Definition March 2024 - Web

We're seeing in the arrival of spring with a fresh new issue featuring cinematography secrets from Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, All of Us Strangers, Echo, Silverback and Godzilla x Kong. As always, we've also got the buzz on all the latest kit, news and industry views.






Eric Steelberg, ASC reveals the cinematography secrets behind Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire!


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EDITORIAL Editor in chief Nicola Foley

Senior staff writer Katie Kasperson Chief sub editor Matthew Winney Sub editors Jim Blackstock, Minhaj Zia Editorial director Roger Payne Contributors Adrian Pennington, Phil Rhodes, Robert Shepherd, Steve Wise ADVERTISING Sales director Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457 Sales manager Emma Stevens 01223 499462 | +447376665779 DESIGN Design director Andy Jennings Magazine manager Lucy Woolcomb Senior designer Carl Golsby Junior designer Hedzlynn Kamaruzzaman Ad production Holly May PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck 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. Bright Publishing LTD Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire, CB22 3HJ, UK

W hen the makers of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire came to deciding who they were gonna call to lens their new film, dialling in Eric Steelberg was an easy decision. Serving as DOP on 2021’s Afterlife , and a lifelong fan of the original movie, he couldn’t wait to strap on his proton pack and reprise his role in the franchise. Turn to page 12, where he spills the beans about putting his own spin on the beloved films. We also talk All of Us Strangers with DOP Jamie Ramsay, discovering how he helped deliver a gut-punch portrayal of grief and loneliness in one of the most talked-about films of 2024 so far; that’s on page 32. Other productions in the spotlight include new MCU series Echo and thoughtful BBC documentary Silverback , which explores the plight of endangered gorillas. Elsewhere in the issue, we look at the craft of the colourist, examining the art of the grade, the tools of the trade, and the constantly evolving dynamics with DOPs. Hear what leading professionals in the field had to say on page 24. If you’ve ever wondered which lens top cinematographers would pick if they could only use one for the rest of their days, turn to page 37, where DOPs including Adam Etherington and Tim Cragg tell us about their holy grail glass, how they use it and how to choose the best lens for your next project. We’ve also got an in-depth dive into the upcoming BSC Expo, a look at the aerial team’s work on Godzilla x Kong , and a huge round-table discussion digging into the virtual production skills gap. Enjoy the issue and see you next month!

Editor in chief







MARCH 2024


Oscar noms, studio mergers and more in this month’s news round-up 07 INDUSTRY BRIEFINGS 12 GHOSTBUSTERS In Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire , a new ice age threatens NYC – and beyond 18 ECHO Disney’s latest Marvel series follows a deaf, Indigenous lead character 24 A LIFE IN COLOUR We explore the colourist’s craft – the tech, trends and techniques How DOP Jamie Ramsay captured Andrew Haigh’s romantic ghost story 32 ALL OF US STRANGERS Leading cinematographers reveal their desert island glass 37 LENS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT 42 CAREER STORIES We sit down with Oscar-winning costume designer Deborah L Scott 44 PERCY JACKSON This TV adaptation of the hit YA book series stays true to its source 51 GODZILLA X KONG The New Empire is a monster mashup to end them all 52 TRAILBLAZERS Girls in Film’s Nikola Vasakova on championing woman-led cinema 54 SILVERBACK How this BBC Two film stands apart from conventional wildlife docs

60 ROUND TABLE Industry experts address the virtual production skills gap 73 ISE REVIEW We recap our stint at Barcelona’s annual audio-visual event 74 BSC SPOTLIGHT This year’s BSC Expo promises a thought-provoking programme What happened to the biggest night in Hollywood? 81 OSCARS THINK PIECE We highlight the class-leading brands and products within camera support and stabilisation 84 BEST SUPPORTING ROLE 83 THOUGHT LEADER Capturing stories solo has never been simpler, says Steve Wise 89 TOOLKIT The latest and greatest gear includes monitors and LED displays



© Sony Pictures ON THE COVER





And the nominees are...

T he winners of the 96th Academy Awards will be announced on 10 March, during a ceremony at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood. Airing live on ABC at 7pm ET, the event will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and shown in more than 200 territories around the world. All eyes will be on Oppenheimer this year, after Nolan’s epic swept the nominations list with a whopping 13 noms including best picture, best director and three acting nods. Poor Things is the next most-nominated film this year, scooping 11, followed by Killers of the Flower Moon with ten. Despite outcry over the Barbie 'snub', Greta Gerwig’s blockbusting

picture still picked up a respectable eight nominations, including best picture, acting nods for both America Ferrera and Ryan Gosling, plus recognition in the best adapted screenplay, costume design and production design categories. In perhaps one of the most controversial votes, Gerwig failed to receive a nomination for best director – a category which has only included eight women in the Oscars’ nearly century-long history (including Justine Triet, who picked up a nomination this year for her work on Anatomy of a Fall ). Turn to page 81 for our rundown on some of the event’s other notable controversies over the years.

