WHAT TO SEE AT THE BIG SHOW P12
April 2019 £4.99
BEHIND THE SCENES... with Ben Davis on two of this year’s biggest blockbusters
EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW SEE PAGE 10
A KIND OF MUSIC MAGIC Sourcing the soundtrack to Bohemian Rhapsody MEGA MAVO Hands-on with the large format Kinefinity
T he new
KIT REVIEWS | FILM V DIGITAL PART ONE | THE MAKING OF A LEGEND ALL IS TRUE | 5MINUTESWITHCINEOLIGHTING | NEWCAMERA LISTINGS Creating the anamorphic, midnight-blue world of Curfew ALSO INSIDE
EDITORIAL Editor Julian Mitchell 01223 492246 firstname.lastname@example.org Features writer Chelsea Fearnley Contributor Madelyn Most, Phil Rhodes, Adam Garstone Chief sub editor Beth Fletcher Senior sub editor Siobhan Godwood Sub editor Felicity Evans Junior sub editor Elisha Young ADVERTISING Sales director Matt Snow 01223 499453 email@example.com Sales manager Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 firstname.lastname@example.org Key accounts Nicki Mills 01223 499457 email@example.com DESIGN Design director Andy Jennings Designer Lucy Woolcomb, Man Wai Wong, Emily Lancaster Senior designer & production manager Flo Thomas Ad production Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook @definitionmagazine Twitter @definitionmags Instagram @definitionmags MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD, BRIGHT HOUSE, 82 HIGH STREET, SAWSTON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE CB22 3HJ UK
T his year’s NAB Show might be the one that brings two traditionally disparate sides of the industry closer than ever: traditional cinematography and VFX. Virtual production has improved the effectiveness of pre-vis and post-vis hugely, and now it’s looking to the professional video capture industry to bring its aesthetic into the virtual playground. We’ve heard rumours of lens manufacturers improving their data capture options this year, with camera and lighting brands also helping to map their individual looks into game engines, which can then be used to digitally light and shoot. The huge post-production rendering engines are on the edge of delivering VFX further up the delivery chain. Perhaps the only element missing is the knowledge base and a way for the hardware manufacturers to work together, especially in the optics world. Cinematographers are eager to learn how virtual production can help them, and pre-vis systems are already a huge help for the crew to visualise CG shots, but don’t underestimate the value of capturing all the data – especially the kind you can’t see.
JULIAN MITCHELL EDITOR
Definition is published monthly by Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3HJ. No part of this magazine can be used without prior written permission of Bright Publishing Ltd. Definition is a registered trademark of Bright Publishing Ltd. The advertisements published in Definition that have been written, designed or produced by employees of Bright Publishing Ltd remain the copyright of Bright Publishing Ltd and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Prices quoted in sterling, euros and US dollars are street prices, without tax, where available or converted using the exchange rate on the day the magazine went to press.
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36 ON THE COVER LEAVING LONDON
GEAR TESTS KINEFINITY MAVO LF After already reviewing the MAVO, we asked DOP Ash Connaughton to see what a large format version could do. BLACKMAGIC BRAW The news is that BMD’s new Pocket camera now works with its new BRAW format. JVC DT-U31PRO MONITOR JVC’s new monitors are feature- rich, robust and great value. 4K CAMERA LISTINGS Our famous camera listing now offers expert advice on how to put your camera kit together.
Sky’s new drama series, Curfew , is based on the ’80s John Carpenter aesthetic.
CONTENTS SET- UP TITLE SEQUENCE Fake moonlight meets the ’80s with a twist in dystopian series, Curfew. LIGHT SHOW Rich Pierceall, CEO of Cineo Lighting, sums up his NAB 2019 offering. TECH INNOVATION AWARDS We launch the first-ever awards from Definition magazine. NAB PREVIEW For the massive NAB Show, we highlight the companies to put on your visit list. DRAMA BEING BEN DOP Ben Davis is having a purple patch; we Oscar winner Nina Hartstone explains how she cut the sound to Bohemian Rhapsody . BORED BARD All Is True is a new movie about how Shakespeare handles retirement. FEATURES MAKING OF A LEGEND A new and exclusive series celebrating the gear that keeps on giving. RISE OF THE SUPER LABS 06 08 10 52 12 22 42 56 48 look at Dumbo and Captain Marvel . FILL YOUR HEAD WITH ROCK
Our new film verses digital series starts with the new and highly efficient UK film labs.
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Sky’s dystopian series Curfew has a simple premise: win a car race and be saved from a vile virus creeping its way around the world. DOP Suzie Lavelle had one basic style to work with. “Basically, the director’s only reference to me when we met was John Carpenter movies, so we could inhabit this world of fake moonlight, movie moonlight and blue... if we’d have been doing Children of Men it would have been difficult. When we started, Stranger Things season 2 came out and Curfew was a different eighties from that, it was British eighties but with some of the tropes of American eighties.”
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SET- UP | NAB SHOW 20 1 9
LIGHT SHOW LIGHTING CUES One of the most cutting-edge new lighting companies is Cineo and we ask its CEO Rich Pierceall about its plans for NAB 2019
WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL
ABOVE Rich Pierceall, CEO of Cineo Lighting
DEFINITION: What’s new for Cineo and the LightBlade products at this
movement through multiple zones, we are looking at ways to make pre-vis a reality with Cineo products, in a similar fashion to moving lights, with compatibility to programs like Maya. DEF: What’s new in the LightBlade product line, and what is the future RP: We are showing the full range of the LightBlade line at the show, but we think the versatility and lumen density of the Edge products are ideal for a broad range of broadest studio applications. for that range? DEF: How is your new colour standard development going, that promises to directly correlate your LED lights to the Rec 2020 standard used for cameras and monitors?
