No, it's not a joke. It's funny, but it's definitely not a joke: The Dude himself is making a new panoramic film camera.
Jeff Bridges – star of cult classics The Big Lebowski and Tron, Robert Downey Jr's nemesis in the original Iron Man, and part of the movie disaster that nearly broke Hollywood, Heaven's Gate – is a devotee of the Widelux. And now he is helping to produce a brand new panoramic film camera to resurrect the format.
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The actor and his wife – Susan, a celebrated photographer in her own right – are joining forces with SilvergrainClassics, a magazine dedicated to analog film photography, to produce the new camera.
"Susan and Jeff Bridges had the idea for a long time of recreating the Widelux, but it wasn’t until they teamed up with Marwan El Mozayen and Charys Schuler from SilvergrainClassics that it became more realistic," wrote 35mmc.
"With the SilvergrainClassics team’s industry connections and proximity to manufacturing centers in Germany alongside the team’s collaborative efforts, the project has already produced a prototype."
If you don't know, a Widelux is a very (very) niche analog film camera from Japan that was produced from 1958-2000. Where traditional cameras have a shutter, this panoramic body has a "swing lens" that swivels from left to right, creating a 140° field-of-view exposure as it goes.
This ultra-wide angle frame is incredibly cinematic, but also enables creative portaiture – including a double exposure-style effect, if the subject starts on the left of frame and jumps to the right as the swing lens pans across.
Jeff Bridges is the most famous devotee of the format, frequently taking behind-the-scenes shots and candid portraits of co-stars on set. He often brings it with him on talk shows and wheels it out in front of the audience, such as this appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Live (video above).
All the information on the new camera, along with a portfolio of Bridges' work, is in the latest issue of SilvergrainClassics magazine.
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