CAMERA MOVEMENT Program, record and repeat
PEAKY BLINDERS The look of the gangster super series
NEXT GEN MOVIES Start your game engines
BIGGEST THROW Back projection record
THREE BILLBOARDS NEWS! THE DATA STORY FROM EBBING, MISSOURI SEE PAGE 38
Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ UK EDITORIAL EDITOR Julian Mitchell 01223 492246 email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS Phil Rhodes, Madelyn Most, Adam Adam Garstone SENIOR SUB EDITOR Lisa Clatworthy SUB EDITORS Siobhan Godwood, Felicity Evans ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Matt Snow 01223 499453 firstname.lastname@example.org SALES MANAGER Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 email@example.com ACCOUNT MANAGER Harriet Abbs 01223 499460 firstname.lastname@example.org KEY ACCOUNTS Nicki Mills 01223 499457 email@example.com DESIGN DESIGN DIRECTOR Andy Jennings DESIGN MANAGER
STUDIO REVOLUTION Netflix’s Altered Carbon was shot at Vancouver’s super- studio, Skydance.
Welcome In a Netflix promotional type of way, the streaming giant is reinventing ‘old Hollywood’. Their latest sci-fi show is Altered Carbon , adapted from a novel and heavily featuring a futuristic streetscape with unlimited light reflection and back projection possibilities; but surely VFX digital extensions are the way to go to reproduce an endless street disappearing into the distance? But a long booking from Netflix to hire a new studio complex called Skydance in Vancouver enabled the production to use their 500-foot-long, 50-foot-high and wide main studio space to house the ‘street’. You’re then able to shoot much of the action in-camera, everywhere you point your camera can be part of the story and if you pan to the ceiling it’s there you can digitally set extend. But Skydance doesn’t want to just offer you a single space; there are also a myriad of spaces to house nearly all the creative and construction disciplines that a big TV series and movie needs, in fact ironically just like the old days in Hollywood. This post-industrial redevelopment (Skydance used to be a printing works) is perhaps the most positive message to come out of this whole TV production revolution.
Alan Gray DESIGNER
Lucy Woolcomb AD PRODUCTION Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING MANAGING DIRECTORS
Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF
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.
JULIAN MITCHELL EDITOR
MARCH 2018 DEFINITION
TITLE SEQUENCE 06 ELF AND SAFETY IN LA Netflix’s Bright mixes orcs, elves and a multi-camera approach. NEWS 08 WELCOME TO FULL-FRAME Les Zellan from Cooke Optics and his company’s early FF entry. 12 PANAVISION DXL2 Not long after its introduction, Panavision updates its camera. 14 BVE PREVIEW Our take on what to see when BVE comes around. SHOOT STORY 20 PEAK GANGSTER This period gangster series has now crossed over into legendary status. 28 CARBON RECORD Netflix move into cyberpunk territory with a fully-realised world. 38 THREE BILLBOARDS We have the data story from the Oscar favourite. FEATURES 46 GAME ENGINE EVOLUTION We report on the beginnings of a new way to make digital movies. 54 NEW MOVES 3 This time we concentrate on the tethered robots that love repetition. 60 FILM STARS DON’T DIE... The story of the biggest back projection in the world – it’s official. GEAR TESTS 68 CANON EOS C200 CAMERA Canon has got in to the low-end ATOMOS’s new monitor/recorder opens up user base with bigness. 78 SONY RX0 VS GOPRO 6 SONY introduces a new action cam so we pitch it against GoPro’s best. 82 4K CAMERA LIST Keep an eye on the newest 4K cameras with our unique list. Raw camera business. 74 ATOMOS SUMO
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In a Middle Earth, End of Watch mash-up, Netflix’s hugely expensive Will Smith vehicle maxes out on cop violence and camera channels
IMAGE Actor Édgar Ramírez as Federal agent Kandomere, who also happens to be an Elf.
n an alternate future, LA has a new minority to despise and a new intelligentsia to fear and look up to. They just happen to be Orcs and Elves; apart from that a grim and very violent LA status quo exists. Despite mixed reviews, Bright ’s sequel has been commissioned. But for the original, DOP Roman Vasyanov was spoilt for choice with cameras like the ARRI ALEXA 65, ARRI ALEXA Mini, ARRI ALEXA XT, Blackmagic URSA Mini, Red WEAPON HELIUM and a 4k Sony action camera (unnamed).
