Anamorphic dv on the silver screen

Two of my latest short films, ‘Dancing With The Pros 2: The Demise of Yuri Ka’ & ‘Critical Killing’ are about to premiere at the outdoor cinema event Movies by Stirling ( before two major features: the critically acclaimed ‘The Social Network’ and Rodriguez’s ‘Machete’. Whilst both shorts are obviously close to me, seeing DWTP2 on the big screen will be special for a number of reasons.

The first being that the project started out to bookend an era – one of short films which I began back in 2004. The original Dancing With The Pros was one of my first films I ever made, but today in 2011 I want to focus on the end game – feature films. I had to make this sequel because, as well as marking this transition, to prove to myself that I’ve significantly improved from where I started. Lets face it, if the answer was no, then I should probably make a move into another industry ASAP. Luckily I think I’ve made some significant steps, but these steps are dwarfed by the future leaps I will need to take in order to get where I want to be.

To be able to measure this test, I needed to keep the crew size down to myself (as it was back in 2004) and use the same old equipment that I started out with. This old technology meant that it was to be shot on DV tape, which is odd being that we’re in an age where it’s either film or HD, full stop (DV has definitely followed Elvis out the building). By the way, the camera was the family’s old Panasonic GS120 3CCD MiniDV, which was quiet the consumer camcorder (back in 2005!). This good old Panasonic utilises the ancient 1.33 (4:3) aspect ratio which was the way of the land from the inception of film. The difference here is that I also attached a 16mm anamorphic lens to the front of the camera which stretches the image on the sensor, enabling me to ‘unstretch’ the footage in post, resulting in a true widescreen 2.66 CinemaScope aspect ratio. This process is almost identical to the one used to transform 1.33 celluloid film into more of a cinematic experience in the 1950’s, a response from studios and filmmakers to the growing popularity of television. If you’re lost with some of this tech talk, I have included two screen grabs at the top of this post from the same camera – one without the anamorphic lens (DWTP, 2005 – LEFT) and one with (DWTP2, 2011 – RIGHT). I think this combination of god awful DV camera and old 16mm cine lens gives the short a quiet pleasing and unique aesthetic.

With these two shorts almost released, 2011 looks to end one era and open another, starting with my current feature project ‘Cruel Acts of Kindness’, which will begin casting near the end of this month, so stay tuned (please).