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Rank Filters?

Had a weird request from a client last night and wondered if anybody else has
heard of this one...

A client from Germany wanted to put a diffusion filter directly above the
front mirror on one of our Mk IIICs, which we temporarily did with putty.
 The purpose was to cause a subtle softening of the image for artistic
effect.  He claimed that "everybody in Europe was doing this," and he
"couldn't believe that we [Americans] were so out of touch with the latest
technique."  Well, his filter did create the softening of the image that he
predicted, which looked to me like it would be good for training new
personnel on the symptoms of focus board failure but not much else.  (Please
pardon the above snip, those of you who are artists!)  The filter also
created the tons of flare that I predicted, so they chose the old "fix it in
post" option and we yanked the glass.

Normally when a client is looking for this sort of effect, we show them what
their material looks like in a wet gate.  This causes a subtle softening of
the image, but it doesn't appreciably detract from focus, so it is quite
pleasing in many cases.  Of course we can also do the obvious and crank down
the enhancement and/or focus, if that's all the customer really wants!

Is anybody really doing this, in Europe or anywhere else on the planet?  If
so, how do they control the flare?  Are the results obtained as good as a wet
gate transfer?  Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Christopher Bacon
DuArt Film & Video