THE CROWN SERIES 3 IS HERE NEW LOOK FOR A NEW ROYAL FAMILY P12
November 2019 £4.99
LIGHTHOUSE The brightest new LED lights on the market CAMERA ROLL We investigate the latest full-frame cameras HFR RETURNS High frame rate movies return with Gemini Man
ALSO INSIDE FILM IN 30 SECONDS | CAMERA LISTINGS | NEW LEXAR SSD RESOLVE 16 REVIEW | CAMERA TO CLOUD COMING SOON IS BEAUTIFUL CHAPTER TWO GETS A FLAWLESS FINISH IT
EDITORIAL Editor Julian Mitchell 01223 492246 firstname.lastname@example.org Staff writer Chelsea Fearnley Contributors Adam Duckworth, Adam Garstone, Phil Rhodes 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 Bruce Richardson Ad production Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck SOCIAL MEDIA Instagram @definitionmags Twitter @definitionmags Facebook @definitionmagazine MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD, BRIGHT HOUSE, 82 HIGH STREET, SAWSTON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE CB22 3HJ UK
Director Ang Lee and star Will Smith on the set of 3D 120fps 4K movie Gemini Man
P ushing the technical envelope in cinema can be mightily frustrating: with HFR movie Gemini Man it’s a case of ‘this is what you could see – but you can’t yet’. But Ang Lee has now softened the message and is proselytising that 4K 3D 120fps is the ‘thick negative’ from which all other formats are derived from. But unfortunately the thick negative is the one that would convince HFR doubters that it forms part of cinema’s future. The good news is that the thick neg looks as good as it did three years ago in the doomed Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk movie; and this time with Gemini Man , it had to contend with the comping in of a digital asset – a ‘youthified’ Will Smith – and a huge amount of action, including a superb bike chase through the streets of Cartagena. This is a great scene in full HFR and still good in 60fps, which is what Paramount’s marketing people are calling 3D plus. Frustrating too is when people ask other people what true 4K 3D 120fps looks like; apart from ‘amazing’, there are no words that will do. Directors Ang Lee and James Cameron seem to be the torchbearers for this new technology but production as a whole has to keep up. When you shoot 120fps there is nowhere to hide: and that includes the acting. WELCOME
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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GEAR TESTS 64 BLACKMAGIC RESOLVE 16 AND EDIT KEYBOARD Editor Adam Garstone looks at DaVinci Resolve 16 and gets used to the new edit keyboard.
71 LEXAR SSD
A new, very fast SSD from Lexar looks to move media much faster.
76 CAMERA LISTINGS
Our unique camera listings now offer kit essentials and recommended accessories.
SET- UP 06 TITLE SEQUENCE
This month is a reboot of the Charlie’s Angels TV series with plenty of sisterhood.
09 INTERVIEW – MICHAEL CIONI
Does this man have the golden touch? He sold Light Iron to Panavision, worked for the company and now he takes on the cloud. DRAMA
12 THE CROWN SERIES 3
A new royal family could have introduced an episodic schism, but it’s business as usual.
22 IT CHAPTER TWO
Pennywise is at it again, but this time he’s looking beautiful in his murderous business.
32 GEMINI MAN
New HFR techniques and a young Will Smith avatar – Ang Lee is pushing again. FEATURES
The latest high- and medium-powered LED lighting around.
50 CAMERA’S FULLER LOOK
As new cameras move towards a universal large format form factor, we pick the latest examples for further analysis.
58 CELLULOID IN 30 SECS
Why are commercials so suited for film?
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Three new angels and a new Bosley! Another culture rerun from Hollywood with Elizabeth Banks (above) starring, producing, writing and directing the new streamlined Charlie’s Angels . Safe-pair-of-hands DOP Bill Pope shot with the Arri Alexa Mini camera and Panavision T Series lenses. He also used the Arri Alexa SXT with the same glass. Grading was from Company 3 in LA.
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I NTERV I EW | SET- UP
CAMERA TO CLOUD MICHAEL CIONI INTERVIEW Serial entrepreneur and technologist Michael Cioni has left Panavision and is introducing us to a new way of working
WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL
M ichael Cioni is in an enviable position of picking the technologies he wants to work in and having the force of personality to see that he could benefit that technology with his experience. Recently, he has joined Frame.io, one of the world’s leading video review and collaboration platforms, used by over one million filmmakers and media professionals. He has joined as global senior vice-president of innovation. Cioni, one of the industry’s most prominent production and post workflow experts, joins Frame.io from international camera company Panavision, where, in a similar role, he spearheaded numerous breakthrough products and workflows, including the Millennium DXL 8K large format camera system. CLOUD ENABLED At Frame.io, Cioni will lead a new LA- based division focused on the continued
investment into cloud-enabled workflows for motion picture and television – specifically, automated camera-to-cutting room technology. “Frame.io is not only looking to strengthen today’s use of the cloud, we’re also driving increased creative control by reducing the time it takes for media to reach editors in off-site cutting rooms,” says Cioni. “The professional filmmaking process is going through the largest functional change since the shift from analogue to digital,” says Frame.io CEO, Emery Wells. “While cloud-based technologies are already transforming every industry, we understand moving more of the filmmaking process to the cloud presents several unique challenges: security, file sizes and scale. Since day one, we have built Frame.io to solve the issues that we lived working in post-production.” When it comes to security, Frame. io has responded to Hollywood’s unique needs by making it a cornerstone of the
The professional filmmaking process is going through the largest functional change since digital platform. “Frame.io has invested deeply in security so that customers experience safe, documented and trustworthy cloud accessibility of their highest-value media,” says Cioni. CAMERA TO CUTTING ROOM Additionally, “Hollywood’s attention to image quality, archiving and future- proofing are all core aspects of the Frame.