We are preparing
year’s NAB Show?
RICH PIERCEALL: Cineo is featuring the new Lightblade Edge products, in configurations tailored for Broadcast installations. DEF: Since you launched your new LED systems, what has the feedback been like? What are the markets you’re in looking for right now? RP: Now that high-quality LED systems are widely accepted for production, the next frontier is enhancements in control. Customers are finding new, creative ways to use these tools, and want more sophisticated control, while maintaining simplicity of operation. DEF: In our last interviewwith you, you mentioned harvesting metadata that could be archived with LUTs and CDLs. Is this something you can offer today? What network control systems are you using?
to publish our Universal Colour Standard shortly
RP: Digital lighting solutions, working in a network environment, offer new opportunities to streamline production efficiency. We will be starting the roll-out of these networking tools in late 2019. DEF: In the VFX world, when digital lighting is being used, is it possible to map the parameters of a Cineo light so DOPs can design lighting with a Cineo virtual product?
RP: We are preparing to publish our Universal Colour Standard shortly,
and expect it to kick off some pretty interesting conversations with other lighting manufacturers!
RP: Now that production lighting is capable of creating dynamic
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NEWS | AWARDS
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AWARDS | NEWS
We want to celebrate the best, the most cutting edge, the most interesting technology to come out of the film and television industry in the last year.
Our judging panel will come from the industry – the creatives and technologists – and the winners will be announced at the Cine Gear LA show at the end of May.
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SET- UP | NAB PREV I EW 20 1 9
NAB SHOW 2019 ONES TO WATCH The world’s biggest event covering the latest in film is upon us once again. Here’s our preview of some of the exhibits WORDS CHELSEA FEARNLEY
Blackmagic is showcasing its second- generation URSA Mini Pro, which now includes a Super 35 4.6K sensor (15 stops of dynamic range) and can shoot at up to 300fps. The new USB-C expansion port also allows for direct recording to external disks. Blackmagic will also have its Pocket Cinema Camera 4K on the stand, but with a new function: support for Blackmagic Raw. This update – available for free download through the Blackmagic website – provides all the benefits of Raw with the ease of use, speed and files sizes of traditional video formats. Blackmagic has also announced a new PCIe capture card with four independent HDMI 2.0b input connections and an update to its DeckLink 8K Pro will enable its four 12G-SDI connections to be used independently. Additionally, an update to the Blackmagic Duplicator 4K will add long-form recording.
Celebrating over a century in the film industry, Arri is showing its range of digital cameras, including the long-awaited LF large format camera with the new range of Signature lenses, designed for exclusive use with the new camera. Arri is also displaying its wireless system, high-end lenses, professional camera accessories and growing stable of lighting, including the latest SkyPanel S360 LED light. Products include the Alexa 65, Alexa SXT, Alexa Mini and Amira cameras, Master Anamorphic lenses and SkyPanel, L-Series and M-Series lights.
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XXX XXX XXX | SET- UP
At the NAB Show, Teradek is showcasing the latest in zero-delay wireless video systems: the Bolt XT. The XT combines great wireless performance with smart design to give cinematographers incredible flexibility on set. Real-time 1080p60 video offers pristine image quality, and powerful software features, like a built-in 5GHz spectrum analyser and 3D LUTS, allow professionals to monitor the feed with complete confidence. The Bolt XT receiver features a newly-integrated NATO rail, while the transmitter includes an Arri Pin-Loc for fast and easy mounting on set. Available battery plates include Gold or V-mount for the Bolt 1000/3000 XT, as well as Sony L-Series or Canon LP-E6 plates on the Bolt 500 XT. Bolt XT is compatible with all third-generation Bolt 500, 1000 and 3000 models, as well as the 703 Bolt, 10K and Sidekick II units.
BOXX TV boxx.tv
Boxx TV is esteemed by the filmmaking industry for making affordable, high-performance wireless video transmitters. Meeting the latest demand of its patrons, it will be demonstrating its new solution for delivering higher-quality content in real time. The solution will facilitate sub-frame 4K wireless video transmission and promises to delivery low latency. It also operates in the license- exempt spectrum, making it affordable to all. Boxx TV will also be showcasing its Atom range of HD wireless video solutions, which are now complete with time code and record trigger on all systems. Included in this range is the Atom Transmitter, which now offers an SDI loop and HDMI input. This is ideal for camera operators using Steadicam, portable field monitoring and UAV video links. The Atom solutions can be used to broadcast a signal to an unlimited number of receivers without pairing requirements, meaning it’s also possible to extend the array of the system using specialised antennas.
Red cameras are famously modular, but the company’s new rental-only piece eschews this approach with a unitary camera design. The Red Ranger was requested by the Red Authorised Rental House and is one of the first ‘all-in- one’ cameras for rental in the high-end cinema camera market. Designed to be grabbed and ran with, the Red Ranger is fully configured. It includes integrated I/Os, with three SDI outputs – one of which can be used independently from the other two feeds. Other features include support for a wider input voltage (11.5-32V) and there are two 24V and two 12V power outs. The camera also supports large power sources and is available in V-Lock or Gold Mount variants. To manage heat and reduce noise on-set, it includes a large diameter fan with a slow rotation. In addition to 8K Redcode Raw at up to 60 fps Full Format, the Ranger also captures to Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHR. As is to be expected, the new camera also includes Red’s modern, HDR-capable colour management system, IPP2.
