The anamorphic look is highly desired by many filmmakers for many reasons, including unique lens flares and bokehs. We posted an article a week ago on shooting anamorphic, and one thing some of you might've noticed is that anamorphic adapters and lenses can be expensive. So, if you find yourself in a bind financially, but are still wanting your images to resemble the aesthetic that anamorphic provides, Vashi Nedomansky of VashiVisuals is offering his After Effects plugin, VashiMorphic40, for the low, low price of free. Continue on for more details.

Getting your images to look as though they were shot with an anamorphic adapter or lens isn't as easy as throwing a letterbox over it and calling it good. There's much more to the anamorphic aesthetic than the aspect ratio. Again, the long horizontal flares, oval bokehs, and interesting, quasi-3D effect makes shooting anamorphic so desirable. What VashiMorphic40 does is replicates this look and feel.

As you may know, if you shoot with an anamorphic lens, your image is going to vary based on the lens and camera combination you use. Knowing this, VashiMorphic40 was designed to match 16:9 footage to the curvature and look of the 40mm Panavision Primo Anamorphic lens, which Vashi mentions was the only lens used on Chinatown and used 95% of the time on Rushmore and The Life Aquatic. To see what this plugin can do, check out the video below:

The effect of the plugin leans heavily on the curvature of the image, as well as the blur and vignette (which is a free plugin by Creative Impatience that can be downloaded here) to give it a “vintage” or stylized look. Just to be clear, this plugin does not replicate the lens flares or bokeh found when shooting anamorphic. Vashi explains VashiMorph40's design:

I find the lens distortion is the most appealing aspect of the 40mm Panavision Primo Anamorphic lens. It’s not exactly barrel distortion and it’s not a fish-eye…it’s a more complex curvature and I find it very pleasing visually. It has a tell-tale bulge  in the middle of the frame that protrudes out of the frame. This is what gives it a faux 3D “pop” that helps DPs and Directors to stage such dramatic shots.

I think it goes without saying that the best tool to use to get anamorphic images is an anamorphic lens, or at least an adapter. However, if you can't afford to rent or buy one, or don't want to pay for a PL mount adapter for your camera to accommodate one, the VashiMorph40 plugin might be right up your alley. You can download it for free here.

And if you do plan on taking Vashi's plugin for a spin in After Effects, here's the workflow he recommends:

 After Effects Plugin Project Workflow:

  1. VASHIMORPHIC is by default 1920×1080 / 23.976 FPS / 16:9 aspect ratio.
  2. Use a full frame camera with a 28mm or 35mm lens. APS-C camera use a 20mm or 24mm. BMCC use a 10mm or 12mm.
  3. Capture your footage in 16:9 format and frame for 2.35 during the shoot.
  4. Import your footage into the “Your Footage” layer of After Effects.
  5. Adjust CI Vignette settings to taste.
  6. Default setting is 10% Opacity and 200 pixel feather.
  7. Adjust Corner Blur to taste. Default is 3 pixels with repeat edges on.
  8. Render out footage to the codec of your choice.

What do you think? Is the VashiMorph40 plugin a helpful tool to give your images a more anamorphic feel?