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Sean Cunningham

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Everything posted by Sean Cunningham

  1. Some of the best looking films and best looking photographs are completely void of conventional "lighting". They have no contrived placement of artificial light. Instead it's the shooter's eye and ability to capture what is naturally occurring in an artistic way or their ability to put their subject where the best light is naturally occurring. An inverse of the conventional artifice. The shooter is the most important element. Everything else makes their job easier or harder, offers "freebie" production value or forces their hand at every step of the process. With all of the patches, lenses and shooting styles there is no, for instance, guarantee with a GH2 you're going to end up with a great or even good image. It has no single look. You can find loads of footage that's completely pedestrian, that looks like it might have come from a BestBuy camcorder or worse, someone's camera phone. Then you have well monied enthusiast shooters who have invested in lights and rigs and all sorts of stuff and yet their footage too can be lifeless and boring, even if you can see the money spent on trying to elevate production value. And then you have someone like the 19yr DeShon Dixon from LA who has no money for lights or rigs, just his GH2 and a single 35mm Rokinon prime shooting music videos. He rides the bus to shoots, often relying on only God's Light or whatever practicals are around the scene and much of his work could play alongside music videos shot on an Alexa. His work would be no less impressive on a Canon Rebel and possibly no more impressive if you changed absolutely nothing about his style or methods but swapped in a RED or Amira. It's the shooter and the choices they make.
  2. The design of your spherical lens, it's focal length and arrangement of element plus the anamorphic adapter will determine the widest aperture you can reasonably work at. You said "century optix like" so I'll assume it's one of several "generic" anamorphic adapters that pop up every now and again. These could be based on the Century Optics or Optex design (the coating looks the same) while internally being different enough in their calibration that what I say may be totally off but at 50mm I wouldn't expect you to get useful focus at anything wider than ~f/5.8 unless the Canon FD design is just more compatible with a front mount adapter than my 50mm F.Zuiko. Focal lengths wider than 50mm will allow larger apertures while focal lengths longer than 50mm will need to be further and further stopped down. What I've been able to determine with mine is that it simply will not focus with a physical pupil size of much larger than 8.57mm (what you have with a 24mm lens @ f/2.8). So at 50mm you achieve this pupil size @ f/5.8 and this is consistent with my 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor which forces me to nudge it just above ~f/12 for useful focus. Diopters change these factors. Something like a Tokina +0.4 achromat gives you about a stop wider performance while sharpening up the image at the expense of infinity focus. SLR Magic has a new diopter set that will do the same thing (for a lot less, since the Tokina achromat is OOP and being sold as either used or very rare NOS). You didn't say you were using a diopter but if it came with the lens when you bought it you might have just been tempted to always use it. This will limit your ability to focus beyond a certain point. Also, some folks experimented with flipping the rear element on these adapters which, in some cases, sharpened them up at wider apertures but not without introducing limitations elsewhere. Buying a used adapter has always been risky but with so many DIY channels on Youtube and more enthusiasts than ever before using these adapters you do have to be mindful of what modifications might have been made by the previous owner. Bottom line though, you'll have to determine the limits of your anamorphic adapter foreach and every lens you intend to use it on. The big, expensive anamorphic cine lenses are expensive because the manufacturer goes through and calibrates a dedicated anamorphic optic for each focal length. That's how they're able to offer a line of lenses that are all rated the same. When you're using dedicated cine lenses you can work the way a film crew does and have a stop that you use for all or most of a film, lighting to that stop and a fixed ISO. Folks using anamorphic add-ons must adapt their shooting and lighting to work within the limitations of every adapter + lens combination. Each time you swap taking lens you are dealing with new minimums and maximums to be mindful of. That's just one of many compromises we have to make since we're not spending tens of thousands of dollars per lens.
