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Films shot in the Anamorphic process are instantly recognizable. They have a quality and resonance that other lenses can’t capture. Anamorphic films seem to capture an almost 3D quality onto film’s 2D medium. The process makes creative use of aberrations such as long horizontal lens flares, oval bokeh and highly curved corners that all add a sense of heightened reality.
Films are real but not necessarily reality…and the subconscious effect of Anamorphic lenses delivers an exaggerated look that is hard to replicate. This process is much more than just a wide aspect ratio..as demonstrated in The Ultimate Aspect Ratio Guide.
Films shot in the Anamorphic process include: Jaws, The Royal Tenenbaums, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard, The Parallax View and countless others. Getting your hands on Anamorphic lenses is very difficult for the low budget filmmaker…so I created my own After Effects project template that replicates the look and feel of the Anamorphic process. If you drop your footage into the timeline…you will have access to 3 options that help you achieve the magical look without resorting to additional adaptors or lenses. This workflow has been optimized for cameras that capture 16:9 footage and for lenses between 28mm to 35mm (Full frame equivalent).
The Anamorphic lens that I chose as the holy grail to emulate is the Panavision Primo 40mm Anamorphic. It was the ONLY lens used on Roman Polanski’s Chinatown and used 95% of the time on Wes Anderson’s films Rushmore and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
When editing any project, there are moments when a visual effect can be applied to help the story be told. These effects can emphasize something to make it more evident, subtly isolate a certain element or blend several assets into one shot. Sometimes these effects are added only as eye candy to add production value to a project. Ideally, you are not adding visual effects to hide mistakes or to cover up deficiencies in the story…but this has been know to happen. (Guilty as charged!)
I have been editing film and video since the age of 12. Cutting footage, crafting performances and telling stories with VCRs, Steenbecks and NLEs. In 2003, I started expanding my filmmaking skill set and began experimenting with Adobe After Effects 5.5. The first time I opened it up…I expected to see explosion buttons, lightsaber buttons and muzzle flash buttons. Unfortunately not the case at all! This was a brave new world where everything had to be created from scratch so I dove in.
I designed a one-take shot in my apartment so I could practice my non-existent After Effects skills. With a locked off DVX-100 and some amazing acting skills (!) I filmed myself and imported the Mini-DV footage into After Effects. I grabbed some free explosions and sparks from Detonation Films and started compositing.
I present to you GOOD MORNING…a 35-second VFX extravaganza from 2003 for your enjoyment!
I’m always on the lookout for tools and assets that make my film editing and post production workflow easier, quicker and more efficient. Many of them can be expensive and very specific to certain tasks…others are free and just as effective.
I’ve shared many of these in the past…but now I have compiled an updated list of all free assets on this one page. Every filmmaker can now easily harness the power of the creative and generous people that provided all these tools and assets.
There are many other free plugins/presets/templates available on the interwebz…but I wanted to share only the ones I use on a daily basis. There are 335 listed below…and I’ve tested or used every single one of them. The results you can achieve are only limited by your imagination. Dig in and enjoy!
An easy way to make your project look more ‘cinematic’ is to overlay film grain, light leaks or other film-specific attributes. They can be used to emulate film stock, create transitions or for experimental and aggressive looks. There are many expensive options you can buy to achieve these looks…but for the low budget filmmaker FREE is a fabulous price!
I’ve compiled assets from 11 companies that graciously offer their HD video files at no cost whatsoever. Even though they are free…they are high quality and when applied properly…create a convincing and authentic effect. Enjoy!