Anamorphic Course by CineSaga Ltd

Anamorphic Course

How To Build a Set of Anamorphic Lenses
Buy now for a limited Pre-sale discount.
Introductory pricing ends Sunday, December 6th, 2020

Premieres Monday 23rd November 2020

By the end of this course, you'll have all the knowledge you need to build your own set of anamorphic lenses, and you'll still have both kidneys! Watch this 60 second intro video to find out how it works. The key is old anamorphic cinema projection lenses...

Analog CinemaScope Technology, Reborn for the Digital Era

In summary, we are breathing new life into anamorphic cinema lenses that once had light shine through them from the projector lamp onto the silver screen, de-squeezing the anamorphic filmed image for proper display. With the passage of light reversed, these same lenses now take light from the world, and focus it onto your camera sensor, whilst optically squeezing the image horizontally: the Cinemascope process!

Why Anamorphic?

What vinyl is to music, and what 35mm film is to digital cameras, the anamorphic lens is to cinema.
If you ask any DP why they choose to shoot anamorphic, you'll get a host of answers:

  • The anamorphic lens sees more like the human eye does. 
  • The bokeh is more painterly. 
  • The image is organic, flawed, textured.
  • The 'scope' aspect ratio allows a more immersive and expansive image.
  • Lens flares are awesome. 
And all of these things are true. The Anamorphic lens, first screened to the world in 1953 with the film The Robe, reinvented cinema as we know it. The image had expanded to twice its width,  and our global passion for the cinemascope process was ignited.

Using anamorphic lenses today preserves the defining DNA of the original widescreen cinematic experience. By shooting anamorphic, you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best looking images ever photographed. Whether you know it or not, some of your favourite films have likely been shot with anamorphic lenses. I truly believe that shooting anamorphic is like being given a set of new keys to the best car you've ever driven.

Your lighting is good, your framing works, you're cropping to 2.39, the costumes and sets look great, the actors are nailing it, but that indescribable cinematic quality that you haven't yet been able to recreate? It may well be that the final missing piece of your puzzle is the anamorphic lens. It was for me!

Is The Glass Any Good?

Hell yeah! Projection lenses by Schneider received the Oscars' Technical Achievement Award in 1976, 1978, 1989, 2000, 2001 and 2005. If you think about it, a studio isn’t going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars making a film, only to have the most important part of the experience, the projection of all that hard work in a cinema, be out of focus! There has always been a focus on the lenses used on set, but the last lens that’s ever used on a film is the one that your cinema projects it with. Even today, a digital projector needs a lens to shine the image onto the screen, so you can see it, and that lens better be good! p.s. All of the screenshots on this page are from my own work, shot on the anamorphic lenses I've personally built, that I'll be teaching you to build inside this course.

The Projection Lens Marketplace

With the demise of film being projected on actual… film, a whole market opened up for these now unwanted, and frankly beautiful optics. And there were HUNDREDS of types made, by all sorts of companies, from when Cinemascope began in the 1950s right up until the last ever anamorphic projection lenses manufactured in the mid-2000s. There’s a whole range of shapes and sizes to them, and by now I’ve tried a lot of them. I’m going to share my favourites with you, and crucially I want you to get to understand why some work better than others for our uses. I'll walk you through all your options from 2x, 1.75x, 1.5x, 1.33x squeeze and more, and talk about which lenses I personally recommend for which scenarios, and why.

Seen On The Biggest Ad Screen In Europe

Our community have used anamorphic projection lenses to shoot high end commercials, music videos and narrative for a host of clients. Here on the bottom left of this image is a job I shot for Twitter that played on the big screens in Piccadilly Circus in London. They are the largest advertising screens in Europe, so I was a bit nervous, but the glass more than holds up; it looks beautiful. 

Why Do You Need This Course?

I believe that shooting with anamorphic lenses will help your work stand out, elevating the look of any project you're working on. Give yourself and your reel an edge by making a real difference to the images you create, with an optical process that can't be faked or added in post.

Not only that, it'll reignite your passion and love for shooting as you re-discover the world through a fresh set of eyes, and I hope it will bring you an immense amount of joy and awe; it does for me, every time I go out shooting with my anamorphic lenses.

But there are a lot of hurdles to overcome when you’re putting together a set of anamorphic lenses.

If one of these things goes wrong; say your lens isn't perfectly tuned to infinity for example, the whole image will be slightly out of focus, and your client won’t be calling you again.

I don't want that to happen to you!

In this course, I’ll walk you through all the parts you'll need to build a fully working set of anamorphic lenses, all using parts available online. I'll show you how to put your rig together so it doesn't fall apart on set, and I'll also take you through the exact prep process I go through before every shoot. When the client wants to shoot in 6K, you better have all the parts aligned correctly!

