Tutorial: How to Get the Anamorphic Look Without the Anamorphic Lens
Maybe you don't need an anamorphic lens to achieve the look.
The anamorphic look is sexy as hell; the elliptical bokeh shape, shallower depth of field, and, of course, those classic horizontal lens flares. And even though anamorphic lenses can often be too expensive for some low-budget filmmakers to get their hands on them, there are ways to replicate a few of their most desired aesthetic qualities. In this video, filmmaker Brandon Li shows you two ways to do just that. Check it out below:
DIY anamorphic filter
You know those "cookie cutter" filters that change the shape of your bokeh balls? Well, instead of cutting hearts and stars, you cut an oval to mimic that anamorphic bokeh effect. No, this won't produce any horizontal lens flares, which is one of the most distinguishing features of shooting anamorphic, but it's definitely a start.
Lens flare plug-ins
Okay, some of you might be really opposed to adding lens flares in post, because, admittedly, they can look really unnatural if not done correctly, but if you've got some high-quality elements and know how to use them, you can drop a few anamorphic lens flares onto your clips in post. Li mentions that he uses the MFlare 2 plug-in for FCP X and is pretty happy with the results.
Fishing line for lens flares
This trick wasn't mentioned in the video, but it's definitely something you'll want to look into. Not only is it dirt cheap, but it produces anamorphic-looking lens flares all in-camera. Grab some clear or blue nylon fishing line (0.29 gauge), attach it to a lens hood vertically, and boom, you're done. This trick works best with prime lenses. (You can check out the tutorial here.)
The best way to get the anamorphic look is by shooting with anamorphic lenses. That's obvious. However, if you don't have the budget, or just want to experiment a little with the aesthetic, these tips should help you get part of the way there.