New London HQ for Panalux P analux has unveiled a sleek new purpose-built headquarters in London. The 112,000 sq ft facility streamlines Panalux’s London operations – including rental inventory, service, manufacturing and textile fabrication – under one roof. The HQ reflects a commitment to sustainability, with electric- vehicle charging points and a roof-mounted photovoltaic array, earning an A+ energy performance certificate, while the layout is designed for maximum efficiency, featuring dedicated spaces for various operations, a demonstration studio and fully integrated vehicle maintenance unit. The location in Hayes, west London, promises convenience for filmmakers with its proximity to major transportation hubs and studios.




Amazon MGM Studios strikes deal with Pinewood Toronto Studios A mazon MGM Studios has inked a significant deal with Pinewood Toronto Studios, marking its first multi-year commitment to Canadian studio space – and second outside the US. The agreement cements Amazon MGM Studios’ dedication to Canada’s production industry, adding a new chapter to its slate of productions filmed in the country. The deal grants

Amazon MGM Studios exclusive access to five cutting-edge sound stages, workshops and office spaces spanning 160,000 sq ft in downtown Toronto. Celebrated with a ribbon-cutting event attended by Ontario premier Doug Ford and Toronto mayor Olivia Chow, the landmark agreement positions the city as a pivotal hub for the studios’ future film and series projects.

“This investment is a big boost to our cultural sectors and helps ensure Ontario remains a leading global destination for film and television production,” comments Ford. The move aligns with Amazon MGM Studios’ ongoing strategy to expand its production footprint in Canada, highlighting the country’s prowess in the global film and television industry. Cine Gear lands in the Big Apple R eturning to NYC, Cine Gear Expo will unite members of the technology, entertainment and media industry at Brooklyn’s Industry City between 14-16 March. Showcasing the latest gear from leading cine brands, the floor will be packed with lenses, lighting, grips and more. Visitors can also expect a panel discussion with the American Society of Cinematographers and the International Cinematographers Guild, in addition to many networking opportunities – including the Cine Gear Industry Party.

BBFC unveils fresh leadership line-up T he British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) welcomes IMDb founder and CEO Col Needham as its inaugural global brand ambassador. Alongside this, the organisation has appointed two independent directors, John Stanley and tech entrepreneur Darren Jobling, reinforcing its commitment to industry expertise. This move highlights the BBFC’s strategic shift to a single-board structure. Needham, Jobling and Stanley join BBFC chair Natasha Kaplinsky OBE in shaping the organisation’s future. The role reflects the BBFC’s international ambitions, with Needham leading engagements with key stakeholders and contributing to the organisation’s global strategy, including AI advancements.




ARRI lights up Sundance A RRI took centre stage as the official lighting provider for the 40th Sundance Film Festival, illuminating premieres and events. The renowned SkyPanel S30-C, S60-C and ARRI Orbiter fixtures enhanced festival venues with colour accuracy and flexible light shaping. Dr Matthias Erb, chairman of the executive board at ARRI, says: “Our versatile, high-quality lighting solutions create an enhanced visual environment to showcase the tremendous filmmaking talent that Sundance celebrates each year.”


1. Netflix subscriber boost Netflix has announced impressive Q3 2023 results, counting 13.1 million new subscribers globally in the latter part of the year. This now takes its total subscriber base up to over 260 million, comfortably in the lead of rivals. 2. New MD for BAFTA albert Matt Scarff, managing director at BAFTA’s sustainability arm, albert, is stepping into the role permanently. An M&E veteran, Scarff’s experience spans many leading broadcasters and producers including ITV, SKY, UKTV, BBC and Merlin Entertainments. 3. NAACP Image Awards The 55th NAACP Image Awards returns on 16 March to celebrate Black excellence across film, TV and streaming, plus music, literature and podcasts. Two front-runner nominees are Colman Domingo in the motion picture actor category, and Ayo Edebiri for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series.

Virtual production studio Distortion launches D istortion, a full-scale virtual production facility in Bristol, is due to open for business in April, making it the first permanent VP studio in the city. The new space will reduce travel for tricky on-location productions based in the south-west, offering premium equipment and an experienced in-house team of immersive digital artists and visual engineers. The studio’s Unreal Engine content creators, tech skills and best-in-class suppliers (including Blackmagic Design for video control, Stype camera tracking and Stage Precision software) will be on hand to help see your VP project through, whether you’re working on a feature film, TV ad or virtual corporate event.





SXSW Film & TV Festival 8-16 March in Texas, US

SMODE XR impresses at CES 2024 S mode Japan, the Paris-based subsidiary of Smode Tech, generated a buzz at CES – collaborating with Sony PCL to showcase cutting-edge virtual production solutions. The exhibit deployed the SMODE xR system, a dedicated tool for virtual production and extended reality (XR) projects, in conjunction with Sony’s Crystal LED display, building on a fruitful partnership between the companies. Sony PCL XR coordinator for CES 2024, Yoshihisa Sukeda, praised SMODE technology for its intuitiveness and ease of use, as well as its capacity to realise seamless scene changes as a media server. According to Sukeda, a primary function of the exhibit was to allow visitors “to experience virtual production and deepen their understanding of the technology. At the same time, I wanted to provide a little surprise by incorporating set extensions.” These set extensions were another piece of the puzzle made possible by SMODE xR, enabling the Sony team to achieve free shooting angles regardless of LED size. Compatible with major 3D engines, SMODE xR blends the real and virtual worlds, simplifying immersive experience creation for virtual production, TV, films and live events while offering real-time compositing, orchestrating LED, content and camera tracking. The collaboration has already borne impressive results on projects including a music video where SMODE was utilised for XR and AR effects, and a short film depicting an impossible car chase using XR technology.

