Anamorphic Primes on the Mini 35 at DVinfo.net

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Old September 18th, 2003, 10:19 AM   #1
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Anamorphic Primes on the Mini 35

Has anyone out there in Digital Video land used the Mini 35 with anamorphic primes? If so how did you decompress the image? Would this be an after effects thing? Also How would the image look?

I.E. if I took some 2.35 superspeed primes and tossed them on a mini 35 shot some stuff on my pal XL1 and then tried to import it all into my computer would I go insane trying to get the picture to look right? Or would I be ok would it be jsut a huge waste of money?

Anyone? Bueller?
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Old September 18th, 2003, 02:24 PM   #2
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Nick,

Anamorphic lenses have been very succesfully utilized on the Mini35.

If you have the Demo DVD or CD, Projekt Mini35 was shot with the Hawk V series anamorphics. This cinematographer has used anamorphics on all of his productions and the footage is always spectacular.

As far as I understand it, any of the current DNLE systems will do an unsqueeze for you on import.

mizell
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Old September 18th, 2003, 10:35 PM   #3
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Hi Nick,

Anamorphic has a great look to it, but be advised that there are some hardships involved!

The lenses are generally quite large. Depends on which manufacturer you select: the Hawks are great modern lenses, but are going to cost more as a rental item. There are some oddball Russian anamorphics out there also. There really isn't a "superspeed Anamorphic", superspeeds are nominally Zeiss, and they don't make anamorphics. In fact, most anamorphics are on the slow side exposure-wise, something to keep in mind.

Another factor is the decreased depth of field. Everyone using the Mini 35 loves how shallow you can make it, but you are looking at half the depth of field of spherical 35mm, and that means serious attention to focus is required. Plan to be using an experienced focus puller, or plan to have a lot of soft shots! I just shot a PSA with the Mini 35 and spherical lenses, and even with a great focus puller who works in 35 all the time, some shots required multiple takes for focus reasons.

Also, be aware that you will be composing with a squeezed image, which is disconcerting.

So why shoot anamorphic? It has a unique look all its own--there's a cool distortion as things go out of focus in the background, especially highlights which tend to go oval. Flares look great also, sending horizontal streaks across the frame.
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Old September 19th, 2003, 09:39 AM   #4
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hey guys,

quick note on shooting with Anamorphic lenses.

Charles is astute in mentioning the composition issue. It is very true that using the lenses on a Mini35 will result in a squeezed image in the viewfinder.

I've met a couple of people of who claim they love, and have mastered, composing in a squeezed image. I tend to just bow slightly at these guys and commend them on a tough job well done :)

Most others don't like this, so what are the options?

2 that I know of. The first is that if you output the video to a 16x9 monitor then you will get only a semi-squeezed image, as compared to the viewfinder, which will at least give you a more recognizable aspect ratio and aid in composing. The second option is more expensive, but if you have the money to rent the anamorphics, then you prolly have the cash to rent one of these. Transvideo makes a box that you install in-line between your video output and your monitor. It will take any aspect ratio and unsqueeze and letterbox it automatically on your screen so that you can see the true image.

BTW - Besides Hawk and the Russian anamorphics, of note are the availability of anamorphic leses from Panavision (and the Panavision mount for the Mini35 at $180).

great weekend all,

mizell
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Old September 19th, 2003, 12:28 PM   #5
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Yup, I didn't mention the Panavision lenses; actually I was unaware that the Mini 35 had the option of a Panavision mount. Thanks Mizell!

FYI, if you go this route: the anamorphic Primos are beautiful, but massive (some get up around 10 lbs)!. This can cause a strain on the lens mount, some of them allow for a lens support but not all. Other options are the E series and C series. The C's are the lightest. You'll get more funkiness and flares with these older lenses, but that may be part of the look you are going for!
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Old September 19th, 2003, 12:47 PM   #6
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Nick, seeing as you are local (I'm just next door in Los Feliz, howdy!), I have an 8" Sony monitor that has been modified to unsqueeze an anamorphic image. We could talk about a rental if you were interested, carried insurance etc.
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Old September 19th, 2003, 01:30 PM   #7
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Rick Fontanez of Emerge media (rfontanez@emergemedia.com) loves the Panavision lenses. I'm not sure if he's shot with the Anamorphic lenses, but I don't think he's ever used his PL mount either :) If you have the right connections at your local Panavision you can get some great deals.

He was also talking to me yesterday about prolly posting his current unit for sale here at dvinfo.net in expectation of his purchase of a PRO35 so if either of you are looking for a deal, keep your eyes out for his post.

Have a great weekend guys,

mizell
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Old September 21st, 2003, 01:56 PM   #8
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Hey thanks everyone for the advice.

Charles what kind of mod do you have to your monitor, I've got an 8" that does 16:9 do you have an even more accurate conversion?

LUcky for me I work for a rental house so I'm trying to find out if they can get me a mini 35 to demo. (keep your fingers crossed for me) Also does anyone in the L.A. area know of a place besides birns that rents the mini 35? I know of a few places that rent the 35 pro -which I hear is a waste of money- but the only place I could find that rents the mini 35 was birns and they're a little steep.
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Old September 21st, 2003, 02:21 PM   #9
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Hi Nick:

We rented the Mini35 at Birns but only after trying several other places. I think we were originally going to get it at Keslow Camera if I recall? I can get you more information when I talk to the production manager this week if you like.

What have you heard negatively about the Pro 35? I've been hearing good things.

