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A M E R I C A N

OCTOBER 2009

C I N E M ATO G R A P H E R

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New York | Chicago | Los Angeles

Your Trusted Resource for Twenty Years

Since opening our doors in 1989, weve been dedicated


to providing the most innovative acquisition tools in the industry.
Cameras have certainly evolved over the years and weve changed along with them,
expanding our service offerings as technology and industry trends have dictated.
One thing, however, has always remained consistent at Abel:
our commitment to serving the needs of our clients.
Were proud to have worked with you for the last twenty years
and look forward to bringing you whats next.

www.abelcine.com/20years

Dennis L. Smith, ASC


hile shooting news and
documentaries for ABC
in the Seventies, I
discovered that the images I
filmed had a profound effect on
the audiences perception of the
story. My point of view was a
key component in the film.
With American
Cinematographer I found my
first insight into the minds of
my heroes among them ASC
members Conrad Hall, Haskell
Wexler and Owen Roizman,
whose storytelling styles had a
profound impact on me. The
directors of photography spoke
a language I knew but thirsted
to learn more about.
With its perspective
on the combination of style,
technique and philosophy that
goes into a film, AC has been
an invaluable tool that inspires
me to this day. Im so happy to
still be a storyteller!

photo by Owen Roizman, ASC

Dennis L. Smith, ASC

TO SUBSCRIBE BY PHONE:

Call (800) 448-0145 (U.S. only)


(323) 969-4333 or visit the ASC Web site

Photo of George Mooradian by Joel Lipton


exclusively for Schneider Optics

Im a big believer in filters. As soon as I discovered Schneiders


DigiCon I knew it was the magic that The Bill Engvall Show
deserved. It allows me to create a much more filmic look. I no longer
have to reign in the highlights. And I can open up the blacks. I can
light bolder 2 to 3 stops now becomes 4 or 5.
Our kitchen has always been a challengetoo flat. Not with the
DigiCon. We have depth and separation.
Thanks to the DigiCon, when we do exteriors the pavement
can be hotter and the foliage plays nicely. We can really get
a sense of location.
My engineer loves what he sees on the monitor. And so does
our colorist. The DigiCon allows us more of a range to play
with and to create a stronger, richer image.
Thanks to Schneiders DigiCon,
I can now create the beautiful
image that The Bill Engvall
Show deserves.

Director of Photography George Mooradian is a


three time Emmy Award nominee for the hit
series According to Jim. Before moving into the
multi-camera world, he was cinematographer on
over a dozen movies. He credits operating for

high-profile cinematographers such as Vittorio


Storaro, ASC (Dick Tracy) as the foundation for
the feature look he brings to his sit-com projects.
Mooradian is now in his third season of The Bill
Engvall Show.
B+W Century Schneider

For George's DigiCon chat visit:

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Phone: 818-766-3715

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It Starts with the Glass tm

The International Journal of Film & Digital Production Techniques

On Our Cover: Betty and Don Draper (January Jones and Jon Hamm) cut fine Sixties figures in Mad
Men, shot by Christopher Manley, ASC. (Photo by Frank Ockenfels, courtesy of AMC.)

Features 30
44
58
66

Departments

8
10
12
18
76
82
88
90
91
92

Pitch Perfect
Christopher Manley, ASC sells the drama on Mad Men

Hard Time
Larry Smith, BSC hits with both fists for Bronson
44

A Lyrical Love
Greig Fraser brings passion to Bright Star

Vicarious Thrills
Oliver Wood has out-of-body experience on Surrogates

Editors Note
Presidents Desk
58
Short Takes: The Maines Into Your Arms
Production Slate: The National Parks: Americas Best Idea
Georgia OKeeffe

Post Focus: Red Dwarf: Back to Earth


New Products & Services
International Marketplace
Classified Ads/Ad Index
Clubhouse News
ASC Close-Up: Lowell Peterson

66

V i s i t u s o n l i n e a t w w w. t h e a s c . c o m

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The International Journal of Film & Digital Production Techniques Since 1920

Visit us online at

www.theasc.com

PUBLISHER Martha Winterhalter

EDITORIAL
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Stephen Pizzello
SENIOR EDITOR Rachael K. Bosley
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Jon D. Witmer
TECHNICAL EDITOR Christopher Probst
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Stephanie Argy, Benjamin B, Douglas Bankston, Robert S. Birchard,
John Calhoun, Bob Davis, Bob Fisher, Simon Gray, Jim Hemphill, David Heuring,
Jay Holben, Mark Hope-Jones, Noah Kadner, Ron Magid, Jean Oppenheimer,
John Pavlus, Chris Pizzello, Jon Silberg, Iain Stasukevich,
Kenneth Sweeney, Patricia Thomson, David E. Williams

ART DEPARTMENT
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Marion Gore

ADVERTISING
ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Angie Gollmann
323-936-3769 FAX 323-936-9188
e-mail: gollmann@pacbell.net
ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Sanja Pearce
323-908-3114 FAX 323-876-4973
e-mail: sanja@ascmag.com
ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Scott Burnell
323-936-0672 FAX 323-936-9188
e-mail: sburnell@earthlink.net
CLASSIFIEDS/ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Diella Nepomuceno
323-908-3124 FAX 323-876-4973
e-mail: diella@ascmag.com

THE ART OF LIGHT


Color Correction
Diffusion
Color Effect
Tel: 818-238-1220
www.leefilters.com

CIRCULATION, BOOKS & PRODUCTS


CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Saul Molina
CIRCULATION MANAGER Alex Lopez
SHIPPING MANAGER Miguel Madrigal

ASC GENERAL MANAGER Brett Grauman


ASC EVENTS COORDINATOR Patricia Armacost
ASC PRESIDENTS ASSISTANT Kim Weston
ASC ACCOUNTING MANAGER Mila Basely
ASC ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE Corey Clark

American Cinematographer (ISSN 0002-7928), established 1920 and in its 89th year of publication, is published
monthly in Hollywood by ASC Holding Corp., 1782 N. Orange Dr., Hollywood, CA 90028, U.S.A.,
(800) 448-0145, (323) 969-4333, Fax (323) 876-4973, direct line for subscription inquiries (323) 969-4344.
Subscriptions: U.S. $50; Canada/Mexico $70; all other foreign countries $95 a year (remit international
Money Order or other exchange payable in U.S. $). Advertising: Rate card upon request from Hollywood
office. Article Reprints: Requests for high-quality article reprints (or electronic reprints) should be made to
Sheridan Reprints at (800) 635-7181 ext. 8065 or by e-mail hrobinson@tsp.sheridan.com.
Copyright 2007 ASC Holding Corp. (All rights reserved.) Periodicals postage paid at Los Angeles, CA
and at additional mailing offices. Printed in the USA.
POSTMASTER: Send address change to American Cinematographer, P.O. Box 2230, Hollywood, CA 90078.

American Society of Cinematographers


The ASC is not a labor union or a guild, but
an educational, cultural and professional
organization. Membership is by invitation
to those who are actively engaged as
directors of photography and have
demonstrated outstanding ability. ASC
membership has become one of the highest
honors that can be bestowed upon a
professional cinematographer a mark
of prestige and excellence.

OFFICERS - 2009/2010
Michael Goi
President

Richard Crudo
Vice President

Owen Roizman
Vice President

Victor J. Kemper
Vice President

Matthew Leonetti
Treasurer

Rodney Taylor
Secretary

John C. Flinn III


Sergeant At Arms

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD


Curtis Clark
Richard Crudo
George Spiro Dibie
Richard Edlund
John C. Flinn III
John Hora
Victor J. Kemper
Matthew Leonetti
Stephen Lighthill
Isidore Mankofsky
Daryn Okada
Owen Roizman
Nancy Schreiber
Haskell Wexler
Vilmos Zsigmond

ALTERNATES
Fred Elmes
Steven Fierberg
Ron Garcia
Michael D. OShea
Michael Negrin
MUSEUM CURATOR

Steve Gainer
6

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2009 Panasonic Broadcast

Editors Note
ts not often that we devote two AC covers to the same
TV show, but Mad Men has earned the extra attention.
Our first article on the acclaimed series detailed the work
of cinematographer Phil Abraham, who is now among the
shows directors. As this issue went to press, Christopher
Manley, ASC, the director of photography on Mad Mens
second and third seasons, was in the running for an Emmy
Award for his work on the second season. In late June,
when the production was midway through filming its new
season, AC was granted access to the super-secretive set,
where plot points were being guarded like bars of gold in
Fort Knox. Nevertheless, senior editor Rachael K. Bosleys
interview with Manley (Pitch Perfect, page 30) presents an impressive overview of both
his general strategies and his approach to specific sets and shots, and Manleys crew
provided us with a detailed lighting diagram of one of the shows main sets, Don Drapers
home. Manley notes that Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner is open to visual approaches
that veer from established patterns: It was a relief to know that the rules, so to speak, of
the visual language of the show are not completely hard and fast. Matts very intuitive, and
hes open to breaking those rules if it works and its interesting.
No rule was sacred on Bronson, a ferociously offbeat indie that impressed attendees at this years Sundance Film Festival (Hard Time, page 44). The film creates an
unconventional portrait of Englands most notorious prison inmate, Michael Peterson (a.k.a.
Charles Bronson), whose violent transgressions have kept him behind bars for 34 years.
Shot primarily in Super 16mm, the production reunited director Nicolas Winding Refn with
cinematographer Larry Smith, BSC, whose bold lighting and lens choices lend the picture
its guerrilla grandeur. Both filmmakers acknowledge that they set out to raise a ruckus.
As Smith notes, I wasnt sure what kind of film it would be, but we were definitely trying
to make it stand out.
Kinder, gentler themes grace Jane Campions period drama Bright Star, which
chronicles the romance between the great Romantic poet John Keats and the girl next
door, Fanny Brawne. Cinematographer Greig Fraser, who recently moved to Los Angeles
from his native Australia, is responsible for the films ravishing images, but he says
Campions first priority is always character. Jane has a very strong visual style, but she
always wants the visual to support whats going on with the characters, he tells Bosley
(A Lyrical Love, page 58). The actors comfort with the camera is her top priority, and that
influences everything, even the choice of crew.
This issues special emphasis on lighting and risk-taking continues in our
coverage of the sci-fi thriller Surrogates, in which humans carry out their lives through robot
proxies (Vicarious Thrills, page 66). Cinematographer Oliver Wood fashioned a futuristic,
high-gloss look for director Jonathan Mostow, who sang the cinematographers praises in
his interview with New York correspondent Iain Stasukevich: Good filmmaking doesnt call
for a rigid thought process. One reason I love working with Oliver is that he has tremendous
instincts; he gets whats going on in the moment and works from gut instinct, and thats how
I like to work. I go into every scene with a plan, but Im always ready to see something unexpected.

Stephen Pizzello
Executive Editor
8

Photo by Douglas Kirkland.

Presidents Desk
ith advances in technology for motion-picture production seemingly happening on
a weekly basis, it sometimes feels as though were in the midst of the ultimate
overhaul of our image-capture and post-workflow paradigms. Theres been a lot of
talk about what a great breakthrough this digital camera is, or what a huge advance that
scanner is. With all this talk about bytes, bits and megapixels, it can become difficult to
keep the goal in sight, which is to tell stories visually.
The entire history of the motion picture is a history of evolution and change, from the
dawn of sound in the late 1920s to the introduction of color, from the flood of widescreen
processes in the 1950s to the proliferation of zoom lenses and handheld cameras in the
1960s. This digital revolution is just another in an unending flow of changes that offer
us new tools. At the ASC, we embrace change. We take each new technology and separate the fact from the fiction; we find out what it can and cannot do. Then we share this
knowledge freely with the world.
An example of this is the Camera-Assessment Series, tests of seven digital motion-picture cameras (compared with
a 35mm camera) that the ASC undertook with the Producers Guild of America and Revelations Entertainment. As many producers have discovered in recent years, reading marketing materials is not the best way to get up to speed on new technology.
The CAS is a big step toward forging a better understanding between cinematographers and camera manufacturers, and
between producers and cinematographers.
As cinematographers, we choose the equipment for a particular film based on our knowledge of which tools will
help us visually tell that story in the best way. If lens flares are an important part of my visual aesthetic for a particular project,
Im going to use older lenses that give me those great, colorful, scalloped flares, not the newest, sharpest lenses. We do not
use something simply because it is new or reject something simply because it is old.
In fact, our archival safety net is 120-year-old technology. No digital medium currently has the proven longevity of
properly stored film negative or black-and-white separation masters. There have been more than 80 formats of videotape since
the advent of commercial television, and 90 percent of those formats cannot be played today. I have my own work on 10 different video and digital formats, and I cannot play half of them because the machines dont exist anymore.
It is important to use the best of what all our options have to offer. I recently photographed a feature film in 2-perf
35mm, a format that hasnt been in widespread use since the 1960s and 1970s. Many great films, from The Good, the Bad and
the Ugly to American Graffiti, have been shot in 2-perf. It gives you an anamorphic release print and cuts your film-negative
budget in half. By way of contrast, I recently shot another feature with prosumer digital cameras because it was right for that
particular job.
Technology offers us more efficient tools to do our job, but the filmmakers inner aesthetic is still the final word. There
are moments I treasure while Im sitting in the dark with 500 strangers, and in those moments, Im not thinking about the format
the movie was captured on or wondering what post workflow was used. Im wondering whether Michael Corleone will remember to drop the gun before he leaves the Italian restaurant, if Elaine Robinson will forgive Benjamin Braddock for having sex
with her mother, whether Anna will ever be found after disappearing from the island of Lisca Bianca, if Frodo has the will to
throw the ring into the Mountain of Fire, and whether Butch and Sundance will fight or jump.
We remember those moments because they speak to us in purely emotional ways. They are images and words that
plugged into our psyche in the right way at the right time. The technology used to create them will ultimately be relegated to
historical footnotes and replaced with newer versions, but the emotional content will remain.
As Bruce Lee said in Enter The Dragon, Dont thinkfeel. Its like a finger pointing to the stars. Dont concentrate
on the finger, or you will miss all that heavenly glory.

Michael Goi, ASC


President

10 October 2009

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& Design 2009 Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. All Rights Reserved.

Short Takes
Shooting Into Your Arms at Ontario Airport
raveling to the Ontario International
Airport in California, AC recently
watched director/cinematographer
Aaron Platt's rapid-fire shooting of the
music video for "Into Your Arms" by The
Maine. Inside a new terminal, Platt
was a blur of activity, moving around
numerous extras to check on lighting,
camera, talent and the assembly of a
motion-control rig. Platt has shot
videos for artists such as Coldplay,
Asher Roth, Cassie and Jet, and as a
director, he has conceptualized videos
for Meg/Dia and Melody Gardot.
When he directs, he does his own
shooting. Hiring a cinematographer
on my directing projects is tricky, not
because I dont want to stand down
from the photographic throne, but
rather because the speed at which Im
moving is insanely fast, he explains.
Shooting my own projects enables me
to make everything look as gorgeous as
possible as fast as possible.
Platt also was doing all he could
to squeeze a complex high concept out
of a low budget. The storyline is basic:
a girl leaves a guy behind and rushes
through the terminal to make her flight,
while band members positioned here
and there perform the song. But the
video actually presents the travelers
and airport personnel moving backwards. The trick up Platts sleeve was
to reverse the footage in post, meaning

The Into Your Arms music video


features a girl running backwards
through a crowded airport terminal.
Selling the effect required three motioncontrol shots, each of which comprised
four passes: one of the girl moving
forward at 50 fps, one of background
talent moving backward at 50 fps, one of
the band members performing at 36 fps
sync sound, and a final pass for window
exposure.
12

that in the final video, the girl runs


backward through a crowd thats
moving forward. Its a simple concept
that I tried to complicate by reversing
the clich a little, he says. We
discover her meeting someone by
chance at the end.
Airports are unique because
so many people there are moving in
and out of their lives, on their own
personal journeys, Platt continues.
[Producer] Justin Cronkite and I
initially thought wed have to shoot in
a studio instead of a real airport, but I
aggressively pushed for a real location. I wanted the freedom to shoot in
all directions, and I didnt want to be
limited to close-ups or cheated
reverses.
Securing the new Ontario
terminal was a real coup. Sheira
Reese Davies, the videos executive
producer at Hello & Co., had connections with the airport authorities that
stemmed from a previous project.
Justin was put through the wringer
for location permitting, notes Platt.
We had to deal with the highest
levels of national security and had to
get special insurance. We really
lucked out; we were approved only
days before we shot.
With a Red One (from Alternative Rentals) mounted on a dolly, Platt
also served as operator. If youre
shooting digital and youre on a tight
budget, its just the way to go, he
says. Because of its latitude, Super
16mm was a close contender for this
shoot. Film might have held our highlights a little better.
The terminal offered its share
of
challenges:
floor-to-ceiling
windows looking out toward the
runway on one side, all-white walls on

Photos by Benjamin Gallardo. Photos and frame grabs courtesy of Kelsey Street Entertainment.

by Douglas Bankston

Stefan Sonnenfeld

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Kodak, 2009. Kodak and Vision are trademarks.

Colorist. Entrepreneur. Fanatic.

Above: The crew


prepares for one of
the motion-control
shots inside a
newly constructed
terminal at
Californias Ontario
Airport. The mo-co
rig was supplied by
Pacific Motion
Control. Below:
When not on the
mo-co rig, director/
cinematographer
Aaron Platt (at
camera) kept the
Red One camera on
a J.L. Fisher dolly.