Known for its diverse and high-calibre programming, the SXSW Film & TV Festival is back for its 31st outing this March. Hotly tipped inclusions this year include the premiere of Pamela Adlon’s Babes and Tommy Dorfman’s I Wish You All the Best. Sofia International Film Festival 13-31 March in Sofia, Bulgaria The Sofia International Film Festival is also poised to return this month, presenting the cream of Bulgarian and Balkan films, plus a programme of contemporary cinema from around the world. Special guests this year include Margarethe von Trotta, a leading light of the New German Cinema movement. FILMART 11-14 March in Hong Kong, China Asia’s largest content marketplace, FILMART is a hotbed of distribution, production and acquisition for film, TV, games and other media. Gathering hundreds of exhibitors from around the globe, it attracts thousands of industry practitioners ranging from sales agents to investors and service providers.

Call of the Wildscreen

W ildscreen, the UK-based not-for-profit behind the world’s largest wildlife film and TV festival, has opened the call for entries to its Panda Awards and Official Selection. The 2024 competition comprises 14 categories, with all entrants eligible for the Panda Awards, which celebrate the art of natural world storytelling. Awards are on offer for categories including best cinematography, directing, editing, sound and sustainability, with cash prizes available. New for this year is the special recognition award for field craft, recognising the pivotal role played by local in- country field crews within the natural history genre. The festival will take place from 14-18 October in Bristol, and entries close on 10 May.







WORDS Adrian Pennington IMAGES Sony Pictures

Eric Steelberg, ASC spills the ectoplasm on Frozen Empire, the new Ghostbusters film hitting theatres in March

I n Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the Spengler family returns to where it all started – the iconic New York City firehouse – to team up with the original Ghostbusters. Which is just as well, since supernatural forces are about to unleash another ice age. It’s the second feature in the franchise for Eric Steelberg, ASC, his first with director Gil Kenan and his tenth collaboration with Jason Reitman (a producer on this film) following films including Up in the Air , Young Adult , Juno and Ghostbusters: Afterlife . “Without a doubt, the biggest creative challenge was filming this movie on stages and sets in London, trying to make it look like New York,” begins Steelberg. “We knew it was time to bring the Ghostbusters back to their hometown, but the scale and scope of the movie required production to look elsewhere for principal photography, with a smaller second unit handling exteriors in New York.” Blending those two places, matching the light and feel an ocean

BUSTING OUT NEW MOVES Cast members Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray reunite in Frozen Empire, released this month




ARRI’S fantastic sensor AND PANAVISION’S exceptional glass ... I CAN’T THINK OF A better match ” apart, was something that he had never attempted before. “I wanted to carry over the visual sensibility of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, so it felt like that story continued, but also set it apart and embraced everything that is great about New York City. We went from a very western horizontal frame [used for the Oklahoma setting of Afterlife ] to a place turned 90°, with everything vertical. “I looked to the first two Ghostbusters films, from 1984 and 1989, to remind myself of compositions that worked well in an anamorphic format. The density of the city made for exciting opportunities in our Ecto-1 car chase that we just didn’t have previously.” Afterlife ’s warmer colour palette, which made perfect sense for summer on the plains, needed to feel more like the ‘hot sun and cool skylight’ you would find in urban canyons. One of the keys to the success of the franchise is it mix of comedy, sci-fi and horror. The new film is built around that same trifecta, with Steelberg required to translate it to screen in collaboration with production designer Eve Stewart and special effects supervisor John Van Der Pool. “Gil and Jason wrote both scripts, so it should hopefully feel just as effective,” he says. “One other notable difference was the amount of interiors and darker lighting introduced. Keeping that interesting and fun, while hopefully sucking people into a little bit of uneasiness and tension, was crucial.”

BACK IN THE GAME Frozen Empire tunes into Ghostbusters’ trademark blend of comedy, horror and sci-fi

He retained the same ARRI ALEXA LF and Panavision T Series anamorphic package from Afterlife t o maintain that visual recipe. Steelberg made lens tests at Panavision UK to show Kenan why he preferred the format. “He didn’t take much convincing. And it was a great way for us to start our creative process and learn one another’s aesthetic preferences. Afterlife was the first film where I used that combination, and I continued it on [Marvel’s] Hawkeye . Honestly, there’s something about the combination that just says ‘cinema’. Frozen Empire is a movie that’s tailor- made for a big audience and meant to be seen theatrically – and large format anamorphic, with ARRI’s fantastic sensor and Panavision’s exceptional glass… I just can’t think of a better match for the way I shoot and see!”

Principal photography was on new stages at Shinfield and Winnersh. The stage at Shinfield, where they built the entire interior/exterior of the firehouse, was a construction zone while filming. “We were waiting for the foundation to dry so we could start construction the moment it was ready,” he reports. A small splinter unit picked up shots in Canary Wharf to double as midtown Manhattan for some city life. A sizeable second unit handled exterior VFX plates and driving shots in New York City, with DOP Igor Meglic “doing a fantastic job of keeping the vibe we were establishing in the UK.”




