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AQUISITION Everything you need to know about ANAMORPHIC LENSES ...and why you should want to use them 75mm ANAMORPHIQUE/i ø 2.8 800 ISO by Les Zellan, Chairman and Owner, Cooke Optics B ack in the late 1940s and early 1950s, film studios and theatre owners panicked. Television was the emerging new technology and as it expanded in popularity they feared audiences would shun the theatre to stay home and watch TV instead. What could they do to beat that? They needed a competitive edge to draw audiences. Since the first television screens were the same 4 x 3 format as films at that time, their solution was to go to a wider format. That was the birth of wide screen format, at least as a concept. But, how do you make a wide screen film? The best solution would be to shoot 4-perf, 65mm format, which would mean doubling the size of the fi lm, but that wasn’t feasible because it would require all new cameras, lenses and projection equipment, and of course the cost would be huge. Another option was to just crop the 4 x 3, 4-perf negative to the desired ratio. This has been done for a number of years with Super 35mm, but in the 1950s the negative stocks and print stocks weren’t up to the task. They didn’t have enough resolution to fi ll the very large screens installed in theatres at that time. In early 1950s even local theatres had very large screens. So how to get a wide screen format -- 2.39 to 1 aspect ratio -- into a 4x3 piece of fi lm? The solution was to maintain the vertical height and squeeze the horizontal by a factor of two. Lenses were then developed with cylindrical elements that would squeeze the horizontal plane effectively making a ratio of 8 x 3 on a 4 x 3 negative. The fi rst commercially released fi lm shot with a simple anamorphic lens in the new Cinemascope aspect ratio was The Robe in 1953. What does an anamorphic lens do to the picture? Depending on how the anamorphic lens is constructed, the introduction of the squeeze in acquisition may introduce assorted artifacts. The anamorphic squeeze is traditionally accomplished in front of the iris and the most prominent artifact will be the oval bokeh. Front anamorphic lenses are basically a kludge since they represent two lenses merged into one lens. On the vertical axis is a normal lens - for example, a 75mm anamorphic lens is a normal 75mm on the vertical axis - while on the horizontal axis it’s a 37.5mm lens. This combination introduces two depths of fi eld along the respective axes. In addition to two depths of fi eld, this combination also creates the artifacts. Traditional front anamorphic lenses produce compression and edge artifacts that help make the background recede more than with a spherical lens. All these anamorphic effects and artifacts created with a front anamorphic lens contribute to what I call ‘anamorphic funkiness’. Cooke’s new anamorphic lens series maintains this anamorphic character while bringing modern techniques to the lens design and manufacturing process. 62 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 94 OCTOBER 2014 TV-BAY094OCT14 v118.indd 62 07/10/2014 15:42