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SET- UP | NAB PREV I EW 20 1 9
QUASAR SCIENCE quasarscience.com
Quasar Science is exhibiting its new A-LED medium screw base lamps, available in 6 watt A10 and 10 watt A21. Single colour temperature options include 3000K and 5600K. Also new is the Switch 10 watt A21 model, which includes 3000K and 5600K diodes in one bulb. Improvements include better colour accuracy, an improved dimming curve and instant on. The bulbs are flicker-free and dimmer compatible with high colour rendering. The Quasar Science booth is in the central hall at C10248.
SmallHD’s FOCUS line has only ever been constructed from a five-inch display. At NAB, SmallHD is premiering its first seven- inch touchscreen monitor, the FOCUS 7. Although the screen has 1900x1200 resolution, it can accept up to 4K 30fps signals and has 1000 nits of brightness and 323 pixels per inch. The FOCUS 7 lets you navigate through the menu via touchscreen display and is equipped with OS3 software enabling, quick- customisable professional tools. It has two Sony L-Series battery slots and can provide power output to small mirrorless cameras via a compatible cable. Other peripherals include a SD slot for LUT and still frame libraries, headphone jack, Micro USB port and full-size recessed HDMI.
JVC will present its range of connected camcorders with its new Connected Cam technology. This includes a new communications engine for optimised image processing and IP performance in advanced models. It delivers improved streaming performance and features Zixi error correction and SMPTE 2022 forward error correction for reliable transmission. Models in the Connected Cam range include the GY-HC900, a 2/3- inch HD shoulder mount camcorder, which is ideal for news, sports and live event production, and the GY-HC500/ HC550, which offer a combination of image quality, IP capability and handling. The new GY-HC500 and GY-HC550 offer a high-sensitivity one-inch 4K sensor and recording at 10-bit 4:2:2 at 50p/60p frame rates to SSD media using the ProRes codec.
The NAB Show will see Fiilex focus on its high-end, high-output LED fixtures, namely its Q8 Travel and Matrix II RGBW. Both of these lights draw 340W of power and emit more light than comparable 1K Tungsten fixtures. The Q8 Travel features an eight-inch Fresnel with a wide spot/ flood range of 12 to 60 degrees. Settings include adjustable colour temperature, magenta/green shift and low dimming without flicker or colour shift. The Matrix II RGBW punch light marks Fiilex’s first foray into the world of full-colour LED lighting. It blends the light of four Dense Matrix LED arrays through an integrated diffusion layer, resulting in a powerful, soft LED source. The Matrix II RGBW is compact, customisable and includes a unique snap-on fresnel. It also comes to the NAB Show with new effects modes and gel presets.
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COOKE OPTICS cookeoptics.com
Cooke’s success is largely built on the basis of doing what the filmmaker needs. It has over a lifetime of experience in the filmmaking business and, despite the years, this still remains at the heart of the company. At the NAB Show, Cooke is unveiling never-before-seen lenses from its S7/I spherical, Panchro/i Classic and Anamorphic/i Full Frame Plus ranges. Its new Anamorphic/i Full Frame plus range is available with SF coating, enabling an exaggerated flare, giving yet more choice to filmmakers. Cooke is also presenting the latest version of its /i3 Technology metadata system, which provides detailed lens data to VFX and post- production teams to help speed up the editing process. The /i3 firmware will now run distortion mapping, which is not just a theoretical measurement of spherical lenses of a particular focal length, but of the specific lens in use. Sony is currently working to integrate /i3 into the Sony Venice large format camera.
In keeping with the industry’s move toward lighter and more versatile gear, Bebob is introducing its ultra-compact Vmicro (V-mount) and Amicro (Gold Mount compatible) 14.4V battery packs. Both mount styles feature a choice of 43Wh, 98Wh and 147Wh versions, each with the lowest weight and footprint in its class. Ideal for cameras, viewfinder monitors and other on-set power guzzles, the Vmicro and Amicro batteries offer all the standard features you might expect, plus several Bebob innovations. On the smart side of each battery is a five-step, colourful LED power indicator, which monitors battery life and, below the power gauge, is a push- button to wake up the battery, check the power status or to activate the LED light. This nuance can help filmmakers connect the battery to the battery plate on dark sets. The batteries also support through-the-finder power data protocol from Arri, Red and Sony cameras. To complement the rest of the line, Bebob is also unveiling its new pocket- size micro chargers and battery plates, power bars, adaptors and hot swap adaptors for maximum versatility.
Canon is showing off its expansion of 4K and HDR solutions. Products include the new EOS C700 FF, EOS C200 and a range of high-end lenses such as the CN E18-80mm T4.4L IS KAS S and CN E70-200mm T4.4 L IS Cine-Servo lenses, as well as professional reference display monitors. The EOS C200 is the first Cinema EOS camera to feature Cinema Raw Light format. It’s been designed to take the complexity out of delivering high-quality footage, with benefits including an advanced AF system that provides reliability and accuracy when shooting 4K, and a high-quality LCD panel and Dual Pixel CMOS AF. The CN E18-80mm T4.4L IS KAS S and CN-E70- 200mm T4.4 L IS compact Cine-Servo lenses take advantage of 4K, offer integrated control and effortlessly switch between several subjects in a single shot.
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SET- UP | NAB PREV I EW 20 1 9
Visitors to the NAB Show are able to experience Sony’s next generation, full-frame motion picture camera system, the Sony Venice, most recently used to shoot political thriller Official Secrets and the Netflix series Sex Education (see our previous issue). It includes the recently released firmware version 3.0 (and upcoming 4.0), as well as its Extension System (CBK-3610XS), which is currently being used to shoot the Avatar sequels. Sony is also showcasing its wider range of solutions, designed to support filmmakers. The versatile FS7 II camcorder is on display alongside the compact 4K FS5 camcorder. While the latest BVM-HX310 TRIMASTER HX monitor is also on stand with the 16.5-inch TRIMASTER EL OLED critical reference monitor, the BVM-E171.
