Sie sind auf Seite 1von 132

AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER • DECEMBER 2017 • BLADE RUNNER 2049 – THOR: RAGNAROK – SUBURBICON – ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. – MUDBOUND – OUR SOULS AT NIGHT • VOL. 98 NO. 12

DECEMBER 2017

<<< NEW, IMPROVED and ONLINE >>> Your Two Best Cinematography Resources a s c m
<<< NEW, IMPROVED and ONLINE >>> Your Two Best Cinematography Resources a s c m

<<< NEW, IMPROVED and ONLINE >>>

Your Two Best Cinematography Resources

a s c m a g.c om

Web-Exclusive Articles

t he a s c .c om

American Cinematographer’s relaunched web platform delivers more of the in-depth coverage you’re looking for, complete with vital technical detail, and insight into the cinematographer’s storytelling approach and the collaborative creative process that brings it all to the screen.

You’ll find them all at ascmag.com/articles

Our most recent web-exclusive coverage includes:

Wonder Wheel

Cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC Director: Woody Allen With this online version of the American Cinematographer article penned by Storaro himself, journey deeper into the creative, richly hued photogra- phy he designed for Allen’s melancholy ode to a time gone by — captured in the cinematographer’s pre- ferred 2:1 aspect ratio with Sony CineAlta F65s.

pre- ferred 2:1 aspect ratio with Sony CineAlta F65s. Blade of the Immortal Cinematographer: Nobuyasu Kita
pre- ferred 2:1 aspect ratio with Sony CineAlta F65s. Blade of the Immortal Cinematographer: Nobuyasu Kita

Blade of the Immortal

Cinematographer: Nobuyasu Kita Director: Takashi Miike When it comes to stylized, sophisticated and violent martial-arts films from the realm of Japanese cinema, one of the long-established masters of the genre is director Takashi Miike. Working again with Nobuyasu Kita, his latest feature is this period samurai drama shot with Arri Alexa cameras and Cooke S4 lenses.

Murder on the Orient Express

Cinematographer: Haris Zambarloukos, BSC, GSC Director: Kenneth Branagh In their most recent collaboration, Zambarloukos and Branagh re-imagine Agatha Christie’s iconic murder mystery, employing cutting-edge Enhanced Environments displays by VER, Kodak 65mm motion-picture film, and Panavision large-format cameras and lenses to render an expansive vision.

cameras and lenses to render an expansive vision. Log on now at ascmag.com/articles to find more

Log on now at ascmag.com/articles to find more coverage on inventive and inspiring productions, highlighting the tools and techniques used by top cinematographers.

D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 V O L
D
E
C
E
M
B
E
R
2
0
1
7
V
O
L
.
9
8
N
O
.
1
2
An International Publication of the ASC
On Our Cover: The replicant-hunting K (Ryan Gosling) pursues a dangerous
lead in Blade Runner 2049, shot by Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. (Photo by Stephen
Vaughan, courtesy of Alcon Entertainment.)
F E AT U RE S
36
Blade Runner 2049 – Uncanny Valley
50
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC blends film noir and
science fiction
50
Thor: Ragnarok – Hammer Time
Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC, AEC leaps into comic-book action
62
Suburbicon and Roman J. Israel, Esq.
– Strife and Justice
62
Robert Elswit, ASC details his collaborations on two
new features
78
Mudbound – Delta Blues
Rachel Morrison, ASC turns her camera on post-war America
90
Our Souls at Night – Timeless Romance
Stephen Goldblatt, ASC, BSC adopts new technology for an
intimate story
78

D E PA RT M E N T S

12

Editor’s Note

14

President’s Desk

18

Shot Craft: Light Meters • K Counts • False Color

28

100

Short Takes: Empty Skies

Filmmakers’ Forum: Wonder Wheel

108

New Products & Services

116

International Marketplace

117

Classified Ads

118

Ad Index

119

2017 AC Index

124

ASC Membership Roster

126

Clubhouse News

128

ASC Close-Up: Patrick Cady

— VISIT WWW.ASCMAG.COM —

ASC Membership Roster 126 Clubhouse News 128 ASC Close-Up: Patrick Cady — VISIT WWW.ASCMAG.COM — 90

90

D e c e m b e r 2 0 1 7 V o l
D
e
c
e
m
b
e
r
2
0
1
7
V
o
l
.
9
8
,
N
o
.
1
2
A n I n t e r n a t i o n a l
A n
I n t e r
n a t i o n a l
P u b l i c a
t i o n
o f
t h e
A S C
Visit us online at w w w . a s c m a g . c o m

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF and PUBLISHER Stephen Pizzello ———————————————————————————————————— WEB DIRECTOR and ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David E. Williams ————————————————————————————————————

EDITORIAL

MANAGING EDITOR

Jon D. Witmer

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Andrew Fish

TECHNICAL EDITOR Christopher Probst, ASC

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Benjamin B, Rachael K. Bosley, Mark Dillon, Michael Goldman, Simon Gray, Jim Hemphill, David Heuring, Jay Holben, Noah Kadner, Debra Kaufman, Iain Marcks, Matt Mulcahey, Jean Oppenheimer, Phil Rhodes, Patricia Thomson

PODCASTS Jim Hemphill, Iain Marcks, Chase Yeremian

BLOGS Benjamin B; John Bailey, ASC; David Heuring

IT DIRECTOR/WEB PRODUCER Mat Newman

NEW PRODUCTS & SERVICES David Alexander Willis ————————————————————————————————————

ART & DESIGN

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Marion Kramer

PHOTO EDITOR Kelly Brinker ————————————————————————————————————

ADVERTISING

ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR

Angie Gollmann

323-936-3769 Fax 323-952-2140 e-mail: angiegollmann@gmail.com

ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR

Sanja Pearce

323-952-2114 Fax 323-952-2140 e-mail: sanja@ascmag.com

CLASSIFIEDS/ADVERTISING COORDINATOR

Diella Peru

323-952-2124 Fax 323-952-2140 e-mail: diella@ascmag.com

————————————————————————————————————

SUBSCRIPTIONS, BOOKS & PRODUCTS

CIRCULATION DIRECTOR

Saul Molina

CIRCULATION MANAGER

Alex Lopez

SHIPPING MANAGER

Miguel Madrigal

————————————————————————————————————

ASC SPONSORSHIP & EVENTS DIRECTOR

Patricia Armacost

ASC PRESIDENT’S ASSISTANT

Delphine Figueras

ASC ACCOUNTANT Shawnté Howard ————————————————————————————————————

American Cinematographer (ISSN 0002-7928), established 1920 and in its 97th 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. Copyright 2017 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.

8

8 American Society of Cinematographers The ASC is not a labor union or a guild, but
8 American Society of Cinematographers The ASC is not a labor union or a guild, but

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 - 2017/2018

Kees van Oostrum

President

Bill Bennett

Vice President

John Simmons

Vice President

Cynthia Pusheck

Vice President

Levie Isaacks

Treasurer

David Darby

Secretary

Isidore Mankofsky

Sergeant-at-Arms

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD

Paul Cameron Russell Carpenter Curtis Clark Richard Crudo George Spiro Dibie Fred Elmes Victor J. Kemper Stephen Lighthill Karl-Walter Lindenlaub Robert Primes Cynthia Pusheck Roberto Schaefer John Simmons John Toll Amy Vincent

ALTERNATES

Dean Cundey

Lowell Peterson

Steven Fierberg

Stephen Burum

Mandy Walker

MUSEUM CURATOR

Steve Gainer

Photo by Owen Roizman, ASC.

12

Photo by Owen Roizman, ASC. 12 EDITOR’S NOTE Continuing the narrative of a landmark film like
Photo by Owen Roizman, ASC. 12 EDITOR’S NOTE Continuing the narrative of a landmark film like

EDITOR’S NOTE

Photo by Owen Roizman, ASC. 12 EDITOR’S NOTE Continuing the narrative of a landmark film like

Continuing the narrative of a landmark film like Blade Runner is a daunting prospect for everyone involved. On Blade Runner 2049, nobody occupied a hotter seat than cinematographer Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, who was following in the very large footsteps of another ASC icon, the late Jordan Cronenweth. Cronenweth’s groundbreaking work on the original movie has long been canonized for its artful fusion of film- noir style with a spectacularly dank cyberpunk aesthetic, as well as an eerie, dystopian ambience achieved through the cinematographer’s unorthodox and adventurous combina- tion of xenon lights, smoke and low-con filters. (Cronen- weth credited the application of xenon lights to legendary

gaffer Dick Hart. Addressing the smoking of sets in a July 1982interviewwithAC, Cronenwethjoked, “I findthat agooddensity is achievedjust before I lose consciousness.”) In a Q&A conducted by Rachael Bosley (“Uncanny Valley,” page 36), Deakins maintains that heanddirector Denis Villeneuveoptedtoblazetheir owntrail and“didn’t reallyreference Blade Runner” very much in their approach to the newmovie. Instead, Deakins notes, “Many of our references were architecture, actually. One of the early references Denis gravitated towardwasthearchitectureinBeijingandthelookof thecityinthesmog; helikedtheideaof L.A. beingcold, witheither rainor snowinexterior scenes. We wantedthe environment tobe acharacterinitself,andgraduallywecametotheideaofstark,minimal Brutalistarchitecture.” Since its October release, Blade Runner 2049 has received lavish praise for its look, which suggests that in a universe of “franchise titles,” forging a fresh aesthetic can be a welcome alternative to cautious homage. On Thor: Ragnarok, cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC, AEC and director Taika Waititi infused a similarly familiar realm with an energetic approach to the Norse superhero’s latest adventure (“Hammer Time,” page 50). While Aguirresarobe fully acknowledges the necessity of CGI andbluescreenworktorealizethis corner of theMarvel universe, heobserves that “the challenge consisted of creating fantastic worlds with settings that originated in our imagination and were lit with realistic lighting.” In his own interviewwith writer Noah Kadner, Waititi added, “Alotofinspirationcamefromtheartof[comic-bookartist] JackKirby, interms of color, line, form, and sometimes even composition.” ASCmember Robert Elswit’s work on a pair of intriguing projects helmed by two familiar collaborators, George Clooney (Suburbicon) and Dan Gilroy (Roman J. Israel, Esq.), inspired us toaskNewYorkcorrespondentPatriciaThomsontoconductaninterviewwithBobaboutboth movies (“Strife andJustice,”page 62). The former is basedona Coenbrothers script that was reconfigured by Clooney and Grant Heslov, and the latter is a Los Angeles-based legal thriller that provides its star, Denzel Washington, with a showcase for a compelling character study. This month’s other feature articles spotlight two more exceptionally talented ASC members: Rachel Morrison, whobringsanauthenticlookandfeel toMississippi settingsinthe post-World War II drama Mudbound (“Delta Blues,” page 78), and Stephen Goldblatt, who explains how he applied LED lighting techniques to the romantic drama Our Souls at Night (“Timeless Romance,” page 90).

the romantic drama Our Souls at Night (“Timeless Romance,” page 90). Stephen Pizzello Editor-in-Chief and Publisher

Stephen Pizzello Editor-in-Chief and Publisher

Photo by Jacek Laskus, ASC, PSC.

Photo by Jacek Laskus, ASC, PSC. PRESIDENT’S DESK Tuxedo Time The other day Caleb Deschanel, ASC

PRESIDENT’S DESK

Photo by Jacek Laskus, ASC, PSC. PRESIDENT’S DESK Tuxedo Time The other day Caleb Deschanel, ASC

Tuxedo Time

The other day Caleb Deschanel, ASC called me to see if I had any suggestions for what he might say about “what cinematographymeanstotheuninitiated—actors, publicists, composers, etc. —togive theman idea of what to look for when judging cinematography.” It was meant for the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, all of whom vote for the Academy Awards after the films in each category have been nominated by the Academy members withinanaward’s givenbranch. Inother words, cinematographers nominatethefilms inthe Best Cinematography category, and then all Academy members vote on which film is worthy of the Oscar. As it stands, the systemhas resulted in some interesting choices over the years, to say the least! As cinematographers, we’re resigned to the notion that films with sweeping panoramic images, preferably in a period setting, often seem most attractive to the full voting body of the Academy — which, by percentage, is largely represented by the actors’ branch. I remember when David Watkin, BSC accepted his Academy Award for Out of Africa; standing onstage, he said, “A while ago I was sittinginatheaterwatchingoneofmymoviesnexttoafriendofminewhoisafilmdirector. Andafter about anhour hetouchedmeonthearmandsaid, ‘That’sbeautiful; you’reveryclever.’ I explainedthat it wasasecond-unit shot. So I think it’s best if I point out that all of the flying material was shot by Peter Allwork and the animal photography was Simon Trevor. I’mtruly honored and very flattered, and thank you very much.” I don’t think any of us would suggest that David Watkin did not deserve the award. His body of work — which also included Chariots of Fire, Yentl and The Hotel New Hampshire —was driven by a casual approach to lighting, often noted for its“painterlyqualities”andcomparedbysometoVermeer. Hisinspirationremainsextensiveandimportant tousascine- matographers. But, again, we tend to believe that if you should be so lucky as to receive the coveted award, it probably won’t be for what you consider your best work. My thoughts go directly to Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. By now I think he probably deserves some kind of a fashion award, ironicallyfor themost worn-out tuxedoandblackloafers!HehasattendedtheAcademyAwardsoften, havingbeen

nominatedforoneexceptionalachievementincinematographyafteranother—13timesintotal,asofthiswriting.Itstarted

with The Shawshank Redemption, then there was Fargo, Kundun, No Country for Old Men, Skyfall —the list of iconic and intricately shot movies goes on. Through all of the nominations, he’s waited with the utmost restraint and a British attitude of humility and resignation. As I considered Caleb’s question, my thoughts began to wander. The “visual sense” is one we as humans develop first, even in the darkness of the womb. It made me realize that in the everyday life of moviemaking, the opening shot of most movies is handled with great care, establishing the visual presentation before a word of dialogue is spoken; the story hasbegun, andat thispoint it’sapurelyvisual one. Thesamegoesfor theclosingshot of afilm—usuallyavisual crescendo to send off the audience with an eye-catching experience they will remember. The camera is indeed a magical metaphor for all filmmakers. After pictures of themselves clutching an Academy Award, directors, writers, producers and actors all like to be photographed posing next to or even behind a camera. Given my wry senseof humor, I’veaskedbefore: Sincesomany of themaresoincredibly involvedwithwords, whenwill they start to pose next to a microphone? This year, Roger Deakins has Blade Runner 2049 in the mix. With great care and after careful consideration, our peers willnominatefivewell-deservingfilmsfortheAcademyAwardforBestCinematography.Whathappensafterthat,ofcourse, remainstobeseen—but, seeingthemagnitudeandimpactofBladeRunnerfrombothacurrentandhistorical perspective, and given Roger’s exquisite interpretation, maybe now is the time for himto shop for a new tux and loafers.

now is the time for himto shop for a new tux and loafers. Kees van Oostrum

Kees van Oostrum ASC President

Photo courtesy of the AC archives.

Photo courtesy of the AC archives. SHOT CRAFT Haskell Wexler, ASC meters the light on Lolita

SHOT CRAFT

Photo courtesy of the AC archives. SHOT CRAFT Haskell Wexler, ASC meters the light on Lolita

Haskell Wexler, ASC meters the light on Lolita Davidovich for the feature Blaze.

I To Meter or Not to Meter By Jay Holben

In the days when film reigned as the only medium for motion pictures, the cinematographer’s light meter was invalu- able. It was the only tool capable of informing cinematographers of their light values, enabling them to make exposure decisions. Asdigital gainedafootholdintheindustry, however, other expo- sure tools entered the field and became commonplace: wave- forms, false color, zebras, histograms — even the image itself, displayed in real time on a calibrated professional monitor. With so many alternatives, the light meter has fallen into obsoles- cence. Or has it? Even though many cinematographers no longer carry their light meters, the question remains: Do light meters have a place in today’s production workflow? Has the meter gone the way of the dodo, or is it still a worthwhile investment? There’s no doubt in my mind that every cinematogra- pher should own — and know how to use — a light meter. Ideally, they should own both spot and incident meters, or one meter that combines the two — but if that’s too expensive, a trusty incident meter is the minimum requirement. It’s crucial to be proficient with a meter because, regardless of the production

and whatever camera we happen to be using, there are always situations where a meter can save the day. We’ll cover specific techniques for using light meters in a future Shot Craft; for now, let’s look at the types of meters available and how they work. In the simplest terms, a light meter measures the inten- sity of light. Taking into account the ISO of the film or the digitalsensoraswellastheexposuretime,itthenindicates what aperture to set on the lens for a “proper” exposure. Note those quotation marks — what is or is not actually proper is always open to creative interpretation. It’s impor- tant to bear in mind that nearly all light meters use 18- percent gray as their basis for a proper exposure; more on that in the paragraphs to follow. There are two principal categories of light meters:

reflected and incident. First we’ll discuss reflected light meters, also known as spot meters. A spot meter reads the light reflecting off of an object and gives you the value of the light that’s being delivered to the meter. For most spot meters, you look through a viewfinder, line up the object you’re measuring, and take your reading. Spot meters are wonderful for reading light sources themselves: backlit display screens, lamps, stained-glass windows, etc. Many cinematographers use spot meters

as their primary meter — but be warned, this requires a bit of mental gymnastics. Again, remember that all meters are working toward the proper exposure of an 18-percent gray card. If the subject isn’t an 18-percent gray card, then it’s the responsibility of the cinematographer to understand the reflective value differential between a neutral gray card and the actual subject. Let’s say you’re shooting a black card; it might only be reflecting back 4 percent of the light that strikes it. But the meter doesn’t know it’s black — it just assumes there is significantly less light reflecting off of a gray card, and so it tells you to open up the lens and let in more light. If you follow the meter’s recommendations, you will overexpose the black card to such a degree that it will appear to be medium gray in the shot. The inverse is also true. If you’re shooting a white card, the meter will still assume it’s 18-percent gray. Since the white card might actually be reflecting back 85 percent of the light that hits it, the meter will tell you to stop down the lens — and if you do as the meter says, you’ll underexpose the white card so that it appears as medium gray in the final shot. So when you’re using a spot meter, you have to under- stand the difference in value between your subject and medium gray. If the black card is three stops darker than

medium gray, then stop down the lens three more stops than the meter recommends in order for the card to

appear as black in the image. Likewise,

if the white card is three stops brighter

than 18-percent gray, open up the lens three more stops than the reading you get with the spot meter so the card will be rendered correctly. Black, white and gray are easy enough to figure out, but skin tones can be more challenging. Just how much brighter or darker than medium gray is the actor’s skin? Seasoned cinematogra- phers draw on loads of past experience in order to properly compensate between what their meter reports and what they know the true reflective value of their subject to be. The opposite of a spot meter is an incident meter. You’ll recognize an inci- dent meter by what appears to be half of a ping-pong ball. Incident meters measure the light falling on the subject being photographed; you take the meter reading by placing the incident meter between the light source and the subject. Like a spot meter, the incident meter assumes that you are photographing an 18-percent neutral- gray subject. But, because you’re measuring the light falling onto the subject rather than the light that’s reflected off, the incident meter has a

built-in conversion factor. If a black wall,

a gray wall and a white wall are all lit

with the same intensity of light, the inci- dent meter will measure exactly the same value and report exactly the same stop recommendation. Again, this is because it measures the light before it hits the wall, not after it reflects off of the wall. So, in essence, the incident meter’s assumption of the subject being 18-percent gray is moot. This also holds true for skin tones and, indeed, objects of any color or reflectance — and it makes the incident meter significantly easier to use, as it doesn’t require any of the spot meter’s mental gymnastics. Some meters actually combine the functionality of both spot and inci- dent meters. And if you own an SLR camera with a built-in light meter, you

already have a spot meter — any camera with through-the-lens (TTL) metering is, in essence, a spot meter. The camera looks at the light reflecting

off of the subject and provides an expo- sure recommendation based on the assumption that the subject is 18- percent gray. In addition to traditional stand- alone meters — whether analog or digi- tal — there is, of course, an app. In fact, there are several. For example, Pocket Light Meter is an iOS and Android appli- cation from Nuwaste Studios that turns a smartphone into a spot meter; recent updates have also added color-tempera- ture readings. Additionally, the Luxi “ping-pong ball” attachment can be purchased to slip over your phone’s camera and turn Pocket Light Meter into an incident-meter application. The accuracy of the readings is impressive. I also recently had the opportu- nity to work with the Lumu iPhone light- meter accessory. It’s a device that plugs into the iPhone’s Lightning port, and it can measure light intensity as an inci- dent meter or color as a color meter. It can also act as a flash meter for still photographers. Sekonic, Konica Minolta, Spectra and Gossen are among the companies that manufacture light meters. Although they may not be as necessary for primary exposure judgments in digi- tal production, they’re still handy for

taking measurements and gauging lighting ratios for scenes that you might need to re-create later. They’re great for getting an idea of your exposure levels before the camera or monitor is up and ready. They’re useful for evaluating lighting decisions based on where you want to place certain subject values within the camera system’s dynamic range. And they’re perfect for location scouting, light studies, and for measur- ing and maintaining atmosphere — fog or haze — over the duration of a day. Yes, light meters still have a place in today’s digital productions. And luck- ily for all of us, the options we have for which meter to use are as vast as ever.

Deep Focus The Ubiquitous Ks

If you’re a baseball pitcher, nothing

would be more extraordinary than having 27 Ks on a single game’s scorecard. If you’re a cinematographer, however, you’re bombarded by Ks on a constant basis, and rather than being welcome, they can be downright bewildering. The discussion of Ks has become something of a hot-button topic. Certain exhibition venues and platforms demand aminimumnumberofKs. Producershave a handful of questions for every K in consideration. And many cinematogra-

phers feel at best that they kind of under- stand Ks. In this environment, misunder- standings abound. So let’s try to clear things up. First off, there are many things that “K” can stand for. Let’s take a look at them, one by one.