From Projection Lens to Fully Rigged

In this video course, I'm not just teaching you about the glass, but I'm proud to be sharing all my rigging secrets with you, too. I can change a lens as fast as if it were a spherical lens, and I'm excited to show you how.

What About Lens Flares?

'Nuff Said.

What's In The Course?

Here are some things we’ll be covering. Maybe you’ve already been at this a while and you’ve got a setup that you’re kind of happy with? Have a look below and see whether these topics would help bring extra clarity to your process and efficiency to your workflow.

(If you’re brand new to all this, a lot of these names and terms might not make sense yet, but they will!)

  • What is a taking lens (hint: it just means a spherical lens!)
  • How to select the right clamps for your lenses and who sells the best ones
  • Why you won't have to double focus these lenses
  • How to get smooth oval bokeh that isn’t hexagonal
  • A direct comparison between a Kowa Bell and Howell and a Kowa 16H; is the B&H actually better or is it just hype?
  • The method I use to perfectly tune my lenses to infinity before a shoot
  • Which 2x projection lens actually goes the widest? (it’s not the Kowa B&H; it’s not even a Kowa! Sshhh…)
  • A breakdown and visual comparison between the HCDNA, Rapido 35A, 16A, 16B 8A and Proto DNA single focus solutions: all the information you need to decide which one to go for
  • How to use a matte box with these lenses; what your options are and the pros and cons of each
  • Why I don't personally use Iscorama lenses
  • What’s the difference between all these anamorphic projection lenses anyway? Test results from Kowa, Hypergonar, Elmoscope, Isco, Schneider, Zeiss etc.
  • Why our lenses offer you much better visual quality and more flexibility than a Sirui Anamorphic or a Moment Anamorphic lens
  • Myth-busting 'focus through' as a made-up term
  • Which close up diopters are the best for anamorphic work; and are the cheap ones any good?
  • The best way to desqueeze your footage in post (lots of heartbreakingly bad advice on this; we’ll do a pixel deep dive and I’ll show you, visually, which method retains the best quality)
  • The minimum resolution you need in any camera for anamorphic work
  • How to decide whether you need a 2x, 1.75x, 1.5x or 1.33x lens
  • Why you mostly don’t need an ‘anamorphic mode’ on your camera to shoot anamorphic
  • The difference between Micro 4/3, Super 35 and Full Frame cameras when shooting anamorphic, and how to adapt your setup to any camera or sensor in the world!
  • What you need in a monitor for anamorphic shooting and which monitors I use for my work
  • How to reduce vignette on your setup and maximise your scope’s field of view
  • The system I use to change focal lengths in under 60 seconds on set

And much, much more..!

Sounds Too Good To Be True. What's The Catch?

Have you seen this before? I love this conundrum. You only get to pick two.  A set of premium cinema lenses are fast, and good, but they are definitely not cheap.

We need it to look good right? And we need it to be cheap, or we'd just buy cinema lenses. So you guessed it, it's going to take some time, some affection, and some patience to put this all together. Like a Meccano set, but way more fun.

Are We Making A Normal, PL Mount Anamorphic Lens?

In short, no, we are not. The final build of your lenses won't handle like a Lomo, Kowa or Atlas anamorphic lens, say, where you mount the lens in the camera's PL mount and you're done. These lenses are for you and your work primarily, and they aren't a fully machined solution and you won't be able to rent them out.

Think of it like the Sigma Cine lenses. It's the exact same glass as the stills lenses, but they're 6x the price. For some people the more robust build quality is worth the price hike, and for some it's not. If you're a rental house or a feature film DP, I don't think my course is for you. If you're an owner/ operator DP, director, you shoot music videos; short films, weddings or even if you don't get paid to make films but you just want a kickass look that massively hikes your production value - this is for you.

So, yes, you'll have a solid and reliable setup, but these lenses aren't built like a single cine lens.

The good news is though, that you're going to be able to add a focal length to your set for as little as £50, instead of $9,000 per focal length (at a minimum). Now, those are rental-grade anamorphics and absolutely worth the money; they are the cheapest, fully built out anamorphic lenses going. But there's a huge gap between a new focal length costing you £50, and costing you £7,500, and that's what this course fills!

Additionally, you can mount them on any camera in the world, with the right choice of spherical lenses: EF Mount, Micro 4/3, Sony E mount, Fuji X mount, Panasonic L mount and so on. And in that sense, this setup is way more flexible than a regular PL mount lens, where the cameras you can use are limited.

For that, you'd need a metal workshop and a degree in engineering. But don't let that restrict you; the modular nature of this system is in my opinion the best part about the whole experience. I'll talk more about that below.

