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A U G U S T 2 0 1 1

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M E M B E R P O R T R A I T
Michael Chapman, ASC
W W W . T H E A S C . C O M
TO SUBSCRIBE BY PHONE:
Call (800) 448-0145 (U.S. only)
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spent my early childhood in
the days before television.
Movies were everything to
us; cinema was truly the
church of the 20th century.
Through a series of
accidents, I stumbled into the
industry, and American
Cinematographer reassured
me that somehow I might
actually survive there. It
seemed to be written by and
about people like me, who
struggled and worried. It also
gave me access to the minds of
people Id met and respected.
AC is a generous
magazine. There are no
secrets. No matter what our
style or method, were all
cinematographers, and AC
expresses the insight that
comes with that unique
vantage point.
Michael Chapman, ASC
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. s i u q E
t s o M s d l r o WWo
s l a i c r e m m o c 0 0
o t n e e t s g n i r p S e c u
r e d i e n
The International Journal of Motion Imaging
28 Cosmic Questions
Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC captures existential imagery
for The Tree of Life
40 Darkest Arts
Eduardo Serra, ASC, AFC brings a beloved franchise to a
close with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
48 An All-American Hero
Shelly Johnson, ASC pumps up a super soldier for
Captain America: The First Avenger
58 Once Upon a Time in the West
Matthew Libatique, ASC mixes genres on Cowboys & Aliens
DEPARTMENTS
FEATURES
VISIT WWW.THEASC.COM TO ENJOY THESE WEB EXCLUSIVES
DVD Playback: The Outlaw Josey Wales Au Revoir, Les Enfants Scream
On Our Cover: Members of the OBrien family (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Laramie
Eppler and Tye Sheridan) are reunited in The Tree of Life, shot by Emmanuel Lubezki,
ASC, AMC. (Photo by Merie Wallace, SMPSP, courtesy of Fox Searchlight and Twentieth
Century Fox.)
8 Editors Note
10 Presidents Desk
12 Short Takes: The Arrival
18 Production Slate: Rise of the Planet of the Apes Femme Fatales
72 Post Focus
76 New Products & Services
82 International Marketplace
83 Classified Ads
84 Ad Index
86 Clubhouse News
88 ASC Close-Up: Tom Houghton
A U G U S T 2 0 1 1 V O L . 9 2 N O . 8
58
40
48
A u g u s t 2 0 1 1 V o l . 9 2 , N o . 8
T h e I n t e r n a t i o n a l J o u r n a l o f M o t i o n I m a g i n g
Visit us online at
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PUBLISHER Martha Winterhalter

EDITORIAL
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Stephen Pizzello
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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
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John Calhoun, Michael Goldman, Simon Gray, Jim Hemphill, David Heuring,
Jay Holben, Mark Hope-Jones, Noah Kadner, Jean Oppenheimer,
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Kenneth Sweeney, Patricia Thomson

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CIRCULATION, BOOKS & PRODUCTS


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American Cinematographer (ISSN 0002-7928), established 1920 and in its 91st 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.
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4
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OFFICERS - 2011/2012
Michael Goi
President
Richard Crudo
Vice President
Owen Roizman
Vice President
John C. Flinn III
Vice President
Victor J. Kemper
Treasurer
Frederic Goodich
Secretary
Stephen Lighthill
Sergeant At Arms
MEMBERS OF THE
BOARD
John Bailey
Stephen H. Burum
Richard Crudo
George Spiro Dibie
Richard Edlund
Fred Elmes
Michael Goi
Victor J. Kemper
Francis Kenny
Isidore Mankofsky
Robert Primes
Owen Roizman
Kees Van Oostrum
Haskell Wexler
Vilmos Zsigmond
ALTERNATES
Michael D. OShea
Rodney Taylor
Ron Garcia
Sol Negrin
Kenneth Zunder
MUSEUM CURATOR
Steve Gainer
American Society of Cine ma tog ra phers
The ASC is not a labor union or a guild, but
an educational, cultural and pro fes sion al
or ga ni za tion. Membership is by invitation
to those who are actively en gaged as
di rec tors of photography and have
dem on strated out stand ing ability. ASC
membership has be come one of the highest
honors that can be bestowed upon a
pro fes sional cin e ma tog ra pher a mark
of prestige and excellence.
6
Its relatively rare these days to encounter a movie as philosophi-
cally and artistically ambitious as Terrence Malicks The Tree of
Life. The films bold, nonlinear structure serves up a series of
emotionally wrenching family memories, a mind-blowing
creation of the universe sequence, and a mysterious climax
that offers a surreal glimpse of the afterlife in other words, a
veritable smorgasbord for undernourished cineastes pining for
the heyday of headier fare from highminded auteurs like Anto-
nioni, Bergman or Kubrick.
Although he remains as enigmatic and elusive as Kubrick,
Malicks on-set strategies are, by all accounts, considerably more
freewheeling than those of the notoriously rigorous taskmaster.
In an interview with European correspondent Benjamin B
(Cosmic Questions, page 28), cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC and other
members of Malicks production team offer enlightening insights about the directors unique meth-
ods. Terry was incredibly well prepared because he had been thinking about this film for many
years, but he wanted the film to feel unprepared, says Lubezki. We couldnt really set up shots;
we had to find them.
This divining-rod approach produced a picture filled with unforgettably fresh and sponta-
neous images: a butterfly alighting on a womans arm, a luminous swarm of fireflies, and some
remarkable perspectives that show the world through childrens eyes. Winner of the Palme dOr at
Cannes, The Tree of Life will challenge viewers who prefer straightforward narratives, but richly
reward anyone who appreciates adventurous, beyond-the-box artistry.
A more structured magic was applied on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the two-part
conclusion to one of the industrys most beloved fantasy adventures. Waving the wand on both
installments was Eduardo Serra, ASC, AFC, who found himself conjuring images on massive sets
fashioned by production designer Stuart Craig. This thing is so huge, with so much space and so
many people, that there is actually limited freedom to determine a look on set, he tells London
correspondent Mark Hope-Jones (Darkest Arts, page 40). I must say, I was surprised by how dark
they were prepared to go with the visuals. Throughout my career, producers have argued that if
images are dark, the audience wont see them, but on this film it was the opposite, which was nice.
Shelly Johnson, ASC also found himself facing daunting logistics on Captain America: The First
Avenger, a production filmed on more than 115 sets and locations. In discussing the project with
New York correspondent Iain Stasukevich (An All-American Hero, page 48), Johnson notes that
as many as seven sets were up and running at any given time. This shoot was like a giant freight
train, he marvels. When it leaves the station, theres a lot of momentum behind it!
On Cowboys & Aliens , Matthew Libatique was yet another ASC member in big-budget
mode, reteaming with Iron Man director Jon Favreau on a project that required the careful blending
of two distinct genres. We wanted to be as honest with the Western as possible, and the challenge
was how to mesh that with science fiction, he says in an exceptional overview penned by associ-
ate editor Jon Witmer (Once Upon a Time in the West, page 58). The question became, How
do we create the tension within the Western to graduate into the science-fiction thriller? That was
terrifying, but ultimately, as a cinematographer, its not my position to worry about the storys struc-
ture. I just have to worry about the visual language of it all.
Stephen Pizzello
Executive Editor
Editors Note
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and introducing:
As I begin my third and final year as president of the ASC, I find that thoughts about where the
craft of cinematography is going become more important, not so much in terms of what the ASC
can do to affect the future, but in terms of enjoying the discovery of new talent. There are very
few things that warm the heart of a seasoned cinematographer more than seeing a new and
unique vision discovering its place in this form of artistic expression.
Many people have asked me if the Society has a mentorship program. We do not have a
formal arrangement, but individual ASC members freely mentor young cinematographers on a
regular basis. One of the most valuable and rewarding things a veteran can do is pass his or her
knowledge and love of the craft to an eager apprentice. And as often as the veteran may jokingly
say, Now he/she is going to go after my jobs, there is a calm satisfaction in knowing that, in a
small way, youve helped pave the way for someone who may reach artistic heights that could
surpass your own.
Im always mentoring a few people at any given time. Sometimes I can get them onto sets
so they can experience the professional world of production, and sometimes their interest is in
the myriad ways post tools can affect the final image. I always try to see what truly sparks their
imagination, to see what makes them excited about cinematography. In those moments of inspi-
ration, I rediscover what makes this profession exciting for me as well.
I was recently interviewed for the Rising Stars department of Friends of the ASC about one
such person. Polly Morgan was a student of mine when I taught a semester at the Maine Media Workshops a few years ago. A native
of England, she made her way to Los Angeles to continue her studies here and began shooting student films. Two silent shorts sh e
photographed during that time convinced me she had a talent worth developing. As I became reacquainted with her ambition to
create compelling visual stories, I was drawn to help that quest. As we prepared to launch Friends of the ASC, I asked Polly to be the
director of photography on the promotional video. There are probably few things more unnerving for a young cinematographer than
being given the responsibility of lighting and filming Caleb Deschanel, ASC, and Nancy Schreiber, ASC, who were the spokespersons,
but Polly didnt show any sign of anxiety. She did her job, and today that video is seen all over the world.
Subsequently, when I was asked to shoot a feature and could not do so because of a schedule conflict, I asked Polly to step
in for me. I was able to be around during the first few days of filming to make the producers feel at ease, and to observe how Polly
worked. Her command of the set and the respect she received from the crew and the director spoke well of her ability to lead a
complex project with a team of professionals without ever raising her voice above a conversational tone. Her focus on the detai ls that
mattered during chaotic filming schedules was befitting a cinematographer with many more years of experience. The joy that Poll y
has in exploring visual styles for a project is evident in the careful way she approaches setting up every shot. There is a log ic and rhythm
to the flow of images, and it incites anticipation in the viewer for where the story will take you next. The capper was when the produc-
ers thanked me for introducing them to her. She was subsequently profiled in British Cinematographer as a cinematographer to watch.
Many cinematographers working today were given a boost of confidence and inspiration from an ASC cinematographer at
a crucial time in their careers. George Spiro Dibie and Vilmos Zsigmond did it for me, and I have tried to do so in return, as have many
other ASC members. Its part of our passion and our mission. It keeps us young.
I have said this many times about many talented, young cinematographers, and I love saying it: Now Polly is going to go after
my jobs.
And you know what? Im okay with that.
Michael Goi, ASC
President
Presidents Desk
10 August 2011 American Cinematographer
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Family is very important to me. Being part of
the Clairmont family gives me this same
sense, feeling safe and secure wherever I am.
Tony Richmond ASC, BSC
www.clairmont.com
12 August 2011 American Cinematographer
Sonys F65 Makes Debut With The Arrival
By Stephanie Argy
Directed and shot by Curtis Clark, ASC, The Arrival is the first
project to be photographed with Sonys F65, the companys soon-to-
be-released 4K digital motion-picture camera. The movie is a modern
film noir set in downtown Los Angeles, and Clark describes it as an
effective test of the F65s performance in production.
Clark chairs the ASC Technology Committee, and he
confesses that prior to the committees involvement in the ASC-PGA
Camera Assessment Series ( AC June and Sept. 09), he was not a
fan of so-called digital-cinema cameras, even though hed been
following their evolution closely. For me, the issue was that most of
those cameras were too restrictive in their tonal latitude and color
gamut because of their reliance on HD-video parameters, he says.
The limitations were exacerbated by post workflows that frequently
took place in a Rec 709 environment that tended to accentuate an
HD-video look, he adds.
But Clark was intrigued by how closely Sonys F35, configured
with S-Log and S-Gamut, was able to match images from the film
cameras that were used as benchmarks for the CAS, and this led him
to more in-depth conversations with the Sony development team.
Eventually, he became a consultant for the company, advising on an
advanced motion-picture workflow for their next-generation high-
resolution camera. Sony, he says, was eager to get the input of work-
ing cinematographers, and Clark felt it was essential to help them
get it.
He was also becoming increasingly aware of the work the
Academys Science and Technology Council was doing on the Image
Interchange Framework/Academy Color Encoding Specification, a
workflow architecture whose components are designed to preserve
the widest possible image information from production through
post, exhibition and archiving, using a standardized, non-proprietary
set of transforms and file formats ( AC March 11).
Those two things started to converge, says Clark. I
became the focal point for the convergence in that I brought Sony
into the mix by making them aware of IIF/ACES. Sony became
committed to designing the F65 as a true digital motion-picture
camera that would support IIF/ACES.
Sonys major goals for the camera included:
Spatial resolution: Unequivocal 4K, 4096x2160, using a
single 20-megapixel CMOS sensor.
Dynamic range: The target is more than 14 stops without
the use of blended-exposure techniques or electronic-gain increase
to extend dynamic range. Its a single-frame exposure, just like film,
so there are no motion artifacts from shooting blended exposures to
get a wider dynamic range, explains Clark.
Color reproduction: The camera was to have not only
significantly wider color space, but also the emotional quality of
how film reproduces color and contrast, says Clark. It had to be
able to replicate a cinematic film look and feel.
Planning to introduce the F65 at this years NAB conference,
Sony wanted to present footage that would demonstrate how the
camera had reached all of these goals. So, in December 2010, Clark
began conferring with Toshitaka Ikumo, Sony Electronics business-
development manager of digital motion-picture production, about
what the NAB presentation should include. Clark recommended a
short, dramatic narrative that would not be based on a collection of
Short Takes
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The climax of the
short The Arrival,
designed to
showcase the
capabilities of
Sonys F65 camera,
was shot at the Los
Angeles Theater.
The piece was
conceptualized,
directed and shot
by ASC member
Curtis Clark.
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majestic landscapes or beautiful vistas,
which are often used in camera demos. I
knew a travelogue of picture-postcard vistas
or glitzy commercial images wouldnt grab
filmmakers imaginations, he observes.
Toshitaka agreed, and said, Can you come
up with a story?
Clark began thinking of a story that
could tap into classical film history. His imag-
ination was sparked by the Bradbury Build-
ing, a Los Angeles landmark famous as a
location in Blade Runner and many other
movies. He conceived a modern film noir
that would take place in the Bradbury Build-
ing and in other iconic downtown sites,
including Union Station and the Los Ange-
les Theater, a French Baroque movie palace
on Broadway that was built in 1931.
I wanted to engage the viewer in a
visually driven narrative by using an evoca-
tive play of light in carefully selected and
composed architectural spaces that atmos-
pherically served the story, says Clark.
The Arrival follows a detective look-
ing for a mystery woman. He receives a
message from her suggesting a rendezvous
at the Los Angeles Theater. As he makes his
way to the theater from his office in the
Bradbury Building, she travels there from
Union Station. At the end of the movie,
they meet in front of the theater.
While Clark and Ikumo were plan-
ning the production, the F65 was being
developed in Japan, and this added a little
extra suspense to the undertaking. Would
the camera be ready in time for its produc-
tion debut? The shoot, scheduled for late
March, was already perilously close to NAB.
Clark didnt even see the camera except
on an engineering bench at a Sony facility in
Japan until three days before principal
photography.
The weekend before the shoot, I
had the F65 for one afternoon and evening
to do tests on three scenes, Clark recalls.
We took the tests to Sony Colorworks,
where we processed 4K images through a
Baselight using a 4K projector. In addition to
the cameras high resolution, it was essential
to validate critical camera specs, especially
sensitivity and dynamic range, because our
ability to fully realize the aesthetic intent of
The Arrival depended on those capabili-
ties.
Fortunately, the tests went smoothly,
so Clark confidently embarked on the
shoot, which comprised two days plus a
few pickups on a third day. He used a set of
Leica T1.4 prime lenses ranging from 18mm
to 75mm. Because the F65 sensor is Super-
35 size, the camera is able to use standard
PL-mount lenses without any vignetting, he
notes.
The camera was still in prototype
form, which presented a few logistical chal-
Top: The shorts private investigator (Victor Browne) arrives at his office in the Bradbury Building.
Middle: A shot of the detective at his desk illustrates the dynamic range of the F65, which was able to
capture street details on Broadway with no need for supplemental exterior lighting. Bottom: The
mystery woman (Katherine Randolph) arrives at the theater. Rimlight on the actress was provided by the
headlight of a motorcycle traveling behind the car.
14 August 2011 American Cinematographer
16 August 2011 American Cinematographer
lenges. The production version of the
camera will record 16-bit linear raw to
flash-memory media called SRMemory
cards, but at the time of the shoot, the
camera had to be hard-wired to an external
recorder.
There were also some limitations on
the supporting technology. As yet, there
are no 4K waveforms and no practical on-
set 4K monitoring, so Clark worked with
down-converted HD image proxies using
an HD (1920x1080) Sony BVM L231 moni-
tor, which served as an ultra-high-end
video assist, he says. Because the F65 has
a dynamic range comparable to that of film
negative, he was able to rely on his light
meter to control exposures. It was just like
shooting film, where we dont rely on
monitors for validation, he notes.
Clark knew the Bradbury Building
alone would present many photographic
challenges for the camera. One of the
buildings most notable architectural
features is a large, central atrium open from
the ground floor to a skylight five stories
above. The atrium is ringed by staircases
and balconies with filigreed ironwork rail-
ings that would test the cameras resolu-
tion, and the skylight would be a challenge
for any cameras dynamic range, especially
since one of the shots in The Arrival follows
the detective as he ascends in the elevator
framed against the skylight, which is actu-
ally lighting the scene.
One of the most spectacular shots in
the film is a view out the detectives
window, looking down Broadway. He has
received his message from the mystery
woman, and the camera tracks toward the
window, from which the Los Angeles
Theater is visible in the distance. The view
goes many blocks down Broadway at dusk.
The sharpness and detail in the image are
solid proof of the chips 4K resolution, along
with its incredible dynamic range, says
Clark.
Clark planned the outdoor scenes, in
which the detective and the woman make
their journeys to the theater, so that he
could shoot primarily using existing light
practical streetlights, neon signs, storefront
fluorescents and the waning light of magic
hour. He found that the F65 had no trouble
capturing what he wanted. Its ability to
handle mixed lighting is remarkable, he
notes.
So far there is no official exposure
rating on the camera, but Clark estimates it
is easily up to 1,250 EI. I thought 800 EI
and 1,000 EI would be good starting points,
where we could go without impacting the
noise floor, he says. We even tested to
1,600 EI and didnt see any appreciable
increase in noise, but I didnt need to push
it further than 1,250 EI for this project.
He adds that the equivalent on film
would have been far more challenging,
with increased grain appearing in the shad-
ows. Shooting a current film negative in
excess of 1 stop underexposed wouldnt
have had the same ease of use.
Although Clark arranged the shoot
to take advantage of the best natural light
when shooting the day/dusk interiors, he
used some supplemental lighting and diffu-
sion frames of various sizes to augment the
existing light. These sources included
Chimera-diffused HMI Pars, Kino Flo
VistaBeams, Chimera-diffused 2K and 5K
tungsten lamps, and small LEDs.
In a shot of the woman riding in a
limousine from the train station to the
theater, the headlight on a motorcycle
riding just behind the car gives the woman
a rimlight to supplement her LED soft key.
To show the F65s ability to capture
vivid color, Clark incorporated a dress shop
just outside the Bradbury Building that
featured a window full of brightly colored
gowns; these appear particularly dramatic
compared with the muted colors seen in
the Bradbury Building.
Because The Arrival has no dialogue,
sound design and music were critical story-
telling elements. Clark found his collabora-
tion with composer Alexander Kovacs to be
especially important. They began by talking
about the Japanese composer Toru
Takemitsu (Ran), and they also referenced
David Raksins score for the noir classic
Laura (1944).
Kovacs was thrilled to play such an
integral part in Clarks process. Ive never
collaborated with a director quite like this,
and it was an absolute joy, says Kovacs.
The Arrival is also a testament to the
benefits of a close collaboration between a
cinematographer and a camera manufac-
turer. Cinematographers need to be
actively involved in the development of the
tools, not sitting back and waiting to see
what they get, says Clark.
Left: Most of the illumination for the shorts opening scene, which takes place on a stairwell in the Bradbury Building, was pr ovided by natural
light coming down through a skylight. Right: Clark lauds the F65 for its incredible dynamic range.
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18 August 2011 American Cinematographer
Simian Rebellion
By Simon Gray
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a re-imagined origin story of
the Planet of the Apes film franchise. At Gen-Sys laboratories, scien-
tist Will Rodman (James Franco) tests a serum touted as a cure for
Alzheimers on a chimpanzee named Bright Eyes. He races against
the clock to finish the serum before his father (played by John Lith-
gow) completely succumbs to the disease.
After Bright Eyes unsuccessfully attempts to escape the Gen-
Sys facility, Rodmans project is shut down. But he soon discovers
that before she was shot, Bright Eyes gave birth to a son. Naming
the baby chimp Caesar, Rodman covertly cares for the infant in his
house. Meanwhile, the other apes at Gen-Sys are moved to a prison
facility called The Ranch. As Caesar (portrayed via motion capture by
Andy Serkis) matures, it becomes evident that a side effect of
Rodmans serum is high intelligence. After attacking a neighbor,
Caesar is taken to The Ranch, where he exposes the apes to
Rodmans serum and plots a mass escape. He then leads the apes in
a revolt against humankind.
In addition to Serkis, whose motion-capture rsum includes
playing cinemas largest ape in King Kong (AC Dec. 05), a group of
performance-capture artists, including acrobats from Cirque du
Soleil, enacted a variety of simians for the production. The visual-
effects team at Weta Digital then brought the creatures fully to life
through simultaneous performance-capture and live-action photog-
raphy on the same location or set.
Performance-capture volumes are typically set up in dedi-
cated spaces, says visual-effects supervisor Dan Lemmon. The
average volume takes several days to set up and cali-
brate, and its not unusual to have a dozen or more
computers and operators running the equipment and
managing the flow of data. In order to capture perfor-
mances on a working set, we had to reduce our foot-
print and make everything as flexible and as fast to set
up and take down as possible.
As in the original Planet of the Apes films, the
lead roles in our movie belong to humans and apes,
he continues. We knew the apes would need to be
every bit as emotionally engaging and nuanced in
their performance as the humans, and there is no
better way to create a rich, emotive digital character
than to start with the performance of a talented actor.
That performance is our foundation, and you will
always get a better performance with the performer
playing the digital character physically present in the
scene with the other actors.
Weta Digitals motion-capture and perfor-
mance-capture units utilized Motion Analysis Eagle and Raptor
cameras, with others provided by Standard Deviation. For most
setups, we used about 20 cameras while another 20 were pre-
rigged for the next location, says Lemmon.
A dedicated motion-capture space with its own cameras
was constructed in a large rehearsal room at Mammoth Studios [in
Vancouver] for capturing a library of background ape actions, and
for picking up any action that was missed during the live-action
shoot or required modification, he continues. We didnt bother
with facial capture in those sessions.
The term motion capture typically refers to capturing body
movements only, whereas performance capture implies that facial
performance and body movements are captured together, Lemmon
notes.
Coordinating the crews proved to be a logistical challenge,
according to director of photography Andrew Lesnie, ASC, ACS.
Each setup involved an extra 20-30 people on top of the main
unit, he says. This was true both on location and on stage. When
we finished a setup and moved to change angle, wed be
confronted by a massive circus of people and equipment. I had to
be extremely diligent in organizing each day to ensure we were
always getting a jump on our next angle.
For its part, the performance-capture crew had to contend
with much higher light levels than most capture systems are
designed to accommodate. Highly reflective surfaces cars, light-
ing stands and even the ScotchBrite patches worn by the crews
can obliterate performance-capture and motion-capture data. To
solve the problem, reflective sphere markers that are typically placed
on the performers bodies were exchanged for active, infrared LEDs
Production Slate
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After his intelligence is heightened by doses of an experimental serum, the chimpanzee
Caesar leads an ape uprising.
I
20 August 2011 American Cinematographer
wired to a control pack worn by each
performer.
Performance-capture supervisor
Dejan Momcilovic and his team devised the
mobile mo-cap systems and our LED mark-
ers, explains Lemmon. The LED strands
flashed short, intense bursts of infrared light
in sync with the motion-capture cameras
shutters. Those bursts of light, coupled with
strong IR-pass filters and very short shutter
speeds on the cameras, enabled us to
punch through the ambient light in the
environment and get a good, clean marker
signal.
Preproduction tests had confirmed
that the Kodak stocks Andrew planned to
use, Vision3 500T 5219 and 250D 5207,
showed no sensitivity to our LEDs infrared
wavelengths [670-850nm], Lemmon adds.
The marker control packs were
custom-built in collaboration with Standard
Deviation and featured industrial-grade
long-reach Bluetooth, providing for wireless
checking of sync against the main clock of
the mo-cap computers, monitoring of
battery levels, remote on/off of the markers,
and adjustment of their light output.
In addition to the mo-cap cameras,
Weta Digitals crew used four Canon XH G1
witness cameras as an aid to any required
roto-animation, and to provide additional
performance reference footage. Wed run
a couple of the cameras wide to cover the
full body of the performer, and a couple
would capture more detail on faces and
hands, says Lemmon. In situations where
we couldnt use our performance-capture
system, we relied on the witness-camera
footage to provide a good look at body
motion from complimentary angles.
The climactic action sequence in Rise
of the Planet of the Apes is a battle on the
Golden Gate Bridge between the escaped
apes and the authorities (San Francisco
police and military personnel). The produc-
tion built a 250'x90' portion of the iconic
bridge on the outskirts of Vancouver; the
set had an east-west orientation and was
backed by a greenscreen wall. The famous
suspension towers were omitted from the
build so the action would not be locked to
specific points on the bridge.
Second-unit visual-effects supervisor
Erik Winquist had to contend with
inclement weather and the sheer size of the
set in capturing the action during the three-
week shoot. Erik and his crew had to deal
with interference from fog, smoke, up to 80
shiny cars, and atmospheric heat distortion
rising from the sun-baked pavement, says
Lemmon. To protect the cameras placed
on top of the greenscreen wall, each one
was enclosed in little birdhouse-like shelters
courtesy of the construction department.
They could still be easily panned, tilted and
recalibrated to accommodate the needs of a
particular setup.
The rest of the cameras were
mounted on our mobile T-towers, allowing
us to cover in-between cars and other
obstacles on the set that changed position
from setup to setup, continues Lemmon.
Most setups required a capture volume of
about half the set, at either end of the
bridge or right in the middle. I believe that
the Golden Gate Bridge motion-capture
volume, roughly the size of a football field,
was the largest of its kind in the world. The
sheer size of the set put us right at the limit
of the reach of our cameras and markers.
In lighting the vast set, Lesnie was
reluctant to rely on the British Columbian
weather. Larry Blanford, our action-unit
cinematographer, and I discussed how great
it would be if the entire sequence took place
on a lightly overcast day, recalls Lesnie.
That would give us continuity of light, the
flares on the multitude of vehicles on the set
Clockwise from
top left: Andy
Serkis performs in
a motion-capture
suit;
cinematographer
Andrew Lesnie,
ASC, ACS surveys
the scene from
atop a ladderpod;
on the outskirts
of Vancouver, the
production team
prepares a
250'x90' set
depicting a
section of the
Golden Gate
Bridge.
22 August 2011 American Cinematographer
would look better, and we could simply keep
shooting regardless of whether the sun was
going in or out.
To achieve the desired look, a 300'x80'
scrim was constructed by the productions
rigging department. Rigging grip Kevin
McCloy explains: The scrim consisted of 80-
by-50-foot panels of Light Grid that were
stitched together. At first we tried to attach
the panels with Velcro to give the shooting
crew greater flexibility, but the 10-to-12-knot
winds and 20-knot gusts coming off the
nearby ocean easily overpowered the Velcro.
The attachment structures comprised
heavy-duty theatrical truss suspended from a
70-ton and a 120-ton mobile construction
crane. The trussing was further secured by
multiple aircraft cables, anchored and
tensioned to several 2-ton concrete blocks
that were located at either end of the set. The
scrim could be flown as high as 55' above the
set, but was mostly used at around 30' to
cover more area.
An additional construction crane flew
a 40'x40' frame of either Light Grid or blue-
screen. 24,000 square feet of sail can catch
a lot of wind, recalls McCloy. We peaked at
about 30,000 pounds of force combined on
the two cranes! The system was made up of
many soft but still safety-rated components
so that in the event of catastrophic failure
during shooting, the cast and crew wouldnt
be put in jeopardy. We used synthetic rated
ropes over the set as our purchase for the grid
to attach to and travel on, and small rated
quick-links as our attaching hardware.
Skytrackers and boom lifts flew
20'x30' and 20'x20' frames that provided
additional bluescreens, diffusion or negative
bounces. If it hadnt been for the dedication
of our rigging team and the support of the
drape and crane vendors, this part of the
shoot could have been a big, scary mess,
says McCloy. Im proud of the fact that we
achieved it, from concept to execution, in
eight days.
TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
Super 35mm
Arricam Lite, Arri 435
Arri/Zeiss Master Prime, Angenieux Optimo
Kodak Vision3 500T 5219, 250D 5207
Digital Intermediate
Dangerous Beauties
By Michael Goldman
In many ways, the risqu Cinemax
series Femme Fatales can be viewed as a
prototype of how tightly budgeted televi-
sion production can succeed in the era of
digital tools and ridiculous turnarounds.
Each half-hour episode is shot at a single
practical location in the Los Angeles area
with a single camera, a Red One (with the
Mysterium-X chip). There are one day of
prep and three days of actual production
(and the occasional pickup shoot) per
episode.
What makes the challenge more
complex is the fact that Femme Fatales is an
anthology series, so characters, locations
and stories change with each episode. And
it all has to be done in the context of a visual
aesthetic inspired by the moody photogra-
phy in such films as T-Men and The Big
Combo (both shot by John Alton, ASC),
Body Heat (Richard Kline, ASC), Bound (Bill
Pope, ASC) and Basic Instinct (Jan De Bont,
ASC).
Every three days we have a new
script, new characters and new actors,
says director of photography Roger Chin-
girian, who was in the midst of shooting the
series second season when he spoke to AC.
And the producers want a different look
for every episode to support the individual
story. We have a set approach, but not a set
look. Thats difficult to do in three days, but
we have a great team, and weve all
become quite good at it. We do a tech
scout on each episode and discuss tools,
colors and how best to use the inherent
qualities of our given location, but mostly its
about changing style and color palette and
developing effective camera moves.
During location scouts, the team
makes key decisions about the look and
shooting method for the episode at hand.
They always carry a six-lens set of Arri/Zeiss
Ultra Primes and an Angenieux Optimo
12:1 (24-290mm) zoom lens. They usually
record to Red Raid hard drives, and occa-
sionally employ a Canon EOS 7D with a PL
mount (modified by FGV Schmidle) for
specialty shots.
Chingirian, who does his own oper-
ating on the show, says his main tool in
maintaining high production value is his lens
package. During my interview, the one
thing I really pushed the producers on was
lenses, he recalls. The lenses mattered
more to me than the camera. Its all about
the glass. Going in, we didnt know what
kind of spaces wed be shooting in, but I
had a low-budget background, so I knew
we had to have a zoom. And quite honestly,
the Optimo often saves our schedule.
In fact, the Optimo has been dubbed
The Daymaker, according to 1st AC Kyle F
e
m
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e