K can be the symbol for Kelvin, the

unit of measurement used for the color- temperature scale that we deal with on a daily basis. Daylight is, roughly, 5,600K, and tungsten light is approximately 3,200K. These numbers are based on the scale created by William Thomson, the Right HonorableLordKelvin(1824-1907), who postulated that if you take a pure blackbodythat absorbs all light andemits none, and you slowly apply heat, it will start to glow — first red, then orange, yellow, blue and, finally, white. The “Kelvin scale” starts at absolute zero (-273 ° C = 0K), the point at which all molecular activity stops. When color film was invented, it was decided that tung- sten and daylight would serve as the two target temperatures for “white” light. A note about daylight: 5,600K is the nomi- nal average of sunlight and skylight at noon on a cloudless day; depending on the source, daylight is also sometimes expressed as 5,500K or 6,500K. Next, K can refer to kilowatts, part of our nomenclaturefor alamp’selectrical power. Kilo is derived from the Greek word for “thousand.” So, when we’re

talkingabouta1KFresnel,ora4KPAR,or

an 18K HMI, those numbers designate thousands of watts — kilowatts. That Fresnel is 1,000 watts, the PAR is 4,000,

and the HMI is 18,000. Wattage is one of the four main prop- erties of electricity — the other three being amps, volts and ohms — and it is a constant in a given fixture. A 1,000-watt fixture will always require 1,000 watts to produce its light. Watts are the product of amps and volts, and they are, in essence, the measurement of the work being done in an elec- trical system. So far, this has been pretty straightforward. But here’s where Ks get confusing. With regard to digital images, K is a measurement of the number of pixels or photosites —and the termhas beencommandeeredas marketingjargon, ayardstick by which to measure the prowess of a particular camera system, a rallying cry in the ongoing “war of the Ks” wherein each manufacturer vies to outdo the rest in delivering an ever- increasing K count. But what does any of it really mean? First, let’s talk about pixels in a display or projection system. In the digital arena, Ks no longer compute to a true value of 1,000 or even a standard base of 10. Instead, digital

systemsusebinaryvalues,orabaseof2,becausewe’redealing

called “Quad Full HD” or “QFHD,” as it is made up of four 1920x1080 segments — two on top and two on bottom. Math- ematically, we see that 1920 x 2 = 3840, and 1080 x 2 = 2160. Some cameras can shoot in this format as well. Still with us? Hold on — it gets worse. The Ks can also refer to the number of photosites, or “sensels,” on the digital sensor in a camera. And this is where things really get sticky. This is where the battle of the Ks is truly fought. Ever since the introduction of the Red One camera, manu- facturers have been racing to out-K their competitors. The Red One recorded up to 4.5K to 4480x2304 photosites (1.9:1). In the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, that was 4096x2304; in the 2:1 aspect ratio, it comes out to 4096x2048. Again, bear in mind that 2K, 4K, 6K and 8K are categories. They aren’t exact numbers, and often the numbers within a category fall short of the K value they represent. The specific photosite- counts for each category can also vary depending on the camera manufacturer andthespecific aspect ratio/format you’reshooting.

withdigital bits. Inbinarysystems, everybitcandefineonlytwo levelsofinformation: avalueof0or1. Thismeansthat1kilobit

2K Photosite counts:

is not 1,000 bits, but rather 1,024 bits —2 10 . That’s an impor-

Sony F65 (2K)

2048x1080 (1.9:1)

tant distinction, and one that’s often overlooked.

Arri Alexa SXT (2.8K)

2880x1620 (1.78:1)

So, with a digital image, 1K stands for 1,024 pixels or

Arri Alexa SXT (2.6K)

2578x2160 (1.2:1)

photosites. The measurement was originally used for digital

Arri Alexa SXT (2.8K)

2880x2160 (1.33:1)

film-scanning specifications and has carried over to describe

Arri Alexa Mini (2K)

2048x1152 (1.78:1)

other digital cinema systems: cameras, projectors and display

Arri Alexa Mini (2K Ana.)

2048x858 (2.39:1)

formats.

Arri Alexa Mini (UHD)

3840x2160 (1.78:1)

In display/exhibition systems, 2K and 4K are our most common pixel counts — aside from 1080 HD displays. A big

3K Photosite counts:

point to understand is that 2K and 4K are categories of image

Arri Alexa SXT (3.2K)

3200x1800 (1.78:1)

sizes. To allow for different aspect ratios, there are variations of

Arri Alexa SXT (3.4K Open Gate)

3424x2202 (1.55:1)

exact pixel counts within each category. The Digital Cinema Initiatives is an organization that was formed in 2002 by the

4K Photosite counts:

major motion-picture studios — Disney, Fox, MGM, Para-

AJA Cion (4K)

4096x2160 (1.9:1)

mount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. — to establish stan-

Sony F65 (4K)

4096x2160 (1.9:1)

dards and specifications for digital exhibition; they defined the

Canon 5D Mark IV (4K)

4096x2160 (1.9:1)

pixel counts for each aspect ratio in each K category.

Canon C700 (4.5K)

4512x2376 (1.9:1)

Sony F55 (4K)

4096x2160 (1.9:1)

For 2K:

Sony F55 (4K)

3840x2160 (1.78:1)

1.78:1 (16:9)

1920x1080*

Sony FS7 (4K)

4096x2160 (1.9:1)

1.85:1

1998x1080

Sony FS7 (4K)

3840x2160 (1.78:1)

1.9:1

2048x1080

Blackmagic Design Ursa/Ursa Mini (4.6K) 4608x2592 (1.78:1)

2.39:1

2048x858

Arri Alexa 65 (4K “VistaVision” 8-perf 35) 4320x2880 (1.50:1)

 

Kinefinity KineMax S35 Mode (4K)

3840x2160 (1.78:1)

For 4K:

Kinefinity KineMax S35 Mode (4K)

3840x1600 (2.40:1)

1.78:1 (16:9)

3840x2160*

Kinefinity KineMax M4/3 Mode (4.3K)

4320x3240 (1.33:1)

1.85:1

3996x2160

Kinefinity KineMax M4/3 Mode (4K)

4096x3072 (1.33:1)

1.9:1

4096x2160

Kinefinity KineMax M4/3 Mode (4K)

4096x1716 (2.39:1)

2.39:1

4096x1716

Panasonic AU-EVA1 (4K)

4096x2160 (1.9:1)

 

Panasonic AU-EVA1 (4K)

3840x2160 (1.78:1)

* Not technically a DCI specification, but DCI compliant.

Panasonic GH5 (4K)

4096x2160 (1.9:1)

Panasonic GH5 (4K)

3840x2160 (1.78:1)

In television standards, Ultra High Definition (UHD) —

Panasonic VariCam LT (4K)

4096x2160 (1.9:1)

which many call “4K” — is 3840x2160. UHD is also often

Panasonic VariCam LT (4K)

3840x2160 (1.78:1)

Of course, there are far more digital cameras than we’ve listed here, but hopefully this gives an idea of what these cate- gories actually look like. Because there are established DCI standards for 2K and 4K delivery, most camera manufacturers try to hit those standards with their photosite acquisition K counts. However, when we venture into the non-standardized world, such as the Wild West of 6K and 8K capture, oftentimes anything goes. For example, when we look at a sampling of camera systems, we see very different numbers in terms of what is called “6K.”

Why? Because that sounds better. Beyond photosite counts, television specifications have their own set of numbers for each category in pixel counts:

Television specs:

2K 1920x1080 4K 3840x2160 (UHD/QFHD) 5K 5120x2880 8K 7680x4320 (8K UHD, 4320p)

Arri

Alexa 65 (6K)

5120x2880 (1.78:1)

So, how many Ks are enough? The answer depends almost entirely upon whom you ask. Some cinematographers

— JH

Arri Alexa 65 (6K Open Gate)

6560x3100 (2.11:1)

argue that higher photosite counts on the camera equates to

Red Epic Dragon (6KHD)

5760x3240 (1.78:1)

better downscaling, a decrease in artifacts, smoother grada-

Red Epic Dragon (6K)

6144x3240 (1.9:1)

tions, and better image integrity in larger venues such as Imax.

Red Epic Dragon (6KWS)

6144x2592 (2.37:1)

Others argue that we’ve reached a point where enough is

Kinefinity KineMax (6K)

5760x3240 (1.78:1)

enough. The human eye can’t discern a difference, especially

Kinefinity KineMax (6K)

5760x2400 (2.40:1)

when exhibition size and the viewer’s distance from the screen

Panasonic AU-EVA1 (5.7K)

5720x3016 (1.9:1)

are taken into consideration. Steve Yedlin, ASC has given this

The Red Weapon Helium and Panavision DXL cameras have a 7K option:

topic a great deal of consideration; to read his thoughts and view a demo he’s prepared on the subject, visit ascmag.com/articles/a-clear-look-at-the-issue-of-resolution.

 

7168x3780 = 7K 1.9:1 6720x3780 = 7KHD 1.78:1 7168x3024 = 7KWS 2.37:1

Certain outlets, such as Netflix and Amazon, require a minimum of 4K origination and delivery for their original programming; Netflix, specifically, demands that the camera’s sensor be a minimum of 4096 photosites wide, and that deliv-

And then there’s 8K (again, Red Weapon Helium and Panavision DXL):

ery be in 4096x2160 (1.9:1) or 3840x2160 (1.78:1). Those streaming giants know that 4K televisions are already on the market, and consumers are hungry for content.

 

8192x4320 = 8K 1.9:1 7680x4320 = 8KHD 1.78:1 8192x3456 = 8KWS 2.37:1

When a certain K count is required, cinematographers need to understand why. And when the K count isn’t preor- dained, cinematographers need to be able to have informed conversations with producers about what format and number

Please note: Photosites and pixel counts — these numbers that we’re looking at — are not resolutions. The term “resolu- tion” is misused all the time. Resolution is determined by the system’sabilitytoresolvefinedetail;inthecaseofcamerasystems — the majority of which are Bayer-pattern color arrays — the maximum theoretical resolution is 2 3 the photosite count. Taking into account Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem, it’s even lower than that. For right now, we’re only talking about pixel or photo- site counts. It’s also worth noting that video formats are often identi-

of Ks will be right for that particular project. Remember, bigger is not always better; sometimes, bigger just means more data, more drive space, more to archive, and more demand on the postproduction pipeline. It’s also vital to distinguish K counts from sensor sizes. They are different subjects, and not all sensors of the same size have the same photosite counts. How many Ks are necessary for your next project? You’ll have to determine that based on the specific demands of the production. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it.

fied by their vertical photosite/pixel count:

1920x1080 is called 1080 1280x720 is called 720

When we move into cinema formats, however, they’re usually identified by their horizontal photosite/pixel count:

2048x1080 is 2K 4096x2160 is 4K

Images courtesy of Jay Holben.

Tech Essentials

False Color

Images courtesy of Jay Holben. Tech Essentials False Color False color is a tool for judging
Images courtesy of Jay Holben. Tech Essentials False Color False color is a tool for judging

False color is a tool for judging exposure that overlays opaque colors onto an

image, with different colors representing different luminance values.

the time to carefully look at the color scale to make sure you’re interpreting the colors correctly. False color evaluates the luminance values of your shot based on what the display is seeing — if you’re displaying a log image, forinstance, thefalse-colorscalewill correspondtothatlog image.Dependingonyourworkingmethodology,thismayormay not be useful. Viewing an image based on your final exhibition color space might give you a better understanding of what is and is not properly exposed. The power of false color is that it immediately shows you every value in your scene and where it falls on the exposure scale. For instance, if you’re shooting a commercial, you can quickly and easily determine if a client’s logo is clipping, which is not always easy to ascertain from a waveform. Some monitors allow the ability to fine-tune your false-color displaytoyour exact exposurepreferences, allowingtheuser toset the luminance values at which the display will indicate clipping, crushing, and middle gray. If you prefer to underexpose your skin tones, for example, setting the middle-gray indication a stop lower than normal can offer a helpful assist.

— JH

In the modern digital age, we have many tools and methodologies at our disposal for judging exposure values. After the waveform monitor, one of the next most common tools is what’s known as “false color.” Integrated into many production monitors and some cameras’ elec- tronic viewfinders, false color superimposes opaque colors over various luminance values in the shot. With a waveform monitor (see Shot Craft, AC Aug. ’17), it can be difficult to discern the exact values of any particularpointinthescene.Youcanclearlynotethatsome valuesareclippingorothersarecrushed—or,perhaps,that alargeareaof thesceneisfallingat aparticular level —but it’s not easy to get any more specific than that. False color utilizes the same concepts as the waveform — indicating where particular values in your scene fall on the luminance exposure scale —but the superimposition of various colors ontotheactualshotshowsyouexactlywhereeachelement in the frame falls within the overall exposure range. When you engage false color, you’ll watch your image turn into an impressionistic jumble of colors, each of which represents a certain IRE value or luminance signal in the image. Unfortunately, there is no standard for which color should represent any particular value; instead, each manufacturer uses its own color-coding. Thankfully, many of them display the color scale on the screen, which is very helpful if you’re not familiar with that specific flavor of false color.

It’s fairly common for bright red to represent clip-

ping/overexposure, and for deep blue/violet to indicate underexposure — but that isn’t always the rule. The Atomos family of monitors do use the red/violet range and,

smartly, employ neutral gray for the middle 47-54 IRE range; this is very handy for those of us who think in terms of the Zone system, as the false color’s middle gray aligns with the middle-gray expo- sure value in the image. From there, progressively more saturated and darker-hued cool colors represent increasing values of under- exposure, and progressively warmer-hued colors indicate increas- ing levels of overexposure. Ikan monitors use a seafoam green to represent middle gray,

andthenusegraytorepresent59-78IREvalues—just1stopover-

exposed. Red Digital Cinema cameras take a minimalist approach, where most of the image is displayed in values of gray and only select values are colored: crushed blacks are purple, middle gray is shown as bright pink, nearly clipped highlights are bright red, and clipped highlights are indicated with white. Red cameras also offer amodifiedversionoffalsecolorcalleda“clipguide.”Thisfunction turns the display into full black-and-white, with the exception of crushed blacks (purple) and clipped highlights (red) — a very effi- cient way to check the extremes of your image. If you’re always using the same displays to view false color, then you’ll quickly get used to their individual color schemes. If you’re switching from one brand to another on various jobs, take

Photos and frame grabs courtesy of the filmmakers.

Photos and frame grabs courtesy of the filmmakers. SHORT TAKES Hong (ViviAnn Yee) reads from Mao

SHORT TAKES

and frame grabs courtesy of the filmmakers. SHORT TAKES Hong (ViviAnn Yee) reads from Mao Zedong’s

Hong (ViviAnn Yee) reads from Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” as she enlists Li (Arthur Welch) to join her in hunting a sparrow in the short Empty Skies, which takes place during China in the late 1950s.

I Youth Movement By Michael Kogge

Sparrows are among the most numerous and recognizable

birds on the planet. Small in size, with the biggest of their species able to be held in a human palm, they commonly have gray, brown andwhitefeathers,andpossessshort,sharpbeaksevolvedforeating

seedsandinsects.Grainfieldsandorchardsmakefornutritioushabi-

tats—until asparrowcolonydevoursall theseeds,leavinglittleinits wake. In the late 1950s, to protect China’s crops and feed its popu- lation, Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong identified sparrows as one of China’s four main pests and declared war against the bird. Mao’s campaign provides the backdrop for Empty Skies, a short movie about a Chinese boy and girl involved in the hunting and killing of a single sparrow. The project was written and directed by Wenting Deng and Luke Fisher, recent graduates of Ohio University’s MFAfilmprogram, who in turn invited cinematographer Tinx Chan to shoot the short. Though his parents had lived in China during this period, Chan was unaware of the ecological disaster that occurred as a result of Mao’s campaign: Thenear-extinctionof thesparrows ledtoanexplosionin the population of the birds’ other main source of food, the locust. Without a primary predator, these grain-feeding insects devoured fieldafterfieldinChina,contributingtothemassfaminethatstarved an estimated 30 million people to death. “There was this dichotomy of innocence versus guilt that the directors wanted to play with,” says Chan, “and so they cleverly wroteafictionalstoryabouttwochildrenduringthisperiodinChina,

hoping to raise questions about society and the human condition, as well as inform the public about this forgotten catalyst of the Great Famine.” Born in New York and raised in Brooklyn, Chan credits his

passion for telling stories with images to a childhood love of draw- ing and comic books. He later studied photography and cinema in college, finding inspiration in the deep-focus cinematography of James WongHowe, ASC; the natural lightingof SvenNykvist, ASC; and the pictorial methods of Karl Struss, ASC. As a director of

photography,Chanhasshotmusicvideos;shortfilms;andcommer-

cials for clients as varied as Bombay Sapphire, GE and Foot Locker. Since the “Great Sparrow Campaign” remains a controver- sial subject inmainlandChina, thedirectors decidedtoshoot Empty Skies in the United States with a Chinese-speaking cast. Deng instructed Chan to watch Tian Zhuangzhuang’s The Blue Kite and Zhang Yimou’s To Live for their critical representations of Commu- nist China, while Chan examined Caleb Deschanel, ASC’s images in The Black Stallion and Chris Menges, ASC, BSC’s photography in Kestoinformhowhewouldshoot thescenesinwhichtheboyand girl chase the sparrow. The filmmakers also spent a good deal of time researching the historical period. “We looked at old propa- gandapostersfromtheCulturalRevolutionthatwerepopularatthe time,” Chan says. “There was one particular shot where the girl, Hong [portrayed by ViviAnn Yee], reads from Mao’s ‘Little Red Book,’whichwasadirecthomagetoaspecificpropagandaposter.” Chan had two weeks of prep, during which he scouted loca- tionsinLosAngeles.Thehillsandsun-brownedlandscapeofMalibu CreekStateParkdoubledforrural China.“L.A.wasinthemiddleof

Top: The production cast Malibu Creek State Park in California to stand in for rural
Top: The production cast Malibu Creek State Park in California to stand in for rural

Top: The production cast Malibu Creek State Park in California to stand in for rural China. Above: The children present their captured sparrow to a village cadre (Zhan Wang).

a drought, and the once-green foliage at the state park actually looked like parched wheat fields in-camera,” Chan says. “The acres of deadanddyinglight-yellowfoliage gave me this nice, soft, even, warm fill as the harsh sun pounded over the land, almost wherever we went.” For budgetary reasons, Chan elected to shoot with Red’s Scarlet Mysterium-X camera. “A corny joke we had during production was that it would only be appropriate to shoot a film about commu- nistChinawithaRedcamera,”Chanrecalls in jest. The cinematographer paired the camera with a set of classic Canon K-35 lenses from Alternative Rentals. “Using these vintage lenses helped ‘cut the sting’ [of the sharp digital image]. And knowing

we were going to shoot on location, at the

mercy of the sun, I placed a light grade of

TiffenBlackPro-MistovertheK-35s—one-

eighth or one-fourth depending on the focal length — that helped give a little bloom and aided in rolling off any harsh highlights,” Chan says. Empty Skies was recorded at 4K as Redcode Raw files on RedMag SSDs in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, which offered a panoramic view of the landscape. “The

aspect ratio was a quick decision, as it felt right for the film and helped establish the environment,”saysChan.“Aparched,rural China was integral to the story [and] the

widescreenratioforcedustokeeptheland-

scape in the frame, even in our close-ups.” The filmmakers had to be meticu-

lous about setting up and following a strict schedule for their child actors, and scenes were blocked out in advance in order to fit withinthefour-dayshootingschedule.“We staggered the call times of the two children and shot mostly in the morning or late afternoon, whilethesunwas low, addinga bit of bounce and fill with unbleached muslin that matched the color of our dry foliage,” the cinematographer explains. “Lighting the children wasn’t too difficult, as we blocked them according to the sun’s position. The girl’s face was a bit darker thantheboy’s, sowedidhavetogiveher a littlelovewithourmuslininherclose-upsto even out the levels between their singles.” Shooting in available light also required careful planning. “For certain scenes we only had an hour windowwhen the sun would hit the angle we needed,” saysChan.“AsanativeNewYorker,I’mnot a big fan of the L.A. sun; I prefer overcast skies for photography any day. But one advantage the L.A. weather has is that it’s usuallyprettyconsistent. Myworstfearwas

partial clouds, but the forecast told us we’d have clear skies through the week. I knew beforehandwherethesunwas goingtohit and the exact times. The locations them-

selveshelpedestablishthepalette,thelight-

ing and the look of the entire film.” Chan shot many of the scenes with an 85mm prime and panned the camera

withtheaction—choicesthatmadeshoot-

ing efficient while also serving an aesthetic purpose. “I felt like it would work well for

Top (from left): First AC Andy Chen, 2nd AC Grant Friesen, cinematographer Tinx Chan and
Top (from left): First AC Andy Chen, 2nd AC Grant Friesen, cinematographer Tinx Chan and

Top (from left): First AC Andy Chen, 2nd AC Grant Friesen, cinematographer Tinx Chan and gaffer Jesse Lee. Above: Colorist Sam Daley (left) and Chan work on the short’s final grade at Technicolor-PostWorks in New York.

us visually, as opposed to static cuts or following the action closer with a wider lens,” Chan notes. “The long lens also helped hide some parts of the park that would have revealed we were shooting in modern-day California instead of old China!” He also decided against shooting wide open, preferring a T4/5.6 split that helped keep the background in focus, therebyallowingtheaudiencetoappreciate the landscape.

The sparrow is a central character in the story, and the film opens with a water- color illustration of the bird, painted by Dengherself.Theillustrationtransitionsinto a live-action shot of a real sparrow, and whenit flies away, the camera tilts downto

find the boy, Li (Arthur Welch), in the grass. “It’s our first introductiontotheboy,”Chan says, “and we hoped that the audience

wouldassociatehischaracterwiththeinno-

cent bird.” The shots of the locusts bring to

mind the plague of insects in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, shot by Néstor Almendros, ASC. “Interesting enough, while we were shooting live locusts with availablelight,wedidn’treferenceMalickat all,” Chan says. “We shot the locusts on a long 85mm lens to maximize our distance so we wouldn’t disturb the bugs. We also had a bug wrangler for a few hours on set to keep themtame as we filmed.” Empty Skies was cut in Adobe Premiere and finished in 2K ProRes 4:4:4:4. Since the color red was synonymous with the period and the communist politics, Chan knew it would be key to the short’s palette; red appears onscreen in a propa- ganda painting, Mao’s Little Red Book, fire- crackers, and the girl’s hair ribbon. During the color-timingsessionat Technicolor-Post- WorksinNewYork,coloristSamDaleyused Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 12.5 to regain some of the saturation and contrast the vintage K-35 lenses had suppressed. “During that time period in China, there was this façade that ‘everything’s okay’ when in actuality it wasn’t,” Chan says. “Even in some of the propaganda art, we see saturated colors and smiling people withbushelsof wheat, whiletherealitywas actually quite grim. Deng envisioned the film in saturated colors for this reason, and weworkedwithSamtokeepthefilmwarm in the beginning, up until the final scene where we cool it down, as reality hits the boy.”

Chan was pleased with how Empty Skies turned out, particularly its critique of political propaganda brainwashing the innocent. “I come from the school of Ed

Lachman[ASC]whenitcomestomyphilos-

ophyoncinematography,”heoffers. “I’ma firm believer that the images we create should have metaphoric value in relation-

ship to the story we’re trying to tell. The look and style of the film came out of how we thought the world would look fromthe perspective of these children. “At the end of the day,” Chan concludes, “I just want tomovehearts with

the moving image.”

Uncanny

Valley

Roger Roger Deakins, Deakins, ASC, ASC, BSC BSC discusses discusses his his approach approach to to

the the noir-inflected noir-inflected realms realms of of Blade Blade Runner Runner 2049. 2049.