14 October 2009

the other, a white ceiling with


skylights, a reflective floor, and
chrome fixtures and decorations
throughout. I dont know if any
camera could quite catch the full
detail and latitude of the location!
says Platt. Unfortunately, we couldnt
spend a whole day ND-ing 300 feet of
windows. Instead of fighting it, I just
let it go. The Red is incredible at holding detail, but this was the chips
worst nightmare: darker interior with
hot midday sun outside. More
bounced lights inside would have
helped, but we were also shooting a

lot of reflective surfaces. It was kind of


a gaffers nightmare, too: we had long
takes across an open space of reflective surfaces, with no capability of
rigging. (Randy Newman was the
gaffer.)
Lights, predominantly HMIs and
a fluorescent blanket light, were
bounced off Griffolyn or the ceiling or
were diffused heavily with frost and
double scrims. I typically push for
extreme contrast and love to press the
image in radical directions, but this
was a strongly character-driven story,
so I wanted to tone down the styliza-

tion, says Platt. He did, however,


embrace the shiny surfaces in the
terminal. Any highlight or sheen
allowed me to grab that ceiling of the
[filmic] curve, along with the windows,
to make a rich exposure out of a very
simple backdrop.
Except for motion-control shots,
the camera stayed on a J.L. Fisher
dolly. The goal was a cinematic piece
of smooth moves and poetic moments
in front of the camera, says Platt. I
didnt want any handheld because I
didnt want to come out of the dream
and have it ever feel real. Staying on
the dolly also meant I could roam
around the space fast.
We shot with Cooke S4
primes, my lenses of choice for digital
shoots, he adds. We were usually no
wider than a 27mm, and I think my
longest lens was a 75mm. I put a coral
filter on the lens to bake a little love
into the scene. I always try to make
[the captured image] look extremely
close to the final.
The project was recorded at a
variety of resolutions to onboard drives,
including 3K for the motion-control
material. With the Red, you have to be
aware of the focal-length changes that
occur when you increase the frame
rate, he notes. Each time you up your
slow motion, you have to lose resolution to be able to compensate for the
extreme increase in material being
gathered. Platt shot a lot of cutaways
in 2K at 120 fps. All non-mo-co sync
material was shot at 24 fps in 4K.
Crammed into one 12-hour day
of production were three complex
motion-control setups that used different frame rates for each pass. For
example, at the controls of the remote
head, Platt shot an 80'-long mo-co
tracking shot at 50 fps of the girl hurrying through the terminal. I did speed
tests at the camera-rental house and
locked in 50 fps as the highest I could
go before having to drop to 2K resolution, he recalls. The actress was lit
with an Arri 40/25 ArriSun through a
4'x4' frame of frost diffusion, a half
double net, and half of a second frost
diffusion. Another 40/25 ArriSun

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Platt checks his frame inside the terminal, which presented him with floor-to-ceiling
windows, white walls and ceilings, a reflective floor and chrome adornments. The
Red is incredible at holding detail, he notes, but this was the chips worst
nightmare.

through double diffusion served as


backlight. 12K ArriSuns were positioned along the track and bounced
into the white ceiling. An overhead
bounce deflected light from a skylight
to illuminate a dark alcove in the ceiling at the end of the track.
With the camera moves
recorded from the first pass, the second
pass captured only background actors
who were moving backwards, but the
mo-co rig tracked in reverse. When
these two shots were reversed in post,
the girl ended up going backward while
the background talent went forward.
Then we came to the part that made it
essential to shoot this with mo-co: a
third pass of the band sync-sound
performing all around the terminal.
The band pass was shot at 36 fps, and
the only change in the lighting setup
was the addition of a 4-bank Kino (with
only three tubes lit) near the lead
singer. A fourth, empty-set pass
exposed just for the windows. (The moco rig, from Pacific Motion Control, was
operated by Adam Francis, Garritt
Hampton and Joshua Cushner.)
Postproduction was carried out
in Los Angeles at Sunset Edit, which
has a built-in Red One workflow.
16

Howard Shur worked painstakingly on


the mo-co compositing, and colorcorrection was done by Marc Steinberg. We wanted to keep the post
under one roof to ensure that all quality control would be consistent through
the pipeline, says Platt. We were
trying to go natural with the coloring
process and were mostly concerned
with skin tone; we didnt want to do
anything that would detract from the
story. The material we colored the
most was the opening shots in front of
the sunset sky and the girl running
down the runway. Those dramatic
moments allowed us to go to more
extremes.
I

A Supernatural Transition
From Film to Digital
I shot the first three seasons of Supernatural with a
35mm dream package from Clairmont Camera. Then,
the studio wanted to make a move into the digital world.
One thing I wanted to make sure of was a seamless
transition from film to digital. Supernatural was coming
of age and I didn't want to change the look we set with
the 35mm tools. I was looking for an evolution not a
new palette.
I had set my mind on two D-21s for our A and B
cameras and a Red One for Steadicam, 2nd unit and
additional camera works. And what was most important
to me was that Denny Clairmont and his team put their
resources behind my choices through testing, setting
my LUTs and establishing the work flow.
On Supernatural we go to hell each week in our
stories but one place I didn't want to go was production
hell. You know what I'm talking about: weird things
happening to your equipment, failure you don't expect,
name it. But because of the nature of the preparation
and the support of Clairmont Camera we never lost any
production time due to the change of system, and
whatever glitches we encountered were resolved in a
swift fashion.
It is well known to what extent the Clairmont family
will go to service the camera crews, design and
fabricate tools to fit particular demands but there is
more. I found friendship, not the business bias type, but
friendship based on complicity and dedication in
research for the best .
What am I talking about? Too good to be true?
Maybe I found some kind of heaven on Earth and it's
called Clairmont CameraHeaven for the DP!
Serge Ladouceur CSC

www.clairmont.com

Hollywood
818-761-4440

Vancouver
604-984-4563

Toronto
416-467-1700

Albuquerque
505-227-2525

Montreal
514-525-6556

Production Slate
Capturing Natural Beauty

An Inspiring Achievement
by Patricia Thomson
With The National Parks: Americas Best Idea, Ken Burns fan base will
undoubtedly expand to include outdoor
photographers of every stripe. Id wager
its the best cinematography weve ever
done as a collection of filmmakers, says
Burns of the 12-hour series, which began
airing on PBS last month. Buddy Squires,
his longtime cinematographer and partner in Florentine Films, agrees: The
images are a central part of the story;
they dont just play a supporting role.
Americas national parks were
born when Abraham Lincoln set aside a
60-square-mile tract containing ancient
sequoias in what later became Yosemite
National Park. Created as a reaction to
the unfettered commercial development
that blighted Niagara Falls, the movement quickly took root. By 1900, Yellow18 October 2009

stone, Sequoia, Yosemite, Kings Canyon


and Mount Rainier were all federal
parks, preserved for the peoples enjoyment. It was a democratic idea, different
from the parks of Europe created by
monarchs and aristocrats for their
private pleasure.
Tracing the growth of the park
system from 1851-1980, The National
Parks recounts the stories of more than
50 individuals, including John Muir,
Teddy Roosevelt and John D. Rockefeller,
as well as less-famous people who
fought to protect the land. Case after
case involves a battle between preservationists and those who aspire to exploit
the land, mirroring todays debates and
underscoring the ongoing vulnerability of
Americas most magnificent sites.
In terms of cinematography, The
National Parks exhibits all the hallmarks
of a Florentine Films production. Theres
a tremendous respect for the integrity of

the image, says Squires. Thats something Ken and I have shared since our
first work at Hampshire College. There,
they soaked up the history and aesthetics of still photography under professors
Elaine Mayes and Jerome Liebling, a
Photo League member. Ken is willing to
let a shot play much longer than are
most people, says Squires. Its not
uncommon for us to have shots that last
40 or 50 seconds. Ken isnt afraid to lose
your attention. He allows people to drink
in something over a greater period of
time.
Florentines cameramen shoot
independently of a script, so images are
never enslaved to the text. That
requires a more complicated reconciliation in editing, says Burns, but I would
suggest its one of the principle reasons
our work is so successful. Respect for
the image is also behind the teams
filmic treatment of archival images.

The National Parks photos courtesy of PBS.

A rainbow in
the Grand
Canyon is one
of the
spectacular
natural
wonders on
display in the
PBS series The
National
Parks:
Americas Best
Idea, directed
by Ken Burns.

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They first developed their technique


when shooting John Roeblings 20'
drawings for Brooklyn Bridge (1981),
using a head-mounted camera with
Cooke primes. For years they would
pan, tilt, and move over archival
photographs, exploring them as if they
were live scenes the cameraman had
stumbled upon. Though they now use
scanned photos and Adobe After
Effects, the approach remains the
same.
Like all Florentine productions,
The National Parks was shot on film, in
this case Super 16mm (framed for
1.78:1). These parks deserve to have

all their subtleties of light presented,


and theres no doubt film still has the
clear advantage [over digital formats] in
terms of contrast ratio, texture and the
subtleties one can pull out, says
Squires. If one is in Yosemite at dawn
and its -10F, and the suns backlighting
fog over a small stream with a mountain
range behind it, and youre pointing right
in the direction of that sun, youre not
going to get the same image [with digital media]. Youll probably get a beautiful image, but film digs into those shadows and holds onto highlights in a
different way.
The National Parks shoot took

Top photo Craig Mellish. Bottom photo Lincoln Else. Used with permission.

Above:
Cinematographer
Buddy Squires,
Burns longtime
collaborator,
films in Bryce
Canyon National
Park in Utah.
Below: Working
with
producer/writer
Dayton Duncan,
Squires lines up
a shot in Glacier
Bay, Alaska.

place over six years in 53 parks; about


1,000 rolls of film were shot. Thats
about 80 rolls an hour, which is quite
efficient, says Squires, who shot 75
percent of the footage. The rest was
shot by Allen Moore, a frequent collaborator based in Baltimore; Lincoln Else, an
experienced mountaineer who was
working as a park ranger in Yosemite;
and Burns. Else started on the project as
a camera assistant but eventually
became a one-man strike team, picking up shots of wintertime Yosemite and
other western locales.
Florentine crews are small by
design. Weve always scratched our
heads in amazement when weve seen
12 crew members at an interview, or
eight for MOS live shooting, says
Burns. We just dont need it. Were a
couple or three people. That means no
matter how big a muckety-muck you are,
youre carrying something heavy!
The National Parks package was
relatively bare bones. Everything I own
can fit in the back of a Saab, says
Squires. On a 10-day, mule-supported
excursion into Kings Canyon, Squires
and Else set out each morning carrying
everything they needed in two backpacks. Id have an Aaton, one of my
two zooms a Canon 8-64mm or 11165mm and an 85/Polarizer filter,
recalls Squires. Link would have the
other zoom, a 300mm Canon, a couple of
Zeiss Super Speeds, a Sachtler 20
tripod, and enough film to get us through
the day. The mules would carry film for
the next days. Squires also carried a
Zeiss Mutar 2x extender to double the
300mms range, and an eShot Intervalometer for off-speed shooting.
Typically, the cameramen would
carry two to three magazines. Even
though it was landscape shooting, we
often needed to change magazines
quickly, says Else. You might wait for
hours for nature to do what you want,
but when it happens, you have to shoot
a lot in a short period of time. Most of
the footage was shot on Eastman EXR
100T 7247 and, after that stock was
discontinued, Kodak Vision2 100T 7212;
Squires exposed both normally. I dont
want the grain, he says. There are

Right: A bear
sets his sights
on his next meal
in the Katmai
National Park
and Preserve in
Alaska. Below:
This archival
photo shows
tourists
warming their
feet in the
waters of the
Great Fountain
Geyser in the
early days of
Yellowstone
National Park.

22 October 2009

those who will say you cant see the


difference between the 200-ASA and
the 100-ASA, but I can feel it, particularly on the newest 3K Arriscan transfers. (The picture was scanned at 3K
and color-corrected at Goldcrest Post,
where the filmmakers worked with
colorist John Dowdell.) Squires regularly
uses tungsten stock for exteriors. That
evolved from camera tests I did a long
time ago. I just like the feel of tungsten
stock more. For exteriors, Id almost
always have an 85/Polarizer on the lens,
and thats it. Particularly in 16mm, I just
dont like to degrade the image.
Portability was another point in
Super 16s favor. Whether hiking
through Kings Canyon, rafting down the
Grand Canyon or flying over Volcanoes
National Park, all Id need to do is pull
the camera out of a pack, snap it on a
tripod and start shooting, says Squires.
Power consumption isnt a problem. I
floated on the Colorado River for 10 days

with a total of three Aaton batteries and


no way to charge them, and there was
no need to charge them. I knew I had
enough charge to last double the
amount of film I had.
One constant challenge on the
shoot was what Burns calls the tyranny
of beauty. He elaborates, An overwhelming sequence of beautiful shots,
if done in the same way, has a kind of
numbing effect. Though literally shooting in picture-postcard locations, the
cinematographers had to avoid making
picture postcards.
Like Ansel Adams, whose
famous image of Half Dome in Yosemite
was taken a few feet from the main
road, the cinematographers often
wound up at common observation
points. Try as they might to uncover new
vistas, they repeatedly found that their
ideal spot was a well-marked inspiration point. Else notes, That speaks to
the foresight and intelligence of the

parks original designers. Much


depended on being in the right place at
the right time, and park rangers provided
invaluable tips. Theyre the ones who
know what time the sun hits a certain
rock face, when a river will do what you
want it to, and when the animals will be
in a specific place, says Else. Often it
was a matter of waiting for the right
atmospherics, either magic hour or that
cusp between a storm and clear, says
Else. We were trying to capture these
places in motion, in a state of change.
They made frequent use of time-lapse
photography, which has been part of
our vocabulary for a long time, says
Squires. The longest time-lapse was a
six-hour shot of Old Faithful: Like an
ocean tide, a crowd fills the bleachers,
watches the geyser explode and then
flows out. In the quiet moments
between, some buffalo amble through
the frame, and then the cycle repeats.
Settings depended on the speed
of the subject. If we were filming a sun
shadow moving across a ridge line, we
might want to film over a matter of
hours, in which case wed break out the
calculator to figure out how to get a 10to-20-second shot, says Else. For mist
moving in the valley, we might want to
speed up only slightly, perhaps 12 fps or
6 fps, which would double or quadruple
the speed of the thing we were watching. Off-speed shooting was always a
gamble. You might set up a beautiful
time-lapse of a mountain emerging
behind fog, only to find you get a twohour shot of gray, says Else. Or you
expect swirling, moody clouds and end
up with blown-out sunlight.
You can plan, but in the end, you
have to respond to whats happening at
the moment, says Squires. He recalls a
day in Glacier National Park when uninspiring light squashed the teams hope.
But while they headed up Going-to-theSun Road, there was an immense fog
bank rolling down off the mountain with
the sun coming up behind it. It was literally rising up and engulfing us, then
falling back down and dissipating. We
jumped out and set up the time-lapse,
and it turned a day that was nothing into

a day that was extraordinary.

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1.78:1
Super 16mm
Aaton XTR-Prod
Canon and Zeiss lenses
Eastman EXR 100T 7247;
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200T 7217, 500T 7218
24 October 2009

In a scene in Georgia OKeeffe, the painter (played by Joan Allen) works on a mural for
Radio City Music Hall.

An Artists Awakening
by Jean Oppenheimer
Artist Georgia OKeeffe fell in
love with New Mexico the moment she
stepped onto the sun-drenched desert
floor and gazed at the unspoiled beauty
that surrounded her: terra-cotta-colored
rock formations almost geometric in
design, animal bones bleached white by
the sun, and wild desert flowers, all set
against crystal-clear, blue skies. New
Mexico is famous for its quality of
light, notes Paul Elliott, director of
photography on the Lifetime Television
drama Georgia OKeeffe. We shot in
Santa Fe, which is 7,000 feet above sea
level, and the thin air and relative lack of
pollution produces a very clear light.
Elliott, a British native who divides his
time between Los Angeles and Santa
Fe, is a three-time ASC Award nominee;
he won for HBOs 1995 biopic Truman.
Directed by Bob Balaban, and
starring Joan Allen, Georgia OKeeffe
chronicles the artists career and her
tempestuous relationship with her
husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz
(Jeremy Irons). It was Stieglitz who first
championed OKeeffes work, exhibiting
her paintings in his New York art gallery

in 1916, months before he ever met her.


The movie cuts back and forth between
New York, where the couple lived for
many years, and New Mexico. The
production was shot entirely on location
in and around Santa Fe, and Elliotts
familiarity with the region helped the
team keep to its 20-day schedule. The
filmmakers spent two days shooting in
OKeeffes former home in Abiquiu
the first time the Georgia OKeeffe Foundation had ever granted permission to
film there.
The artists house looks out onto
Perdernal Mountain, an image that
figures prominently in many of her paintings. The magnificent mesa held a
special attraction for her, and the telefilm opens with a pullback from the
mountain, through an open window and
into the house where OKeeffe, now an
old woman, stands at her easel. (Elliott
initially planned to use a dolly for the
pullback but couldnt lay tracks in the
historic structure, so he used a
Steadicam instead.)
Dozens of photos were taken of
OKeeffe in her house, and these
provided a valuable visual reference for
Elliott and the other department heads.
Perhaps because she lived to age 98,

Georgia OKeeffe photos by Richard Foreman, courtesy of Lifetime Television.

Aerial cinematography, captured


by 17 pilots, also played a big role.
Squires favors a Tyler Nose Mount for
such work. Its really solid, almost
bulletproof, he says. I love it for the
sense it gives of moving through a landscape. But in a Florentine first, some
aerial shots were handheld. The first
occurred in Alaskas Kenai Fjords. There
was no specific plan to do aerials, but
wed brought along a Kenyon Gyrostabilizer, recalls Squires. After noticing
icebergs, the team hired a pilot with a
Cessna 172. She let me hop in the back,
open the window and shoot for a couple
hours. Satisfied with the image quality,
this became a low-cost option. There
are some advantages to handheld, says
Squires, citing flexibility of position and
the ability to avoid landings for magazine changes. When he was aloft over
Hawaiis Volcanoes National Park, we
were probably running film at 32 or 36
fps, and you cant just land on a lava
field wherever you want! Shooting
handheld, he was able to capture many
dramatic shots of molten lava spilling
into the ocean as dusk faded.
The personal pleasure of such
moments was matched by the gratification of knowing that the teams images
would be preserved and shared. If one
is working literally and figuratively in the
shadow of Ansel Adams, theres an
imperative to strive for extraordinary
images, says Squires. Our job is to do
justice to that land, to use the light to its
best possible advantage, and to help our
audience understand why John Muir,
Teddy Roosevelt and so many others
struggled to preserve this cornerstone of
our heritage. If our images arent truly
inspiring, then we will have failed to
honor the legacy of all those who
preceded us.

Above: Alfred
Stieglitz (Jeremy
Irons) arranges
to photograph
OKeeffe
in their New
York apartment.
Right: After
relocating to
New Mexico,
OKeeffe finds
inspiration in
the skulls that
litter the desert.