Scouting was handled virtually between the two units after the director, DOP and producers had scouted New York in prep. The New York library exterior was a partial build in the studio parking lot, surrounded by blue screens, and a scene of New York firefighters set at the turn of the century was filmed at the Rothschild estate in Tring. Steelberg is particularly proud of scenes shot in the firehouse, which actually comprise a large part of the movie. “It was an enormous set, and so iconic,” he explains. “Levels of it were spread across four stages. It’s something I desperately did not want to mess up. It was such a fixture of the original two movies and people are so familiar with it, I needed to make sure it looked and felt familiar. And since so much happens to that location, it becomes a character itself and has its own arc. “We spend a lot of time coming up with lighting plans for various sequences and scenes, but always remembered we

SLIME SCENE After sitting out of 2021’s Afterlife, Slimer is back to wreak havoc

had to maintain its identity,” he continues. “It’s somewhat easy for me to have an idea, or series of ideas, which can be very complicated, but my gaffer Mark Taylor and his team went above and beyond executing it all, as did our lab set. Gil had specific ideas of what he wanted that to look like at various stages, and the lighting team pulled it off.” Steelberg was just seven when the original Ghostbusters came out in 1984,

but he remembers it all too well. “I was scared to death… terrified!” he exclaims. “In fact, it took years for me to watch it again on home video because of how scared I was. Those terror dogs – they weren’t joking around.” First meeting as teenagers, his relationship with Jason Reitman spans decades and multiple projects. “We were friends before we became filmmakers. We have a lot of similar tastes in films and grew up going to the same theatres, influenced by the same filmmakers. We allow one another to meander through storytelling attempts with full support. There’s no judgement. “Ultimately, we always want the same thing,” he concludes. “To tell the best story we know how to using our individual strengths, which happen to complement one another exceptionally well.”

SINCE SO MUCH HAPPENS to that location, IT BECOMES A character ”







The latest Marvel show for Disney+, Echo , affords filmmaking inclusivity

T he antihero of MCU series Echo is Maya Lopez (played by Alaqua Cox), a deaf Cheyenne/Latin- American warrior, which gives the show several forms of inclusion to navigate. There’s the indigenous narrative background, a matriarchal society story arc, and differently abled characters to integrate into the action. Cox is a deaf actress, and Echo is the second deaf hero to join the MCU, following Lauren Ridloff as Makkari in Eternals . The filmmakers built on this experience to employ a variety of strategies to represent the character and ensure communication between cast and crew. Consulting producer and American Sign Language (ASL) master Douglas Ridloff worked with the production team on both sets, long before cameras rolled. The process of translating the sign language into film grammar so it feels second nature to the viewer required a fair amount of trial and error, explains Kira Denise Kelly, ASC. “One of the first camera tests I shot posed the question: ‘what is a close-up

when you are framing to include ASL?’. Conventionally, we’d shoot a close-up of somebody’s face to capture their emotion and immerse the audience in the story. But we couldn’t do that here.”

the subtext – and the audience needs both elements together to understand what a person is feeling. Flashbacks depict Lopez as a child (Darnell Besaw) and other scenes feature her cousin Bonnie (Devery Jacobs) also using ASL fluently and frequently. In the story, Maya’s hearing family members use ASL as a way of keeping her part of the conversation. “It’s Maya’s show, but we never wanted to differentiate her coverage being in wides and everybody else’s in more traditional close-ups.” They settled on more of a ‘medium- close’ to retain the full vocabulary and played with different, longer lenses to achieve an emotional sweet spot. She elected to shoot on the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF for its ability to use a full- frame sensor and capture skin tones. For lenses, the personalised Panavision T Series, curated by Dan Sasaki, was vital in creating a unique look for the show. “I consider it a job well done if you turn the sound off and the audience knows what the story is. Moving

THE SOUND OF SILENCE Many scenes from Echo have no

spoken dialogue at all, which initially concerned both the DOP and director. How exactly could they sustain a lengthy conversation between multiple characters that don’t speak? Framing a close-up on hands or faces would exclude Cox’s dialogue. “What we found is that, if you start a shot on somebody’s hands and then tilt up to their faces while they’re signing, that’s an incomplete sentence,” explains Kelly, who took ASL lessons to prepare. “It’s not a full phrase, if you will. So we needed space in the frame, but still to get close enough to capture emotion.” With director Sydney Freeland, Kelly built the show’s visual language with the idea that hands are the text, the face is




pictures should have their own language and communicate a story without the support of dialogue. This series gave me the chance to play with that by leaning into how to tell that story with the visuals.” Kelly is a twice Emmy-nominated DOP, for Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary 13th (2017) and an episode of HBO’s Insecure in 2020. This was the year she made history as the first Black woman invited into the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers. She shot the pilot for FX series Y: The Last Man , based on a graphic novel, and additional photography for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. However , it was her relationship with Freeland on upcoming Netflix feature Rez Ball (a sports drama about Native-American basketball players) that led to Echo . She is lead DOP on the four Freeland-directed episodes, with Magdalena Gorka photographing episode 3, directed by Catriona McKenzie. EMPOWERING PERSPECTIVES Cox is also an amputee in real life and uses a prosthetic leg on her right side, a disability embraced by the production – particularly for fight scenes. The stunt coordinator Marc Scizak incorporated the fact Cox can do bigger blocks with her prosthetic leg as she wouldn’t feel pain. She also uses it as leverage, to get as much power from her kicks as possible. The third element of inclusion is setting the story roots in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Many cast and crew are of Native-American origin, including Cox (Menominee) and Freeland (Navajo). Scenes set in rural Oklahoma were shot mainly on stages and locations in Atlanta, where the challenge was working around the Georgia greenery to match the drier landscape of the plains.