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.
The scheming Barbara (Tina Casciani) aims at her prey in the Femme Fatales episode
The White Flower.
I
24 August 2011 American Cinematographer
Klutz. Its really the workhorse for us, he
says. We put it on a dolly track at the end
of the day, and we can get wide shots and
tight shots all with the same lens.
Layering a noir aesthetic over
episodes that vary wildly in tone hard-
boiled drama, comedy, horror is probably
the biggest challenge the filmmakers face.
Some of this aesthetic is achieved as one
might expect: with less light, lots of silhou-
ettes and plenty of contrast and diffusion.
But we also want our actresses, the
femmes fatale, to always look glamorous,
notes Chingirian, so sometimes its hard to
go as dark as we might want. In those situ-
ations, well have them come in and out of
light, for example, but really, a lot of the
shows look is achieved with color
contrasts.
For example, several episodes have
been set in hospitals. We arent afraid to
shoot on a location with institutional-green
walls and really go with it, mixing up color
temperatures along the way, continues the
cinematographer. Well also add and take
away light in shots. Our colorist at Tunnel
Post, Sebastian Perez-Burchard, and I will
later take it further if necessary.
Gaffer Steve Lundgren says the look
is all about playing with shadows and high-
lights in deep backgrounds. We often posi-
tion practicals such as Christmas lights,
sconces and floor lamps beyond the main
action to create depth, so we dont get stuck
without a solution at our [various locations].
Chingirian uses camera placement
and movement to not only highlight the
blocking of each scene, but also to maxi-
mize the strength of each location. We
recently shot a robbery sequence in a 1930s
Art Deco bank that had incredibly high,
ornate ceilings, he explains. We put the
camera on the ground so we could angle
up on our actors and get all that architec-
tural detail in the frame, and it was a great
visual. Thats how we take advantage of
practical locations; well walk in, identify its
best features and then figure out how to
enhance those with camera angles and
lighting. If it requires a specific piece of gear,
well try to arrange that.
A heist-gone-wrong episode,
White Flower, was shot mostly in a small
space in the old Los Angeles Herald Exam-
iner building downtown, and the filmmak-
ers strived to utilize a constantly moving
camera in order to allow the confined space
to become a character of its own, says
Chingirian. Key elements of the approach
involved using a Fisher dolly on dance floor
and adding foreground elements to make
the space come to life. A malfunctioning
neon-sign lighting effect staged outside one
window [achieved with practicals and addi-
tional lamps on flicker boxes] added visual
interest and noir ambience.
In the supernaturally flavored
episode Haunted, he continues, we
essentially added a horror aesthetic to our
noir approach to suggest a haunted house.
Our director said he wanted to get as close
to a Hammer Films look as possible, so we
experimented with negative space, creating
a layering effect by framing the audiences
attention toward the actors in the scene
while keeping the edges of the frame in
complete darkness aside from firelight and
candle effects.
We usually choose locations that
we can play for exactly what they are, but
also play as more than one thing, he adds.
Weve shot in a warehouse that also
doubled for an alley, and in a mansion that
also doubled for a park. Those are things
we do all the time. Thats how we make our
schedule and give the show a bigger
look.
The production carries a fairly exten-
sive tungsten and HMI lighting package,
which allows the team even greater flexibil-
ity in solving creative and logistical prob-
lems. Indeed, the collaboration between
Chingirian, a former gaffer, and Lundgren
accounts for many of the productions solu-
tions.
Lundgren explains that the lighting
strategy is about working in layers, main-
taining contrast while creating separation
by adding kicks and hotspots in the back-
ground. We also use a number of small
practical sources that can easily be dropped
into the background for separation.
For night exteriors, the production
tends to use an 18K or 20K Fresnel
mounted on 60' or 80' Condors, along with
Left: Nurse Violet McReady (Christine Donlon) preps for revenge against Laz (Robert LaSardo)
in Bad Medicine. Right: Beth (Carlee Baker, left) and Darla (Anya Monzikova) hatch a plan
in Something Like Murder.
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26 August 2011 American Cinematographer
1.2K Firestarter Par cans to highlight partic-
ular buildings or vegetation.
Our night looks vary dramatically
from episode to episode, says Lundgren.
For Help Me, Rhonda, we had to shoot
an action scene at night on a narrow, rope
bridge crossing a deep gorge. The location
was a ranch out in Big Tujunga, and we
created a classic moonlight effect by driving
an 80-foot Condor up a hill overlooking the
ravine and blasting two 24K Luka Lights
[gelled with Daylight Blue] from there. We
used some Nine-light Maxis, Baby 5K Fres-
nels and Firestarters on the ground to
supplement.
When were shooting in a clean-
looking suburban area, continues the
gaffer, we tend to do a bit of uplighting
around the perimeters using VNSP Par 56s
and Par 64s on beaverboards, along with a
number of 300-watt stake lights.
Day interiors are usually lit with 18K
Fresnels, 6K and 4K Pars and small HMIs,
almost always through windows. These are
sometimes supplemented with daylight-
globed Kino Flos. Larger HMI units are
usually topped from the inside by using
diffusion frames, Lundgren says. That
way, faces are modeled while we maintain a
hotter streak on the subjects body and
across furniture and objects. We do quite a
lot of shaping to take the light off walls. We
often mold keylights for day interiors by
shooting a 400-watt Jo-Leko into a 4-by-4
muslin bounce, sometimes with a 4-by
frame of diffusion in front to create a small
booklight. We try to avoid using Kino Flos
for day interiors in order to maintain
contrast, and we also sometimes bring in
negative fill to further control the ratio.
On the episode White Flower, the
crew used off-the-shelf, bug-repelling lights
as a practical solution in the background to
create an interesting, rather dirty look that
we mixed with Cool White overheads and
edges, while keeping keys white, says
Lundgren.
While shooting the episode Killer
Instinct in an industrial part of downtown
L.A., the crew found several 50-watt metal-
halide exterior streetlights in a Dumpster
near their location. We wired them up and
used them as practical uplights in the back-
ground of a warehouse, says the gaffer.
Naturally, great care is taken in light-
ing each episodes actresses. Lundgren
explains, Female subjects are generally
keyed with 45-degree diapered Kino Flos or
Barger Baglites with an added layer of diffu-
sion, or sometimes we use a book light
comprising a Source Four [Leko] bouncing
into 4-by-4 muslin with Opal 250 in front.
We prefer to use keys that wrap, rather than
adding fill in order to further maintain a
solid contrast ratio. For further glamour, we
add strong backlights. If the woman has
darker hair, we tend to use tungsten units
with a layer of diffusion inside doors, and if
the hair color is lighter, well usually go with
a tungsten unit with a Chimera, or even
diapered Kino Flos, depending on the envi-
ronment.
Klutz notes that Chingirian also has
an extensive filter package at his disposal.
One of Rogers favorites for shooting the
women is the Hollywood Black Magic
filter, Klutz says. The Reds resolution is so
high that it reveals just about everything, so
we have to take off curves with something
in front of the lens.
Chingirian emphasizes that a key
component of the creative approach on
Femme Fatales is decisiveness. Ive become
a big believer in that, he notes. Find a
direction, do as much of it as you can in-
camera, and presume your decisions will
hold up. With our tight schedule, you cant
say, Lets keep trying things. You have to
make a decision and run with it.
TECHNICAL SPECS
1.78:1
Digital Capture
Red One
Arri/Zeiss Ultra Prime, Angenieux Optimo