By By Rachael Rachael K. K. Bosley Bosley

•|• •|•

W hen director Denis Villeneuve asked him to shoot Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC jumped at the opportunity to make a science-fiction feature. The fact that the project was a sequel to an

icon of the genre was almost incidental to its appeal. “I can’t say I was a big fan of Blade Runner, though I suppose it’s sort of grown on me since I first saw it,” says Deakins. “I love science fiction, but you’ve got to have a good story, and I wanted to make this movie because I thought the script was pretty damn good, and I wanted to work with Denis again.” Set 30 years after the events depicted in Blade Runner — which was directed by Ridley Scott and shot by Jordan Cronenweth, ASC (AC July ’82) — the new film follows K (Ryan Gosling),who tracks down and“retires”wayward repli- cants for the Los Angeles Police Dept. When his latest assignment yields a surprising discovery, K begins an investi- gation that leads to Wallace (Jared Leto), a reclusive inventor who seems to have perfected replicant technology, and ulti-

mately to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), K’s predecessor on the “blade runner” beat who has spent 30 years in hiding. Blade Runner 2049’s scale and visual complexity exceeded that of Villeneuve and Deakins’ previous collabora- tions, the contemporary dramas Prisoners (AC Oct. ’13) and Sicario (AC Oct. ’15), but the duo strove to maintain the same close focus on character — whether replicant,human or holo- gram.This informed their decisions from the earliest stages of prep, which began in Montreal in late 2015; through 92 days of principal photography in Hungary, at Origo Studios and Korda Studios and on location; and in the final grade at EFilm. For the production, EC3 — the dailies unit for EFilm and Company 3 — established a dailies workflow in the P3 digital-cinema space, and shipped the calibrated projection and monitoring equipment to Budapest,where dailies colorist Matt Wallach could work closely with Deakins on the look that went out to the other filmmakers, executives and picture

Unit photography by Stephen Vaughan and Kata Vermes, courtesy of Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures.

courtesy of Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures. Opposite: Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) guides K (Ryan Gosling)

Opposite: Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) guides K (Ryan Gosling) — a “blade runner” who tracks down troublesome replicants for the LAPD — through the headquarters of Wallace Corp. This page, left: A surprising discovery ultimately leads K to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), an erstwhile blade runner who’s been missing for decades. Below:

Director Denis Villeneuve (left) observes as cinematographer Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC operates the wheels for a remote head.

editorial. Deakins then sat in for the entirety of the final grade, working alongside colorist Mitch Paulson, who used Autodesk’s Lustre grading plat- form. Paulson also worked with Deakins on passes for Dolby Cinema 2D and 3D, and all home-entertain- ment deliverables. AC connected with Deakins in September, shortly after he wrapped up at EFilm.

American Cinematographer:

What sparked your interest in science fiction, and what are some of your favorite sci-fi films? Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC: I read a lot of science fiction as a kid, mainly Asimov and Bradbury. I really liked the original Planet of the Apes, and I thought Soylent Green was an amazing movie. I think my favorite science- fiction film is Tarkovsky’s Solaris. I watch it every few years. Did you and Denis tap the orig- inal Blade Runner for any particular visual references? Did you watch it together in prep? Deakins: No. [Blade Runner 2049] was always a film by itself as far as

[ Blade Runner 2049 ] was always a film by itself as far as I was

I was concerned.One of the early things Denis was very specific about was the look of K’s apartment. He wanted a severe prefab interior with a kind of plastic feel to it that would reflect that K is an android. A lot of the references for that look came from Japan and Hong Kong.In a bit of a throwback to the feel of Deckard’s apartment in the first film, the kitchen also had this modular qual- ity, almost like a galley on a sailboat. But otherwise,no,we didn’t really refer- ence Blade Runner. How did your work with Denis

begin, and what were some of your visual references? Deakins: We worked in Montreal for quite some time at the end of 2015, while Denis was cutting Arrival [shot by Bradford Young, ASC; AC Dec. ’16], and we went through the script and started doing storyboards along with [production designer] Dennis Gassner. Many of our refer- ences were architecture, actually. One of the early references Denis gravitated toward was the architecture in Beijing and the look of the city in the smog; he

Uncanny Valley

◗ Uncanny Valley Right: A holographic advertisement for “Joi,” an artificial- intelligence manufactured by
Right: A holographic advertisement for “Joi,” an artificial- intelligence manufactured by Wallace Corp.,
Right: A
holographic
advertisement
for “Joi,” an
artificial-
intelligence
manufactured
by Wallace
Corp., reaches
out to K.
Below and
bottom: K and
his own Joi
(Ana de
Armas) share
a rooftop
moment in
the rain.
Joi (Ana de Armas) share a rooftop moment in the rain. liked the idea of L.A.
Joi (Ana de Armas) share a rooftop moment in the rain. liked the idea of L.A.

liked the idea of L.A. being cold, with either rain or snow in exterior scenes. We wanted the environment to be a character in itself, and gradually we came to the idea of stark, minimal Brutalist architecture. Denis was partic- ularly struck by some of the architecture we had seen in London, such as the South Bank arts complex, the Barbican Estate and Trellick Tower. I also spent a lot of time trawling the internet,looking

at different architects’ work and how they used light in their buildings. At one point I came back to L.A. and continued working with a story- board artist here, then I’d get together with Denis and we’d talk things through.We probably storyboarded this movie more precisely than anything I’ve ever done apart from the Coen brothers’ films — maybe more precisely because we previsualized some of it. The story-

boards came in handy mainly for the visual-effects work, the aerial work and the second-unit work, though there wasn’t much of the latter. What led you to Hungary? Deakins: Initially we thought we might shoot in London, and that was why we scouted there, but we knew we had to shoot about two-thirds of the movie on stage, and there was no stage space available in London. [Executive producer] Ridley Scott had shot The Martian [AC Nov. ’15] in Hungary, so he was familiar with the stages there. I went out to Budapest with Denis quite early on, and we scouted various loca- tions in Hungary as well as some specific architecture in Slovakia. I brought several of my key crew over from the States, but I have to say our Hungarian crew was fantastic. For the day-to-day on-set lighting,I worked mostly with local gaffer Krisztián Paluch and his crew, whilst our super- vising gaffer, Billy O’Leary — whom I have worked with on and off for more than 30 years — came over from New York to supervise. Local rigging gaffer Antal Berger and dimmer-board opera- torTitusz Badonics were terrific,but we had so many different sets that we called in a few people I’d worked with on other projects to help, including key grip Mitch Lillian, rigging key grip Charley Gilleran, rigging gaffer Patrick Bramucci and dimmer-board operator Steve Mathie. We also brought in our

second camera and Steadicam operator, Peter Cavaciuti, whom I have worked with for years. So I was surrounded by a great team. Given the scope of the movie, did you consider shooting large format? Deakins: We tested the Arri 65, but neither Denis nor I wanted to go that far. We were happy with what we did on Sicario,so we stuck with that.We shot the Alexa open gate, but we kept the full frame [1.55:1] clean instead of cropping to 2.40 because we knew there would be an Imax version, which is between 1.70:1 and 1.90:1. A majority of the shoot was done fairly simply, the same way we approached Sicario — basically single camera, with the camera solid on a dolly or a crane arm.We used two of the new Alexa Minis quite a bit, especially in the spinner vehicles. [Digital-imaging technician] Josh Gollish and I used the same LUT on set that we used on Sicario. I don’t change much, really. What inspired the artificial- sunlight motif in Wallace’s headquar- ters, and how did you create it? Deakins: I thought it would be interesting if the interiors of this huge, monolithic building always had the feel- ing of moving sunlight. Some of those sets were very severe, just square walls with no windows or obvious light sources, so I looked for different ways to bring patterns of moving light into them.

One architectural reference we liked used water as a ceiling piece to create a caustic light effect; we took that idea and embellished it. Two scenes in Wallace’s office — which is basically a platform surrounded by water in this big concrete box — were probably the most complicated bits of lighting. The first scene, which introduces Wallace, is actually not very long but needed to be quite impressive. For that we created three circles of light about 25 feet in circumference, with about 35 10K Fresnel lamps on each circle, and put them on a dimmer chaser to create a pattern of moving light. There were

chaser to create a pattern of moving light. There were Top: K confronts Sapper Morton (Dave
chaser to create a pattern of moving light. There were Top: K confronts Sapper Morton (Dave
chaser to create a pattern of moving light. There were Top: K confronts Sapper Morton (Dave

Top: K confronts Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), an old-model Nexus-8 replicant who’s long been in hiding. Middle: K pilots his “spinner” car through Los Angeles’ multicolored nightscape. Bottom: Following a lead, K pays a visit to Wallace Corp.

Uncanny Valley

◗ Uncanny Valley Top and above: Luv reports to Niander Wallace (Jared Leto). Right: Surrounded by
◗ Uncanny Valley Top and above: Luv reports to Niander Wallace (Jared Leto). Right: Surrounded by

Top and above:

Luv reports to Niander Wallace (Jared Leto). Right:

Surrounded by water, with caustic lighting rippling across the walls, Villeneuve considers an upcoming scene while seated in Wallace’s office.

an upcoming scene while seated in Wallace’s office. square cuts for the light some 15 feet

square cuts for the light some 15 feet below the lamps so that there were defined patterns across the walls. When Deckard is brought to Wallace’s office toward the end of the film, we bounced 10Ks off the water, and by using wave machines to move the

water very slightly, we created caustics on the wall. But this was just a background

to the action; to actually light the charac-

ters, we used 285 Tweenies rigged in two concentric rigs directly above the center of the action. Thus, an ever-revolving circle of light passed across the actors throughout the scene and gradually grew

in softness as more lights were added to

the circle. Some of what we did was very low- tech. We took a 24K bare bulb and three 10K bare bulbs to light the stairway,down which Luv [Sylvia Hoeks] and K walk through the replicant ‘museum.’ These bare bulbs, housed in safety protection, were rigged to a channel track above the set, and the electricians pulled them by

hand to create a hard light that traversed the set as our characters descended. For the wide shot that follows this, in which

K and Luv walk down a long passageway

to the ‘memory library’ door, we rigged two 24K Skypans on a pulley system, which the grips slowly lowered during the scene to create a pattern of light that slowly grew up the wall. One of the subtlest uses of visual effects in the film is K’s holographic companion, Joi [Ana De Armas]. Most of the time she looks like a flesh-and- bloodhuman,withjustaslightshimmer ordegreeoftransparencytosuggestthat she isn’t. How did you approach those scenes? Deakins: I was always arguing for less. You need to connect to Joi as a char- acter, and I don’t think you would if she’d become this bit of effects wizardry.There was a lot of talk about how far we’d go with the transparency. You see some transparency when she’s against a high- light, but it’s subtle. Basically we shot the actress on the set, and for every shot we did we also shot a background plate.That way [visual-effects supervisor] John Nelson and his team always had that

Uncanny Valley

Mariette

(Mackenzie

Davis,

center) sets

her sights

on K.

(Mackenzie Davis, center) sets her sights on K. background that they could add or remove. How

background that they could add or remove. How did you accomplish the scene in which Joi merges with the escort [played by Mackenzie Davis] so she can physically connect with K? Deakins: That was kind of terri- fying because if it didn’t have the right pitch, it could have turned into an Aladdin-type fantasy rather than some- thing you could believe as real. It was a very hard balance, and we spent a lot of time in prep on that sequence. John Nelson originally wanted us to shoot the scene with one of the actresses and then shoot a greenscreen element of the other actress to replace it,but that proved to be less realistic.Effects companies did quite a few tests where they played with the idea of pixelation and distressing the image as the women combined,but it all became too fussy. In the end we made tests of just shooting each actress in the same situation,in exactly the same poses or as close as we could get it, and then simply overlapping the images. We storyboarded it precisely and that’s what we did. It was time-consuming — we shot the scene with Ryan and one actress within the shot first,and then the other actress had to watch the playback and basically mimic what the first actress had done. But it actually worked much better that way because both actresses are in the same light; the light matches the environment perfectly,

which would have been impossible to replicate with greenscreen, frankly. And the performances speak for themselves. The dome-shaped lab where Ana [Carla Juri] creates replicants’ memory implants is one of the more unusual sets. Deakins: Yes, it’s a big egg with no light source! [Laughs.] The design was inspired by the Darwin Centre Cocoon of the Natural History Museum in London. The shots that introduce Ana, where you see her in the forest that then dissolves into her lab, were actually shot in prep,whilst the lab was a set we shot late in the schedule. So it was quite a long time between the shooting of the plate and the interior, and we had to choose our angles very early on. We lit the lab almost entirely with LED ribbons recessed into a cove in the floor. It doesn’t look like much, but it was an enormous amount of light. There was a hole in the top of the dome that doesn’t appear in shot, and we put a small amount of LED soft light there using [Arri] LED SkyPanels, but it’s very minimal. Did the wall of glass separating Ana from her visitors present any concerns? Deakins: It was suggested we shoot without the glass and add CG reflections in post, but that wouldn’t have looked right. I had the camera on an Aerocrane and Power Pod remote head — the same system that I regu-

larly use — and there were a few instances where [visual-effects artists] had to paint out the camera’s reflection because there was no way to shoot without getting it in shot, but it was fairly forgiving. Ana’s creation of the birthday- party memory is a lovely bit of interac- tive lighting. How did you achieve that? Deakins: First we storyboarded the scene to determine all the angles we needed. We shot the children as an element during preproduction, lining up our shots with our actress but always keeping the children as a clean element. I used a circular tray of 250-watt bulbs on flicker generators to mimic the light that would be coming from the candles on the cake. Some shots we made with multiple cameras for the moment when the kids freeze but the cake is still spinning; using multiple cameras enabled the visual- effects team to manipulate the kids in three dimensions. We shot the birthday cake as a totally separate element because the light level of the candles wouldn’t have lit the scene as I wanted it, and because the cake changes from shot to shot. Finally, at the end of our schedule, we shot the main work with Carla and Ryan. We had boarded the scene and mapped out our camera positions,camera height and lens, so we knew where the children would be matted into the frame. The main trick was making sure we had the right camera angles before we shot a frame of the scene. How about the interactive light-

Uncanny Valley

A trail of clues eventually leads K to what remains of Las Vegas, where he finds Deckard hiding out in

a hotel-casino.

where he finds Deckard hiding out in a hotel-casino. ing in the night scene where the
where he finds Deckard hiding out in a hotel-casino. ing in the night scene where the
where he finds Deckard hiding out in a hotel-casino. ing in the night scene where the

ing in the night scene where the giant advertisement for ‘Joi’ directly addresses K? Deakins: We shot the ‘Pink Joi’ element first. When we shot the scene with Ryan, I felt it important that we play the element at a true scale so that the lighting could be interactive between the advert and K. There’s rain and fog in the scene, so we filled the stage with mist and had this 40-by-30- foot LED screen playing back the image that we had shot during preproduction. The pink-and-blue advert was basically lighting the whole shot — the atmos- phere and Ryan. The light changes as the advert changes. Of course, in post the visual-effects team altered Joi to make her look more three-dimensional and to walk out of her screen, but the

look is still closer to reality because the actual light and colors are all there. The striking dusky look of Las Vegas, where K meets Deckard, really sets those scenes apart from the rest of the film. How much of the look did you achieve in camera? Deakins: Both Denis and I always wanted to do as much as possible in camera.The wide shot that opens the sequence,which shows K looking at the CG city in the distance, was shot on a studio back lot, whilst the exterior shots showing K approaching the casino were shot on stage. This was the same stage and lighting rig we intended to use later for a different set — a day exterior that takes place in the snow. Both scenes involved CGI, so there was a gray cyc around the whole stage that worked for

both sets. I decided to rig 250 space lights overhead and just leave them there to do both scenes. Space lights are fairly old-fashioned now, but we could get them locally quite easily. For the Vegas exterior, we didn’t gel the space lights, but we added 20 Maxi-Brutes gelled green at the sides of the stage to add a yellow highlight in the sky, and I had a filter pack on the front of the lens that Tiffen had made for me based on some lighting gels I’d chosen — in this case, a combination of [Lee] 790 Moroccan Pink and 105 Orange — which gave the image an overall red look. [Ed. note: According to Mike Fecik, lab manager at Tiffen, the company created three filter options for Deakins, one based on Lee 134 Golden Amber, one based on Lee 020 Medium

The new DaVinci Resolve 14 is now up to 10 times faster with new editing

The new DaVinci Resolve 14 is now up to 10 times faster with new editing tools, full Fairlight audio post production and new multi user collaboration tools!

DaVinci Resolve 14 is a new revolution in post production! The world’s most advanced editing and color correction so ware is now up to 10 times faster, includes an entirely new audio post production suite, multi user collaboration tools, and dozens of new filters and e ects, including amazing face refinement tools! With DaVinci Resolve 14, it only takes a single click to switch between editing, color and audio. It’s like getting 3 high end applications in one!

So ware

DaVinci Resolve 14

Free Download

DaVinci Resolve 14 Studio

$299

Hardware

DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel

$995

DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel

$2,995

DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel

$29,995

Free Download now, for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.

Uncanny Valley

Right: Deckard and K catch their collective breath after a harrowing spinner crash and an intense fight with Luv. Below:

Villeneuve

works with

Gosling and

Ford.

Luv. Below: Villeneuve works with Gosling and Ford. Amber, and one that combined Lee 790 Moroccan
Luv. Below: Villeneuve works with Gosling and Ford. Amber, and one that combined Lee 790 Moroccan

Amber, and one that combined Lee 790 Moroccan Pink and 105 Orange. All were made in full and half density.] We mapped out how we could do

a number of different shots in the same

stage by wheeling different set pieces —

sections of large statues — into and out of the space to progress the scene as K approaches the hotel; we would have a quick turnaround and reset the stage in

a different configuration. We also used

atmosphere — quite a lot of smoke. When K steps inside, it’s a practi- cal location, an old stock-exchange building in Budapest. That was our largest practical location;we were shoot- ing on at least three floors there, so we had to wrap the whole building with

light — something like 20 daylight- balanced 18K HMIs — and gel and diffuse all the windows to match the red look. We used Moroccan Pink plus 105

Orange on some lower windows, and the Golden Amber on the main skylight and some upper windows to get a sense of the light being less ‘heavy’ higher up. The third part of the sequence, in Deckard’s penthouse apartment, is back

on stage. We gelled all the lights at the foot of the set, some 10 T12s, with our heavier Amber filter. We set the lamps — approximately 32 T12s gelled with a lighter Amber — on a truss above the roof of the set, and they were bouncing off white reflectors on the stage ceiling and hung above the backing.The Vegas

cityscape outside the window was a large painted backing lit with 75 2K Blondes that were gelled with alternating light and heavy Amber. There was talk of making this backing greenscreen, but I thought that was kind of ridiculous. Technology these days is so advanced you don’t really need to use greenscreen,

and I think [the result] is not believable because there’s nothing real reflecting onto the set. So I argued for a painted backing. It was in gray tones, and we did

a lot of testing to get the right feel. For most of the shots on the backing, John Nelson’s team went in and made a few buildings look more three-dimensional, more detailed — but in other shots it’s the original backing. The holographic stage show that flickers in the background during Deckard and K’s fistfight in the casino must have presented a few question marks when you read the script. Deakins: [Laughs.] Part of the fun

of signing on for a film like this is that you get to do certain things. You want to stretch yourself as much as you can, play with it — you’re not there to just bounce

a lamp off the ceiling — though that

might well have been a little less stress- ful.With this stage show, I really wanted to do as much as I could within the schedule and budget, but we only shot a

Uncanny Valley

◗ Uncanny Valley Ford reunites with Ridley Scott, who directed the original Blade Runner and returned
Ford reunites with Ridley Scott, who directed the original Blade Runner and returned to 2049
Ford reunites
with Ridley
Scott, who
directed the
original Blade
Runner and
returned to
2049 as an
executive
producer.

couple of days with Harrison and Ryan, and [2nd-unit cinematographer] Pierre Gill [CSC] only shot a couple of days with the dancers, so we had to be really prepared.The idea was that it’s an Elvis concert and these other acts — Marilyn Monroe, go-go dancers, Bollywood dancers — sort of overlap and glitch in and out. I worked with Dennis Gassner on the design of the set, and we story-

boarded the sequence quite precisely. That evolved into a storyboard with music, a temporary guide track. I worked with a local concert-lighting company in Budapest, Lightdesign, to design a whole sequence for the show that fit this timeline, and then we previ- sualized the lighting plan. Tibor Kalla mapped the lighting pattern onto the set and then worked out exactly what lights we needed and where they would

be rigged in relationship to the set. We only had a week to place the rig and a couple of days to program the lighting so, again, we had to be very prepared. The concert lighting lit the entire scene; now and again we’d adjust the light based on where Harrison or Ryan was, but the basic plan went through the whole sequence. In some shots of Harrison and Ryan, there’s an Elvis lookalike standing in Elvis’ spotlight in the background, and some of the lighting for the other acts — which Pierre shot as elements later — was also in the background. Pierre reproduced our camera angles to shoot the other acts in the same programmed lighting, and then those elements were laid in as‘holograms’later on. It doesn’t look it, but that was prob- ably the most complex scene because there were transparent elements and overlapping lighting. Integrating those things was kind of tricky. The night scene involving two

48

elements and overlapping lighting. Integrating those things was kind of tricky. The night scene involving two

spinners crash-landing in the ocean looks as though it’s lit entirely by the vehicles’ lighting. Deakins: It was. We originally planned to shoot that sequence in a tank in Malta at the end of the shoot,but that proved to be too problematic in terms of scheduling and expense, so we built a 150-by-150-foot water tank on a back lot in Hungary and shot it there. That was much more practical because we could prep and shoot without losing travel time. We had to see a lot of action, but

I didn’t want to light the whole place up.

I wanted something ‘sketchy’ — sort of pools of light surrounded by darkness. We built LED lighting into the spin- ners, whose original design was done by Dennis Gassner and [supervising art director] Paul Inglis in prep, and we designed the LEDs in the larger spinner to change color over the course of the scene. I wanted it warm and dark when they’re flying, and then to be bright,

white emergency lighting when they crash. That way I could justify brighter lighting for the body of the sequence. For the action outside the vehicle, we maneuvered the lighting so the headlights, taillights or interior lights would appear to be all that was lighting Ryan and Sylvia, and we chose angles that placed the actors either in beams of light or in silhouette.To boost the light level, we added LED spotlight rigs — simple off-the-shelf units that Billy had found locally — to the headlights, and orange LEDs to the taillights.There’s a

lot of atmosphere, too. We were outside

at night in late October, so it was pretty damn cold. The water was heated for the actors, so we sometimes got a little more steam than we had wanted! You do your own operating, so was that you down there underwater? Deakins: Well, the camera was always on a remote, so either Peter Cavaciuti or I was operating, but no, I can’t swim. I wasn’t getting in the water

for anybody! Did this project whet your appetite to shoot more science fiction anytime soon? Deakins: Actually, the next movie I’m going to do is The Goldfinch with [director] John Crowley. It’s based on a novel by Donna Tartt, and it’s a really wonderful story that’s very much about characters.

To read a Q&A with Blade Runner 2049 production designer Dennis Gassner, visit http://bit.ly/2y6Gdrf.

designer Dennis Gassner, visit http://bit.ly/2y6Gdrf. ● TECHNICAL SPECS 2.39:1 Digital Capture Arri Alexa XT Studio,

TECHNICAL SPECS

Gassner, visit http://bit.ly/2y6Gdrf. ● TECHNICAL SPECS 2.39:1 Digital Capture Arri Alexa XT Studio, Alexa Plus,

2.39:1

Digital Capture

Arri Alexa XT Studio, Alexa Plus, Alexa Mini

Arri/Zeiss Master Primes

● TECHNICAL SPECS 2.39:1 Digital Capture Arri Alexa XT Studio, Alexa Plus, Alexa Mini Arri/Zeiss Master

49

Hammer Time Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC, AEC and director Taika Waititi wade deep into a colorful

Hammer Time

Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC, AEC and director Taika Waititi wade deep into a colorful mix of Norse mythology and the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Thor: Ragnarok.

