May 2003 - Widescreen FIlming
Note: Fred and I have used cine equipment
to make home movies for years. However, we have never done much with
sound (Fred has dabbled a little) and we have never done anything
with widescreen. Therefore the information here is strictly theoretical
and not verified by experience.
To make widescreen films, you require
an anamorphic lens. This "squeezes" the image on the film.
If projected with a normal lens, the image can be seen to be distorted.
Usually, the same lens is used for both the camera and projector.
It is - of course - possible to have two matching lenses for camera
and projector but for most people this is too costly.
Choose your camera carefully. In fact,
it is not altogether a bad idea to find a lens first, as anamorphic
lenses are much harder to find than cameras to go with them, and then
find the camera. Although it is possible to fix the anamorphic lens
onto the camera lens, it is not desirable. The anamorphic lens has
to be used in the correct alignment. Focusing the camera lens will
change the alignment of the anamorphic lens, if it is mounted directly
onto the camera lens, which will mean adjusting the anamorphic lens.
It is much easier to mount the lens on a special bracket in front
of the camera lens.
When using an anamorphic
lens, there will be some light loss. If you have a camera with t.t.l.
metering, this will not matter. If you have to set the exposure yourself,
you may need to experiment. Typically the light loss is between a
quarter and a half-stop.
Life is easiest if you choose a camera
with a prime lens with no focusing, and a t.t.l. meter. To avoid a
high risk of vignetting, your lens should have a rear element that
is the same size, or slightly larger, then the front element of the
If you are using the lens with a camera
that has a zoom lens you need to be aware of the minimum focal length
available to you. This may not seem very wide - typically it is about
15mm. - 25 mm. - but with a 2x anamorphic lens this will effectively
be 7.5 mm. - 12.5 mm. If you try to use wider focal lengths, you will
get vignetting on the film.
If your camera does not have a fixed focus
lens, you will need to work out the best focusing arrangement. Some
cameras should be set to infinity and you then focus using the anamorphic
lens. In other cases, both the camera lens and the anamorphic lens
have to be set to the correct distance.
You need to get a projector with good
light output. Quartz-Halogen lamps are good. Anything with a lamp
of 150 w. should also be okay.
Make sure the projection lens is of good
quality and that it will not remove too much light. f/1.0 is quite
a lot better than f/1.9 in this respect.
I've tried not to be negative about widescreen
but you should be aware - if you haven't already worked it out - that
I think it is a lot of hassle for little reward. I am not sure that
even the finest grain film can handle as much detail as is required
to get a really good result.
Top of Page