GH2 hack footage – 4:3 MJPEG for true LOMO anamorphic 2.66:1 cinemascope

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The new GH2 hack is in its very early stages but has a helluva cool feature for anamorphic shooting. I thought I’d try it out.

One of Vitaliy’s initial patches puts MJPEG video into a 4:3 aspect ratio, the same as 35mm film.

I can then use a 2x anamorphic lens to convert that to lovely 2.66:1 cinemascope rather than the ‘too wide’ 3.55:1 you get from normal 16:9!

So for the first time we can shoot as intended with a 2x anamorphic lens on a DSLR. 2x anamorphic lenses were designed to be used with 35mm & 16mm film to produce wide 2.35:1 cinema framing whilst avoiding the need to crop the frame. It’s 2.35:1 because some of the film frame is used for the sound track. On a DSLR in 4:3 the anamorphic lens produces 2.66:1, only a little bit wider than standard cinemascope.

With an anamorphic lens you can use all the available vertical resolution and depth of field, whilst ending up with a more cinematic aspect ratio than 16:9, which is more ‘cable TV’ than cinema.

Until now part of the appeal of the LA7200 and Iscorama anamorphic lenses was that their 1.33x and 1.5x stretches give a less extreme aspect ratio when you feed them 1080p in 16:9. The modest 1.33x stretch of the LA7200 for example produces 2.35:1 from 16:9 and the Iscorama gives you 2.66:1.

But now we have 4:3 video on a DSLR, the 2x anamorphic are just as preferable, in some cases more so.

Russian hack, Russian lens

The LOMO has the best flare and a lovely authentic anamorphic image. It is designed to work with it’s own Russian prime cinema lens in OCT18 mount (this is how I am using it) and is designed by the Russian optical genius responsible for Hawk’s anamorphic range (those lenses are worth $25k+). It’s still my favourite, although mechanically the Iscorama is miles better at racking focus.

As I explained in my anamorphic shooter’s book with 16:9 like on Canon DSLRs there is a workaround for avoiding such a wide 3.55:1 image with a 2x stretch – you can expand the image horizontally to nearly 4K instead of squeezing it vertically and then crop the edges if you want a less extreme wide frame.

The horizontal stretch rather than vertical squeeze means you also get to keep 1080 lines of resolution and it can achieve upscaled anamorphic 4K from normal DSLR footage.

Now with this GH2 4:3 patch all I needed to do was put the footage in Premiere CS5, do a custom 2.66:1 HD 1920×817 sequence with a square pixel aspect ratio, and squeeze the footage to 76% vertical. Yes you can do things like anamorphic pixel aspect ratios, anamorphic sequence presets in FCP, but this is a simpler and more flexible way of working. The crux of the technique is to resize your 1440×1080 MJPEG footage from the camera so that it is 1920×817, which gives you a true 2.66:1 frame and takes the way the distortion of the optical anamorphic squeeze.

4:3 turns into 2.66:1 thanks to the 2x anamorphic lens squeezing a 2x wider field of view into a 4:3 frame.

At this early stage the 4:3 MJPEG from the GH2 is by no means perfect image quality wise but improvements will come as the testers get their heads around how it can be manipulated. Already we can increase the bitrate of the MJPEG and last time with the GH1 we had 80Mbit from it!! That was on much older hardware and the GH2 has a far more powerful and modern 3 core image processor so I am expecting big things from it bitrate wise this time. For now I have just left bitrate ‘as is’, which is very low (9Mbit or so). But as you can see from the video above – the theory works and 4:3 MJPEG gives us proper 2.66:1 from a 2x anamorphic on a DSLR for the first time.

A third of my DSLR rig is now Russian super-powered. What names could we have for the hacked GH2? GH2000, GHski?

Thanks Vitaliy!

The settings to change in PTools are MJPEG 480p, scale it to 1280×960 and increase the bitrate quality as seen here

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About Author

British filmmaker and editor of EOSHD, Andrew works in Berlin on his own self funded filmmaking and video projects.

18 Comments

  1. Not sure if it’s been posted on VK’s site.. but whats the deal with the ExTele crop and its use while HDMI is plugged in? I know normally it cannot be done when an hdmi monitor is plugged in. Does the hack allow us to use an hdmi with the extele?

  2. NitroDouglas on

    nice video test, looks good for only 9mbit. So when shooting with this 4:3 hack and FCP…the best method would be to crop the image or?

  3. Wait till you see the 80Mbit footage :)

    FCP – no cropping, just resize to 1920×817 for 2.35:1 – also, I recommend Premiere Pro CS5.

  4. Yes, that is the idea. However it doesn’t work 100% yet and is denoted ‘risky’. Most people would be best to avoid that patch until it’s better understood by Vitaliy and the testing community.

  5. Vincent Pereira on

    Very nice but one small thing- the final aspect ratio should be 2.66:1, not 2.35:1 since 1080 X 1440 is 1.33:1 and you’re applying a 2X squeeze. See the couple on the grass at about 0:32, for example.

    Vincent

  6. Please give credit where it is due. These MJPEG quality settings were copied from my 100Mbps Max Latitude Native 24/25p Anamorphic Patch, where they were used with a 4:3 frame size of 1920×720. Discussion of this patch, along with a downloadable PTool INI zip file can be found here:

    http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/162/100mbps-max-latitude-patch-v2-updated-for-ptool-3.55d#Item_23

    Also, please immediately cease and desist from distributing these settings in any form that neglects to include proper attribution of their original source.

  7. Though it might of been nice if Andrew had credited you, you’re sending a cease and desist for using the a few of the same values?! You can’t claim copyright on numbers BTW, nor can you prevent people from using ‘your’ settings without attribution.

  8. LPowell, I’ve seen your name tag in the options mentioned for GH2 Hacks. I’ve known you existed but hadn’t seen a post from you til now. Good to hear from you and good work on the patches. It’s truly a group effort and thanks to all who have had their hands in the process that has brought us these improvements. :)

  9. This is awesome, but MJPEG is limited to 30P isn’t it? Or is that a GH1 limitation?

  10. Regards Mr Powell:

    A) This footage and blog is not based on his settings at all. It is the default PTools MJPEG bitrate and Vitaliy’s suggestion of 1440×1080 to achieve the 4:3 size. 1440×1080 is a standard resolution and nothing to do with Powell’s testing.

    B) Also what he forgets to mention is that his ‘original authorship’ is based on the research and pooled knowledge of an entire community, a community he kicks in the teeth every time he lays his pompous claims over numbers and settings, in an effort to build his own personal empire.

  11. lomoanamorphic on

    This is exciting news. I’ll be testing asap.

    What about LCD support for unsqueezing image ? Wouldn’t it be perfect ?

  12. GH1 hack had that. GH2 not at the moment, just shows standard 16:9 or 4:3 image in live view not a distorted one. Would be useful!

  13. So here’s one for you, EOS . . .

    basically what has happened is the end dimensions of the recorded file have been modified, correct? (from 1920×1080 to 1440×1080, right?) does this mean that larger pixel counts might potentially be possible as well? (4k or something inbetween?) I know nothing about the particulars of how the hacking works, so I was wondering.

    P.S. the price drop on the shooter’s guide is tempting, but I just spent literally all my $$ on a rig and necessities for my new GH2 :D

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