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Panavision's discovery for The World's End (Sept. ACM)

Sean Cunningham

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All of Edgar Wright's films have had impressive or, at the very least, quite pleasing and slick cinematography and his most recent installment to his and Simon Pegg's "Cornetto Trilogy", The World's End, is no exception.  There's a great feature article covering the style and technical approach to the film in the September issue of American Cinematographer Magazine (http://www.theasc.com/ac_magazine/September2013/current.php).


When it got to the lens selection for the anamorphic portions of the film (once the scifi madness kicks in) I wasn't at all surprised that Wright and his DP went for a classic sampling that included C-Series lenses for their greater character versus new cinema anamorphics.  Wright likes to shine lights into the lens as much as anyone here (and he does it so much better than JJ Abrams).  Coincidentally, Panavision made a discovery at their Woodland Hills location, a B-Series that Panavision had failed to catalog and been long forgotten. 



Their glass elements were marred with fungus, and their mechanisms had seized with disuse, but Sasaki was able to force the movements on two primes and a 45- 95mm (T4) zoom lens and shoot some tests with an Arri Alexa. When Pope saw the results, he was astonished. “The coatings are so old the flares are boda- cious,” he recalls. “Each lens has its own unique aberrations and flare color. The edges of the frame are nicely out of focus.”


Sasaki deconstructed several sets of B Series and used the cleanest elements to create a new set of primes: 35mm (T2.5), 40mm (T2.8), 50mm (T2.5), 75mm (T2.8) and 100mm (T2.8). He also provided Pope with a 55mm B Series Macro and an entirely new 28mm B Series lens.



Given the way a lot of discussions go around here over this anamorphic or that anamorphic, I had to smile when I read the part where this DP praises aberration and soft edges.  





For the show’s spherical work, Pope chose Primo T1.9 and Zeiss Distagon T1.3 primes, a 4:1 (17.5- 75mm) T2.3 Primo Zoom and a 12:1 Angenieux Optimo 24-290mm T2.8 zoom. Because of speed differences among all the lenses, he shot most of World’s End at T2.8, occasionally stop- ping down to T4. “T2.8 is usually my target stop, because I want to control where the viewer’s eye goes without killing the camera assistants,” he says. “When you’re working fast, too many mistakes happen at T1.4.”




...and I always like when they go into this sort of detail, about working or target stops used on a film.  Anyway, it's a nicely detailed story about a contemporary anamorphic film that's worth grabbing an issue for.  


Only God Forgives is likewise covered in this issue, and though it's not anamorphic it is, very surprisingly, a mostly practicals show with very few cinema lights used.  Having seen the film it's almost too hard to believe the information in the article. 

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