Left: Working on a breakaway prison set while shooting the episode Behind Locked
Doors, cinematographer Roger Chingirian (at camera) angles in on actresses Ana
Alexander (on bunk) and Kit Willisee (at door). Right: Actor William Gregory Lee,
portraying a bank robber, delivers his lines as Chingarian frames his shot.
28 August 2011 American Cinematographer
A
t a press conference after The Tree of Life premiere at the
Cannes Film Festival, it fell to the producers and lead
actors to explain the film. Not surprisingly, director
Terrence Malick, who is known to shun all personal
publicity, was absent. Brad Pitt, who produced and stars in the
movie, was asked about his experience working on the film.
Its changed everything Ive done since, he said. The best
moments were not preconceived; they were not planned. Ive
tried to go more in that direction.
The Tree of Life went on to win the festivals top honor,
the Palme dOr.
Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC
creates emotionally resonant
imagery for Terrence Malicks
The Tree of Life.
By Benjamin B
|
Cosmic
Questions
Cosmic
Questions
Malicks unique approach to filmmaking appears to
have left a similar mark on his other collaborators, starting with
director of photography Emmanuel Chivo Lubezki, ASC,
AMC. You learn so much by watching an artist like Terry at
work, says Lubezki. For me, he has been an extraordinary
film teacher and much more.
The cinematographer counts himself fortunate to have
worked on three of Malicks films; they first teamed on The
New World (AC Jan. 06), and after wrapping The Tree of Life
they embarked on another feature, as yet untitled, that will be
released next year.
The Tree of Life is a film whose scope and ambition rival
that of Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey (AC June 68).
Malick combines a poetic evocation of childhood in an
American suburb in the 1950s with plainspoken metaphysical
questions that echo the Book of Jobs inquiries about the
mystery of unjust affliction.
The main characters are the OBrien family: Jack
(played as a boy by Hunter McCracken and as an adult by
Sean Penn); his younger brothers, R.L. (Laramie Eppler) and
Steve (Tye Sheridan); their mother (Jessica Chastain); and
their father (Pitt). The story begins with Jacks parents learning
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 29
of R.L.s sudden death at the age of 19.
This tragedy leads the mother to ask,
Why, Lord? and the whispered ques-
tion calls forth a dazzling, 20-minute
history of the universe, including the
birth of stars, volcanoes, dinosaurs and a
meteor crashing into the Earth.
The primary narrative focuses on
Jacks childhood, which is evoked in a
series of powerful vignettes that begin
with his birth and end roughly a dozen
years later, when his family moves from
the home where he was raised. Images
of the brothers playing, fighting and
exploring their neighborhood are beau-
tifully and simply lit with natural light
through windows, doorways and tree
canopies. The scenes are often brief but
telling, often jump cut, and feature little
dialogue. Fluid Steadicam and hand-
held camerawork follows the children
through the house, yard or woods, or
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Opposite: In The Tree of Life, an enigmatic coda finds Mrs. OBrien (Jessica Chastain) traversing a
limbo-like desert. This page, top to bottom: Mr. OBrien (Brad Pitt) examines his newborn son;
a butterfly lands on Mrs. OBriens arm; cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC meters the
light on a church organ.
30 August 2011 American Cinematographer
frames a family fight at the dinner table.
After the family moves out of
Jacks childhood house, the narrative
returns to the adult Jack for a mysterious
epilogue. The story concludes with Jacks
mother delivering a memorable answer
to God.
When they began planning The
New World, Malick and Lubezki sketched
out a set of rules that, over time, evolved
into what the crew called the dogma.
However, Lubezki observes that rules
have always been a mainstay of his own
work. In all the movies Ive done, I always
worked with a set of rules they help me
to find the tone and the style of the film,
he says. Art is made of constraints. When
you dont have any, you go crazy, because
everything is possible.
He says his previous movies were
dictated by rules such as using only one
lens, or shooting the entire film at T2.8.
Although there is no written version of
the Malick-Lubezki dogma on Tree,
interviews with the cinematographer
and some key collaborators suggest
some parameters:
Shoot in available natural light
Do not underexpose the negative
Keep true blacks
Preserve the latitude in the image
Seek maximum resolution and
fine grain
Seek depth with deep focus and
stop: Compose in depth
Shoot in backlight for continuity
and depth
Use negative fill to avoid light
sandwiches (even sources on both
sides)
Shoot in crosslight only after
dawn or before dusk; never front
light
Avoid lens flares
Avoid white and primary colors in
frame
Shoot with short-focal-length,
hard lenses
No filters except Polarizer
Shoot with steady handheld or
Steadicam in the eye of the hurri-
cane
Z-axis moves instead of pans or
tilts
No zooming
Do some static tripod shots in
midst of our haste
Accept the exception to the
dogma (Article E)
With a laugh, Lubezki notes,
Our dogma is full of contradictions!
For example, if you use backlight, you
will get flares, or if you go for a deep
stop, you will have more grain because
you need a faster stock. So you have to
make these decisions on the spot: what

Cosmic Questions
Intimate
close-ups place
viewers in the
midst of the
OBriens most
emotionally
revealing
moments.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 31
is better in this case, grain or depth?
The most important rule for me
is to not underexpose, he continues.
We want the blacks; we dont like
milky images. Article E does not apply
to underexposure! The cinematogra-
pher concedes that there is a single
underexposed shot in Tree, an amazing
accomplishment for a film shot in such
free form.
Lubezki appreciates the com-
plexity of natural light. When you put
someone in front of a window, youre
getting the reflection from the blue sky
and the clouds and the sun bouncing on
the grass and in the room. Youre getting
all these colors and a different quality of
light. Its very hard to go back to artificial
light in the same movie. Its like youre
setting a tone, and artificial light feels
weird and awkward [after that].
Lubezki shot Tree with two tung-
sten-balanced Kodak Vision2 negatives,
500T 5218 and 200T 5217, going to
the faster stock when the light was low.
He did not use an 85 filter because it
homogenizes the complex color.
Instead, he prefers to color balance in
the timing.
The picture was shot in standard
1.85:1, in 4-perf for maximum resolu-
tion and low grain. Lubezki explains,
Even though anamorphic has more
resolution, we decided on 1.85 because
the close focus was going to be extreme
we were so close to the kids, their
faces, hands and feet. And we didnt
want the grain of Super 35.
Lubezkis camera team included
operator Joerg Widmer, who often shot
Steadicam, and 1st AC Erik Brown.
Underwater footage was shot by Pete
Romano, ASC, and second-unit
photography was done by Paul Atkins
and Peter Simonite. Principal photogra-
phy ran for 12 weeks. The main location
was the Texas town of Smithville, with
other scenes shot in Austin, Houston, on
the Texas coast and in Utah. (Additional
photography was done in New York by
Ellen Kuras, ASC; in Versailles by
Benot Delhomme, AFC; and in Italy
by Widmer.)
Although Tree was shot single
camera, Brown prepped three cameras
every day: an Arricam Lite on the
Steadicam, another Lite in an EasyRig
Top: Tensions
mount during a
family dinner.
Bottom: Operator
Joerg Widmer
(center, wearing
black shirt) moves
into position for
an over-the-
shoulder angle.
32 August 2011 American Cinematographer
configuration, and an Arri 235 for run-
and-gun work. All three cameras were
outfitted with Arri wireless focus controls
so that the assistant could quickly switch
from one to the other. Brown maintains
that 90 percent of the movie was shot
without a tripod.
Lubezki chose Arri/Zeiss Master
Primes and wider-angled Arri/Zeiss
Ultra Primes. Brown says the lenses most
often used were the 14mm, 18mm,
21mm and 27mm, and that the camera
was usually very close to the actors, often
between 1 and 2 feet.
Its the most difficult thing Ive
ever done, Brown continues. There were
no marks, and I had to guess what the
operator was about to do because he was
reacting to what the actors were doing. I
developed this wonderful partnership
with Chivo and Joerg that became a
dance where they led and I followed.
Production designer Jack Fisk, who
has worked with Malick since Badlands
(1973), notes, I often tell people when
they start working for Terry that he asks
for nothing and expects everything, so
they have to be prepared. Terrys very
humble and very passionate. You end up
doing more for him than you would do
for anybody else because the film is so
important to him.
The shooting rhythm on Tree was
exceptionally fast. Widmer would often

Cosmic Questions
Despite
their initial
no flares rule,
the filmmakers
incorporated
backlight as
a consistent
visual motif.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 33
start filming a scene with the Steadicam
with Lubezki at his side riding iris, and
when the magazine ran out, they might
trade places, with Lubezki shooting hand-
held. Ive never been on a set where the
crew was so tuned into the movie, says
Lubezki. At one point while we were
shooting, somebody suddenly screamed,
Oh, my god! The fireflies are out! because
hed heard six weeks earlier that Terry
wanted to shoot fireflies. The crew
immediately rushed out to shoot the fire-
flies.
Serendipity is another key feature
of Malicks approach. His collaborators
are always open to shooting the acciden-
tal and the unexpected. One morning, a
butterfly flew by as the crew was prepar-
ing for the day. Lubezki grabbed the Arri
235 and filmed it as it landed on
Chastains outstretched arm. The shot
then follows the butterfly onto the grass,
where a cat shows up in the frame.
Usually on a film set, you wait
more than you shoot, but in our case we
shot more than we waited, says Widmer.
Sometimes we didnt wait to reload; we
simply took a different camera and
restarted the scene. Everything happened
so quickly, and the kids energy was lost so
easily if we didnt continue immediately.
The concept was to change, to
always vary things, he continues. Malick
would alternate between Steadicam and
Top: The
OBrien boys
climb skyward.
Middle and
bottom: Mr.
OBrien enters
a cathedral
of trees,
where viewers
experience his
POV from
the ground.
34 August 2011 American Cinematographer
T
he 20-minute creation sequence in
The Tree of Life depicts the birth of
stars, the beginning of life on Earth, a
memorable interaction between two
dinosaurs, and a meteor crashing into
the Earth, among other cataclysmic
events. The sequence begins with the
formation of early stars and ends over 5
billion years from now, when the sun
will, according to scientists, shrink to a
small white dwarf.
In creating the sequence, artists
led by senior visual-effects supervisor
Dan Glass worked with an array of
material, including 65mm and 35mm
motion-picture film; digital footage
captured with the 4K Dalsa Evolution,
the Red One and the Phantom HD
high-speed camera; and large-format
Canonstills. Real and virtual elements,
like the CGI dinosaurs, were layered
and composited in 5K (5,464 pixels
across) and recorded as 32-bit floating-
point EXR files. The finished images
were exported to EFilms DI suite as
10-bit log DPX files.
The greatest challenge of this
project is that Terry Malicks approach
is the opposite of the way we commonly
work in visual effects, say Glass. The
director, he explains, wanted to avoid
defining the imagery ahead of time and
often used the word Tao to convey an
organic search for unpredictable images.
Terry objects if theres a sense of
the human hand [in the image], of
someone interfering with the process,
says Glass, so our work involved a lot of
experimenting. The goal was to create
glimpses of natural moments.
To get these images, Malick
organized a series of shoots he called
Skunkworks over three weekends at a
studio in Austin, Texas. A small group
led by visual-effects pioneer Douglas
Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey) exper-
imented with liquid tanks, flashlights,
glass paperweights, dry ice, pinhole
flares and sundry objects to shoot
elements that were then layered to
represent cosmological images. The
material that came out of those shoots
was really rich and fantastic, says Glass.
We tried to create interesting visual
imagery first, and then figured out how
to shape it and where to place it in the
film.
A shot of light lattices in the early
universe was primarily constructed with
layered light leaks recorded with a Red
One without a lens flashlights were
shone through glass objects like paper-
weights. Theres an organic core to the
image, a kind of natural beauty, says
Glass.
A dark eclipse image was shot
with a polystyrene planet on a pole in
front of a light shining through dry ice.
In post, the colors were finessed and
tiny details of planetary fragments were
added.
A cloud-like nebula beginning to
form was a 4'-wide pool of half-and-
half poured into a water tank and shot
| Big Bang Theory |
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 35
handheld, go from an 18mm to a
27mm, from low mode to high mode,
putting the actors in different positions,
and sometimes he would redo the scene
in another way the next day, perhaps
with a different child or in a different
setting.
Terry was incredibly well
prepared because he had been thinking
about this film for many years, but he
wanted the film to feel unprepared, says
Lubezki. We couldnt really set up
shots; we had to find them.
Mornings in Smithville started
with Malick meeting with the crew,
reading from index cards that bore type-
written notes about things to find.
They could be shots, emotions he
wanted to capture or specific angles he
wanted to get, says Lubezki.
Sometimes he had a little picture
clipped to the index card that he wanted
to show me. Or he might talk to Jack
[Fisk] about changing colors in a room.
Every morning he had information to
share, and then everybody knew what
to go for during the day.
The filmmakers were constantly
talking behind the camera, trying to
steer the shoot into a place that felt
unrehearsed, he continues. The scenes
had to be found, like in a documentary.
He adds that Malick would often
surprise the actors and crew by intro-
ducing unexpected elements, a tech-
nique referred to as sending in a
torpedo. Sometimes it was another
actor, sometimes it was a dog, or some-
times it was the operator running
through the scene without telling
anybody! Its like pulling the rug from
under your feet. What happens is that
you suddenly get something unexpected
that feels more natural. For example,
As OBrien bonds with one of his younger sons, R.L. (Laramie Eppler), over their
shared affinity for music (top), his eldest son, Jack (Hunter McCracken, bottom) lashes out
at a neighbors house.
in slow motion, with stars added and
colors shifted to auburn later.
Another reference for imagery
was scientific visualizations. For
instance, an intricate, reddish image of
early Pop III star formation was
based on a simulation by astrophysicist
Volker Bromm that he ran at the
National Center for Supercomputing
Applications in Illinois. With the
scientists approval, Glass asked a
concept artist to illustrate up the
image and render it as a cavern from
which light emerges, incorporating
nebulae-like elements. We then fed
that data to Double Negative in
London, and their team mixed in addi-
tional elements and artistry.
The Hubble telescope was
another image source, providing the
shot of the Carina nebula, a tiled
assembly that was 27,000 pixels across.
The visual-effects team added depth
cues, tamed the arbitrary coloring and
added a slow push in, according to
Glass.
Background plates for the
creation sequence were shot in 15-perf
65mm Imax. They are perhaps most
prominent in the dinosaur scene, the
longest segment of the creation
sequence. Terry didnt want to feature
the dinosaurs more than necessary, so
sometimes theyre almost in silhouette,
notes Glass. Once Malick and a scien-
tific adviser vetted 4'-long maquettes of
the dinosaurs, the maquettes were
scanned to form the basis for CG
models.
Malick asked the visual-effects
team to listen to music as they worked,
and he often tested the imagery with
different music as the team watched.
Thats highly unusual visual effects
is a silent world, says Glass. Working
on this movie was a wonderful, all-
encompassing experience.
Benjamin B
36 August 2011 American Cinematographer
during a scene that shows the father and
mother arguing, Malick sent in one of
the boys, and it immediately changed
the way the adults acted. If something
felt intentional to Terry, be it in a camera
move, a performance or a sound, he
would react against it [in the edit], says
editor Mark Yoshikawa. He didnt want
that feeling of manipulation. He wanted
to feel as if things were found and not
presented. We ended up just cutting out
anything that felt false, and that gave
way to the jump cuts, which give the
movie its elliptical feeling. Terry said, If
its a 10-second shot and five of the
seconds feel false, then just take it out
and see what happens. A lot of the time
it didnt work it was a horrible cut.
But sometimes it did work, and we went
with that feeling.
For Lubezki, the greatest chal-
lenge posed by Malicks emphasis on
naturalism was obtaining a good expo-
sure and extended latitude. Part of the
solution came from his collaboration
with Fisk. In the dining room of one of
the houses we used, we replaced wall
space between two windows with a third
window so that the whole wall was glass,
and it faced south, says Fisk. We also
put in a new back porch with a plastic
ceiling so it would let light into the
kitchen. To avoid light sandwiches,
Fisks crew would often darken the
backgrounds as much as possible and
T1.3 in the same take. You have to
think really fast: does it work?
One scene where Lubezki kept
the exposure constant is a beautiful
moment that shows R.L. playing guitar
in a doorway in changing sunlight.
In other scenes, like family
dinners at the table, the challenge was
filming people with a range of exposure
values. Lubezki notes that he does not
use white bounce boards or white cards
to help the exposure because they will
show. At one meal, for example, Brad
was 2 stops darker than the boy sitting
next to the window. You can only
capture that with film; I had to expose
for Brad, and those closer to the
window were many stops overexposed.
Lubezki marvels at films latitude.
Looking out from inside the house, we
were sometimes shooting at T2, and you
can see detail in the curtains, you can see
the grass outside, you can see the sky
and you can see the clouds, which were
maybe T64. Theyre overexposed, but
you can see them!
In day exteriors, the cinematogra-
pher would often reposition the actors to
shoot them in backlight for continuity.
We can ensure that shots will cut
together if the actors dont have direct
light on their faces, because that tells you
the time of day and what kind of light is
there, he notes. Backlighting is very
important because it helps the editing
add drapes to opposing windows.
Thomas Edisons small film
studio, the Black Maria, was built on a
giant turntable that allowed him to turn
the building to follow the sun. The film-
makers on The Tree of Life adopted a
similar strategy by shooting in three
separate houses with different orienta-
tions to the sun. Fisk explains, If we
had a room that faced east, we could
shoot early in the morning, and if it
faced west, we could shoot later in the
afternoon. Terry took that to the
extreme by having the same room repre-
sented in several houses so that we could
shoot at different times of the day.
According to Yoshikawa, the
editing team described Malicks
approach to continuity as being like
Cubism, shooting the same scene in
different locations. Wed mix and match
them with no continuity and worry only
about the feeling. We jumped around
the three different houses, but you dont
really catch on because youre accepting
the house as Jack remembers it.
In day interiors, Lubezki often
placed the actors near the windows,
riding the iris to keep the negative
healthy, he says. It sounds easy, but its
incredibly scary! Lets say the sun is out
and its bouncing into the room. You
start the scene at T8 and follow the kids,
Brad comes into the shot, and then
clouds suddenly drop the exposure to