BEING SEEN Physical disability and deafness are foregrounded in Echo, which also explores Native American heritage

“The show flashes from each generation of the Choctaw tribe which has led Maya to inherit ancestral powers,” Kelly says. “Each flashback was captured with a new look to differentiate between ancestors. The beginnings in Oklahoma have a western feel in black and white – while the present day is rooted in realism, open spaces, a richer palette and more saturated colours.” The opening moment of the show, dubbed the ‘Dawn of Time’, was the first time the Choctaw story of creation had been depicted on screen. Kelly calls it

an honour, but felt pressure to recreate it authentically under guidance from Choctaw representatives. “We spent weeks looking at glow worms in Australia and different cave dwellings to figure out what the core of the Earth looks like. It’s not exactly otherworldly as it’s the story of how the world began, but we wanted to make it feel like you’re in the centre of the Earth and these people have emerged and become human.” For a Choctaw game of stickball, she deployed spherical H Series lenses from Panavision, the widest enabling them to make the camera feel like it was part of the game. “We put it in the middle and had people run towards it - a dynamic way to get the camera involved.” Kelly was also able to experience a powwow first-hand before filming a similar scene for episode 5. “It’s the most emotional scene for me. While powwows have been shown before, there was something special about ground-level cameras being inside one at night.”

I’LL CONSIDER IT a job well done IF YOU TURN THE SOUND OFF AND the audience knows the story ”




One lens to rule them all FUJIFILM product manager Luke Cartwright and technical product specialist Jim Marks discuss the cinematic broadcast lens taking Las Vegas by storm

M uch has been said about the exterior (plated with 54,000 sq m of LED screens) is designed to catch your attention, it’s under the dome where new ground has really been broken. The ability for this hulking orb to stay relevant now hinges upon how well the productions it plays host to can make use of the expensively assembled canvas within. U2’s residency – U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere – is the first to put this technology through its paces. It’s in this context that FUJINON Duvo HZK24- Las Vegas’ latest space-age megastructure, Sphere. While 300mmT2.9 has been introduced. “When they heard about this lens, they wanted it,” begins Luke Cartwright, product manager of optical devices at FUJIFILM UK. “There’s a company in the US called Fuse Technical Group, which is the vendor for the U2 production. They approached Vis-A-Vis Video to

FOCAL POINT The HZK24-300mm was the real star of the show, impressing the pros at Sphere

support the cameras and lenses for the operation. So Vis-A-Vis entered the venue for the start of the residency and began prepping kit to go into Sphere. “On one of the camera positions, they were using the ZK12x25 (25-300mm) on an ARRI stabilised remote-control head. The ZK is around ten years old now – still largely relevant, but way bigger than the Duvo. It weighs around 10.5kg and is probably 10cm longer as well, with a lot of weight over the front of the lens. The

robotic heads were really struggling to control it because of the weight. Plus, when you’re constantly zooming, the elements inside the lens move one way or the other, which throws the balance of the head out again.” Vis-A-Vis heard about Fujifilm’s latest broadcast lens, Duvo HZK24-300mm, and immediately put out some feelers to see if a prototype could be procured. “Vis-A-Vis is a customer of CVP, who we also work with very closely. CVP put us in touch with them and we said, ‘You can have one, but it’ll be pre-production. However, there’s not much left to develop, so we can put it through its paces to see what you think’. They gave us an incredible opportunity, so we’re glad the lens has met their needs. “When we got the lens on the robotic head, everything massively improved. The length is shorter and only 2.9kg in

EVERYTHING’S COMBINED INTO ONE LENS; it really fits the bill ”



TRIED AND TESTED With successful testing on a variety of camera models, the HZK24-300mm has proven to be very versatile

weight – it was like night and day. Then, the optical performance throughout the zoom range was noted by not only U2’s production, but the operators as well. So far, it’s been really well-received. “It’s lightweight, has a long focal length, is a good T stop and compact. Everything’s combined into one lens; it really fits the bill. The stuff they have got going on inside Sphere is all top-of-the- range – seven camera positions, all Sony VENICE 2s, all with Fujinon glass but one. This includes FUJINON HZK25-1000mm, ZK19-90mm and HK75-400mm. Vis-A- Vis and the team there are constantly pushing the envelope of technology in these live shows.” Jim Marks, FUJIFILM technical product specialist and a professional filmmaker, has been testing Duvo HZK24-300mm for a different use case. “I’ve got it on my Sony FX9. A lot of what I do is solo, or maybe with a crew of two or three. I have this saying with Luke: ‘one lens to rule them all’,” he laughs. “The Duvo really is in that sense because you put it on your camera, lock it on, support it and can do anything with it. “We have a broadcast-style lens here which gives us a look that could be for narrative cinema, documentary or sport. It can do both a wide and tight shot. Going back and forth all day long

