December 7, 2012

Last Chance to Support 'PROSPECT,' an Anamorphic Sci-Fi Short from the Makers of 'In The Pines'

Anamorphic shooting at the low budget level is difficult, and with the options out there for filmmakers, getting a proper aspect ratio and a sharp image is next to impossible without a lot of effort or a lot of patience. When Zeek Earl of Shep Films shared some test footage, I took notice, because it was some of the cleanest and sharpest anamorphic footage I've seen come out of a DSLR. After exploring a bit further, I discovered their short film In The Pines, and also found out that the test footage posted was for a Kickstarter project that will end in less than 24 hours. Click through to check all of it out.

First, here's their short, In The Pines, which premiered this year at the South by Southwest Film Festival:

A young woman, convinced she has experienced an encounter with the extraterrestrial, becomes fixated on re-establishing contact in this striking study of the paranormal and the human psyche.

The anamorphic test footage:

A little bit from Zeek about the shoot and about how they achieved the look:

We had to velcro diopters to the front of it and sometimes use tape – it was ridiculous...To make this AG-LA7200 nice and sharp required a different diopter every few feet. I ended up with a kit of 5 of them and was switching them out constantly...

Some diopters are definitely expensive. We paid $200 for a 105mm .3 diopter – that’s super rare. The rest of the kit is 82mm which are not expensive, but only useful on 50mm+ because of the vignetting. The 105mm works on my 35mm and on my 24mm with a slight amount of vignetting (on a Canon 5D mkIII).

Overall we had a .3, +1, +2, +3, +4, and a 10x. We used the .3 the most (it covers the 6-12ft range on the 50mm), and the +1, +2 for closer stuff. We occasionally used the others for different for atmospheric super closeups.

Here is the Kickstarter video for their project, PROSPECT:

Here's another behind-the-scenes video:

The team is trying to shoot the short on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera next year, and the plan is to use the anamorphic adapter with that camera (and if they can perfect the look like they have above, I am really excited to see the results with the BMCC). The best part for me is that the location fees are actually going to preserve the Hoh Rainforest in the state of Washington. Once they complete the short, the goal is to turn it into a feature film, so this won't be the last you see of the world of PROSPECT.

If you want to support them in the final hours, head on over to their Kickstarter and pitch in.

What do you guys think of the anamorphic look? If you have any more questions for Zeek or the team, I'm sure they would be happy to answer!


Your Comment


Happy to answer any anamorphic questions!

December 7, 2012 at 5:49PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


would the crop sensor mean less diopters?

December 7, 2012 at 6:15PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Not less diopters, but you only need smaller diopters, which are much less expensive and more accessible. For example my 85mm diopters wouldn't cover the full glass of a 35mm lens on my Canon 5D mk III (w/ a full frame sensor), but it would do just fine on the black magic camera with it's super 16ish sensor.

December 8, 2012 at 4:12AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM



Have been thinking of shooting a dystopian sci-fi short on the LA7200 and the BMCC MFT. Can you talk about the challenges you see yourself using both that adapter and the BMCC camera?


December 7, 2012 at 6:27PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


The main thing is you will need an additional camera assistant to solely be in charge of switching out diopters. And just be aware that there is no threading on the LA7200 to attach diopters - you will have to figure out a DIY way to do it. Post production with anamorphic was surprising easy in Adobe Premiere.

I'm on the wait list for the BMCC with everyone else, so I can't help you there!

December 8, 2012 at 4:15AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Anamorpic looks so pretty. There is something about it that makes a film feel more alive.

December 7, 2012 at 8:26PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Totally. I think it's because very few films shoot 'real' anamorphic anymore. Most just shoot hi-res digital and then crop it. So when you actually shoot real anamorphic, it feels more like the classics of the 70s and 80s.

December 8, 2012 at 4:24AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I just purchased the 7200 for use with my Scarlet.. where and which diopters do you recommend getting? I'm mainly thinking of using around a 50mm and a 35mm

December 7, 2012 at 9:07PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


The scarlet isn't full frame right? Only super 35ish, like the Canon 7D...? You're pretty safe then getting conventional diopters. Any full set of 85mm diopters would probably work with those lenses (I remember finding a $60 set on B&H at one point, but I can't find it at the moment). Though anything wider than 35mm, and you'll need the rarer stuff.

December 8, 2012 at 4:21AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I'm guesing it wouldn't work so well to combine this anamorphic adapter with my 8mm rokinon for the 7D... ;)

Allthough there is a bit of widening while using an anamorphic adapter. So maybe a 35mm will have the horizontal field of view of a 24mm? What is the widest lens that can be used with this getup? I am a bit of a fan of the wider lenses (almost consider 24mm to be a bit too narrow to be called wide, 18mm is a bit on the edge).

December 8, 2012 at 7:07AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


That is problematic with the LA7200 adapter. On my canon 7D w/ the Tokina 11-16mm, the adapter does work with minimal vignetting when the lens is set to 16mm, but not anything wider. And even at 16mm, the adapter distorts the image, it looks slightly fish-eyed.

December 8, 2012 at 1:49PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


what exactly do these diopters do? I've never shot anamorphic before so I'm a bit confused. Is it just to unsqueeze the footage while filming? could you just frame and shoot with it squeezed if you couldn't afford diopters?

December 8, 2012 at 3:39PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


This is going to definitely be an un-scientific explanation. When you shoot with anamorphic adapters like we're talking about, you lose a lot of the sharpness of the image and the ability to focus near to the camera is lost. The diopters restore that sharpness, sort of like corrective eye-glasses. Each diopter sharpens a certain distance from the lens, so multiple diopters are needed to cover various ranges of distance. You can shoot with out diopters, for that I recommend a high f/stop. Overall though your image will be a little muddy and you will not be able to focus near to the camera.

December 10, 2012 at 12:24PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Zeek, I got qs about the diopters. I know what they do, but could you write examples of using it with specific lenses and for what distance you use it. For example with 35mm +1 diopter to cover focus between 5-10feet. Just an example, I hope you understand what I wanted to say as English isn't my first language :D


December 12, 2012 at 10:52AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM



On my 50mm lens a +.3 diopter covers 4-12 feet, +1 diopter would cover 2-6 feet, +2 covers 1-2 feet, +3 & +4 cover under 1 foot.

This is based off memory, not exact measurements.

December 20, 2012 at 12:48PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I'd add a lot more tension to the cut of Prospect. The shot of them firing the pistol should be full of jeopardy and fear.

It didn't feel right that they should shoot at something that didn't appear to be a threat. Their body language suggests that they fired in plenty of time and there was no real risk of danger. Maybe it made sense in the movie but not as a good trailer shot. That trailer should have made me think ' bloody hell I have to see that' and it didn't.

A graded 'look' would also help to make it look a little less 'everyday' as far as colour goes.

December 14, 2012 at 5:23AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Thanks Steve - though this is not actually a trailer, just test footage. None of it will be in the actual film. Thanks for the feedback though, will keep that in mind.

December 20, 2012 at 12:45PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM