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WIDE SCREEN – shoots in the dark!

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: HENRY PROVISOR, HOME MOVIES SEPTEMBER 58. Prepared for in70mm.com by Brian Guckian, Dublin, IrelandDate: 20.12.2015
Panavision's newest Panatar (Auto-Panatar) was demonstrated in Hollywood last week. President Robert Gottschalk screened footage which proved that an anamorphic close-up al 20-in. pave a perfectly normal image, with no distortion. A high speed lens, working at F1. and now produced by this company, was demonstrated with footage shot, in color, al night on Hollywood Boulevard. Existing street lights were employed, and nothing more, when exposures were made.

Since the fastest anamorphic lenses available to date have had an effective aperture of only F2., Gottschalk's F1.0 lens can be used for color night shots in railway stations, public buildings and streets. Now studios can dispense with expensive and ponderous lighting equipment in virtually all of its difficult locations. Obviously this will reduce overhead and increase the possibility of using many more "on-the-spot" locations which previously were not available unless the set was built to order.

QUALITY: After examining the street footage, it was found that depth of field is sensational for a lens of this wide aperture. At 50 feet, a depth of almost 7 feet was observed, and although this was not needle sharp on each plane, the sharpness tolerance was excellent. Detail in the shadows was good, and more than acceptable both to the average viewer and the critical motion picture producer. Most important of all, the feeling of authenticity was present; couple this with tremendous savings when booster lights are not used, and we have a real advance in motion picture technique. This should help the story, no matter what kind of film is shot, and should give more flexibility to screen writers who have in the past, shied away from some night scenes because of the additional costs. The use of this lens will be a positive ' advance in fostering better cine technique.

Gottschalk demonstrated the Auto-Panatar lens using footage from pictures already in release, and from some still in the making, plus comparative scenes prepared especially for the showing. Other wide-screen lenses, at the present time, do not allow bringing the camera closer to the actor than eight feet, without causing a widening of the image which increases as the camera approaches. Distortion is so bad, that many actors have refused to work in the wide-screen medium, and of course, with good reason. A medium shot of a pretty starlet, for example, looked perfectly normal, but once the camera rolled in for a close-up, distortion converted a pretty face into a virtual caricature of the original.

Using the same shot, with an Auto Panatar and a conventional wide-screen lens, and shooting a scene with starlet Myra Hansen, it was shown how the Auto Panatar could be brought up to 26 inches with no distortion, plus unique sharpness and contrast. The highlights on the forehead and cheekbones were needle sharp, with a decent scale ranging from pure white to natural skin tone. (See photograph). The other lens, could not deliver, and when used at the same distance introduced so much distortion that the girl looked like someone else.

MGM has ordered 15 lenses, ($11,000 each) and Columbia has placed an order for more. Virtually handmade, only two per month can now be supplied, states Gottschalk. Lenses will be available on a rental basis when purchase demands have been met, he declared.

The growth of Panavision, in four short years has been sensational. They have sold more than 20,000 pairs of anamorphic lenses for projection of Cinemascope, and produced the lenses used by Technicolor to convert straight prints to Cinemascope; also used by Warner, RKO, MGM, Universal and Columbia.

Panavision engineered the print-down 35mm print for "Around The World in 80 Days" and will do the same for "South Pacific", and also the MGM Camera 65 which shot "Ben Hur." (Camera 65 is Panavision).

Rising from obscurity to undisputed leader in the wide-screen field, Gottschalk and his associates have become part of a fabulous success story that could happen only in Hollywood. They do have a better mouse trap.

Above, the best-known wide screen lens, the Auto-Panatar, used for more professional motion pictures, with more success than any other.

The new cat’s eye F1.0 lens employed by Panavision for low level shooting in the dark, where large banks of light cannot be used. Lens is said to be a money-saver for studios, since it eliminates high production costs.
More in 70mm reading:

Panavison Large Format Motion Picture Systems

The Importance of Panavision

Super Panavision 70
Ultra Panavision 70

Ultra Panavision 70 Lens

Internet link:

"The Motion Picture Projectionist"

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Updated 07-01-23