26 October 2009

many of these photos show an old


woman with a stern expression and a
deeply lined face. To accentuate the wrinkles for the opening shot, Elliott used
three-quarter backlight, hidden just
outside the open window, and avoided
fill. He placed a second light source out
the back window to create a shadow of
an animal skull on the wall.
The pullback demanded a radical
shift in exposure as the camera moves
from the bright desert exterior to the dark
interior of the room, and Elliott notes this
was one of many instances when shooting high-definition video paid off. There
was a pretty huge stop-pull, he says.
Because I was standing at the monitor, I
could see exactly what we were getting.
I was changing the aperture remotely as
the Steadicam moved around. On that
shot, I believe we went from a T11 to a
T2.8 or T4.
The production originally budgeted
for a Sony HDW-F900, but Elliott believed
Grass Valleys Viper would suit the project
better. The F900 doesnt have the same
dynamic range, and I was concerned we
wouldnt be able to capture the New
Mexico exteriors very well with it, he
says. Furthermore, theres something
about the Vipers image quality thats very
forgiving with faces. Its sharp and clear,
but not harsh. Sometimes HD can be too
sharp and clear. By calling in a few
favors, Elliott was able to get the camera
package (provided by Camera House in
Los Angeles) at a reasonable rate. Most
scenes were shot with two cameras
because of the tight schedule, and Elliott
kept a zoom lens on each camera, a Zeiss
6-24mm DigiZoom and an Angenieux
Digital Optimo 9.7-116mm. (He used
Zeiss DigiPrime lenses for some scenes.)
Stieglitz relied on available light
for his photography, eschewing flashes
and other artificial lights. He did a famous
series of nude photographs of OKeeffe,
and the only illumination in the room was
usually the fireplace. The light level was
so low that OKeeffe would have to sit
motionless for three minutes. This scene
is recreated in Georgia OKeeffe, with the
fireplace behind Stieglitz, who is seated
on the floor, facing the camera. OKeeffes
naked back is to the camera. With HD,

Director Bob
Balaban (left)
discusses a
shot with
cinematographer
Paul Elliott and
Steadicam
operator Beau
Chaput.

we could almost have made the shot


using just firelight, notes Elliott. The
problem is that the flames get overexposed, so we put up a Chimera with a
2K Blonde behind it just off to the side of
the fire. We put a honeycomb grid on it
and dimmed it down to match the firelight.
A key aspect of Elliotts visual
approach was contrasting the warm,

hard light of New Mexico with the cool,


soft light of Manhattan or, in the
New York art galleries, contrasting cool
outdoor light with warm interior lighting. OKeeffe and Stieglitzs first meeting takes place inside his 291 Gallery.
Period photos of the location revealed a
skylight in the middle of the room and
small tungsten ceiling lights illuminating
individual paintings. On an overcast

day in Manhattan, the light coming


through the skylight would be cool,
whereas the light from the tungsten
fixtures would be warm, says Elliott.
That allowed me to motivate the
contrast. We did that a lot in New York
scenes.
The gallery set was built in a
garage on the grounds of an abandoned
hospital. There wasnt enough room to
reproduce the skylight, so Elliott created
one by pushing blue-gelled Kino Flos and
several layers of 250 right up against the
ceiling. Tungsten scoop lights, designed
to match the originals, illuminated the
paintings on the wall.
The set for another New York art
gallery was built inside the former hospital, allowing the filmmakers more space.
We were able to create larger skylights
there, and we put one layer of diffusion
right over the Kino Flo tubes, and then a
second layer maybe 6 inches away,
recalls Elliott. We were using 3200K
tubes, and we put 34 CTB on them.
In one art-gallery scene, OKeeffe

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gets angry when she discovers that an


exhibit consists exclusively of Stieglitzs
nude photos of her. She and Stieglitz go
into the corridor to argue. Its dusk, and
the hallway is lined on one side with
windows. We hung about eight
dimmed-down Schoolhouse globes
from the ceiling to provide warm light,
and we had cool light coming through
tracing paper on the windows, recalls
Elliott. We had to frost the windows
because there were empty rooms on
the other side of them.
The gallery scenes point up the
only problem Elliott had with the Viper.
HD has much greater depth-of-field
than 35mm, and Im not keen on that.
When youre shooting in small rooms,
you tend to be on wider lenses because
you cant back up, so you have too much
depth-of-field. Assuming the actors
werent moving around too much, I
found I was able to defocus the background in post with Power Windows.
That helped us separate the faces a bit
more from the background.

28mm 76mm

Balaban likes to keep the


camera moving, the cinematographer
adds. The camera is always drifting
slowly a gentle, subtle movement.
Bob doesnt care for handheld, so we
were on a dolly or used a Steadicam
most of the time.
Given the short shooting schedule, the toughest part of the project was
simply doing justice to the subject. It
really helped that all of us were in
sync, says Elliott. I had an exceptionally good relationship with Bob, Joan
and Jeremy. The cinematographer was
also very pleased with his crew, most of
whom were local hires. Jim Tynes is
one of the top gaffers, and we were
lucky to have him, he says. He also has
high praise for production designer
Steve Altman and makeup artist
Dorothy J. Pearl.
In the color-correction, which
was done at LaserPacific, Elliott and
colorist Tim Vincent didnt do anything
radical, says the cinematographer.
We evened things out shot-to-shot and

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played with the balance between the


cool light and warm light in the New
York scenes. We also warmed up the
New Mexico sequences a bit.
The only time Elliott insisted on
shooting at a particular time of day was
for the movies final scene, which shows
OKeeffe walking in the hills behind her
home. Ive spent a lot of time in that
area and know that the light on those
rocks changes throughout the day, he
says. At a certain time of day, they
really come alive, turning a rich red, and
I knew it would be the perfect time to
shoot that scene. We were able to wrap
it up in 45 minutes.
TECHNICAL SPECS
16x9
High-Definition Video
Grass Valley Viper
Zeiss and Angenieux lenses
I

24mm 290mm

Pitch Perfect
Christopher Manley, ASC discusses his Emmy-nominated
work on Mad Men, the acclaimed period drama currently in
its third season on AMC.
by Rachael K. Bosley
Unit photography by Carin Baer
ts 1963, and change is in the air
at New York ad agency Sterling
Cooper.
Creative
director/partner Don Draper (Jon
Hamm) and his colleagues are
adjusting to life under British rule,
thanks to the recent sale of the
company to an English firm, and
the transition has not been easy.
Layoffs have eliminated one-third

I
30 October 2009

of the staff, and the new chief


financial officer, Englishman Lane
Pryce (Jared Harris), has sent even
bigger shockwaves through the
bullpen by bringing along his male
secretary, John Hooker (Ryan
Cartwright), a first at Sterling
Cooper. Meanwhile, Draper is
anticipating upheaval in his
domestic sphere as well: he and his

wife, Betty (January Jones), are


expecting their third child, an
unplanned pregnancy that hasnt
exactly saved the couples troubled
marriage.
That much was revealed in
the first episode of Mad Mens new
season, which began airing on
AMC in August and will continue
through early November. When

Unit photos courtesy of AMC. Additional photos courtesy of Louie Escobar. DVD frames 2008 Lions Gate Television. Used with permission.

AC visited the set of the secretive


production, during the filming of
episode six, only a few details in the
scene at hand revealed additional
information: Tiny British flags
dotted every desk in the bullpen,
suggesting that Sterling Coopers
new owners had crossed the pond
for a visit, and Cartwright was
among the actors shedding his
shoes to play a scene in Coopers
office, indicating that his character
had so far survived the gynocracy
of his new environment. As 1st AD
Adam Ben Frank marshaled the
troops for director Lesli Linka
Glatter, the shows director of
photography, Christopher Manley,
ASC, used the short breaks
between setups to point out some
of the lighting changes he and his
crew had made to the office set
since he came aboard the production last year. Theres a virtue to
sticking with one show for a while,
which is that you go into the
specific problems of the photography really deeply, and you learn
you have to, observes Manley,
whose rsum includes ASC
Award-nominated episodes of CSI:

NY and Threat Matrix. Its


surprising, the things Im still
learning on this show.
A few weeks later, on the
heels of the announcement that he
had earned one of Mad Mens 16
Emmy Award nominations for
2008, Manley met with AC to detail
some aspects of that learning
curve.

American Cinematographer:
We should begin by talking about
how you landed Mad Men. Was it
something on your reel that
caught [series creator] Matthew
Weiners eye?
Christopher Manley, ASC: I
dont remember discussing many
specifics about my reel with Matt. I
did hear him tell one of the actors

These pages
show three
scenes in this
years first
episode, Out of
Town. Opposite:
Joan Holloway
(Christina
Hendricks,
center) details
which accounts
have been
assigned to Pete
Campbell
(Vincent
Kartheiser,
foreground left)
and Ken
Cosgrove (Aaron
Staton,
foreground right),
the new coheads of account
services. New
CFO Lane Pryce
(Jared Harris,
background
right) and TVdepartment head
Harry Crane
(Rich Sommer,
background left)
devised the
assignments.
This page, top
(from left): Burt
Peterson
(Michael
Gaston), Pryce,
Bert Cooper
(Robert Morse)
and Don Draper
(Jon Hamm)
react to Roger
Sterlings late
arrival at a grim
meeting
Peterson has just
been laid off.
Bottom: Crane,
Campbell and
Paul Kinsey
(Michael Gladis)
witness
Petersons
subsequent
meltdown in the
bullpen.

American Cinematographer 31

Pitch Perfect
A striking scene
in last years
episode The
Benefactor,
showing
Drapers first
meeting with
Bobbie Barrett
(Melinda
McGraw), is
echoed in this
years Out of
Town, which
finds Draper up
to his old tricks
with a
stewardess
(Sunny Mabrey)
while on
business in
Baltimore.

that when I came in to interview,


he wanted to talk about my work,
and all I wanted to talk about was
Mad Men. I loved the show I
was a big fan of the writing in
particular and he saw how
thrilled and excited I was at the
prospect of shooting it. I think I
had some support at AMC, too:
Vlad Wolynetz, one of the executives who works on Mad Men, had
worked on an AMC Halloween
special I shot for Roger Corman
early in my career, The Phantom
Eye [1999]. It was aimed at kids,
and I won a Daytime Emmy for it.
When Vlad found out I was up for
Mad Men, he said, I know him.
Its remarkable how many
filmmakers can trace their careers
back to Corman.
Manley: Yeah. I actually
worked with [Mad Men gaffer]
Mike Ambrose on my first movie
with Corman, in 1997. What I
learned at Corman was how to
work faster and how much I could
compromise my own standards.
[Laughs] But thats an important
32 October 2009

lesson to learn, because you have


to make art on a budget.
When we interviewed Phil
Abraham about his cinematography on the pilot and first few
episodes of Mad Men [AC March
08], he described it as a twocamera show. Is that still the case?
Manley: Not exactly. We use
a B camera, but far less than other
TV shows. Its a single-camera
mindset. Thats one of the things I
like about the show, but its taken a
bit of a mental adjustment because
Ive done so many shows that used
two cameras on every single setup.
Using two cameras always
compromises composition, lighting and especially focal length
when youre shooting with two
cameras, you can never use the
exact lens you want. On Mad Men,
we like to use the right lens for the
job and get one great shot instead
of two compromised shots. Its a
commitment.
Youre shooting on film,
which goes against the trend in
TV production today. Has anyone

Top photo by Louie Escobar.

talked to you about switching to


digital capture?
Manley: I dont think shooting digitally has ever come up, and
I dont think it ever will. I think
Matt will shoot film till they close
the labs.
You mentioned on set that
youve modified the daylight
lighting scheme outside Sterling
Coopers windows. How have you
done that?
Manley: The Translite of the
Manhattan skyline was a big addition in season two. In the first
season, they used individual backdrops on rollers, moving them
around depending on the shot, but
last year Roscoe manufactured the
Translite for us. Its 180 feet long
[and 18 feet tall], and its a
day/night backing. For day scenes,
we light it with 5K Skypans. There
used to be an Arri T-12 over each
window; they were used for sun in
the first season, but we ended up
using them just to suggest skylight
last year, because we have so many
low angles we cant really get a sun
source out of the shot. We tend to
come in from the sides, off the
floor. But I never quite liked what
the T-12 did with the blinds; it
made a specular highlight that
would kind of give it away as a
source in addition to our sun
source. I wanted something that
was broader and softer and felt
more like skylight, so this year
weve eliminated the T-12s and
ringed the whole perimeter of the
set with cyc strips gelled with
CTB and 250 diffusion. That gives
us an even, soft source, and the
reflection on the blinds is a solid
line, more naturalistic. And it
turned out to be less expensive,
which is a bonus.
You also noted that Pat
OMara, your key grip, has
customized a lot of gear for the
show. What are some examples?
Manley: We were using
[Kino Flo] Image 80s for keylight

Top: Christopher
Manley, ASC
lines up a shot in
the Sterling
Cooper set.
Keeping scenes
visually
interesting in the
companys
conference room,
pictured here in
three scenes
from season two,
is a consistent
challenge for
Manley and his
collaborators.
Its the kind of
set that calls out
to be lit in one
very specific
way, notes
Manley. In the
uppermost
scene, a DVD
frame grab,
Draper, Cooper
and Sterling
(John Slattery)
meet with the
agencys new
English owners
in Meditations
in an
Emergency;
middle, Draper
helps the team
refine a
campaign for
Mohawk Airlines
in For Those
Who Think
Young; bottom,
Peggy Olson
(Elisabeth Moss)
and Campbell
partake in a staff
party in The
Inheritance.

American Cinematographer 33

New Director Shapes The New Girl


he New Girl, which brought
Christopher Manley, ASC his
first primetime Emmy nomination, exhibits the kind of storytelling ambition Mad Men viewers
have come to expect, offering visual
grace notes that advance the story
and reveal character to the extent
that any character on Mad Men is
revealed. The episodes director,
Jennifer Getzinger, was new to the
job but knew the show intimately
because she had been its script
supervisor for over a year, beginning
with the pilot. Jen understood how
we shoot the show, what type of
coverage we do and whats required
better than almost anyone; there was
no gap between her vision and what
the show should be, says Manley.
The dialogue and performances are
so great that we try not to pour
camera sauce all over them. We
maintain a transparent technique,
and we only depart from that in
private or transitional moments,
when the camera briefly comes to
the fore.
Manley is particularly pleased
with two flashbacks that reveal what
happened to Peggy (Elisabeth Moss)
during her mysterious leave-ofabsence. Both sequences are introduced with elegant transitions that
Getzinger and Manley worked out
on set. In the first, the camera dollies
down the hall toward Peggys
bedroom, and she steps into the
shot, walking just ahead of the
camera. She enters the bedroom,
turns to face the camera and closes
the door; as the door closes, the shot
dissolves to a window, and the
camera drops down into a close-up
of Peggy in a hospital bed, a scene
that took place two years earlier.
Chris lit that so beautifully, says
Getzinger. The room has a dark,
musty feel, and it feels like the
outside world is trying to push in
through the window.
In the second sequence, Peggy
sits on the sofa in her apartment and
looks at an armchair across the

Select DVD frames illustrate the transition to Peggys first


flashback in The New Girl, which earned Manley an
Emmy Award nomination.

34 October 2009

room, close to the camera. The


camera dollies behind the chair and
rises on a diagonal; as the chairs dark
shape fills the frame, the shot
dissolves into a close-up of a persons
back, and the camera reaches the end
of its diagonal move at the persons
shoulder, settling on an over-theshoulder of Peggy in the hospital
bed. The next shot reveals her visitor:
Don Draper (Jon Hamm). The
move had to be diagonal in order to
come off Dons back, explains
Getzinger. We actually shot the
second half of the move first, so
when we shot the first half, it was a
matter of finding the right diagonal
to match.
Another noteworthy shot is a
two-shot of Don and his wife
(January Jones) that rolls focus from
one to the other as he reveals a health
problem to her. That fell into place
as we were shooting, recalls
Getzinger. Racking back and forth
like that can be too self-conscious,
but in this instance it seemed to work
in a natural way. Our great focus
puller, Penny Sprague, knew exactly
the right moment to roll from one
actor to the other.
The episode also contains a
oner involving Joan (Christina
Hendricks) at the desk outside Dons
office and Don at his desk, framed in
the doorway behind her. (See photos
on opposite page.) Getzinger recalls,
Id planned to do that scene in four
or five shots, but we were behind,
and the first AD said, Can you do
this in one shot? My first reaction
was, What?! But then Chris and I
worked it out, and it plays really
nicely.
You wish you had all the time
in the world, but you never do, and if
you did, youd cover every scene six
ways to Sunday and it would all be
dull, says Manley. But because we
had to shoot that scene in 20
minutes, we found a creative way to
make it more interesting.
Rachael K. Bosley

in Sterling Cooper, and in prep for


this season, I had Pat make some
custom 3-by-5 gel frames, because
last year we were always putting 4by frames in front of the Image
80s, and the shape wasnt quite
right. Then we decided to replace
the Image 80s with [Kino Flo]
Vista Beams, which are more
powerful, and although the Vista
Beams are square, I still find the 3by-5s useful well often put 4foot 4-bank Kinos through a
3-by-5 frame for fill lights or
eyelights. Pat also made some 2by-6 gel frames that we use for
diffusion, usually toppers or
bottomers. He has 6-foot and 8foot teasers, WagFlags, which are
metal blades wrapped with black
Rip-Stop nylon. You can unwrap
them to make them small or large,
and theyre so light you can extend
one very far on a C-stand and cut
the light without having to rig an
overhead teaser from the grid with
rope. [Ed. Note: For details on the
original WagFlags, see Tricks of
the Trade, AC July 03.] Another
trick of Pats is a scroll, a wooden
dowel wrapped with black silk that
you can unroll to any length; you
can clip it to the back of a fluorescent with a grip clip and get the
effect of the light while keeping
light off the wall. All of Pats stuff is
really quick and easy to use.
Do you still use the
magnetic solids and gel frames he
devised to shape the overhead
fluorescents in season one?
Manley: They used those
because they didnt have individual
control of all the fluorescents in
Sterling Cooper in the first season,
and even though we put all those
lights on separate channels for
season two, we still use the
magnetic gels occasionally. Sometimes where the actor stops is a
place that requires some kind of
hairlight, but the light might be
hitting her nose, too, so well fasten
a small magnetic triangle or

rectangle wherever we need it to


shape the light.
The conference room is
used extensively, and a number of
directors have talked about the
challenges of staging scenes in
there. What are some of the tricks
youve used in that set?
Manley: The conference
room is difficult. Its the kind of set
that calls out to be lit in one very
specific way: all the windows are on
one side of the room, the table is
always in the same place, and
people are usually sitting around it
in the same way. How do you make
that new and different when youve
already shot 25 or 30 scenes there?
When youre on a tight schedule,
its very tempting to always do what
you know has worked in the past
because that will be faster than
coming up with something new.
You can very easily get trapped in a
rut, but Mike Ambrose, Pat OMara
and I talk all the time about the
problems we tend to run into in
each set, and we always try to find
ways to do things better and more
rapidly. Theres a big, frosted glass
over the table in the conference
room, and we always had Mighties
up there, glowing it, but this year
we added 8-foot and 4-foot fluorescents under the soffit. When it
was just the Mighties, it was very
toppy and a little sourcey, and we
used it very sparingly, but with the
fluorescents in the soffit, the
toplight is actually very soft and
amorphous, and you cant tell
where its coming from.
This year we also have a lot of
conference-room scenes in which
people are using an overhead
projector or looking at film
there are a lot of lights on and
In these DVD frames from the oner in The
New Girl, the camera dollies in on a
cluster of secretaries surrounding Joan,
admiring her engagement ring. After
taking a call for Draper, Joan shoos the
women away and gets back to business.