By Noah Kadner

•|•

W hen a movie is the second sequel to a property set within Marvel Comics’ interconnected universe of more than a dozen films and counting, a degree of franchise fatigue among the filmmakers might be

expected. In the case of Thor: Ragnarok, the exact opposite occurred, due in large part to the enthusiasm of director Taika Waititi and cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC, AEC, who are both new to the series. The two joined forces with a game cast — including Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba and Cate Blanchett — to bring to life the latest adventures of the titular Norse god of thunder. “In my first conversations with Taika, even before hiring me he let me know that the film would be up to 95 percent shot on bluescreen,” Aguirresarobe recalls. “He asked if that was all

Unit photography by Jasin Boland, SMPSP, courtesy of Marvel Studios.

by Jasin Boland, SMPSP, courtesy of Marvel Studios. right and I replied that it wouldn’t be

right and I replied that it wouldn’t be my first time. A couple of years before, I’d shot The Finest Hours, a film about a rescue at sea, which forced us to shoot in a pool surrounded by bluescreen. That turned out to be a great experience — however, there’s an important difference between the two films. The Finest Hours was a true story that took place in a familiar setting of a stormy day, and a night out in an uncontrollable sea. In Thor: Ragnarok, the challenge consisted of creating fantastic worlds with settings that originated in our imagination and were lit with realistic lighting. We needed CGI’s aid to develop, shape and complete the scenarios.” When asked why he chose Aguirresarobe to shoot the project, Waititi enthuses, “I’ve been a huge admirer of Javier’s work for many years and he’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I try to make my sets feel like you’re working with family, so there’s a lot of joking around, playing music and dancing. Javier is great, with such good energy, and he’s just deter- mined to make things as beautiful as he can. You can tell he’s an artist and loves what he does.” Recounting the path that brought him to this particular director’s chair, Waititi explains,“Marvel liked my work in What We Do in the Shadows, and in particular, Boy, my second film. They saw I could not only do something

Boy , my second film. They saw I could not only do something Opposite and this

Opposite and this page, above: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the god of thunder, teams up with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston); Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson); and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to save Asgard from his sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett) in the high-flying adven- ture Thor: Ragnarok. Left: Director Taika Waititi (left) checks the frame while cine- matographer Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC, AEC looks on.

funny, but also tell a story where the audience could invest emotionally in the characters. If you look into what Ragnarok actually is in Norse mythol- ogy,it’s the end of the world,but it’s also a new beginning with a rebirthing and rebuilding. “The press-release pitch for this movie is: Thor loses his hammer, is trapped on an insane world across the universe,and has to fight his way to free- dom and get back home to save his own planet,” Waititi continues. “I would also describe it as, ‘What if you got a bunch of the craziest kids together and asked them everything they would want to see in a movie?’ A lot of inspiration also came from the art of [comic-book artist]

Jack Kirby, in terms of color, line, form, and sometimes even composition.” The filmmakers shot Thor:

Ragnarok at Village Roadshow Studios in Oxenford, Gold Coast, Australia, from July through October 2016. After almost a year of postproduction, the filmmakers reconvened in July 2017 for additional photography with an eye toward a fall 2017 release. Key crewmembers included 2nd-unit direc- tor of photography David Burr, ACS; A-camera operator Pete McCaffrey; digital-imaging technician Pete Harrow; key grip David Nichols; gaffer Reg Garside; and rigging gaffer Craig Clark.

While recent Marvel adaptations

HammerTime

Right: Thor is held prisoner by the demon Surtur, who aims to trigger Ragnarok, the destruction of Asgard. Below:

The crew shoots the god of thunder as he flies into action, having escaped Surtur’s chains.

as he flies into action, having escaped Surtur’s chains. have been shot digitally on units such
as he flies into action, having escaped Surtur’s chains. have been shot digitally on units such

have been shot digitally on units such as Red’s Weapon and Arri’s Alexa, Thor:

Ragnarok is the studio’s first to employ Arri’s Alexa 65 — with its sensor area equivalent to 5-perf 65mm film — as its primary camera. “I suggested the Alexa 65 because of the immense amount of visual information that needed to be acquired,” notes Aguirresarobe. “In order to cover that large 54.12mm x 25.58mm sensor, we needed special medium-format lenses. So we combined a set of [Vintage 765] lenses — [originally] made by Hasselblad,Arri and Zeiss [and adapted for the Alexa 65] — with a package of new [Arri Prime 65] lenses ranging from 24mm to 300mm.” Arri London supplied the lenses and camera bodies. To maximize the depth of field and exposure quality of the Alexa 65, Aguirresarobe was determined to light

to a relatively high T-stop of 5.6, while rating the camera at ASA 1,250. Garside recommended the extensive use of LED lighting, including Arri S60 SkyPanels and Outsight Creamsource Sky units. “We chose the SkyPanels for their great consistency and versatility,” Aguirresarobe says. “For our floor units, we built soft boxes with two and four SkyPanels in [each]. These had inter- changeable diffusions and were moved around on stands. On the other hand, we had 8-by-4 and 8-by-8 soft boxes that were hung on single-winch motors, which were attached to Bomac track, which in turn was attached to the dolly beams in the roof. This enabled the boxes not only to be raised and lowered, but also to be moved up and down the stages.It also enabled us to switch diffu- sions easily.” To light the massive amounts of

bluescreen surrounding most of the sets, Garside chose Kino Flo Image 85s with 5,500K tubes. “We used a GrandMA2 Light dimmer board for the picture and also had them for the second and rigging units,” the gaffer notes. “[Board operator] Glen Bielenberg sat with Javier and me in the DIT tent so that Javier could issue last-minute instruc- tions. We gave Javier his own six-chan- nel board and always put his main key and fill lights on it so that he could alter his ratios at any time.” Aguirresarobe explains that he, along with Bielenberg and Greg Daley, the head console programmer, invented many color presets for the LEDs on the GrandMa — with such whimsical names as Surtur Blue, Musphelium Fireable Sakaar, Sunset Asgard and Hulk Pool. The movie opens with the cavernous world of the fire demon Surtur. Of this environment, Aguirresarobe observes,“It’s a grim and dark cavern, which turns to fire when Surtur comes alive — then the deep blue of the cavern’s ambiance shifts to extremely warm tones. When Thor finally gets out of the cave, he lands on a reddish surface reminiscent of Mars, with warm, orange tones.” Thor’s home realm of Asgard subsequently endures a brazen attack from Hela, the goddess of the dead. “Asgard is a place that expresses a certain melancholy,” Aguirresarobe notes.“It reminds me of a medieval and

HammerTime

◗ HammerTime Top: Cameras are trained on Karl Urban, whose character, Skurge, has been tasked with
◗ HammerTime Top: Cameras are trained on Karl Urban, whose character, Skurge, has been tasked with

Top: Cameras are trained on Karl Urban, whose character, Skurge, has been tasked with guarding the rainbow bridge that leads into Asgard. Above: The crew captures a scene between Hela and Skurge in Asgard’s throne room.

romantic world, not at all aggressive. Its look is of a certain beauty without being too loud when it comes to color and contrast. I noticed that in the previous productions, Asgard’s look followed along those lines. That’s why I tried to keep to the same tones and feel — neutral colors, sometimes rather cold, with faint sunlight shaped by soft clouds.” In an attempt to protect Asgard from Hela,Thor is catapulted across the galaxy to the vibrant planet Sakaar.“On Sakaar, everything is imbued with color, and primary hues prevail,” says Aguirresarobe. “The houses are green, red and yellow, and the costumes go by the same scheme of pure chromatic

imagination. Sakaar’s sky mirrors what we see on this planet — and other plan- etary phenomena [are depicted as well], bringing light and color with them. This all proved to be an authentic chal- lenge not only for the creation of CGI images, but for our lighting, since it evokes constant shifts in intensity and color — although the short lengths of the shots did not allow these effects to be reflected on the character’s faces. The cinematographer adds, “I always wanted the concept for the light- ing to follow the same creative lines as [those of] the artists completing the sets digitally. For example, in Sakaar there was a huge spaceport scene, but only three columns were built on stage, plus a

very small area for what would be Grandmaster’s‘garage.’I decided to fill the space with intense lights and shadowy zones.To achieve this,we planted a row of 4K Molebeams on the upper part of the set for sharp and intense beams of light,as if the roof had windows looking out into the exterior. It was always of great interest to me to share those decisions with [visual-effects supervisor] Jake Morrison, since I needed his help extending such a well-defined ambience [throughout] all that large space [via] CGI.” Garside notes, “We had a number of Sakaar sets that were LED-driven. The most notable was the Grandmaster’s chamber and palace, whose walls had the possibility of changing color. For that, our LED guru, Paul Johnson, installed 1.9km of RGB-W ribbon, which took up a total of 8,192 channels on the GrandMA. The reason we used four- color LED was to match as close as we could to the Arri SkyPanels. There was enough light coming from the walls to add kickers and liners to the cast. In this case, they became our main source of lighting. When those walls were in frame, we ended up dimming the LED strips to 5 percent, not just to reduce the amount of light but to also keep the color saturation on the walls.” Morrison estimates that up to 98 percent of the movie contains visual effects. With approximately 2,700 shots from 18 vendors, the project boasts the highest visual-effects shot count for a Marvel movie to date. Morrison notes that one of his favorite challenges was 7'-tall rock monster Korg — played by Waititi via motion capture. “Taika is famous for doing cameos,” Morrison says. “So we had him in full mo-cap gear with the gray suit and stereo head-mounted witness camera, riffing and improvising lines as Korg with Chris Hemsworth. With his rock-covered body, Korg reminded me of the Rock Biter character from The NeverEnding Story, but we were deter- mined to avoid [that character’s] latex- puppet appearance. Luma Pictures and Framestore came up with new technology to shift and part the rocks against each

HammerTime

Right: Having been thrown off the rainbow bridge, Thor finds himself trapped on the planet Sakaar. Below:

Thompson stands atop her character’s ship to survey the action on Sakaar.

atop her character’s ship to survey the action on Sakaar. other as he moves, so you
atop her character’s ship to survey the action on Sakaar. other as he moves, so you

other as he moves, so you never see them squash or stretch.” In addition to principal photogra- phy, the visual-effects team captured a large volume of reference stills and Lidar scans to aid the postproduction efforts. “We always do a clean plate of each take and shoot a mirror ball,” says Morrison. “There’s literally nothing on set that doesn’t get extensively photographed for reference. The assis- tant directors are constantly shepherd- ing actors through our special photo booth containing 145 Canon [EOS] 5D Mark III still cameras in an array, with various lenses. It automatically captures a 3-dimensional version of the actor or extra, including high-resolution facial scans in polarized and non-polar- ized light in just half a second. We do that for every prop, extra, costume

change, set piece, etc.” A highlight of the movie is an epic gladiatorial throw-down between Thor and the Hulk. “We set the SkyPanels in a circle around the fight- ers,” Aguirresarobe describes. “The arena for their fight was built on blue- screen in 360 degrees, except for the exit door, where Thor emerges from, and a slight bit of wall, which he crashes into. According to where the camera was, it was easy to set up a backlight or semi- backlight on Thor and the Hulk, and get an image with great contrast and texture.” Garside scrimmed the back- light with 20x20s wearing 1 2 Soft Frost diffusion. “We used the most advanced techniques when it came to the Hulk and motion-capture sequences,” Aguirresarobe explains. “We did stan-

dard motion capture performed in a motion-capture volume, as well as Simulcam live tracking of the Alexa camera and real-time display of computer-generated characters, envi- ronments, lighting, etc.” Morrison adds, “We used cutting-edge motion-capture and virtual-production techniques, down to actually building motion-capture tech- nology into the sets themselves. Everything was geared towards letting Taika work in an improvisational style, something that came up in our first meetings. Taika likes to shoot long takes, in series, and wants to engage with the actors,throwing ideas and lines at them constantly. We brought in The Third Floor’s virtual-production team to help us achieve a real-time visualiza- tion of the actors as their intended CGI versions, so we could see Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, live, in the camera’s eyepiece and at video village — or Taika as Korg!” The cinematographer recounts, “Another important sequence was the film’s final battle, which takes place along a bridge that crosses the city of Asgard. A stretch of the bridge was built outside the studios,and the photo- graphic challenge was maintaining the light’s continuity throughout the scene from sunset to nighttime. It took more than two weeks to shoot. We built a large roof combining black fabric and diffusers, and then — according to the time of day and the sun’s position — I combined part of the black surface with

HammerTime

◗ HammerTime Top: Surrounded by bluescreen, Hemsworth prepares for action in a scene in which Thor
◗ HammerTime Top: Surrounded by bluescreen, Hemsworth prepares for action in a scene in which Thor

Top: Surrounded by bluescreen, Hemsworth prepares for action in a scene in which Thor is pressed into gladiatorial combat. Above: A camera is framed up on the ageless Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), the dictatorial ruler of Sakaar.

the translucent bit to protect [the set] from sudden light changes.[Key rigging grip] DaveThomson performed a high- level engineering job on the upper part of the set by combining different fabrics and moving them with great agility. We added a small amount of fill light with our SkyPanels when needed, but the majority of the scenes on the bridge were shot with natural light.” Though the majority of the movie was captured using the Alexa 65 camera, Aguirresarobe also deployed a Phantom Flex4K for one key high- speed sequence.“For the flashback scene where Hela fights against the Valkyries,

we used a special rig made by Satellite Lab,” he reveals. “It featured approxi- mately 144 hot-shoe strobes, timed via custom motion-control software. We shot with the Phantom at 900 frames per second.” The production had the benefit of screening dailies both online via the Pix System, and in person at a screening theater at Village Roadshow Studios outfitted with a 4K NEC projector. Dailies were processed by Shed under the supervision of dailies colorist Fergus Hally. “We used an evolution of the ACES workflow, which Shed devel- oped for Guardians [of the Galaxy Vol.] 2,

encompassing ASC CDL values and a developed Marvel show LUT,” Hally

says. “We used ACES,” Morrison notes,“but employed a custom LMT to allow the footage to behave as ‘classic Alexa’ — Log C [version] 3 with a K1S1 LUT — so the footage was shot in a future-proof manner, but was grad- able in a more standard way.” Hally adds, “The camera packs were cloned into Codex Vaults,enabling the capture of associated metadata, which could be seamlessly passed into dailies and on to editorial. On set, DIT Pete Harrow would build the CDLs with Javier using Pomfort’s LiveGrade Pro — these loaded neatly into Codex, and critical adjustments were discussed later in the grading suite, under Javier’s guidance.In dailies,we were under strict guidelines from the visual-effects team to adhere to CDL parameters only, to maintain a known set of values for the visual-effects pipeline.” Hally worked with the Codex production suite on Dolby display monitors, with some test looks investigated in [Blackmagic Design] DaVinci Resolve.Hally further notes that “Flanders [monitors] were used on set with the DIT.” Morrison worked diligently to create a simple but effective image pipeline to get from camera originals to final projection. “I like to work back- wards from the 2D DCP, where we know it will be mastered for Imax at 2048x1080 pixels for a 1.90:1 aspect ratio,” he says. “Then the 2D scope output will be extracted from that at 2048x858 at 2.39:1. That framing is effectively what the camera operator sees on the ground glass at 6K, plus a 1 2K pad around the image.” Morrison further explains that — as has become traditional for many modern big-budget action movies — on Imax screens, the aspect ratio will periodically jump from 2.39:1 to 1.90:1. “In general, we’ve maintained 2.39 for more intimate dialogue scenes, but whenever we get into an action beat it’s 1.90 all the way,” he says.“The Imax version of the movie is stunning.” The 1.90:1 footage

HammerTime

The crew

readies an

Asgard

exterior.

◗ HammerTime The crew readies an Asgard exterior. “amounts to one-third of the feature run time,”

“amounts to one-third of the feature run time,” reports senior finishing producer Michael Dillon. “We do the geometry transform just once, so the effects vendors receive the DCP Imax resolution with the padding for, effectively, a 2.5K EXR file,”Morrison says.“The padding often helps with tasks like reframing and 3D tracking — and when their effects are

completed, we ‘cut off the crusts’ by removing the padding to end up back at the final 2K.A benefit of this‘brave new world’ of ACES EXR is its support for multiple layers within the file.So we can send the image along with the various mattes from the effects vendors and have all of that information available for the digital intermediate.” As Thor: Ragnarok raced toward

the finishing line, Aguirresarobe was not able to directly supervise the DI, due to his work prepping another project in Argentina. With Morrison’s assistance, Aguirresarobe left a color bible to help guide the grading toward his creative intentions. “I always encourage the cine- matographer to spend time with the DIT and colorists to create a bible as sort of their ‘mini DI,’” says Morrison. “It’s about building trust and getting back to the feel of a photochemical process,while honoring their vision. I did that previ- ously with Russell Carpenter, ASC on Ant-Man and Kramer Morgenthau, ASC on Thor:The Dark World.” Waititi sat in on grading sessions with Technicolor’s supervising finishing artist Steven J. Scott in Walt Disney’s former personal screening theater on the Disney lot.“I approach color grading like I’m the eye of the audience,” says Waititi. “I look at a shot and think about what doesn’t look real or what I’m really supposed to be focusing on. I’ll think,

60

look at a shot and think about what doesn’t look real or what I’m really supposed

‘We should be focusing on that guy over there, except it’s way too bright on the other side of the frame and my eyes are being drawn over to that tree instead, so let’s fix that.’These artists are all so great at what they do.” Scott explains, “Our initial focus was the 2D SDR version using Autodesk’s new [Lustre/Flame] Connected Colour Workflow in Disney’s great theatrical environment. I laid the foundation and set key sequences with the production team, which then served as the guide for our team, including finishing artists Charles Bunnag and Gray Marshall. We began the final finishing in late August and delivered in mid-October. From the 2D SDR master grade, we derived the 3D stereo conversion, HDR, Imax, and all the home-video deliverables.” Dillon elaborates that the finish- ing employed “Lustre 2018.2 with an HP Z840 [Workstation outfitted with an] Nvidia P6000 GPU, and dual

ShotReactors [background cache renderers].” He notes the additional contributions of finishing artists Adam Nazarenko and Dave Franks.“Finishing was done in multiple theaters on the Disney lot,” Dillon adds, “which gave the filmmakers the flexibility to partici- pate in finishing and sound mix without much interruption.” Pondering the conclusion of a project largely crafted in postproduc- tion, Aguirresarobe recalls taking great satisfaction in seeing the final result. “When you’re constantly surrounded with bluescreen, you end up a little worried about how it’s ultimately all going to look,” he says. “Once I started seeing the final trailers, I was very pleased to see the outcome is a very imaginative and spectacular-looking film.”

Waititi agrees, noting that the project’s nearly yearlong postproduction phase afforded plenty of time for reflec- tion. “You sit for a long time with all

these bluescreen shots, and in your head you’re wanting it to look a certain way,” he says.“You have to wait until all those backgrounds, set extensions and CG characters are finished. Once they start coming in, you can finally refine what you originally intended at the start of the production, but you really need those crucial key creative elements within the frame right from the begin- ning.”

here for exclusive lighting diagrams and additional images. TECHNICAL SPECS ● 2.39:1, 1.90:1 (Imax) Digital Capture

TECHNICAL SPECS

lighting diagrams and additional images. TECHNICAL SPECS ● 2.39:1, 1.90:1 (Imax) Digital Capture Arri Alexa 65,

2.39:1, 1.90:1 (Imax)

Digital Capture

Arri Alexa 65, Vision Research Phantom Flex4K

Arri Prime 65, Vintage 765

● 2.39:1, 1.90:1 (Imax) Digital Capture Arri Alexa 65, Vision Research Phantom Flex4K Arri Prime 65,

61

Strife and Justice Robert Elswit, ASC discusses his second teamings with two directors — George

Strife and Justice

Robert Elswit, ASC discusses his second teamings with two directors — George Clooney on Suburbicon and Dan Gilroy on Roman J. Israel, Esq.

By Patricia Thomson

•|•

R obert Elswit, ASC has a knack for inspiring loyalty in directors. His first Academy Award nomination came after working with director George Clooney on 2005’s Good Night, and Good Luck (AC Nov. ’05), and the two

have once again joined forces on Suburbicon. Elswit has also reteamed with screenwriter Dan Gilroy for the latter’s sopho- more outing as director, Roman J. Israel, Esq., following 2014’s Nightcrawler (AC Nov. ’14). Suburbicon — the duo’s second project with Clooney in the director’s seat and fifth time together on a set — centers on the Lodges, a seemingly ordinary family comprising dad (Matt Damon),mom and twin sister (both played by Julianne Moore), and 11-year-old son, Nicky (Noah Jupe). Their normalcy implodes after a home break-in, which causes a death, followed by a cascade of bad decisions.

Suburbicon unit photography by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of Paramount Pictures. Roman J. Israel, Esq. unit photography by Glen Wilson, courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The seed for Suburbicon was planted in 1999 in the form of a script that the Coen brothers sent to Clooney, who was to play an insurance-claims

investigator. That project never materi- alized, and the script sat in Clooney’s drawer until he decided to meld it with

a project he and writing partner Grant

Heslov were developing about Levittown, a “model community” in Pennsylvania that was torn apart by racial tensions in 1957 after the first black family moved in. Transplanting the Coens’ tale to “Suburbicon” — a fictional stand-in for Levittown —

Clooney and Heslov reframed the char- acters’ malfeasances, with the story’s

racial scapegoating blinding everyone to the real crimes taking place. Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a thriller and character study set in the legal world of contemporary Los Angeles. Denzel Washington plays the title role,

a civil-rights lawyer and savant on the spectrum, whose appearance and values haven’t changed since the 1970s. For decades, he contentedly toiled in the

back office of a famous activist attorney, drawing up legal arguments while his partner presented the public face.When his partner suddenly dies, Roman’s life changes overnight, then more so after a slick corporate lawyer (Colin Farrell) recruits him to his firm. Washington, who’s in virtually every shot, gives a riveting, transformative performance. To ground his character in reality, the film was shot entirely on location, much like Nightcrawler. But this time around

— thanks to a magnanimous gesture

from Washington, who also produced

— they shot primarily on 35mm nega- tive.

American Cinematographer:

What is George Clooney like behind the camera? Is he more an ‘actor’s director,’or does he bring specific ideas about the look? Robert Elswit, ASC: He’s a full- service director. He really does think through what he wants the film to look like in a very specific way. He’s open to all those kinds of discussions, but it

way. He’s open to all those kinds of discussions, but it Opposite: Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon)
way. He’s open to all those kinds of discussions, but it Opposite: Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon)

Opposite: Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and his family have their seemingly normal lives turned upside down in the drama Suburbicon. This page, above:

Cinematographer Robert Elswit, ASC (left); director Dan Gilroy (center) and actor Denzel Washington discuss a courtroom scene for the drama Roman J. Israel, Esq. Left: Director George Clooney hands the viewfinder to Elswit on the Suburbicon set.

really starts with him. Like the Coen brothers, George wants to do a complete storyboard. He likes to work efficiently. Almost every sequence, we start with storyboards that may change to some extent,but basically the layout is there — how big someone is in the frame, how much activity we see, where we are in the room. Clooney resists the label ‘dark comedy,’ which critics have applied to Suburbicon. How would you describe it?

