These Lenses CHANGED ME as a Filmmaker

These Lenses CHANGED ME as a Filmmaker

JuneZZ |

Sometimes I like to make things more dramatic than they actually are. Hopefully you enjoyed that random hollywood type of intro. The story began three months ago when Sirui reached out to us and asked if we wanted to make a short film using their new 35mm and 100mm full-frame anamorphic lenses. And obviously, I said yes. We didn't want to make that typical type of video where we take the camera and the lens in a forest and film boring walking running and looking around like an idiot type of shots. We wanted to push the absolute limits of these lenses, hence why we decided to make a narrative-based short film with an abstract story and elements in it. It was time to push my filmmaking skills to the next level.

First Impressions

Let me tell you a little bit more about this project and the lenses, because these two full-frame anamorphic lenses from Sirui, as well as how they changed me as a filmmaker, are definitely something I want to tell you about. These lenses are fantastic, even though there are two issues I've noticed about the lenses that I didn't really like. For example, the infinity focus isn't on the infinity, it's just like a millimeter off of it and I kind of wish the focusing ring was a bit tighter. But other than that, these lenses yield phenomenal results.

The first day of shooting this project was in the sea and we got extremely lucky with the weather: it wasn't windy, and the clouds looked beautiful that day. I was quite nervous because I hadn't properly tested out my new handheld rig, nor had I shot with these lenses before the shoot. But the moment I started capturing my first shot of the day, I was blown away by the results.

The image was just so juicy and it was sharp, but at the same time, very soft. The skin tones looked pleasant, and what made this experience even better was the fact that I was FINALLY able to see how the final result would already look like in the post-production ON SET thanks to the Ninja V! Nice!

I started framing my shots in differently, exposing them in ways I hadn't done before. I even did camera moves that I previously thought I would never do. That was a pretty fantastic feeling, something I hadn't felt for a long time, and it ignited a spark within me. I was so excited about the shots I was getting that I felt like a freshly oiled machine ready to rock and roll.

Instead of running around like a madman trying to get all the possible shots as I used to before in my run-and-gun type of projects, I started focusing more on how I could improve my shots without oftentimes completely scratching my idea. In other words, I felt more fixated and determined about my plan. 

Sirui also sent us an adapter that you can screw onto the end of the lens and get a 2x look instead of the 1.6x you originally get from the full-frame anamorphic lenses. I couldn't test it out properly since the adapter arrived after I had basically shot everything, but here are some dope shots I could get with the adapter.

Second Day

The second day was going to be the toughest one because we only had 15 smoke bombs to work with and each one lasted only about a minute. This meant that pretty much every shot needed to count and there wasn't too much room for experimenting. But again, after I set up my rig, and turned on the Ninja V and my Sony Alpha 7S III, all worries were gone because the image I saw blew my brains out once again. This is where I decided that I will only be using a gimbal for the last location, and for the rest of the project I'll be using my tripod and just go handheld most of the time, which was now I know the best decision I could have ever made. Shooting handheld is a form of art on its own because it feels like you are in full control over your camera movement and don't always have to carry around a heavy load.

I was just getting banger shots after banger shots. I did plan out the scene to end in a completely different way, but the light’s been changing a lot and we’ve been running out of smoke bombs, I had to come up with new ways to edit the scene. I can't say that I'm very happy about how it turned out, but I guess it's better than I expected, so that's always good.

You’ve probably already seen this in the final video, but did you see me in the corner of this mirror? I couldn't shorten the scene because I wanted it to drag on for a bit. I did have another close-up shot of the mirror, but we had already thrown the crystal ball once, so there were two holes instead of one. It was impossible to cut between the shots in a matching way so that sucks. This mirror costs me a hundred dollars for a single shot and it didn't even work out.

Third Day

Day three was the most chaotic because we decided to shoot two scenes in a single day. We had found this awesome abandoned church in the middle of nowhere and we were already setting up, but then out of nowhere the priest came to the church while Annie was looking like a haunted ghost girl about to do a ritual in the church... long story short, we got kicked out and the priest said that we were going to hell. Luckily, after a quick Google search, we found another abandoned building - this time not a church - and started filming.

I was quite worried about the lack of natural light, but the lens made everything look so cinematic. My favorite shots were at these large windows. Previously I enjoyed filming with a 35mm more, but after getting these shots I started regretting not getting more shots with the 100mm in the previous days. What I appreciate about these lenses is that the blue flares are minimalistic. Those who film a lot of anamorphic will know how it feels when you get an unexpected little flare out of nowhere in your shot. You just start fangirling over it.

Last but not least, is the flower girl scene. I wanted to visit this wannabe Stonehenge location for a while now, the location was dope! The shots I needed to get there were simple, but once again we were blessed with the most beautiful lighting, and the ending shot I got was my favorite one of the whole project.

Overall, as I said, we don't really make reviews anymore, but I had such a blast filming with these two lenses that I just wanted to share my experience using them with you. I've spent the last year or so working extremely hard finding new ways to advance in my craft and to make the filmmaking process itself more fun, and I’m happy to say that I think that I have done it within the last four months. This project showed me that there is so much more to try out and I’m more motivated than ever due to these experiences.

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