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SET- UP | I NTERV I EW
So, we will be online with a higher bandwidth and not rely on Wi-Fi, but 5G through satellite
ABOVE Cioni (right) was part of the Panavision team that won our Tech Innovation award for colour science – pictured with him is Ian Vertovec (left)
network, they watch rough cuts, they screen, they do remote colour correction sessions. But we’re going to be able to bypass Wi-Fi, we won’t be limited by Wi-Fi hotspots. People ask me what happens if I’m shooting in an area that has no Wi-Fi. The answer is that in a few years Wi-Fi will essentially go away and the 5G network is going to be global, because it’s going to be satellite fed.” He explains: “Unlike previous technologies that run on a single band, Wi-Fi is great if you’re within 100ft of it, because it’s single band designed to do that. 5G runs on multi-bands, so it can be small as in 100ft radius, but also be many, many miles away, as it can run on larger amplitude wavelengths, so it can be transmitted from longer distances such as space. That’s a new concept. “So, we will be online with a higher bandwidth and not rely on Wi-Fi. There’s
io platform,” says Cioni. “Emery and I both know what it means to work with large creative teams, so at Frame.io we are developing a totally new direct camera-to- cutting room collaboration experience.” Frame.io has been 100% cloud-based since day one. “We started seeding new workflows around dailies, collaborative review and real-time integration with NLEs for parallel work and approvals. Now, with Michael, we’re building Frame.io for the new frontier of cloud-enabled professional workflows,” Wells says. “Frame.io will leverage machine learning and a combination of software and hardware in a way that will truly revolutionise collaboration.” With Cioni, Frame.io’s vision for the next generation of professional cinema workflows will be completely anchored in cloud-based technologies. “A robust camera-to-cloud approach means filmmakers will have greater access to their work, greater control of their content and greater speed with which to make key decisions,” says Cioni. “Our new roadmap will dramatically reduce the time it takes to get original camera negative into the hands of editors. Directors, cinematographers, post-houses, DITs and editors will all be able to work with recorded images in real time, regardless of location.” As the lines between production and post-production continue to blur, this move uniquely positions Frame.io to respond to the pervasive need for global studios and creatives to collaborate without geographic boundaries or borders. WAITING FOR 5G Working on set and using transfer solutions like Frame.io means that relationships with telecoms companies need to be nurtured, and that is one of Cioni’s immediate intentions. “Relationships between Hollywood and the telecoms industry are limited to email at the moment.” He continues: “It’s just general communication between each other. We’ve mostly relied on Wi-Fi for the actual visual elements of collaboration. People get on a Wi-Fi
one more element to that as well. What if you’re filming underground and the satellite can’t see you and you simply can’t have that connection? Well, when I was on the subway the other day, I was writing an email and, without a signal, you don’t have to babysit that. Your phone will just hold on to it until it finds the network and pushes it automatically.” He continues: “Our camera-to-cloud solution works the same way, in fact there’s a tool at Frame.io right now called Watch Folder. It’s not a very sexy tool, but people who are using it are blown away, because it’s a way to transmit files to Frame.io. Its robustness means you could shut your computer down, you could open it, you could restart it, but the Watch Folder is so good it will pick up where it left off perfectly.” Cioni concludes: “This is a great architecture for a camera-to-cloud service.”
ABOVE Michael Cioni (left) with the Frame.io CEO, Emery Wells (right)
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DRAMA | THE CROWN
PASSING THE CROWN DOP Adriano Goldman dissects the new look for Series 3 of the royal drama, now led by the Oscar-winning Olivia Colman
WORDS CHELSEA FEARNLEY / PICTURES NETFLIX
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T he Crown Series 3 will continue the first two series’ delicate blending of private and public events with a sensational new cast and narrative. It will cover the years from 1964 to 1976 – the era of sex, drugs and Camilla Parker Bowles – and document the early blossoming relationship between her and Prince Charles, as well as what was known as a particularly bleak period for the British people, characterised by strikes, power cuts and IRA bombings. DOP Adriano Goldman, who has already started shooting Series 4 of the Netflix series, references the evolution of the show and says it’s getting grittier. “If you think back to Seasons 1 and 2, there was always a parallel in the story between what’s happening with the royals at the palace and what’s happening with the prime minister at Downing Street. This is still the case for Season 3, but it’s pacier somehow, there are more scenes, more sets and I remember speaking to the production designer Martin
Childs, who said he had created almost 400 sets just for the new season.” This progression of the storyline meant that Goldman was more cautious about changing his shooting style to match the period. He explains: “Visually, the show is already going to change. I knew this from the first moment I read the script; there’s modern architecture, costumes and furniture, and because we’re following different characters, we’re going to be moving outside of familiar locations and exploring new ones. Of course, we knew we had to make some changes, to evolve the look and present something fresher, but we weren’t going to go handheld or start questioning all our style rules. It still needed to look like The Crown .” The Crown ’s style rules hail from Series 1 and originated from the initial director Stephen Daldry. They drive everything Goldman shoots and were developed for visual consistency, because the series has several DOPs working on it.
