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Brendan McGinty DOP talks about Canon Dream Lenses on ‘The Devil on Trial’

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Brendan McGinty DOP, is based in London, UK. Brendan's filming experience spans across the globe, providing us with dramas, commercials and documentaries. He has worked with many well-known personalities, such as David Attenborough, Will Smith and Darren Aronofsky, to name a few. Today, we talk to Brendan about his experience with working with a set of Canon 'dream' Rangefinder lenses, on the production of 'The Devil on Trial'.

In his own words…

The Production

The Devil on Trial is a feature length Docudrama for Netflix. It was directed by a longtime collaborator of mine, the very gifted Chris Holt and produced by Dorothy Street Pictures in the UK. Chris was particularly interested in the world of dreams and nightmares for the film which led us on this journey.

We shot the documentary section of the film in the States, primarily in Connecticut where the incidents occurred and then the ‘Drama’ section of the film was shot in Canada.

The film explores the first and only time that “demonic possession” has officially been used as a defence in a US murder trial. It is a story of Satanic possession, Exorcism and Murder, told by the protagonists at the heart of the events, together with a Dramatic accompaniment and re-telling.

Me and Chris started with some extensive lens testing, which took a bit of time, but we unanimously chose the ‘Dreams’ for our film. We knew that we wanted to be in the large format/full frame, vintage, spherical world and these 1960’s rangefinder lenses delivered far more of all the timeless organic accident than anything else we looked at. There is so much vintage glass presence in the set that we both fell completely in love with them.

The Canon ‘Dream’ Rangefinder Lenses

I used a set of 5 TLS rehoused Canon Dream lenses owned by 16oz Studio 25mm T2.1, 35mm T1.6, 50mm T1.1, 85mm T1.6, 100mm T2.1. 16oz Studio only had five at the time of production, but now have added to their collection and have three more focal lengths, the 19mm, 135mm and 200mm.

Outside of perhaps the artificiality of anamorphic lensing this is the most ’transformative’ spherical glass I have used. The world, people, scenes, nothing looks the same through these lenses. They have painterly defocus, warm softness and organic geometry that me and Chris both love.

The lenses provide amber flares and soft veiling glares, they give gentle vignettes and fall off of sharpness to the edges, the curved field of focus. They have great close focus and are instantly ’transformative’ of a scene, so your sense of world-building, point-of view or simply ‘look’ is so strong.

They match beautifully, so across the focal lengths one has access to the same colouring, glow, flare and geometry.

What sets motion lenses apart from their stills counterparts is of course the Mechanics, and TLS have done beautiful work on the smooth focus throw and accurate lens markings.

The seasoned focus puller I used on the production felt they were of the best lenses he had ever worked with.

The program will be able to stream on Netflix from Tuesday 17th October 2023.

If you would like to read more about Brendan and other productions he has worked on, you can go to his website or find him on social media @brendan_mcginty.

'To inspire through innovation, passion and quality'
'To inspire through innovation, passion and quality'