AskDefine | Define anamorphic

Dictionary Definition

anamorphic adj
1 pertaining to gradual evolution from one type of organism to another
2 pertaining to a kind of distorting optical system; "an anamorphic lense"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. producing various optically distorted images
  2. of or relating to the gradual evolution of different types of organism

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Anamorphic format is a term that can be used either for the cinematography technique of capturing a widescreen picture on standard 35 mm film, or other visual recording media with a non-widescreen native aspect ratio, or a photographic projection format in which the original image requires an optical anamorphic lens to recreate the original aspect ratio. It should not be confused with anamorphic widescreen, which is a very different electronically-based video encoding concept that uses similar principles to the anamorphic format but different means. The word "anamorphic" and its derivates derive from the Greek words meaning formed again.


Early prototypes and working systems

The process of anamorphosing optics was developed by Henri Chrétien during World War I to provide a wide angle viewer for military tanks. The optical process was called Hypergonar by Chrétien and was capable of showing a field of view of 180 degrees. After the war, the technology was first used in a cinematic context in the short film Pour Construire un Feu (To Build a Fire) in 1927 by Claude Autant-Lara. Anamorphic widescreen was not used again for cinematography until Twentieth Century-Fox bought the rights to the technique in 1952 to create its CinemaScope widescreen technique.
Anamorphic prints are still often called Scope or 2.35 by projectionists, cinematographers, and others working in the field, if only by force of habit. 2.39 is in fact what they generally are referring to (unless discussing films using the process between 1958 and 1970), which is itself usually rounded up to 2.40. With the exception of certain specialist and archivist areas, generally 2.35, 2.39, and 2.40 mean the same to most professionals, whether they themselves are even aware of the changes or not.

Lens makers and corporate trademarks

See list of anamorphic format trade names
There are numerous companies that are known for manufacturing anamorphic lenses. The following are the well known in the film industry:


  • Panavision: The most commonly used source of anamorphic lenses, Panavision has several series of lenses that range from 20 mm to a 2,000 mm anamorphic telescope. The C-Series, which are the oldest lens series, are small and lightweight, which makes them very popular for steadicams. Some cinematographers prefer these to newer lenses because they are lower in contrast. The E-Series, which are Nikon glass, are sharper than the C-Series and are better color-matched. They are also faster, but the minimum focus distance on the shorter focal lengths is not as good. The E135mm, and especially the E180mm, are great close-up lenses with the best minimum focus of any long Panavision anamorphic lenses. The Super (High) Speed Lenses, also with glass by Nikon, are the fastest anamorphic lenses available with T-stops between 1.4 and 1.8; there is even one T1.1 50mm. But like all anamorphic lenses they need to be stopped down to get a good performance, as they are quite soft when they are wide open. The Primo and Close-Focus Primo Series, which are Panavision's latest anamorphic lens series, are based on the spherical Primos and are the sharpest Panavision anamorphics available, as well as completely color-matched. But they are also very heavy (between 5 and 7 kilograms).
  • Vantage Film, designers and manufacturers of Hawk Lenses. Hawk Lenses have their anamorphic element in the middle of the lens (not up front like Panavision), which makes them more flare-resistant. This design choice also means that if they do flare, one does not get the typical horizontal flares. The C-Series, which were developed in the mid-1990s, are relatively small and lightweight. The V-Series (2001) and V-Plus Series (2006) are an improvement over the C-Series as far as sharpness, contrast, barrel-distortion and close-focus are concerned. This increased optical performance means a higher weight, however (each lens is around 4-5 kilograms). There are 14 lenses in this series which goes from 25 mm to 250 mm. The V-Series also have the best minimum focus of any anamorphic lens series available and as such can rival spherical lenses. In 2007 Vantage introduced a new series of lightweight lenses called V-Lite. They are 5 very small anamorphic lenses (about the size of a Cooke S4 spherical lenses), which are ideal for handheld and steadicam while also giving an optical performance comparable to the V and V-Plus lenses.
  • Joe Dunton Camera (JDC): Manufacturer and rental house based in Britain and North Carolina, which adapts spherical lenses to anamorphic by adding a cylindrical element. Its most popular lenses are adapted Cooke S2/S3, but they have also adapted Zeiss Super Speeds and Standards, as well as Canon lenses.
  • Technovision a French manufacturer that, like JDC, also has adapted spherical lenses for anamorphic.


  • Schneider Kreuznach, (also called Century) makers of the most widely used anamorphic projection lenses in the world. The company also manufactures add-on anamorphic adaptor lenses that can be mounted on digital video cameras.

Super 35 and Techniscope

Although many films projected anamorphically have been shot using anamorphic lenses, there are often aesthetic and technical reasons that make shooting with spherical lenses preferable. If the director and cinematographer still wish to retain the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, anamorphic prints can be made from spherical negatives. Because the 2.39:1 image cropped from an Academy ratio 4-perf negative causes considerable waste of frame space, and since the cropping and anamorphosing of a spherical print requires an intermediate lab step, it is often attractive for these films to use a different negative pulldown method (most commonly 3-perf, but occasionally Techniscope 2-perf) usually in conjunction with the added negative space Super 35 affords.


anamorphic in Russian: Анаморфирование изображения
anamorphic in German: Anamorphe Bildaufzeichnung
anamorphic in French: Format large anamorphosé
anamorphic in Dutch: Anamorf breedbeeld
anamorphic in Norwegian: Anamorfisk bredformat
anamorphic in Polish: Obraz anamorficzny
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1