Customizing an Anamorphic Look with Smoque® Filters

 June 27, 2022

Panavision Ultra Gold High Speed Anamorphic 40mm | Black Pearlescent 1/4 | Black Diffusion FX 1 | Smoque 1 | Diopter +2

Out of the UK: Jack Edwards, Cinematographer
Customizing an Anamorphic Look with Smoque® Filters

For his stunning short, "Whiteboy" cinematographer Jack Edwards discusses his out-of-the-box use of filters with anamorphic lenses.

"Experimenting and trying weird things is what makes cinematography really interesting to me. For Whiteboy we chose to shoot anamorphic, but were still looking for a slightly more mature look for the film. When given the option to shoot with the Panavision Primo anamorphics, it felt like the ideal lens choice as they’re super sharp, contrasty and clean, whilst retaining the out of focus distortion that is synonymous with anamorphic. Having a nice, clean starting point with the lens allowed me to craft a unique image through filtration. Using Tiffen’s wide selection of filters gave me the option of detuning the lenses offering a level of customization that doesn’t involve decoating the glass itself, and with such a wide variety of choices provided by Tiffen, I could really hone it to something that suited the film. 

Whiteboy is set in the Philippines but due to the Covid19 pandemic we were unable to travel abroad. We had to figure out a way of recreating the hot and humid tropical climate. I tested a variety of filters, however the filter that seemed most effective was the Smoque®. I knew they were intended to be used to replace the use of smoke in locations or spaces that smoke wasn’t an option. I was initially skeptical about how effective they could be. I was completely wrong. In testing, I was blown away by how accurately they affected the way light entered the lens. 

Panavision E-Series Anamorphic 35mm | Black Pearlescent 1/4 | Black Diffusion FX 1 | Smoque 1

I’d considered using Tiffen’s Ultra-Cons® to reduce the contrast, however, a lot of that was covered by the Smoques. I ended up running the Smoque 1 and Smoque 2 filters, depending on how intense the lighting was and whether there were any particularly bright windows or sources in the frame, since Smoques have a very large blooming effect on bright sources. I often like using multiple filters in conjunction with eachother. I knew I was going to utilize a small amount of global diffusion on the lens. I really enjoy the Pearlescent® filters as they seem to be a good combination of Glimmer Glass® and Black Pro-Mist®. It gave a tiny bit of extra softening across the image to create a creamy, almost Leica-like, look. I then felt the Primo’s were still a touch too sharp, so I finally introduced the Black Diffusion FX® to take out a tiny bit of sharpness, creating an organic feeling in the final image. 

Once I’d settled on this combination of filters, they pretty much lived on the camera. I would only change the Smoque’s intensity depending on the lighting.

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