At NAB, IDX is announcing the release of its latest stackable battery solution. The IPL Series includes the IPL-98 and IPL-150 high-load batteries, with capacities of 96Wh and 143Wh respectively. These models will feature all the latest IDX technology, including the V-Torch LED light, which makes the batteries easy to mount in dark environments. No battery is complete without a charger. With travel being a large part of most video productions, IDX developed a four channel (2+2) simultaneous VL-4X V-Mount charger, which is compact, lightweight and convenient for those who already own IDX products. The included AC adapter can also serve as a 90W DC power supply. IDX is also showing the recently released DUO-C150 (143Wh) and the robust CUE-D300.
Sonnet is showcasing its Thunderbolt 3-to-PCIe card expansion systems, which enable users to connect professional PCIe cards to any computer through a Thunderbolt 3 port. This will include its Echo Express systems, which can accommodate one, two or three powerful cards. Sonnet’s portable external graphics systems, the eGFX Breakaway Puck Radeon RX 560 and eGFX Breakaway Puck Radeon RX 570, are also on the stand. These support a range of desktop GPU cards and offer improved graphics performance when used with thin and light laptops, or all-in-one computers. Also spotlighted are the new SF3 Series Pro card readers.
At the NAB Show, Zeiss is showcasing a large portfolio of full-frame lenses, including the new Supremes, Cinema Zoom CZ.2 range and new Compact Prime CP.3 XD range. Thanks to their interchangeable mounts and full-frame coverage, these lenses are believed by many filmmakers to be as close as it’s possible to get to the ultimate future-proof investment. The Zeiss Cinema Zoom lenses feature exquisite optics in a robust, durable package. Affordable, flexible and offering the highest quality, the Zeiss Cinema Zoom lenses are an invaluable addition to any film set. Meanwhile, the new Zeiss CP.3 and CP.3 XD lenses offer the perfect combination of high image quality and reliable usability. They exhibit the clean, crisp characteristics Zeiss is known for, together with groundbreaking lens data technology in the XD versions, designed to speed up and simplify the workflow on-set and in post-production.
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SET- UP | NAB PREV I EW 20 1 9
On opening day at NAB, LiteGear is taking pre-orders for the highly- anticipated LiteMat Spectrum. Its most capable LiteMat ever, the LiteMat Spectrum brings patented full colour control, expanded Kelvin temperature range, plus/ minus green correction and DMX pixel control to the ultra-thin light fixture. Not to be outshone, the LiteMat Plus is getting two new LiteDimmers, the DC200 Duo and the AC400 Duo. These feature a two-channel mode, dual manual control, wired and Lumen Radio Wireless DMX and OLED display, and are compatible with all LiteMat Plus and LiteTile Plus systems. LiteGear’s hero product, the LiteRibbon, is also getting an overhaul with the introduction of the LiteRibbon Cinema Series. With staggering CRI and full spectrum colour, the Cinema Series is 40% brighter than the previous VHO Pro LiteRibbon. This LiteRibbon joins the Cinema family of unified colour-space products that includes LiteMat S2, LiteMat Plus and LiteTile.
Pioneers in LED lighting for the film and broadcast industries, Litepanels raised the bar in colour ability and accuracy with the introduction of the Gemini 2x1 Soft RGB-WW LED panel. It delivers full spectrum, precision daylight and Tungsten light with no flicker at any frame rate, shutter angle or intensity, with the ability to dial in any colour in the 360 ° colour wheel and a wide selection of creative lighting effects. The quick to rig and easy to control Gemini has quickly become a must-have for lighting designers and filmmakers whose creativity knows no bounds. At NAB 2019, Litepanels is unveiling the newest addition to the Gemini RGB-WW range, a light that promises all of the Gemini features in a more portable, lightweight and low power-draw form, which Litepanels says will be the ultimate no-crew lighting solution for image-makers on the go.
After the success of the MINI & SL1 MIX, DMG Lumière by Rosco is showcasing its latest edition to the award-winning MIX range, the MAXI MIX. Measuring 120x35cm, it weighs 8kg and outputs 360W of power. MIX technology won four awards in 2018, including first place at Cine Gear Technical Award in Light Technology and first place for the CINEC Technical Award. MIX is equipped with six unique LEDs that bring Rosco colour to a portable LED fixture. It has opened a vast colour spectrum for filmmakers and includes flawless white quality and verified Rosco gels. MIX can be controlled by the free myMIX app (available to download now) where you can mix, save and share your creations. You can also capture a colour using your phone camera and send the captured colour to the light.