  3. Here's some 50mm Zeiss and full frame from Edwin Lee: ...I think it's got a great look. He's got some shots in there where he stacks diopters like in some other videos I've seen which can produce nice looking ovals on even 24mm and 35mm on a 1.33x compression anamorphic but I'm betting an oval FF58 would look sick. Performance coupled with my F.Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 is one of several potential benefits over my Century Optics adapter that I'm most excited about. I love shooting on it in straight 16:9 but have to be stopped down to near f/6 with the CO adapter if I need infinity focus. To shoot with it at f/2.8, like the SLR Magic Anamorphot can straight out of the box,
  4. SLR Magic specifically designed the adapter for the widest range of uses. Going higher than 1.33x with almost no support for variable aspect ratio or 4:3 shooting for their widest possible customer base would render the lens less useful for independent narrative filmmaking, or most professional applications. Ultra-super-wide means you must crop the sides off your image, reducing both resolution and field-of-view, effectively diminishing two reasons to use the adapter for the sake of one (pronounced oval bokeh). Wider than 2.35:1 - 2.40:1 and you are effectively limited to amateur venues. Odds are most customers won't be doing commercial work of any kind with the Anamorphot, just like most users of every other front-of-lens anamorphic adapter are not doing commercial work or trying to sell their work. Still, I believe SLR Magic would very much like to see their lenses used in a film that makes it beyond VIMEO or Youtube. 1.33x is a compromise that works for cameras that shoot 16:9 video. Hawk has a successful line of cine lenses (V-Lite) using this same compression factor designed for the same purpose but they also have a different optical design with reduced flaring and even more subtle anamorphic characteristics. Those lenses cost tens of thousands of dollars for even less blatant telltale signs of bent glass (see Danny Boyle's Trance for a recent example). With wider angles you don't get pronounced bokeh, even with 2X lenses. Look at the long tracking/steadi shot opening Boogie Nights. It starts with the op up on a crane looking at a neon sign, the crane moves across a nighttime street exterior, dips to allow the op to step off and continue walking into a night club in one un-broken shot, moving between people. It goes on unbroken for several minutes starting from ~T2.8 out on the street and transitioning to ~T4 inside the club. At the wider stop, outside looking down a lit up San Fernando Valley street, you don't see pronounced oval bokeh because you don't see pronounced bokeh. Regardless of being very "open" it's a very wide lens. That film was shot with 2X Panavision lenses. Even for the mediums, two and three shots in the club, you don't see blatant ovals, even though the scene is filled, like the street scene outside, with small lights and highlights all throughout the scene, giving ample opportunity for anamorphic giveaways. It's not until the shot ends on a CU of Wahlberg that the first really pronounced ovals appear. You do still have an image that's optically different than if you'd shot with a very wide spherical lens and cropped. It wouldn't feel the same. But as you go wider the most telltale trait will be the look of flares. You can still get decent ovals in close-ups with a little help from the diopters. That's where you typically appreciate them anyway.
  5. There's a combination of factors here, from the sensor to codec and how all the highlights are being handled. They seem a touch more harsh at times, in certain scenarios here, than what I'm seeing on the GH2 + Driftwood patch through a more vintage Nikkor. I'm liking how the Anamorphot is a bit quicker to flare, with sharper flares, compared to my Century Optics adapter.
  6. Heh, the best I can do just walking around my neighborhood would be an homage to the opening of the film Poltergeist.
  7. By about :15 into this spot I was ready for the tragic turn. Please, when does the axe murderer enter or the scene perhaps becomes a tale of rohypnol and other nightmares for daddy? Oh, land mines? That works too.
  8. I don't mean to spoil any fun going on in this thread but, yes :P
  9. This is true. My apologies for that, procter.
  10. Taking lens. But there is, I believe, a close-focus adjustment on the anamorphic itself that reduces dependency on diopters
  11. It's not fair, lol, Seb and Andrew having such interesting environments to shoot in! :P
  12. Well, the Letus is a "true" anamorphic lens. As such it's just a given that sharpness with the adapter is going to be lower than without. You are making a conscious decision that the addition of horizontal FOV and the character inherent in its distortion are worthy trade offs to clinical sharpness when you choose to go with anamorphic. The same shot will always be sharper without the anamorphic, no matter the anamorphic(*). How close you're able to get with still workable sharpness (which is going to be fairly subjective) before being aided by diopters or perhaps a different taking lens is still a very helpful experiment though. edit: (*) this might seem to create a slight paradox when comparing anamorphic 35mm to Super-35mm, where anamorphic has much more detail and delivers a sharper, more detailed release on film or digital. This is because for a given final aspect ratio the anamorphic photography uses the entire height of the film negative where Super-35mm crops to a smaller window of the negative to achieve the same aspect ratio. While that may simply be trivia it has the same implications for anamorphic DSLR photography when you're shooting for an intended aspect ratio and not simply comparing still for still. 2.35:1 with an anamorphic adapter, despite the hit to sharpness, can ultimately be better, sharper and with more detail than 2.35:1 cropped out of the sharpest taking lens you'll find (once you alter your taking position to achieve similar framing and then either blown up the spherical or reduce, therefore oversample, the anamorphic).
  13. If you were to shoot with and without an Iscorama, a Kowa or a B&L the shot from the spherical taking lens alone would be sharper. What's your point? Welcome to anamorphics. Use a diopter. Profit.
  14. VIMEO playback is very different from browser to browser because on a given OS they don't all use the same libraries to decode the stream. I see a marked difference in playback quality on my Mac in Safari versus Chrome, for instance. Safari looks bad while the same stream on the same computer looks as I expect with Chrome. It's the same phenomenon with players. You will often see a different look playing back the same file in QTPro, VLC, MPlayer, etc., etc. I haven't used IE since the Win98 days so what happens in IE stays in IE as far as I'm concerned ;)
  15. That 100mm shot looked to have some convincing bokeh!
  16. Not so strange. Coke has embraced multiculturism in their marketing going back to at least the 1970s. This is basically a variation on something like this: ...which were very successful ads here in the USA. They represent people of the world but that's what makes up America. Some people here forget that, which isn't too surprising since these folks, who will most certainly be right of center also get The Bible wrong and have a poor understanding of the "Founding Fathers" as well. Everything is twisted the further you get to the right. But enough politics, Coke has a tradition here which the latest Super Bowl ad is consistent with and it was the prettiest ad for the whole schebang yesterday which will likely go down as one of the most disappointing Super Bowl commercial years ever.