Cosmic Questions
The Steadicam was used in low mode to capture action close to the ground.
CONGRATULATIONS
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THE TREE OF LIFE
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without requiring silks and so on. If both
characters in a scene are backlit, you can
cheat the audience no one will know
that one was shot in the summer and the
other in winter. In the scene where
Jacks father teaches him to fight, both
characters are backlit, a physical impos-
sibility that intercuts well.
We also used backlight because
it gives a sense of depth, whereas front-
light is flat, adds Lubezki. However,
we didnt backlight all the time because
that would be boring.
Another important tool for exte-
riors was negative fill, provided by a bead
board or other black surface. This was
often used to eliminate a light sand-
wich of two similar sources on either
side of an actor, and it also added a sense
of depth.
Lubezki admits that some simple
lights were used on night interiors, but
we never put a single light stand inside
the house. A single lightbox with
Photoflood bulbs was rigged overhead
for evening dinner scenes, supplementing
a practical. Night interiors in the boys
room were lit with a mobile light with a
hand dimmer, a 2K with a Chimera that
was held by Lubezki or Widmer,
whoever wasnt shooting, says the cine-
matographer. We didnt want to tell the
kids where to go; we wanted them to tell
us where to go, so we followed them with
the light. I dont think the audience can
tell the light is moving.
One scene in the bedroom was
played with real flashlights that were held
by Lubezki or Malick. In another scene,

Cosmic Questions
The adult Jack (Sean Penn) encounters his loved ones, including his deceased brother,
in a dreamlike beach setting.
38
Lubezki gave one of the boys a practical
desk lamp to play with in frame.
In a remarkable dusk exterior
sequence, Jack walks around his neigh-
borhood, peering into the houses and
catching glimpses of families. This scene
was shot over several evenings during a
15-to-20-minute window when the
deep blue sky was still luminous enough
to register. The house interiors were lit
with practicals on dimmers.
According to Lubezki, Malick
originally intended to color time the live-
action portion of the picture photo-
chemically, but this plan changed when
the print dailies came back with less
detail than the filmmakers wanted. The
dailies were very well-printed, says the
cinematographer, but they didnt
capture the wide latitude of the negative.
We lost detail in the whites, for example.
Ive been printing film for a long, long
time, and I can tell you that todays print
stocks are too contrasty. Thats because
theyre not made to print film anymore;
theyre made for the DI process.
Lubezki subsequently worked
with colorist Steve Scott and his team at
EFilm to create a look-up table that
would enable him to retain the detail of
the negative by making the values fit in
the tonal range of the prints and also the
DCP (which was prepared at
LaserPacific). Comparing the print and
DCP, Lubezki notes, You could almost
say they are two slightly different
versions of the movie. The DCP is
more sparkly, whereas the prints (from
4K filmouts) have better blacks.
Looking back, Lubezki reflects
that he could not have worked on The
Tree of Life without the deep trust he
had in Malick. He remembers the
director telling him early on to work on
the edge of catastrophe my words,
not his on the edge of exposure, of
framing. He told me to experiment and
try anything. And he said, I will never
use any shot that will humiliate you or
make you feel bad. You can come to the
editing any time you want, and you can
take anything you want out of the
movie. In that moment, I felt I could
truly try anything I could shoot
without lights, I could make mistakes
and I would have Terrys support. He
is a true artist and a true collaborator.

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39
40 August 2011 American Cinematographer
T
he release last month of Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows: Part 2, a decade after the boy wizards first screen
outing, marks the close of the most ambitious franchise
in cinema history. Over the course of the eight-film
series, based on the novels by J. K. Rowling, four different
directors have worked with six different cinematographers:
John Seale, ASC, ACS; Roger Pratt, BSC; Michael Seresin,
BSC; Slawomir Idziak, PSC; Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC;
and, finally, Eduardo Serra, ASC, AFC.
Series producer David Heyman decided in 2008 to split
Deathly Hallows, Rowlings final book, into two features, but
shoot them as one production over 16 months. Director David
Yates, who has helmed the Potter films since the fifth install-
ment, says he recommended hiring Serra because Im a big fan
of the classical, naturalistic style he has employed on his films.
This was a tricky assignment for a cinematographer
because I wanted the two films to look different, he contin-
ues. I told Eduardo at our very first meeting that wed be
checker-boarding the shooting because our schedule dictated
that we had to jump between filming bits of Part 1 and Part
2. He was up for the challenge of trying to go for a different
look depending on where we were in the story on each shoot-
ing day.
Like all of the other films in the franchise, Deathly
Hallows was a British production, filmed northwest of London
at Leavesden Studios. Constructed on the site of a former
Rolls Royce factory in 1995, the studio complex grew into a
vast facility over the course of Potters tenancy and can now
accommodate productions of any scale. Warner Bros.
purchased the site last year, and next year it will reopen as
Warner Bros. Studios-Leavesden, the first permanent
European base for a Hollywood studio in many years.
For Serra, joining the long-running enterprise could
have been a daunting experience, but he found himself warmly
welcomed into the fold. Many of the cast and crew have
returned for every film, working at Leavesden almost continu-
ally for a decade; the three lead actors have literally grown up
on set, being cast as 10-year-olds and finishing the franchise as
adults. This gave the entire enterprise a familial feel. It was
wonderful, says Serra. Quite honestly, it was such a friendly
environment, and there just werent any problems. Difficult to
imagine for something of this scale, but true!
The scale and longevity of the Potter production
machine did, however, have some impact on Serras visual
approach. This thing is so huge, with so much space and so
many people, that there is actually limited freedom to deter-
mine a look on set, he says. We knew the general direction
we were going, but in a way, the sets themselves determined
our approach because of their size and because they expressed
so much.
Eduardo Serra, ASC, AFC and his
collaborators discuss Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows, which brings a
beloved franchise to a close.
By Mark Hope-Jones
|
Darkest Arts
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 41
[Production designer] Stuart
Craig has authored the architecture of
this world, agrees Yates. Before
Eduardo came on board, wed been
preparing Deathly Hallows for several
months, so the sets were already
designed by the time he arrived. In a
way, that does create certain aesthetic
restrictions, but Eduardo was always
very willing to go along with all of that.
Serra found it an easy process, noting
that Craig is a wonderful designer
always ready and always perfect. This
was probably the best working relation-
ship Ive had with a production
designer.
The Potter stories mainly take
place in and around Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Harry
(Daniel Radcliffe) and his constant
companions, Ron (Rupert Grint) and
Hermione (Emma Watson), are pupils,
so a number of the Deathly Hallows sets
were already in existence. The 130'-long
Great Hall at Hogwarts, for example,
was built for the first Potter film. Very
often, the lighting design for these
sets was also already established. You
couldnt walk onto one of those sets and
U
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Opposite: Lord
Voldemort
(Ralph Fiennes)
marshals his
forces in
preparation for
attack in a
frame from
Deathly
Hallows Part 2.
This page, top:
In a scene from
Part 1, the
villains enjoy a
fearsome
display of
Voldemorts
power. Middle:
Eduardo Serra,
ASC, AFC
prepares a
forest scene.
Bottom:
Voldemort
seizes his
nemesis (Daniel
Radcliffe) in a
frame from
Part 2.
42 August 2011 American Cinematographer
say, Oh, I have an idea: lets do it this
way, when there are already 300 lights
rigged, says Serra. Everything was just
so big. I was fortunate to have a wonder-
ful gaffer in Chuck Finch. The first time
I shot a film in England [ Funny Bones,
1995] he was on it, and he helped me a
great deal, so it was very good to work
with him again.
Finch, who also served as gaffer
on the second, fourth and sixth Potter
films, notes, These sets were basically
always lit with the same units, but it was
down to how the individual cinematog-
raphers wanted to handle them. The
approach has stayed broadly the same:
big, soft sources [positioned] as far back
as possible. Most of the sets were lit
from outside with Quarter Wendy
Lights and 20Ks, and for the closer
work, we went down to various soft
sources like [Lowel] Rifa lights.
A sophisticated and versatile
dimming system gave Serra control
over the lights and allowed him to
stamp his own style on the lighting. I
would talk with Chuck about what we
were going to do a few days before we
went onto the set, recalls the
cinematographer. Everything was
controlled from a wireless dimmer
board, and I had the dimming operator
with me all the time. If the actors
decided to go for another position and
we had to change the lighting setup, we
could just bring different lights up or
down.
The Visilink dimming system,
based on a Chamsys desk and running
alongside WYSIWYG, was developed
by Panalux and allowed console opera-
tor Andy Mountain to make instant
adjustments via a tablet computer. We
had control over every single light, says
Finch. For the Wendy Lights, which
are four pods of 650-watt bulbs, we had
control over each individual pod. It was
a massive cabling job. Sometimes we
had up to 1,000 dimming lines.
The filmmakers wanted a darker
look for Deathly Hallows to reflect the
more mature themes. Harry is a year
older in each successive adventure, so
the storylines have become increasingly
complex as the series has progressed. I
must say, I was surprised by how dark
they were prepared to go with the visu-
als, Serra observes. Throughout my
career, producers have argued that if
images are dark, the audience wont see
them, but on this film it was the oppo-

Darkest Arts
Throughout
Part 1, Harry, Ron
(Rupert Grint) and
Hermione (Emma
Watson) hide out
in a tent as they
attempt to both
evade Voldemort
and find a way to
destroy him. The
top image is a
unit still; the
bottom image is a
frame grab.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 43
site, which was nice. Of course, as the
cinematographer, I had to make sure
there was enough detail on the negative,
and we knew the final level of darkness
would be determined in the digital
grade.
Supervising digital colorist Peter
Doyle had been with the Potter franchise
since the third film, and was actively
involved in shaping a look for Deathly
Hallows from the very beginning. I was
sitting down with Eduardo from the
moment he came on board, says Doyle.
We worked through what he had in
mind and explored how the grade could
help that. One of the luxurious aspects of
the production was that we had a fully
equipped DI theater with a 50-foot
screen set up at Leavesden. It was avail-
able for the cinematographer to use from
day one, so tests could be carried all the
way through a DI workflow in order to
determine what might best be done in
post and what could be done on set with
lighting.
Serra worked closely with Doyle
throughout the shoot. He notes, What
can I say about Peter? Hes just incredi-
ble. At 7 each morning, I would meet up
with him and look at rushes on the big
screen, describing what I wanted before
going to set. Then, at lunch, about 30 of
us would meet in the theater and watch
the graded rushes together.
Our philosophy was that the
rushes grading was almost the first pass
of the DI, so these studio screenings
gave everyone an idea of what the final
would look like, adds Doyle. Another
important function was that we could
give Eduardo feedback about the neg.
We werent printing dailies, so wed look
at the proposed grade and then switch it
off so Eduardo could see what was
happening with his exposure and light-
ing. Then wed go back to the grade and
make any decisions required before it
was sent to editorial. If it was a green-
screen shot, we would look at it with the
grade applied but actually deliver it to
visual effects with the grade off.
In order to maintain consistency
across the long shoot and the multiple
units, Doyle devised a grading database
so that Serra could call up color refer-
ences from any shot on any day. He also
set up the facility to print calibrated
frame grabs on A3 photographic paper
so that the grade could be assessed on
set. The printouts allowed a much
easier handover from first to second
unit, says Doyle. They were also useful
for being able to go back to sets, and for
the art department to refine the set
decoration based on how it was being
read by the neg and the grade. You just
have to be careful that you dont start
chasing the grade on set, rather than the
grade following whats on the neg. With
Top: A-camera
operator Mike
Proudfoot lines
up a shot of
Radcliffe and
Watson in the
tent set. Bottom:
In this Part 1
frame, the heroic
trio lands in a
London caf, an
urban setting
that marks a
visual departure
from the rest of
the movie.
the oil lamps to lift the back of the tent.
It was almost always a real flame in the
lamps themselves.
The practicals were oil lanterns
because there is no electricity in Potters
magical world, so lighting these sections
of the story could sometimes be like
working on a period film. Serra notes,
Ive done a lot of period lighting in my
career, on Girl With a Pearl Earring [AC
Jan. 04] and Wings of the Dove [AC June
98], as well as earlier films in France and
Portugal, so Ive been working with
flame-based sources for a long time.
The result was exactly what Yates
desired. The tent scenes were beautiful,
as was the lighting at Grimmauld Place,
another location where Harry,
Hermione and Ron hide out, says the
director. I think Eduardos real gift is
that he can light a scene incredibly natu-
ralistically and believably, and yet it can
still have this wonderful, painterly qual-
ity to it.
For scenes that take place in the
non-magical world of Muggles (i.e.,
humans), which does have electricity, a
more contemporary approach could be
taken. At a moment of extreme danger
in Part 1, Harry and his friends magi-
cally transport themselves to central
London and take refuge in a dingy caf,
which provided Serra with an opportu-
nity to utilize more gritty, urban lighting.
44 August 2011 American Cinematographer

Darkest Arts
Eduardo it worked very well, because
hes so disciplined with his lighting.
On occasion Serra had to be flex-
ible with the simple, natural lighting
style for which he is renowned. I dont
like using backlight, but if youre doing a
night scene with 1,000 people and a lot
of visual effects, then you might not
have a choice, he says. For the night-
time courtyard scene hes describing,
which takes place during the battle for
Hogwarts in Part 2 , the unavoidable
backlight came from two full Wendy
Lights on 150'cranes. These were
combined with four soft sources over-
head, each comprising 18 space lights in
a box with the sides blacked off and a
30'x10'silk positioned underneath.
It was the more intimate scenes
that gave Serra a chance to express the
natural look Yates had envisaged.
Examples of this include interiors of the
magic tent in which Harry, Hermione
and Ron live while on the run from dark
forces in Part 1. Most of the tent scenes
were done with practicals, although I
had some soft light coming down from
above the set as well, says Serra. I tried
to keep the lighting to a minimum.
Finch adds, We hung China
balls wherever we could, just above the
practicals, and put peanut bulbs behind
Top: In a
frame grab from
Part 1, the
Snatchers
prepare to nab
Harry and his
friends and turn
them over to
Lord Voldemort.
Bottom: The
crew captures
Radcliffe on
the run in
the woods.
The caf scene was refreshing, he says.
I was one of the first cinematographers
to work with fluorescents, a long time
ago, and I still use them when I get the
chance, so that scene was fun. Finch
adds, We built fluorescents into that
set, and even the fill was fluorescent it
was all Kino Flo tubes. It was pretty
simple and felt a bit more like working
on a normal film.
A recurrent challenge for Serra
was the tendency toward lenses of
shorter focal lengths, a decision moti-
vated by cavernous sets and large-scale
action. Often we were on a 16mm or
18mm, so positioning the lights could be
a challenge, he says. With a 16mm
lens in a forest, it gets quite tricky. We
had to work on some trees in the grade
because it was impossible to get the
levels consistent. The DI was the only
way.
Whereas wider lenses were the
norm in Part 2, Yates notes, For Part 1,
I suggested that we sometimes go for a
more compressed feel with a 50mm or a
65mm because it was different from
what wed done before and felt right for
the story.
Close-up shots of Harry contem-
plating his situation in the quiet of the
forest were an instance when longer
lenses seemed appropriate. Yates
describes this scene as a moment where
we wanted to bring the central character
into real relief. It was all about being in
his head and the intimacy that lens
brings, the way it abstracted the forest
behind him. We also used long lenses
for a chase through the woods with the
Snatchers [bounty hunters]. Its a well-
trodden path for filmmakers, the frac-
tured dynamic that long lenses can give
you when youre rapidly cutting between
multiple handheld and fast-moving
shots. Eduardo was very willing to
accept that the story had to dictate the
tools we used at any particular
moment.
Even less kinetic sequences were
frequently shot with two cameras. We
often had two Arricams set up on the
same angle, with different lenses, Serra
explains. I prefer to avoid having
cameras at different angles because it
has a big impact on the lighting, and
always, at some point, the angles wont
be correct.
However, Serra never felt
restricted in how he could use the
camera, even with the extensive visual-
effects work. Aside from all the green-
screens, we shot normally, he says.
There were no limitations on the
camerawork. In fact, we were so free
that it was quite hard to find Tim
Top: Steadicam
operator Alf
Tramontin
captures a close
shot of Radcliffe
for Part 1. Bottom:
Director David
Yates (pointing at
right) preps a shot
for Part 2 as
camera operators
Tramontin (with
Steadicam),
Proudfoot (center,
placing camera on
ground) and B-
camera operator
David Morgan (in
background, with
eye to camera) get
ready to film.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 45
Burke, our senior visual-effects supervi-
sor, on the set. We generally just saw
each other at the dailies!
In the digital grade, the filmmak-
ers worked to convey a sense of journey,
which meant developing multiple looks
rather than just applying one look
throughout. For a memory sequence in
Part 2, Yates was keen to communicate
the impression of past events without
resorting to familiar techniques.
Flashbacks have been done ad infini-
tumin the movies, and there are all sorts
of clichs, says Yates. Peter is incredi-
bly proficient technically, but he can also
grade emotionally, and we ended up
with a very beautiful look that actually
feels nostalgic without pushing all those
familiar buttons. Peter can make you
feel things without using the traditional
palette none of his choices come off
the shelf.
Doyles great challenge was to
create a feeling of darkness without the
image actually getting too dark.It was
almost like an intellectual exercise of
figuring out how to get darkness on the
screen that you can see, he says. I built
a few tone-mapping and micro-contrast
tools into the grading pipeline to put
detail back just in the black areas. In the
process, I researched what solutions had
been found in other image-reproduc-