Elswit: He always wanted it to be amusing.It was a real challenge to figure

out how to make something so dark into

a comedy. He cut a lot of the comedy

out of it, actually. But Clooney was deeply affected by the politics going on while we were making the film. The presidential election happened eight weeks into the shoot. He said some-

thing very interesting while shooting:‘It isn’t the same movie now that I thought

I was making.’ Initially, the tone was

more lighthearted, despite the murders. The bad guys were kind of idiots,and he was walking that strange little world that the Coen brothers do so well,where despite the horror and mayhem, there’s

Strife and Justice

◗ Strife and Justice Top: Gardner sits down with his son, Nicky (Noah Jupe), after tragedy
◗ Strife and Justice Top: Gardner sits down with his son, Nicky (Noah Jupe), after tragedy

Top: Gardner sits down with his son, Nicky (Noah Jupe), after tragedy strikes. Bottom: Gardner and his sister-in-law (Julianne Moore) view a lineup of suspects at the police station.

just something intriguing about the human condition and you can find comic moments there. To make the film his own, Clooney needed something that would provide a realistic base. He and Grant Heslov, his producer and writing part- ner, [incorporated] a true story. There really was a black family that moved into Levittown, Pennsylvania, and there was an extensive race riot. Their idea was to contrast what happens to the

Lodge family to this true story. He thought leavening this insane story with the [Lodges’ friendly] interaction with the black family would show some

hope. What were Clooney’s directives when you first sat down to discuss the look?

Elswit: He wanted it very vibrant. He was influenced by the movies of the period, which were Technicolor. So — widescreen, satu-

rated primary colors, vivid backgrounds. We had what we think of as that Fifties palette: oranges, browns, bright blues, and yellows. We’re in a world of naturalistic or somewhat naturalistic lighting, but George wanted to push it further. He wanted sequences where you’d see char- acters casting shadows on the wall, like Julianne Moore’s [character’s] murder and a couple of other scenes.To do that, we had a more theatrical lighting style in places. I wish I’d been a little braver on that. Unlike Good Night, and Good Luck, which was Super 35 spherical, you shot with Arri’s Alexa XT in anamorphic format. Why that choice? Elswit: Given the time we had and all the night work,I felt I ultimately had more control if I could light [for] the Alexa. The anamorphic lens was kind of a throwback, an homage to those wonderful social dramas in the 1950s. Today we imagine anamorphic movies as being big outdoor spectacles, but there were lots that were family dramas shot in small spaces. We looked at a few. George loves the way you have to stage in anamorphic and the way it isolates characters — when you do close-ups, the more limited depth of field.He was very intrigued by that kind of stuff. What was your lens package? Elswit: It was [Panavision’s] anamorphic C Series. We mostly shot with wide lenses. The whole movie was probably 40, 50 and 75mm. I like the oval [anamorphic artifacts] a lot. The coatings are new, but the optical quali- ties are the same as they were. Actually, a lot of those lenses were designed 40, 50, 60 years ago. Today’s newer lenses tend to be somewhat antiseptic and clinical, perfect from edge to edge in a way that has almost no character. With the C Series, there’s lots of optical vignetting, color fringing, and all these other things you almost never get with [modern] lenses. The most difficult thing about shooting digital is that you just don’t get anything automatically. You have to spend the time in post to do

Strife and Justice

Right: Elswit and crew capture a scene with Damon and Moore. Below:

The camera is dollied into position for an exterior scene featuring Jupe and Tony Espinosa, who portrays Andy.

scene featuring Jupe and Tony Espinosa, who portrays Andy. the things that automatically happen when you
scene featuring Jupe and Tony Espinosa, who portrays Andy. the things that automatically happen when you

the things that automatically happen when you shoot motion-picture film:

adding grain, doing all these things so it doesn’t look quite so squeaky clean. Can you summarize Suburbicon’s lighting package? Elswit: It’s a lot of HMIs outside, and tungsten and LEDs inside. Every interior, with the exception of the high- school auditorium, was a set that [production designer] Jim Bissell built, so I could put lighting in ahead of time. It’s a lot of LED lighting — paper

China balls and LitePads — and for night exteriors as well.LED lighting is a wonderful way to work, especially when it’s hybrid and you can change the color temperature easily. As the story becomes darker, so does the lighting. Outline that progression. Elswit: For the first 15 minutes, the film feels almost like a light comedy. You don’t know something is brewing — even though you meet the black family and see the neighbors’ immediate

concern. Then you’re in this scary

midnight meeting of the local citizens in

a relatively dark high-school gymna-

sium, plotting what to do.That presages the dark tone. For our day-exterior work, George was really good about planning

it around the time of day. The backyard

location was actually a set, built in

Mystery Mesa in Santa Clarita. Jim and

I laid it out so the sun rises over the

Mayers’ house and sets over the Lodges’ house, so we could organize the shoot- ing day around time of day, and the backyard would feel very different in frontlight or backlight. That informed how those scenes felt. When we first meet Mr. Mayers (Leith M. Burke) when he’s mowing the lawn, and when

the boys first say hello to each other, it’s bright. Having it feel that way was very important for George.He didn’t want to give anything away. When the bad guys show up in the middle of the night, that was still brightly lit. We see very clearly what’s going on, though the intent of these guys is very obscure. Then the little kid wakes up in the hospital and the rest of

his life becomes a complicated mess.

Strife and Justice

Right: An LED fixture is rigged off of a car to key Damon for a nighttime driving shot. Below:

Multiple cameras roll as a practical flame helps illuminate Gardner’s harried bicycle ride.

flame helps illuminate Gardner’s harried bicycle ride. George was very good about trying to make things
flame helps illuminate Gardner’s harried bicycle ride. George was very good about trying to make things

George was very good about trying to make things visually compelling.Not trying to push things in an obvious, scary direction — shooting the whole funeral in backlight, having it be a sunny day. He didn’t want to make it into something serious and dark until later.

That changes after the kid goes into the police station. Then it becomes his story.The quality of light in his room changes. Scenes start to take place more

at night. It becomes more of a mystery film, a film noir in color. That’s when George wanted the actors’ shadows on the wall. Framing is often from the child’s point of view. Elswit: We did put the camera kind of low, at his eye level. The most important part for George was that we feel we’re watching everything from the kid’s perspective. We discover things as he discovers them. Like when Oscar

Isaac [playing an insurance-claims investigator] comes in, [Nicky] just happens to be on the stairs watching.Or when he walks into the lineup [at the police station], we discover him discov- ering that his dad and aunt are lying. It’s a wonderful, chilling moment. Describe your lighting in that final nighttime kitchen sequence between Matt Damon’s character and his son. Elswit: It’s a relatively dark, single-source shot, with the two actors sitting at the table staring at each other in a wide shot.There’s just the accents of the practicals built into the set and a little sense of the outside. When it becomes day, the units suggest direct sun hitting the side of the house, coming into the television room. Hearing the baseball outside, the kid walks to the doorway area. We transi- tion from [this soundstage set], to over his shoulder, looking outside on the big day-exterior set.To make that transition work, it’s just the time of day. But there was this tricky time transition I had to work out — from the night scene, where [father and son sit across from each other at the table], to the next morning. How much time has

Strife and Justice

◗ Strife and Justice Top: The titular civil-rights lawyer is forced to adapt to his new
◗ Strife and Justice Top: The titular civil-rights lawyer is forced to adapt to his new

Top: The titular civil-rights lawyer is forced to adapt to his new circumstances when his life abruptly changes in the drama Roman J. Israel, Esq. Above: The camera is framed for a close-up of Washington. Right: Washington and crew work on location in a home in Pasadena, Calif.

and crew work on location in a home in Pasadena, Calif. gone by? What time is

gone by? What time is it? The simplest lighting setup at that table was just to do an overhead; I think we used a China ball,then in the wide shots,a real light. Full illumination on their faces, with the backgrounds falling away and little edges. Transitioning the house to early morning, we’re literally in the same setup, but making it feel as if the sun has just come up. Outside, the Mayers family is cleaning up in front of their house [after the riot]. We know that’s happening contemporaneously with the kid watching TV, because on the TV is a live feed of the interview going on in front of the Mayers’ house. So that’s the transition back into the house.I think we came up with the best solution we could. Roman J. Israel, Esq. touches on inequities in the criminal justice system, but you’ve said that Dan Gilroy was more interested in explor- ing the inside of human beings. Elswit: Danny wanted to make a movie about the human condition and what it’s like to be [a] guy [like Roman]. How the world has changed from, say, 1968 to 2017 — the way you fight injustice. That’s a difficult topic to address now. But mostly Danny and Denzel were discovering who this guy is. It’s a remarkable performance. Watching Denzel dissolve into that guy, watching that unfold day to day, was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. Was this entirely 35mm? Elswit: Danny felt this would be one of those movies where, if we had film,it really would look and feel differ- ent. But when we first started, we’d already committed to digital. It was a money situation — another $100,000 to go with film. They always say it’s a wash in the end, but it was up-front money. We started in Roman’s apart- ment with an Alexa XT [capturing in 4:3 mode, except for footage to be enhanced with visual-effects,which was shot in Open Gate mode]. During rehearsal a week before we started, Denzel said to Danny, ‘You want to

Strife and Justice

◗ Strife and Justice Top: Gilroy sits beside a car while prepping a driving scene with
◗ Strife and Justice Top: Gilroy sits beside a car while prepping a driving scene with

Top: Gilroy sits beside a car while prepping a driving scene with Washington and Colin Farrell (portraying George). Above: Elswit frames Farrell as the actor runs down a Los Angeles street.

shoot film?’ Danny said, ‘Yeah, I wish we could.’ And Denzel said, ‘Well, let’s do it! I’ll pay for it.’ We switched over after four or five days, so we could finish off all the stuff with Roman in his house.The rest we shot on Super 35 3-perf.The excep- tion was the night exterior, walking around downtown L.A., because we didn’t have the time to light it. And there was available light all the way down the street, in both directions. It just made it simpler to shoot multiple cameras and work quickly.

The scene where he’s mugged on the stairs, we shot on film because we had control and enough time. The sequence where he picks up the guy who seems dead on the side of the street, we shot that digital. It’s really wonderful — like on Nightcrawler,you walk into these spaces where the city is lighting the background. All you have to do is fill in the foreground a bit. What was your general approach to lighting? Elswit: The interiors were a lot of LED lighting. There’s a little more

direct lighting, imitating interior fluo- rescent units. In the criminal courts and jails, we tried to make it look like they actually look. The jail itself was the old simple brand, where you can light through windows and have overheads with an institutional style of lighting. In the courthouses, we just augmented what was there. We had very little day exterior. The day at the beach was pretty much available light,except for fill — just a big bounce — but I didn’t have to re-create the sun. We were very lucky with weather and time of day, at Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier, on the train, and everything else. What camera package and film stock did you use? Elswit: We had a couple of Panavision Millennium XL2s with spherical [Panavision] Super Speeds [and 17.5-75mm 4:1 SLZ (T2.3) and 11:1 24-275mm SLZ11 (T2.8) Primo Zooms]. In fact, we had the same set of Super Speeds that we used on the digital camera; we sent them to be optimized for the changeover. Most dated back to the 1950s and Sixties. I’ve used them since 1970. [The production employed Kodak Vision3 500T 5219, 50D 5203 and 200T 5213 film stock.] Gilroy said it was important to place the character in real-world settings. How involved were you in location scouting? Elswit: Other than finding the specifics on how to shoot the scenes, all my time with Danny in prep was about driving everywhere in the world in Los Angeles, trying to figure out where the movie’s going to be shot. It took almost the entire 10 weeks I was in prep. It’s all about locations. Nothing was built. On Nightcrawler, Danny was insistent on not making the kind of downtown L.A.movie that we all make. But this was different. This is a guy in the criminal-justice system, and the main court in Los Angeles is down- town. We couldn’t use the real court- rooms; they don’t let you shoot there, so we used a different courthouse interior, in Compton. We shot three sequences

Strife and Justice

◗ Strife and Justice there. Everything else was downtown. You used a drone for several wonderful
◗ Strife and Justice there. Everything else was downtown. You used a drone for several wonderful

there. Everything else was downtown. You used a drone for several wonderful transitional shots. Elswit: It was a wide lens on an Alexa Mini. Again, it’s all about placing the movie in L.A., giving a sense of scale. Here’s this little guy toiling away in this giant office building, in this horrible little nook. Getting a sense of how sad and lonely and depressed and lost he must feel. On a weekend in L.A., if you clear out the streets and give yourself enough security, they’ll let you fly drones. We were lucky in that the office building was on the side of the freeway, next to an empty space, so it was easy to clear and make safe. I would have loved

to have twice as many drone shots. We really just ran out of hours. What kind of visual references were important? Elswit: We watched a lot of courtroom trials, even though there wasn’t a lot of courtroom stuff. Finding the right places sometimes tells you where the movie’s going, visually. When the whole movie is this one guy, a single human being, how he looks and where he lives starts to talk to you.We came at it from that direction. Finding the interior of his house was most important. It had to be some- what warm and inviting; this is where he’d spent 30 years of his life listening to records, eating Jiffy peanut butter, and

life listening to records, eating Jiffy peanut butter, and Top left and above: Roman answers his

Top left and above: Roman answers his phone while walking down St. Vincent Court in Los Angeles. Bottom left: The camera tracks alongside Washington on location in the Mojave Desert.

working on this legal obsession of his. It always seemed it needed to be a build, but there wasn’t money to do that. We were lucky that there’s a swath of empty homes in Pasadena that had been condemned because they were going to build a freeway, then the state decided not to. We used the most wonderful, craftsman-era late-Twenties home. Closed up correctly, it felt like the inte- rior of an old red-brick apartment house.

One of the things Danny wanted was to feel the city around Denzel’s character growing and changing — and him resisting.All those condos going up downtown. Even next to his red-brick apartment building, they’re building a six-story condo. Inside his house, he pulled the shades down, because he didn’t want to experience the building going up next to him. He avoided everything new and modern. He had a flip phone, an old computer — nothing that reeked of modernity. It feels like he bought his lighting fixtures when he moved into the place in the 1970s. The other space we desperately

Strife and Justice

Gilroy and crew prepare to shoot in downtown Los Angeles.

Gilroy and crew prepare to shoot in downtown Los Angeles. needed was Colin Farrell’s office. We

needed was Colin Farrell’s office. We found an office building that an engi- neering company had just left. Our production designer, Kevin Kavanaugh, laid the whole thing out. It was very important to Danny that you end up with Denzel in this little white box,with one little window looking out onto the

freeway — a completely alien environ- ment, in contrast to where he’d worked before.His old boss’office — that beau- tiful, weird, wood-paneled front office — was part of a marvelous old series of offices [from] the 1920s. Both Suburbicon and Roman J. Israel, Esq. were graded at Company 3,

working with ASC associate member Stefan Sonnenfeld. Can you tell us a bit about the color correction? Elswit: The approach on Suburbicon was to get the right level of saturation all the way through. Originally, Clooney talked about desat- urating slowly as the film became darker and descended into mayhem. I did a version like that and just hated it. I called and said, ‘You know, I could do this,but I don’t think you’re going to like it.’ He went,‘You’re right! I don’t like it.’ So we went back to doing it straightfor- ward, but slightly saturated for most of the day work, and taking it down a notch for night. And a lot of optical vignetting, making the corners of the frame darker, which the long lenses do naturally. Some directors fear the level of dark that I think is interesting. George never does. He sometimes wants to go even further. As for Roman Israel, the great thing about film is, if you set it up

76

does. He sometimes wants to go even further. As for Roman Israel , the great thing

correctly, you don’t want to do much. I was happy with dailies, so it was just finding the right balance between shad- ows and highlights, foreground and background. It was tricky in Farrell’s office; we really didn’t have the money to gel all the windows, so we went with an available-light look. I don’t want to spend much time in postproduction fixing things. Often with digital, you’re trying to find the look of your movie eight months later, sitting in a room for three weeks. I just despise that.I know some people love it. On both these movies, the directors were pretty happy with what I handed them, so the changes were pretty mini- mal.

There was an uptick in 35mm films at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Roman J. Israel, Esq. showed. Are you hopeful about the future of film? Elswit: Film is always around. Danny’s next will be on film. Paul

Thomas Anderson always shoots film. So do Spielberg and Chris Nolan. A lot of them, actually. You know what’s really viable,

still, is Super 16. I recently did a Super

16 movie that cost a million dollars and

shot for 24 days. The Arriflex 16SR is not much bigger than a Canon. The director didn’t want playback. The camera connected to nothing. I proba- bly had more fun shooting that than I

had in 30 years! There’s just something freeing and wonderful about not having

20 people sitting around the monitor

watching your shots. Film simplifies everything and focuses everyone’s atten-

tion a little differently. Maybe it’ll stick

around for a while.

differently. Maybe it’ll stick around for a while. ● TECHNICAL SPECS Suburbicon 2.39:1 Digital Capture Arri

TECHNICAL SPECS

Maybe it’ll stick around for a while. ● TECHNICAL SPECS Suburbicon 2.39:1 Digital Capture Arri Alexa

Suburbicon

2.39:1

Digital Capture

Arri Alexa XT

Panavision C Series, T Series

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

1.85:1

3-perf Super 35mm and Digital Capture

Panavision Millennium XL2; Arri Alexa XT, Alexa Mini

Panavision Super Speed, Primo zooms; Zeiss Macro

Kodak Vision3 500T 5219, 200T 5213, 50D 5203

Digital Intermediate

Mini Panavision Super Speed, Primo zooms; Zeiss Macro Kodak Vision3 500T 5219, 200T 5213, 50D 5203

Delta Delta

Blues Blues

Rachel Morrison, ASC and director Dee Rees craft a portrait of post-World War II Mississippi in the feature Mud b ou nd .

By Mark Dillon

•|•

T he feature Mudbound tells the story of a pair of disparate families whose lives become intertwined during and afterWorldWar II.Following their military service,tank sergeant Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell), who is black,

and bomber pilot Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund), who is white, come home to respective hardships in the Mississippi Delta.

Even before Ronsel and Jamie meet, their families are already connected. Ronsel’s parents — Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence (Mary J.Blige) — dream of land ownership,but toil as tenant farmers on property recently purchased by Jamie’s brother and sister-in-law, Henry (Jason Clarke) and Laura (Carey Mulligan). Ronsel is willing to work alongside his siblings, but has a hard time accepting hometown racism after being heralded as a hero overseas. Though the McAllans had planned to live in a comfortable country home some distance from the farm, Henry discovers that his ‘purchase’ of the house had been a swindle, and the family is forced into living conditions far below what they were accustomed to in the city. Thus, Laura brings up their young children in muddy desolation — a situ- ation not dissimilar to that of the Jacksons — amid the chal- lenges of Henry’s live-in, mean-spirited father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks), and a lack of emotional support from her husband. She also contends with a growing attraction to Jamie.

Unit photography by Steve Dietl, courtesy of Netflix. Black-and-white photo of Rachel Morrison, ASC by Bob Bates.

Black-and-white photo of Rachel Morrison, ASC by Bob Bates. Ronsel and Jamie, the latter of whom

Ronsel and Jamie, the latter of whom suffers from alcoholism, eventu- ally cross paths and forge a bond through their war experiences. It is a connection that no one else in town can understand, and that some — Pappy in particular — won’t tolerate. Based on Hillary Jordan’s award- winning novel of the same name, Mudbound was adapted for the screen by director Dee Rees and Virgil Williams. Rees collaborated with director of photography Rachel Morrison, ASC, whom she had first met at Sundance in 2011 when their respective films premiered. She was particularly struck by Morrison’s work on the 2015 crime- caper comedic drama Dope (AC July ’15). As additional motivation, Rees says, “Rachel came recommended by HBO Films President Len Amato,who had worked with her on [the 2016 HBO movie] Confirmation.” Morrison was attracted to the project’s setting, which she associated with such Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers as Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks and Arthur Rothstein, who chronicled the lives of poor U.S. farmers in the 1930s and ’40s. “That time period has been incredibly influential for me,” the cine- matographer says from her adopted home of Los Angeles, shortly after

says from her adopted home of Los Angeles, shortly after Opposite and this page, above: Returning

Opposite and this page, above:

Returning to their respective hardships in 1940s Mississippi, Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) and Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) bond over their wartime experiences in the feature Mudbound. Left:

Cinematographer Rachel Morrison, ASC and 1st AC Robert Baird line up a shot.

Mudbound screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.“I started in photography and was most interested in documentary and photojournalism, and the FSA photographers may be why I got the crazy notion that this could be my career. Dee had me at ‘post-Dust Bowl era,’ before I had even read the script.” A native of Cambridge, Mass., Morrison finished a double major in photography and film at New York University. She scored an early success with the 2005 Showtime doc Rikers High, for which she shared an Emmy nomination. She worked in reality TV

to pay the bills — though always want- ing to shoot drama, she attended the AFI Conservatory’s graduate cine- matography program. She considers the 2011 sci-fi thriller Sound of My Voice, directed by Zal Batmanglij, to be her breakthrough into the narrative world. More indie features quickly followed, including 2013’s Fruitvale Station (AC April ’13), which she considers the turning point in her career, as well as 2014’s Cake, and Dope. She also shares a Primetime Emmy nomination with cinematogra- pher Igor Martinovic for the 2015 documentary What Happened, Miss

Delta Blues

◗ Delta Blues Top and middle: Ronsel returns home from World War II, after serving as
◗ Delta Blues Top and middle: Ronsel returns home from World War II, after serving as
◗ Delta Blues Top and middle: Ronsel returns home from World War II, after serving as

Top and middle: Ronsel returns home from World War II, after serving as a tank sergeant. Bottom: Back from service as a bomber pilot, Jamie approaches his brother’s home, where he’ll be greeted by his sister-in-law, Laura (Carey Mulligan), and her children.