American Cinematographer 35

Pitch Perfect

36 October 2009

Pitch Perfect
The Drapers
kitchen is
another tricky
set to light
because of its
small size. The
top photo (a
DVD frame
grab), featuring
Don and Betty
(January Jones)
in season twos
final scene,
shows the
standard nightlighting setup
for the space.
The other two
photos, from this
seasons first
episode, depict
unusual
treatments of
the set because
they are Dons
flashbacks. In
the middle
photo, Abigail
Whitman (Brynn
Horrocks)
delivers the
latest in a series
of stillborn
babies. At
bottom, Abigails
husband, Archie
(Joseph Culp),
visits a
prostitute (Kelly
Huddleston), an
encounter that
leads to Dick
Whitmans
conception.

38 October 2009

lights off cues, which are always


tricky and a little time-consuming.
Theres a scene where Don and
Peggy [Elisabeth Moss] are looking
at film, and when Matt came down
for that rehearsal, he said, When
they turn off the projector, I dont
want them to turn the lights on. I
want this whole scene to be in the
dark. Its daytime, and the curtains
and blinds are closed. What do you
do? I thought if they were both
near the windows, they could talk
to each other without looking at
each other, and Don could turn to
Peggy just at the end, and it would
be elegant and simple. So Peggy
turns off the projector, and the
only light in the room is the soft
light from the glowing curtains
[created with a 20K on a stand
outside]. Its actually one of my
favorite scenes of the year so far. I
get most excited when Ive done
something really simple that looks
fantastic.
Have you made any tweaks
to the lighting in Don Drapers
house?
Manley: Weve re-rigged
some China balls in the ceiling of
each room to add room tone for
certain situations. [See diagram on
page 36.] They were rigged there in
the first season, and Mike Ambrose
said they never used them, so last
year we didnt put them in, and I
found there were a few occasions
where I wished we had some soft
overhead ambience. Theyre not
one of our main tools in the house,
but very often theyre the easiest
way to add ambient fill. When you
shoot on location, theres always
some bounce off the ceiling, but
when youre onstage and the ceiling
is out, you have to create that soft,
low-level, toplight ambience if you
want to maintain a realistic look.
We still use the Whiteys [batten
strips with 100-watt household
bulbs] that were rigged all over the
house for season one. Theyre a
godsend, but I find the less I use

Pitch Perfect

In the oner in Meditations in an Emergency, a small dolly in


on Don heightens the tension of the moment, which finds Don
at a crossroads in his professional and personal lives while
the Cuban missile crisis looms.

40 October 2009

them, the better the shot looks. I


light the scene and then only start
introducing Whiteys as the last
step, when I need a little backlight
or fill in a particular area. They
only become key lights in big wide
shots where we dont have the
room for anything else. Our key is
usually a 20K or T-12 through the
window for day scenes, and a
Barger Baglite somewhere low,
suggesting a practical lamp, for
night.
Are there areas of the house
that are particularly challenging?
Manley: The most difficult is
the foyer, which is very confining
and really feels like a location. The
ceiling is very low there and doesnt
come out, and theres a practical
staircase just inside the front door,
so for lighting we have to come
from the stairwell upstairs, from
the side rooms or through the front
door. Also, the kitchen is a lot
smaller than it looks on the screen.
We have lights everywhere in there,
but theyre never quite in the right
place we just dont have the
room so we spend a lot of time
wrestling with fixtures, trying to
get them just outside frame.
The kitchen is the setting
for the flashback sequence that
opens the first episode of this
season, when Don envisions the
circumstances surrounding his
birth. How did you and [director]
Phil Abraham work out the staging of those scenes?
Manley: I think Mad Men
has always taken a creative
approach to flashbacks, going back
to the first one in season one [in
Babylon], when Don falls down
the stairs at home and flashes back
to the birth of his brother. When I
read the script for this seasons first
episode, I tried to think of movies
that had done flashbacks in
elegant, organic ways, and I came
up with 8, Lone Star and Girl,
Interrupted. We mixed some of the
visual and aural techniques used in

those movies.
Do you often reference films
when youre devising an approach
to a scene?
Manley: Matt and the directors will often come to me with
movie references. Theyll say, For
this episode, you should look at La
Notte or Bye Bye Birdie, and
then, when I read the script, I
understand why. Matt is a huge film
buff. I worked as a projectionist in
revival houses in Philly for several
years, so Ive seen more than most
people, but hell sometimes reference films Ive never heard of.
Is he often specific about
how a given scene should be lit?
Manley: I get notes from [coexecutive
producer]
Scott
Hornbacher and the directors, and
sometimes from Matt, about how
certain scenes should look or feel.
Matt can get very specific, and the
more specific he is, the further I can
push something. If he says, This
scene needs to be very dark
theres no light on in the house, I
know exactly where to go. I dont
have to wonder whether very dark
means a little moonlight is filtering
in or a practical lamp is on in the
corner. Sometimes a script will say,
Its very, very dark, and I have to
ask people, How dark is that?
Theres very, very dark, and theres
Youre fired. [Laughs] I also have to
have a lot of discussions about
time-of-day lighting. For instance,
recently there was a scene described
as night that took place in late
June, so I had to clarify whether it
was 9 p.m. night or 7:30 p.m. night,
because its still light out in New
York in late June at 7:30. The assistant directors always print out a
one-line, a list of all the scenes in
continuity, and I use that as a color
and lighting reference. I also get a
lot of help from the script supervisor, Kelly Leffler, and theres always
at least one writer on the set who
can help us resolve [time-of-day]
questions. Sometimes well throw

Photo by Louie Escobar.

During production on season two, Mad Men creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner
(right) entertains Manley with a story. At left is 2nd 2nd AD Jonathon Miller.

scene can be twilight instead of


night; sometimes it would just look
better to glow the windows soft
blue instead of having it be night,
with nothing out there.
Did you learn anything new
about Matts process when he
directed an episode last year?
Manley: Before we worked
together
on
that
episode
[Meditations in an Emergency], I
had a lot of preconceptions about
what his tastes were, based on what
other people were telling me, but I
found him to be far more openminded and flexible about visuals
than I understood he was. It was a
relief to know that the rules, so to
speak, of the visual language of the
show are not completely hard and
fast. Matts very intuitive, and hes
open to breaking those rules if it
works and its interesting.
Can you give us an example
of that?
Manley: Theres a shot in the
bullpen toward the end of
Meditations when Don and Joan
have a dialogue at her desk and she
retrieves his coat and briefcase. Its
the Cuban missile crisis, and it
looks like Don might be quitting
his job. Its a very tense moment,
and we found a way to block it and
a dolly move that made the scene

into a oner that was kind of elegant


and had the right energy. We sometimes do oners on the show, but
rarely; most directors feel they
need to cover themselves enough
to create options in the edit. But
Matts the boss, so if he loves it, we
go for it.
Another visual departure
that comes to mind is the shot in
The Jet Set when Don faints in
Palm Springs, and the camera
assumes his point of view as he
falls to the ground. How did you
do that?
Manley: Yeah, there was a lot
of debate about whether that shot
fit the visual vocabulary of the
show, and I think people are still
split on it. That was a Doggicam
body-rig. Weve done a similar shot
this year, and it works really well.
Like I said, we have a lot of rules,
but theyre all meant to be broken
eventually.
Does that mean we might
see a Steadicam shot one day?
Manley: Weve never had a
Steadicam on our set, and I dont
think we ever will.
Unless the storyline goes
into the late 1970s?
Manley: Right. Maybe then!
With all the unusual colors
and textures in the wardrobe, do
41

Mad Men is often


hailed as a great
drama, but it
contains great
comedy, too, and
theres a reason
for that. Matts a
comedian, says
Manley. Hes
very, very funny
probably the
funniest person
I know.

42

and textures in the wardrobe, do


you ever shoot wardrobe tests?
Manley: Occasionally well
have B camera test something a few
days ahead of time, but very rarely.
[Costume designer] Janie Bryant
and her team will often come to me
with different weaves, different
tweeds for the suits, and ask, Will
this moir? I tell them they should

use what they want, and if theres a


problem, well fix it. Whether
something will moir depends on
so many different factors, including the fabric and the scale of the
shot, that I dont want to eliminate
a whole range of material simply
because it might happen. Also,
people are seeing Mad Men in a lot
of different ways AMCs signal
is standard-definition, but some
people watch the show on HD On
Demand, which is a whole other
world of sharpness and detail.
When I started watching the first
season, I got it on iTunes. I dont
think weve had many moir problems, and some of them can be
fixed in post.
Have you made any changes
to your post process this year?
Manley: Were using the
same team we used last season,
[dailies colorist] Mace Johnson
and [final colorist] Tim Vincent at

LaserPacific, but were doing better


now because weve all become
attuned to what Matt likes and
doesnt like. Last year, Id shoot onset gray scales and reference stills
and e-mail them to Mace, and
when I had time, Id pop in to
watch the final and give Tim notes,
and then Matt would come in for
the review and change a lot of
things. His changes werent for the
worse or for the better; he just had
a different idea about how the
show should look.
How would you describe
the look hes after?
Manley: He wants natural
skin tones whenever possible, and
he wants to feel the warmth in the
wood at Sterling Cooper. There are
a lot of warm tones, and a lot of
middle tones and neutral tones,
too. Its a fluorescent environment,
and the fluorescents are colorcorrect, but theyre still slightly

Photo by Louie Escobar.

Pitch Perfect

cool compared to tungsten, and


that tends to dull the wood. When
you think about it, letting fluorescents be cool or be green in
photography is a very recent idea. I
came up in the late 80s-early 90s,
when cyan became really fashionable for a while, and that affects my
taste and my perception of the
world and photography. But Matt
is steeped in the late 50s-early 60s,
and keeping the light clean and
white is more reminiscent of
movies of that era, when [cinematographers] tried to balance
everything all the time. So this year,
Im shooting my gray scales differently. Were keeping the green level
consistent so that when we add or
alter green or magenta, there arent
a lot of shifts in skin tones, lipstick
or hair. Our actors have many
different skin tones, and theres a
variety of color in the womens
wardrobe, hair and makeup, and

the more we wrestle that colorcorrected image, the more strange


artifacts and color shifts arise that
make it harder for Tim to arrive at
his final, matching color. This year,
between the adjustments Ive made
on set, the adjustments Mace has
made in dailies, and Tims understanding of what Matt likes, were
all much closer [to the final] much
more quickly than we were last
year.
Apart from the period
angle, are there aspects of Mad
Men that make this experience
different from the other series
youve shot?
Manley: We have less money
than a lot of the other shows Ive
done, yet the show is still fairly
ambitious. Overall, the challenges
are similar. Shooting episodic television is a real marathon, and the
schedule just kind of washes over
you and becomes your life. Its very

easy to get discouraged, but with


Mad Men I dont. This is the first
time Ive done two seasons of any
show. Ive done some good shows,
but nothing this good. The quality
of the writing is fantastic, and that
keeps me excited about every
episode. Its rewarding to come to
work and feel like Im involved in
creating great drama.
I

TECHNICAL SPECS
1.78:1
3-perf 35mm
Panaflex Platinum
Primo lenses
Kodak Vision2 250D 5205,
Vision3 500T 5219

43

Hard
Time
Larry Smith, BSC
creates surreal
ambience and
unusual lighting
schemes for Nicolas
Winding Refns
baroque prison
drama Bronson.
by Stephen Pizzello
Unit photography by
Dean Rogers and Chris Harris

44 October 2009

f Kenneth Anger were sentenced


to hard time in a maximumsecurity prison run by Stanley
Kubrick, his incarceration might
look a lot like Nicolas Winding
Refns Bronson, a surreal head trip
that takes viewers deep inside the
disturbed mind of a lifer who
spends most of his days in solitary
confinement. Prone to bizarre,
grandiose fantasies, the inmate
(Tom Hardy) rarely mingles with
fellow prisoners or society at large,
and on the rare occasions when he
does, the result is more than a little
of the old ultraviolence.
Bronsons plot is loosely
based on the real-life exploits of
Michael Peterson, who has developed a cult following since branding himself the most violent prisoner in England. After attempting

to rob a post office in 1974, at the


age of 19, Peterson was sentenced to
seven years in prison, but he has
since seen his punishment extended
to 34 years (30 in solitary confinement) after repeated run-ins with
other inmates and prison staff and
a two-day rooftop protest at
Broadmoor Prison that caused
approximately $1 million in damages. Prior to his long stretch in jail,
Peterson had a brief career as a
bareknuckle boxer in Londons East
End; he has claimed that a fight
promoter changed his name to
Bronson, and that his new moniker
has nothing to do with the
American actor of Death Wish
fame. (This assertion seems dubious coming from a man who has
cagily cultivated his own celebrity.)
Petersons obsession with

Photos courtesy of Magnet Releasing and Vertigo Films.

fame and his creation of a colorful alter ego to help him achieve it
is the true focus of Bronson,
according to Refn. Working from
the original material about him
that he and other people had written, I deleted all story and just
decided to make a film about a
man who sees himself as someone
else, explains the director, who cowrote the screenplay with Brock
Norman Brock. Bronson is not
really a biopic about Michael
Peterson; its about the concept of

him becoming Charles Bronson.


Some of the things that happen in
the movie actually happened in
real life, but I took artistic license in
terms of how I portrayed him and
the people in his world. I structured the film very much like a circus, so all the characters around
him are very theatrical. I wanted to
mix the flamboyant cultures of
homosexuality and crime, which
really intermingled in the U.K.
during the Swinging Sixties. The
Bronson character is almost like a

toy soldier from that era, when


Britain was still an empire and
everyone had a stiff upper lip.
Bronson is probably the
most autobiographical film Ive
made, adds Refn, whose credits
include the Pusher trilogy. Its right
there in the opening line: My
names Charles Bronson, and all
my life Ive wanted to be famous. I
probably said the same thing a million times when I was 18. The film
is ultimately about an individuals
different views of himself, from the

Opposite page:
Englands most
violent inmate,
Michael
Peterson
a.k.a. Charles
Bronson (Tom
Hardy)
prepares for
another battle
with prison
guards. This
page, top:
Cinematographer
Larry Smith, BSC
lit the cage
scene with redgelled
Dedolights and a
2-by-4 Kino Flo
bank positioned
overhead. Bottom
left: Nothing
closer to my
heart than a good
cup of British
cha. Director
Nicolas Winding
Refn coaches
Hardy on the
proper way to
serve tea in the
slammer. Bottom
right: Smith finds
himself in the
spotlight.

American Cinematographer 45

Hard Time
Top left: After
constantly
shuttling between
different prisons,
Bronson is
escorted to yet
another cell or,
as he refers to it,
my hotel room.
All of the films
prison scenes
were shot at an
architecturally
eccentric estate in
Nottingham, 120
miles north of
London. Refn
notes, I asked our
location people to
find an old estate,
a Gothic building.
I said, If we cant
use an actual
prison, then the
movie will be
about the concept
of incarceration.
We used all the
rooms to create
the various parts
of his world. Top
right: Bronson
whiles away
endless hours on
his bunk. We
didnt have
removable walls
in most of our sets,
so in the cages
and cells we
either shot from
overhead or tried
to emphasize the
claustrophobic
feeling, says
Smith. Bottom:
Bronson is
eventually
transferred to a
maximum-security
prison whose
hard-nut warden
(Jonny Phillips,
left) is determined
to break his spirit.
Bronsons real
offense is that hes
embarrassed the
government, and
youre not allowed
to do that in
England, Smith
says. Some of
those old
institutions hes
done time in are a
nightmare. Nobody
knows what goes
on in those
places.

46 October 2009

perspective of his multiple personalities; it can also be seen as an allegory about an artist searching for a
space in which to perform. Bronson
tries many different things before
he puts down his fists and takes up
the paintbrush and pen. Thats
when he truly becomes the flamboyant persona whos so famous in
the U.K.
Refns background in lowbudget filmmaking prepared him
well for the rigors of Bronson,
which was shot in five weeks for
roughly $1 million. The director
gained his reputation as a bad boy

of Danish cinema with the three


Pusher films, which interweave the
lives of several drug dealers who
operate at different levels in
Copenhagens criminal underworld. (All three features were shot
by Morten Sborg.)
Prior to completing the second and third Pusher films, Refn
traveled to Winnipeg, Canada, to
direct Fear X (2003), his first collaboration with cinematographer
Larry Smith, BSC. A longtime fan
of Kubricks films, Refn was thrilled
to work with Smith, who had
served as chief electrician on Barry

Lyndon (AC March 76), gaffer on


The Shining (AC Aug. 80) and
lighting cameraman on Eyes Wide
Shut (AC Oct. 99). The first time I
became aware of lighting was when
my mother and I were watching
The Shining on television many
years ago, Refn says. It was the
scene where Jack Nicholson is sitting at the bar in the Overlook
Hotel. Hes speaking to the bartender, who is off camera, and a
light is hitting his face from underneath. My mother said, My God,
thats incredible lighting. Larry
helped design the lighting for that
scene, so its almost like our collaboration was somehow meant to
happen.
I got the job on Fear X
through a producer Nicolas and I
both knew, says Smith. That was
my first association with Nicolas,
and we got on really well. We have a
lot of laughs on set, and he gives me
all the freedom I need. Its a throwback to the old days when directors
directed, actors acted and cinematographers handled all the photographic duties. Nowadays, directors who are happy to work that
way are rare, especially if theyre
young.
Bronsons modest budget led
the filmmakers to shoot in Super
16mm, and we didnt try to pass it

off as another format, Refn asserts.