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DRAMA | DUMBO/CAPTA I N MARVEL
Ben Davis is one of the busiest cinematographers around and has two major movies opening this month: Dumbo and Captain Marvel. We ask what it’s like being him
INTERVIEW MADELYN MOST / PICTURES DISNEY / MARVEL
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DUMBO/CAPTA I N MARVEL | DRAMA
O n a windy Saturday afternoon, I drive through the rubble-lined, potholed streets of Longcross Film Studios. A large block of polystyrene bashes my car as I drive up to Stage 2, where Ben Davis BSC is pre-lighting a set for the second unit. Davis works non-stop, film to film, back-to-back and, this month, two films he photographed – Captain Marvel and Dumbo – are being released almost back-to-back. It’s not unusual for him to work weekends in order to be ready for the following week, like he is today. Behind a long wooden table stands a monstrous black projector from the 1900s, curated and converted to xenon by Lester Dunton for the director, Matthew Vaughn, with whom Davis has already collaborated on Layer Cake and Stardust . This will blast images on one of the sets from Kingsman: The Great Game , a story about the origins of the Kingsmen set around the start of the first world war. Davis tells me: “Cinematography is changing, mostly driven by the way people are viewing things. So many people are watching on their televisions or on home projection screens, as well as in a cinema,
you were encouraged to make a thick, dense negative, but today, some DOPs are underexposing to create a softer image. These huge digital televisions are very powerful and you don’t get dark projection anymore. Also, tastes have changed; audiences are embracing things that are dark, and the studios, who used to complain about things being too dark, are less likely to object. I always ask myself when photographing something: ‘What are you shooting it for?’” Davis is shooting Kingsman: The Great Game with Arri 65mm digital cameras for a cinema release. “Every morning, I look at projected rushes, because there is an enormous difference between what you see projected and what you can see on a monitor. There are a whole range of subtleties in projection you don’t see on a monitor, subtleties in shadow and highlights, and nuances in colour,” he adds. “To me, lenses are the most important factor – the lenses and the lighting dictate the look of the film. Digital cameras are really just computers gathering data.” DUMBO Tim Burton’s soon-to-be-released version of Dumbo for Walt Disney Studios was “very challenging”, says Davis. “For me, the whole attraction was working with Tim. I’ve been doing this a long time and there is only so far I can go with my instincts and what I want to do with cinematography. I’m looking for directors to collaborate with and to inspire me. The best films tend to be the ones made with one distinct voice: an original voice. Sometimes, if there are a lot of voices involved, you end up with a product that is trying to satisfy many voices, many camps. “It was really interesting to watch how Tim conducted all these amazing creative people like in an orchestra. He had Colleen Atwood creating incredible costumes, and Rick Heinrichs as the production designer, and a great casting director. He very
so the way we are photographing films is changing. The way cinematographers photograph digital films and expose film negative is changing. When I started, Cinematography is changing, mostly driven by the way people are viewing things
IMAGES Shooting Captain Marvel and Dumbo were two totally different experiences for cinematographer Ben Davis
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DRAMA | DUMBO/CAPTA I N MARVEL
We took the biggest stages we could get to build our travelling circus environment and did set extension work
I looked and recognised this was exactly what Tim had sketched out. He chose great actors: Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton and Colin Farrell, and encouraged them to elevate their performances even further. It was an extraordinary process to watch how he brought all that together.” SKETCH IT Burton has a traditional way of working, according to Davis, where “we would go in every morning and watch yesterday’s rushes”. Burton would then explain what they’d do that day and where he’d like to start. “He sketched it, then brought in the actors. It was a more organic process, whereby he would allow it to evolve. Once he had shaped the scene, he would be very precise. He had a very precise and concise idea of what he wanted to achieve,” explains Davis. “Tim also has a fantastic operator, Des Whelan, and the two of them discussed where to place the crane and how the camera would move. Des suggested ideas to Tim that he either liked or didn’t, so it was a more collaborative way of working than just telling us exactly how it was going to be. “What was interesting with Dumbo was that we shot it in story order, which was great. We started at the beginning of the story and it developed until the end. That made it easier. The film itself is a simple
subtly guided everyone into the vision he had. I look at it now and see it all come together into one unified whole.” Davis is enthusiastic about Burton, describing him as “courageous, enigmatic, and bizarrely eccentric in the most wonderful way”. He explains: “It was a joy working with him. He’ll give you more information in five minutes than some directors give you during an entire film. His brain is working much faster, his thought process much quicker, so you have to pay attention when he tells you what he wants. “When we first talked about film, Tim said, ‘Dumbo can’t be real. He flies. He has these enormous ears. He is not a photoreal baby elephant’. He showed me his early concept and it was clearly not going to work putting him in a hyperreal environment. We had to create an entirely new world to place him in – and Tim shaped this world. “We had no strong reference as such, it was completely unique. Tim would draw sketches – that was one of his favourite ways of communicating. He drew this beautiful little sketch of baby Dumbo creeping under the tent when Dumbo’s mother is locked in a cage, and Tim said, ‘This is the scene’. He’d come into the art department and he’d draw these shapes. I have an image of these shapes in my head and in the digital intermediate (DI),
story to tell: one of the shortest Disney films they had ever made. “Most of our work was creating the world of this travelling circus. We decided in pre-production we would shoot it all on stages, which is controllable, and not on a backlot or location exteriors in winter in England, where the weather would dictate the look of the film.” Davis explains it wasn’t all visual effects, even though the VFX company list includes many hundreds of technicians. Of course, Dumbo himself is a computer-generated elephant. “We took the biggest stages we could get to build our travelling circus environment and did set extension work. I had great control over that, lighting- wise,” says Davis. “In those days, travelling circuses would travel overnight, set up at sunrise, rehearse in the morning and do the show in the evening. On the stage, I had full control and could decide what time it was and dictate the weather during the scene – the atmosphere of the light reflected what was happening. Tim and I discussed the times of day and the skies we wanted to be extraordinary, elevated and pushed. “In the original Dumbo , the skies had colour and shape. We watched Gone with the Wind and embraced the idea of getting extraordinary skies. I took photographs of skies that were wild and dramatic. With VFX, we chose what sort of sky would be best for each scene and I keyed that sky on to the blue screen on set and then chose the light to suit it. I moved the sun to where I wanted it and then I looked at the actors to determine how to light them on the set. Normally, you have the reference of the sky and you light the set with that sky. The great advantage here was putting that up in camera. “Disney’s original Dumbo had giraffes and lots of animals – we only had horses and dogs, but no real elephants. Disney didn’t want to show cruelty to animals,
ABOVE With VFX, Davis moved the sun to where he wanted it, lighting the actors accordingly
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and my view was split on this, thinking, ‘Isn’t it good to show kids that cruelty really existed in circuses? Or do we protect them from those images?’ “The VFX coordinator on Dumbo was Richard Stammers and the CGI Dumbo is a baby elephant growing up over a six-month time period. He is like your leading man, but he’s not there, so you have to remember to do his coverage. It’s not like having an actor demanding, ‘Where’s my close-up? But I’ve done that before on Avengers: Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy . Rocket [the talking raccoon] was a virtual character, as was Groot [a giant, walking tree]. There are certain techniques you use if the CGI characters have physical contact with the actors, if there is movement, if they touch things. It’s important where they are placed in the frame.” CAPTAIN MARVEL Captain Marvel , based off the comics created by Stan Lee, is the other high-profile film Davis has been working on – very different from Dumbo. Captain Marvel came out in early March and premiered in Los Angeles. Davis says: “It is an important film in the Marvel universe, because the female superhero is the lead role. They’ve had important female characters in their films before, but this is new and different. She doesn’t fit into the stereotype of a gorgeous girl dressed in stretchy tights and a busty top. She’s a kick-ass, strong woman who doesn’t have a romantic interest.” Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were chosen by Marvel’s boss, Kevin Feige, to write and direct Captain Marvel . They are American independent filmmakers who write and direct together and have already made films like Mississippi Grind , Half Nelson , It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Sugar . Davis explains the problems involved in making a superhero movie, saying: “Marvel films have lots of action and stunts, but it’s a little bit dull and laborious to shoot because the actors can’t punch each other in the face; you have to put the stunt double in.