We knewwe had to make some changes, to evolve the look and present something fresher
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THE CROWN | DRAMA
“These rules change only ever so slightly for Season 3. We used to be physically close to the actors for close-up shots using a 50mm lens, but gradually – and this is actually more perceptible in Season 4 – we’ve been stepping away from the actors and lensing up. It feels more voyeuristic, like we’re watching in, and that adds to the increased grittiness of the show,” explains Goldman. “From a technological perspective, the lenses also had to change. We had previously been using Cooke Panchros from the fifties and now we’re using Zeiss Super Speeds from the late sixties and seventies. They’re still vintage lenses, but they’re less glossy and more suited to the period in which Season 3 is set.” The lenses were tested before shooting to ensure colour and density accuracy across the sets. He explains: “Of all the Zeiss Super Speeds available on the market, each of them ages differently, and we had to find four sets that produced an identical image. We needed at least four sets: two sets per unit, and eventually four sets per unit when double banking – this is something that happened quite frequently on The Crown . We started with a single unit, then a second unit came in to provide additional material. Then there would be a whole other unit working with another director and DOP on other episodes. “We didn’t test the body, because we chose to stay with the Sony F55. The
IMAGES The Queen with her beloved corgis (left), and the decorated war hero Prince Philip (above)
gives me more speed and more quality as a whole. I can also still shoot in 4K, so there’s consistency there.” Goldman continues: “If I advanced to 5K, I would need to find other lenses capable of covering that sensor size, and there’s also no real reason to shoot in more than 4K right now.”
decision to keep the same camera we had used for the previous two seasons derived from comfort; knowing that Netflix was pleased with the workflow and overall quality of the production. Though – and this might sound a little contradictory – we did switch to the Sony Venice for Season 4. It’s a much more modern toy and it
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LEFT The Queen arrives for the state funeral of Winston Churchill, followed by the Sony F55 on a Steadicam
REALISTIC LIGHTING Goldman approached lighting the same way he had done since Series 1 of The Crown . He likes an empty set to give the director and talent plenty of room to play around with, and so chooses to light all of his scenes from the outside in. He explains: “If you come to my sets, they always look very simple. I rely a lot on windows and what is supposed to be a natural light source, like the sun or sky. I also like to use practicals, to enhance skin tone or make the actors’ eyes sparkle, so I work closely with Martin Childs and his department to determine which practicals would work best for the work I’m doing. It’s usually things like how thick the shades are or what’s the strongest bulb I can have on a certain practical. It’s a realistic approach. This show isn’t supposed to be super glossy or have a super-romantic look – it’s supposed to feel real.” Goldman also felt inclined to upgrade his lighting gear. He didn’t use any LED sources for the first two seasons, but Series 3 and 4 both employ Arri SkyPanels, This show isn’t supposed to be super glossy or have a super- romantic look – it’s supposed to feel real
Once filming had started, Shoul and Goldman found a colour palette and contrast level they felt worked for most situations. But the darkness of the series came from discussions about characters’ isolation from the outside world and wanting them to feel as if the only light reaching them was from the distant windows. “We called this ‘putting them in the room’, which was a refreshing change from what has become the norm in many TV dramas, where you see unusually bright interiors,” explains Shoul. Although there are a number of rooms The Crown returned to across the three seasons, such as the royal audience chamber, where the Queen meets her prime ministers, Shoul and Goldman wanted subtle differences in the grade to keep the drama fresh, and to hint at the individual emotion of each scene. Shoul also notes that working on a Netflix production is a luxury because, “all ten episodes are live at the same time”, enabling him to explore different looks and return to an episode if he found something that worked better later on in the series.
Asa Shoul is one of the originals and has worked on The Crown since Series 1. He was invited to interview for the series following the work he did on The Queen , which was written by Peter Morgan. He was initially asked to do some test grades with Goldman, and they started by comparing three different cameras, and some exterior street scenes and interior locations. He says: “We also extensively tested makeup and in particular, Queen Elizabeth’s lipstick, which initially turned magenta when we applied a cool grade. The makeup team gave Adriano several shades to work with until we were happy with one that I wouldn’t have to isolate and change for every shot. Early on in the tests, we also looked at the possibility of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and, although cinematic, it didn’t quite feel right. I suggested a 2:1 ratio, which made it more cinematic than a 16:9 full frame, but still gave the glorious palace interiors the feeling of height, which helped with making the young Queen feel small within those imposing spaces.”