The visuals in Bronson are very
aesthetically oriented and designed,
and Super 16s harsh, grainy look
created an interesting contrast with
that. Smith says he would have
preferred to shoot on 35mm, but he
notes that his approach to composition expansive framing
achieved with very wide lenses
lends the film a guerrilla
grandeur that matches the scope
of Bronsons fantasies. The cinematographer recalls, At one point,
I told [production designer] Adrian
Smith, I was looking at this whole
production a bit skeptically because
of the lack of money, but somehow,
it works. And he replied, I was
thinking the same thing. Of course,
I would still rather have shot the
movie in 35mm, mainly because
you have more lens choices, especially with faster lenses. When
youre using the wide-angle 16mm
lenses, you just cant get down to a
stop of T1.3 or T1.4 youre stuck
at T2, and youre struggling at that
stop. The average stop on this film
was about T2, and sometimes I was
pushing a bit to get under that.
On this show, we had an
Arri 416 and a spare that we used
occasionally. We were on a very
tight budget, so we used one film
stock, Kodaks [Vision2 500T]
7218, for almost everything. I tried
to get Vision3 [7219], which had
just come out, because I felt it
would help with the grain structure
of 16mm, but our budget wouldnt
allow it. We only changed stock a
couple of times, mainly for the
greenscreen material we shot in the
theater where Bronson performs
for an imaginary audience. We shot
those on 35mm, using 5218.
I like wide-angle lenses, and I
used them all the time on Bronson
5.5mm, 8mm, 9.5mm and
12mm, Smith continues. We primarily used Zeiss Ultra 16 lenses,
but we also had a Super Optex
5.5mm lens that was really good.

Top: Patients in
a lunatic asylum
wander
aimlessly
through the
ward. These
scenes were
shot in the
Nottingham
estates
underground
ballroom, where
Smith controlled
the lighting via
domed skylights
in the ceiling.
Bottom: After
being
transferred to
the psych ward,
Bronson
prepares to
attack another
inmate.

American Cinematographer 47

Hard Time
Top: Refn and
Hardy rehearse
the scene in
which a jaunty
Bronson is
declared sane
and released
from prison.
Middle: While
searching for a
way to make
cash on the
outside, Bronson
runs into his
flamboyant
prison associate,
Paul Daniels
(Matt King), who
offers to arrange
fights for him on
the bareknuckleboxing circuit.
The strip club
where they meet
up again was
actually one of
my favorite
locations, says
Smith. There
were no
windows, and it
was supposed to
be nighttime
inside the club. I
used a bit of bar
light and local
light, and I hung
some mirror
balls from the
ceiling. Believe
it or not, I lit the
club mostly with
Dedolights
bouncing off the
mirror balls; I
may have used
the odd 1K or 2K
here and there,
but not much
more than that.
Dedos work
really well in
that kind of lowlight situation. I
put blue gels on
them to get that
deep-blue color.
Bottom: During
his brief stint as
a free man,
Bronson strikes
up an awkward
romance with
the sultry but
fickle Alison
(Juliet Oldfield).

48 October 2009

When Im shooting 35mm, Im a


great fan of the 18mm focal length,
so when Im shooting 16mm, I tend
to stay around [the equivalent of]
that length. Theres not much longlens stuff in this movie; I had a long
lens when we were covering the
fight scenes with two cameras, but
we still stayed pretty wide. Im not a
fan of shooting on lenses so long
that you cant see the set. Refn concurs: I usually prefer wide-angle
lenses because I like to see whats
behind the characters. But I dont
like it when things become distorted, so theres a very fine balance
with wide-angle lenses. I like to
have a sense of depth, but within
the bounds of reality.
In keeping with his preferred
method, Refn shot Bronson in
chronological order. If you shoot
in story order, you have a much better overview, and you can see the
film progress in front of you, he
maintains. The film was very
improvisational because I was
searching for its meaning as we
were making it. We actually reshot
40 percent of the movie within our
five-week schedule because it kept
changing as we went along.
Some of that flexibility
sprang from the fact that approximately 80 percent of the movie was
shot at one location: a rambling,
architecturally eccentric estate in
Nottingham, in the heart of
Englands East Midlands. Smith
notes, The real Peterson/Bronson
is a hot potato in England. Nobody
wants to speak about him, and
none of the prisons would allow us
access, but our location scouts
found a bizarre mansion thats been
owned by rich aristocrats over the
years. Its fallen into disrepair, but it
has corridors that are very similar
to corridors youd see in institutions. The corridors did need work,
but they didnt need a lot of distressing. They looked pretty good if
we just added lines and markings
on the floors and walls and some

prison bars to top things off. The


production-design budget was very
small, but Adrian did a brilliant job.
I didnt have very much money in
my department, but he had even
less.
The movies dungeon-like
settings were fashioned from the
estates warren of hallways, tunnels
and rooms, which included a large,
underground ballroom. Refn notes,
The estate was built by a man who
was physically deformed. He didnt
like people to see him, so everything was built underground. Its
enormous. The rumor was that
some of the tunnels went so far you
could actually follow them all the
way to London!
Bronson is first shown standing naked in a metal cage, balling
his fists and bouncing on his feet as
he awaits the arrival of guards.
Bathed in deep-red lighting, he cuts
a hellish, intimidating figure;
strategically positioned toplight
sharply defines his baldpate and
rippling muscles. The cage was set
up in an old armory on the estate,
Smith says. It was actually a cage
within a larger cage, and it was built
out of metal mesh. I told Adrian I
wanted to stage the scene in a way
that would make the viewer feel
as if hes right inside the cage. We
didnt have removable walls in
most of our sets, so in the cages and
cells we either shot from overhead
or tried to emphasize the claustrophobic feeling. To light that first
view of Bronson, I used just six
150-watt Dedolights with heavy
red gel on them. When the guards
came in, I added one 2-by-4 Kino
Flo bank overhead.
Minimalist lighting and bold
hues prevail in many of the films
key scenes. Refn, who is color blind,
says he can only react to really
diverse colors, but that Smiths
lighting style has a magical sensuousness he appreciates. The contrast in his lighting is something I
really respond to. In Eyes Wide

Top: Smiths
mixed lighting
lends a flashy
look to a fightclub scene in
which Daniels
watches his man
in action.
Middle: Bronson
exults after
dispatching his
opponents.
Smiths crew
hung mushroom
lamps to
illuminate the
foreground; to
add visual
interest to the
background, the
cinematographer
blasted
uncorrected
HMIs through
extractor fans on
the side wall.
Bottom: Bronson
prepares to
battle dogs in a
Nissen hut.
Smiths
minimalist
lighting was
hardly enough to
warm the
movies star,
who toughed out
the shoot in
frigid conditions.
I cant think of
many other
actors who
would endure
what Tom Hardy
did on this
show, the
cinematographer
marvels. The
places we were
shooting in,
during winter in
the north of
England, were
absolutely
freezing. I had
every layer of
clothing on you
could imagine,
but I was still
cold. And I have
to tell you, Tom
never
complained, and
he was lineperfect. Its
amazing to me
that he was able
to think
straight.

American Cinematographer 49

Hard Time
Left: A young
Peterson
launches his life
of crime in one
of the films
flashback
sequences. I
used filters as
much as
possible for the
flashbacks,
says Smith. I
created the look
entirely in
camera, using
very saturated
tobacco filters.
The filters I
used are some
of my own that I
had made up
years ago; I very
rarely use them
because theyre
too saturated.
They went
wrong,
basically, but I
kept them
anyway
some are on the
light side, with
almost nothing
on them, and
some have too
much coloring.
Occasionally
you just pull
something out of
the kit and it
works for you.
Middle: Toplight
emphasizes the
brawlers
muscular
physique. Right:
Bronson
entertains an
appreciative
audience in the
theater of his
mind.

50 October 2009

Shut, he was able to make the main


characters everyday life look mystical. I would almost say Larry is the
lighting-cameraman version of
[French
director]
Jacques
Tourneur, who always worked
within the realms of reality
everything was suggested rather
than seen. Larrys lighting creates
that same sensation.
Addressing his general
approach, Smith offers, I prefer to
see the sets and let those spaces dictate how the lighting will be, not the
other way around. I dont premeditate how a scene will look because
until Ive seen the set, I dont know!
The set is like a voice, and it tells
you something. On Bronson, I
looked at my time constraints, I
looked at the lights that were
already in place at the location, and
I looked at how we could make a
couple of the scenes a bit more stylized, and I basically just mixed it up
like that. I was always conscious of
not spending too much time lighting things because we were on such
a tight schedule. Direct Lighting
really helped us out by donating
equipment to our cause.
Smiths stylized approach is
typified by a courtroom scene in

which Bronson is sentenced. The


cinematographer applied cold, blue
lighting leavened with arch framing
and aggressive dolly moves to lend
the moment a droll humor. He
explains, That scene was done in a
wing of the estate where people
actually live. Funnily enough, it felt
like a courtroom that estate literally has everything you need if
youre creative with it! We couldnt
prelight everything for the courtroom scene, but I had an idea of
what I wanted to do. The room was
on the north side of the house,
which meant if I put a light through
the window, Id have control of it;
the sun wouldnt constantly be
coming in and out. We used a single
source: an 18K HMI outside the
window. I kept it very blue and cold
because I wanted to give every
scene its own personality. I didnt
filter the lens for that one, and in
the digital grade I kept everything
uncorrected.
We only had half a day to
do the courtroom stuff, but we covered it pretty well and just tried to
make it look interesting, he adds. I
wasnt sure what kind of film it
would be whether people would
love it or hate it but we were def-

initely trying to make it stand out.


For a sequence in which
Bronson is transferred from prison
to a psychiatric ward, the filmmakers took full advantage of the
estates underground ballroom,
which had originally been designed
as a passageway for horse-drawn
stagecoaches. The ballroom has
three large, dome-shaped skylights
built into a garden aboveground, so
all the light was actually coming in
from those domes, says Smith. I
didnt have a lighting package or
even a tie-in to help me deal with
the ballroom in any way. Sure
enough, when it came time to shoot
that sequence, it was a very windy,
sunny day, so the clouds were coming in and going out the exposure was up and down all the time.
So I just worked in reverse: we covered two of the domes and used the
middle dome for lighting, and we
hung a big 18K above it and
blacked out the rest so wed have
some control over the ballroom
interior, which was about 150 feet
long and 80 feet wide.
A space like that is a nightmare if you dont have the budget
to light it properly, so you have to
be creative and find a way to make

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Hard Time

Top left: After


taking his art
teacher hostage,
Bronson fashions
an eccentric
costume for the
ensuing torture
session and his
inevitable battle
with guards.
When he was
getting ready to
have a fight,
Bronson was like a
warrior, an African
chief, Smith says.
He realized if he
was naked and
greased up, the
guards couldnt get
a grip on him he
could hurt more of
them because the
fight would last
longer. He started
out with cooking
lard he stole from
the kitchen and
later added boot
polish as well. Top
right: Bronsons
artistic mentor
(James Lance) is
lashed to a column
and decorated to
resemble a
perverse Magritte.
The prison art room
was one of the few
sets where Smith
moved a wall to
accommodate the
camera. Bottom:
Bronson ascends
the rooms
staircase to shout
his demands to
the warden.
52 October 2009

it look interesting. Luckily, because


the roof was at ground level, I
could send the crew guys up there
with sandbags and loads of black
plastic to just throw over the
domes. The wind caused the plastic to fly off occasionally, but generally speaking, it held up for the
day.
When it got to be nighttime, we shot a rather unhinged

disco scene with all the patients


dancing about. We just positioned a
bunch of Dedolights on stands, as if
theyd created their own discotheque in the ward. I must say,
that bit has a weird kind of realism!
Offbeat ambience enhances
other settings, including a theater
where Bronson imagines himself
performing vaudeville-style routines for an imaginary audience

while dressed in elaborate makeup


and a natty suit. We shot those
sequences in an old, abandoned
theater, so we had to get the place
up and running again, says Smith.
It was a beautiful theater, and in
many ways it was a joy to shoot
there. But it had no heat, and most
of the old lightbulbs werent working. We changed as many of those
as we could, but we didnt have

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Hard Time
Top: Refn, who
cites Stanley
Kubrick and
Kenneth Anger
as key
influences, has
a captive
audience while
inspecting a set
built in one of
the rooms at
the Nottingham
estate. Bottom:
Bronson peers
out from his
cage with
cheerful
defiance.
Obviously, he
must be crazy
after spending
so much time in
solitary, but this
guy isnt your
typical madman
who goes into
prison, says
Smith. He isnt
a career
criminal whos
murdered,
raped or
pillaged. He
likes being in
prison he
feels its his
stage.

54 October 2009

time to rewire the ones that were


completely out, so theres probably
a light out here and there in the
actual scenes! I used a follow spot
to light Tom on the stage.
Originally there was greenscreen
behind him that we used to project
a series of photographs, but at
some point we decided that wasnt
very interesting. For his first
monologue, when hes wearing his
prison garb, I used a bluish follow
spot aimed through some prison
bars wed used on our other sets. It
creates only a vague impression of
prison bars, but it adds something
extra to the look.
We had a very small audience for the theater scenes, so we
put most of our extras in the front
rows and filled out the crowd with
dummies that looked like people.
We dressed all the dummies, but
they still didnt look too real, so I
crushed the look down and kept
the lights off the audience to create
a kind of surreal atmosphere. I
tried to make it feel as if youre
looking through this gloom and
cant really tell whats there. If you
watch the movie closely, even
through the gloom youll notice
that when the audience is clapping,
theres not much movement at the
back!
Most of the fight scenes in
Bronson were covered with a handheld camera by operator Bob
Binnall. We didnt use a Steadicam
because we couldnt afford one,
notes Smith. The rest of the camera moves were done with tracks or
dollies. For some situations, we just
put the camera on the ground, stabilized it with a sandbag and then
moved it around.
Bronsons brawling continues when he is released from
prison; the authorities are so fed
up with his violent shenanigans
that they have him declared sane.
He is free for just two months
before he deliberately commits a
crime to get himself thrown back

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Hard Time

Bronson offers authorities an obscene salute from a prison


rooftop after escaping his cell to stage a protest.

56

in the slammer. During his time on


the outside, however, his escapades
are just as outrageous. Striking up
an awkward romance with the sultry, fickle Alison (Juliet Oldfield),
he re-establishes contact with a
flamboyantly homosexual associate
from his prison days, Paul Daniels
(Matt King), who offers to arrange
fights for him on the underground
circuit. Bronson soon finds himself
taking on all comers in a series of
seedy, backwater venues.
In the first of these sequences, which are tied together as
a montage, Bronson pummels a
middle-aged opponent who eventually succumbs under a series of
heavy blows. That fight was shot
in an old barn on the estate, Smith
says. We were originally going to
shoot in a bigger, more dilapidated
barn that was just opposite the one
we used, but when we got in there,
we discovered a lot of asbestos. So

we moved into the little barn, and


in a way, the smaller size helped,
because it tightened the whole
scene up. The small barn had a few
natural windows, so I just aimed a
few HMIs through them, added a
bit of smoke inside and let the interior take care of itself.
A second matchup was
staged on another part of the estate,
in an old shooting range with very
few windows. In his struggle to create an interesting look, Smith had
his electricians hang some mushroom-shaped lamps to illuminate
the foreground action, then turned
his attention to some extractor fans
high up on a wall in the background. I wanted to create some
depth for the background, so we
took the covers off the extractors to
expose the fan wheels and aimed
some HMIs through one or two of
those. That gave the background
lighting some shape. We used

uncorrected HMIs with our tungsten film, so they went blue quite
naturally. I also added some red
light to the scene. In the timing
process, you sometimes tend to do
a 50-50 grade, so you end up
adding a bit of warmth to the blue
and vice versa. But in this case, I
specifically told the lead timer,
Bernie Greiner at the Post Republic,
not to do that.
The climax of the montage
finds Bronson battling dogs in a
Nissen hut, a variation of the
Quonset hut. Its basically a Ushaped hut made from corrugated
steel, with a transparent ceiling
thats like a plastic skylight, Smith
explains. By the time we got to that
scene, it was night, and I had no
light. We simply positioned an 18K
as high as we could at one end of
the building and shone it through
the skylight. Apart from that, we
aimed some smaller lights through

some broken portions of the back


wall; the thugs and dogs were lined
up back there, but you could tell it
was dark outside, so I just fired a
few lamps through the openings. I
think I also added some smoke or
atmosphere to make everything
look a bit surreal. Theres no manual for that type of situation!
Bronson generated buzz at
this years Sundance Film Festival
and became a hot topic with
English reviewers upon its U.K.
release last spring. At the premiere
screening in England, attendees
were surprised to hear an audio
greeting from the real Bronson,
who taped his comments surreptitiously and had an associate smuggle the recording out of prison.
Reminiscing about the premiere
with a wry laugh, Smith recalls,
His message was a bit rambling. A
lot of Bronsons family was at the
premiere, and many of the wise

boys from the London underworld


showed up. It was like a scene out of
GoodFellas! The next day, some of
the papers gave it very good
reviews, and others panned it.
People are basically in one of two
camps: they love it or hate it. I

TECHNICAL SPECS
1.85:1
Super 16mm, Super 35mm
Arri 416, Arricam
Zeiss Ultra 16, Arri Master Prime
and Super Optex lenses
Kodak Vision2 500T 7218/5218
Digital Intermediate
Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

57

A Lyrical Love

Director of photography Greig Fraser turns to poetry for


inspiration for Bright Star, which depicts the intense, short-lived
romance between John Keats and the girl next door.
by Rachael K. Bosley
Unit photography by Laurie Sparham
teenaged girl sits alone on the
bed in her room, facing a
window that offers a view of a
brilliant summer afternoon.
Deep in the throes of her first
romance, she doesnt see the day as
much as feel it, basking in the
warmth and light as she silently
savors thoughts of her new beau. A
puff of wind suddenly flutters the
curtains, and she lies back, letting
the breeze waft over her.
Comprising a single shot, its
the kind of quiet moment that
wouldnt play out in many movies,
but the film at hand is Jane
Campions Bright Star, which

58 October 2009

chronicles the romance between


Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) and
John Keats (Ben Whishaw), one
of the great Romantic poets. The
films cinematographer, Greig Fraser,
calls Campions mandate to find
the images in the poetry one of
the biggest challenges he has confronted in his career thus far.
Understanding Keats poetry was
like learning how to read again, he
says. I tried to come to a good
understanding of not only what was
being said, but also the colors those
words conjured up and what those
combinations of words were saying
to me. I read the script, studied some

of Keats poetry, read more about


him and then read the script again,
and it felt really fulsome.
Fraser, who recently moved to
Los Angeles from his native Australia,
has worked steadily on commercials,
short films and music videos since he
segued from commercial stills photography to cinematography a
decade ago. Bright Star is one of three
features he shot last year; the others
were Scott Hicks Boys Are Back, currently in release, and Glendyn Ivins
Last Ride.
American Cinematographer:
You shot two short films for Jane
Campion before making Bright

Frame grabs/photos courtesy of Apparition. Photo of Fraser by Clea Cregan.