Simone? Mudbound is distributed by Netflix, which picked up the movie at last year’s Sundance Film Festival for simultaneous online and theatrical release. Following Mudbound will be Morrison’s first big-budget franchise project, Marvel’s Black Panther — her

second collaboration with Ryan Coogler, for whom she shot Fruitvale Station. Rees was especially inspired by documentarian Les Blank’s late-’60s doc The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins. “Les has a style where it doesn’t feel like

you’re watching a film — it feels like you’re observing life,” she notes. The filmmakers looked at the work of photographer Robert Frank, with Rees responding to the images’ candor and the subjects’ seeming oblivi- ousness to the camera. “To me, it’s all about the camera being out of the actors’ way, and using blocking to heighten what’s going on in relationships,” the director says. Morrison adds, “We talked about Robert Frank and the myth of the American dream.The thing that unifies people across all cultures and times is the desire for something better. She liked how his frames feel like they’re bursting at the seams. I wanted to contrast that with the isolation of the reality.The goal is to have everything, and the reality often is having nothing.” Given the vintage, naturalistic look they sought, the filmmakers’ first instinct was to shoot on celluloid, but given budget limitations, that would have meant cutting two days out of an already challenging schedule. “It felt nearly sacrilegious to not shoot on film, because that era is so analog, so tactile,” Morrison admits. “But we just wouldn’t have been able to pull off the scope of the film on a shorter schedule.” Morrison worked with New Orleans- based FotoKem dailies colorist Illya Laney to develop a LUT that more closely resembled film emulsion, begin-

ning with a 15-percent reduction in saturation and altering the knee and shoulder of the

ning with a 15-percent reduction in saturation and altering the knee and shoulder of the contrast curve. “We introduced some blues in the blacks and lifted them a bit to have a base LUT that felt more cinematic,” adds the cinematographer, who shot with the camera rated at EI 1,280 and sometimes 1,600 to introduce digital noise for texture. She also knew they could add more grain in post. “I feel good about what we were able to achieve shooting digitally,” Morrison says. “We made it feel as analog as we could.” The filmmakers shot the entire movie on Arri’s Alexa Mini, which suited their location — a plantation 40 minutes outside of New Orleans, La. “We were shooting in such tight spaces,” Rees recalls. “We shot the Jackson family home in an actual sharecropper’s cabin. We needed a smaller camera because there was no room for the back of a bigger one. Rachel and the focus puller would be squeezed in with the actors. [The Mini] worked well.” Morrison operated A camera with Robert Baird as 1st AC, while Robert Stenger served as B-camera operator with Zachary Sieffert as first AC. The production downsized to one camera when focusing on a single char- acter in cramped conditions, but gener- ally it was a two-camera show, as Rees wanted to move efficiently and mini- mize takes. The production shot for 29

efficiently and mini- mize takes. The production shot for 29 Top: Jamie’s brother, Henry (Jason Clarke),
efficiently and mini- mize takes. The production shot for 29 Top: Jamie’s brother, Henry (Jason Clarke),

Top: Jamie’s brother, Henry (Jason Clarke), and Laura have been swindled into living in conditions worse than what they are accustomed to. Middle: Jamie sits with Laura. Bottom: Laura finds solace in the shower that Jamie built for her.

Delta Blues

Right: Gaffer Bob Bates (far left) holds the bounce, while Morrison frames a scene in which Ronsel’s father, Hap (Rob Morgan), injures his leg. Below:

Director Dee Rees (left) discusses a scene with Mary J. Blige (portraying Hap’s wife, Florence).

with Mary J. Blige (portraying Hap’s wife, Florence). days in Louisiana and two days in Budapest.
with Mary J. Blige (portraying Hap’s wife, Florence). days in Louisiana and two days in Budapest.

days in Louisiana and two days in Budapest. They shot in 2.39:1 anamorphic in the camera’s Open Gate mode, with de-squeeze for 2048x858, recording in 3.4K resolution to 256GB CFast 2.0 memory cards. “We shot Open Gate anamorphic partly because I like the falloff — the softening around the edges,” Morrison says. “For us, that brought a lot of authenticity.We wanted it to feel like an old photograph. The

widescreen frame allowed us to contrast the beauty of the ideal with the isolation and powerlessness of reality.” Morrison shot mainly with Panavision C Series and D Series anamorphic primes — 35mm, 75mm and 100mm for the former, and 40mm and 50mm for the latter. The produc- tion primarily maintained an aperture of T2.8 or a 2.8/4 split. “When it came to visualizing the claustrophobia, characters trapped by

their circumstances,” the director of photography says, she shot with a 150mmT Series and a 180mm E Series prime. The production’s kit also included a 48-550mm ALZ11 (T4.5) Primo Anamorphic Zoom, used occa- sionally for b-roll and crane work. Morrison sometimes switched to spherical lenses to gain a stop in candlelit night scenes and to minimize horizontal flares when facing the sun, headlights, or any other hard source. “The horizontal flare feels very contem- porary or even futuristic to me, so I avoided it whenever I could,” she says. In these instances she turned to 17.5mm and 40mm Primos; 24mm, 29mm and 50mm PVintage Primes; and 75mm and 100mm Mark II detuned Ultra Speeds. The Alexa Mini’s internal ND filters were a bonus, given the harsh brightness of the Louisiana sun in June and July of 2016. Morrison would often set the camera to ND 2.1, then add an external ND 0.3 or 0.6 without getting excessive color variants or “ghosting” from the older glass. “When shooting day interiors, some of the wider C Series lenses had a tendency to flare in an unpleasing milky wash,” adds on-set digital-imaging

Delta Blues

◗ Delta Blues Top: The Jackson family toils as tenant farmers on the McAllans’ property. Middle:
◗ Delta Blues Top: The Jackson family toils as tenant farmers on the McAllans’ property. Middle:
◗ Delta Blues Top: The Jackson family toils as tenant farmers on the McAllans’ property. Middle:

Top: The Jackson family toils as tenant farmers on the McAllans’ property. Middle: Florence agrees to work for Laura and her family. Bottom: Hap leaves the field after sunset.

technician Nate Borck, who was often joined in his tent by gaffer Bob Bates to evaluate images on a Flanders Scientific CM240 monitor. “It could be a chal- lenge to keep the two cameras in our narrow aperture range, but NDs and polarizers kept depth of field where we wanted.” A Tiffen Black Pro-Mist 1 8 lens filter was used for an early exterior scene in which Henry courts Laura, adding what the cinematographer calls “the subtly romantic touch” — but other- wise, she says, they kept the lens clean. Morrison further notes that the C Series is already soft, and “we were going for reality. Dee wanted it to feel raw and dirty, that there was soil caked in every crease and under every finger- nail.”

Living up to the movie’s title, the terrain was naturally muddy, enhanced by thunderstorms that would appear sometimes twice a day, followed by hot sun that would dry it up again. The volatile weather made it challenging to match exterior shots, and required the special-effects team to keep wetting the

Delta Blues

◗ Delta Blues Top and middle: The Jackson family hopes to one day own a piece
◗ Delta Blues Top and middle: The Jackson family hopes to one day own a piece
◗ Delta Blues Top and middle: The Jackson family hopes to one day own a piece

Top and middle: The Jackson family hopes to one day own a piece of land for themselves. Bottom (from left): Henry, Hap and Jamie bow their heads at Pappy’s funeral.

ground.No setup was muddier than the opening scene — a flash-forward in which Jamie and Henry dig a grave in a downpour at dusk. Cast and crew were prepared to take advantage of the dark clouds and rain that inevitably rolled in, enabling them to get the wide shots essential for this scene. For work under brighter skies in this scene, the crew set up a flyswatter with a 20'x20' solid negative fill and 12'x20' solids all around in a tent configuration. They also had to make room for rain machines. “I was afraid the audience wouldn’t be able to see the rain, so we had 18Ks and M90s [placed behind the solids and aimed through a gap between them] to help backlight it,” recalls Bates.“We were right next to a small line of trees, so it took a lot of maneuvering to make all this happen.” Lightning effects were created with 360K Outsight Creamsource Doppio+ Daylight 1x2 LED Panels with 1 4 CTB for extra blue.These were wrapped around the set just out of frame and controlled by dimmer opera- tor Nate Selee. “It took a massive amount of light to bring the interiors within range of the bright exteriors,” Morrison says, “so 18Ks were diffused and pushed in through nearly every open window.” There wasn’t room for many lights inside the Jackson and McAllan houses,

Delta Blues

As a storm brews, Morrison tracks a pickup truck down a dirt road.

brews, Morrison tracks a pickup truck down a dirt road. which were both pre-existing buildings that

which were both pre-existing buildings that the production moved closer to open fields.The Jacksons’cabin had few windows and, in the story, no electricity. For daytime scenes, the crew would place a LiteGear LiteMat LED fixture on the wall, motivated by the screen door beside it. There wasn’t enough headroom to hang lights, so Morrison

asked production designer David J. Bomba to cut a couple of large holes in the wooden ceiling, where they would place more LiteMat units. One was above the dining-room table, amplify- ing a practical lantern chandelier. “It was such small quarters and we were working all day in the heat, so I wanted smaller fixtures that were less

intrusive and not as hot,”Bates explains. “We typically had several units playing — LiteMats and flicker lanterns — all run through the board to control flicker and intensity on the fly.” Bates’ custom lanterns comprised aluminum boxes in various sizes with 100-watt halogen bulbs and three circuits enabling them to flicker. They were diffused with Light Grid, with 1 4 or 1 2 CTO added for warmth. These DIY lanterns were also used for fill and sometimes for key in a brutal scene in which Pappy and his cronies — some of whom are KKK members — drag Ronsel and Jamie to a sawmill. While the tormentors’ half- dozen torches provided most of the light, Bates’ team also rigged three 30" Jem Balls with high-wattage globes that could be dimmed for warmth. At times, the mill doors were open, allowing the crew to throw in light from 20Ks, 12-light Maxi-Brutes and PAR cans, with a moonlight gel

88

doors were open, allowing the crew to throw in light from 20Ks, 12-light Maxi-Brutes and PAR

pack to backlight the rain and illuminate characters as they come and go. Selee produced lightning flashes with Mac Quantum Wash LEDs on two condors. Though it would have been easier to keep the mill doors shut, Morrison notes, “there was more authenticity in being able to see even a little bit of the rain and the world outside, and metaphorically speaking, the water to put out the fire could be seen and heard but was just out of reach.” The filmmakers were grateful for the opportunity to re-create some of the characters’ war experiences during a couple of days of shooting around Budapest — “about a 40-minute drive from the city center,” the cinematogra- pher reports. Sequences included a battle in which Ronsel’s tank is fired upon, and interior scenes in the apart- ment of his German girlfriend — who is white — including a sequence in which they hear of Germany’s surrender and she fears losing him. “The movie was

never intended to have many visual effects, so when they look out the window and see the soldiers marching in the background — we wanted that to be done in real space,” Morrison says. The director of photography’s Black Panther schedule prevented her from attending sessions with supervis- ing digital colorist Joe Gawler at New York’s Harbor Picture Co. — but she viewed the reels on a calibrated monitor and communicated with Gawler by altering stills in Photoshop and sending them back with detailed notes. He then made corrections and reviewed them in the DI theater with Rees. “We maintained a softer contrast in the shadows throughout, to stay true to the movie’s naturalistic feeling,” offers Gawler, who worked with MXF/ArriRaw data on Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 12 on a Linux system. “We would add contrast for dramatic effect in certain areas, such as the thunderstorm early on and the

torch-lit scene at night in the barn. Rachel also captured some amazing moments of the sun setting and rising

that benefited from just a touch of addi- tional magic in the sky.” Morrison concludes, “I try to choose projects that are meaningful to me and ideally have a message that will engage the audience in some form of social consciousness. Mudbound had the added bonus of being a period film, which is a gift to any cinematographer.”

a period film, which is a gift to any cinematographer.” TECHNICAL SPECS ● 2.39:1 Digital Capture

TECHNICAL SPECS

is a gift to any cinematographer.” TECHNICAL SPECS ● 2.39:1 Digital Capture Arri Alexa Mini Panavision

2.39:1

Digital Capture

Arri Alexa Mini

Panavision C, D, T, E Series; Primo Anamorphic Zoom; Primo Prime; PVintage Prime; Ultra Speed

Capture Arri Alexa Mini Panavision C, D, T, E Series; Primo Anamorphic Zoom; Primo Prime; PVintage

Timeless Timeless

Romance Romance

Stephen Goldblatt, ASC, BSC embraces LED lighting for the romantic drama Our Souls at Night.

By Jim Hemphill

•|•

R obert Redford and Jane Fonda first appeared onscreen together in Arthur Penn’s 1966 feature The Chase, which led to a lifelong friendship and further big-screen pair- ings in the movies Barefoot in the Park and The Electric

Horseman.For the first time in almost 40 years,the actors have reunited for the Netflix movie Our Souls at Night, an intimate, elegant portrait of love in old age. Redford plays Louis Waters, a widower who gets a surprising proposition from neighbor Addie Moore (Fonda): Since her husband is now gone, too, why don’t they start — platonically — sleeping together? Thus begins a delicate, subtle romance in which both characters are forced to deal with complicated issues in their past, present and future. Director of photography Stephen Goldblatt, ASC,

Unit photography by Kerry Brown, courtesy of Netflix. Additional images courtesy of Stephen Goldblatt, ASC, BSC.

Additional images courtesy of Stephen Goldblatt, ASC, BSC. Opposite and this page, left: Louis Waters (Robert

Opposite and this page, left: Louis Waters (Robert Redford) and Addie Moore (Jane Fonda), who have both lost their spouses, find unexpected romance in the feature Our Souls at Night. Below:

Cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt, ASC, BSC (right) waves from his perch atop a Chapman/Leonard Titan crane.

BSC has a history with Redford as a longtime participant in the actor’s Sundance Lab program. “I’ve been working as an adviser at the Sundance Directors Lab every June for more than 20 years,” Goldblatt says. The director of Our Souls at Night, Ritesh Batra, is a graduate of the lab, and Redford felt that he and Goldblatt should meet.The cinematog- rapher recalls, “I looked at his film The Lunchbox [AC April ’14] and read the

script for Our Souls at Night, and I loved

it — it’s exactly the kind of film I want

to do.” After a positive first meeting, however, months went by during which Goldblatt didn’t hear anything. “Then

on a Saturday morning,” he recalls with

a laugh, “they said, ‘Can you be in

Colorado on Monday?’” Goldblatt headed to Colorado and started prep with Batra. The duo quickly bonded as they discussed the script in detail, shared ideas and refined their approach. An otherwise smooth preproduction did hit a speed bump, though, when it came time to choose a camera. “The [Arri] Alexa is my favorite,” Goldblatt submits. “Unfortunately, it is not a 4K camera,

Goldblatt submits. “Unfortunately, it is not a 4K camera, and Netflix insists on 4K. So I

and Netflix insists on 4K. So I was required to use the Sony F55. “The crucial scenes in the movie, the ones at its heart,take place at night,” the cinematographer continues. “Lighting was the key — you make it look dark, but it isn’t really dark. You light to what the sensor can handle.” In addition to night work, the script also featured a number of driving scenes. “I hate car shooting because it’s

so cumbersome and difficult,”Goldblatt says. To minimize his footprint on and around the car, the cinematographer opted to shoot driving scenes with Canon’s C300 Mark II camera. “Quite honestly, I regret not using it as the A camera,” he laments. “It was superb at night. The combination of that camera with the LED lighting we used really transformed the experience. Normally, going into a car, it can take four hours

•|• Camera-Department POV •|•

D uring camera prep, we got the camera department’s truck situated

enough for Dustin Keller, the loader, to start streaming content from pre- installed Rokus to two TV screens that were mounted on the truck’s interior walls. We had also promoted ourselves from sitting hunched over on vertical Pelican cases to leaning back in individually sourced fold-out camping chairs, a much better vantage point for the streamed entertainment. Henry Tirl, the A-camera and Steadicam operator, had recently finished hauling an Imax MSM 9802 across the beaches of France for Dunkirk (AC Aug. ’17). Video assist Dan Furst and the Teamsters came in right off of their work on the Marvel hit Logan. And we all assumed 1st AD Scott Robertson — nicknamed “The Rev” after surviving The Revenant (AC Jan. ’16) — must now be on a perpetual prowl for more relaxed work. Indeed, there was a sense that many on this crew had come to Our Souls at Night — a Netflix original feature directed by Ritesh Batra — looking for something more intimate and idyllic, and smaller in scale,than their recent projects.With its primary location being a bedroom interior and a cast that rarely exceeded two, Our Souls at Night promised to be just that. Yet, at the same time, it was being touted by the local papers as the biggest film to shoot in Colorado since The Hateful Eight. The production encompassed 38 days of principal photography over eight weeks, and would receive half of the state’s annual incentives budget. It attracted daily throngs of onlooking locals, who would line up in their camping chairs. Some stayed the whole 12 hours, some yelled for Robert Redford’s attention when he arrived on set,and a good many of them found their enthusiasm reciprocated by Redford’s co-star Jane Fonda, who liked to entertain and sign autographs.

Jane Fonda, who liked to entertain and sign autographs. A Chapman/Leonard 32' Hydrascope is angled into

A Chapman/Leonard 32' Hydrascope is angled into position for a scene in the Brown Palace Hotel.

For locals on the crew, like myself, this production was a rare

opportunity,and for the out-of-towners

a modest respite. For director of

photography Stephen Goldblatt, ASC, BSC, the production represented a measured decision. Known for being particular about his job selections,

Stephen brought a deliberate zeitgeist

to the project. No one was spared his

sharp wit and wisecracks — not Ritesh, and definitely not the camera, grip or electrical departments. Stephen brought a relentless forward-moving energy, and he wasn’t

afraid to present his opinions to Ritesh. I can recall many an instance when our director called for cast and crew to move on from a scene, only for Stephen

to belay that order with a squawk from

the DIT tent. These differences of opinion were never met with resentment,and even began to assume a playful pattern. Smiling, Ritesh would

poke his head into the DIT tent to ask what Stephen wanted this time. With Netflix’s hard-and-fast 4K mandate,two Panavised Sony CineAlta PMW-F55s were selected as our A and

B cameras. As the production’s camera

PA, I was often situated near digital- imaging technician Abby Levine, who requested that he be hardwired to the cameras and made exceptions only in the face of true impossibility. A Tiffen ¼ Black Satin was always at the ready, and our workhorse lens was the 17.5- 75mm (T2.3) 4:1 Primo Zoom. Given the movie’s storyline, it made sense that Stephen wanted these stars to look their best.The Black Satin filter helped to smooth the actors’ skin, give a glow to highlights, and strip some contrast for the unassuming look he was going for. But I was always surprised by his open-ended approach to acquiring that look.A film’s language can be defined by deliberate limitations, e.g. only shooting at a particular focal length or aperture, or only moving the camera in specific instances. With Stephen, though, every tool was always on the table. He would stop down if we

needed more information, and open up if we needed less. It was a scene-by- scene, shot-by-shot assessment that was beholden to no precious rule.There are static frames, subtle moves, and a single elaborate crane shot that was

executed in the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver with a 32' Hydrascope from Chapman/Leonard. Stephen’s approach to lighting was no less expansive. Redford and Fonda had to look attractive, yes, but that didn’t scare him away from practicals or harder light sources, and he boldly embraced the darkness of the film’s many night scenes while still managing

to keep the action visible. Watching the finished film a year later brings back the feelings of being on set during the production: calm, concentrated, mild. After wrap, the crew dispersed, and the tiny towns of Colorado, having lost the light that beamed down on them from condors, felt a little smaller once again. — Aaron Hunt

Timeless Romance

◗ Timeless Romance Left: Louis and Addie drive at night. Below: With the Canon C300 Mark

Left: Louis and Addie drive at night. Below:

With the Canon C300 Mark II camera supported on a wire rig, A-camera/ Steadicam operator Henry Tirl frames a shot from behind Redford and Fonda, who get some additional fill light courtesy of a LiteGear LiteTile flexible LED panel that’s taped overhead. Bottom: A monitoring station was set up in the back of the truck.

before you’re ready to shoot.” For day work with the C300, Goldblatt used an Angenieux Optimo 15-40mm (T2.6) zoom lens, while at night he relied on Panavision 24mm Ultra Speed and 35mm Super Speed primes. The cinematographer also employed the Optimo zoom and Ultra Speed and Super Speed primes — as well as Primo 17.5-75mm (T2.3) and 24-275mm (T2.8) zooms — with the Panavised F55. Both the F55 and C300 recorded spherical 4096x2160 imagery at 23.976p, framed for a 1.78:1 full-height center extraction (3840x2160).The F55 captured raw 4K S&Q files to Sony AXSM memory cards via an AXS-R5 recorder, while the C300 captured Canon 4K raw files to 2.5" SSDs via a Convergent Design Odyssey7Q+ monitor-recorder. “Ritesh was very much concerned with the tone of the performance, and the tone of the cinematography, but he wasn’t nitpicking obsessively,” Goldblatt notes. “He gave me a good deal of control, which I enjoyed. My longtime gaffer, Colin Campbell, had decided to retire, so I worked with Steve Mathis; he’s a wonderful gaffer, but he and I had never done a movie together.This coin- cided with a new generation of LED

he and I had never done a movie together.This coin- cided with a new generation of
he and I had never done a movie together.This coin- cided with a new generation of

Timeless Romance

◗ Timeless Romance Top: Addie and Louis decide to share a bed. Above: Goldblatt and crew
◗ Timeless Romance Top: Addie and Louis decide to share a bed. Above: Goldblatt and crew

Top: Addie and Louis decide to share a bed. Above:

Goldblatt and crew prep the bedroom set. Right: LiteGear LiteMat LED units were used in the bedroom.

Right: LiteGear LiteMat LED units were used in the bedroom. lighting, and we lit almost the

lighting, and we lit almost the whole movie with prototype LED units.” This newer lighting technology enabled the crew to forgo generators for the produc- tion’s car work in favor of using batteries directly on the fixtures, which cut down considerably on setup time. “If the call time was 8 a.m., we were ready to shoot at 9:30 a.m.,” Goldblatt enthuses. For wide night exteriors, the crew still rigged conventional lamps — mostly 20K Fresnels — on condors for cross- and backlight. “We used generators all the time in the studio and on location,” the cinematographer explains, “but small LED accents were used with batteries. It was just so fast to be able to tape up a small LED with its own battery. I should give a special mention to Sophie Shellenberger, who was our lighting technician on set and who built and rigged wonderful little lights for us with remote controllers.” During prep, Mathis worked closely with Al DeMayo, president and CEO at LED lighting company LiteGear. “Steve was looking for some- thing new that could allow for a stream- lined lighting workflow,” DeMayo recalls. “We settled on the first prototype of LiteTile, which is a flexible fabric- based light source that is super-thin and inherently soft, allowing for the place- ment of a light source in otherwise diffi- cult positions, especially on location.” The LiteTile, Goldblatt adds, “was particularly helpful in cars. Redford’s a very good driver and was confident that he could drive and act simultaneously, and the roads were controlled and empty, so I was able to use these flat LED panels that I could control from the back of the truck, watching live. I could make them brighter or darker and I could change the color temperature according to the natural light. That meant everything to not only the crew but the actors — I think they liked that they didn’t have endless hours of waiting while I fiddled with this light and that camera,and so on and so forth.” Citing an example of the lighting setup’s versatility, Goldblatt points to a nighttime driving scene near the end of

Timeless Romance

◗ Timeless Romance Goldblatt embraced LED lighting for the production’s location work. “Traditional lighting gets
◗ Timeless Romance Goldblatt embraced LED lighting for the production’s location work. “Traditional lighting gets

Goldblatt embraced LED lighting for the production’s location work. “Traditional lighting gets so hot and uncomfortable,” he says. The LEDs, on the other hand, were “completely cool to the touch. It takes a lot of the work and complexity out of rigging.”

the movie,when Louis and Addie’s rela- tionship is in trouble. “I was able to balance the light to them according to whatever the streetlights were doing, and I could do it as we were traveling in the car,” the cinematographer remem- bers. “I was very pleased with the results.” Throughout the production, Mathis adds, “We used the LiteTile prototype for fill and as a soft source. But the coolest thing we did was putting up Velcro and using the LEDs and dimmers in Bob’s truck — especially the free-driving stuff in the daytime with no insert car.” Most of Our Souls at Night was

shot on real locations rather than sets, and Goldblatt feels that the LED light- ing provided another benefit in this regard. “Traditional lighting gets so hot and uncomfortable,and here I could put up a soft bank of LEDs,” he says. “The light source was maybe 8 feet across and 12 feet high. I could place it outside of a window, it could angle down and bounce, and it was completely cool to the touch. It takes a lot of the work and complexity out of rigging; you’re often able to control lights wirelessly without necessarily having anybody go up on a ladder.” On the subject of LEDs’ impact on motion-picture production,

DeMayo — a former gaffer — offers,“I believe that LED lighting has really made an impact in two areas.The first is the ability to adjust the brightness of a lighting instrument without the nega- tive effects of color shift.This was a key turning point in cinema lighting, as it finally allowed for accurate blending of multiple colors. But dimming two colors of white — tungsten and daylight — really changed everything.You could finally choose the intensity and Kelvin temperature on the fly without the use of scrims and CTO or CTB gels.There was no turning back after that.This was only possible because of the unique characteristics of the LED technology itself. Let’s say an LED dims to 50 percent; it does that by turning on at 100 percent, but for only 50 percent of the time, resulting in half the light. Do that correctly, and it’s suitable for use with cinema cameras. “The second impact is in the use of many smaller LEDs arranged over a large area, thereby creating soft light without the need for diffusion or filters,” DeMayo continues.“The modern trend is to light mostly with soft light — Steve and Stephen used the LiteTile as a soft source that is thin and provides a very wide output. If you want hard light from an LED fixture, that’s a greater challenge, especially if you really want a 5K Fresnel.There are some options, but they require heavy heat sinks and fans. My generation grew up using incandes- cent Fresnel lights pushed through a 4- by-4 of silk, muslin, or 216; modern LED fixtures from nearly every company offer soft and easily control- lable arrays.” Goldblatt says that the stripped- down production was in perfect harmony with the simplicity of the story and what Batra was trying to achieve visually. “Ritesh was insistent, in the nicest possible way, that this film be humble,” the cinematographer notes.“It was about two elderly people drawn from loneliness into companionship and then a love affair. Therefore, if the film was going to be successful, it couldn’t and shouldn’t be flashy — that would do

Timeless Romance

Director Ritesh Batra discusses a scene with Redford.