  17. It's apparently moved bigots and xenophobes to wave their freak flag on Twitter but it's a very pretty commercial. ...I still haven't found any info on the making-of but my money is on C-Series lenses.
  18. Yeah, I'd say lucky. There's lots of headlines and political posturing regarding the flight of film production from not only California but Los Angeles in particular. The attitude of authorities and the film commission and how difficult they make the process aren't insignificant factors in this ironic phenomenon. It's a film unfriendly city in a film unfriendly state. It wouldn't stop me, of course. I do well with cops and would show them how normal and "non professional" the camera was quickly removing a few embellishments to reveal the DSLR underneath it all. Play dumb. Play the student. It likely wouldn't work with a RED or Arri or even a Cinema EOS though ;)
  19. If that were Los Angeles it would likely attract unwanted attention from police, The rails are fairly subtle but the monitor would get a lot of attention. With my loupe and pistol grip my GH2 gets folks asking what kind of camera I'm shooting on. It changes the silhouette of the DSLR just enough that it's no longer inconspicuous.
  20. Not true. Not true at all. I know people who have spent more than this, either individually on a RED or a group of local shooters pooling their cash to buy one and share. This is likely to give them all serious buyer's remorse. Rednecks spend more than this on fishing boats, hunting cabins and off-road vehicles. Yuppies spend several times over this price for a midlife crisis sports car, a sail boat, a motor home or on vacation. I have friends with much more than this invested in their gun collection. A buddy of mine has spent far more than this building an airplane kit in his garage. What's perhaps ironic is this camera at this price might be privately owned by individuals who are non-photography professionals or otherwise not in full-time employment as shooters. Folks with six figure incomes, access to credit and looking for another expensive hobby, this one with the benefit that their purchase could eventually pay for itself by renting it out.
  21. There really isn't anything about any of these cameras that makes them better or worse for use with CG than any other camera. In every case it takes a talented compositor to match the perfectly linear, many times more over-sampled CG imagery to the plate photography. CG will almost always have to be blurred, its tonality manipulated and some kind of noise/grain layered over the top. Some might make for somewhat cleaner, off the defaults keying but that's not CG.
  22. F/2.8 is still totally respectable, especially solo. That's a man size stop even when you're working with a professional 1st AC, the hardest working man on a camera crew for an anamorphic motion picture, no question. That should correspond to something in the T2.9-3.0 range depending on the stills lens. For comparison's sake Boogie Nights was shot mostly between T2.8 and T4 and the more open and "dangerous" Killing Them Softly stayed between T2.3 and T2.5 to max around T2.8 even for their daylight stuff but going much below that just isn't very common because it's too hard and there's too much room for error. I'm thankful they went with a look approximating the venerable Panavision C-Series, regarding the flare. That was the look from the '70s and '80s that got me to notice there was somehow something different about certain films, especially Dean Cundey's stuff on early John Carpenter motion pictures. It's the look that continues to inspire contemporary DPs who have made sure the dance card for those lenses are always filled at the rental houses (even though, or sometimes because, or in spite of the fact that they're not clinical or overly sharp). I'm disappointed to hear what you're saying regarding the Lumix kit lens though. It's definitely on the flavorless side compared to my Nikkors and F.Zuiko but I rather like shooting it at 18mm with my Century Optics (~30mm Panavision FOV equivalent). I'm only able to be about F/4 but that's still pleasing enough and the footage surprisingly sharp and full of detail and I don't, currently, have any primes that go wider than 24mm. That's too bad. Your conclusions on the LA7200 seem totally consistent with those of Eyepatch Films and I don't think there's another more respectable or prolific LA7200 shooter or advocate around. It has always been the adapter with the most caveats and the strictest shooting methodology for acceptable results, often involving wholly un-cinematic stops unless you have some fairly rare supplementary glass or have radically modified the adapter (introducing a new set of caveats). It and the Century Optics adapter have lived lives of usefulness that far surpassed their creator's expectations or intentions and for very practical and easy to understand reasons. Pre-existing ownership is going to be about the only rationalization left.
  23. @nahua, your night shots answer the shortsighted criticism from earlier tests regarding the flare characteristics of the SLR Magic. It flares nicely, not too-too quickly, and much nicer than the Letus. I'm stoked seeing your 50mm shots looking so good. I have to be too stopped down on the Century Optics to bother with it, generally, unless using at least a +1 CU. Were you still trying to stay around f/2.8 for these?
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