Definition September 2021 - Web


STREAMERS’ CHOICE The Alienist (right) captures a clear image, thanks to Arri/Zeiss Master Anamorphic lenses. And Panavision T Series lenses were used in Marvel’s Loki (below)

spherical – particularly in all the out-of- focus areas of the frame. It’s a beautiful look, but also works towards breaking down the sharpness of high-resolution digital sensors.” Ironically, anamorphic lenses were developed to increase resolution by utilising more of a film negative, while maintaining a widescreen aspect ratio. Instead of losing the top and bottom of the frame, lenses warped, stretched or ‘squeezed’ the image – with this more detailed picture set to be ‘de-squeezed’ during projection. There are sharp anamorphic lenses, though with less of the dreamy quality many filmmakers seek. The choice to use these, says Surtees, remains a creative one, albeit more nuanced. “With lots of anamorphic options, the average viewer won’t see a loss of sharpness at the point of focus when compared to a spherical lens. There’s no resolution increase on a digital sensor, like in the days of film, either. “Consider the UHD frame of 3840x2160, which is over eight million total pixels. In a 2.39:1 anamorphic frame on the Arri Alexa, you’ll still get close to six million pixels. On paper, it seems like significantly less, but your eye could never notice that difference on screen – certainly not on a relatively small platform like a home television. “Other differences between sharp anamorphic and spherical lenses include bokeh and texture,” Surtees continues. “Some anamorphic glass also displays distortion, in which vertical lines bulge. There are the infamous lens flares in response to practical lighting, and areas around the edge of frame that just don’t get sharp, even when the rest of that plane is in focus. These aren’t necessarily errors, but this is where personal taste comes in.” While the practical hurdle of resolution is easy to clear these days, other considerations must be made. Surtees describes finding a camera and lens pairing that suits on all fronts something of a rabbit hole. “First things first: is there a technical mandate? The most obvious being 4K delivery. Then, we’d ask what format is

“The resurgence of anamorphic does come down to sensors in large part, but it’s here to stay”

“The resurgence of anamorphic does come down to sensors in large part, but it’s here to stay – across feature film and television alike.” As viewer interest, production trends and camera technology swing once again, another door opens. Unusually, in this case, it’s brought two existing options together after many years. Ultimately, the use of anamorphic lenses in episodic drama is the same as any other filmmaking technology: it’s all creative choice. “It’s absolutely fantastic that there are so many options for filmmakers to tell their stories. We currently have the biggest palette imaginable, certainly in cinema history,” Surtees concludes. “For some jobs, these choices have to be budget driven, but there’s a huge amount of potential with anamorphic – and it’s not just for the select few who can afford it any more.”

required. Filmmakers need to ensure the image circle of any given lens is large enough to cover the sensor. “If it’s 35mm format, virtually all historic anamorphic 2x squeeze lenses will cover without a problem. If it’s large format, more care needs to be taken. Aspect ratio can play a part in enabling some of these lenses on large format, as certain streaming studios prefer a 2:1 aspect ratio over 2.39:1, to accommodate smaller devices,” he adds. “Since anamorphic invariably uses the full height of the sensor or film, a different aspect ratio is achieved by cropping the left and right of the frame. So, 2:1 naturally has a narrower field of view than 2.39:1. Most lenses designed for 35mm won’t cover large format in that wider aspect ratio, but some will work over that narrower frame. We’re currently developing new anamorphic lenses for full large-format coverage.

KEEPING IT REAL Netflix’s Sweet Tooth implements Panavision G Series Anamorphic Primes, designed just over ten years ago. Their high-contrast, highly resolving quality brings a touch of realism to an otherwise fantastical series

37. SEPTEMBER 2021

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