Star. What are some qualities that


distinguish her from other directors youve worked with?
Greig Fraser: I first worked
with Jane on the short The Water
Diary [2006], and it was one of the
nicest experiences Id had on a shoot
up to that point. We all strive to get
the most out of our 10 hours, but
that was the first shoot I worked on
where the goal was to get the best out
of the 10 hours. It was a revelation to
me that things arent always done
better faster. Its important to not
only work quickly but also do things
with integrity. Jane has a very strong
visual style, but she always wants the
visual to support whats going on
with the characters. The actors
comfort with the camera is her top
priority, and that influences everything, even the choice of crew. I was
lucky to have a lot of prep time for
Bright Star, and I cast my crew in
London, knowing what Jane is like
she doesnt like to have big personalities around the camera. I met
with a lot of gaffers and grips, and I
cast people who would not only do

well technically but also give Jane the


space she needed: [1st AC] Simon
Tindall, [2nd AC] Henry Landgrebe,
[key grip] Gary Hutchings and
[gaffer] Mark Clayton.
What else did you focus on in
prep?
Fraser: When I first arrived in
London, Jane and I spent two weeks
going through the script and blocking every scene. When you dont
have the actors or the location or
even an idea of the physical space,
that can be a very trying process;
youre basically guessing what the
actors will do in what you think the
space will be. But I think that process
gave us both a sense of comfort
because, at the end of it, we knew we
had the skeleton of what we needed
to do. Even if it all changed on the
day and it did we knew we
were going in prepared. Also, as soon
as I arrived in England, I realized I
had no understanding of how the
light worked there, so every morning
during prep, I went out with a stills
camera and a film camera to just see
what happened as the day devel-

oped. The light is beautiful and soft,


totally different from Australia. In
Australia, it feels as though the sun is
almost burning you, but when the
sun comes out in England, it feels
like something growing. I wanted to
try to express that visually. All of the
shots I filmed during prep were
widescreen [2.35:1] because Jane
and I were both adamant that it was
the best format for the movie, but
when we projected the wardrobe
and makeup tests, we instantly realized it wasnt right. As soon as we

Opposite:
Neighbors John
Keats (Ben
Whishaw) and
Fanny Brawne
(Abbie Cornish)
discover that
their bedrooms
share a wall.
This page, top:
The happy
couple savors
every minute
together. Below:
Director of
photography
Greig Fraser
(pictured on
another project).
When Jane
[Campion] sent
me the script,
she talked about
not referencing
images, but
about trying to
find the images
in the poetry, he
recalls. That
was a huge part
of the projects
appeal. Ive
never had a love
of period dramas
as such, but Im a
firm believer that
words,
particularly
poetry, can
change
perceptions. You
can see the
world
differently.

American Cinematographer 59

A Lyrical Love
Top: Fanny, an
accomplished
seamstress,
works on the
collar for her
new party frock.
Bottom:
Temporarily
separated by
Keats travels,
the young
couple
exchanges
letters on a
regular basis.
When the sun
comes out in
England, it feels
like something
growing, not
something
harsh, and I had
to try to express
that visually,
says Fraser. I
tried to light the
interiors bright,
but not too
bright. We
blacked the
ceilings in all
the rooms so
that when we lit
through the
windows, wed
instantly have
contrast.

60 October 2009

put human beings in the frame, it


just didnt work.
Did you consider shooting at
the storys actual location, the
Keats House in Hampstead?
Fraser: We did, but when we
looked at it, we all agreed it wasnt
viable for filming. The rooms are
tiny, and because its a historic site,
we wouldnt have been allowed to
put anything on the ceiling or walls,
and I wanted to black the ceilings in
all the rooms so that when we lit
through windows, wed instantly
have contrast. Also, the Keats House
is in the middle of a residential area
it was country in Keats day so
we wouldve been limited to one
angle, looking into the house, and
wouldve had to [digitally] paint out
the city beyond. The location we
eventually chose [in Bedfordshire]
needed a lot of work inside, but it
was lovely to be able to look out and
see the world. It was like an interior/exterior studio; if we knew the
weather was going to be really beautiful in half an hour, we could plan
to go outside at that time.
How tricky was it to structure the shoot given that there are
key exterior scenes in just about
every season?
Fraser: We started the shoot
in February or March and shot all
the winter exteriors first; then we
went inside for seven or eight weeks,
and then we went back outside in
spring/early summer. While we were
shooting interiors, wed occasionally
go outside to shoot scenes like fields
full of flowers. Almost all of the
snow in the movie is fake, but one
weekend during the shoot, London
had its biggest snowfall in 15 years,
and I went out and shot all day
everyone knows how much it costs
to make snow, even for a single shot.
I had my own Arri 235, and I owned
the lenses we used on the show. I
shot several rolls, and one of those
shots made it into the film. Another
scheduling challenge was that Jane
wanted to shoot in continuity as

much as possible. The story spans


four years, and there were certain
blocks of scenes she wanted to shoot
in order to help the actors maintain
emotional continuity. It was a logistical nightmare it meant going
from a scene in the front, right-hand
side of the house to one in the back,
left-hand side but I put it out to
my guys, and they made it happen.
Gary put a second dolly upstairs so
we wouldnt have to move one up
and down the stairs, and Mark choreographed our lights outside so we
could physically go from a scene
where Fanny storms out of a downstairs room to a scene where shes
crying in a room upstairs.
How did you maintain lighting continuity?
Fraser: You take a bit of a hit
with that in a situation like this. My
perfect-world scenario wouldve
been to control existing light with
negative fill and solids and not put
light through the windows, but
England has very inconsistent sun.
We didnt have the resources to
completely tent windows and create
our own light, so we just had to go
with it. There were a lot of scenes
that went in and out of cloud
[cover]; I just set the exposure

where it should be and hoped like


hell the sun wouldnt come out! At
the start of a take, we had someone
watching the sky, and theyd say,
Weve got about a minute of
clouds. So wed go for it, and then,
in the middle of the take, the sun
would come out and light the
whole room! The digital intermediate is really important in situations
like that; if the director decides to
use a shot where the exposure is
changing, the DI can help even out

those differences.
Did you know from the
beginning that youd have a DI?
Fraser: Yes. Jane had done a
DI on one of our short films and
was really enthralled by the process,
and Im quite comfortable with it
because I shoot a lot of commercials. I really pushed to do it at 4K,
and Deluxe/EFilm in Sydney came
through for us. Ive never been
happy with 2K. You can just tell
somethings missing.

Top: Fanny
savors a new
letter from Keats,
who has
inspired her to
cultivate a
butterfly farm in
her bedroom.
Bottom: Fanny
shares her joy
with her sister,
Toots (Edie
Martin). The
filmmakers were
able to treat
their primary
location, a
property in
Bedfordshire,
England, as an
indoor/outdoor
studio. We
spent about
seven weeks
shooting
interiors, and
wed
occasionally go
outside to film
certain exteriors,
like the fields
full of flowers,
Fraser recalls.

American Cinematographer 61

A Lyrical Love

Above: Fanny
and her siblings
take a dance
lesson as their
mother (Kerry
Fox) looks on.
Below: Fanny
and John revel
in a spring
afternoon.

62 October 2009

How did you create the sunlight you sent through the windows of the house?
Fraser: I tried HMIs for certain scenes, but the quality of light
felt too electric, so we went with
tungsten sources, Wendy Lights,
that were gelled, and we changed the
level of gel to change the degree of
spot in them. We had about 10

Wendy Lights on cherry pickers


with very long arms; we couldnt
place the bases close to the house
because the art department had created the whole front yard, and there
was a little ledge at the back of the
house. There was a debate early on
because it cost more to rent those
cherry pickers than to do scaffolding, but I knew theyd save us time,

and they did. Mark did a really great


job of coordinating them so theyd
be in the right place for the right
scene. Certain pickers had lights for
certain seasons for instance, wed
go Full Blue and full-grid diffusion
in winter, and 14 Blue and half-grid
in summer. Keeping track of it totally did my head in!
How did you approach the
large night interiors, such as the
ball scene in which Fanny offers
Keats her critique of Endymion?
Fraser: We floated a 7K
tungsten balloon light over the
dancers to suggest a chandelier
overhead, skirting it and putting it
through a few layers of half-grid diffusion, and we used China balls for
close-ups and for fill. We started the
film with standard, store-bought
China balls, which I really like to
use, but Mark and I quickly realized
they werent soft enough. We had to
remove every trace of electricity
from the feel of the light, so we diffused them more heavily than I usually do. Occasionally we used real

A Lyrical Love
In one of the
films few
handheld
scenes, Keats
confronts his
friend, Charles
Armitage
Brown (Paul
Schneider),
about a
Valentines
Day prank.

candles, too. Ben and Abbie have


very different skin tones, so we had
to warm up the China balls we used
on him and cool down the ones we
used on her to bring their skin tones
closer together. We did the same
with their poly [bounces] we
sprayed his with tea and hers with
blue dye. In combination with their

64

makeup and wardrobe, it felt like it


worked.
Overall, the camera moves
are fluid and controlled, but there
are a few instances, like the
Valentines Day confrontation in the
rain, where you go handheld. How
did you make decisions about that?
Fraser: They were usually

quite spontaneous decisions based


on the blocking and how the scene
felt. Jane knows I shoot a lot of
handheld, and she made it clear
Bright Star wasnt handheld, but
she occasionally let me loose.
Sometimes wed try it and decide it
didnt work. The Valentines Day
scene was pretty improvisational; I
could almost go 360 degrees
around the actors if I wanted to. I
like to work handheld. Coming
from a stills background, Im used
to having the flexibility of the camera on my hip. I do my own operating, and I always try to build the
camera small enough that I can put
it on my shoulder. Sometimes I find
a frame in the viewfinder that
seems to be the best frame, but
when Ive got the camera on my
shoulder and my eye on the eyepiece, I realize it isnt quite the right
spot, and if Im handheld, I can just
shift [the frame]. I always try to

light so I have the flexibility to do


that.
Does Campion do many
takes?
Fraser: No. She casts so well
that the actors generally dont
require many takes. Its very rare for
her not to get something she wants
out of an actor. Shes so in tune with
people, the actors as well as the
characters. If an actor walks on set
feeling a bit fragile, Jane knows what
to say and how to say it in order to
get that person to the necessary
place.
You mentioned you used
your own lenses on the picture.
What were they?
Fraser: I shot most of the film
with Cooke S4s, but I used Optica
Elite [primes] for certain applications, some close-ups and landscapes. I think lenses are the most
important tool cinematographers
use, and it always frustrated me

when I couldnt get the lenses I


wanted because someone else was
using them or the budget wasnt big
enough. I also wanted to be able to
go out and shoot some things by
myself, and when you rent lenses,
crew politics are always involved
with that.
You shot two other features
on the heels of Bright Star. Did
that interfere with your ability to
be involved in Bright Stars DI?
Fraser: I worked on some of
the final grade, but then I started
Boys Are Back, so I had to leave most
of it to [colorist] Olivier Fontenay
and [editor] Alexandre de
Franceschi. During the shoot, I
watched [digital] rushes every day
and sent reference stills to the colorist [at Arion Communications in
London], so the rushes were all
where I wanted them to be, and
Olivier used those as a guide. Some
of my initial ideas didnt work once

the whole picture was cut together,


and I had Olivier to tell me that; for
instance, hed say a scene needed to
be more wintry or more summery
to help the visual flow. Oliviers passion is amazing, and I worked with
him on Last Ride, too. He has the
same passion for my images that I
had creating them, and thats fantastic.
I

TECHNICAL SPECS
Super 1.85:1
3-perf Super 35mm
Arricam Studio, Arri 235
Cooke S4, Optica Elite lenses
Kodak Vision2 50D 5201,
250D 5205;
Vision3 500T 5219
Digital Intermediate

65

Vicarious Thrills

Surrogates, shot by Oliver Wood,


creates a future in which humans live
their lives through robot proxies.
by Iain Stasukevich
Unit photography by
Stephen Vaughan, SMPSP

66 October 2009

magine a world where you can


be whomever you want. You
always look your best. You live
your life free from risk and
free from the toll of time.
Youre still you, only better. Thats
the world depicted in the sciencefiction fable Surrogates, and director Jonathan Mostow suggests its
a glossy reflection of the world we
live in today. This film is a
metaphor for how humans interact with modern technology, and
you could say its set five minutes
from now, he says.

Images courtesy of Touchstone Pictures. Lighting diagram courtesy of Frans Weterrings III.

The future is now, affirms


cinematographer Oliver Wood.
Here is always somewhere else.
Were taking that to its logical
conclusion: people arent living in
their bodies at all.
Surrogates presents a world
in which a persons surrogate, a
robot, interacts with the world
while the actual person stays at
home and experiences life vicari-

ously. The film was adapted from


a five-part comic-book series, but
Wood, whose credits include
kinetic action films (The Bourne
Ultimatum; AC Sept. 07) and
high-key comedy (Step Brothers),
says the source material wasnt
used as a reference in developing
the pictures look. I just went
with what I was given, which was
the story, and then production

designer Jeff Mann and I sat


down and started from scratch,
says Wood.
The story is set in Boston,
Mass., and mortal concerns such
as injury, disease and murder
arent much of a concern until
two humans are murdered while
connected to their surrogates.
These crimes attract FBI agents
Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters

Opposite: FBI
Agent Thomas
Greer (Bruce
Willis) plugs into
his stim chair to
take control of his
robotic alter ego
in Surrogates,
photographed by
Oliver Wood. This
page, top:
Alongside Agent
Jennifer Peters
surrogate (Radha
Mitchell), Greers
surrogate pays a
visit to robot
manufacturer
Virtual Self
Industries after
two humans die
while connected
to their robot
counterparts.
Bottom left: One
of Virtual Self
Industries
display models.
Bottom right:
Wood
(foreground)
examines a stim
chair.

American Cinematographer 67

Vicarious Thrills

Above: Accented
by greenscreen
composites,
Virtual Self
Industries
headquarters
appears onscreen
as a sort of
architectural
surrogate, with
smooth, angled
surfaces of wood,
concrete, steel
and Plasticine.
Below left: FBI
Supervisor
Andrew Stone
(Boris Kodjoe)
gives Peters her
marching orders.
Below right:
Trouble brews for
Dr. Lionel Canter
(James Francis
Ginty) and his date
(Helena Mattsson).

68 October 2009

(Radha Mitchell), who operate


surries of their own. The agents
discover that one of the victims, a
college student, had links with
Canter (James Francis Ginty), the
man who helped invent the surrogates, and they soon find themselves unraveling a plot to bring
down the entire surrogate population.
The film divides its time
between two environments, that
of the surrogates and that of the
Dreads, humans who have chosen to reject the surrogate
lifestyle. Because Surrogates takes
place very close to the present day,
the filmmakers wanted to devise a
strong but subtle delineation

between the two worlds by using


a mix of natural and artificial aesthetics. We wanted a world that
was familiar but also filled with
elements that displaced you, says
Mann. Theres always something
in the frame that suggests the
future. Every surrogate had to
look its best, despite the fact that
each was played by a real actor.
Everyone had to look airbrushed
and perfect, like theyre on the
cover of a magazine, says Wood.
Casting the surrogates was
a challenge, notes Mostow.
Some people think Hollywood is
overflowing with gorgeous people, but when youre talking about
the idealized human form, very

few people actually fit that bill.


On top of that, the good-looking
people also had to be good
actors. Every actor was given the
high-gloss treatment, particularly
Willis. Bruce is the most human
actor you can imagine, notes
Wood, who also worked with the
actor on Die Hard 2. I cant think
of any actor who looks less like a
robot. His characters are all too
human.
Stripping all hints of imperfection from the actors meant
favoring a highly stylized
approach to lighting. Wood
describes the surrogate world as
a perpetual fashion show.
Shooting mainly with Kodak

The nightclub
visited by both
murder victims
surrogates was
staged inside
Bostons
Chestnut Hill
Pumping Station.
We tried to give
Oliver as many
different sources
as possible in
the wide shots,
says gaffer Frans
Weterrings III.
It was a great
mix of modern
lights and old
incandescent
fixtures.

Vision3 500T 5219, he lit the surrogates almost exclusively with


Kino Flo Image 80s, wrapping
wide throws of flat light around
their faces. Kino Flos are the softest lights you can get for faces, he
notes. In situations calling for the
softest light possible, he placed
frames of light-grid diffusion in
front of the fixtures.

Mann worked to integrate


Woods lighting ideas into the
practical locations and sets (built
in a warehouse in Boston and on
the Paramount lot in Hollywood),
making it easy for Wood to move
from one setup to the next without doing major readjustments.
One of the most complex environments, a nightclub visited by

both murder victims, appears in


the films opening moments.
Staged in the husk of an industrial waterworks (Bostons Chestnut
Hill Pumping Station), the scene
illustrates the extreme liberties
people can take with their surrogate selves. We had a lot of
license with that location, recalls
Mann. It had high ceilings and

American Cinematographer 69

Vicarious Thrills
Right: Director
Jonathan
Mostow
(beneath crane,
in white shirt)
prepares Willis
(in helicopter)
for a crash
sequence that
will lead to the
destruction of
Greers
surrogate.
Below left:
Mostow runs
through a scene
involving
Maggie Greer
(Rosamund
Pike, left) and
her industrial
beauty shop,
where robots
attempt to
improve on
perfection.
Below right:
Unplugged
from its
host, Maggies
surrogate
lies inert.

70 October 2009

these incredible boilers with fasteners and brass everywhere. We


had a lot of fun with the lighting
in there. Among the lighting elements he integrated were 20-watt
incandescent light bulbs in blueglass insulators hanging from the
ceiling; sweeping spotlights; soft,
floating sources; and multicolored video clips projected onto a
frosted-acrylic wall. We tried to

give Oliver as many different


sources as possible in the wide
shots, says gaffer Frans
Weterrings III. He wanted the
look to be slick. We used [VariLite] VL3000s and [Martin]
Atomic strobes and rewired the
stations equipment lights, and we
used Source Four Pars for edges
and pools. It was a great mix of
modern lights and old incandes-

cent fixtures. We wanted to light


so that when we went in for a
tight shot, we only had to bring in
a soft source to get the surrogate
look with the Kinos.
Greer and Peters investigation into the death of the two
clubgoers leads them to Virtual
Self Industries, an ultramodern
structure of wood and concrete
plated with layers of steel and

Plasticine. It is a kind of architectural surrogate; all of the surfaces


are smooth and angular, and even
the wood looks like a veneer. The
entire building is filled with surrogates, so the filmmakers decided it needed a special treatment;
the trick was to make it look modern without going over the top.
Wood used two 18K hybrid
(tungsten/HMI) balloons and
nine 18K Fresnels going through
silk to create the sunlight coming through the lobbys gigantic
skylight.
Weterrings
crew
swapped out the locations exist-

ing fluorescents with properly


balanced ones, and Mann filled
the set with translucent, acrylic
material that Wood could bounce
light from or shoot through to
create layers of depth and illumination. Subtle LED accents custom-built to the filmmakers specs
were provided by Color Kinetics.
For some sets, like the basement of an FBI building, where an
army of surrogates conducts an
illegal wiretapping operation,
Wood relied exclusively on practical fluorescent fixtures. We
should have bought stock in Kino

Flo, quips Mann. Weterrings


explains, We spent a lot of time
working with Jeff to build our
lighting into several sets, including the surveillance room. We
wanted the actors to be able to
move about freely, and we built in
a lot of fluorescent tubes so that
no matter where the actors stood,
there would be no harsh shadows.
We did a lot of our lighting in the
surveillance room by simply turning some Kinos off to create depth
and shadow.
The challenge of lighting
the surrogates was often com-

Above: Canter
enjoys a ride in
his limo while
Armando
(Jeffrey De
Serrano) takes
the wheel. The
limo interiors
were shot
onstage against
greenscreen.
Below: Quik-Volt
personal
recharging
stations
rejuvenate the
robots batteries
while their
owners are
unplugged.