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DRAMA | THE CROWN
My philosophy is to keep the set simple, with two cameras, two dollies and a few cranes The Crown , therefore the grade didn’t vary much from Seasons 1 and 2, other than the primary delivery now being HDR. This was perhaps the most dramatic and, at times, controversial new tool at our disposal. Adriano embraced it as it added an extra dimension to the viewing experience; an immersive 3D quality. But it has to be used subtly, so as not to become distracting. We didn’t want the actors to have to compete with the lights.” He continues: “We found that establishing a shot of a vista across a city, such as in Athens, where we follow the story of Prince Philip’s mother, had such depth that it could easily be held for another five seconds as our eyes were drawn to different details within the image. We therefore suggested the editors should be able to view the dailies in HDR so they could have a similar experience during the edit.” Series 3 is naturally more colourful, because the period is more colourful, so this led to a conversation about saturation and whether or not it needed to be enhanced
ABOVE The new Queen and her prince, played by Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies
Cineos and the Hudson Spider. He explains: “I really like how quick and easy it is to adjust the intensity and colour of LED lights, so that helped me keep the pace up. We shot about 25 set-ups a day, so we needed to be able to move quickly in order to deliver the footage on time, and switching up both our lenses and lights meant we could do that.” Lighting through the windows of grand buildings and placing the equipment well away from the talent demanded a huge chunk of the budget for cherry pickers and genie booms (and getting permits for these enormous machines to be outside on the street). “On the set, there’s always two Pee Wee dollies and five or seven (usually 50ft) cranes. Either technocrane or Scorpio. But there are a few locations, such as at Wilton House, where there are weight restrictions, because of its old, wooden flooring. In these instances, we brought a 22ft technocrane, which is a very small, beautiful piece of gear. I know the show looks expensive – and we do have the resource, but my philosophy is to keep the set simple, with two cameras, two dollies and few cranes.” BROWN-EYED GIRL Much as we, the audience, love a good side- by-side of actors and the historical figures they portray, we accept the inevitable differences. But not the makers of The Crown , who sought so desperately to match Olivia Colman’s likeness with the Queen through cosmetic and visual effects. The feature in question was Her Majesty’s blue eye colour, which the Oscar-winner’s predecessor in the role, Claire Foy, was fortunate enough to share. Colman’s tawny-coloured eyes were initially fitted with contact lenses, but that idea was quickly abandoned because they made the actor appear “zombie-like” and as
though she were “acting through a mask”, says Goldman. Furthermore, when shooting Colman up close, her contacts were visible on screen. Recolouring Colman’s eyes using VFX was also vetoed, because it didn’t seem like her when she was acting. Goldman explains: “You lose something when you watch Olivia with blue eyes, something vanishes, and it really damages her performance.” He adds: “If you’re making a sci-fi movie and you need a character to have red eyes, that’s one thing – it’s part of the construction of that character. But, you know, we’re not making a documentary here, and we’ve been bold enough to change an entire cast, does it really matter if Olivia has brown eyes?” Continuity was also questioned when the footage came into the grade, but it was decided that most of Series 3’s “new feel” would be achieved by the changes in cast, costume, sets and lenses. Colourist Asa Shoul explains: “We wanted to anchor the look so that it would be unmistakably
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for the new season. Goldman says: “We did think about saturation, and I remember having interesting discussions about saturation for the period. I’m very much guided by skin tone, so that was the crux of the discussion, you know, in terms of what works best for Olivia and Helena Bonham Carter [who succeeds Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret]. I wasn’t trying to match their skin colour with Claire or Vanessa’s, but it needed to look consistent with the saturation of the period.” There’s a very strong artistic connection felt among the team. It’s just so different to working on a feature film
ABOVE Tony Armstrong and later, Lord Snowdon, was famed for his post-war fashion photography
He continues, “I feel confident enough knowing that we own the look for The Crown . So, if we wanted to go a little bit more colourful, we could. However, if Martin Childs suddenly started painting all the set walls green, we would probably need to have a discussion with our costume designer Amy Roberts about keeping the costumes more of a brownish, muted colour – but that would never happen. We all know the show so well and we’re all so close with each other.”
This enviable rhythm that defines the look for The Crown grew from the cast and crew friendships on and off set. Goldman explains: “After doing three, almost four seasons together, there’s a very strong artistic connection felt among the team. It’s just so different to working on a feature film, where you have to start from scratch and assemble a whole new team together each time.” He adds: “But even the newcomers, the new cast members, are a joy to work with. I heard from a new actor in Season 4 who, after stepping onto the set for the first time, said, ‘Coming to The Crown is like sitting in a Rolls-Royce. It’s so safe and comfortable, and very high-end.’” Goldman concludes: “We are really proud of the work we do together, and I sincerely hope that Season 3 is received as well as Seasons 1 and 2 were.”
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DRAMA | I T CHAPTER 2
WANNA PLAY? It Chapter Two is beautiful to look at, but how did DOP Checco Varese develop the film’s horror aesthetic beyond the hit 2017 reboot?
WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL / PICTURES WARNER BROS
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some kind of supernatural feeling is that the skies are darker and greener instead of pure blue,” says Varese. “In our version, we kept that feeling and a very fundamentalist or pragmatic honouring of the first movie, so when the audience sees it, it takes them back to the first experience.” He explains: “The whole premise was that we should believe we are watching something shot in conjunction with the first movie. But, 27 years later, we could introduce a new look – it was a free-for-all. That’s what we attempted, and I think we succeeded, not in copying, but honouring the work of my predecessor Chung-hoon Chung. When we flash forward or back to the contemporary part, it is a totally different feeling and technique.” ANAMORPHIC, BUT NOT There were subtle technical differences between the two movies. For one, the first film was shot with anamorphic lenses. Director Muschietti wanted to retain the anamorphic feeling for the second film, but wanted to go spherical. Varese points out: “Anamorphic lenses have wonderful elements to them, with elongated figures and controlled astigmatism – the out-of- focus background is a little different than in the spherical world. Andy [Muschietti] wanted to have a different experience for shooting, yet maintain the anamorphic look, so we used a new set of lenses from Hawk called MiniHawks. They preserved the astigmatism and bokeh of the anamorphic in a very wonderful way. We used two sets of lenses, one for the past and one for the present.” In It Chapter Two , the look of the past is more filled with light – more joyful and playful, whereas the present is darker and the contrast level is higher. “For instance, in the first few scenes with Beverley in her apartment: she wakes up in the middle of the night to a phone call and doesn’t turn on any lights. It’s raining outside and there is a little glow on the windows and we see, in a very silhouetted way, her packing and
W hat is it with scary clowns? As we approach Halloween, the thought of seeing Pennywise the clown from Stephen King’s It books (and the subsequent miniseries and films) has seen one trick-or-treat event in Detroit banning them for this year’s scare fest. The 2016 sightings of the It clowns across the US persuaded some locals residents they were living the terror from the film as the clowns chased and generally terrified children, even luring them into woods. Pennywise is now the most searched for Halloween costume. So, old Pennywise became the horror figure he always wanted to be and gave director Andy Muschietti a huge horror hit in 2017 with It – the film grossed over $700 million worldwide. No surprise, then, that It Chapter Two was quickly green-lit and produced with a nine-month shoot last year, again directed by Muschietti, but this time shot by Checco Varese; most famous for Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim and Amazon Video’s version of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan . Film reviews can hurt film crews, but they can also compliment them – and It Chapter Two ’s critics have largely praised the look of the film – something Varese appreciates. “It’s great to get a comment from anyone, because it’s a lot of work. If someone acknowledges what we do, it’s great,” he says. DARKER AND MORE VIOLENT The critics have been less generous with their praise for the movie as a whole. But how did Varese and the director settle on the aesthetics for this film?