08 NEWS INTERVIEW
LARGING THE COOKE LOOK Cooke Optics and MD Les Zellan saw the large-format cinematography world coming long before we saw the new cameras
Def: How and why did you develop the Cooke S7i range of lenses for large-format cameras? LZ: We saw the large-format camera world coming and decided to produce some lenses just for that market even before the cameras were there. We jumped in with the S7s which are specifically designed for this new and emerging market. The reception to them has been huge to the point that we can’t keep up with demand. But to be honest that’s the same across the entire Cooke range I’m happy to
not an engineer, physicist or optical designer so I’ll go over to the UK and sit down with the team there and say ‘OK, let’s do a set of large- format lenses’. That’s pretty much our process. You have to ask yourself, why are people using all this old glass like the Super Baltars and our old Speed Panchros? Why are people shooting so much anamorphic now? We’ve also just released a modern version of the Speed Panchros called the Panchro Classics. The reason we do all that is for the most part digital is
say. We’ve still got back orders on S4s which we introduced 20 years ago. Def: How do you start designing a new range of lenses? Do you walk into the factory and say, ‘I want a large-format lens range which have to be fast and has to cover this size image circle’? How does it start? LZ: You have pretty much nailed it there! The reality is that me and the sales guys are continuously talking to people that use the products. I’m
ABOVE The ‘Cooke Look’ is the number one requirement for lenses coming out of the Cooke factory.
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THE REASON WE DO ALL THAT IS THAT FOR THE MOST PART DIGITAL IS A BORING FORMAT
breathing or moving there’s no way you can hold focus at plus or minus a millimetre. If you talk to the guys everyone says they love to shoot wide open and they want to take the fast lenses with them. A lot of people do shoot wide open and a lot of people have soft images. I think if you talk to a lot of pros who want to get the shot they are not shooting wide open. If they’re shooting a black cat at midnight on a moonless night maybe they need that speed. I’d argue that speed is not the driving force here.
a boring format. It doesn’t have the same life and richness that film has.
certain cinematographers can do that with their stylish shooting. But I don’t know if lens speed is the issue here, I would argue that speed is not the issue, it’s more of a convenience. If you think about T2, the S7s are T2, which at full-frame is super speed meaning that the depth-of- field on some lenses is going to be in the range of plus or minus one millimetre. I’m sorry, I don’t care how good a focus puller you are, you can not hold focus unless you’re shooting a brick wall or a dead body! If it’s
ABOVE Les Zellan and their technical OSCAR. ABOVE LEFT Shots from the ever expanding factory site in Leicester, UK.
Def: Surely the most important feature for the S7s is to have a set of fast glass, especially for episodics where the nature of production demands quick set-ups and minimal lighting? LZ: Cinematographers are looking to put personality and character into what could be a pretty sterile image. Certainly old lenses can do that, anamorphic lenses can do that and
MARCH 2018 DEFINITION
cameras and cameras that are bigger than full-frame? LZ: We tend to stick with our traditional focus lengths, like in the case of the S7s, 18, 25, 32, 40, 50, 75, 100 and 135mm. Of course these lenses will offer something different for full-frame cameras as far as field of view is concerned. But we tend to stick with numbers that people know, because we find that people who have been raised with Super 35mm are still thinking in those terms even though on a full-frame camera you’ll get a much wider image. I have seen some the other camera manufacturers coming out with some slightly strange focal lengths for their full-frame ranges – like 58 or 93 – but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. People are going to put it on and frame to what they see. Def: Do you think the new skill of working in large-format is something that filmmakers will have to adjust to? LZ: Absolutely. I mean a T2 at full- frame is super speed. A 4 or 5.6 can now equate to maybe between an 8 and an 11. I think it’s going to
Def: What is the driving force for lens design if it’s isn’t the speed of glass? LZ: The camera manufacturers. If there’s a bigger sensor out there somebody will want it. We make the Mini S4s and they are T2.8 and they cover up to the DRAGON sensor. They are extremely popular but not our bestseller and I know why. People don’t want to shoot with a 2.8 lens. Cinematographers often want speed in case they need it. We’re happy to make whatever lens they want. Def: How do you go about designing your range of lenses for full-frame
ABOVE Making a cine lens is
incredibly complex in lens design and lens construction.
be a wake-up call in some cases. Some questions are: if they shoot full-frame so 36x24mm, will they release in another aspect ratio so they are able to pan and scan to get what you want? Def: What is speed of development for lenses now? LZ: It used to be years but now it’s months. Our guiding principle for all the design decisions is always the Cooke ‘look’. Certainly having to cover a larger image circle presents its set of problems but I don’t think there are any easy designs in optics. The mechanical design of the lens is incredibly complex, it might even be more difficult to achieve than the optical design. WE SAW THE LARGE-FORMAT CAMERA WORLD COMING AND DECIDED TO PRODUCE SOME LENSES FOR THAT
ABOVE The new Cooke S7i 50mm, there are seven other focal lengths.