this case, Ben chose the Sphero 65 line of optics. The Sphero 65 lenses were, for most part, off-the-shelf versions of that series. However, there were a couple of focal lengths Ben requested to go closer focus. He wanted the ability to go inside of 18 inches on some key focal lengths. To accomplish this, we removed the optical components of the selected stock Sphero 65 lenses and adapted them to more aggressive mechanical transports. The Sphero 65 lenses came in the following focal lengths: 24, 29, 35, 40, 50, 65, 75, 100, 135, 180 and 300mm. There was an occasion where Ben requested a long telephoto lens and the focal length of the lens turned out to be 3200mm. “In addition to the prime lenses, a host of zoom lenses and speciality lenses were built to meet Ben’s needs for Captain Marvel . The zooms were custom modified for Ben. We wanted to preserve as much of the nominal look and feel of the stock SLZ3 and SLZ11 zooms, which are nominally designed for the 35mm format. To accomplish this, we had to find a balance between maximising the active area of the sensor the zoom needed to cover while maintaining a quality Ben felt was appropriate for the show. In addition, a speciality lens was developed for Ben, which allowed him to change the plane of focus during shooting. It was a dynamic lens that gave Ben complete live control of the image plane as he was shooting.”
For Captain Marvel , Davis asked Panavision to produce a set of optics to create a distinct look for the film – a set of optics that would completely differentiate itself from the Sphero 65 lenses. Davis requested a look that was akin to the vintage optics he used in the 35mm format world, and he was especially interested in the characteristics of the Canon vintage K35 optics. Davis favours the softer look of the K35 lenses and was interested in mimicking their flaring characteristics. The faster aperture speed of T/1.4 was also a feature he mentioned would be useful. As a response to Davis’ request, Panavision developed the 65 Vintage lens line for the show. A key feature Davis mentioned was the close focus ability of the optics and, as a result, the 65 Vintage optics have close focus capabilities inside of 18 inches. Panavision’s Dan Sasaki explains the process: “In the case of one of the focal lengths, we used some of the actual elements from a K35 to produce the qualities Ben spoke about and liked during his lens bracketing test during the prep. We were able to create the other focal lengths utilising proprietary optics. The focal length range of the 65 Vintage line was 24, 30, 35, 40, 50, 65, 85, 100 and 150mm. The 35, 50, 65 and 85mm had an aperture of T/1.4. “Ben wanted a set of lenses with more contrast and better glare control for another sequence of the movie. In
IMAGES Dumbo and Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), both aerial experts
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DRAMA | DUMBO/CAPTA I N MARVEL
Characters with superpowers don’t fall to the ground when they’re hit; they have to fly through the air, so you have to put them on wires – and that takes a lot of time. That work doesn’t interest me a great deal, so there is a second unit to do most of that. These films work on the belief the audience has in the characters. “Anna and Ryan work together in a clever way: they tag team it. They don’t perform one particular role, they both revolve around each other. They won’t both be talking to the actor at the same time, they take turns and they complement each other – there was no discrepancy between their goals. For their working style, they took an organic approach. It’s a very personal story about a woman’s journey in a man’s world, who she is and where she came from. It was important to have a female director who understood that journey. “We did a lot of handheld camera work, shooting close to Brie [Larson] and keeping it very organic on set, so it was far less structured. It was more reactive as the scene evolved and we figured out how to cover it. We took a very grounded approach and the handheld cameras worked instinctively with her, responding to her movement.” For Captain Marvel , the 65mm digital cameras and lenses came from Panavision Woodland Hills, which even provided some vintage lenses Dan Sasaki tailor-made for the production. Davis enthuses: “Dan is the Savile Row of lens making. I went to talk to him about the film and asked for two sets of lenses: one set for a look that was soft and organic for the ’70s period (I wanted them to have fall-off and be quite warm like the old Speed Panchros) and for the space sections, I wanted a set that was crisp and much sharper. Dan asked ‘What sort of minimum focus do you want? What stop
do you want to shoot at? How warm or cool do you want them? What kind of curvature fall-off do you have in mind?’ I was never sure what kind of glass he used – some Panavision vintage, some K35 perhaps. They had to cover the Arri Alexa 65 sensor. In the end, I had a full set of 65mm lenses that went from 35mm to 180mm.” Davis was only going to use them for the earthbound scenes with Larson, but instead used them on close-ups as they were lovely on the face. “These film lenses have been recalibrated for digital. I think you have to make them flatter and retune them for the digital sensor. Dan also worked on the lens coatings, asking ‘How much flare do you want?’ He could reduce or increase the amount of flare to my specs,” says Davis. The time period for Captain Marvel is ’90s for the Earth portion and a normal film look, but the film includes flashbacks to Carol Danvers’ childhood, which was during the late ’70s. For these flashbacks, Davis explains, he wanted the film to look like “16mm cross process Ektachrome”. “We did a lot of testing and film grain emulation to make our image look like old 16mm film. My favourite 35mm film stock was Kodak 5247, and I knew I wanted that look for the ’90s.”
