BY: BRENT BARBANO
In September of 2016, we released our very first "lens test"
which consisted mostly of spherical vintage glass. It was an experiment, it was
exhausting and it was uncharted territory for all of us. Eight sets of lenses,
one camera, a skeleton crew and one weekend. However, the results were amazing
and I've never been more proud of a team for what we accomplished back
then...well until now.
When we decided late in 2016 that we wanted to do a "test 2.0," anamorphic was all that came to mind. It was the natural progression for us. During our early meetings, we tried focusing on 4 main areas.
First was expansiveness. It was imperative that we try to get as many anamorphic lenses that are popular in today's world of digital cinematography. This included modern and accurate, vintage and old, expensive and exotic, cheap and accessible, light and compact, zooms and primes, as well as front and rear anamorphic. Though no test is perfect and we couldn't get every lens we wanted, we were able to track down 13 brands, which was very exciting for us. One thing that humbled me the most was each and every vendor that came out in support for this test. It is important to note that every set was donated to us for this test. To ask a rental house or private owner to lend us their lenses over a holiday weekend was asking a lot. Yet, every owner came through. That really speaks highly of all of our vendors who believed in what we were doing and I honestly can't thank them enough for their support.
Second was efficiency. Our last test was with one camera, which proved to be a bottleneck for our testing methods. This time around, we had 4 cameras running simultaneously for the entire weekend. During the actual shoot, once one lens was done with our "real world" test (with model), it would then progress to the focus and distortion chart station where an entirely different crew was ready and waiting to run it through the gamut. Then, it was sent to the projection room where it ran through another set of tests or what I like to call, the "diagnosis test." Once finished in the projection room, it was then given to me and another crew to shoot b-roll and beauty shots with. This shoot was a well-oiled machine and having more cameras and a system in place is how we were able to get as much done as we could in one long weekend. However, in order to tackle such a strenuous schedule, we needed more people.
Third was crew. We knew from the start that our crew had to almost triple in size. By having this many "stations" and cameras dedicated to one task, we needed a crew that would also be just as focused and dedicated (pun intended). Much like our vendors, our crew came out by the dozens. At one point, we had to turn away volunteers simply because we didn't have enough room in our space. It says a lot about the ShareGrid community and the film community in general when that many people are willing to donate their holiday weekend for a lens test. In fact, our still photographer was originally just a guest who wanted to stop by to check out the shoot. He ended up coming back the next day and took some incredible behind the scenes stills for us. In my decade of being in this industry, I don't think I've ever had someone stop by a shoot only to stay and help out for two days straight for free.
Fourth was consistency. When we decided to take on this anamorphic test, we knew we needed the same model, location, lighting setup, hair and makeup artist, even down to the background elements. That's what makes a test a successful test. Consistency and having as few of variables as possible was the goal. Luckily for us, all of these elements panned out.
I sincerely hope you learn something from both of these lens tests. Our goal
was to not only educate but to inspire. To lower the barriers built by
misinformation and lack of resources in the hopes that you feel that much more confident
in your projects moving forward. Or at the very least, you are willing to run
additional tests on your own time. To the crew and vendors who put in countless
hours and amounts of energy into this, I thank you all. To say this was an
honor for me is an understatement. Happy testing!
Director / Executive Producer
Director of Photography
A Camera 1st AC
A Camera 2nd AC
B Camera Operator
B Camera Operator
B Camera 1st AC
B Camera 2nd AC
C Camera Operator
D Camera Operator
DIT / Media Manager
Andy “Bananas” Reynolds
Post Supervisor / Editor
HAIR AND MAKEUP
Hair and Makeup Artist
LENS TECHNICIANS / CONSULTANTS
Consultant / Sponsor
Lens Projection Technician / Consultant
Lens Collimator Technician
Angenieux Optimo 44-440mm T4.5 A2S Anamorphic Zoom
CypherBlu Lighting & Grip
Co-Founder of ShareGrid
Hot Rod Cameras
Co-chair of ASC Lens Committee