I had Videorama on Cole Ave. put in a switch at the back of my 8" monitor that, in conjunction with the 16:9 squeeze, squeezes the image additional to 2:35. Give them a call at 323 466 7232 and ask about the anamorphic mod.

Which rental house do you work at?
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Old September 21st, 2003, 08:55 PM   #10
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I'm over at Sim Video off melrose.

What I've heard about the pro 35 is that when used in conjunction with an HD cam (we have the sony f900/3) you're forcing yourself to use lenses that aren't as good. I.E. take your pick from any lens on the market currently and put it on the prop 35 now compare that image (and lens) to the zeiss digiprimes. The image on those primes is SUPPOSEDLY better then any thing else you could try and get. The other down side is the f-stop loss and the noise that the pro 35 spits out. Both of those are acceptable (for me) on a mini dv cam but when you start getting into HD you should demand better quality. The pro 35 also makes doing shoulder mounted shooting a big pain. At least this is what I've heard.

I've also discovered that the only people that I could find renting the pro 35 only have 35mm lenses and aren't as likely to carry HD lenses.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 01:47 AM   #11
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Hmmm.

I can't bring myself to believe that the Zeiss Digiprimes are better than any other lens on the planet, especially the Cooke S4's or Panavision Primos. I CAN believe that the Pro35 will affect the resolution and image quality, since you are shooting a projected image off a ground glass, not that desirable a concept. I agree that this is acceptable for DV but may be an issue for HD. I've seen the system at trade shows but haven't had a chance to use it in the field. Personally, I find the sharpness and pristine quality of HD to be a little too intense, so I'm not ruling out that a little grit might be good for it...!

<<I've also discovered that the only people that I could find renting the pro 35 only have 35mm lenses and aren't as likely to carry HD lenses.>>

But you wouldn't put an HD lens on the Pro 35--the target size would be wrong.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 10:13 AM   #12
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<But you wouldn't put an HD lens on the Pro 35--the target size would be wrong>

Yeah totally, I'm sorry what I meant was it seemed TO ME that a lot of the places that rent out the pro 35 tout it's abilities because it beats buying a set of good primes or even some HD zooms. I definitly understand what you're sayinf about sharpness, I've heard that a 1/4 promist will have the same effect as shooting on the ground glass (softening) with out the stop loss.

I also have never used one these are just stories I hear at work when people come into rent.

<I can't bring myself to believe that the Zeiss Digiprimes are better than any other lens on the planet, especially the Cooke S4's or Panavision Primos.>

P.S. IT was difficult for me to believe to but if you get a chance to compare the cooke's with the digiprimes (perhaps I will) then we can put it to rest.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 10:35 AM   #13
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Good Morning Nick,

The full list of participating rental houses is available at our website. In LA right now it's Birns, Keslow, Camtec, and Otto Nemenz. Be advised that Otto's units are modified and while are excellent devices, don't truly represent the current state of Mini35 technology. One of his mods is a frame line generator which people really seem to like.

As fas as the PRO35 and DigiPrimes go. The DigiPrimes represent prolly the best glass ever manufactured directly for the video (HD) world. They are wonderful lenses and are sharp as hell. The reality is that they are too sharp, especially for the already harsh realm of video. This is exampled in our soon to be released PRO35 comparison DVD. The DigiPrimes showed flaws in the set unlike anything we've ever seen before...but who wants to see the flaws. Something that the Mini35 and PRO35 brings back to video is the filmic ability to fudge sets i.e. they don't have to be hyperrealistic as they do for an HD shoot.

What the DVD helps to show is that, as far as an audience is concerned, it's really the aesthetic you achieve rather then how sharp you are. If you put the PRO35 with a Cooke S4 (or any Zeiss prime for that matter) through standard lens testing it fails, especially when compared to the DigiPrimes. But guess what...so do Anamorphic lenses and I've yet to see an audience complain about their widescreen presentation at a movie theater.

There is a minor resolution loss when capturing the image through the PRO35, but the filmic lenses were designed to resolve an image much greater then video lenses so the playing field is relatively level.

I will post a notice here at dvinfo.net when the PRO35 DVDs are available. If either of you would like to drop me a line at mizell@zgc.com with your postal addresses I can send you a copy of an excellent piece shot with the PRO35 and Varicam.

Mizell
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 10:43 AM   #14
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ooppss, Nick posted before I could, now I've got to write a second...

Nick, you're are correct to a point. One of the biggest benefits the PRO35 provides to FILM rental houses is that they are able to take advantage of moving to HD without giving up the 100s of thousands of dollars they already have invested in film glass.

Even with video rental houses, the trick is to always make sure your inventory is going to be making money for you.

The best example is this:

The original set of 6 DigiPrimes retailed for $120,000. Once purchased, these lenses can only be used for HD (or SD of course). For the same price, I can sell the rental house the PRO35 with 7 Cooke S4's. Once the rental house owns the Cookes, they can rent them with their video cameras, their film cameras (if they have them), and if need be, Cookes can be sub-rented out across the country and around the world. So if we look strictly at ROI, the PRO35 with a set of films lenses makes more sense.

mizell
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 03:54 PM   #15
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I'm not one to make definitive statements about the future (e.g. "Film is Dead!") but it seems more than likely that the 2/3" chip size as seen in most of the current HD cameras will not last long. Already there are high end HD systems that use a chip with the same target as a 35mm gate, so the existing lenses will be interchangeable. This is only logical and solves many problems. Chances are the 2/3" cameras will be around for a while as the digital equivalent of 16mm (low budget and series work) but I don't see the lens manufacturers pouring a lot more R&D into that format.
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