ABOVE A soft look was created for ’70s scenes in Captain Marvel and a sharper one for space shots
VFX vendors for Captain Marvel 15 3 Types of digital camera used by Marvel: Arri, Red and Panavision
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DRAMA | DUMBO/CAPTA I N MARVEL
RIGHT CGI Dumbo is a baby elephant growing up over a six-month period
WORK-LIFE BALANCE Despite working so much, Davis is keen to balance his professional life with his home life. “I go from picture to picture and it’s difficult with kids, but I’ve been lucky recently. I always try to work in the UK, I don’t like being away in hotel rooms. My father was a cinematographer and, later on, a director. He made documentaries and was always away for long periods of time when we were growing up in Laos, South America, Africa and in Vietnam during the war. I remember his absence quite clearly. It was very hard. I remember him not being around, and always asking, ‘When’s dad coming back?’ His marriage ended – that must have put a strain on that – and he moved to America. That’s where the heart of the industry was and where he wanted to go with his career. Now I find myself working back-to-back, but I remember that.” Davis admits: “It’s very difficult to have a home life with the hours we work. I leave my house at 5.50am and return at night at 9.30–10.00pm. You don’t see the kids, so weekends and days off I dedicate to them.” Why the long hours? Because no matter how big the budget, the ambition of a film always outweighs it. “It’s always a struggle to make those two fit together. One way to do that is to have a very compressed schedule. Every day is very expensive, whether it’s a 25- or an 85-day schedule. Invariably, there always comes a point when they take a week out of the schedule, so you end up working long hours. These days, we don’t pause or have any downtime, we don’t sit down for lunch. You end up eating from a box most of the time. “A lot of the time I do a continuous day, meaning I watch rushes in morning, work 14 or more hours and get home late in the evening. My continuous day is longer than the crew’s. There is no such thing as a lunch break if you are a DOP. There are meetings, checking other sets, pre-lighting... “For me, it’s all about my crew. I’m in charge of three huge departments: camera, grip and lighting. At the end of a long week, everything slows down and mistakes happen because the crew is tired. If you do six-day shooting weeks, when you get to week four or five, the one-day turnaround is not enough. The speed slows down and you get half as many shots as you would normally. I understand the assistant director and producers are pushed into a
corner. If the hours get long, I am under a lot of pressure to get a certain amount of things done, because I am orchestrating, but the process slows down and I have to step back, because people are tired.” When receiving scripts, Davis’ first consideration when choosing which films to work on is: how does it work for his family and kids? “Roman [his son] has his own career now. If it’s abroad, can I take the family with me? If it’s home, that’s a benefit, but how long will it be and does it interfere with school holidays? I want to know who the director is. Sometimes, there isn’t a script, they call up and say, ‘This is the film, this is the director, are you interested?’ Then again, sometimes it’s the script that comes first – it’s fluid really,” he explains Davis’ family is involved in the movie world, too, with his son playing the main character in Jojo Rabbit . The mother is played by Scarlett Johanssen and Taika Waititi, director of Thor: Ragnarok , both directs and stars as Hitler. “Roman has been keen on drama since he was really young. We were all living in the Pacific Palisades while I was shooting Captain Marvel , and he went for this casting. The whole family went to Prague for ten weeks and left me alone. Now, Roman’s career will dictate things.” MICHAEL DAVIS Davis reflects on his father, Michael Davis, who spent many years with his great friend, Marcel Ophüls, ‘chasing Nazis’. In 1973, Michael Davis photographed The Memory of Justice and, later, Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie with Ophüls. “The sad thing about Dad, he never discussed his work, or maybe we were too young to watch it,” he says. “I remember his metal briefcase was complete chaos
with coins, a light meter, a passport, a jar of Marmite, old security papers. I love that Dad was strong politically and had a voice. That was the golden era of documentaries: Panorama , Man Alive , World in Action , Disappearing World . Sometimes I went to the AKA office on Broadwick Street and there were all these legendary cameramen, directors, editors, sound recordists, journalists gathered there. When I was a clapper loader on Air America , they used the documentary he made for Disappearing World as a reference for the feature film. It was an anthropological film about the Meo tribesman. One day, he spotted donkeys loaded with these great sacks on their backs, so they followed them down the mountain and fell upon an airstrip with the CIA planes loading the poppy/ heroin.” HIS BACKGROUND “I was very young when I started in the industry and had a great time as a young
I wanted it to look like 16mm cross process Ektachrome. We did a lot of testing and film grain emulation
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DRAMA | DUMBO/CAPTA I N MARVEL
I started working as a camera assistant at the National Film School
the National Film School and then got a job at Samuelson, where I prepped jobs as a camera tech. I got my union ticket, and my first job was with my dad on the World Cup football in Mexico in 1987. I was always keen to light and operate and would turn down paid work to shoot something for anyone who asked me. It didn’t matter, as long as I was photographing.” Davis has five children, and most are connected to the film industry in one way or another. “Dora is an actress, while Finley is the only academic in the family, studying Engineering and Maths in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Roman, at the age of 12, has a film career and is one of the main characters in the upcoming Jojo Rabbit , Gibley is the storyteller and Hardy, the other twin, is a brilliant draughtsperson and artist, so I am starting a film dynasty,” he laughs.