Darkest Arts
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46
The crew prepares a night exterior for Part 1 in which Harry and Hermione return
to Harrys hometown in search of clues.
tion industries. In the late Seventies and
early Eighties, when the print industry
was at its zenith, they had some fantas-
tically elegant techniques to get around
the same problem. They would build a
contrast map by making a black-and-
white negative of the image, inverting it
and using that to control the blacks. You
can reproduce that digitally in about five
minutes, which is what we did. We
slowly built up an array of tools that
were focused around working in the
dark areas of the image.
This work was further compli-
cated by Warner Bros. decision to
convert Part 2 to 3-D in post to facili-
tate a simultaneous 3-D and 2-D
release. Yates opted for a very conserv-
ative approach to the stereoscopic
conversion and took pains to prevent it
from breaking the audiences involve-
ment in the story. Serra points out,
Because the 3-D work was done later
on, we didnt pay much attention to it on
set. In fact, we didnt even know it was
going to happen until near the end [of
the shoot].
Given that 3-D presentations are
by nature darker than 2-D, Doyle found
that he had to develop two different
grades. He notes, Im still not
convinced by 3-D grading packages, so
I graded the film in 2-D and then built
a color-conversion model so that the
grade would work in 3-D. In simple
terms, I made it darker for 2-D rather
than brighter for 3-D, which goes
against the prevailing industry method
at the moment. It meant operating in a
YUV color space as opposed to RGB;
this allowed me to work on the lumi-
nance and density mapping when we
went from 2-D at 16 foot-lamberts into
3-D at 3.5 foot-lamberts.
Having just wrapped the post
process, Serra reflects on the unique,
two-year Potter experience: Sometimes
I would look around on set at all these
thousands of people and wonder, How
did I come to be here? It was a great
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thing to do, but straight after we
finished, I went off and did a much
smaller movie with a Brazilian director
who was making his first film. It was
nice to go back to that kind of film-
making!
47
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48 August 2011 American Cinematographer
An
All-American
Hero
An
All-American
Hero
Shelly Johnson, ASC
brings a super soldier
to the big screen with
Captain America:
The First Avenger.
By Iain Stasukevich
|
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 49
I
ts the height of World War II, and
the U.S. Army is recruiting soldiers in
the fight against the Axis forces, even
as a greater threat looms on the hori-
zon in the form of Hydra, a shadowy
organization led by Hitlers villainous
head of advanced weaponry, Johann
Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has the
makings of a good soldier hes loyal,
honest and brave but he is also a 98-
pound weakling who is summarily
rejected by every recruitment office.
Finally, he volunteers for Project
Rebirth, a top-secret military program
designed to create super soldiers.
Rogers emerges as a taller, stronger,
nearly perfect being: Capt. America.
Director of photography Shelly
Johnson, ASC says he eagerly signed on
to Captain America: The First Avenger
because it offered a chance to reteam
with director Joe Johnston, a favorite
collaborator, and because the story
offered a lot of cinematic appeal.
Part of that appeal, he continues,
lay in the parallels between Captain
America and another action-adventure
film set in the same period, Raiders of the
Lost Ark , for which Johnston was the
visual-effects art director at Industrial
Light & Magic. One of the things the
two films have in common is that they
take you on a long journey, and youre
rarely in the same place twice, the cine-
matographer observes. It has a cumula-
tive effect and really helps immerse the
audience in that world. U
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Opposite: A
military
experiment
transforms the
diminutive Steve
Rogers (Chris
Evans) into Capt.
America, a secret
weapon of the
Allied forces, in
Captain America:
The First Avenger.
This page: Nazi
officer Johann
Schmidt (Hugo
Weaving), a.k.a.
Red Skull, shown
here in a frame
grab (top) and
two unit stills,
seeks the Cosmic
Cube, whose
mysterious power
he wants to
harness for the
Nazis.
50 August 2011 American Cinematographer

An All-American Hero
All told, Captain America was
filmed on more than 115 sets and loca-
tions. Principal photography took place
in the United Kingdom, with various
locations standing in for sites in the
United States, Iceland and Europe. Stage
work was shot at Shepperton Studios.
The schedule was so packed that
as many as seven sets were up and
running at any time, according to
Johnson. This shoot was like a giant
freight train: when it leaves the station,
theres a lot of momentum behind it! he
says.
Seven months before the shoot
commenced, Johnston and production
designer Rick Heinrichs began sketch-
ing out every scene in great detail.
Preparation is the one ingredient you
cant have too much of, says the direc-
tor. I think of prep as having two
phases. In the first, anything is possible.
In the second, which I call the wake-up
call, you have to compromise, to rein-
terpret your ideal version of the film as
something you can actually put on the
screen.
While the director concentrated
on building his world, Johnson concen-
trated on giving it light. The cine-
matographer starts every production by
making a reference book containing
camera lists, lighting lists, orders, inven-
tories, diagrams, photos and production
art. The book is a constant presence on
set, and its an evolving record, with
Johnson updating it almost daily.
On these types of films, a large
part of the cinematographers job is
being organized, he notes. Its the best
way to manage the technical side of the
job, and you can then be free to focus on
the creative side of things.
Johnson and Johnstons collabora-
tions have been diverse Jurassic Park
III, Hidalgo (AC April 04) and The
Wolfman (AC Feb. 10) are among them
but the director maintains that his
visual style has a certain consistency. I
love letting the camera help tell the
story, but I hate fatuous camera moves,
he says. In terms of my visual approach,
most critics would probably consider me
a traditionalist, or even, God forbid, old-
fashioned. The camera is more mobile in
Captain America than in any film Ive
made, and the shots are designed to
continuously reveal new information, to
shift focus from one character to
another, to change dramatic emphasis.
Johnson maintained maximum
flexibility by keeping the A camera on a
30' Technocrane (operated by Gary and
Paul Hymns) as often as possible, but
we used it more as a moving platform
or a dolly, not as a crane, he notes. Joe
would watch a scene play out and ask
for changes while we were rolling, and
we could make adjustments on the fly,
sometimes without even cutting.
Shooting digitally was another
stage in Johnstons metamorphosis. The
director became fascinated with digital
cinema after seeing George Lucas Star
Wars prequels, but Captain America
marked his first opportunity to explore
it. When Joe started talking to me
about Captain America , [the format]
wasnt even a question, says Johnson.
He asked me to shoot it, and I dont
think he even took a breath before
adding, And were shooting digital.
I find the flexibility of digital
technology really liberating, says the
director. The time the camera is rolling
is less precious, so I dont have to cut in
order to discuss changes with the actors.
But the real advantage is in post, where
I can recompose or enlarge shots with-
out degrading the image. Sometimes
well reframe a shot to look like its from
another camera. We can even make
close-ups out of two-shots or three-
shots if we have to.
Top: Dr. Erskine
(Stanley Tucci)
prepares to
administer the
experimental
treatment to
Rogers. Bottom:
Director of
photography
Shelly Johnson,
ASC adjusts a
source for
the scene.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 51
The filmmakers chose Panavisions
Genesis for their A and B cameras.
Johnson felt comfortable working with
the Genesis after operating it on the
ASC/PGA Camera Assessment Series
(AC June and Sept. 09). On that project,
he used the Genesis with a waveform
monitor and without a digital-imaging
technician, recording to Panavisions
SSR-1 digital recorder.
He used the same approach on
Captain America . We wanted to keep
things simple, so we worked with a
single look-up table on set, says
Johnson. Using the custom viewing
LUT in the Genesis Display Processor,
he slightly desaturated the image and
added a contrasty film look by zeroing
out the blacks and lifting the highlights
to just below clip. Exposure metering
was performed on a waveform monitor,
and at the end of each day, the uncor-
rected DPX files were delivered to
Deluxe Laboratories in London, where
colorist Russell Coppleman graded the
dailies according to Johnsons notes.
Working off one LUT helped us
out a lot, because I could clearly see how
the camera was performing, says the
cinematographer. But all you really have
to do to make it work is protect the
values you want to print, and a lot of my
exposures came from lighting the values
below the highlights.
A Schneider Optics Black Magic
filter was used to give slightly clipped
values a more organic feel, and a Filter
Gallery Blue Streak Filter masked hot
practicals with long, anamorphic-like
flares.
Despite Captain Americas period
setting, Johnson didnt hesitate to use an
arsenal of modern lighting fixtures,
tapping Vari-Lites, Martin Mac
computerized lights, space lights, wire-
less dimmer controls and LEDs. They
all had to be used judiciously so as not to
tip our hand, but at the same time, we
wanted this movie to have a modern
edge, he explains.
This was particularly true of the
lighting for and around two characters,
Red Skull and inventor Howard Stark
(Dominic Cooper). Those men repre-
sent the pinnacle of modern technology
for their time, maybe even beyond, so
we used a lot of modern lighting around
them, says Johnson.
A variety of LED lights, includ-
ing RGB-mixable and the new
MoleLED (which Johnson tested for
Mole-Richardson), were employed.
Initially, Johnson thought they would
enable him to quickly dial in colors by
eye, but the first time he checked the
calibrated HD monitor after lighting a
shot by eye, he noticed a discrepancy
between his eye and the cameras sensor.
We were in a circular corridor in Hydra
headquarters, and I had set the overhead
color-mixable ribbon LEDs balanced to
a very pale blue, he recalls. But on the
monitor they appeared deep purple.
When he adjusted the color mixture
Top: As the
film begins,
modern-day
explorers
discover a
mysterious
object in an
Arctic cavern.
Below: The art
departments
concept drawing
for the scene.
52 August 2011 American Cinematographer
while viewing the monitor to achieve
the cool blue he desired, the fixtures on
set actually looked green.
The camera was either adding
red to our desired color or not seeing a
lot of this green, he surmises. The
color-temperature meters we use are
made to read fluorescents, gas arcs and
tungsten lamps, and all those lights
occupy very specific areas of the visible
color spectrum. LED light occupies
enormous areas of the color spectrum,
including some not visible to the eye but
visible on film.
Despite requiring some extra
time at the monitor, the LEDs worked
out so well that the filmmakers used
them to achieve the effect of the
Cosmic Cube, a mystical energy source
sought after by Red Skull. The cube was
designed as an intense, blue light source,
small and self-contained, so that
Weaving could walk around with it
without being tethered or constrained.
Johnson and his gaffer, John Biggles
Higgins, decided on high-output blue
LEDs, and Higgins crew built a five-
sided cube with about 64 bare LEDs on
each side. Inside the cube were two 4.8-
volt battery packs and a wireless DMX
dimmer module to control the sources.
It was blindingly bright and just
punched through the warmer tones,
says Johnson. He explains that the films
heroes and villains are delineated in part
by color: the heroes world is rendered in
warm colors, whereas the villains envi-
ronments feature blue and green tones.

An All-American Hero
Top: A frame
grab of the
Modern Marvels
Pavilion exterior.
Middle and
bottom:
Stark Industries,
led by Howard
Stark (Dominic
Cooper), occupies
the pavilions
main stage.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 53
When the Allies gain possession of
samples of the cube technology, the
signature blue source has an other-
worldly presence in their warm environ-
ment, says Johnson.
Captain America s period setting
keeps the action rooted in reality, allowing
the story to go to impossible places and
still feel real. One particularly impossible
place that had to feel real is the frozen
wasteland where modern-day explorers
discover Rogers encased in a block of ice.
It was a scene that could never have been
achieved in reality, says Johnson.
Theres an intense blizzard. Its a day
exterior with a midnight sun sitting on
the horizon. All the warm sky colors had
to pierce the cool ice colors. Its an image
constructed of primary elements, and if
any part of the execution had failed, it
would have been unsuccessful.
The team briefly considered shoot-
ing the scene on location in Iceland, but
they soon determined that Sheppertons
Stage H was a more viable option. Only a
handful of elements were required to
create the necessary illusion: skylight,
horizon light, and a sun projected onto a
muslin cyclorama behind a forced-
perspective glacial landscape.
We rigged 15 4K Fresnels over-
head to bounce up into 12-by-20-foot
UltraBounces and go through Rosco 251
Quarter White diffusion, which gave us
a soft, ambient toplight, explains
Johnson. For the sun ball, we used a
Vari-Lite 3000 spot on a dolly track
This frame grab
shows the
Arctic sunset
scene that
Johnson and his
crew created
onstage at
Shepperton
Studios. Below
is Johnsons
lighting
diagram for the
scene.
54 August 2011 American Cinematographer
behind the cyc, and we moved the light
as we tracked with our characters so it
looked like a believable sun in the
distance. Higgins adds, We put up
about a hundred 5K cyc strips circling
more than half the set, which was about
250 feet by 150 feet. We were at about 25
percent on the dimmer, and that gave us
a nice, red glow around the setting sun.
The snow and smoke really sold it.
Another set created on Stage H
comprised several elements of the
Modern Marvels Pavilion, where Stark
shows off his latest technologies. Only the
foreground elements were built: the main
floor, six exhibit platforms, monorail
pylons (the CG train was added later) and
the main stage. A greenscreen cyc fully
surrounded the set to facilitate views of
the outside, all CGI added in post.
Johnsons crew rigged hundreds of
lights in the pavilion, most of them Kino
Flo Image 80s that were illuminating the
360-degree greenscreen. Six of the 4K
HMI bounces created for the frozen-
wasteland set provided cool ambient
light, which was punctuated by Vari-
Lites spotlighting exhibits on the main
floor. Battens of low-profile 55-watt
MR-16s, Biggles Strips, were placed
along the base of the main stage to act as
footlights.
The main stage is the jewel of this
whole set, so we concentrated on
surrounding it with a more refined light-
ing style, says Johnson. Above the
revolving platform were three spinning
Vari-Lite 3000 spots and a 12' light box
with a space light wired to 2-3-5 behind
Light Grid and
1
2 CTB. Sixteen Par 36
spots were installed in the upper soffit
that ringed the stage.
When Im working with a large
set or complicated lighting task, I try to
simplify it down to its basic elements so
that every light is serving a single
purpose, says Johnson. One of his goals
with this set, he continues, was to faith-
fully translate Heinrichs concept art.
The pavilion has a spectacular look, and
Rick designed a lot of the exhibits, he
says. There is also an incredibly stylized
CG set that extends into the background.
Our lighting doesnt interact with that,

An All-American Hero
Top: Rogers
begins to shape
Capt. Americas
signature shield.
Below: The super
soldier and his
shield go into
battle in this shot
of some second-
unit action, which
was captured by
2nd-unit director/
cinematographer
Jonathan Taylor,
ASC. Most of
Captain America
was shot digitally,
but many fire and
explosion scenes
were shot on film.
The problem
with
photographing
pyrotechnics
[digitally] is that
you get clipping
in the flames
and explosions,
notes Taylor.
but it carries out the same design idea.
One of the productions largest
locations was an old Royal Navy
Propellant factory in Caerwent, South
Wales, which was transformed into
Hydras headquarters in Germany.
Rogers steals into the facility at night to
rescue his sidekick, Bucky (Sebastian
Stan), who has been captured by Hydra.
Rogers and Bucky escape with the aid of
some Allied POWs, but not without a
fight. That was a large installation the
buildings were about 200 feet apart
and there was an enormous amount of
light around it, says Johnson. It was a
totally artificial night exterior. I mixed
color temperatures uncorrected
mercury-vapor, daylight and tungsten
lamps.
He knew some of his sources
would have to be in frame, so he had his
crew position four scissor lifts holding
two SyncroLite 4K Xenon spots gelled
with
1
2 CTO around the location, and
then asked visual-effects supervisor Chris
Townsend to replace the lifts with CG
guard towers.
It took Higgins, rigging gaffer
Wayne Leach and their crew about two
weeks to pre-rig the four staging areas in
Caerwent. There were so many lights
spread over the area that the only way to
control them all was through a DMX
dimmer board. Most of the action takes
place in one spot, in front of the main
Hydra building, and Johnson lit the area
with Vari-Lite spots and washes, Xenon
lights, roving 20K and 5K lamps, and
three crane-mounted 20'x20' softboxes
with solid sides. Inside the softboxes were
2-3-5 modified space lights rigged to a
scaffold arm with jubilee clips and rigid
metal bars, allowing the lights to be
angled.
Higgins explains the 2-3-5
configuration: U.K. space lights come
with six bulbs in two circuits, so we take
one bulb out. With the five left, we can
turn on two or three, or all five, and that
gives us three different light levels at the
same color temperature.
Once Rogers gains access to Hydra
headquarters and attracts Red Skulls
attention, the ensuing battle was captured
by 2nd-unit director/cinematographer
Jonathan Taylor, ASC. After walking
through the sequence with his gaffer,
Steve Costello, Taylor designed the
shots. He and his crew then spent five
nights following stuntmen and extras
with dollies, Technocranes, Ultimate
Arms and Steadicams, dodging explo-
sions as the base went up in flames.
The problem with photograph-
ing pyrotechnics with digital cameras is
that you get clipping in the fires and
explosions, notes Taylor. Special-
effects supervisor Gareth Wingrove
worked with me to darken the pyro by
adding more cork and dust to the explo-
sions, and different gas mixtures were
used to create a richer flame. My gaffer,
Steve Costello, increased the exposure,
allowing me to shoot at a deeper stop.
When cameras had to be placed
very close to explosions, Taylor used
Arri 435s and 235s in crash housings,
shooting 4-perf Super 35mm. We also
used a film camera, a [Panaflex]
Millennium XL, to shoot fire and
explosion plates that were beyond the
dynamic-range capture capability of the
Genesis, says Johnson. He adds that
underwater cinematographer Pete
Romano, ASC used an Arri Alexa for
his portion of the action.
Another memorable second-unit
sequence shows Capt. America chasing
a Nazi spy through the streets of
Brooklyn. (Manchester doubled for the
location.) Film and digital were mixed,
with Taylor favoring the 435s and 235s
for the car-mounted 15' Technocrane
and the quad-bike-mounted wireless
Libra head ridden by stunt rider Jean-
Pierre Goy. The Libra head was
mounted to a Rise and Fall rig (designed
by key grip Kenny Atherfold and
Camera Revolutions Ian Speed) that
could take the camera from ground level
to a high angle. Jean-Pierre is so good
with the camera on the motorcycle that
hes actually like an operator, Taylor
remarks. My operators, Tim Wooster
and Peter Field, had to make a few
adjustments, but Jean-Pierre always put
the camera in the right position.
The chase covers about nine
blocks, but Taylor only had access to
three blocks of downtown Manchester.
To complicate matters, streets could