is not a problem. The picture quality also reassuringly matches the standard set by Fujinon’s cinema glass.” “This was the first thing they picked up on in Las Vegas,” agrees Cartwright. “The lens’ position in Sphere is a hero shot. It’s at the back of the standing audience; able to go from a wide shot with the audience across the bottom of the frame. Or, it can pin into a body-length shot of the performer – but there is no fluctuation in performance all the way through the zoom. “Typically with a parfocal zoom lens, there will be a drop-off at a certain focal length; it’s minor and just physics, but you can’t get around it. Yet, with the electronic back focus, we can measure those pitfalls and automatically adjust the back focus to keep everything in line. It’s immediately noticeable at events like this. This is technology you just wouldn’t have in a pure cinema lens. “There’s a broadcast servo drive unit built onto the side, which cinema glass won’t normally have. You get a whole host of integration features, so you don’t need external motors for focus control; there’s no third-party devices needed.” “We did a very quick test where we went to CVP and tried the lens in combination with different cameras,” Marks notes. “We got data passthrough

on the REDs, Sony VENICE and ARRI LF. So whatever camera you’re shooting on, you’re able to get that integration. “I’ve got cinematographers wanting to look at this lens for narrative work because of its speed and the different cameras you can put it on. In fact, I came up with a brand-new word: cinecast. It’s a cinematic broadcast lens, very quick and good fun. It’s a lens that takes all the difficulties out so you can concentrate on the framing – the fun bits. That’s the great thing about it.” “On the whole live events side, this lens is pushing boundaries,” concludes Cartwright. “Having a pre-production model at such a high-profile show is massive. When people realise that the whole outfit is Fujinon glass, it makes a real statement.”

More information:







Nicola Foley gets an inside look at the craft of the colourist, hearing about the tech changing the game, dynamics with DOPs and trends on the horizon

CEM OZKILICCI Winner of the FilmLight

we want to create’. From there, he likes to oversee the dailies during production, facilitating ongoing communication with the production team and VFX, if used. “This continuous exchange is invaluable for strategising on specific scenes or shots,” he explains. “It streamlines the process significantly, making the first day of grading much smoother.” According to Ozkilicci, the relationship between colourist and DOP is constantly evolving. At the start of his career, over two decades ago, it was customary for DOPs to be physically present in the grading suite, since sharing stills via mobile or high-resolution QuickTime files for review wasn’t feasible. With the strides forward in tech around remote grading solutions, and the shift to digital cameras and workflows, the landscape has changed dramatically. “DOPs have become increasingly tech-savvy, engaging in discussions about codecs, digital workflows, pipelines and colour management,” he contemplates. “It’s now common for them to have their own set of LUTs, often developed in collaboration with a colourist. This evolution reflects the ongoing importance of effective communication and collaboration. Sharing your ideas, inspirations and references – whether from movies, series, paintings or still photography – remains at the heart of our dynamic and ever- changing field.” Recently, Ozkilicci established his own colour grading studio, Cocolors, deploying Baselight, which he praises for its robust capabilities. For others working in the field, he emphasises the importance of staying informed about the latest developments, finding that the most valuable insights often come through networking and engaging with other industry professionals. The integration of machine learning (ML) in colour grading marks a seismic leap forward in technology, he stresses,

Colour Award at CAMERIMAGE 2023, Cem’s recent projects include

Songs of Earth & Possession O riginally inclined towards photography, Cem Ozkilicci forayed into colour grading somewhat by accident, after realising that on-set work wasn’t his calling. His cinematography tutor at the time suggested compositing as a possible career path, which led him to Montreal and a course in Flame. From there, he landed a role at a post house, which – fortuitously – acquired a telecine soon into his tenure. Working under colourist Rob Lingelbach and continuing his education in Flame, his focus gradually shifted towards grading, as he found himself drawn in by its unique intersection between photography and visual effects. “As well as the artistic side, I was captivated by the technical and social facets of the job,” he recalls. “The collaborative nature of the work, especially synergy with DOPs, directors and clients, was particularly appealing and aligned with my skills and interests.” For Ozkilicci, whose recent notable projects include Norwegian feature Possession as well as festival favourite Songs of Earth , the process begins with dialogue between the art department, DOP and director. Taking place, ideally, in the earliest stages of production, and including tests on costume and makeup, this collaboration allows for the development of the show LUT, and ‘laying the foundation for the visual world




ELLA SORYL Based at Platform Post, Ella’s worked on top productions including Channel 4’s Kids and BBC’s Horrible Histories “G rowing up, I remember falling in love with cinema, not only because of the storytelling: I was attracted to art created by light,” reminisces Ella Soryl, a colourist with Soho-based post-production house Platform. Fascinated by the effects of colour and light, she spent her teenage years designing light installations for events – and when she discovered the field of colour grading, she knew it was a perfect match. Working across a wide range of genres, Soryl adapts to each project’s unique needs. “With scripted work, I tend to get involved in pre-production, which I prefer, as this streamlines the process and allows me to influence the tone of the show before the shoot,” she explains. Becoming involved at the pre-production stage also minimises potential issues around complicated scenes, such

