The Chretian system consisted of
a "cylindrical" anamorphic attachment to be placed in
front of a normal "prime" lens. All three of the lenses
were tested. Typical measurements were a change in squeeze ratio
across the screen from 1.87:1 in the center of the screen to 2.04:1
halfway to the edge, and 2.37:1 at the very edge. Furthermore,
the ratio changed with focus distance, being 2.50:1 at distances
greater than 30 feet (9 meters) and shrinking down to 1.80:1 at
5 feet (1.6 meters). When projected at a constant 2:1 squeeze ratio,
an actor walking across the screen would become thinner near the
edge of the screen, and when photographed in close-up, his face
would become fatter.
At the same time, Fox asked Bausch & Lomb,
an American lens-manufacturing company, to manufacture 250 cylindrical
camera attachment lenses as quickly as possible. Although the early
Bausch & Lomb attachment lenses were poor and eventually had
to be scrapped, those made by Zeiss for Warner's SuperScope system
were worse by comparison.
In 1954, Panavision founder Robert Gottschalk
owned a camera store in Westwood Village, where his customers included
many professional photographers and cinematographers. Among his
acquaintances was an optical engineer, Walter Wallin, who helped
him design a prism-type de-anamorphoser that proved to be far superior
to the original CinemaScope cylindrical-type projection lenses.
Ironically, Gottschalk and Wallin's lens was based on an even earlier
The advantages of the prismatic system of anamorphic
attachment lenses were that they were far simpler and less expensive
to manufacture, and if the prisms were mounted so that they could
be swiveled together, the anamorphic squeeze ratio could be modified.
It could easily be set to be 2:1, 1.50:1 and even 1:1 and would
remain even and optically true all across the screen. Another advantage
was that theaters could build a large reel containing shorts, newsreels
and other non-anamorphic films, and an anamorphic film all on the
same reel, and could project correct imagery for one or the other
at the turn of a small knob - all without stopping the projector.
Furthermore, Gottschalk didn't care whether the theater installed
four-track stereo sound or not!
Within a short time, Gottschalk and a small staff
that included Frank Vogelsang, Tak Miyagishima, George Kraemer
and Jack Barber produced and delivered some 35,000 prism-type projection
lens attachments, until the market became saturated.
In 1957, at about the same time that the demand
for projection lenses was falling off, MGM asked Gottschalk to
develop a set of anamorphic camera lenses with a 1.33:1 squeeze
ratio for a film called Raintree County (1957), starring
Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, with which the studio hoped
to outdo Gone With the Wind. The system was called Camera
65. It was later refined, changed to a 1.25:1 squeeze ratio and
called Ultra Panavision.
Another Camera 65 picture was Ben-Hur (1959),
the first film shot with Panavision lenses to earn the Academy
Award for cinematography. Building upon this success, Panavision
developed a system of non-anamorphic lenses for 65mm cameras. They
were used on such pictures as Exodus, West Side Story, Lawrence
of Arabia and My Fair Lady.
Meanwhile, by comparison, the cylindrical-type
lenses were proving very difficult and time-consuming to manufacture,
and Fox was having terrible problems meeting the needs of all the
production companies seeking to shoot films using the CinemaScope
system. For all of its faults, CinemaScope was very popular with
the public, and neither Fox nor Bausch & Lomb could cope with
the demand for lenses.
The time came when MGM and other companies, no
longer wanting to be reliant upon Fox for CinemaScope camera lenses,
approached Gottschalk and asked if he could supply 35mm anamorphic
camera lenses. Gottschalk had supplied high-quality lenses to many
70mm productions and had worked with many top Hollywood cinematographers,
and he knew the cameramen were unhappy about "anamorphic mumps," Cinema-Scope's
tendency to make an artist's face look fat in close-up.
When Gottschalk came to design his anamorphic
camera lenses, he remembered that two prisms in combination could
be used to control the anamorphic ratio. He remembered, too, that
optometrists had in their drawers of test lenses a special device
used to test for astigmatism; it consisted of two thin, circular
prisms that could be contra-rotated relative to one another to
increase or decrease astigmatism.