An All-American Hero
The crew preps a night exterior on location in Caerwent, South Wales, where an old factory
was transformed into Hydra headquarters.
only be blocked off at certain times of
day, and there were rain delays.
Fortunately, Manchesters soft, overcast
daylight made it easy to match shots
captured on different days, and Taylor
made the most of the location by shoot-
ing the available streets from every angle
and redressing store fronts.
Taylor used a Canon EOS 5D
Mark II to capture the moment of
impact when the Nazi spys taxi is hit by
a truck that sends it flying into the air.
He hid two 5Ds with kit lenses in small
Pelican cases that each had a hole cut
into one side. The holes were sealed
with clear Lexan polycarbonate, and the
cases were painted to match the detail-
ing on the front bumper of the truck
and the back bumper of the taxi.
Another 5D was rigged inside the taxi
to get the drivers POV. As the moment
of impact approached, Taylor also had
two Genesis cameras tracking alongside
the taxi on a winch-drive remote rail
system (built by Jason Leinster).
Second units really shine when theyre
given authorship over a large piece of a
sequence, Johnson observes, and
Jonathans work is just dazzling. He
understands what action is and how to
make it exciting for the camera.
Although Johnson desaturated
the dailies on Captain America, he says
that once he started the final color
correction with colorist/ASC associate
Steven J. Scott at EFilm, I found
myself doing almost no desaturation.
On the big screen, with our color
choices being so simplified, desaturating
the image takes the life out of it.
Johnston trusted Johnsons judg-
ment completely. Shelly is an artist
with paint and brushes as well as lights
and lenses, he says. I dont hesitate to
hand over to him all technical and
creative responsibilities for capturing the
image, and I know hell deliver some-
thing above and beyond what I had in
mind.
One of the most gratifying
aspects of Captain America , the cine-
matographer notes, was Joes ability to
integrate human moments into an
action film. Now that Ive seen it all put
together, I think its quite masterful.
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57
of the desert. Broken glass and debris litter what used to be
the ceiling of the boats grand interior, and rain pours through
the splintered hull overhead. The night sky alights with light-
ning, sending shadows dancing across the boats interior.
Theres an unsettling sense that the searchers are not alone,
and their dogs sudden barking seems to make the inkling a
certainty.
From out of the darkness, director Jon Favreau calls
Cut! The rain stops and work lights come up inside Stage
27 at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Cinematographer
Matthew Libatique, ASC joins Favreau at video village,
where the two discuss whether to go again or move on to the
next setup in Cowboys & Aliens. As the title suggests, the
project is a genre mash-up that pits cowboys in the American
West against an alien invasion force.
58 August 2011 American Cinematographer
T
he year is 1870. A band of frontiersmen has set out from
the town of Absolution in search of family and friends
who were abducted by an unknown enemy in an explo-
sive show of force. The mens search has brought them to
an inexplicable site: an upside-down riverboat in the middle
Once
Upon a Time
intheWest
Once
Upon a Time
intheWest
Matthew Libatique, ASC blazes a
creative trail for the sci-fi Western
Cowboys & Aliens.
By Jon D. Witmer
|
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 59
The production is nearing the
end of its 75 shooting days when AC
visits the set, and Libatique acknowl-
edges that the experience has been far
different from his last feature, Darren
Aronofskys Black Swan (AC Dec. 10),
which earned the cinematographer
ASC and Oscar nominations. I get re-
energized when I go from a small
project to a big project, or big to small,
or from features to commercials, he
says. If it was a different director,
maybe it would have been a little
crazier, but Jons like family.
I was never one to want to do a
Western, continues Libatique. In fact,
when Jon first told me about this
movie, it sounded kind of ridiculous to
me. But after two movies and countless
conversations, I trust him. He said, Its
good, and I thought, Okay. I trust Jon.
I did embrace [the Western
genre] as soon as I got into it, he
continues. I liked the references, the
John Ford films that we watched, and I
got into the pace of a Western. I was
inspired by The Proposition [AC May
06] because its patient, and a contem- U
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.
Opposite: Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) takes aim at alien invaders in Cowboys & Aliens. This page, top:
Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and his men ride to the town of Absolution in search of
Lonergan. Bottom: Cinematographer Matthew Libatique, ASC (at camera) and director Jon Favreau
(right) find their frame on location in New Mexico.
60 August 2011 American Cinematographer
porary film with patience is a very rare
thing.
We wanted to be as honest with
the Western as possible, and the chal-
lenge was how to mesh that with
science fiction. We looked at Alien [AC
August 79], and we were taken by how,
structurally, it resembles a thriller. The
question became, How do we create
the tension within the Western to grad-
uate into the science-fiction thriller?
That was terrifying, but ultimately, as a
cinematographer, its not my position to
worry about the storys structure. I just
have to worry about the visual language
of it all.
As preproduction got underway,
the possibility of shooting 3-D arose.
Libatique recounts, I did the best I
could to absorb as much [3-D] infor-
mation as possible, and we tested for
three days with the Pace system. The
tests were very telling; they looked
stunning, but it terrified me how big
and cumbersome everything was. We
had so many cables we had to dig
trenches so the horses wouldnt trip.
When we showed the tests to
DreamWorks and Universal, they were
unsure about it, he continues. Jon
asked me what I thought, and I just had
an instinct it wasnt going to be good.
Cinematography is about action and
reaction, and I didnt think [shooting
3-D] in the middle of New Mexico was
going to be conducive to any type of
momentum.
Once 3-D was off the table,
Libatique quickly shifted gears. Out of
10 weeks of prep, we spent seven prep-
ping for 3-D, he says. Those last three
weeks were a whirlwind, but we had an
amazing team, including [production
designer] Scott Chambliss and
[costume designer] Mary Zophres. All
the elements that didnt have anything
to do with 3-D were in place. But it was
hard on the crew wed squandered
valuable mental energy trying to figure
out how 3-D was going to work.
The filmmakers ultimately
decided to shoot anamorphic 35mm.
Anamorphic is the language of the
classic Western, and it was a creative,
aesthetic and technical draw for me,
says Libatique.
The production carried Panaflex
Millennium and Millennium XL
camera bodies from Panavision
Hollywood. Ive had a long relation-
ship with Panavision Hollywood, and I
really wanted to use the G-Series
[anamorphic lenses], says Libatique.
We used them in combination with
the C-Series. My first AC, Mark
Santoni, literally walked through the
lens room and built the package lens by
lens.
Within the range of primes,
Libatique gravitated toward the 50mm
and 75mm. We would go up to
100mm from time to time, but rarely
did we go wider than 50mm. We had a
collection of Primo zooms as well, and

Once Upon a Time in theWest


Top: Libatique enthuses that working with horses was the best part of the job, but maintaining
a consistent look in the face of ever-changing weather conditions was the biggest challenge of my
career in terms of matching. Bottom: To help maintain consistency on the Absolution set, the crew
suspended silks from construction cranes.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 61
our third camera would typically be on
the retrofitted 11:1 [48-550mm] Primo
zoom so it could get an extra piece here
or there.
Libatique saw in Cowboys &
Aliens opening scene the opportunity
to reference the opening shot of The
Good, the Bad and the Ugly , in which a
wide landscape shot abruptly shifts to a
close-up as an actor steps into frame. In
Cowboys, Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig)
wakes up in the desert, his memory
gone and a bizarre contraption attached
to his wrist. Libatique explains, I put
the camera on sticks, framed up terrain,
and just slowly panned until Daniel
popped up into frame. Theres no push-
in with a crane, no helicopter, no boom
up or down. I wanted it to be simple,
and it works.
I wanted to keep it simple for
the Western part of the film, Libatique
continues. We tried hard to design
coverage that was akin to John Fords
and keep it patient for the first half of
the film before ramping up for the third
act.
For sets that required it,
Libatique occasionally utilized a
Steadicam (operated by A-camera
operator Peter Rosenfeld), and the
production also carried a 32'
Chapman/Leonard Hydrascope tele-
scoping crane. In prep, [key grip] Tana
Dubbe researched the best remote
heads for 3-D work and came up with
the Chapman G-3 [gyrostabilized
head, which mounts on the
Hydrascope], he explains. Wed
already booked it by the time we
decided against shooting 3-D, so we
put it to use, and it was fantastic. My
dolly grip, John Mang, whos phenom-
enal at camera movement, swore by it.
Once Lonergan finds his way to
Absolution, Cowboys becomes an
ensemble piece, and to accommodate
coverage of multiple actors, the film-
makers regularly rolled two or three
cameras simultaneously. Libatique
notes, I find value in using multiple
cameras with directors who like cover-
age. Its a compromise, but Id rather get
as much coverage as possible from the
same setup than shoot the same scene
over and over again.
It had another upside, he adds. I
was fortunate to have a collection of
operators that represented me aestheti-
cally. Peter Rosenfeld is super-precise,
great with Steadicam and fantastic at
managing the situation; Chris Moseley
is probably more like me framing-wise,
and a great complement to Pete; and
my wife, Magela Crosignani, brought
art to her choices.
Libatique also compliments the
productions amazing group of focus
pullers, including Santoni and B-
camera 1st AC Matt Stenerson.
For shots of horses, Libatique
preferred simple pans, but on the
rare occasion the camera traveled
with the horses, he employed
Chapmans Maverick mobile-arm vehi-
cle. Learning to deal with the horses
Left: Damage
caused by an
alien craft
sparks a
recollection in
Lonergan of his
own abduction.
Below: The
mysterious Ella
(Olivia Wilde)
joins Lonergan
in his quest to
remember who
he is and help
rescue
townsfolk
abducted by the
extraterrestrials.
62 August 2011 American Cinematographer
W
e had a lot of big guns on this one,
including Ron Howard and
Steven Spielberg as producers. In my
first meeting with Spielberg, he showed
me a restored print of The Searchers. He
has tremendous affection for John Ford
and the classic Western, and, of course,
he has tremendous facility with
anything alien. Like The Searchers ,
theres a picaresque aspect to Cowboys &
Aliens. Its a road film in many regards.
To transition from the Western
into the alien adventure, we had to find
a visual language that connected the
two. Matty Libatique and I looked at
and discussed movies like Alien and
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where
the filmmakers had to use darkness and
the visual language of the thriller to
slowly reveal the aliens, and then build
to a crescendo where you finally see
everything. Structurally, Westerns also
tend to build to a crescendo, with the big
gunfight at the end.
Part of what blends the cowboy
and alien genres is the anamorphic
format. Thinking of Close Encounters
and classic Westerns, we wanted the feel
of those anamorphic lenses. This is the
first time Ive worked with anamorphic,
and it may be the last time I can. The
chapter might be closing on analog 2-D
films, and we saw this as an opportunity
to make something we might not be
able to do again on this scale.
In many ways, the previs for this
film was more important than on the
Iron Man films. We had real cowboys
and real horses interacting with digital
aliens, and it was a lot to keep track of.
I worked with previs director Daniel
Gregoire and his company, Halon
Entertainment, for previs and postvis,
which is incredibly important for edit-
ing. They start drawing the elements
into the plates so when you look at the
film in the editing room, youre watch-
ing something that resembles the
finished product.
Legacy Effects created alien
puppets we could film on set. Especially
in the earlier sequences, where youre
trying to convince the audience to
believe what theyre seeing for the first
time, its nice to have something with a
tactile aspect. But even later in the film,
we sneaked in some practical pieces. As
the scale gets cranked up and the aliens
are seen in daylight and get more
athletic, ILM steps in, taking their cues
from what Legacy created. The trick is
to constantly switch what the audience
is looking at, because there are aspects of
both digital and physical elements that
|
A Maturing Collaboration
|
wont hold up under scrutiny. If you
dont show the audience either one for
too long, they can enjoy the film with-
out questioning the reality.
On Iron Man we often used
multiple cameras because it was very
improvisational, but on this film there
wasnt much variation between takes
cowboys dont really riff verbally. But we
had a lot of different sets built during
production and we were in a lot of
different cities, so we often didnt have
the time for a proper scout, and using
multiple cameras allowed Matty the
freedom to take the time at the start of
the day to find the lighting scheme for a
specific space and still make our day.
Matty and I both come from
independent film, and were able to
bring a certain amount of that indepen-
dent inspiration to populist entertain-
ment. Matty was nominated for an
Oscar for Black Swan, which he shot on
Super 16 with such a muted palette.
Thats great for me, because if he runs
up the lighting budget, I can say, We
dont need all this gear. Just shoot it like
Black Swan! You got nominated for that
one!
Jon Favreau
Left: Lonergan and Dolarhyde form an uneasy alliance in their mutual fight against the aliens. Right: Cowboys & Aliens marks the
third collaboration between Favreau and Libatique. Over the course of the three films weve made together, Matty and I have ma tured
as filmmakers, says Favreau. Its been an enjoyable experience for both of us.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 63
and their temperaments was the best
part of the job, he says. Harrison
Fords horse, in particular, was like a
grumpy person. One day Harrison
came off his horse and said, Matty,
what lens are you on? I told him it was
a 50mm, and he said, Will you put on
the 75mm and back up? Youre spook-
ing my horse!
Before the filmmakers began
shooting onstage at Universal, they
spent 60 shooting days in multiple
locations in New Mexico, including
Bonanza Creek, which provided the
setting for Absolution. We wanted the
town to feel as authentic as possible at
night, says Libatique. Scott
Chambliss and I spent a lot of time
discussing the practicals, the motiva-
tion of the light, how dark we would go
and the patina of the wood.
That was a big job for the
fixtures team, notes Michael Bauman,
Libatiques longtime gaffer. All the
buildings had hurricane lamps with
small bi-pin [25-, 50- or 100-watt]
globes, and all those sources were tied
into a dimmer, which allowed us to dim
the globes to get the color temperature
into the ballpark of flame and easily
create flicker effects.
The other challenge for night
exteriors was to add an element of
separation without the look of over-
done backlight, says Libatique. New
Mexicos notorious winds prevented
the crew from using balloon lights to
create ambience for separation, so we
ended up using Condors with T8
Technologies Luma Panels on them,
says Bauman. The Lumas are a big,
fluorescent source with a throw of a
couple hundred feet. It was a nice, even
backlight that didnt create big, hard
shadows.
Production on Cowboys began in
the Bonanza Creek location, and the
first sequence the filmmakers tackled
was a nighttime attack by small alien
craft called speeders. The speeders
strafe the town with laser blasts and
snatch up townspeople with long,
whip-like tethers in a dynamic
sequence that was largely accomplished
Top: Sheriff
Taggart (Keith
Carradine, in
doorway)
interrupts
Lonergans drink
in Absolutions
saloon. Middle:
Two cameras
capture the
action. Bottom:
Overhead soft
boxes with 250-
and 500-watt
globes wired to
a dimmer board
help bolster the
ambience inside
the saloon.
64 August 2011 American Cinematographer
in-camera. Figuring out how to accom-
plish the scene practically, however,
proved a significant challenge.
To help determine which fixtures
could best represent the speeders,
Bauman approached Burbank-based
Chaos Visual Productions. Theyre
always the dudes to call when you need
something visually unique, says
Bauman. They were working with
lasers from a company called
Lightwave International [near]
Pittsburgh. Its a robust product, and
the output is pretty insane. We set up a
test onstage at Universal, and we knew
there was something there the
patterns from the lasers were really
interesting, and they had a different
quality than a moving light.
The filmmakers ultimately chose
a few configurations that mixed and
matched Lightwaves 12-, 21- and 26-
watt lasers, Clay Paky Alpha Beam
1500 moving fixtures (rented from
Chaos) and, for pure firepower, says
Bauman, PRG Bad Boy moving
fixtures.
The question then became how
to rig the units and fly them over a
1,500' run above the town. After test-
ing and deciding against a helicopter,
the filmmakers turned their eyes to the
Spydercam system, which is designed
to fly a camera by means of a modular
cable rig.
Rigging lights to the Spydercam
was definitely non-traditional, says
Bauman. Tana Dubbe and [rigging
key grip] Charlie Gilleran met with
Hammer Semmes at Spydercam to talk
about the capacity of the system. He
said we could fly about 1,400 pounds at
40 mph. The high capacity was
crucial, as the Spydercam had to be able
to fly not just the lights, but also a
Subaru generator that could power the
fixtures.
The Spydercam was very
measured, says Bauman. The lights
moved in a straight line, which worked

Once Upon a Time in theWest


Above: The aliens
make their
presence known
with a dramatic
nighttime raid on
Absolution. Right:
Lonergan uses the
alien contraption
on his wrist to
shoot down one
of the speeders.
w ww.theasc.com August 2011 65
like a metronome for the whole set. As
the rig flew in, we could cue explosions,
stunts and background. And we could
park the rig where we needed it to set
up gags or make any programming
adjustments.
To enable the crew to film
tighter shots as the Spydercam was
reset, lasers, Clay Pakys and Bad Boys
were rigged on the Luma Panel-bear-
ing Condors positioned around the
location.
There was so much planning
[for that sequence], and there had to be
for safety reasons, says Bauman. We
evaluated everything, and the scene has
a really strong visual sense. Pausing, he
adds, We made it work, but it proba-
bly took a couple years off my life.
Between setups on Stage 27,
Libatique scrolls through photos of the
speeder attack on his iPad. I shot at
T2.8 in that scene, he notes. The
backlight was 2 stops down. If the
backlight was reading an incident
brighter than T1.4, Id turn off globes.
I just wanted separation; I didnt want
it to be backlight.
Certain anamorphic lenses
dont look good at T2.8, so I aimed for
a T2.8/T4, he continues. If I can get
to a T4, it helps the guys on the long
lenses. When John Schwartzman
[ASC] told me he stops down to a T4
[to help focus], I said, Isnt it darker?
and he said, So what? And hes right!
You bring it up [at the lab].
With the speeder attack in the
can, the crew still had another major
challenge to face: day exteriors.
Weather conditions were changing
constantly, Libatique recalls. It was
the biggest challenge of my career in
terms of matching. Fighting the suns
dance in and out of cloud cover became
especially problematic when it came
time to film the exterior portion of the
climactic action sequence, when the
humans draw the proverbial line in the
sand in a final showdown against the
alien invaders.
Libatique shot the scene on
Kodak Vision3 200T 5213. I wasnt
happy with the RGB nature of the
Top: The effect of
the speeders flying
overhead was
captured in-camera
by flying Lightwave
lasers and Clay Paky
Alpha Beam and PRG
Bad Boy moving
fixtures on a
Spydercam rig.
Middle: The
Spydercam also
carried a generator
to power the fixtures.
Bottom: The speeder
lighting configuration
was also mounted
beneath Condors to
allow the crew to
film tighter shots
as the Spydercam
was reset.
66 August 2011 American Cinematographer
contrast that I would get in a direct-sun
situation, so I pulled it a stop, he says.
And when the clouds came in, Id
shoot it normal. It was a nightmare for
the assistants wed shoot 50 feet and
have to change loads.
Libatique had switched to 5213
for day exteriors after starting produc-
tion with Kodak Vision2 50D 5201. I
was aiming for a fine-grain clarity of
foliage, he explains. I wanted a
juniper to look like a juniper, a cactus to
look like a cactus. Jon is a literal direc-
tor. Hes not impressionistic, hes not
expressionistic, hes literal. And I
wanted to achieve fidelity [with the
image].
5201 stuck in my head because I
think it has a beautiful texture no other
stock has, he continues. But I got
freaked out because when it would go
dark in a shot, the faces would go
warm, and nothing bothers me more
than something in the shadows that
gets warm. I shot about half the films
exteriors on 5201, and then I switched
to 5213, which I thought was more
malleable and gave me a little more
sensitivity.
Libatique noticed 5201s ten-
dency to go warm in the shadows while
enjoying the rare privilege of viewing
printed dailies. He explains, On a
show with this kind of budget, theres
a projection trailer, and once a day Id
go in and watch prints. That was my
guide the entire time. Our line
producer, Denis Stewart, is extremely
respectful of the craft. He understood
why I printed, so it wasnt a fight at all.
Adam Clark at Deluxe timed
our dailies, Libatique continues. Ive
known him since Phone Booth [AC Nov.
02]. I asked him what my [printing]

