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16mm Anamorphic

Simon Gulergun

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Do any folks here have experience with 16mm 2x anamorphic? I'm considering it for an "upcoming" long-form music video project, about 15-20 min.

I understand that cropping will be involved if it ever hopes to be projected somewhere, I'm ok with that - I'm prioritizing the anamorphic look.

What cameras have you used? Any rental house recommendations in the LA area? What on-camera monitor did you use? Is there such a thing as an anamorphic viewfinder diopter?

What other issues did you run into and need to negotiate? Thanks!

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Another thought: are there any pros of using Super16 with anamorphic glass? Similar to how using an 8k sensor gives some freedom for reframing later on, could you shoot Super16 and have reframe options?

I'm not big on reframing, but I also wonder if there are more Super16 cameras with reliable video-tap available than reg16 ones. Plus more glass options

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I was just looking into this, but mostly out of curiosity. With an Iscorama you get a 1.4X stretch, which gives you 2.35:1 exactly. 

I think Gaspar Noe shot 4:3 2x anamorphic for one feature. 

Hawk makes 1.3X anamorphic lenses for S16 that look beautiful but are very expensive.

Others will know more than I do.

Edited by M Joel W
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16mm was never traditionally an anamorphic format, outside of amateur anamorphic setups like the Bolex anamorphot or Iscorama/projection anamorphics rigged in front of a taking lens, which tend to be a bit fiddly and impractical, especially if time efficiency is a factor. As far as I know, there were also no 16mm cameras made before the Arri 416 that had an anamorphic de-squeeze viewfinder or scope ground glasses, making framing and viewing a little haphazard. 

So you can go the DIY route if your project is more of a fun experiment, with no expectations of consistent quality or professionalism, and if you have plenty of time to faff around getting a DIY rig together. But if you want a product that is more polished, or requires sync sound, or uses a professional cast and crew, then your best option really is to rent an Arri 416 with Hawk lenses. According to their website Hawk make both 2x and 1.3x anamorphics for S16, though I don’t know how easy the 2x are to find - they make less sense for S16 because of the cropping required, (unless you want a very wide aspect ratio) and every project I know about has only used the 1.3x lenses. You could use traditional 2x 35mm anamorphics, but you will not typically find lenses wider than about 30mm (which may be enough depending on your needs).

Most 16mm anamorphic projects that actually get viewed beyond youtube are almost always shot on an Arri 416 with Hawk lenses. See for example the music vids for Lorde’s “Green Light” or Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” or features like ‘71, Low Down or Machine Gun Preacher.

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And then there is the far cheaper ultrawide non-anamorphic solution called UltraPan8. They are re-manufactured Bolex 16mm cameras with 8mm transports. Two variations.  They both utilize the full 16mm width of Regular 8mm or Double Super 8 film with an 8mm pulldown . Aspect ratios are 2.8 and 3.1 respectively. The WYSIWYG viewfinders see the full ultrawide gate. The smaller and "cropped"  Cinemascope 2.4 aspect ratio can be inscribed in the viewfinder. 

The fairly common ultrawide Angenieux 5.9mm retrofocus lens is an excellent match for the formats. I also had a PL adapter machined for my personal UP8 2.8 R8 camera. 

Many examples. We have built approximately 16 to date. 

1. UltraPan8 2.8 R8: unslit Regular 8mm - no anamorphics  - aspect ratio = 1:2.8 (wider than Cinemascope)
"Icebike" - https://vimeo.com/119718851
"mayday" - https://vimeo.com/92484795
"bikepolis" - https://vimeo.com/87991485
“my memories of her are missing - https://vimeo.com/27905787  
"At Times I Meditate Nothing" - https://vimeo.com/39417454  
"LOW “Just Make It Stop” - Chromoflex UltraPan8 - unofficial" - https://vimeo.com/84740721  
“Limitless”. Music video. Music by Rozalind MacPhail https://vimeo.com/81306448
"I Felt Your Pulse" - https://vimeo.com/42810630

2. UltraPan8 3.1 DS8: unslit Double Super 8 - no anamorphics  - aspect ratio = 1:3.1 (wider than Cinemascope)
"UltraPan8 3.1 inaugural footage" - https://vimeo.com/81306448


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Then there's the option of shooting spherical, ideally on Super 16 (there are the occasional converted Bolex's around at a good price), and making non-permanent marks on the ground glass for a wider aspect ratio. I used two pieces of tape, top and bottom, but a chinagraph pencil can be used also I heard. Then the image is later cropped digitally, or if projecting I'm guessing it should be possible to get someone to make a widescreen gate for the projector. I gave up on the idea of 16mm anamorphic. Filmmaking is difficult enough with everything you've got to do, especially if working with actors, to be fiddling around with home made anamorphic and focusing with it and so on. Unless you have incredible patience and time. If going the rental Arri 416 route with Hawk lenses apparently they can be difficult to get hold of -- at least over here.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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Thanks all, I'm speaking with Hawk Anamorphic in LA. I appreciate the other suggestions, but as I mentioned, I'm prioritizing 2x anamorphic glass, and I'm ok with cropping. I'm less interested in cropping to 2.4:1 with spherical lenses. I am interested in trying out Ultra16 sometime, however the tests I've seen online don't excite me very much.

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Concerning normal 16mm vs. Super 16, the benefits to Super 16 are small but would be worthwhile.  

The largest benefit is that Super 16mm cameras are more modern, and so will be more user friendly and compatible with modern camera accessories (wireless, etc.).  Even if a modern camera has its gate centered for N16, it probably still exposes the S16 area; the lens mount and finder are only shifted over.  Unless you need to strike prints directly from the analog elements, there's no absolute need to film in N16. 

How much room there is to re-frame the image in post depends on the lenses' image circle.  Vantage doesn't explicitly state the image circle diameter for the 2x V-lite 16 anamorphics.  Assuming full coverage, I would expect horizontal framing could be shifted a few percent before the image quality degrades at the edges of frame; my speculation is that longer focal lengths might offer more adjustment than wides.  

Another small benefit is that a 2x anamorphic extraction from the center of the S16 frame probably won't have flares/reflections off the side of the gate when a light source in frame passes out of frame.  (Though some people like this, since it's an obvious artefact that's unique to film.)  

Lastly, I wouldn't worry about anamorphic desqueeze in the viewfinder.  I've heard many camera operators prefer viewing a squeezed image in an optical viewfinder since it can be sharper (though this is certainly camera dependent), and the VF image is larger.  It's fairly easy to find a monitor that can desqueeze or scale its image for the director / clients.

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