What we're doing will never replace a beautifully machined lens like a Cineovision, Cooke or Hawk anamorphic. Our lenses are a completely different ethos, market segment and build quality. If you get the opportunity to shoot with those lenses you should leap at it, but my hope with this course is that more filmmakers fall in love with anamorphic and that I can help to further reduce the price barrier to entry, so that when the time comes and the project is right, you'll be comfortable renting from the big players; and in the meantime, your reel will step up to the next level.

What's The Difference?

Monobuild Anamorphic Lens

  • Setup Costs : £0
  • Cost Per Focal Length : £7,500 +
  • Visual Quality: BEAUTIFUL!
  • Build : RENTAL HOUSE READY
  • 0.8 Pitch Follow Focus Gears: YES
  • Accurate Witness Markings in Feet: YES
  • Matte Box Capable: YES
  • Flares: MANUFACTURER DECIDED
  • Wide Angle Capable: YES
  • Mounting: PL, EF

Your Anamorphic Lens

  • Setup Costs : £1,500
  • Cost Per Focal Length : £50 +
  • Visual Quality: BEAUTIFUL!
  • Build : PERSONAL USE ONLY
  • 0.8 Pitch Follow Focus Gears: YES
  • Accurate Witness Markings in Feet: NO
  • Matte Box Capable: YES
  • Flares: USER CHANGEABLE
  • Wide Angle Capable: LIMITED
  • Mounting: PL, EF, Leica M, Leica L, Fuji X, Sony E, Canon RF, Nikon, Micro 4/3 ...

How do Monobuild Cine Lenses Work Then?

There are a few types of anamorphic lens. For our purposes, we're building a set using a front variable diopter design. This is how Lomo Roundfronts, Atlas Orion, Technovision and Cooke Xtal Express all work, if you've heard of any of those.

Panavision have their own focus system, Kowas work another way, Todd AO had their way of doing things and the new Cooke anamorphics are different too. Those are all more complicated focusing systems than ours. Thankfully, our solution is elegant and simple.

The look of Lomo Roundfront anamorphics is a classic, organic look and they are still some of my favourite lenses to this day. Atlas, too has reached great success with their lenses; so we're in good company.

Our Lens Works The Same Way A Lomo Anamorphic Does

The variable diopter sits at the front of the optical chain. These are the key to the whole system, and the part that makes our lenses, and Lomo lenses, work.

Who Makes The Single Focus Solutions?

It wasn't until companies started making and selling variable diopters that we could finally focus with one lens at the front instead of double focusing both lenses, and the world of wallet-friendly anamorphic shooting suddenly opened right up.

In this course I'll be looking at solutions from Rectilux in the UK, starting with their HCDNA, or Hardcore DNA variable diopter (hey, I didn’t name it) and their smaller Proto DNA. We'll also be looking at a second company, Rapido in the USA, and their 16A, 16B, 35A and 8A.

Between  Rectilux and Rapido there are 6 potential choices you could make. I’ll be comparing them all in detail in the course, helping you decide which one is right for you.

There are some other companies offering focuser glass out there, like the SLR Magic Rangefinder or the Focuser 8 by Aivascope, but they won’t be included in the course. I'll touch on that more within the course itself.

Rectilux Vs. Rapido

What Colour Are The Flares?

You can have blue flares by day and orange flares for sunset. Our system is modular, so you simply swap out the projection lens to another one that you own with a different flare profile.

The only way to change the flare colour with fully built out anamorphic lenses is to buy an entirely new set of lenses. And that colour will be dictated by the manufacturer, so what they choose, you get. And another set will cost you between £60K-£200K. We can change the colour of the flares in our set for a few hundred pounds.

We're also somewhat at the mercy of the projection lens manufacturers, but colours like blue and orange are more common, and there are pinks, purples, yellow and green flaring lenses out there. I'll talk more about which lenses offer which colours inside the course.


A World Of Infinite Visual Combinations

Have you ever wondered what a set of anamorphic lenses made entirely from Canon FD glass would look like? Well, now you can.

Or what about those beautiful portraits you shoot of the family on your 75mm Zeiss Biotar; what would that look like if it was somehow made anamorphic? Now you can.

What if you could make a set of anamorphic lenses from all your favourite vintage stills lenses, cherry-picking from over 100 years of beautiful, high performing and affordable optics, turning each and every lens you love into an anamorphic lens, and still being able to use them for stills whenever you want?

Now you can, and you will.

Canon FD, Nikon, Zeiss, Meyer-Optik, Takumar, Leica, Lomo even! You can make anamorphic just about any affordable manual focus prime lens out there. The world's your oyster, and I can't wait to see what combinations you'll come up with!

My 'aha' moment

If you had told me in 2013 after I shot my first project on rented anamorphic lenses that I would one day own my own set, I would not have believed you; or maybe I would have been sad that one day I’d rob a bank.

If you’ve shot with anamorphic lenses, you might remember how it felt that first time, using optics that define the widescreen cinematic experience, breathing new life into your work. And if you haven’t had that moment of no-return yet, you will!

