The sight of so many Maglites shining down the barrels of the latest anamorphic lenses at NAB sent shivers down the spine and flashes of dollar signs in the eyes. Surely there’s more to the anamorphic look than oval out-of-focus highlights and thin blue lines. And how often do we shoot a scene with a Maglite two inches from the front element anyway? The anamorphic look is more than wide-screen 2.40:1 splendor–it’s an almost magical combination of two focal lengths, a pleasing cosmetic silky smooth texture in portraits and gentle fall-off of background. It’s better than 3D: no glasses, and a wonderful spatial juxtaposition of a horizontal angle of view that’s twice the vertical. There are more things in heaven and earth than oval bokehs, and the question of whether a lens is a front, middle or rear cylindered anamorphic is way less significant than what the image really looks like. Forget about agonizing whether Cooke front will match Angenieux rear, ARRI/ZEISS front to middle, Scorpio middle to rear, or Hawk front — anamorphics have always been made many different ways, and have always been mixed. As a famous lens designer said, “Oval bokehs are there to tell the 1 or 2 cinematographers in the audience which lens was used…but for everyone else, the anamorphic experience is much more than that.”
And now a word from Fauer’s Fake Anamorphic Bokeh Company.
This is a satirical announcement — disclaimer necessary because many dear readers sometimes take our pronouncements seriously.
Eureka! Oval pseudo anamorphic bokeh kits: Trace the oval pattern above on a piece of 216 diffusion. Clip it onto the front of your light. Aim the light at camera. Voila. Instant anamorphic oval bokehs. Need more out-of-focusness? Shine the light into a large mirror aimed at the camera.
Got headlights? Not problem. A roll of black paper tape will do the trick. Shape the round headlight into an oval.
Candles are easy: they’re already oval.
Blue streaks? Most of the major filter manufacturers have streaky filters for you. But if your budget has been blown, unroll your own with some mono-filament fishing line stretched in front of the lens.
Props: eggs instead of baseballs.