Master Anamorphic Flare Sets
Tokyo-based postproduction facility Digital Garden was established in 1998 and is renowned for its visual effects, editing, color grading and audio mixing services. In 2015 the company opened a Digital Shooting Division, equipped with high-end cameras and lenses such as ALEXA and Master Anamorphics, enabling it to provide a full workflow from shooting to finishing.
In order to demonstrate the creative possibilities of its Master Anamorphic Flare Sets, which were the first to arrive in Japan, Digital Garden recently produced a showreel. The flare sets, available for all nine Master Anamorphic focal lengths, comprise easily replaceable front and rear glass elements that can be used individually or in combination to provide additional looks. Cinematographer Takehiko Fukae, working with director Shinichi Takamura and DIT Tatsuo Sasaki, combined the Master Anamorphics with ALEXA XT and ALEXA Mini cameras on the shoot, and here shares his thoughts about the looks they achieved.
Tokyo-based production and shooting support company Digital Garden recently produced a showreel to demonstrate the creative possibilities of its Master Anamorphic Flare Sets, which were the first to arrive in Japan. Cinematographer Takehiko Fukae, working with director Shinichi Takamura and DIT Tatsuo Sasaki, combined the Master Anamorphics with ALEXA XT and ALEXA Mini cameras.
What location and lighting setup did you use to showcase the flare sets?
We shot the clips at a real store that we decorated specially for the shoot. For day scenes we used a 4 kW ARRISUN illuminating the room from outside a window as our key light and two sets of LED panels as fill light; natural light was also coming in and there were various practical fixtures. I didn't use any additional lights on the set purely to create flare, but the flare sets provided very beautiful and natural effects without complicating the lighting setup; this made everything easier and offered great flexibility. For night shots I just used a practical lamp in the store and for our exterior shots on an intersection I used only natural light.
How would you describe the goal of your shoot?
We wanted to demonstrate how much flare, ghosting and veiling glare are generated by the front and rear elements of the Master Anamorphic Flare Sets, and to explore how well they can be used to capture moments that feel alive and real. As well as experimenting with the flaring characteristics, we also checked that the gradation of dark and bright parts within the image was properly expressed. In the showreel you can see different effects depending on different iris settings.
What kinds of looks do the flare sets create?
ARRI's Master Anamorphic lenses provide great sharpness and contrast, and these remain even when you use the flare sets; you also retain the amazing lack of distortion, breathing and vignetting. What the flare sets add is a slightly softer gradation and a more intense feeling for the atmosphere of a place, as well as beautiful veiling glare, especially when using the rear element.
I am not fond of lenses that lighten the blacks and prevent them from being dark enough, but with the flare sets shadow areas still looked really good; they just brought a very pleasing softness to the image, with wonderful out-of-focus backgrounds and highlights, and of course the flares were amazing, they were just beautiful.
What productions can you imagine the flare sets being used on?
I think the flare sets are ideal for commercials, especially for glamor products like cosmetics. The overall tone will be soft and you can make good use of their nice bokeh. The flare sets are also very interesting to use for night scenes, to create a visually appealing, non-ordinary world. I think they will appeal to cinematographers because they enhance creativity, but are very easy to use.
What did you find most exciting about working with the flare sets?
I love that the flare sets give you the choice of three different looks because of the different combinations of elements: front and rear, just front or just rear. I found that we kept discovering exciting images that we hadn't originally planned, sometimes by just moving the camera or our model a little bit, which made for a very creative atmosphere on set. We also just enjoyed playing with the unique features of anamorphic lenses, like oval bokeh and a film-like look, which create more perspective and a realistic sensation.