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12 NEWS GEAR LAUNCH
A completely new system, including ALEXA LF camera, ARRI Signature Prime lenses and LPL lens mount
x 3096 image,” says Marc Shipman- Mueller, ARRI Product Manager for Camera Systems. “This doesn’t just add definition, it creates a whole new look – one that is truly immersive, with a three-dimensional feel. The various recording formats and sensor modes make this look available to all productions and satisfy any possible deliverable requirement.” Accompanying the ALEXA LF camera are 16 large-format ARRI Signature Prime lenses, ranging from 12 mm to 280 mm and fitted with the ARRI LPL mount. A fast T-stop of T1.8 gives you very shallow depth-of-field and a smooth focus fall-off, giving subjects heightened presence in the frame. Thorsten Meywald, ARRI Product Manager for Optical Systems, comments: “The ARRI Signature Prime lenses are incredibly lightweight and robust, due to the magnesium lens barrels. They also feature LDS-2, ARRI’s next- generation Lens Data System. What has impressed cinematographers most, however, is the look. Skin tones are rendered beautifully and kindly, while all the detail of landscapes can be captured. Our focus was on the ARRI SIGNATURE PRIME LENSES
he missing piece in the ARRI camera line-up has now been filled with the announcement of a true 4K camera, with a sensor that is slightly bigger than full frame (commonly referred to as ‘large format’ cinematography). The German company now has cameras to cover 2K, 4K and 6K resolutions. The new system, launched at the recent BSC Expo, includes an LF camera based on a large-format 4K version of the ALEXA sensor, and comprises the ALEXA LF camera, ARRI Signature Prime lenses, LPL lens mount and PL-to-LPL adaptor. It is also compatible with existing lenses, accessories and workflows. The first ALEXA LF cameras will be shipped at the end of March 2018, and the initial set of four Signature Prime lenses (35 mm, 47 mm, 75 mm and 125 mm) will be shipped in early
June. The remaining lenses will be available over the course of the year.
ABOVE The initial set of Signature Prime lenses will be shipped in June 2018.
ALEXA LF CAMERA Featuring a sensor slightly bigger than full frame, ALEXA LF records native 4K with ARRI’s best overall image quality. Filmmakers can explore a large-format aesthetic while retaining the natural colorimetry, pleasing skin tones and proven suitability for HDR and WCG workflows they are getting from the other ALEXA makes. Versatile recording formats, including efficient ProRes and uncompressed, unencrypted ARRI RAW up to 150 fps, are also included. “The larger ALEXA LF sensor has the same optimal pixel size as other ALEXAs, resulting in a 4448
THIS DOESN’T JUST ADD DEFINITION, IT CREATES A WHOLE NEW LOOK
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GEAR LAUNCH NEWS
Panavision has made some major announcements for their DXL digital camera PANAVISION LAUNCH DXL2
“The Preston announcement is big for us. Panavision has a camera with interchangeable MDR modules, a first in the world, and it allows users to decide how they want to configure their camera, not the other way around. Since Preston is the most popular system in the world, it is amazing to have a full Preston MDR as part of the DXL ecosystem. “Tying the new Preston MDR into DXL2 allows for direct connection to the new Preston Light Ranger. The Light Ranger uses lasers to gauge focus and then radios that back to the module. Because DXL’s module is built in, and our motors are built into some of our lenses, the Light Ranger allows for automated focus assist to be mapped seamlessly into the lens and controlled by the first AC. This is also important because DXL’s large-format sensor makes it more of a challenge to pull focus. Panavision is now making T1 lenses and in large format – that’s a challenge and this system helps ACs find focus and maintain control.” All these features were made available internationally on the same day.
ith Panavision making big noises about 8K there have been further developments with their DXL camera – and they are massive.