Why Am I Making This Course?

I want you to own a set of anamorphic lenses, for life. I don't want you to have to wait for the right budget to come along. I want your short films, your music videos, your weddings, your mate's birthday to look beautiful. I want you to gain a deeper insight into how lenses work and an understanding of how to customise the tools to suit your taste. This course may well be the most you've ever thought about lenses in your life, but these insights will be a gift that last you your lifetime.

I trained on British feature films like Johnny English 2, Nanny McPhee 2, St. Trinians 2 (sequels were my thing) and The Boat That Rocked. I learned from the best DPs, focus pullers and camera assistants working in the UK. I have built this course with their exacting standards always present in my mind. I can change a focal length as quickly, with my lenses, as you can with a cine lens. Until I reached that moment, I wasn't ready to share this course with you. Now I am.

So Who Am I?

I'm a writer, director and cinematographer from London, England. I've shot and directed hundreds of films; music videos, short films, commercials.

I'm a proud nerd, passionate tinkerer and relentless perfectionist. I'm extremely content, sat in the back corner of a wood-panelled pub with a cold beer in my hand, talking about filmmaking. I've spent 7 years shooting with anamorphic lenses and the last 3 of those have been with lenses I own. I still have both kidneys.

Private Discord Group Membership

Once you're signed up, you will receive an invitation to join a private Discord group for course members. This will be a safe space to discuss your favourite scopes, current rigging solutions, to buy and sell lenses from each other, troubleshoot any issues you're having and to ask me any questions you like!

FAQs

Are these real or fake anamorphic lenses?

These are 100% real anamorphic lenses. There are no oval inserts, fishing wire or streak filters in this course; just good old fashioned, beautifully imperfect anamorphic glass.

Do I have to learn how to polish glass now?

Absolutely not! You're building a set of anamorphic lenses using old 8mm, 16mm or 35mm 'cinemascope' projection lenses. All the parts needed to build your set of lenses can be bought online from eBay and other sellers creating solutions for anamorphic shooters.

How long do I have access to the videos?

It's lifetime access! And as I continue to discover new products and solutions for homemade anamorphic shooting, I'll update the course with new videos.

My camera doesn't have an 'anamorphic mode'. Will this work?

If you have a monitor that can desqueeze an anamorphic image, you don't need an 'anamorphic mode.' If your camera records UHD/ 4K or more pixels, you don't need an 'anamorphic mode.' Remember, shooting with anamorphic lenses is a purely optical process. Some cameras are friendlier to it, some aren't, but you can shoot with anamorphic lenses on any camera in the world. Promise!

Who is this course for?

If you're new to all this, I've just saved you a couple of years of headaches, and a lot of money in trial and error. But even if you've been at this a while, this course is packed full of tips and insights about optics, rigging, maximising flares, oval bokeh and so on.

How long is it going to take before I'm up and running?

I'd say a month or two. As you'll be buying parts from all over the world, we need to factor in shipping time and experimenting with it all before you're comfortable enough to charge these lenses out to a client and use them on a job.

Can't I find this stuff out for free?

In short, no. This video course represents 3 years of my time in scouring the internet, Facebook and youtube for information, talking with other shooters about their solutions, building and perfecting my own rig, tweaking my rig based on lessons learned after every job, and constantly ironing out the creases. This course is the fastest solution to get you out of the workshop and into the real world; shooting with a set of anamorphic lenses that you own! Additionally, no one else has put all this information in one single place and laid it out in easy to follow videos with beautifully illustrated animations that clarify key concepts along the way.

What the devil is a 'Taking Lens?' Taken? Take In Lens?!

Like, it takes in light? Doesn’t every lens do that?! Well, yes. So for our uses, it just means… a lens that’s spherical and not the anamorphic bit. Like your favourite Nikon 50mm prime, or any other stills lens on earth! Done. *hunts down the person who invented the term.*

I've read this page and watched the trailer video, but I still have a question before I dive in, can I email you?

Sure! I'm happy to clarify anything. Drop me a line at support@CineSaga.com with the subject line 'Ana Course Question' and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. I'm sometimes on set shooting, so give me a day or two, please.

Is payment secure?

Absolutely. Credit cards are processed using Stripe, who use 256-bit encryption and SSL, who you've probably used many times already on the internet. You can also checkout using Paypal, who you probably know too!

How much will all the parts cost?

Somewhere between £1,500 and £2,500 is a safe bet, depending on how complex your rigging, and the taking lenses you choose. That's still a quarter of the cost of the cheapest single PL mount anamorphic lens on the market right now, and for that money you will own an entire set!

What if I’m unhappy with the course?

If you decide you don't like the contents of this course within the first 30 days, I'll refund you your money back. No questions asked, just drop me an email and you'll get your money back.