VERDANT VIEWS Ozkilicci made the stunning fjords of Norway sing on Songs of Earth

project hinges on the colourist’s ability to decipher and actualise the visual intent of the creators; translating their vision for the project into reality, and building upon the groundwork established by the art department and the DOP. Challenges can and will arise, he insists, so good communication is always key. “I’ve come to realise the paramount importance of listening in the field of colour grading,” he comments. “While some colourists lean more towards artistic flair, others towards technical prowess and some excel in client interaction, I firmly believe that the ability to listen to clients and understand their needs is a defining skill. This often gives a colourist an edge, allowing them to meet and even exceed expectations.” In parting advice for aspiring colourists, Ozkilicci advocates exploring creative media of all varieties, and a steadfast commitment to continual learning. “Colour grading is a blend of art, technology and psychology. Beyond technical skill, immerse yourself in many art forms – cinema, music, literature, painting, photography,” he concludes. “This broadens your perspective and fuels creativity. Stay curious and avoid comfort zones; they can stifle creativity. And, if possible, travel. The world offers endless visual and cultural experiences to draw from. Lastly, be patient and kind to yourself and others.”

highlighting FilmLight’s facial tracker as a time-saving marvel used daily. “I foresee ML enhancing efficiency in colour grading, allowing us to concentrate more on the nuances of our craft. In the future, I anticipate it handling basic neutral shot balancing,” he predicts. “However, ML autonomously creating unique, visually captivating looks for high-resolution images with minimal human intervention remains a distant reality for now.” Whatever software and gadgets are in play, for Ozkilicci, the success of a IMMERSE YOURSELF IN many art forms. THIS WILL broaden perspectives ”




QUITE THE TRIP Society of the Snow brought Chema Alba’s work to a huge audience

as shooting day for night, she advises. When working on TV docs, this often isn’t possible, meaning that sometimes she’ll see the footage for the first time just before the session starts. In that scenario? “I get the opportunity to think on my feet and trust my artistic intuition!” Demanding a blend of creative, technical and social skills, Soryl admits that being a colourist isn’t for everyone. “Then there’s the vitamin D deficiency that comes from always working in a dark room...” she jokes. But it’s a job she loves, taking joy in translating words into visual deliverables and the chance to immerse herself in diverse worlds. She finds one of the most rewarding elements is the synergy between director, DOP and colourist – a fertile creative ground. “I also love collaborating with the Platform finishing artists, combining our toolsets to figure out what can be achieved between us,” she adds.

“Elevating the textures, colours and contrast into something powerful, without taking away from the narrative, elevates the DOP’s vision. A grade should go unnoticed; it should look real.” In the fast-paced world of television production, Soryl observes that DOPs are attending grade sessions less and less, making trust between all parties more crucial than ever. “When the DOP trusts you, everything becomes fluid as you can collaborate, share ideas, experiment and communicate in a language that becomes unique to our relationship,” she muses. “My grading adapts to what the DOP’s vision is, while also shaping it.” As new advancements in technology and techniques arrive thick and fast, Soryl stays ahead by listening to podcasts with thought leaders, subscribing to industry newsletters and connecting with other colourists. Currently, her favourite toys are the new tools for Baselight V6, particularly the X Grade and Chromogen look development features, while she also praises the arrival of ML tools in the finishing and VFX pipeline, such as face

detection, sky extraction and depth mattes, which will cross over into grading platforms. “It will be interesting to see how ML tools impact grading,” she comments. “It’s exciting to discover and implement new tools to my process.” Working on a variety of content, Soryl says each format presents unique challenges. “Fast turnarounds for projects can be tough. These are often shot on multiple cameras, some of which record at a low bit depth, and everything must be done in a day. It becomes a speed game, which I’ve learnt to enjoy, as it adds a pinch of excitement,” she shares. “Communicating around what the client is looking for can also be complicated. Colour is complex – we all perceive it differently. With so many dimensions to change how colour is experienced, words can be vague or limiting. But this is the constant fun and creative challenge of working as a colourist.”

DANCING SHOES Ella Soryl brought out the opulence in ballet film Sea of Troubles





Colourist on All of Us Strangers and Cannes hit How to Have Sex, Joseph is based at prestigious post-production facility Company 3 G rowing up with a love of film, Company 3 colourist Joseph Bicknell knew from a young age that he wanted to work in the industry. Dabbling in photography and discovering the world of colour grading was a watershed moment: combining creativity, technology and collaboration, it was a perfect match for his skillset and he fell in love with the craft. On any project, Bicknell strives for a balance between conviction in his process and being open to experimentation and play. “What makes a successful grade is incredibly subjective. There are a bunch of ways you could colour something, but I try to make it so that, when I hit that play button, the way it’s coloured makes me feel my small contribution has punctuated the emotion in the scene,” he muses. “That’s when I get that sense of a job well done.” Bicknell thrives on early involvement in the process, relishing becoming emotionally immersed in projects and participating in the creative dialogue. “You get an incredible amount of extra value, having those conversations away from the kit and away from the final process of getting the work done,” he asserts. “It means that your understanding of the nuances in the film, and the director and DOP’s vision, are that much greater – so that, when you’re actually behind the panel, you can work with intention and understanding.” While he keeps an eye on the latest tech trends, he finds a simple approach often works best, giving a cleaner, more direct result. “As well as building the look, we’re shepherding it through the different formats the project is going