“The first movie takes place 27 years before Chapter Two ,” he explains. “Chapter one dealt with the Losers’ Club – the group of kids featured in the movie. Because it was kids and in summer (even though Pennywise was attacking them), the movie was more playful and joyous. It has a patina of young kids in the summer months, even though it was a scary movie and deals with the fears and tragedies of young people. “ It Chapter Two was a combination of the fears of the younger people, but also the fears of the adults. Those adult fears are related to their experiences of life and so are deeper and rooted in their trauma. The whole concept was to make it darker and more violent. Those fears produce a more claustrophobic and darker environment.” Andy Muschietti, the director, masterfully planned the first film around the summer, with plenty of warm colours and greenery. “The only thing that reveals
FAR RIGHT Checco Varese discusses a shot with director Andy Muschietti and Bill Hader, who plays Richie Tozier
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I T CHAPTER 2 | DRAMA
You have to embrace the darkness and be happy with it. It’s always more difficult to pretend it’s dark and yet be able to see which is something felt rather than seen. You can feel it in a wide, open space, but that requires a lighting plan, as Varese explains. “You can have a big light, but expose only for the highlights, so everything else becomes dark, or you can have a cluster of little lights that light corners and surfaces. It has a lot to do with a brilliant production design and a great art department. You go on-set and ask to make this shiny or that reflective, so it reflects the window, but it doesn’t add light to it; you only see a lot of reflective surfaces. All that helps you make it feel darker without being dark. Darkness is about the amount of light you don’t have, not the amount of light you do.” A good example of this is the scene where James McAvoy’s character goes into a house of mirrors. It’s very well-lit, but the mirrors give you a sense of darkness, because you can’t see anything beyond them and, as an audience, you know a mirror is very thin glass, “so anything can happen behind it”, adds Varese. “It’s what you don’t see that makes it scary. That’s a lot of the fun and the trickery of filmmaking.” GEAR UP It Chapter Two was shot on the Arri Alexa, with four in the first unit, of which two were SXT (the more comprehensively equipped
then her husband arguing with her. You almost don’t see their faces, but only their silhouettes caught against the windows. That was a very specific and deliberate decision not to see them – or to see very little of them,” Varese explains. EMBRACE THE DARKNESS As new, more low-light friendly sensors emerge and cinematic lighting becomes more of a modelling technique than a revealing one, as Varese says, you have to embrace the darkness. He clarifies: “You have to embrace it and be happy with it. It’s always more difficult to pretend it’s dark and yet be able to see; you have to bathe the environment with a little bit of light even though the characters may have a torch, for instance. So, all of a sudden, you may have five or six guys who have flashlights, but you have to pretend for the audience they can’t see in the darkness. You need to see, as an audience, what they’re not seeing, because the scares are related to that. It’s a very fine balance, but a deliberate fine balance that requires a lot of trial and error.” For Varese, finding this balance is a combination of all the usual lighting techniques, and relies on the set. He wanted to create a claustrophobic atmosphere,
ABOVE DOP Checco Varese at work, and a still of the Losers’ Club all grown up
2.5 The number of hours it took to apply Bill Skarsgård’s clown make-up 34 How much longer It Chapter Two is than the first film (in minutes)
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Darkness is about the amount of light you don’t have, not the amount of light you do
IMAGES Some behind-the-scenes shots, as well as stills from It Chapter Two
camera), along with two Alexa Minis, which were more for handheld shots and the smaller spaces. As Varese mentioned, he used MiniHawk lenses for the past, while for the present he used Leica or Leitz Summicrons and a set of Angénieux zooms for the occasional crane, when they needed the distance. When it comes to technical, Varese is generous in his praise for director Andy Muschietti. “Andy’s a very tactile director, very technical in a non-technical way. He’s like an artist. If he could touch the monitor
and move the props and correct the lighting, I’m sure he would. Because of that, he’s very precise on the camera moves and the lens choices. He has a very precise language and you can see it in all his movies. He starts with a very wide and low-angle frame, as wide as a 14mm or, in the cavern at the end of the movie, a 10mm, to enjoy the sets and make them an intrinsic part of the movie. Then we usually changed to a 21mm or a 28mm that ended up being a close-up, so we worked on the widest possible side of the lenses. He was very exact on the moves– the camera was always moving, I don’t recall a shot that wasn’t moving, which was on purpose – it wasn’t a random choice.” The camera movement was designed to reflect the journey of the characters, says Varese. “The Losers are going forward in their pursuit of Pennywise, but Pennywise is chasing them at the same time. So the
camera is always on a technocrane, always on a dolly, it’s always pushing or pulling forward and the cinematic language is also a very fluid one.” LIGHT IT UP Varese used a combination of legacy lighting and new LED systems, but he is not one for new fads just for the sake of them. He explains: “The way we shot It Chapter Two could have been achieved in 1981 – other than the VFX being bigger and better. It could have been done in the same way. So, I don’t think the light advancement is that big, but it is definitely an advancement. I could have relied on filament and tungsten technology, but most of the movie was with LED. It’s friendlier for the environment, and definitely gives you a better range of colour and changing the light on-set.” Varese concludes: “I embrace new technology, but also honour what has come before. Using an analogy: I think directors of photography are like chefs, we all go to the same farmer’s market and buy the same tomatoes and each one of us does a different job, because, like chefs, you bring in what your parents taught you. So, yes, I use salt, but sometimes I use the new Himalayan pink salt to enhance the flavour of the dish.” And what a delicious dish it is!
