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Technovision


Jon O'Brien
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Technovision - what exactly is (or was) it? I've done some looking of course but so far haven't found a clear answer. Some on the internet say it was an Italian version of 2-perf, and others say it was an anamorphic process. The reason I ask is that I'm interested in the 1982 Australian production of 'We of the Never Never', which at the end credits says filmed in the Technovision process.

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Technovision was a company originally based in Rome, but with branches in London and Paris, that converted and rented cameras and lenses for 4 perf anamorphic cinematography. It was founded by the Polish-born producer and cinematographer Henryk Chroscicki and had it's most fruitfull collaboration with Vittorio Storaro on films like Apocolypse Now and The Last Emperor.

 

Panavision acquired the French arm a few years back:

https://www.creativeplanetnetwork.com/news-features/panavision-buys-technovision-414529

 

Converting cameras really just meant adding viewfinder de-squeeze optics and a Scope (Academy centred 1.20:1) ground glass.

 

Technovision anamorphic primes usually used Cooke or Zeiss taking lenses combined with Japanese anamorphic elements and a front focussing spherical group (like Lomo round fronts and JDC Xtal Express anamorphics), which didn't require the taking lens to be focussed. Their zooms were usually Cooke 20-100 or 25-250s with an anamorphic rear adapter.

 

The 2 perf spherical widescreen process was Techniscope, famously used in many spaghetti westerns, but completely seperate to Technovision.

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Most anamorphic lenses are built from spherical lenses -- since the front cylindrical elements have to cover the front spherical elements, it helps to start with smaller spherical optics, which is one reason why Primo anamorphics are so giant, they were made from Primo spherical lens elements. JDC and Technovision were initially built around Cooke Panchro spherical elements.

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This article goes into the history of Technovision on the back of some new lenses for the full frame format.

 

https://www.fdtimes.com/2018/12/18/technovision-classic-anamorphic/

 

Some interesting things in there, that raised a smile.

 

“The optics in the projection room, compared to what I knew from my time as a photographer, looked horrifying to me. It had pincushion distortion and color fringing several millimeters wide. It seemed useless! But those lenses were used to make great movies ..."

 

“Henryk was not just a cameraman. He was a manufacturer and a skilled producer, and very tied into the industry. He convinced Vittorio Storaro to shoot anamorphic, to make it look more amazing, not so clean, more emotional ..."

 

"Henryk had a very good eye."

 

I find it interesting how lenses (and formats) can have an emotional effect on a film that goes beyond technical specifications.

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The title shot of 'We of the Never Never' is a beautiful helicopter shot over a vast Australian plain, straight ahead and catching up and flying over a horseman on a galloping horse. A shot that really shines and lifts your spirit. The Australian cinematographer Gary Hansen strapped a hardwood plank on top of the skids underneath the chopper and lay there with the camera because "he wanted the shot." They say he was set to become one of world's great cinematographers but tragically was killed just months later after finishing the shoot - sad to say while doing more helicopter work while filming a commercial. He did an amazing and wonderful job on 'We of the Never Never'. Well done Gary!

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