Once Upon a Time in theWest


Right: Lonergan
and Ella maneuver
through an
upside-down
riverboat found in
the middle of the
desert. Below:
Constructed on
Stage 27 at
Universal Studios,
the riverboat set
was lit from
above largely
with Clay Paky
moving fixtures.
68 August 2011 American Cinematographer
lights were, and if they were in the low
30s I knew Id hit my mark.
The cinematographer also com-
municated with Clark by e-mailing
him color-corrected digital stills.
Every day I take stills, and every night
I put them in Aperture, color-time
them, write an explanation of what Im
aiming for, and then e-mail them. Its
really more for me than it is for [the
lab]. Its tedious, but Im more in tune
with my work when I do it.
Flashbacks in Cowboys reveal
clues about Lonergans life before he
awoke as an amnesiac in the desert. For
those sequences, Libatique cross-
processed color-reversal Kodak
Ektachrome 100D 5285. He adds, I
didnt do anything else to it. Usually I
would push it, pull it or bleach-bypass
it [in addition to cross-processing], but
I played it pretty straight because,
again, Jons more of a literal guy.
Libatique used Kodak Vision3
500T 5219 for interiors and night
scenes. As with any self-respecting
Western, one important interior was
the saloon, which was a part of the
Absolution set at Bonanza Creek.
Libatique recalls, I walked into the
space and thought, Its too dark to
drink in here! There was no way they
wouldnt have any augmenting light;
something would be illuminating the
interior aside from windows.
Accordingly, as with the towns exterior,
frosted hurricane lamps were used to
hide small bulbs on flicker gags. To
boost the overall light level, Baumans
team built overhead soft boxes with
250- and 500-watt globes, and it was all
on a dimmer board so we could warm
up the color temperature, says the
gaffer. It gave a soft toplight look
[motivated by the sets] chandeliers.
To supplement candlelight and
other flame effects both indoors and
out, the crew made regular use of
covered wagons, diffusion-wrapped
batten strips the crew dubbed John
Fords in honor of their cinematic
inspiration. They utilized a few differ-
ent iterations, but the typical John Ford
was about 2 feet long with six globes
wired to three dimmer channels, says
Bauman. Most of the time we put Lee
Fire gel on it to simulate firelight, and
that worked pretty well. If we needed
more throw, we sometimes used HPL
6-Lights; each channel is controllable,
and we could run each [globe] through
a flicker gag. But the John Ford was
really our workhorse.
The films titular aliens are intro-
duced slowly, and its not until the
searchers arrive at the riverboat that one
of the creatures is finally shown
onscreen. The day before ACs set visit,
the crew had filmed that first appear-
ance, utilizing a puppet created by

Once Upon a Time in theWest


Above: The
titular cowboys
ride against the
invading aliens
in the films
climactic
showdown.
Right: Lonergan
and Dolarhyde
run for cover.
T
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.
A Leading Provider of
EFFECT LIGHTING,
SYSTEM INTEGRATION,
and CUSTOM VIDEO SOLUTIONS
for the motion picture industry.
www.chaosvisual.com
Los Angeles Nashville London
CHAOS would like to thank
COWBOYS & ALIENS
for utilizing our services.
70
Legacy Effects. Libatique notes, It was
nice to actually see a physical alien
instead of having an empty frame, and
I think it works very effectively, espe-
cially in this night scene.
The alien is revealed in flashes of
lightning provided by Luminys
Systems 40K and 70K Lightning
Strikes units, which Bauman operated
manually while seated near Favreau in
video village. In addition to the
Lightning Strikes, we had [Kino Flo]
Image 80s for an ambient source, and
we had a lot of Clay Paky movers
broken up with gobos, says the gaffer.
Everything was flown from the ceiling
in that set because there was such
limited access.
When another light was needed,
he continues, wed throw a rope with a
stinger down from the perms, attach a
piece of pipe, and mount a moving light
with a wireless DMX receiver. Then
Scott Barnes, our programmer, would
start building cues for it.
The aliens become a major pres-
ence onscreen in the films third act,
when humans discover their partially
buried spaceship, which the extraterres-
trials are using to mine gold. AC had a
chance to explore the ships subter-
ranean passageways, which were
constructed on Universals Stage 12.
Examples of the aliens mining tech-
nology dotted the set, and crewmem-

Once Upon a Time in theWest


Inside the
aliens partially
buried
spacecraft,
Lonergan finds
the mechanisms
of their
gold-mining
operation. To
create the
effect of gold
filtering
upward
through tubes,
the crew
utilized strips
of yellow
LiteRibbon
wired to
custom
dimmers.
71
bers worked on a few pieces as AC
passed by, fitting LED strips into verti-
cally oriented tubes in order to create,
in-camera, the sense of gold filtering
upward.
Bauman later explained the
effect in greater detail: We used small
sections of LiteGears yellow
LiteRibbon and ran each to a custom
dimmer system built into the bottom of
the mining machine. Then Joshua
Thatcher, our media-server program-
mer, pixel-mapped the whole thing so
we could feed a video signal through
the LiteRibbon dimmers and give the
light a flowing quality.
AC again caught up with
Libatique when he was in the midst of
the digital grade at EFilm, where he
worked with colorist (and ASC associ-
ate member) Steven J. Scott. My first
pass on the DI is to get everything the
way I imagined, and then I let it mari-
nate, go back to reel one, and go
through the film again, thinking about
it from a less technical standpoint, says
the cinematographer.
During his first pass, he contin-
ues, I realized I should have stuck with
5201 for day exteriors I could fix
everything that bothered me about it in
the DI suite. There are some really nice
5213 shots as well; that stock has amaz-
ing detail in it. I use the word fidelity a
lot 5213 has kind of a thinner
fidelity, a thinner difference between
one shade and another, whereas 5201 is
very bulbous, just texturally rich.
After making three features with
Favreau, Libatique observes, I under-
stand him better. Theres a trust. And
hes evolving he has always been
strong with performance, but hes
savvier now at every technical level. He
wont dictate a shot, but hell always
have an amazing idea that has an
element of drama and also an element
of comedy. Jon will always entertain
you.
TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
Anamorphic 35mm
Panaflex Millennium,
Millennium XL
Panavision G-Series, C-Series;
Primo zooms
Kodak Vision2 50D 5201;
Vision3 200T 5213, 500T 5219;
Ektachrome 100D 5285
Cross-processing by Deluxe
Laboratories
Digital Intermediate

72 August 2011 American Cinematographer
Affordable Apps Poised to Transform Post
By Stephanie Argy
Earlier this year, Autodesk released, for the first time, a Mac-
based version of Smoke, a compositing and finishing system that is a
relatively low-priced cousin of the companys high-end Flame. This
new version of Smoke joins a growing family of Mac-based software
that Autodesk has been rolling out, including Maya (a 3-D modeling,
texturing and animation program) and Mudbox (a program that
enables artists to sculpt in 3-D).
Whats the impact of lower-priced computer-graphics applica-
tions? And what does it suggest about the future for visual effects
and post facilities and the filmmakers who work with them?
Two people who have found ways to use the evolving tech-
nology well are Sbastien Dostie and Mark Youngren, visual-effects
supervisors who have a background at large facilities but have now
moved to smaller ones.
Youngren worked at Industrial Light & Magic for many years,
and is now on staff at Minneapolis post house Splice, where he is a
visual-effects supervisor, post supervisor and senior Flame operator.
ILM is fantastic, but you do tend to get specialized, says Youngren.
Everyone focuses on his specific role in the process there, and I
missed wearing many hats. At Splice, I have that opportunity again. I
feel like Im back in the drivers seat of my career.
Dostie previously held positions at companies that included
Ubisoft Digital Arts, and he is now a visual-effects designer and super-
visor at Boogie Studio in Montreal. He says the key to enabling smaller
shops to juggle work the way big facilities do is finding creative people
who want to band together and offer their talents under a smaller
umbrella. There will always be big facilities like Technicolor and ILM,
but I think well see another business model, a new way of gathering
talented people to make content for a show, he observes.
Dostie notes that at a large facility, pipeline decisions have to
last for a long time, and if changes to them dont work out, they
affect a lot of people. But at Boogie, artists are better able to exper-
iment with how things are set up, knowing that the choice will be
relatively easy to undo, if necessary. We can turn the boat way
quicker, and thats what our clients need, he says.
Dostie says that this new generation of Autodesk tools has
facilitated that flexibility. As we built Boogie, we started with Maya
and Smoke on Mac. They share technology, data and a unique
production environment. Now its very convenient for small shops,
because even without customizing, we can have software talk to
other software.
Boogie and Splice both have a wide range of clients. Were
trying to open up Splice as a whole and have more baskets and
more eggs, if you will, says Youngren, who explains that the
company has done a few films, a few broadcast commercials, some
Web material and some episodic work.
Its not that the little shops are taking more and more of the
pie I think the pie is getting bigger, he adds. Smaller houses, he
explains, not only capture work, but also generate it by telling
producers and directors whats possible at a lower budget, and by
tailoring the work they do to particular projects.
I heard a term the other day I really like: the snowflake
model, which means no two projects are alike anymore, says
Youngren. Its hard to come up with a standard model. I imagine it
might have been like this when they moved from silent films to
talkies. I think it might be like this as we move to a film-less and
media-less environment.
Post Focus
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e
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I
Left: Josh Hartnett stars as Paddy in the feature Stuck Between Stations, which took
advantage of the post services offered by Minneapolis-based Splice. Right: Splices
Mark Youngren served as the films visual-effects supervisor.