Director Ritesh Batra discusses a scene with Redford. the material a terrible disservice. “There’s always a

the material a terrible disservice. “There’s always a danger you

could overdo it,because if you’ve got the skill and the eye,some part of you wants to demonstrate that,” he continues. “God knows I’ve been flashy in the past

— maybe too flashy. But I don’t have

anything to prove, and for this movie I really wanted to step back and let the performance be the hero of the scene.” To that end, Goldblatt kept camera movement to a minimum and tried to avoid any hint of self- consciousness. “My biggest concern all the time was that the night scenes didn’t take the viewer out of the story,” he recalls. “I didn’t want anyone saying,

‘Oh, this is a beautifully lit night scene,’ because that means it’s clearly a lit scene

— which it is, but you don’t want it to

look that way. It’s tricky, because you’ve got to see the actors’ eyes — you just have to — and you can’t light it so dimly that you can’t see the performance.That would be just as disastrous as being flashy.Keeping that balance was a worry for me.” Ultimately, however, Goldblatt knew he had a secret weapon waiting for him in post: ASC associate member Steven J. Scott, Technicolor’s supervis- ing finishing artist. “Steve and I first worked together on Angels in America [AC Nov. ’03],” Goldblatt explains. “He’s got such a wonderful appreciation of what the cinematographer is trying to do. We didn’t have the money to spend a long time together — we had just two weeks — but I knew that

before I even joined him at Technicolor in New York he would do a pre-pass. I would send him photographs taken on set which I had timed myself, and he could see what I was going for.” Goldblatt is enamored of the DI process, not for fixing errors but as a tool for creative expression. “More and more, on every film I do, I find the DI to be a beautiful thing, whether you shoot on film or digitally,” he enthuses. “Obviously you can fix mistakes or adjust problems forced on you by bad weather or very little time, but it’s much more transformative than that. You can further develop the mood that you’ve begun in your principal photography.” In the case of Our Souls at Night, Goldblatt made conscious choices to darken the areas around the actors in order to emphasize the surrounding night while keeping their faces and eyes appropriately lit. Aside from the 4K mandate and

a brief quibble over aspect ratio — Batra wanted to frame for 2.39:1, but Netflix dictated 1.78:1 — Goldblatt says that shooting for a streaming service rather

than a theatrical release didn’t alter his methodology. “Netflix wanted a cine- matic look, so it didn’t change my approach,”he says.“The technology has gotten to the point that you can watch a movie at home on a perfectly calibrated screen and it meets very high standards. For an intimate film like this, as long as you have a good television or projector

it will really hold up. “We’re in a golden age of home

viewing with Netflix, and Amazon, and FilmStruck,” Goldblatt adds. “We can have a virtual cinematheque at home, which is quite extraordinary. And the quality is unbelievable compared to the prints I saw 10, 20 or 40 years ago at curated screenings. I don’t think we’re missing anything now, except sitting in an audience.” As enthusiastic as Goldblatt is about new tools, there were a few hiccups on Souls.“When we tried to use an aerial drone for a proposed title sequence, we encountered a mysterious jamming signal at an altitude of 200 feet that prevented communication with the drone and scuppered our aerial photography,” he recalls. “We believe it emanated from the high-security federal prison outside Florence, Colorado, which is home to the Unabomber and others. The jamming signal was not,however,confined to just this location.We made another attempt in a similar rural town two hours’ drive away and encountered the same jamming. It seems that Colorado is so full of federal facilities, private lockups and secret or highly secure establish- ments that flying drones in the state is entirely problematic. This was a new, interesting and expensive problem during our production.” That said, Goldblatt remains optimistic and excited about changing technologies, both as a filmmaker and a viewer. Above all, he says, “I’m glad I’m still actively working. I enjoy all this new technology after 41 years of shoot-

ing the other way. I think we all do.”

of shoot- ing the other way. I think we all do.” ● 1.78:1 TECHNICAL SPECS Digital

1.78:1

TECHNICAL SPECS

other way. I think we all do.” ● 1.78:1 TECHNICAL SPECS Digital Capture Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta,

Digital Capture

Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta, Canon EOS C300 Mark II

Panavision Ultra Speed, Super Speed, Primo Zoom; Angenieux Optimo

Photos by Jessica Miglio, courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Photos by Jessica Miglio, courtesy of Amazon Studios. FILMMAKERS’ FORUM Carolina (Juno Temple) walks beneath the

FILMMAKERS’ FORUM

Carolina (Juno Temple) walks beneath the eponymous Coney Island attraction in the 1950s-set feature Wonder Wheel, which marks the second collaboration between writer- director Woody Allen and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC.

Woody Allen and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC. I Who’s Afraid of Red, Green and Blue?

I Who’s Afraid of Red, Green and Blue? By Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC

“I see in colors the effort of matter to become LIGHT.” —Plato, Greek philosopher

“RED also has an Expiatory, Protective function.” — Lia Luzzatto and Renata Pompas, Italian scholars

“GREEN is a Moral color.” — J. M. Vincent, American scholar

“BLUE, King of colors, comforts the Heart.” — Guillaume de Machaut, French poet

I think I heard someone say: “Look what those two ‘young’ visionaries of the cinematic image, Woody AllenandVittorioStoraro —onewritingwithWORDS, theother writingwithLIGHT—areup to on their second film together, Wonder Wheel! And they’ve only just entered the world of digital cinema with their first movie, Café Society!” Indeed, we seemed quite happy in our classic world of cellu- loid, and so familiar with the mysterious image that is revealed after it has been conceived, as if it were being born. Each filmis a specific creature. Despite our knowledge and our experiences over time, we visualized that IMAGE through dreams or nightmares, according to

the various moments and films …right fromthe start, as soon as it wasfilmed,notonlythefirstnight,butduringmanynightsafterthe dayofshooting…untilitwasprojectedonascreenwhere,afterthe countdown frames, the first image finally appeared … in motion, with sound …and in COLOR. Despite the research, knowledge and experience that helped meto“know”howtheywouldturnout,Icanhonestlysaythat,like all cinematographers, I always experienced surprise or, more often, wonder—andevendisappointment,butluckilyonlyafewtimes— when I saw on the screen the images that were framed, lit and filmed on the set. MATTER — the physical elements of the camera, lenses, film stock, etc. —was transformed through the language of LIGHT into visible ENERGY, into an IMAGE. With that image, all doubts, uncertainties and questions vanished, and we reveled in the WONDER OF CINEMA. A terrific thrill that we experiencedevery time, especially at the first screening of a new film. By constantly imagining/thinking/dreaming, it had been possible to materialize the feelings, emotions and filmic intu- itions that both the director and the cinematographer, each in his own “space” and in his own imagination, had in mind and wanted to see on the screen. At that time, the reels of film were sent to a lab, the images were developed, corrected, printed, and then projected a day or more later in a movie theater, or a specially equipped room during theshoot.AsIrecall,theimagewasviewedwiththetrepidationthat

precedes a discovery. Despite our knowl- edge of its history, of technique, of the mysterious nature of the camera obscura, etc., we were accustomed to and had developed and matured with a system that could be improved, that was not finite, but INFINITE. The initial education regarding photographic and cinematic images — for many years in BLACK-AND-WHITE — the knowledge, and distinctly pictorial style of

theperiod—tillaroundthe1970sinfact—

had led the film industry to believe that black-and-white was appropriate for dramaticfilmsandthatcolorcouldworkfor comedies, Westerns, musicals. Shade, they thought, was not captured well by color. Then, probablywiththearrival of color tele- vision, they insisted on films being made in colorforthebenefitoftheinternationalfilm industry. The public wanted color, so black- and-white appeared to be a thing of the past. On the majority of productions, most directors and cinematographers preferred to stay with the MONOCHROMATIC style, with tone on tone, nearly always imagining the beautiful look of the daguerreotype: a warm ochre/orange tonality — very mater- nal, assomepsychoanalystswouldsay. Bold color images were not considered creative, refined or artistic, and many people still see it that way.

“COLORS are the children of Light andDarkness.”—LeonardodaVinci,Italian genius

I instead rebelled against a classic

education and ventured excitedly into the world of COLOR, though unaware of its variousmeanings, duringtheyearsI studied photography and cinematography. Some-

onechosetocomment:“Reckless…unpre-

dictable figurative ideas, and a NAÏF style at first.” In fact, not having had a traditional education, I discovered naïf painting before classical art. With its bold, primitive colors inspired by nature, and its bright and often contrasting tones, naïf art was my first TEACHER OF COLOR. At the start of my cinematography career, my first color film with Bernardo Bertolucci was La Strategia Del Ragno, whose images were inspired by René Magritte and Antonio Ligabue, a primitivist

was La Strategia Del Ragno , whose images were inspired by René Magritte and Antonio Ligabue,
was La Strategia Del Ragno , whose images were inspired by René Magritte and Antonio Ligabue,

101

As Storaro explains, the movie’s characters — including Carolina (top) and Ginny (Kate Winslet, above)
As Storaro explains, the movie’s characters — including Carolina (top) and Ginny (Kate Winslet, above)

As Storaro explains, the movie’s characters — including Carolina (top) and Ginny (Kate Winslet, above) — inhabit a world that is “all sweetness and light on the outside, but conflicted at its heart.”

painter fromParma, Bertolucci’shometown.

”COLOR has an amazingly varie- gated, expressive and harmonious vocabu- lary.” —Alexander Blok, Russian poet

Then I gradually encountered the

great Italian masters, Leonardo, Michelan-

gelo,Caravaggio.Inmyearlyfilms,mychro-

matic inspirations sprang from emotion, an innate instinct, and being in love with the IMAGE. At that time we drew on the cinema

of the past: Woody with iconic cinematog- raphers like Gordon Willis [ASC], Carlo Di Palma [AIC], Sven Nykvist [ASC] and Darius Khondji [ASC, AFC], on films like Manhat- tan, Shadows and Fog, Crimes and Misde- meanors, andMidnight inParis. Myself with iconic directors like Bertolucci, Francis Coppola, Warren Beatty and Carlos Saura, with films like Il Conformista, Apocalypse Now, Reds and Flamenco, Flamenco. So many images that were reminis- cent of the figurative culture of the past, thathadthefeel ofthepresentandenabled

us toimagine…images of thefuture. Then someone invented the digital image, and in the last five years the filmindustry has virtu- ally changed completely. So when Woody asked me to collab- orate on Café Society, I read the screenplay, which gave me various figurative ideas for the different stages of the story, based on the works of painters like Georgia O’Keeffe and Tamara de Lempicka in contrast with Otto Dix and Edward Hopper, and arrived ready to embark on a figurative path that was new to both of us. Well aware that progress can be slowed down or speeded up but never stopped, we decided, after havingtraveledalongpathwithcelluloid,to enter the DIGITAL WORLD together. Although Woody’s regular collabora- tors suggested I adopt a SINGLE “WARM” COLOR TONALITY for the whole film, I proposed to him two very different worlds for the Bronx and Hollywood in the 1930s

and’40s,actuallydividingthestoryintofour

partsandusingasmanychromatictonalities to distinguish them — AND HE COMPLETELY AGREED. He immediately loved the idea of DIGITAL and the COLOR VARIATIONS THAT ACCOMPANIED THE STORY in the various stages of its develop- ment.

And that’s not all! Although they had assured me that he would never have looked at the monitor during filming, after theveryfirstdayandmyhavingexplainedto himthat theimagewouldbear an80–90% resemblancetothedefinitiveone, heimme- diately immersed himself in the feelings conveyed by the acting and the figurative image that we were constructing in complete agreement, day by day, right on schedule. In actual fact, digital cinema was not something new for us, but rather a confirmation of the individual paths we had trodden so far. In previous years, Woody and I had actually worked together on the same projects: New York Stories, but on two different episodes; then Picking up the Pieces,directedbyAlfonsoArau,withmeas cinematographer and Woody as actor. It was Café Society that finally brought us together in our respective fields: he as screenwriter-director, me as cinematogra- pher.

Woody, with all the nostalgic evoca-

tions, the “Amarcord” of his New York in tow; me, with a weighty baggage of images, which were often markedly pictor- ial since I love the Renaissance and am obsessed with Caravaggio and his constant conflict between light and shade. Woody, with his monochromatic, desaturated tones; me, with my powerful chromatic emotions derivingfrommy stud- ies on Isaac Newton, Goethe and so forth, and with the symbolism, dramaturgy and physiology of color. Initially, I was not so sure that I wouldbe able tovisualize one of his films. I have always needed to find a specific style, and personalities who would help me to identify and pursue a specific path of research. I have always thought that no matter what profession we practice, we inevitably seek to identify our expressive possibilities, to come up with answers to our own questions. When I read the second script he had prepared, with just the working title “WASP 2016” (Woody Allen Summer Project 2016), I was faced with a story that at first seems tranquil on the surface, but has a variety of conflicts going on under- neath.ItisastoryaboutanAmericanfamily

setin1945onConeyIsland,aresortareain

Brooklyn, with very long scenes full of dialogue between the various individuals. In my ignorance I knew nothing about Coney Island, andthis left my figura- tive imagination somewhat at a loss; however, the respect and collaboration I received from Woody on both a profes- sional and human level convinced me that our expressive relationship would continue. Nonetheless, I was afraid that I would not be able to come up with a pivotal figurative idea for the visual. I confessed all this to Woody, who immedi- ately put my mind at rest by assuring me that we would come up with a specific vision of the film. And then the idea of a superficially serene world in which life’s problems later surface suddenly brought to mind Norman Rockwell’s painting of the postwar period: a vision of life that was all sweetness and light on the outside, but conflicted at its heart. When I arrived in New York, Woody immediatelygavemethenecessarysupport to implement a vision that contrasted

at its heart. When I arrived in New York, Woody immediatelygavemethenecessarysupport to implement a vision that
at its heart. When I arrived in New York, Woody immediatelygavemethenecessarysupport to implement a vision that
at its heart. When I arrived in New York, Woody immediatelygavemethenecessarysupport to implement a vision that
Ginny’s marriage to Humpty (Jim Belushi) belies the amusement park’s surface charms. outward appearances with
Ginny’s marriage to Humpty (Jim Belushi) belies the amusement park’s surface charms. outward appearances with

Ginny’s marriage to Humpty (Jim Belushi) belies the amusement park’s surface charms.

outward appearances with what was really happening inside. Then we began the scouts — “we” being myself, Woody, production designer Santo Loquasto and co-producer Helen Robin — and when I discovered Coney Island, I understood its visual potentialities right away. We had an amusement park located on a beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, with the protagonist family living right in themiddleofthepark.Thecharactersinthe story—Ginny(KateWinslet),Mickey(Justin Timberlake), Carolina (Juno Temple) and Humpty (Jim Belushi) — made up a great cast and truly completed the whole picture. They lived with the fantastic world of the amusement park outside their windows,

and with their family conflicts inside the apartment. My specific vision for the cine- matography was inspired by various painters of the period, especially Reginald Marsh, one of the many who depicted the fantasy of Coney Island. Then I had an even more important idea for visualizing the story while waking uponemorningatdawn—somethingthat often happens to me at that preconscious moment. Ginny’s world and that of Carolina, inconflictbecausetheywereboth in love with Mickey, made me think of applying the “PHYSIOLOGY OF COLOR” theory. Human beings not only receive LIGHT through their eyes, but all over their body. In fact, we are like a sensitive photo-

graphic plate, because when visible ENERGY and its COLORS strike our body, they modify our metabolism and blood pressure according to their intensity and chromatic frequency, creating unconscious emotions. Woody immediately saw the visual potential of the story told according to this specific vision, and — NO LONGER AFRAID OF RED, GREEN AND BLUE — he helped, indeed spurred me, to formulate a figurative structure, a cinematography concept that divided the two worlds:

fantasy andreality, onewithsuffusedlights, the other with contrasting lights. Ginny’s world, experienced through the warm tonalities of an ORANGE SUNSET, and Carolina’s world, experienced through the cold tonalities of a BLUE DUSK. This is how we created a palette of LIGHTS and COLORS that accentuated the variations in the dialogue by reflecting the characters’ emotions. When I shared my theories with production designer Santo Loquasto and costume designer Suzy Benzinger, in full agreement we started to create a specific vision of the film together. This is what should always happen: each film should have a special vision, in keeping with a particular story.

RED has represented our existential dawn since human life began. When we awake it is the first Color that impinges on ourConsciousness.Symbolofvitalenergy,it is Male, and increases blood flow, muscular tension, and pulse rate. It signals the Posi- tive, and is the flame of the human spirit. It is the Color of the PAST.

So with the help of different sceno- graphicandcostumeelements;withvarious

filtersinfrontoftheCookeS4lensesonthe

two Sony F65 4K 16-bit color digital cameras that had been prepared for image composition with an aspect ratio of 2:1 at PanavisionbyChris KonashandSteveWills; with assistants Bobby Mancuso and Beka Venezia; with Rosco gels on the projectors provided by Cinelease and Iride controlled by the lighting console; with the collabora- tionof gaffer SteveRamseyandkeygripBill Weberg; and especially through using the natural light of the afternoon/sunset and dusk/evening, and dividing the spectrum

Storaro (left) and Allen plan their next setup on the beach at Coney Island.

Allen plan their next setup on the beach at Coney Island. intotwodifferentemotivetonalities—Iwas able to WRITE WITH

intotwodifferentemotivetonalities—Iwas able to WRITE WITH LIGHT the story of Wonder Wheel. Thanks to Isaac Newton’s science and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Theory of Colors, and their palette of RED– ORANGE–YELLOW–GREEN–BLUE–INDIGO– VIOLET, I had the “seven” colors at my disposal — but I used the LANGUAGE OF COLORS, basically extracting only two, orange and blue, which, although often in conflict with each other, best helped me to visually recount the feelings and emotions of the various protagonists of this story that starts out as acomedy but takes onincreas- ingly dramatic tones, and certainly enhanced the different moods of the film. No one should be afraid of color. We have to get to know it and its expressive potentialities. By creating harmony or conflict between the three primary colors red/green/blue, andtheir threecomplemen- tary colors cyan/magenta/yellow, we can convey visual emotions to the audience, in the same way that words convey emotions in literature, and notes in music. I think a knowledge of the symbolism, dramaturgy and physiology of color is fundamental, particularly in the digital age. It allows us to use color with greater awareness in the visual arts, and especially in cinema. Today, the cinematic image no longer has the mystery it once had, and a knowledge of the meanings of LIGHT and COLORS is both indispensable and essential to intuit, to suggest, to create and, if neces- sary, to modify the COLOR IMAGES THAT THE MONITOR SHOWS US ON THE SET —

IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. In digital cinema, the arrival of the HDR (High Dynamic Range) system that offers enhanced color saturation and produces bright, high-contrast, color-satu- rated images suitable for action movies and spectacular special effects, may lead us to believe — as in the 1950s — that this kind of vision is not appropriate for films about human feelings or for dramatic stories. To satisfy the vast young public, HDR images will be requested for all films. But this will notbeaproblem,evenforthemostcreative movies, as long as we are familiar with the meanings and symbols of the language of color. Indeed, it could be a great help if we use the dramaturgy of color “with aware- ness,” like the great Russian director Sergei Eisenstein advised us to in the chapter “Color and Meaning” of his book The Film Sense. I know that Amazon Studios will request the HDR version of Wonder Wheel, and I will be happy to prepare it, because it will be in line with the vision of the story.

GREEN represents protection from the dangers of the outside world. Its inner vitality indicates peace. Positioned in the middle of the spectrum, it links the two worlds of Beginning and End, of Light and Darkness. It divides materiality from the destiny of spirituality. It is the Color of the Soul, and represents Knowledge.

The composition and rhythm of the images captured by the digital cameras guided by operator Will Arnot, the quality controls carried out by DIT Simone

D’Arcangelo, and the close examination of those images for the rushes by colorist AnthonyRaffaeleatTechniclor-PostWorksin New York, were certainly fundamental for me in envisaging, creating and perfecting the figurative quality of the film during the entireperiodofpreparationandproduction. The latter was actually very fast: 30 days of shooting. With the digital-intermediate session,whichalsotookplaceatTechnicolor with Anthony Raffaele, and with the confir- mation of some additional images outside the windows of the family’s apartment by the visual-effects department of Brain- storm and visual-effects supervisors Rich Friedlander and Eran Dinur, the visual work in harmony with the dramaturgy of Woody’soriginal screenplaywascompleted. When every aspect of a film, from its conception to its realization and postpro- duction, melds so perfectly, and the various protagonists andco-authors areinharmony and well-directed by the director, that film hasall theingredientsforconveyingitsstory to the audience as effectively as possible. Indeed, I believe that today’s SENSOR and the film stock that came before it have always been and will always be more sensi- tive than technicians tell us. They are actu- ally able to capture the EMOTIONS OF THE WHOLE CREW THAT PARTICIPATES IN MAKING A FILM. And when this is done in CREATIVE HARMONY, there is a probability that the film will turn out well — THAT IT WILL BE A GOOD FILM.

BLUE is the color of thought and intuition;itisconducivetokeenintelligence. Of aspiritual nature, it has somethingsupe- rior to the human being itself; it represents awareness, its sensory perception is Gentle- ness, its emotive content, Tenderness. Psychologically speaking, it increases a tendencytowardSensibility, itsmovementis Centrifugal, it tends torecede fromthe eye. Blue is the color of INTELLIGENCE and the FUTURE.