American Cinematographer 71

Vicarious Thrills

Above: His
surrogate
destroyed,
Greer risks his
real body to
continue the
investigation,
which
ultimately leads
him to the real
Canter (James
Cromwell).
Below:
Confined to a
wheelchair,
Canter
originally
conceived
of robotic
surrogates as
a means to
help others
with handicaps
and keep
soldiers safe
from battle.

72 October 2009

pounded by the inclusion of a


human in the same scene. I
wanted to make the humans
attractive in another sort of way,
so I went with a more natural
look, says Wood. It wasnt glossy
and high-fashion like the surrogates, but it wasnt unattractive,
either. Greer, more than any
other character, spends a large
amount of time outside his surrogate. At home, he struggles for
real face-time with his surrogate-

addicted spouse (Rosamund


Pike), and after his own surrie is
destroyed by the Dreads, he
decides to stop using one altogether. When lighting scenes
shared by humans and surrogates,
we focused on the surrogate first,
says Weterrings. In scenes featuring the human Bruce with
Radhas or Rosamunds surrogate,
wed use big, soft sources to wrap
the light and smooth the womens
faces out, bring in an LED to get a

little eyelight, and then cut any


toplight. In the reverse with
Bruce, wed go for a more natural
look, using less light maybe a
tungsten or HMI Fresnel and
not softening it to better accentuate the harshness of his facial features.
The robot world is mostly
indoors, whereas the human
world is set mainly in outdoor
locations. The largest all-human
environment is the Dread reser-

vation, a giant compound with


trees, farms and an outdoor market. The first time it appears in
the film is when Surrogate Greer
crash-lands a helicopter into a
Dread container yard while
transporting the suspected surrogate killer. Woods lighting
approach was completely the
opposite of what we did in the
surrogate world, he says. I shot
[Kodak Vision2 250D] 5205 and
didnt use any lights at all outdoors. When the sun dipped
behind a building or disappeared
into the clouds, the crew tapped a
couple of 18K HMIs and 12'x12'
frames of light grid. For the few
indoor scenes on the reservation,
Wood used the 18Ks to blast light
through windows and used no
fill.
Long inspired by John
Frankenheimers Seconds (shot
by James Wong Howe, ASC),
Mostow sought to replicate that
visual style in Surrogates.
Jonathan has always wanted
to make Seconds, muses Wood,
who also worked with the director on U-571 (AC June 00).
Frankenheimers style was deep
focus and wide-angle lenses, with
two or three people in the frame
at the same time. We took a
bit from that in Surrogates.
Shooting Super 35mm, Wood
favored prime lenses ranging
from 10mm to 21mm. 25mm
was going long for us, notes
Mostow.
To achieve the deepest
focus possible, Wood employed 24mm and 45mm Slant
Focus lenses from Panavision.
Depending on the direction in
which the focal plane is rotated,
subjects at vastly different depths
can be brought into equal focus.
(The depth-of-field appears to
have increased, but only the focal
plane has been changed.) The
effect is similar to that of a split
diopter, only without the blurry
73

Vicarious Thrills
Jonathan has
always wanted
to make
Seconds, says
Wood, referring
to John
Frankenheimers
1966 film,
photographed by
James Wong
Howe, ASC.
Frankenheimers
style was deep
focus and wideangle lenses,
with two or three
people in the
frame at the
same time.

74

vertical line down the center of


the frame. We used the Slant
Focus lenses for the agents first
interview with Canter, the surrogates inventor; for most car
shots; and for some others,
including shots moving behind
Greers boss, Stone [Boris
Kodjoe], who is most often seen
as a surrogate, over his shoulder
to Agent Peters and Bobby [Devin

Ratray], says Wood.


The
filmmakers
also
Dutched shots at every opportunity, using a Tango head on
both the A and B cameras. We
tried to be unconventional, and
Dutching gives the picture an
arresting quality, says Mostow.
Sometimes wed set up a level
shot, and Oliver would say, Thats
not our movie. Wood agrees,

Level shots just looked wrong.


However, A-camera operator Joe
Chess once came to me and said,
I want to do a dead-straight shot.
So there are a few of those, too!
Surrogates visual style
enabled the filmmakers to improvise when opportunities presented themselves. Many times, plans
were tossed out the window in
favor of a better idea mere minutes before the cameras were set
to roll, as long as the new shot fit
within the stylistic parameters.
Jonathan and I made pretty firm
decisions about how the movie
should look, so it wasnt too hard
to extemporize, says Wood. And
the style worked in both the natural and the unnatural environments.
Good filmmaking doesnt
call for a rigid thought process,
notes Mostow. You cant steamroll over an interesting moment.

One reason I love working with


Oliver is that he has tremendous
instincts; he gets whats going on
in the moment and works from
gut instinct, and thats how I like
to work. I go into every scene with
a plan, but Im always ready to see
something unexpected.
Surrogates visual effects,
supervised by Mark Stetson, were
extensive. More than nine vendors created a total of 700 shots,
with the lions share dedicated to
removing wrinkles or shaving
stubble for surrogates. Wood and
Company 3 colorist Stephen
Nakamura refined these touches
further in the digital grade, with
Nakamura using a da Vinci
Resolve 2K to modify a custom
look-up table he had designed for
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
(AC March 03). I took the midtone range of the image and
changed the gamma curve, says

Nakamura. I brought the blacks


up and brought the whites down,
so any skin tones that were darker
became lighter, and vice versa. We
wanted the surrogates to look like
mannequins, with no bright key
side or dark fill side.
Wood avoided deep shadows to begin with, but
Nakamuras LUT added depth to
the image without straying from
the cinematographers original
intentions. Oliver gave me a
great negative, and it was easy for
us to go in with Power Windows
and add contrast to the rest of the
world while keeping the skin
tones bright and smooth, says
Nakamura.
Although plenty of modern
technology went into the making
of Surrogates, Mostow hopes the
films cautionary message about
the dangers of such technology
will shine through. The cool

thing about Surrogates is that it


doesnt preach, he says. Its a
Hollywood-style mystery, and if,
when the movie is over, people
want to talk about the ideas
behind it, we will have made a
good science-fiction film, too. I

TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
Super 35mm
Panaflex Platinum,
Millennium XL; Arri 435, 235
Panavision Primo,
Slant Focus lenses
Kodak Vision3 500T 5219,
Vision2 250D 5205
Digital Intermediate
Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

75

Post Focus

The crew
of mining
spaceship Red
Dwarf stands on
a digital G-Deck,
created by
visual-effects
house Fin Design
& Effects in
Sydney,
Australia, for the
three-part
miniseries Red
Dwarf: Back
to Earth.

76 October 2009

Red Dwarf Returns


by Stephanie Argy
When director Doug Naylor and
cinematographer Andy Martin set out to
shoot three new episodes of the sci-fi
sitcom Red Dwarf for the British channel
Dave, they wanted to give the show
added polish, but they knew they would
have to work within a very limited
budget. In collaboration with visualeffects supervisor Mike Seymour, they
devised an innovative workflow that
included a mostly greenscreen shoot
with multiple Red Ones, the distribution
of visual-effects work to 18 artists
around the world, and a final colorcorrection at Evolutions in London.
The original Red Dwarf series,
which ran from 1988-1999, centered on
a Liverpudlian slacker named Dave
Lister (Craig Charles), a crewmember on

a mining spaceship. After a Cadmium 2


radiation leak, Lister finds himself three
million years in the future, the last
surviving human in the universe; his only
companions are the hologram of his
pompous bunkmate (Chris Barrie); a
sanitation robot, Kryten (Robert
Llewellyn); and a bipedal humanoid, Cat
(Danny John-Jules), who is the distant
descendent of a pregnant cat Lister had
smuggled aboard the ship. The series
careened from genre to genre, referencing such films as Alien, Dark Star, Citizen Kane and Rebel Without a Cause.
Red Dwarf became a cult
phenomenon, and when Dave began rebroadcasting it, the station started to
get incredible figures, recalls Naylor,
who co-created and co-wrote the show
with Rob Grant. That viewer interest led
Dave to ask Naylor to do a clips show,
but Naylor suggested doing two new

narrative episodes, which soon evolved


into three. In the new episodes, Red
Dwarf: Back to Earth, the four characters end up on Earth in 2009 and
discover they are characters in a TV
series. Concerned about their eventual
fate, they embark on a metaphysical
quest to track down their creators,
beginning with the actors who portray
them.
To keep expenses low, Naylor
decided to shoot much of the show
against greenscreen, something he
hadnt been able to do with the DigiBeta cameras hed used on the original
production. He was keen to try the Red
One, but his cinematographer, Andy
Martin, was initially less enthusiastic.
Id read about it, and Id heard a lot of
people talking about it usually
maligning it, recalls Martin, who had
been a camera operator on Red Dwarf s

Images courtesy of Mike Seymour and Fxphd.

last season.
Seeking advice about Red One
workflows, Naylor turned to visualeffects supervisor Mike Seymour, a
colleague. At the time, Naylor didnt
know Seymour was an early Red
adopter he owns camera body #22.
Mike knew the path wed have to go
through, says Naylor. Immediately, all
my anxiety dissipated.
Seymour and John Montgomery
are co-founders of fxphd.com, an online
training resource for visual-effects
professionals. They recognized early on
that the One would require a bridge
between whats required of the camera
in terms of production and whats
required for a timely post process. On
Red Dwarf, the cameras .r3d files were
immediately copied to RAIDs for safekeeping; the files were then transcoded
to Avids native DNxHD for editing in
Avid, and the same project could be
shared with Final Cut Pro via Automatic
Duck Pro Import FCP 2.0. While one
copy of the .r3d files stayed in London,
ready for use in the final online, another
was sent to Australia to be used for the
visual-effects shots.
Although Seymour designed Red

Dwarf s production workflow, Naylor


initially believed he couldnt afford to
have Seymour work on the actual
episodes. Then, Seymour suggested he
come aboard as the visual-effects
supervisor and second-unit director,
and that he use the artists and
resources of his Web site to create
most of the effects shots. We put
together what we called a Special Ops
group, a group inside the fxphd.com
structure, says Seymour. He corralled

18 specialists and set up a virtual post


structure enabling them to exchange
files via a network built by Sohonet.
The systems and programs used by the
artists included Adobe After Effects,
Apple Shake, Autodesk Maya, Inferno
and Flame, The Foundry Nuke and RFX
Pftrack. Seymour also tapped Fin
Design & Effects in Sydney for some
virtual set designs. In all, the effects
team completed 262 shots in 27 days.
Martin delivered textbook

Above: The
original shot,
captured onstage
at Shepperton
Studios against a
greenscreen
measuring
50'x120'. Below:
Cinematographer
Andy Martin
(gesturing) and
visual-effects
supervisor/2ndunit director Mike
Seymour (left)
examine the shot
at hand.

American Cinematographer 77

Right: Kryten
(Robert
Llewellyn, left)
and Arnold
Rimmer (Chris
Barrie, wearing
blue) find their
marks in the
sleepingquarters set
while Martin
lines up a shot.
Below left:
Martin checks
the backlight on
The Creator
(Richard
OCallaghan) for
a scene
referencing
Blade Runner.
Below right: The
crew prepares
for a crane shot
on the
Coronation Street
set in
Manchester.

greenscreen photography, which simplified Seymours work. The greenscreen


measured 50'x120', which allowed
Martin to get a good separation
between the foreground and back-

78 October 2009

ground, both of which he exposed at


the same level. The cinematographer
also tried something new: he occasionally switched two-thirds of the greenscreen lights off while lighting the foreground actors and elements in order to
judge the contrast on those subjects.
That worked really well, he says.
Before the shoot began, Martin
conducted a series of tests, pushing the
One to its extremes to see what he
could learn. Some of his discoveries
contradicted what hed heard about the
camera. For instance, he had been told

to avoid strong backlight, especially


when shooting against a greenscreen,
because an edging effect would
appear around the subjects. In fact, he
found that backlighting looked very
good, and he consequently decided to
push that look.
Fitting the cameras with Zeiss
Ultra Primes, Martin rated the One at
160 ASA, but the filtration the camera
required at the time to shoot under
tungsten light resulted in an effective
ASA of 50. I found my results were
looking a lot like Fuji 250-ASA daylight

Director Doug Naylor guides actor Richard Woo through a scene.

stock, he notes. I thought they looked


very natural. In turn, Naylor was
pleased to find that the Ones 4K mode
allowed him to pull more than one
angle out of each shot during the edit.
We could zoom in 200 percent on any
frame, he recalls. This allowed the
filmmakers to turn three shots into two
shots, two shots into singles and
singles into close-ups; this was especially beneficial given that the crew had
14 days to shoot all three episodes.
Seymours team rendered the
finished shots as DPX files, which were
sent to London via Sohonet for the final
online at Evolutions, where a Baselight
was used. For the non-visual-effects
material, colorist Nick Adams was able
to access the original media at full
resolution. (Most shots were 2K, but
some were 4K.) James Hunter, chief
engineer at Evolutions, notes, Working
natively with the Red rushes gives you
a lot more flexibility in the grade. In
general, grades arent done from rushes
in long-form TV post. People convert
from Red to DPX and essentially bake in
a first-light telecine equivalent. That
was probably the most important
aspect of us changing the traditional
workflow; it has a lot of benefits for all
formats. Seymour adds, We worked

with the look Andy established on set,


except for some tricky shots where we
did a second special-effects grade for a
technical reason, normally detail for
keying.
Martin was initially concerned
that the images blacks might wash out
to a gray somewhere along the workflow, but that fear never materialized. I
was gobsmacked by the density of the
blacks, he says. They really are very
rich. He was also surprised at how
little grain and noise was in the image.
At times, it was almost too clean, but I
would much rather have that than the
alternative!
Once the episodes were
finished, production rented a cinema to
screen them for the cast and crew.
Naylor notes that one of the great
surprises for the actors was seeing
their work combined with the virtual
sets; during the shoot, they were somewhat baffled by the massive greenscreen. It was very different from how
we used to shoot the show, says the
director. In its time, Red Dwarf was
responsible for some less-than-brilliant
greenscreen shots because of
budget, not talent so they were right
to be dubious. There was nothing
onstage other than a square floor and a

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Top: In order to
complete 262
visual-effects
shots in 27
days, Seymour
formed a
Special Ops
group from
participants on
fxphd.com. A
custom
workflow was
devised to bring
the work,
which was
spread across
the globe, back
together for the
final output.
Middle and
bottom:
Chicago-based
visual-effects
artist Jeff
Heusser
worked with
Autodesk Flame
to comp Dave
Lister (Craig
Charles) onto
the television
screens around
actress Karen
Admiraal.

80 October 2009

single squid tentacle! When they saw


the final images, they were absolutely
thrilled.
Even during production, it was
clear how much the series meant to its
fans. People were going mental when
they saw the actors on the street,
recalls Seymour. When we went on
location and the actors were in
costume, peoples mouths would drop
as they drove by. These characters are
really loved in English culture.
I

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and Networking Events
Pre-register Online and Get the latest updates
on upcoming Filmmaking Workshops.
Visit: www.studentlmmakers.com/workshops

Call for Workshop Instructors


We invite lmmakers, cinematographers, directors, editors,
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syllabus and brief biography for consideration.
Reach us at: http://www.studentlmmakers.com/contact.shtml

New Products & Services

Arri Unveils LED Trio


Arri has announced a trio of
advanced LED-based lighting products:
the Pax Panel, the Background Lighting
Module and the LED Caster Series.
These lights have already been successfully used in studio and location applications in European markets.
The Pax Panel boasts an
advanced light control system utilizing
eight Leo lighting modules, the LED light
engine and intelligent algorithms to
ensure consistent illumination of both
color stability and light output. A wireless controller option provides remote
control for adjusting color temperatures,
HIS settings and the selection of color
gels based on 5600K or 3200K
sources.
The BLM provides an exciting
solution for cyclorama, screen and rearilluminated panels. These LED units are
available in both RGB and Warm/Cool
White modules, allowing for various
configurations and providing vibrant
background color combinations.
The LED Caster Series uses a
tunable white source with a special optical design to provide single shadow
rendering and adjustments over a range
of correlated color temperatures. Since
the Caster series offers a CRI of 90,
colors appear more vivid and lifelike on
digital and film media than single-color
82 October 2009

white or RGB LED configurations.


LoCaster, the location model, is an ideal
companion for mobile applications and
interview situations, whereas the
BroadCaster is designed to offer more
control remotely.
For more information, visit
www.arri.com.
LEDStorm Shines
Across Range
LEDStorm offers a range of LEDbased lighting solutions, including the
LS-711 on-camera light ring, the PL-11
Panel Light and the FlexiLED system.
Incorporating bulbs with a 130degree angle, the LS-711 is primarily
used as a beauty fill light, and it allows
cinematographers to shoot with even

their widest lenses. The fixture is also


ideal for shooting handheld without
ever feeling sourcey, and with its ability to utilize different parabolic lens
attachments, the LS-711s beam angle
can range from 130 degrees all the way
down to 5 degrees; at the spot end, the
LS-711 increases its intensity by 5 stops
and offers a throw of 50'.
The PL-11 also incorporates
bulbs with a 130-degree angle and
utilizes a system of parabolic lens
attachments, allowing the PL-11 to be
four different fixtures in one: a wide fill
source, a hard spot source, a softer spot
source and a medium source. With the
hard spot lens, the PL-11 creates a 50'
throw.
LEDStorms newest addition to
its line is the FlexiLED system, which
possesses all the same operating
features as the LS-711 and PL-11 packaged in paper-thin fixtures that can be
taped or pinned just about anywhere;
the fixtures can also flex around nearly
any object. The FlexiLED kit comes with
four different sizes of fixture: 6"x6",
3"x3", 2"x6" and 2"x4". The ballast can
operate three fixtures at once and
allows independent control of each. The
ballast can be run off an automobile
cigarette lighter, and the kit includes an
AC power brick and adapters for a variety of different DC options.
LEDStorm fixtures incorporate an
array of bulbs and a multi-point calibration technique to offer a color-temperature range between 6800K and
2800K, in ten-degree increments. All
LEDStorm fixtures are backed by a lifetime guarantee and are manufactured in a green-friendly,
lead-free facility in
Massachusetts.
For more information, visit www.led
storm.com.

