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!