Leonardo da Vinci says: “A good painter should paint two principal things:

themanandtheconceptofhisownmind.” While we were wrapping the film, I heard someone say: “If Woody and Vittorio have a bit of a future together, who knows what THOSE TWO will do next!”

NEW PRODUCTS & SERVICES • SUBMISSION INFORMATION - Please email New Products/Services releases to

NEW PRODUCTS & SERVICES

• SUBMISSION INFORMATION - Please email New Products/Services releases to newproducts@ascmag.com and include full contact information and product images. Photos must be TIFF or JPEG files of at least 300dpi.

Photos must be TIFF or JPEG files of at least 300dpi. GoPro Expands Action Offerings GoPro

GoPro Expands Action Offerings GoPro has unveiled the Hero6 Black camera. Powered by GoPro’s custom-designed GP1 processor, Hero6offers 4K60and 1080p240 video with advanced video stabilization. The camera is packed into a rugged design that’s waterproof to 33'. When the camera is paired with the GoPro App, users can automati- cally transform their adventures into sharable QuikStory videos. Developed from the ground up to maximize a GoPro

camera’s capabilities, the GP1 processor enables twice the video

frameratesalongwithimprovedimagequality,dynamicrange,low-

light performance and video stabilization. The GP1 automates all of these benefits, allowing users to shoot without having to navigate complex image settings. The GP1 also advances GoPro’s capabilities in computer vision and machine learning, enabling the Hero6 to analyze scenes and sensor data for improved automated QuikSto- ries.

Additional features of the Hero6 Black include a new touch zoom, 3x faster offload speeds via 5GHz Wi-Fi, compatibility with GoPro’s Karma drone and existing GoPro mounts, raw and HDR photo modes, voice control in 10 languages, Bluetooth accessibility, GPS, accelerometer, and gyroscope. GoPro has also launched Fusion, a mountable camera capable of 5.2K30 and 3K60 spherical video with gimbal-like stabilization. With the GoPro App, users can play back and share their footage as VR content, or theycanusetheapp’sOverCapturefeaturetorecapture and share spherical shots as a traditional fixed-perspective video.

spherical shots as a traditional fixed-perspective video. Waterproof to a depth of 16', Fusion can also

Waterproof to a depth of 16', Fusion can also capture 18MP spher- ical photos and360audio. The camera boasts time-lapse videoand

photo,nightlapse,andburstmodes;otherfeaturesincludecompat-

ibility with most GoPro mounts, voice control in 10 languages, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, GPS, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, and Compass. The Fusion also comes with a grip mount. Additionally, GoPro has updated Karma with two new auto-shot paths: Follow and Watch. Using GPS, Karma can now automatically follow the Karma Controllerwhiletheuserisonthego,keepingtheoperator framed in the shot. The Watch auto-shot path will keep Karmahoveringinplacewhileitrotates,keepingtheKarma Controller in frame wherever it goes. Other new Karma updates include Hero6 compatibility, an expanded Cable- Camauto-shot path, and “Look Up” camera-tilt capability. Current Karmaownerscanunlockthenewfeaturesviaa firmware update. Also new from GoPro are the Shorty, a pocketable extension pole and tripod; the Handler, an updated floating handgrip with a quick-release mounting feature; and the Bite Mount + Floaty, a versatile bite mount with an easy-to-spot float. For additional information, visit www.gopro.com.

float. For additional information, visit www.gopro.com. Sony Goes Full Frame With Venice Sony Electronics has
float. For additional information, visit www.gopro.com. Sony Goes Full Frame With Venice Sony Electronics has

Sony Goes Full Frame With Venice

Sony Electronics has unveiled Venice, the company’s first full- frame digital motion-picture camera and the next generation ofSony’sCineAltasystems.Venicewasdesignedthroughclose collaboration with the creative community to ensure the camera fulfills the needs of production professionals. “We really went back to the drawing board for this one,” saysASCassociatememberPeterCrithary,marketingmanager

for Sony Electronics. “It is our next-generation camera system,

a ground-up development initiative encompassing a

completely new image sensor. We carefully considered key aspects such as form factor, ergonomics, build quality, ease of use, a refined picture and painterly look — with a simple, established workflow. We worked in close collaboration with film-industry professionals. We also considered the longer-term strategy by designing a user interchangeable sensor that is as quick and simple to swap as removing four screws, and can accommodate different shooting scenarios as the need arises.” Venice combines a newly developed 36x24mm full-frame sensor, which offers the advantages of compatibility with a wide range of lenses, including anamorphic, Super 35mm, spherical and full-frame PL-mount lenses for a greater range of expressive free- dom with shallow depth of field. The lens mount can also be

changedtosupportE-mountlensesforsitu- ationsthatrequiresmaller,lighterandwider lenses. User-selectable areas of the image
changedtosupportE-mountlensesforsitu- ationsthatrequiresmaller,lighterandwider lenses. User-selectable areas of the image

changedtosupportE-mountlensesforsitu-

ationsthatrequiresmaller,lighterandwider lenses. User-selectable areas of the image sensor allow shooting in “4-perf” Super 35mm. Future firmware upgrades are planned to allow the camera to handle 36mm-wide 6K resolution. A new color-management system with an ultra-wide color gamut gives users more control and greater flexibility to work with images during grading and postpro- duction. According to Sony’s specs, Venice also offers more than 15 stops of latitude, with a gentle roll-off into highlights. The Venice camera system’s high-

quality, efficient file-based workflowis real- ized with Sony’s established 16-bit raw/X- OCN via the AXS-R7 recorder, and 10-bit XAVCworkflows. Veniceis alsocompatible with current and upcoming CineAlta hard- ware accessories, including the DVF-EL200 Full HD OLED Viewfinder, AXS-R7 recorder, and AXS-CR1 and AXS-AR1 card readers. Venice’s modular, intuitive design supports efficient on-location operation. It featuresabuilt-ineight-stageglassNDfilter system, which further streamlines camera

setup,andintuitivecontrolpanelsareincor-

porated on both the assistant and operator sides of the camera. A 24-volt power supply input/output and Lemo connector

allow use of many standard camera acces- sories.

With Venice, Sony is giving users the option to customize their camera by enabling the features needed, matched to their individual production requirements. Optional licenseswill beavailableinperma- nent, monthly and weekly durations to expand the camera’s capabilities with new features including 4K anamorphic and full frame, each sold separately. Venice was officially unveiled on Sept. 6, in front of an audience of ASC members and other industry professionals. During the event, Sony also screened the short film The Dig, which was the first project to shoot with a Venice camera. The short was written and directed by Joseph Kosinski and shot by Claudio Miranda, ASC, whopairedthe camera withanamor- phic lenses. “It was nice to actually shoot full- frame anamorphic,” Miranda said prior to the screening. “We shot the whole piece and ended up in 2.66, not 2.4 as originally intended, because we ended up loving the landscape. “Also, we were looking at skin tone and color, and it didn’t feel artificial or pushed,” Miranda continued. “When it gets low in the shadows, it didn’t dive into red. I really appreciated that.” For additional information, visit www.sony.com/venice.

Litepanels Illuminates Gemini Litepanels, a Vitec Group brand, has introduced the Gemini 2x1 RGB-WW soft panelthatcombinesdaylight,tungsten,and red-green-blueLEDstodeliverhighlyflexible

and precise color adjustment. The Gemini soft panel produces full-spectrum white light and an extensive choice of control options designed to suit any professional lighting application. Gemini eliminates the undesirable colorspikesthatcanresultfrommixingred, green and blue LEDs by giving users a daylight-to-tungsten light foundation and then enabling them to finely adjust color throughout the full 360-degree color wheel. This means that users can match a broad range of ambient lighting conditions quickly and simply. Gemini offers this flexibility through its easy-to-use menu interface in three lighting modes: Correlated Color Tempera- ture Mode, for bicolor (daylight to tung- sten) operation with +/- green adjustment; Color Mode, offering hue saturation and intensity (HSI) control; and Gel Mode,

providing the ability to dial-up a variety of popular gels. All three modes offer users complete intensity control with smooth dimming from 100 percent to zero, with- out anycolor shift. Users candefinepresets to save their favorite lighting attributes, including intensity, for quick and conve- nient recall. Gemini offers flexible remote control through DMX (5-pin XLR or RJ45), Wireless DMX (using standard 512 protocol), or Bluetooth. Gemini can be remotely controlled using the Litepanels SmartLite or SmartLite Director apps for Apple devices. Recent independent testing demon-

stratedthatGeminidelivershighphotomet-

ric performance, measuring TLCI/CRI levels of 97 in daylight and 99 in tungsten. This means that lighting professionals can reli-

and 99 in tungsten. This means that lighting professionals can reli- 110 December 2017 American Cinematographer

ablyachieveaccuratecolor andrealisticskin tones, in turn saving postproduction time and money. With its onboard power supply, Gemini is significantly lighter than panels thatrequireanexternal ballast. Withoutthe need for external power components, the panel can also be transported easily and rigged rapidly with fewer cable connec- tions. Gemini panels can run from battery

power(3-pinXLR28VDC),orpowercanbe

daisy-chained from other devices using an industry-standard powerCON connection. “The color quality of the Litepanels Gemini allows me to precisely match exist- ing tungsten lighting sources in a variety of applications, especially when dimming,” says cinematographer Andrew Dunn, BSC. “I can dim all the way to zero, which is incredible. My gaffer, Jose Ruiz, and I find rigging the Gemini incredibly easy. Its output compared to its weight makes it even more extraordinary, giving us on-set versatility that is a tremendous time-saver. “Gemini works well as a bounce, and it’s soft enough to be used as a fill for our talent,” Dunn adds. “Plus, the ability to dial in a range of unique colors and smash them into a background so easily [can bring] depth, texture, and interest to the scene.” Gemini is complemented by a full line of light-shaping accessories, such as honeycomb grids and barn doors, to offer users extra creative lighting control. By the end of this year, Litepanels will release a mounting hardware kit that will enable customers to stack multiple Gemini panels either vertically or horizontally. For additional information, visit www.litepanels.com.

tripodsystemsoffermanyofthebenefitsof their carbon-fiber counterparts in a lower- cost package. Both the Ace XL GS AL — which

ground

spreader —and Ace XL MS AL — with a

e v e l

spreader —are

compatible

with DSLR cameras as

cine-style

as

Blackmagic Design’s Ursa Mini Pro, Canon’s EOS C200 and C300 Mark II, Panasonic’s Lumix GH5, and Sony’s PXW-FS7. The 75mm fluid head supports an extended payload range of 2 to 8kg (up

to 17.6 pounds), giving it the versatility

neededtosupportabroadrangeofconfig-

urations. Both tripod systems offer eight counterbalance steps for quick and easy camera balancing. The Ace XL’s patented SA drag (synchronized actuated drag) damping provides an authentic broadcast feel and familiar dependability for precise panning and tilting. The long 104mm (4.1") sliding range of the camera plate allows for quick camera setup, and clearly marked counterbalance settings aid in setting repeatable moves and provide a tilt range of +90 degrees to -75 degrees. The Ace XL aluminum tripods can operate in a broad temperature range, from -30°C (-22°F) to 60°C (140°F). At 4.5kg (9.9 pounds) and 4.1kg (9 pounds), respectively, the Ace XL MS XL andAceXLGSALweighonlyafraction more than their carbon-fiber predeces- sors. The Ace XL GS AL provides a height range of 56-173cm (22-68"), while the Ace XL MS AL offers a height range of 79-170cm (31-67"). Both tripod systems include Sachtler rubber feet and come with a padded bag featuring practical grips and a carrying strap.

For additional information, visit

www.sachtler.com.

features

a

well
well

m i

as

cameras

d -

l

such

www.sachtler.com. features a well m i as cameras d - l such Sachtler Deals Pair of

Sachtler Deals Pair of Aces Sachtler, a Vitec Group brand, has introduced two aluminum tripod systems in the company’s popular Ace XL family.

EquippedwiththenewAceXL75mmfluid

head, the Ace XL GS AL andAce XL MS AL

in the company’s popular Ace XL family. EquippedwiththenewAceXL75mmfluid head, the Ace XL GS AL andAce XL

111

Red Unleashes Monstro Red Digital Cinema has introduced a new full-frame sensor for Weapon cameras, Monstro8KVV. Monstrois a step

beyondtheRedDragon8KVVsensor,with

improvements in image quality, including dynamic range and shadow detail. This Weapon 8K VV camera and sensor combination offers full-frame lens

coverage,captures8Kfull-formatmotionat

up to 60 fps, produces detailed 35.4 megapixel stills, and delivers fast data speeds of up to 300 MB/s. Like all of Red’s DSMC2 cameras, Weapon records simulta- neous raw and Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD/HR, and adheres to Red’s dedica- tion to “obsolescence obsolete,” a core operating principle that allows current Red owners to upgrade their technology as

allows current Red owners to upgrade their technology as innovations are unveiled as well as move

innovations are unveiled as well as move betweencamerasystemswithouthavingto purchase all-new gear. The new Weapon will be priced at $79,500 for the camera Brain, with upgrades for carbon-fiber Weapon customers available for $29,500. Monstro 8K VV will replace the current Red Dragon

$29,500. Monstro 8K VV will replace the current Red Dragon 8K VV sensor in Red’s lineup,

8K VV sensor in Red’s lineup, and customers who had previously placed an order for a Red Dragon 8K VV sensor will now be offered this new sensor. New

CineJet Takes Flight Helinet Aviation, a full-service provider of aerial production services to the motion

CineJet Takes Flight Helinet Aviation, a full-service provider of aerial production services to the motion

picture and advertising industries, has unveiled CineJet, an Aero L-39 Albatros jet featuring

acustomizedgyro-stabilizedShotoverF1camerasystemdesignedforhigh-speedaerialcine-

matography. Developed in partnership with Patriots Jet Team — a San Francisco Bay Area- based precision aerobatic demonstration team — CineJet provides excellent jet-aircraft performance, maneuverability, and camera-angle options thanks to the sleek profile of the aircraft and the mounting of the F1 camera platform. CineJet has been developed for television, feature, high-performance photography, scientific research, and commercial aircraft-marketing applications. The Shotover F1 system has been specifically tailored for the unique capabilities of the jet platform, and can handle

speedsexceeding350knotsandmaneuversapproaching3Gs.Theopen-platformdesignof

the F1 system allows for a comprehensive range of professional camera and lens combina- tionsdependingontheneedsofeachclient, andasnewtechnologycomestomarket. “We are thrilled to support Helinet and Patriots Jet Teamwith a customized 6-axis gyro-stabilized Shotover F1 camera platform for cutting-edge aerial cinematography,” says Shotover CEO Brad Hurndell. Further increasing CineJet’s functionality and capabilities is a specially developed multiple antenna array, installed by RF Film Inc., to deliver high-definition video, GPS data, and ground-to-air audio communication. The aircraft will be flown by Helinet’s VP of aerial film production Kevin LaRosa II, and Patriots Jet Team founder and owner Randy Howell. For more than 16 years, LaRosa has servedthemotion-pictureindustryas astunt pilot andaerial coordinator; heis amember of SAG as well as the Motion Picture Pilots Association. Howell has accumulated more than 23,000 hours of flight time and has more than 30 years of flying experience with United Airlines; he has been an advanced instructor in aerobatics, formation and UPRT, and has served as a check airman and simulator instructor in a multitude of aircraft. “Patriots Jet Team is extremely proud to launch the new CineJet high-speed cine- matography platform with Helinet,” says Howell. “We look forward to providing produc- tions with a turnkey solution for high-velocity camerawork.” To watch a video of the CineJet in action, visit vimeo.com/237487951. For additional information, visit www.helinet.com, www.patriotsjetteam.comand www.shotover.com.

orderswill startbeingfulfilledinearly2018. Red has also announced a compre- hensive service for Weapon carbon-fiber camera owners. Red Armor-W offers enhancedandextendedprotectionbeyond basic Red Armor, and also includes one sensor swap each year. Additionally, Red’s enhanced image processing pipeline (IPP2) is now available in-camera for all cameras with Helium and

Monstro sensors through the v7.0 firmware update. IPP2 offers a completely overhauledworkflowexperience, featuring enhancements such as smoother highlight roll-off, better management of challenging colors, andanimproveddemosaicingalgo- rithm.

For additional information, visit www.red.com.

Rosco Acquires DMG Lumière DMG Lumière, a company specializ- ing in LED fixtures for the

Rosco Acquires DMG Lumière DMG Lumière, a company specializ- ing in LED fixtures for the motion-picture industry, has been acquired by Rosco. DMG Lumière was founded in Lyon, France, in 2014 by brothers Jean, Nils and Mathieu de Montgrand, and their partner Nicolas Goerg (all pictured, left to right). Their company’s technology and talent will further develop the Rosco LED lighting product range, and Rosco’s global sales, marketing, distribution and customer- service teams will provide customers easier access to the DMG product-range world- wide. “DMG Lumière is the perfect partner aswelooktogrowour business, andwe’re delighted to welcome them into the Rosco family,” said Rosco CEO Mark Engel. The founders of DMG Lumière are all joining the Rosco team to continue developing customer-driven LED solutions such as DMG Lumière’s Switch range of mobile, robust and power-efficient LED units. DMG Lumière’s product line is now available fromany Rosco dealer. For additional information, visit www.dmglumiere.com and www.rosco.com.

Leader Widens Color Capabilities Leader Electronics Corporation has expanded the feature set of its LV5333 compact 3G/HD/SD-SDI waveform monitor with the addition of measurement facilities for BT.2020 color space and full-range video. The company has also introduced its LV5333SER02 HDR option, which enables theLV5333tomeasureHDHDRand2SI 4K

inITU.BT.2100hybridloggamma,DolbyPQ

or Sony S-Log3 protocols. “With the advent of 4K digital cine- matography and UHD television, produc- tion companies have been introduced to

the wider color space of BT.2020,” says Kevin Salvidge, Leader’s European regional development manager. “BT.2020 accom- modates approximately 75.8 percent of the CIE 1931 color chart, considerably more than the BT.709 color space that the broad- cast industry had been using previously. The LV5333 now allows producers to ensure thattheircontentmakesfulluseofthenew, wider color space.” Full-range video has until recently been the preserve of digital cinematogra- phers. High-end editing and grading systems have the capability of switching between legal range, as used for television

of switching between legal range, as used for television production, and full range. With the addi-

production, and full range. With the addi- tionof full-rangevideosupport, theLV5333 portablewaveformmonitorisnowsuitedto both television and cinema production. The LV5333 is now HDR agnostic. Available as an option, Leader’s Cinezone real-time false-color display has been enhanced to support false-color display of high-dynamic-range images, supporting PQ and HLG S-Log3. “An increasing number of television production companies are working with log-based curves for production on Arri, Canon and Sony camcorders,” Salvidge notes. “Production staff who are more familiar with BT.709-type gamma produc- tion can be confused when they see what appears to be incorrectly exposed images. The addition of Sony S-Log3, Canon C-Log and Arri Log C support in the LV5333 now allows production staff to monitor and correct log-basedcontent quickly andeasily, irrespective of which HDR camera from these companies is being used.” Compatible with more than 20 HD- SDI/SD-SDI formats, the Leader LV5333 is designed for deployment in studios or tech- nical areas, or attached to a camera tripod.

formats, the Leader LV5333 is designed for deployment in studios or tech- nical areas, or attached

113

of continuous shooting. Additionally, the 360RoundisIP65dust-andwater-resistant, makingitwellsuitedtochallengingenviron-

of continuous shooting. Additionally, the

360RoundisIP65dust-andwater-resistant,

makingitwellsuitedtochallengingenviron-

ments.

The f1.8 lens system is capable of capturing 4096x2048 at 30 fps in 3D and 2D MP4 formats (H.265/H.264). Additional features include PC software for controlling and one-step stitching, expandable external storage, and six internal microphones. With expandable connectors and ports, the 360 Round is designed to easily and quickly connect to additional equipment, such as

The integral 6.5" XGA TFT LCD screen can also be used to display video signal waveform, vectorscope, or the video image. Cinelite, Cine- zone, histogram, gamma display, and level error display functions are included as standard. Features include cable length display, external timing display and field frequency deviation display. SDI- embedded audio can be extracted and two user-selectable audio channels can be sent asanAES/EBUstreamtoaBNCoutput. The levels of up to eight audio channels can be checked using onscreen bar displays. User-configurable multi-display combinations within the LV5333 allow easy inspection of signal parameters. Full-screen displays can alternatively be selected to allow detailed review of specific elements. The LV5333 occupies a 215x128x63mm housing and weighs 1.3 kg. It can be powered from battery or a universal mains adapter. For additional information, visit www.leadereurope.com.

For additional information, visit www.leadereurope.com. Samsung Enables VR Production Samsung Electronics has

Samsung Enables VR Production Samsung Electronics has introduced the 360 Round camera for developing and streaming high-quality 3D virtual-reality content. The Samsung 360 Round uses 17

lenses —eight stereo pairs positioned hori-

zontallyandonesinglelenspositionedverti-

cally — to livestream 4K 3D video and spatial audio with little to no latency, and create engaging 3D images with depth. The Samsung 360 Round uses a uni- body chassis designed to reduce heat, removing the need for a cooling fan and minimizing size and weight. The durable, compactdesignhelpseliminateexcessnoise and reduce power consumption for hours

an external mic, and storage for saving large files. Of interest to video editors, Samsung also offers a range of monitoring solu- tions, including the 49" “Super Ultra- Wide” C49HG90DMN curved gaming monitor. Timelines can be expanded across the screen’s entire 1,800mm length, and favored panel setups can be

quickly accessed. With a 32:9 aspect ratio —theequivalent of two16:9panels —the

QLEDmonitorusesQuantumDotLEDtech-

nology to achieve 600 nits in brightness, 1.07 billion colors, and an HDR-ready 3,000:1 contrast ratio. The monitor offers 95-percent coverage of the DCI/P3 color

spaceand125-percentcoverageofsRGB.A

144hz refresh rate enables crisp playback. For additional information, visit www.samsung.com.

New Products & Services is compiled by David Alexander Willis. For more, visit ascmag.com/articles/new-product.

Autodesk Expands Creative Flexibility Autodesk has released update 3 for its Flame 2018 family of 3D visual-effects and finishing software, which includes Flame, Flare, Flame Assist and Lustre. Flame 2018.3 provides more efficient ways of working in post, with feature enhancements that offer greater pipeline flexibility, speed, and support for emerging formats and technology. Flame 2018.3 highlights include the Action Selective image-isolation tool, motion

warptracking,360-degreeVRviewingmode,HDRwaveformmonitoring,Shotgunsoftware

loader, and user-requested improvements for action, batch, timeline and media hub. The addition of HDR waveform monitoring, in particular, allows users to set their viewport to showluminance waveform, RGB parade, color vectorscope or 3D cube; users can also now monitor a range of HDR and wide-color-gamut color spaces, including Rec 2100 PQ, Rec 2020 and DCI P3. Flame Family 2018.3 is available immediately at no additional cost to customers with a current Flame Family 2018 subscription. For additional information, visit www.autodesk.com.

cost to customers with a current Flame Family 2018 subscription. For additional information, visit www.autodesk.com.