single man travelling around the world,” he recalls. “I was a bright kid at school and got sent to Westminster City Grammar School, but the school system in the UK doesn’t cater to kids who are creative and want to move into the arts. It caters to one particular type of academia; if you like memorisxing maths and science tables, great, but if you are creative, the school system is not for you. Secondary school completely failed me. I used to pretend I was going to school, then change into my skateboarding clothes and skated all day long. I was a good skateboarder.” Davis is too modest to mention he was a skateboard star who featured in films, commercials and skateboard magazines. “What I learned is you can be good at something if you work at it. I’d skate every day – and it was good for me to learn that. My daughter, Dora, is a young actress and she discovered she had talent for something. She, too, learned you can achieve something if you work hard at it.” He continues: “I always had an interest in photography, I was always taking stills and developing and printing in our darkroom in Norland Square. My brother and I would photograph and make skateboard films for ourselves and our group. I remember worked at a building site when my Dad called from NYC and said, ‘Come on over here, I’ll get you a job as a trainee, you’ll get some work experience.’ And that was it for me. Later, I went back to England, went back to school at West London College and redid my exams. I started working as a camera assistant at
RIGHT There are certain techniques that are used if CG characters physically interact with the actors
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DRAMA | DUMBO/CAPTA I N MARVEL
Three Billboards is essentially a location picture; you are trying to capture a moment photographed many impressive films, but it was his work on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Cinematography. “Martin [McDonough, the director] is fundamentally my friend, and one of the most extraordinary men I know. I am slightly in love with Martin. He is genuinely a genius. He scribbles on paper and it all comes out. Some of it is quite dark, and I don’t know where all this comes from because Martin is extraordinarily gentle. His last play, A Very Very Very Dark Matter , is like a Marmite play; you either love it or hate it, and I loved it. It breaks with all tradition, and the concept is so... out there.” Davis is often asked about the difference between lighting Guardians of the Galaxy and lighting a small, personal film. “The protocols are the same, you have a schedule, budget, equipment, lights, crew... but there is a fundamental difference between those films. Three Billboards and Guardians had extraordinary scripts, but Three Billboards is essentially a location picture; you are actually trying to capture a moment”, he explains. “You want the audience to be inside that moment. You should never be distracted by the lighting or the cinematography. You capture what is there, you embrace it and maybe enhance it a little. Whereas, for Guardians of the Galaxy , you are totally creating a distinct aesthetic, with a light set and character design . “For me, the approach for Three Billboards was all about where we chose THREE BILLBOARDS Throughout his career, Davis has
to shoot and what time of day. Martin had written that very tragic scene with Frances [McDormand] at dusk, it’s end of day, sun just setting. I’d sit there sunrise to sunset and I’d watch every aspect of the light, I knew the script intimately. We worked out which scene happened where and when. “Lighting something engaging and cinematic without it looking lit is a particular skill set. There are DOPs far better at it than I am, like Chris Menges, Robbie Ryan, Barry Ackroyd, whose work doesn’t look lit, but is just right. There’s no accident in that. You don’t just turn up and run the camera and it looks that good. “I really want to do more of those small personal stories, but I’m not receiving those scripts. The budget on Three Billboards was relatively small, I think under ten million dollars, so we couldn’t afford projected dailies. I’d go into the editing room and watch them on a large monitor. Martin would watch rushes on his iPad. We shot this on digital anamorphic, but Seven Psychopaths was on film. I considered shooting on film, but there was a lot of night work on Three Billboards , and a lot of fire. You have to be careful with fire and getting the right exposure. You want the fire to have some depth. It’s a hard balance, fire, and you have to have good control over exposure. The advantage of digital is that what you see on the monitor is exactly what you get, and the iris controls for pulling stop are far simpler and more precise.”
CHANGING ROLES “Sometimes, you take a front seat in terms of orchestrating what’s in front of the camera. I’ve worked with directors where they look after the performance and drama and sometimes they are involved with all the minutiae. Every director is different. The role of the cinematographer changes from film to film. Sometimes I am sidelined doing very little on set, maybe just lighting, and sometimes I’m fulfilling a bigger role. All of it comes under the auspices of cinematography, although there isn’t a precise definition of what that is. In Davis downtime between May and September, he is scheduled to work with Marcel Ophüls on a documentary about Palestine and Israel and the growing tide of antisemitism in Europe. DOWNTIME But what films does he show his children? “I show them sophisticated films,” he laughs. “In the cinemas, we see the blockbusters, but at home I like showing them more intellectual, challenging stuff. Sometimes, we stop the film and explain what’s going on. Cami [his wife] is half French. Although she doesn’t speak French to them, they know French cinema. They are moving on from video games – the bane of my life – so Cami shows them films that influenced her life. When we wrap on Kingsman in May, we’re going to a Greek island for a holiday and I’ll eat Greek salad and chips and do nothing else for a while. Just what I need.”
BELOW The whole attraction for Davis shooting Dumbo was working with director Tim Burton
CAPTAIN MARVEL IS CURRENTLY ON WORLDWIDE RELEASE AND DUMBO IS RELEASED ON 29 MARCH
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