Matthews Extends
Max Line
Matthews Studio Equipment has introduced the
Maxine lighting stand. The
Maxine follows the successful
Max and Mini-Max stands, all
of which are designed to get
the fixture up and out, away
from the main support column.
Maxine is manufactured out
of lightweight aluminum and can
support a 10-pound fixture at 7' high
with a 6'-long horizontal reach. The
stand can go as high as 13' and drop to
16" below horizontal, making it an ideal
tool for a small, mobile production crew.
For more information, visit
www.msegrip.com.
Metal Halide Lamps Join
Showbiz Line
GE Consumer & Industrial has
added to its Showbiz line of globes with
ultraviolet-control, single-ended, hotrestrike metal-halide lamps. Compared
with GEs standard CSR hot-restrike
lamps, the new lamps cut total UV emissions by over 85 percent and reduce
UVB and UVC by over 95 percent.
Designed for use in Par or Fresnel fixtures, the new line of Showbiz
CSR UV-C lamps features wattages of
575, 800, 1,200, 2,500, 4,000 and 6,000,
with future development already in
place for 12,000. Each lamp provides
light output matching non-UV-C lamps
in the respective wattages. Color
temperature of the Showbiz CSR UV-C
lamps is 5800K. Rated life for each
lamp in the new line runs between 300
and 750 hours, depending on the

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83

wattage. All of the lamps in the new


line provide a color-rendering index over
90, and precise chemical dosing in all
Showbiz CSR UV-C lamps produces
stable lamp color temperatures over the
life of the products, ensuring consistent
performance in all types of fixtures.
For more information, visit
www.ge.com.
Zylight Announces
Intelligent IS3
Zylight LLC has announced a
new series of full-size Intelligent Studio
fixtures. The first light in the series, the
IS3, boasts four-times-brighter output
than other LED fixtures in its class.
The IS3 combines Zylights colormixing technology and high-quality
construction to meet the demands of
location and studio professionals who
require an extremely bright and wide
soft source, while offering all of the

innovative features for which Zylight is


renowned: fully dimmable with no color
shift, adjustable color temperature and
color correction, unlimited color control,
integrated ZyLink wireless control, and
rugged construction for years of reliable
service.
All functionality of the IS3 can be
controlled via DMX through industrystandard XLR connectors, or wirelessly
via ZyLink. A USB port is included for
field upgradeability, and the built-in
carrying handle and shock absorption
ensures rock-solid portability. The
fixture measures 18"x11"x2", and can
be powered by either AC or recharge84 October 2009

able battery.
For more information, visit
www.zylight.com.
LEDz Releases Brute 30

LEDz has announced the Brute


30 LED fixture, a 90-watt, 5500K
fixture boasting an output equivalent to
a 400-watt HMI. The Brute 30 features
two on-board dimmers for maximum
control, and the unit produces a wide
horizontal beam spread perfect for
larger productions and events.
The Brute 30 measures 16" wide
by 13" high by 4.5" deep and weighs 14
pounds, with an input of 11-240 volts
AC (1.0-0.5 Amps) and an output of 12
volts DC (10 Amps).
The entire LEDz product range is
available through Hollywood Rentals.
For more information, visit www.holly
woodrentals.com or www.led-z.com.
Gekko Intros Kedo,
Kelvin Tile
Gekko Technology has introduced two LED-based luminaires, the
Kedo focusable spot lamp and the
Kelvin Tile.
Developed in collaboration with
some of the worlds leading lighting
designers, the single-source Kedo is
capable of generating millions of indi-

vidual colors as well as a range of highaccuracy broad-spectrum whites. It is


the first fixture to use Gekkos KleerColor light engine, which is a single
multi-chip LED array. Highly consistent
color quality from lamp to lamp is
achieved using a combination of precise
calibration and closed-loop feedback.
Output is optimized at 3200K and
5600K, and there is no color shift
through the dimming range. Output and
color temperature can be controlled
either from the intuitive interface on the
rear of the lamp or via DMX.
David Amphlett, Gekkos founder
and managing director, enthuses, Kedo
is nothing short of revolutionary: a
focusable LED spotlight equivalent in
output to a standard 1K Fresnel. It gives
lighting directors and cameramen
unprecedented freedom to control color

temperature and illumination level without the inconvenience and loss of optical efficiency associated with more
traditional methods. It can be switched
quickly and easily to produce 2900,
3200, 4300, 5600 and 6500 Kelvin
as well as matching a wide range of
color gels. As an LED-based fixture,
Kedo has a lumen output warranted for
20,000 hours. The Kedos low power
consumption keeps heat generation to a
minimum and, as it passively cools,
operation is silent.
Gekko Technology recently
purchased the Kelvin Tile product line
from Element Labs, and the company
introduced the rebranded fixtures during
IBC in September. The LED-based lighting system employs a combination of
red, green, blue, cyan, amber and white
LED elements in a 16x15 matrix to

generate high-quality, full-spectrum


white light specifically for film and
video production; the color temperature remains consistent throughout the
full range of intensity variation.
Measuring approximately 12"x
12"x4" and weighing roughly 9 pounds,
each Kelvin Tile delivers up to 419 Lux
at 5500K or 273 Lux at 3000K (both
measured at a 1-meter distance) with
a power consumption of only 85 watts.
Beam angle is 108 degrees at 50percent intensity. The Kelvin Tile can
also be supplied with an omni mount,
single or double yoke mount, removable barndoors, and Kelvin Paintbox
control software.
We were extremely impressed
with the Kelvin Tile, both as a product
and as a concept, and felt Element
Labs and Gekko shared color quality as
a core value, says Amphlett. The
Kelvin Tile is a compact soft light
giving directors or cameramen total
control over color temperature from
2200 to 6500 Kelvin, with resets at
3000 and 5500K. It is a soft-light
companion to the focusable Gekko
Kedo designed for general softlight applications, including concealment of wrinkles and shadows.
Additionally, Gekko Technology
has expanded into new headquarters,
providing the company with nearly
three times the floor area of its former
premises.
Gekko Technology Ltd, Units 34, Cotton Drive, Dalehouse Lane, Kenilworth, CV8 2UE. For more information,
call +44 (0)8448 005 326 or visit
www.gekkotechnology.com.
Litepanels Makes Splash
with SeaSun
Litepanels has teamed with
HydroFlex to develop the Litepanels
SeaSun underwater-housing series,
bringing the advantages of Litepanels
LED technology including the
fixtures small form factors, panchromatic light output, low power draw
and low heat generation to productions shooting beneath the waves.
Litepanels SeaSun fixture housings are
constructed of aluminum and Plexi-




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The low power draw of Litepanels fixtures allows the units to be
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Furthermore, unlike many traditional
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SeaSun underwater housings
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86 October 2009

batteries.
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The iLED uses 144 LED lights to
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Through the employment of highefficiency LED technology, Bebobs LuxLED fixtures are capable of generating
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American Cinematographer 89

International Marketplace contd

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Abel Cine Tech C2
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Arri 37
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Cavision Enterprises 27
Chapman/Leonard Studio
Equipment Inc. 21
Chimera 5
Cinema Vision 89
Cinematography
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Cinekinetic 88
Cinelease, Inc. 87
Cinerover 88
Clairmont Film & Digital 17
Convergent Design 56
Cooke Optics 19, 89
Deluxe 63
Denecke 88
Eastman Kodak 13, C4
Evidence Productions 89

Filmtools 87
Five Towns College 85
Fuji Motion Picture 39
Glidecam Industries 9
Golden Animations 90
GV Technology Expo 51
High Def Expo, Inc. 53
Hines Lab 89
Hollywood Post Alliance 73
Hydroflex 79
Innovision 89
JEM Studio Lighting. Inc. 79
J.L. Fisher 23
K 5600, Inc. 65
Kino Flo 43
Laffoux Solutions, Inc. 88
Laser Pacific 55
Lee Filters 4
Lentequip, Inc. 89
Lighttools 42
Lights! Action! Company
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Movie Tech AG 88
MP&E Mayo Productions 89
MSM 73
Nalpak 90
New York Film Academy 25
Oppenheimer Camera Prod.
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P+S Technik 19, 89
Panasonic Broadcast 7
PED Denz 83, 89
Photon Beard 89
Pille Film Gmbh 89
Powermills 89
Pro8mm 88

Schneider Optics 2
Sony Electronics, Inc. 11
Spectra Film & Video
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Stanton Video Services 83
Super16 Inc. 90
Telescopic 88
Thales Angenieux 28-29
Tiffen C3
VF Gadgets, Inc. 88
Visual Products 6
Walter Klassen FX 57
Welch Integrated 81
Willys Widgets 88
www.theasc.com 74
Zacuto Films 89
ZGC, Inc. 19, 89
Zipcam Systems 41

Clubhouse News
Suschitzky will be honored at the
Manaki Brothers 30th International Cinematographers Film Festival, which will
run Sept. 26-Oct. 10 in Macedonia. Spinotti will be honored at the Plus Camerimage International Film Festival, which will
run Nov. 28-Dec. 5 in Poland.

Society Welcomes McLeod


From an early age, Geary
McLeod, ASC was fascinated by the
black-and-white images flickering on his
familys television. By his junior year at the
University of Massachusetts, he knew he
wanted to be a cinematographer. He
rounded out his classroom education by
watching foreign films in art-house cinemas and working in a photography studio
and for PBS affiliate WGBHs 16mm documentary unit.
After moving to Los Angeles,
McLeod worked at CFI before beginning a
union apprenticeship program as a second
assistant. Climbing the ranks of the
camera department, he spent seven years
as a first assistant for Stephen Goldblatt,
ASC, BSC, and moved up to camera operator after pulling focus for Ernest Dickerson, ASC on Malcolm X.
McLeod notched his first cinematographer credit in 2000, on the series
City of Angels. Since then, he has shot
such series as Danny, Barbershop, Dirt and
The Mentalist. His feature credits include
Who Made the Potatoe Salad? and Not
Easily Broken. Through Local 600 and
Hollywood CPR, McLeod teaches entrylevel camera skills to inner-city youths.
Suschitzky, Spinotti to
Accept Lifetime Honors
Society
members
Peter
Suschitzky and Dante Spinotti will be
the recipients of lifetime-achievement
awards this fall.

Stein, Fortunato Host


Workshops
ASC members Ron Fortunato
and Peter Stein recently visited Abel
Cine Tech in New York City for two
events organized by StudentFilmmakers.com.
Fortunato seasoned a Q&A with
the audience with clips from such
projects as Before the Devil Knows
Youre Dead (AC Dec. 07), Nil by Mouth
and Gossip Girl. Afterward, Stein
conducted a lighting workshop, Lighting
to Create a Mood.
Hora Talks 3-Strip
Technicolor
John Hora, ASC recently joined
visual-effects artist Harrison Ellenshaw
and production designer Tom Walsh for
the discussion Designing for 3-Strip
Technicolor at the American Cinematheques Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
Their conversation focused on Michael
Powell and Emeric Pressburgers Black
Narcissus, which was shot by Jack
Cardiff, ASC, BSC, and designed by
Alfred Junge. Cardiff and Junge won
Academy Awards for their work on the
picture.
Wexler Presides at Aero
Haskell Wexler, ASC was the
guest of honor at the American Cinematheques Aero Theatre in July for a
double-feature presentation of Medium
Cool, which Wexler wrote, directed and
photographed, and Coming Home, which
Wexler shot for Hal Ashby. Richard
Crudo, ASC interviewed Wexler about
his work on both films.

Associates on the Move


ASC associate member Stephan
Ukas-Bradley was recently promoted
from manager of technical services at
Arris Burbank facility to the new position
of product manager-digital
production. In this expanded role, Ukas-Bradley
will provide technical
support to the sales and
marketing of Arri digital
cameras across North and
South America. Production is at an extremely
interesting crossroads
now, and there are many
different options, says
Ukas-Bradley. Im very excited about
helping to offer the best digital solutions
that meet creative, technical and budget
needs.
ASC associate Rob Hummel has
joined Prime Focus as CEO
of Post Logic Studios. Post
Logic is poised to take full
advantage of its global
network of facilities that
will enable us to provide
our clients the best quality
at the greatest value, says
Hummel. I look forward to
working closely across
companies to deliver Hollywood clients the greatest
quality and value for their film, television, DVD and digital projects.

AC, ASC on Facebook


American
Cinematographer
magazine and the ASC are on Facebook.
Become a fan of both pages to stay upto-date on ASC events and other noteworthy film-related events around the
world: www.facebook.com/American
Cinematographer and www.face
book.com/the.ASC.
I

American Cinematographer 91

ASC CLOSE-UP
Lowell Peterson, ASC

Which cinematographers, past or present, do you most admire,


and why?
When I first came to Los Angeles, there were five Japanese movie
theaters, and the lighting and compositions in the films they played
resonated with me. Kazuo Miyagawa shot the great Mizoguchi films,
but in his later career at Daiei Studios, he became a master of color
cinematography. Fujio Morita shot many of Hideo Goshas movies. I also
admire Sven Nykvist, ASC for his ability to illuminate the inner lives of
women. Russell Metty, ASC is another big influence; he applied blackand-white technique to shooting color, and his work with Douglas Sirk
is an inspiration for my current project, Desperate Housewives. Of the
many great modern cinematographers, I most admire Gordon Willis,
ASC.
What sparked your interest in photography?
I joined a college film society and watched a lot of movies. I remember
having a sort of epiphany when I saw Rebel Without a Cause and realized there was a grammar to making movies. I was struck by the scene
on the living-room stairs between James Dean and Jim Backus, and
how the use of high and low camera angles visually expressed the
drama of the scene.
Where did you train and/or study?
I did some acting as a child and toured with a theatrical company. The
sense of belonging to a community of artists was very appealing. I
enrolled at Yale intending to study architecture, but after joining the
Yale Film Society, I began to see the possibility of a career in the
movies. Eventually I ended up at UCLAs film school.
Who were your early teachers or mentors?
Bobby Liu, ASC taught me how to block a scene and line up a shot. Ed
Brown, ASC taught me a lot about framing and operating. And from
Craig Denault I learned about lighting with big sources and how to use
soft light on actresses while creating contrast in other parts of the
frame. All of them showed me how to treat a crew with respect and get
joy from the day-to-day work.
What are some of your key artistic influences?
The quality of light in Watteau and Vermeer, the compositions of
Utamaro, the Zone System of Ansel Adams, the directing styles of
Vincente Minnelli and Nicholas Ray, the group improvisation of Miles
Davis and Thelonious Monk, and modern opera and theater.
92 October 2009

How did you get your first break in the


business?
I partnered with a fellow UCLA film student, Nick von
Sternberg, and we broke into low-budget features.
He was the cinematographer and I was his assistant
on sub-Roger Corman and Blaxploitation movies.
What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?
The discovery of soft bounce light while shooting a period student film.
We taped white bed sheets to the set walls and bounced the lights off
of them.
Have you made any memorable blunders?
Early on as a director of photography, I was so intent on the work that
I sometimes ignored the politics of the production. I had to learn how
important the relationships with directors, producers and other departments are to realizing the cinematography.
What is the best professional advice youve ever received?
I was honored to have John Alton, ASC visit my set when I first became
a cinematographer. He told me to light the people, not the sets.
What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?
Michael Powells autobiography, John Doyles revival of Sweeney Todd
on Broadway, several great modern-opera productions, and recent
music by Radiohead and The Killers.
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to
try?
I would love to shoot a musical.
If you werent a cinematographer, what might you be doing
instead?
I might be a theater techie or doing music recording something
where I wouldnt have to get up so early in the morning!
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for membership?
Bobby Liu, Ed Brown and Michael Watkins. Allen Daviau was head of
the Membership Committee, and he supported me at a time when
there was some resistance to inviting television cinematographers to
join.
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
As a student of film history, I became aware of that unbroken line of
cinematographers with the initials ASC after their names, from the
silent-film pioneers through all my heroes of the 1940s and 1950s and
on into my era. Joining that list of artists was certainly the most important event of my career. When I walk into the Clubhouse, I think back
on a hundred years of film images that are seared into our collective
memory, and then I meet with my ASC colleagues and start looking
ahead to what the future will bring.
I

Photo by Danny Feld.

When you were a child, what film made the


strongest impression on you?
My sister Wendy used to take me to the movies, and
she created in her little brother a lifelong movielover. When I was a little boy, The 7th Voyage of
Sinbad (1958) scared the hell out of me, but I was
fascinated by the fantasy world Ray Harryhausen
created. As a young teenager, I was in awe of the epic quality of
Cheyenne Autumn (1964), and in retrospect, Im certain I responded to
the 65mm photography of Monument Valley.

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ONFILM
P E T R A KO R N E R : O N F I LM

I have learned to always trust my instincts. In


the end, cinematography like any other art
form very much comes down to a matter
of taste and the personal experiences you
intuitively bring to your work. You have to be
genuine and deliver your very unique visual
interpretation of the story arc. The trust of a
director gives you the freedom to make bold
visual choices. Great lms resonate with us for
a long time. Some lms make us re-evaluate
our lives and others give us a good laugh
when we need one. I like creating atmospheric
images for the story to unfold in, as a means
of transporting the audience and giving wings
to their imagination. I hope that in my lifetime
I get to contribute to lms that impact people;
whether it is by granting them access to a world
they didnt know, or by changing the way they
look at the world around them.
Petra Korner was born and raised in Vienna,
Austria. She studied filmmaking at New York
University, FAMU Prague and the American
Film Institute. She has lived in New York, Prague,
Paris, London, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires.
Her credits include The Wackness, Burgua dii Ebo
(The Wind and The Water), The Informers, and
Wes Cravens 25/8. She received the 2009
Kodak Vision Award for Cinematography
from Women In Film.
[All these programs were shot on Kodak motion picture lm.]
For an extended interview with Petra Korner,
visit www.kodak.com/go/onlm
To order Kodak motion picture lm,
call (800) 621 - lm.
www.motion.kodak.com
Eastman Kodak Company, 2008.
Photography: 2008 Douglas Kirkland