FEATURE | FLARE NECESS I T I ES
FLARE NECESSITIES WHEN YOU THINK OF FLARES, J.J. ABRAMS AND STAR TREK MAY COME TO MIND – BUT LENS DESIGNERS ARE COMING UP WITH EVER MORE SOPHISTICATED OPTICS TO MAXIMISE THE EFFECT WORDS PH I L RHODES / PICTURES VARIOUS T aking the edge off. A painterly look. Corner fall-off. All these are euphemisms for using lenses that are, to a technician or scientist, not
imperfections, particularly flares. And they are complex, which has historically compromised sharpness, speed, close focus, size and weight. Atlas’s Orion anamorphics seem intended to address this, albeit under a ‘pre-order’ heading at the time of writing. There are to be six lenses, from 32mm to 100mm, each achieving an impressive T2.0, with close focus down to 1.75 feet on the widest lens and announced weights of 2.2kg. The word ‘flare’ doesn’t appear on the web page that Atlas has titled ‘why anamorphic?’ because they
The market has naturally responded, not least Panavision, with several series of anamorphics since the C and E series. The most recent 1.65:1 Ultra Vista series is intended to cover full-frame cameras, presumably with its own DXL very much in mind. But older anamorphics were one of several technologies originally developed during the push to compete with mid-century television. Given that cameras are now capable of filling almost any reasonable cinema screen without relying on complex optics, the only reason any of this is being done is for the optical
ideal. Often, lenses have characteristics that their designers were at pains to avoid, while at the same time establishing the very idea of what movies should look like. So now, when cameras sometimes seem a bit too ideal, lenses that are not ideal start to make a lot of creative sense. There are many ways in which a lens can be not ideal, and on some level it’s hard to separate flare and contrast effects. Contrast reduction is caused by light that’s diffused across the frame, effectively a broad flare that might change and shift in changing light. For our purposes, though, the meaning of ‘flare’ is pretty clear – streaks, glows and dots, things we can simulate in post but that always look better done for real, precisely because it’s reacting to the rest of the image. GROUPS OF FLARES Lenses and their flares might be divided into two broad groups. There are classic lenses that have always produced flares that people like, and there are other, more modern lenses specifically made to flare. Perhaps the best-known examples from history are anamorphics, such as Panavision’s seminal C and E series, with their pink glow and pronounced blue streaks. It’s why more flare-happy designs are making it to market, because the classics are often in so much demand they’re expensive and hard to get.
42 DEF I N I T ION | APR I L 2020
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