IT CHAPTER TWO WAS RELEASED IN UK CINEMAS ON 6 SEPTEMBER
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ADVERTI SEMENT FEATURE | ATOMOS
BACK TO SCHOOL In-production independent movie, School Fight, is bucking the large format cinematography trend by re-energising older cameras
Inspired by The Inbetweeners / American Pie, School Fight is a new action comedy shot in Derbyshire, UK, that is soon to hitch its wagon over to Dubai for more action shots early next year. The movie is truly independent in that writer/director Damien Walters and producer Joby Stephens have been calling in favours to get it made, including some advanced Atomos technology to be able to bypass the internal Codec of their Sony FS7 and FS7 II cameras
“Damien phones me and asks if I wanted to be involved with something even more ambitious. It was a movie and meant me and my DOP Nathan Claridge driving up to Derbyshire to see Damien and discuss a film without a title. It has since been called School Fight , because that’s exactly what it is. I read the script, as did Nathan, and I’ve never laughed as many times as I did when reading that script. It has the feeling of The Inbetweeners and American Pie with lots of
to allow them the flexibility in post to achieve a more cinematic look. Stephens explains how the shoot came together: “I got a call at the beginning of the year from Damien, who I’d previously worked with on a short film a couple of years ago that went on to win some awards. We were really proud of the film and we spent about ten months in post-production, with me managing to get it into various agencies and VFX studios in London.
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“The output and 4K look belies that it was shot on the FS7. It does show what Atomos has achieved”
REACHING OUT TO ATOMOS On the technical side, Stephens is quite savvy with the cameras and the back end, and so reached out to Atomos, particularly for the use of ProRes Raw for the movie. “Dan from the company got back to me and we met up in London and talked about squeezing the very most from the Sony FS7 camera that you possibly could,” he explains. “The only way we could do that with the budgets we had was to get two or three cameras and just squeeze the life out of them to get the footage into ProRes Raw HQ quality. “What we got with the Canon prime lenses, alongside the mist filtering we were using, was quite remarkable. The output and the 4K look belies that it was shot on the FS7, which is now a five-year-old camera. It does show what Atomos has achieved. At the moment, we’re still working with proxies and deciding which direction we’ll go in post. We’re very much looking forward to treating that ProRes Raw HQ in the colour grade, because what you can do with it is quite ridiculous.” DOP Nathan Claridge and camera operator, Jack Edwards, did take a while to get their heads around working with Atomos monitors as they allow you to view more of the highlight range. “There are certain things you have to pay attention to when you’re shooting with an Atomos Shogun 7 or Inferno and it’s
action; if there’s one thing with Damien, you know he’ll nail the action scenes. He was heavily involved with the Kingsman movies, so when I read the action, it was highly believable that what I was reading in the script would come to life.” THE SHOOT The production had to look at ways to manage a tight budget and took their initial inspiration from a similarly themed Netflix production called Sex Education . “That production used a local area in South Wales, but it was made to look like it could be America – it looks incredible,” says Stephens. “We took a lot of confidence in that and were able to secure some incredible locations in and around the Derby area. Instead of bringing everything down to the London area, we took everyone up to the Derby area. In the end, we shot 29 scenes – interior and exterior – in more than 30 locations in that area. There were a lot of locations and we were blessed with the weather. “We had what I’d call an extremely tightly knit cast and crew,” says Stephens. “The only way we could see it working due to availability was to take the UK side of the dialogue and block it as if it were a series of small films on weekends or a block of three or four days; the biggest one we did was eight days. Rather fantastically now, we have pulled off the UK shooting.
