When Andres and Alfredo Valles and Pedro Povill invited me to visit them in Barcelona, I jumped. Barcelona is one of the great cities on earth for architecture, daring cuisine, and a bold new journey by Servicevision into anamorphic lens manufacturing.
The pundits were prognosticating that it couldn’t be done: designed by lady, made in Spain, by a bunch of guys who hadn’t done lenses before.
They were wrong on all three points, as I quickly learned a couple of days ago. Andres Valles was a cameraman. His brother Alfredo Valles was an engineer who became a cameraman. They were both born in November, hence the Scorpio name. They were always obsessed with lenses, genius technical, and founded Servicevsion 20+ years ago to build lenses. The first ones were SVS Macros, distributed by Optex.
As for the made in Spain part, Servicevision is the largest rental house in Spain. They also build Scorpio cranes and stabilized remote heads in a modern, high-tech facility that’s almost as big as ARRI. A couple of miles from Barcelona airport, they have massive and sophisticated CNC machines used in the aerospace industry, with a highly skilled workforce. They have studios, cameras, lights, cranes, trucks, grip, and lots of lenses.
Cristina Alcaide is the talented physicist, optical engineer and lens designer. The design is sophisticated, elegant, and practical.
The mechanical parts are machined in-house on the same CNC machines that mill Scorpio remote head parts to tolerances of less than 5 microns. But the biggest surprise was the new anamorphic lens assembly area: a very large class 10 clean room that rivals any established facilities. Many of the highly skilled staff are optical and mechanical engineers. I’ll do a more in-depth article shortly. In the meantime, the pictures below show a serious project done by a dedicated group of passionate filmmakers.
Oh, and the cylinders are not adapters in the back. They are spread out, some are in front of the iris, and the bokehs are beautiful. Not as oval as some, but that’s why they make many flavors of ice cream: here’s a uniquely different choice in a light, small, close-focusing set. Servicevision is now assembling the rest of the working prototypes. Production is planned for the beginning of 2014, with hopefully full sets ready by NAB 2014.
The turtle race of new Anamorphic Lenses rounded the 3-or-fewer prototype mark at IBC. The finish line golden goalpost is next NAB. But it’s not really a competition. It’s a good thing for all. Angénieux, ARRI/ZEISS, Cooke, and Servicevision Scorpio anamorphic lenses are each as different as the current lines of Hawks and Panavisions — each providing cinematographers many choices of styles and looks.
To be continued.