But changing paradigms come at a


cost. What happened in desktop publish-
ing and music was a big shake-up, says
Youngren. Many of the big pillars of those
industries didnt survive, but new ones
arrived to take their place. Youngren
believes the power shifted from companies
that had big resources to people who were
the most creative.
For artists and facilities, Dostie says,
its critical to be well rounded. Whether
youre in a big or small facility, the key is
curiosity. When you have Maya installed in
your room, and the guy in the next room
has Smoke, its good for you to know what
Smoke is doing.
He encourages artists to try the 30-
day free trials of unfamiliar applications, to
take part in lots of forums, and to network
with people in the industry who are willing
to share their knowledge. Dont stay in
your apartment and play with Maya talk
to people, he says. There are a lot of
people who can bring awesome stuff to the
table, but in the production environment,
they break, and thats very unfortunate. In
the end, youre always collaborating with
other people.
Youngren is hopeful about the new
generation of post artists. Although he sees
students coming out of school who are very
specialized who only want to be charac-
ter animators or riggers, for example he
is also starting to see people who are learn-
ing a lot of tools, and who do one particu-
lar thing in each tool. Theyll learn Side
Effects Houdini just to make a particle
effect, and then theyll add that to a model
in Autodesk 3ds Max, use a renderer they
like, and put it together in Adobe After
Effects. Theyre generalists taking the
compositing tools as part of their lineup. The
3-D and 2-D are coming together as a
means to an end, especially in the younger
crowd. I think thats really exciting.
Youngren says he feels fortunate to
be in a career where he is consistently
exposed to new technology. It fosters an
environment where you want to evolve as
much as your software does. An interesting
side effect of having software thats
upgraded is that you have to adapt. Youre
constantly changing and progressing.
Free 30-day trials of the new Mac-
based Autodesk tools are available at
http://usa.autodesk.com/products/free-prod
uct-trials.
Sixteen19 Celebrates First
Anniversary
New York-based post company
Sixteen19 recently celebrated the comple-
tion of its first year in business. Co-founded
by managing partners Pete Conlin and
Jonathan Hoffman, the company offers DI,
editing, color-correction, mobile dailies, on-
set data management and finishing solu-
tions, and boasts satellite offices in Los Ange-
les, New Orleans and London. The New York
headquarters features 17 Avid editing suites,
two color-correction theater/screening
rooms, digital dailies, file transcode/encode
and workflow management.
We opened our doors to a set of
high-profile projects, says Claire Shanley,
Sixteen19s managing director. Our initial
clients included Black Swan , Salt, The
Adjustment Bureau, Morgan Spurlocks The
Greatest Movie Ever Sold and the hit HBO
series Treme.
Conlin adds, We conceived
Sixteen19 around an exceptional team [that
shares] a broad sphere of technical knowl-
edge across all departments. They embody
a wealth of experience with feature film
workflows and Avid systems for feature film
and broadcast. Their industry foundations
are universally rooted in internships. Each of
us has worked our way up through the
ranks. Other members of the team include
Emmy-winning editor Anthony Cortese,
executive producer Ben Baker, director of
technical services Travis Boyer and director
of technology Brandon Bussinger.
Its unusual for a company in our
business to open its doors with no fanfare
whatsoever, Conlin continues. But our
primary mandate was to create a blue-
ribbon, international, service-oriented orga-
nization which would attract and maintain
a high-level client base. Our first year has
been extraordinarily gratifying. We are
currently working on a number of projects,
and are extremely optimistic for our future.
For additional information, visit
www.sixteen19.com.
Imagineer Systems, ICO VFX
Streamline 3-D Conversion
Imagineer Systems has partnered
with visual-effects company ICO VFX to
develop a streamlined 2-D-to-3-D conver-
sion pipeline based on Mocha Pro, Imagi-
neers 64-bit planar tracking and rotoscop-
74 August 2011 American Cinematographer
Sbastien Dostie (right) serves as visual-effects designer and supervisor at Montreal-based Boogie Studio, whose credits includ e a series of
commercials for kitchen-and-bath company Canac (left).
ing visual-effects software.
Partnering with Imagineer Systems
on this initiative has put us at the forefront
of the booming 2-D-to-3-D conversion
industry, says Chris Holmes, president and
CEO of ICO VFX. Imagineers team has
helped us tightly integrate Mocha Pros
technology into our stereo-conversion
pipeline, and the intuitive interface has
made it easy for us to rapidly scale our inter-
national operations.
2-D-to-3-D conversion projects are
taking off in Hollywood and around the
world, enthuses Ross Shain, chief market-
ing officer for Imagineer Systems. We are
pleased to be working with ICO VFX, as
their experience and input on new feature
requirements will help our team improve
future generations of Mocha Pro and ensure
our products grow in the right direction for
our customer base.
ICO VFX has already leveraged
Mocha Pro in stereo-conversion and visual-
effects pipelines for a number of major
releases, including Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows: Part 1 , The Chronicles of
Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
and I Am Number Four.
For additional information,
visit www.imagineersystems.com and
www.icovfx.com.
VES Announces New York
Section
The Visual Effects Society, which
represents approximately 2,500 visual-
effects artists and practitioners worldwide,
has announced the formation of a new
section in New York, which will focus its
short-term goals on establishing member
education and mentoring programs, orga-
nizing and hosting creative and technical
panels, and expanding membership in the
region.
Members participating in the New
York Section are based in New York, New
Jersey and Connecticut. New York marks
the sixth VES Section following Australia,
New Zealand, London, San Francisco and
Vancouver. In order to qualify for official
section status, 50 regional VES members
need to organize and petition the VES
Board of Directors for recognition.
For additional information, visit
www.visualeffectssociety.com.
76 August 2011 American Cinematographer
Mobileviz ProvidesRolling Hub
By Michael Goldman
When Idaho company Silverdraft LLC began planning a
sophisticated data center that might, in combination with local tax
incentives, lure visual-effects-heavy productions to Boise, the
company hired Srinidhi Varadarajan, the director of the Center of
High-End Computing Systems at Virginia Tech, to be the systems
architect. But after Varadarajan designed a much smaller computing
infrastructure than the team thought possible, Silverdraft decided to
make the technology mobile. The result, Mobileviz, offers massive
computing power and sophisticated post tools that can neatly visit
stages or locations.
Once Dr. Varadarajan gave the data system a smaller foot-
print, we realized it should be mobile, explains Michael Cooper,
who is in charge of business development for Silverdraft. The idea
goes hand in glove with what filmmakers have been doing with
virtual productions, except that companies wont have to build
those infrastructures from the ground up. They can have us bring it
to them wherever they happen to be shooting.
Silverdraft hired Advance Systems Services to convert and
build out a 53'-long trailer that expands in width from 8' to 16' with
pop-out sections. Video and data integration was completed with
the help of Armadillo of Redondo Beach, Calif. Half of the trailer
houses two 200-amp generators and a control room, where the
supercomputer and all workstations, routers and other hardware
systems live. The second half of the trailer is a functional post facil-
ity capable of running up to 12 work stations, all networked with
Infiniband fiber.
Varadarajan notes that Mobileviz relies on a single, sophisti-
cated brain to crunch data from different areas of a project simul-
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taneously rather than requiring entirely separate systems, and it does
so in a mobile setting. He says the computing system can process up
to 350 teraflops of data (350 trillion floating-point operations per
second) through 20Tb of Micron solid-state storage that is built into
a cluster of 1,536 computer cores on the truck. Plus, the network
that connects all the trailers systems runs at 40 Gbps.
This enables high-speed interconnectivity both externally
and to internal shared-storage systems, he says. This feature is
particularly important during data ingest on set from multiple high-
resolution cameras and/or other data sources. The presence ofthis
high-speed network enables line-rate data ingest directly into our
storage systems. Because the same high-speed network is used
internally, it enables processing and rendering operations to run a lot
faster off the same shared storage used for ingest. Each of our two
storage systems is capable of sustained performance of two giga-
bytes per second, which significantly accelerates rendering perfor-
mance.
In other words, he says, the big advantage of Mobileviz lies
in its ability to act as a one-stop shop that provides the entire
pipeline, from previsualization to post rendering. The ability to inte-
grate the differing requirements of these workflow stages in a single
systems infrastructure differentiates us from typical data centers.
Mobileviz was recently put through its paces on a render job
for Sony Pictures Imageworks. Silverdraft officials declined to discuss
the project in detail, but Varadarajan says the studio averaged over
600 Mbps, 24-7, for three weeks straight during a production render
on Mobileviz. That kind of sustained bandwidth is nearly impossible
to achieve over the Internet to a remote rendering facility, and it
would also be prohibitively expensive. Secondly, cloud rendering
would require production assets to be transferred off site, which
presents significant security issues. Because Mobileviz can physically
I
travel to a customers office and directly
hook into his data-center networks at very
high speed, video assets never leave the
premises, thereby solving both data-transfer
and asset-security issues.
Mobilevizs ability to instantly previ-
sualize virtual material while shooting live
actors for visual-effects sequences can also
be useful to the production community. To
explore these capabilities, Silverdraft put
Mobileviz to work on an extensive test,
dubbed the Virtual Production Project. The
one-day shoot composited CG previs mate-
rial created by The Third Floor (using
Autodesk Maya and MotionBuilder soft-
ware) with a live performance-capture
shoot run by motion-capture facility Knight
Vision to create avirtual battle between
humans and robots. The test was directed
by Alex Frisch and shot by cinematographer
Sergei Kozlov.
Kozlov used an Arri Alexa outfitted
with Arri/Zeiss Ultra Primes, recording to
Codex field recorders. Kozlov called the
truck the spacecraft because of its state-
of-the-art tools, which include a range of
monitors; a full Codex lab; a DVS Clipster
system; FilmLight Baselight and Truelight
tools; Autodesks MotionBuilder, Maya, 3ds
Max, Flame and Smoke stations; Mental
Images Mental Ray compositing stations;
Chaos Groups V-Ray and PipelineFXs Qube
rendering stations; and Final Cut Pro and
Avid editing stations.
Kozlov operated the camera and
shot handheld, experimenting with ways to
frame subjects while accounting for size
and perspective differences between actors
and animated robots. Simultaneously, the
production had two live motion-capture
volumes sending motion data through
Mobilevizs central brain, which translated
the data into virtual characters that inter-
acted with the actors performing for
Kozlovs camera. All environments and
virtual characters were visible to Kozlov
through an on-board LCD monitor. He had
to get used to a half-second delay while
trying to match subjects with the virtual
image, but this was not difficult, he says.
Kozlov adds that his perspective as
an operator enabled him to advise the
visual-effects team on how, when and
where to place certain characters, objects
and effects for maximum impact. For
example, the camera was on my shoulder,
and we had CG helicopters in the air, so I
would pan up into the sky and see where
the best place would be for the helicopters
to fly into the shot, he explains. Within a
few moments, the visual-effects artists
could make the suggested changes to the
CG helicopters positions.
It wasnt final-quality CG, of
course, but I could see the basic animation
of the choppers while shooting, says
Kozlov. Then I could whip-pan while they
were shooting missiles to the ground, and I
could show [the visual-effects unit] the best
position for the explosions.
Silverdraft officials note that various
technologies can be configured in and out
of the trailer on a per-project basis. The
Virtual Production Project was shot with an
Arri/Codex workflow, but this could be
replaced by a Red workflow, for example, or
theBaselight could be swapped out for a
Lustre.
Silverdraft founder and CEO Amy
Giles says the goal is to allow creativity to
flourish. Mobileviz was designed with the
artist in mind, she says. I really see it as a
place to bring collaborators together on
set.
Ultimately, adds Cooper, Mobileviz
represents another step toward uniting
production and post under a single
umbrella. Post schedules are so condensed
today, and filmmakers are pushing the limits
of all their tools, so having literally every-
thing available on set is obviously helpful to
them, he observes. With Mobileviz they
can shoot [visual-effects sequences] more
like live action, with multiple takes and [the
ability to make] changes instantly. Thats
what were trying to facilitate.
For additional information, visit
www.silverdraft.com.
Fletcher Represents
FotoKem NextLab
FotoKem has announced that its
NextLab system is now being represented
in the Midwest region by Fletcher Camera
& Lenses. Built on FotoKems proprietary
file-based workflow software, the mobile
NextLab system brings powerful postpro-
duction capabilities toproductions around
the globe, and serves as an extension of
FotoKems in-house technological advance-
ments and professional services.
Housed in a mobile, rugged enclo-
sure, NextLab was developed to service the
industrys transition to RAW and data-
centric formats supported by digital
camera systems from Arri, Red, Silicon
Imaging, Canon and more. The custom
software securely stores media, archives to
LTO, provides quality-control tools and
offers access to metadata, audio syncing,
color management and transcoding. Next-
Lab streamlines the dailies process and
provides fast delivery to editorial and
finishing.
Fletcher Camera and Lenses oper-
ates offices out of Chicago and Detroit,
offering productions in the Midwest region
top-of-the-line film and digital cameras and
accessories. Four years ago, Fletcher built
its own mobile system, Cosmos, to address
the needsof productions for on-set data
management and editorial services. Like
FotoKem, Fletcher was among a very small
number of companies that started to build
the solutions for what was coming with
data-centric workflows, says ASC associ-
ate member Tom Fletcher, vice president of
Fletcher Camera & Lenses. When I saw
where FotoKem had taken NextLab, I
immediately knew they had built some-
thing truly amazing. The NextLab workflow
improves efficiency for all types of projects
motion pictures, commercials and
television.
We have worked closely with Tom
Fletcher over the years on a wide variety of
projects, says Tom Vice, vice president and
80 August 2011 American Cinematographer
general manager of FotoKems NextLab.
As an expert who has been involved with
the use of emerging and evolving camera
technologies,he became an early leader in
mobile systems supporting file-based work-
flows on location All of us at FotoKem
are very excited about this collaboration,
and see it as a great way to have an indus-
try leader represent us in the Midwest.
For additional information, visit
www.fotokem.com and www.fletch.com.
Arri, Tweak Integrate
High Dynamic Range Support
Tweak Software and Arri have
announced a collaboration to integrate
high-dynamic-range color support for Arris
Alexa digital camera into Tweaks tools for
playback, dailies and transcoding, including
RV, Tweaks image and sequence viewer for
visual-effects and animation artists.RVs
high-performance toolset is built on an
open, extensible architecture, allowing
users to adapt the software to their own
pipelines and styles of working.
The Alexas astonishing dynamic
range and wide color gamut make it a
great source for visual-effects plates and
elements, says Seth Rosenthal, co-founder
of Tweak Software. RVs floating point,
high-dynamic-range image pipeline, linear-
light workflow and uncompromised color
handling are a natural match for Alexa
imagery in a high-end visual-effects
pipeline.
For additional information, visit
www.arri.com and www.tweaksoft
ware.com.
Lightcraft Offers
Free Photogrammetry Tools
Lightcraft Technology, a developer
of real-time visual-effects technology, is
making its photogrammetry tools available
free-of-charge to the companys clients and
to members of the filmmaking community.
Lightcraft created a specific set of
photogrammetry tools for developing
photorealistic sets and digital assets for use
in Previzion, the companys real-time visual-
effects system, which provides a combina-
tion of high-precision camera tracking,
sophisticated rendering and visual-effects-
quality keying for on-set compositing of
virtual backgrounds and CG characters. The
same photogrammetry tools can also be
used with other 3-D graphics applications.
Lightcrafts photogrammetry tools
are a complete set of Maya plug-ins, scripts
and shaders that are designed to import
standard photogrammetry data, undistort
projected images, assist in the modeling of
accurate reference geometry and then bake
the resulting projections into standard
texture maps with the appropriate models,
explains Eliot Mack, Lightcrafts founder and
Previzion architect. This process dramati-
cally speeds up the creation of complete,
portable, photorealistic 3-D models that can
be rendered in real time. Our photogram-
metry tools make it possible for a single
person to go out with a DSLR and capture
enough stills to create a photorealistic 3-D
background model.
Lightcraft also recently announced a
number of new features for Previzion,
including real-time visualization of multiple
animated characters and moving objects
from Autodesks MotionBuilder via Light-
crafts Prelink plug-in; 3-D drawable track-
ing mattes with assignable custom matte
attributes such as garbage matteing and
color de-spill; integrated multi-system
synchronization; stereo metadata capture
and analysis tools, including accurate
computation of true IO and convergence
distance; encoded crane support for use
with Encodacam and Kuper interfaces;
expanded rendering using CGFX shaders
for reflection, bump and normal mapping,
and advanced lighting effects; improved
real-time keying with Add/Mix matte
controls; full support for stage and location
optical tracking; expanded video-format
support; in-camera motion blur on virtual
elements; dual-selectable HD outputs,
including composited image and matte
channel; and support for rendering five to
10 simultaneous HD video streams as back-
ground plates and textures.
For additional information, visit
www.lightcrafttech.com.
The Foundry Brings
Weta Compositing to Nuke
Following The Foundrys collabora-
tion with Weta Digital on the Mari 3-D
texture-painting technology, the two
companies have entered into an agreement
to bring to Nuke the deep-compositing tech-
nology developed by Weta for Avatar.
Deep compositing allows artists
working with CGI material to process and
composite deep images containing multi-
ple opacity or color samples per pixel at
different depths. In addition to enabling new
creative possibilities in compositing, such as
volumetric effects, the technique leads to
higher-quality imagery when integrating and
finishing CGI rendered elements. Addition-
ally, by increasing the amount of useful data
available in compositing, the toolset provides
greater efficiencies by reducing the amount
of rendering typically required from CGI
departments. For example, the generation
of holdout mattes for individual CGI objects
or characters can be performed within Nuke
itself, resulting in hundreds of hours of
savings on large-scale projects that promi-
nently feature CG assets.
Working with The Foundry to have
our tools integrated into the core of Nuke
ensures that the rest of the industry has
immediate access to this technology, says
Peter Hillman, the lead developer for the
deep-compositing workflow at Weta Digital.
This integration, together with the collabo-
rative effort between Weta Digital and other
leading [visual-effects] studios to integrate
deep data into the OpenEXR format, helps
establish a true cross-industry standard for
utilizing deep data.
Nuke 6.3 supports deep data within
the node graph and contains a range of
deep-compositing nodes. For more informa-
tion, visit www.thefoundry.co.uk/nuke.
International Marketplace
82 August 2011 American Cinematographer
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Advertisers Index
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Society Elects 2011-12 Officers
Michael Goi, ASC has been elected
to serve a third term as president of the
Society. I am honored to be re-elected by a
membership that is filled with tremendously
talented and accomplished artists, says
Goi. It is a privilege to represent an organi-
zation that is committed to educating aspir-
ing filmmakers, as well as advancing and
protecting our art form.
Other officers elected for the 2011-
12 term are Vice Presidents Richard P.
Crudo, Owen Roizmanand John C. Flinn
III; Treasurer Victor J. Kemper ; Secretary
Fred Goodich ; and Sergeant at Arms
Stephen Lighthill. John Bailey, Stephen
H. Burum, George Spiro Dibie , Richard
Edlund, Fred Elmes , Francis Kenny ,
Isidore Mankofsky, Robert Primes, Kees
Van Oostrum , Haskell Wexler and
Vilmos Zsigmond have been elected to
the Board of Governors.
ASC Active at Academy
Richard P. Crudo, ASC has been
elected to serve a three-year term on the
Board of Governors at the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He joins
Society fellows John Bailey and Caleb
Deschanel in representing cinematogra-
phers on the board.
In other Academy news, ASC
members Frank B. Byers, Steven Fier-
berg, Barry Markowitz and Charles
Minsky were among 178 artists and exec-
utives who were recently invited to join the
Academy.
Cinematographers Frame
Digital Age
ASC members John Bailey,
Guillermo Navarro and Dean Semler
recently joined ASC associate Rob
Hummel, directors Chris Sanders and Dean
DeBlois ( How to Train Your Dragon ), and
colorist Adrian Seery to discuss Cine-
matography in the Digital Age at the
Academys Samuel Goldwyn Theater in
Beverly Hills.
Bill Kroyer of the Academy Science &
Technology Council moderated the discus-
sion, which included pre-recorded remarks
by Wally Pfister, ASC.
Members Busy at Cine Gear
ASC members were especially busy
at this years Cine Gear Expo, which was
recently held at Paramount Studios in Holly-
wood. Dion Beebe, ASC, ACS joined key
grip Don Reynolds and gaffer John Buckley
for a Kodak-sponsored panel discussion
focusing on Green Lantern.
Kodak also presented a panel on
television that was moderated by AC
contributor David Heuring and included
producer/director Rob Bowman and cine-
matographers Kramer Morgenthau,
ASC; Christian Sebaldt, ASC ; and Ivan
Strasburg, BSC.
A presentation by Robert Primes,
ASC detailed the results of the recent Single
Chip Camera Evaluation, which involved a
team of cinematographers, engineers and
other imaging experts. Curtis Clark, ASC
discussed working with Sonys F65 digital
camera in the Sony-sponsored panel A
Giant Leap Forward: True 4K and Beyond.
Heuring interviewed John Bailey, ASC for
the Kodak-sponsored Inside the Mind of a
Master. Equipped with slides, film clips and
props such as a VistaVision movement,
Bailey led the audience on a tour through
the ever-changing technologies of image
acquisition.
Kodak also sponsored the panel Life
is a Series of Choices, and So is Filmmak-
ing, featuring ASC members Michael Goi,
M. David Mullen, Roberto Schaefer and
Aaron Schneider.
Bill Taylor, ASC joined ASC associ-
ate Jonathan Erland in conversation with
Scott Dyer for the Academy presentation
The State of Solid State Lighting.
The centerpiece of the Societys
involvement was the Dialogue with ASC
Cinematographers, moderated by George
Spiro Dibie and featuring Russ Also-
brook, Stephen Burum, James L. Carter,
Richard P. Crudo, Goi, Johnny E. Jensen,
Rexford Metz, Schaefer and Dante Spin-
otti. We [in the ASC] love to share infor-
mation, to share our experiences, said
Dibie, encouraging the capacity audience to
ask questions. The consensus among the
panel was to not get distracted by
constantly changing technology. Technol-
ogy is a tool, saidSpinotti, who urged the
audience to instead focus on culture,
aesthetics and art. You need ideas.
You are creating a visual language,
and that language is meant to evoke an
emotion in the audience, so use your eyes as
the gateway to the heart, added Jensen.
Stay focused on what it is we actuallydo as
cinematographers.
Agreeing with Jensen, Burum urged
aspiring cinematographers to study and
understand acting and editing. These are
the things that give you inspiration to do
what is required for a scene, he said.
In closing, Dibie advised aspiring
cinematographers to learn to work with all
these people who interfere with our jobs.
Then, he offered his three keys for success in
any job: Smell good, have a good attitude
and work very hard.
Clubhouse News
86 August 2011 American Cinematographer
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.
From left: Associate member Rob Hummel; Bill
Kroyer; John Bailey, ASC; Adrian Seery; Chris Sanders;
Guillermo Navarro, ASC; Dean Semler, ASC, ACS; and
Dean DeBlois.
88 August 2011 American Cinematographer
When you were a child, what film made the strongest impres-
sion on you?
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962),
epic stories unspooled on the large canvas of an exotic location
enhanced by spectacular photography.
Which cinematographers, past or present, do you most admire?
One of the first I noticed was Conrad Hall, ASC, for
his ability to do stunning black-and-white work with
an emotional impact within the constraints of a TV
schedule. More recently Ive admired the work of
ASC members Roger Deakins, Rodrigo Prieto, Caleb
Deschanel, Vittorio Storaro and John Bailey, and
Christopher Doyle, HKSC.
What sparked your interest in photography?
My uncle, an economist for the Federal Trade
Commission, was a serious amateur photographer
who took his 16mm Bolex all over the world. I was
captivated by the way he was able to entertain
people by setting up a projector in his basement
theater.
Where did you train and/or study?
At age 12, I began helping out on weekends at the radio station KVIP
in Redding, Calif., and later at their TV station. When I was in high
school, they hired me to shoot, develop and edit news film. In Septem-
ber 1963, I had the privilege of filming President Kennedy dedicating the
Whiskeytown Dam and Reservoir. I spent a college semester at the Slade
School of Fine Arts, University College, London, and received my MFA
from New York Universitys graduate film program.
Who were your early teachers or mentors?
I learned an enormous amount from George Abbott, my journalism
teacher at Shasta High School; Doug Watson, a cameraman at KVIP-TV;
and Jim Vestal, an award-winning local newspaper photographer. As an
undergraduate at Mackinac College, I was greatly influenced by my
professor Jack McCabe, a Shakespearean scholar and film buff.
What are some of your key artistic influences?
I look at the Dutch masters for their shadow and luminosity, and Im
always influenced by foreign travel for the distinctive types of available
light everywhere on the earth: on the Alps, on the plains of Central
Africa, on the sands of Egypt, against the ochre walls of Tuscan villas, on
fishing boats in Vietnam, gleaming up from rivers in Laos, and illumi-
nating jewel-toned saris in India.
How did you get your first break in the business?
I was called in to take over Fire Down Below, which became my first
credit on a major studio feature.
What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?
The Rescue Me Season 5 premiere at Radio City Music Hall. You dont
often get to see TV in a room like that.
Have you made any memorable blunders?
We make mistakes all the time, but the important thing is to try to keep
them small and take corrective action the next time around.
What is the best professional advice youve ever
received?
I received early encouragement from Woody Omens,
ASC; and Walter Lassally, BSC taught me many crucial
concepts over the course of several projects. I also
appreciated the opportunity to be on the set of Fat
City, where Conrad Hall was executing innovative
ideas like using 8K (4x2K) umbrella lights for the fight
scenes. In dailies, John Huston would just put his head
down and listen, trusting Conrad to deliver their visual
plan.
What recent books, films or artworks have
inspired you?
I admire The Kings Speech, Black Swan, Biutiful, True Grit and 127 Hours
for their innovative approach to drama. Im also deeply affected by the
blend of modern and historic architecture my distant relations have
created at our Lancashire family seat, Hoghton Tower. Running a 16th-
century estate in todays economy takes monumental effort, but the de
Hoghtons have managed to preserve the Banqueting Hall, which is lined
with 2,000 panes of Flemish glass, and drawing rooms where William
Shakespeare worked as a tutors assistant.
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to try?
Ive always been a fan of film noir, and after getting to know one of its
masters, John Alton, ASC, I studied his films even more intensely. I also
enjoy filming music, and it was great fun to shoot the musical segments
for Rescue Me in Busby Berkeley style.
If you werent a cinematographer, what might you be doing
instead?
Ive never really thought about it, because being a photographer and
cinematographer has been my quest since childhood.
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for member-
ship?
Steven Poster, Ron Fortunato and Dean Semler.
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
Its a great experience to be able to commune and compare notes with
my friends and heroes and attend events where I can pass on what Ive
learned to others.
Tom Houghton, ASC Close-up
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R OGI E R S TOF F E R S , AS C, NS C
ONFILM
To order Kodak motion picture lm,
call (800) 621-lm.
Eastman Kodak Company, 2011.
Photography: 2011 Douglas Kirkland
I love to make images. I believe that you need
to know the technical aspects so well that you
dont need to think about them anymore. Its
about the story and the characters, and along
with the ideas of your collaborators, your
approach is built out of that. I like to get one
or two images in my head that represent the
movie for me. As a director of photography,
my place is at the camera, in the middle of the
set, close to the actors, in the midst of all the
craziness and creativity. Then, when I put my
eye to the eyepiece, I enter my own world. At
that moment, nobody is concentrating on the
movie as much as I am. Thats the moment I
really love in lmmaking.
Rogier Stofers, ASC, NSC grew up in the
Netherlands and studied lmmaking at the
Nederlandse Film en Televisie Academie in
Amsterdam. His work on Character earned
the Golden Frog at the 1997 Plus Camerimage
International Film Festival of the Art of
Cinematography, and since then his credits
include School of Rock, Quills, John Q, Enough,
The Secret Life of Bees, No Strings Attached,
and The Vow, among others.
All these productions were photographed on
Kodak motion picture lm.
For an extended interview with Rogier Stofers,
visit www.kodak.com/go/onlm.