the flares and bokeh, but the wide aspect ratio and dimentionality as well. However, if you want a close to zero cost solution to obtaining some pretty decent horizontal flares, this fishing line technique works pretty well.

All you're going to need is some clear or blue nylon fishing line (0.29 gauge, or you can just paint it blue), a lens hood, and a way to poke four holes into the hood. (I'm sure you could use tape or whatever else to secure the line if you don't want to damage it.) You're also going to need a prime lens.

In fact, one of the caveats mentioned in the video is that the effect tends not to work as well (or at all) with zoom lenses — though it might if you use a thicker line. The focal length of the lens you're using plays a huge role in how well the fishing line is hidden.

Also, make sure that the fishing line is vertical when you shoot, otherwise your horizontal flare will rotate to become a vertical flare. Of course, if you want to just get some crazy flare effects, rotate that line whichever way you want!

There are a handful of other tutorials that do pretty much the same thing. The only difference is that many of them use a rubber band to fasten the fishing line to the lens, which may cause issues when you try to focus. But, if you find that it doesn't, that's just another option — just string the fishing line vertically along your lens and fasten it with your trusty rubber band. No need to drill holes!

Here's a video that shows how to use rubber bands:

Go ahead and give this trick a try and let us know how it turns out. If you've done this before (especially on a zoom), what worked/didn't work for you?

[via 0niCe750shawnstar86, & Filmmaker IQ]

Your Comment

23 Comments

I did one here as well:

http://vimeo.com/77061276

December 3, 2013 at 10:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I thought the first video was posted a while back... I could be wrong though.

December 3, 2013 at 10:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Derek

I don't think we've ever formally posted anything on using fishing line to get flares. I love this effect, though :)

December 3, 2013 at 10:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

I love using this effect. I recommend using a BLUE marker and coloring the fishing line. I use it for most of my shots in my reel. I never like cgi flares, they just don't blend in right sometimes.

https://vimeo.com/69596045

December 3, 2013 at 10:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Julian Terry

Does the blue hide the line better?

December 3, 2013 at 10:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Blue is the typical color of anamorphic flares in sci-fi films that people are mostly likely seeking to emulate.

December 3, 2013 at 11:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Stewe

If you want a blue lens flare, just buy blue fishing line. This stuff works really well http://www.fishusa.com/Product/Berkley-Trilene-Cold-Weather-Line?utm_sou...

December 4, 2013 at 12:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Casey

You can get fishing line tinted in different colors. Stren makes one that has a blue tint and Berkely has an amber one that is awesome for warm lighting. Also the diameter or lb test has a lot to do with seeing it or not and the size of the flare. You can get leader packs of all kinds of brands at most outdoor stores for less than two bucks to try different sizes.

December 4, 2013 at 5:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Woody Sanford

Just tried Anamorphic flare using my dental floss & cellphone Led. Genius!

December 3, 2013 at 11:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Archie

Since JJ is always in topic when anamorphic flares come up here's some BTS footage showing him doing them with a big flash lightlight in camera

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J-v9u42h_k

December 4, 2013 at 5:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jvdb

if you want lens flare just copy what he's doing..

December 4, 2013 at 12:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DIO

you can see it around the 6 min. mark

December 4, 2013 at 5:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jvdb

Maybe just buy an anamorphic? Why would anyone want to do this? Just because you have a horizontal lens flare doesn't mean your shots look like they were made with an anamorphic, they just look silly. The extent to which people go to fabricate the anamorphic look is ridiculous, its really not hard to find one for a reasonable price.

December 4, 2013 at 10:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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nkd

@nkd
I want to buy one. Please let me know where I can get one for a reasonable price. Thanks!

December 4, 2013 at 10:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I think its a cool creative shortcut for people who may want a lens flare effect but can't afford or just may not be willing to purchase an anamorphic lens. The concept itself is not silly. It's about as silly as using a shower curtain as a diffuser. It just works.

December 4, 2013 at 12:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The Vid-Atlantic CineMorph lens is a good alternative to the fishing line. It also initiates the anamorphic stretching effect.

December 4, 2013 at 12:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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*imitates

December 4, 2013 at 12:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I bought the cinemorph without the bokeh oval. I got a bokeh kit so I could use different shapes and make my own ovals that are the right size for different lenses. It has point star flares aswell giving a better look I feel. Your post has reminded me to make a video with them when my bmpcc and new metabones for bmpcc come out. Should make it better for colouring the streaks and flares more realistically. Will have a go with mk3 raw aswell.

December 4, 2013 at 3:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob

I remember reading about this trick in an interview with the DP of Sherlock. However, if I remember correctly, he said that he put fishing line on the BACK of the lens. I have yet to try it either way though...

December 4, 2013 at 4:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jeff

Found the interview:
"Q6. What prime lenses did you use the most when filming Sherlock.

My main set was the Cooks S4′s we also used the superspeeds a bit, and a set of uncoated lenses for all the flairs. I also used fishing wire behind the back element of the Cooks to give them a horizontal flare for certain scenes."

http://www.hdwarrior.co.uk/2012/02/05/filming-sherlock-with-dp-fabian-wa...

December 4, 2013 at 4:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jeff

Buying an anamorphic lens is counter intuitive considering their use is a mere fad that is quickly fading.
This is a reasonable facsimile that is zero cost if you know a fisherman. This is genius! The ingenuity of the frugal is amazing.

December 6, 2013 at 11:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nigh

I think having this simple and cheap DIY option is always nice for when flares are wanted, to most people they wont see much difference. Great Idea!

December 7, 2013 at 4:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I found this actually worked with the 50mm 1.8 when using my 7D. It failed to work on the 6D for some reason as the flare didn't reach all the way across the frame - wondering if it has something to do with the cropping on the 7D?

May 28, 2014 at 10:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Katie

thanks so much for these tips. I used your technique in my recent trip to Tokyo. Here are the results. thanks. https://vimeo.com/201628538

January 30, 2017 at 5:09AM, Edited January 30, 5:09AM

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