IMAGES As the name suggests, a lot of the action sequences involved fight scenes, including stuntmen on fire and cameras spinning around
important to also know what you can bring back from that. It’s been a rollercoaster ride to get it to this point, but we’ve been able to gain more than we expected to from these cameras shooting in Raw,” says Stephens. Edwards was able to build the camera rigs with the Atomos recorders on-board. The design of the FS7 does allow for a
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“The FS7 was perfect for us with the Atomos Shogun and Inferno on-board”
character Jay, the person who, when he told a story, you just knew it was full of fiction. The start was maybe real, but then it would descend into lies. In Leo’s mind, it has definitely happened this way. So when he has a small altercation, it just so happens that it takes place in the desert. There are cars, Jeeps, tanks in his imagination and he never seems to get hurt in these fights. The film also pays respect to Scott Pilgrim vs the World and all the exes that he went up against in that film,” continues Stephens. “So we’re looking at what we need for these fight sequences including camera packages, but we already have previs for the scenes. The amount of support we’ve had from a lot of UK stunt performers has been great. This means when we finally shoot the action, we can be sure it’ll be great.” There was a UK fight scene, which featured more than 20 stuntmen in a room the size of a pub game room – think in
Shogun or the Inferno to sit on the right- hand side of the camera and be tucked in. “The FS7 was perfect for us with the Shogun and Inferno on-board, they didn’t get in the way at all,” enthuses Stephens. “For most of the shoot, we used Infernos shooting to ProRes Raw HQ. For drone shots, we used a DJI Inspire, again shooting ProRes Raw and then on the last few days of shooting, Dan sent us a Shogun 7 to attach to camera A and we carried on shooting on ProRes Raw with the latest Shogun. We also had Atomos Sumos on set, which were our 19in preview monitors. Our DIT, Ernest Tu, managed all the long takes from the units.
Stephens acknowledges that it is a different process, especially when shooting on two cameras and you’re out on location: “I think with the backups we had about 86TB of footage that needed wrangling. But that was less than what we’d have shooting in just ProRes Video or even CDNG.” DUBAI SHOOT While the UK shooting for School Fight has finished, the production is booked to go to Dubai to shoot dream fighting scenes. “We have a character in the movie called Leo and one of the ways I can explain his character is to imagine The Inbetweeners ’
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ATOMOS | ADVERTI SEMENT FEATURE
the same style as Kingsman – which was a one-take sequence. “We had stuntmen being set on fire, fights everywhere, cameras spinning around, it was orchestrated carnage. That was our first day of shooting, which was quite eye-opening for everyone on the film. We calculated we had seven attempts to achieve the one-take shot. We did this on the fifth one – that included the camera getting a kick on the third! “For eight months we’ve been saying how ambitious this project is and now we’re here, we do have beautifully shot UK scenes,” says Stephens. NEW TYPE OF SHOOTING Stephens is convinced that for the UK shooting of School Fight , using older cameras and then using cutting-edge recording technologies was an amazing way to work. “It gives previous generation cameras a new lease of life, you can just push them and it’s a remarkable thing to be able to do. We did record internally to the cameras, but that was just for our reference so we could review at the end of the day. I’m not sure many cameras can allow you to do that; recording low-resolution AVC files, while recording simultaneously to Atomos recorders.” When it comes to the movement, once the cameras were rigged with Infernos or Shoguns, Stephens explains that there
flexible codec, which was when we started talking about ProRes Raw. The codec and workflows had only just being introduced at the time and would give them the flexibility of Raw with manageable file sizes, almost standard video size. “So we worked with them to get the equipment on to the cameras in a way that not only the camera guy would be able to record the shots, but the camera assistant, focus puller, AD, producer and director could see what the camera operator was seeing at the same time. What we had on set was the seven-inch recorders on the cameras, so Shogun 7 and Infernos, but also the director had a rig set up with a Shogun Inferno as a wireless monitor and able to record proxies, so he can play back the file straightaway, enabling them to check something without having to go to the DIT.” The production also had 19in Atomos Sumo monitors recorders, which allowed them and the cast to review certain takes instantly. “This was helpful for the stuntmen to check on the timings,” says Brown. “Imagine doing a complex fight scene, which also had quite a bit of fire introduced. You need to check those flames aren’t clipping to white. We were shooting in S-Log and monitoring in HDR and able to work with the DOP to adjust the camera settings to be able to capture as much of the detail as possible.” The use of ProRes Raw is now seen to be a wise choice for School Fight , especially as now you will soon be able to edit in Adobe Premiere, as well as Final Cut Pro X and also able to now transcode to other Codecs like ProRes 4:4:4. School Fight moves production to Dubai in early 2020 and camera choice is TBC, but Atomos is keen to continue the slick system it has enabled with its equipment.
wasn’t much handheld. “We only did handheld on one shoot day when we wanted to destabilise the character Leo in one of the scenes. But the balance of the cameras was fantastic on the crane or Steadicam, as Jack had rigged them with a Shogun 7 or Inferno so tight and so well to the cameras. We did a fair amount of Steadicam, probably 16 of the 23 days of shooting.” HOW ATOMOS DID IT Lewis Brown from Atomos was on hand for cameras tests and on set of Schools Fight to help support this new way of shooting. He was a huge help in terms of softening the learning curve that was necessary to reach the quality needed by Joby and Damien. “The team were looking to create a project of high production value, while maintaining reasonable budgets. The team is actually made up of a whole lot of stunt people and creatives; they were shooting on Sony FS7s, which have a good broadcast codec for shooting internally,” says Brown. “Good for broadcast quality TV, but maybe not for quite a big independent feature. So we decided to use the FS7 extension unit called the XDCA-FS7, which allows you to have a Raw output on the camera. It can output a 12-bit Raw signal as well as high frame rates at bit depth that cannot be recorded internally. For the aspirations of the project they needed a
MORE INFORMATION: atomos.com/proresraw
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DRAMA | GEMI N I MAN
Not only has Gemini Man produced the first plausible virtual human, it has also resurrected the HFR experiment. But what’s different this time?
WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL / PICTURES PARAMOUNT
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GEMI N I MAN | DRAMA
THE FAST FRAME GAME T T F
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DRAMA | GEMI N I MAN
T here were some motivational words for the crew on the set of Gemini Man , encouraging everyone to keep on keeping on with the technical innovation. The words were a version of JFK’s speech he used to galvanise America’s space race back in the 1962: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Welcome to an Ang Lee film, where the technical envelope truly is pushed. Not only has Gemini Man brought back the experiment of high frame rates, but also introduced a fully digital young Will Smith – his face, anyway – which has been put front and centre in to the 3D action and, at last, this avatar is worth the cost of admission on its own. He looks great and believable, finally avoiding the dreaded eternity of the uncanny valley. GOODBYE BILLY LYNN But for this article we are revisiting HFR, a highly controversial cinema technique, one that has already been championed by some A-list directors like Lee, Peter Jackson and James Cameron. Around three years ago HFR withered (as we thought) into the shadows of cinema’s greatest technical follies. Ang Lee’s 2016 movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk had a long title, but unfortunately a short life in the public eye. The HFR technical story was immense and featured groundbreaking techniques like frame blending and a 120fps 4K stereo capture. Perhaps the biggest misstep was that there were hardly any cinemas that could play back the movie as it was shot. Definition was lucky enough to watch the 120fps 4K, but only 12 minutes of it – we enthused about it at the time, but
There were hardly any cinemas that could play back the movie as it was shot in 120fps
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GEMI N I MAN | DRAMA
Cinemas need double laser projection to have a chance to show 120fps HFR. Dolby cinemas have that, but there aren’t that many of them around. It seems, then, that we’re in the same situation as three years ago; the filmmakers pleading with the public to seek out a 120fps version, then the almost inevitable disappointment at a fruitless search for a suitable cinema is followed by not going to see any version of the film, because of the let-down. Portelli explains: “Ang said we had to careful with this film not to be so ‘tech head’ about seeing the 120fps version. You don’t have to and our message this time is: we have shot the thickest negative and the best possible amount of data that we can. That process allows us to deliver these other versions. If you want the 120fps, we give Dolby a very nice 2K version, and then we make a great 60fps version for the rest of the world. The 60fps really works and Paramount are branding it ‘3D Plus’. IMAX is 60fps as well, but its laser projection is at least bright, which tends to be good for 3D.” PRODUCTION FOR GEMINI MAN For Billy Lynn , the production used Sony’s now old F65 cameras, which were unwieldy at the best of times. This time, they went back to using the Arri Alexa M – a favourite camera of director James Cameron for his 3D exploits. “The M was gutted and modified as we needed to do 4K 120fps,” Portelli recalls. “The Alexa Mini doesn’t do that – we’d only get 60fps out of it, which is a shame because of its light carbon-fibre body. However, the M cameras allowed us to do quite a bit of Steadicam, as we had to be mobile. Gemini Man was quite a travel job. This was an action film, so you have to move the camera to achieve the visual aesthetic. “The feeling has been that you can’t do handheld 3D as that will induce motion sickness, but we moved the hell out of this camera. We built wire pulley systems so we could leave them hanging in the centre of
understood that, as a public performance, not many people would watch it this way. Three years ago we described the experience in the following way: “So we saw it. Twelve minutes of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in glorious 4K, 120fps 3D. The feeling was amazingly intense, especially for the battle scenes. Seeing everything doesn’t explain what 120 frames gives you, but one scene brought it home to me. An American soldier is firing his heavy machine gun at the enemy. While he is shooting, the vibration going through his body gives him an aura of dust surrounding his body shape. That is a new reality for me. You definitely felt like you could reach out and enter the scene, just walk right in there.” The movie had a limited release as a 24fps movie, but soon disappeared from view after getting a mauling from the critics. Apparently wartime PTSD in vivid hyperreality wasn’t flavour of the month at the time. Now, you can buy a 60fps 3D Blu-ray, however and the comments on
the Amazon webpage are full of praise for the look of the movie. There was plenty of blame for the demise of the movie put at the door of the distributors for their lack of marketing, but eventually the technical crew had to admit defeat and put HFR on the shelf marked ‘revisit this sometime’ and got back to ‘normal’ 24fps moviemaking. DOUBLE TROUBLE Of course, technology marches on and if it’s not working for you now, then just wait a while and it’ll come around. Presumably this is what Lee, technical supervisor whiz kid Ben Gervais and stereographer Demetri Portelli have done with Gemini Man , because 120fps, 4K 3D is back! As is the public’s and critics’ mistrust of it, but let’s not worry about that and just applaud the effort. Portelli explains the technical difference between now and three years ago: “Last time when we were doing Billy Lynn , we were finishing it without a lab as we had built our own facility. Then it was ‘hopefully this will work’. When we were heading towards deadlines and distribution it was very nerve-racking. Billy Lynn was the proof of concept and it needed to happen, it was also a little bit sad what happened, as there was very little courage to actually release it in 3D.” He continues: “With this project, Gemini Man , Paramount Pictures has been amazing by supporting the technology and the filmmaker and rolling out the film internationally as a high frame rate movie. They haven’t released the film as a 24fps movie for the audience, which is a wonderful success for us and a statement of confidence for HFR.” At the same time, HFR has still been seen as a work in progress – mainly because seeing the full 120fps film is very difficult. “I live in Canada and there is nowhere here to see the 120fps version,” admits Portelli. “All we can do is carry on advocating for more people to see the movie as Ang [Lee] meant it to be seen.”
IMAGES Behind-the- scenes shots and stills from Gemini Man. © 2019 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved. Photo credit: Ben Rothstein
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