CHEMA ALBA Colourist and head of DI at Deluxe Spain, Chema is one of Spain’s top professionals. He’s currently riding high on the success of his work on Society of the Snow W ith 17 years as a colourist under his belt, Chema Alba knows a thing or two about creating a killer grade. His career started at a film lab, but as soon as he saw what was possible during colour grading – the role it could play in enhancing an image and being there on the very last day of making the film – he was sold. “I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do,” he smiles. “That was nearly 20 years ago. Even today, I still love it and I’m always excited by the next project.” Uniquely, Alba says he'd rather not get involved with films before they reach the post-production stage, preferring to be the first viewer – watching just as somebody at home would. This, he finds, gives him complete clarity on what he’s seeing and the job that’s required. For him, the key to thriving in the trade is a unique artistic view and strong aesthetic sensibility, coupled with excellent people skills. “Sometimes, you get people with excellent technical skills, but no social skills. They might be able

to do the job, but they’re not going to survive! You’ll spend a lot of time in pain if you don’t like the social, collaborative side,” he insists. Alba finds watching films and TV can be a busman’s holiday, turning instead to music as a source of inspiration. “ Society of the Snow was the Stone Roses film,” he laughs. “Another film was Van Morrison. For every colourist – if you’re working a lot and deep into a project, it can be hard to enjoy films and TV – you’re seeing masks, vignettes… you’re seeing everything. So it’s better to hear music than watch something, for me. “You don’t need to be obsessed with the machinery, the technical part – and you don’t need to watch every film made in Europe over the last 30 years!” Alba continues. “But you do need to travel, you need to be prepared to speak for hours, and most importantly you need to be able to translate feelings – of directors, cinematographers, artists. You need to be able to tease out what they want and convey the feeling.” YOU’LL SPEND A LOT OF TIME in pain IF YOU DO NOT LIKE THE social side ”




to be shown in, and making sure that the emotional feeling is consistent no matter what. So I’m always looking at how I can improve my processes, how we can clean stuff up and simplify things, while not limiting what we can achieve visually. “The great thing about colour grading is that so much of the visual experience is perceptual,” he adds. “Sometimes, it’s irrelevant what the ones and zeros are telling you – it’s about the overall experience and what it actually looks like. I love embracing that ambiguity.” Bicknell is a big believer that the camera doesn’t define the final look of a film. He advocates using colour management and thoughtful processes to ensure that, whether it’s shot on RED, ARRI ALEXA or Sony VENICE, you’re not restricted creatively or locked into a certain aesthetic. The colourist will then interpolate what the camera has captured into a form that best serves the story and emotion. Making sure that he’s bringing the vision to life in the right way involves a tight working relationship with DOPs, and Bicknell sees his role as a creative partner who can ease the load. “DOPs have got so many different things to manage: blocking, lenses, movement, lighting and

– one example that comes to mind is the opening scene of Solaris , with his purple jacket against the cool green. I remember that palette vividly.” As the industry flirts with AI, Bicknell anticipates its transformative impact, but hopes its use will be more practical assistant in post-production – creating depth maps and performing menial ‘right-or-wrong’ tasks – as opposed to a creative force. “I see a lot of energy put into AI development for actual look generation, time of day adjustment and things like this. I believe that misses an opportunity,” he explains. “The way it’s implemented currently, AI can write a novel, but still can’t perform basic functions. Really, if it was orientated towards that, then it would be a much better tool.” For any aspiring colourists out there, he recommends homing in on others’ work you like and dissecting it, as well as finding a way to make each hue, saturation and tone work for you, so that nothing is off limits. This means that when you come to a new project with a certain colour element, you have the knowledge to confidently weigh in on designing the palette. “Have a healthy dose of humility, and always remember there’s things just around the corner you don’t know which will change how you work – and that’s okay!” he concludes. “It will be a constant evolution of your process. Enjoy it.”

more, so I try and think of everything I can do colour-wise to help support them as much as possible,” he says. “I want any DOP I work with to feel they can reach out if they’re running into an issue, or that they can soundboard stuff, even if I’m not colouring that specific project.” Ever conscious of not playing it safe, he continually carves out time to experiment, try new techniques and keep inspiration flowing – ensuring he comes to every new project with a fresh slate of ideas. He also has a mental mood board which he returns to frequently: “Over time, you find yourself building up this memory of little visual characteristics that worked, paired with other things well, or had a certain emotional effect,” he shares. “Then there’s little moments you remember from things you watch SOMETIMES, IT’S IRRELEVANT WHAT the ones and zeros are telling you ”

CLOSE-UP Joseph Bicknell’s grading on All of Us Strangers has many admirers



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