Firstly, the DXL 2 takes advantage of a new optimised RED Monstro sensor. Michael Cioni commented on the new sensor from RED, “The new RED Monstro sensor is bananas! It’s truly a mark of achievement from the RED company. Over 16 stops of dynamic range and 1600 native ISO!” Light Iron, part of Panavision, has also released Light Iron Color 2 (optimised for HDR using RED Wide Gamut). Michael again, “LiColor2 is optimised for RED Wide Gamut, which is great stuff using the new IPP2 processing from RED. Signal-to-noise ratio is bonkers. This camera is clean and powerful and that means smoother, more malleable images.” Also new is ProRes 4K (optimised for episodic), 24-volt power and a built-in Preston MDR. “ProRes 4K gives the full 8K large format field of view, plus we have Cooke /i integrated into the lens system using our SP70 large format mount.
emotional impact of images, creating unique and pleasing bokeh both in the foreground and background.” NEW LPL LENS MOUNT Optimised for large-format sensors, the new LPL lens mount has a wider diameter and shorter flange focal depth, allowing the ARRI Signature Primes and all future large-format lenses to be small and lightweight, with a fast T-stop and great bokeh – a combination of features that would not be possible with the PL lens mount. The LPL mount will also be available for other ARRI cameras and is being lisensed to third-party lens and camera manufacturers. BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE Although the camera, lens mount and lenses are new, full compatibility with existing PL mount lenses and ALEXA accessories is a cornerstone of the system’s design. A PL-to- LPL adaptor offers backwards compatibility with all PL mount lenses, whether Super 35 or full frame. The adaptor attaches securely to the LPL lens mount without tools, allowing crews to rapidly switch between PL and LPL lenses on set, and offering cinematographers an unlimited lens choice.
ABOVE The Panasonic DXL2 takes advantage of the new optimised RED Monstro sensor.
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1 AJA (STAND K23) On display will be the AJA’s portable HELO H.264 streaming/recording/encoding device, Io 4K Plus 12G-SDI video interface, FiDO 12G-SDI fibre extenders, FS-HDR real-time HDR/WCG converter, KUMO SDI routers and Ki Pro Ultra Plus multi-channel HD recorder. 2 ARRI (STAND H30) Celebrating its 101st year in the film business, ARRI will be showing its range of digital cameras including its new wireless system, high-end lenses, professional camera accessories and growing stable of lighting including the latest SkyPanel S360 LED light. Products include the ALEXA 65, ALEXA SXT, ALEXA Mini and AMIRA cameras, Master Anamorphic lenses and SkyPanel, L-Series and M-Series lights. 3 AUDIO TECHNICA (STAND E26) Producing high performance stage, studio, broadcast, film sound, installation sound and wireless systems for over 50 years. We’ve cherry picked the best companies for all you Definition readers to visit when you trek East to the Excel later this month 4 BENQ (STAND M26) Ben-Q offer a portfolio of professional monitors for photographers and filmmakers of all capabilities, including professional monitors, projectors, imaging devices, mobile computing devices and LED lighting solutions. 5 BRISTOL VFX (STAND F01) BRISTOL VFX provides a range of industry standard, colour correct visual effect products. They have been developed specifically for use in film, TV and video production. 6 CAMBRIDGE UAV (STAND P40) Cambridge UAV is a division of Cambridge (Maintenance Services) Ltd. Cambridge was founded locally in 1985 with its initial clients based on the prestigious Cambridge Science Park. Since 1985 the Cambridge group of companies has expanded and now services commercial national contracts across the UK.
PYSER OPTICS AT BVE LONDON 27 February – 1 March 2018 stand Number P27 Hall S1-8
Pyser Optics will be presenting a number of exciting new products from TVLogic and unveiling the latest in HDR and 4K technology. The LUM-310R is an HDR 4K grading monitor with a peak illumination of 2000 NITS. Using a local dimming system the monitor achieves a contrast ratio approaching 1,000,000;1. BVE will also see the world premiere of LUM-313, a 31.5in 4K monitor, like all recent UHD monitors from TVLogic offering 12G SDI and HDMI 2 connectivity as well as 2 SI and quad 3G inputs. The UHD LUM-240G and LUM-171G have both been updated to show HDR emulation, waveformmonitors and vectorscopes. New HD monitors include the LVM-171S, a high-speed 17in production monitor and the VFM-055A, a 5.5in OLED viewfinder. TVLogic recently launched a camera pan and tilt system that allows full remote control of up to fourteen camera heads. The TVR-200H will be on display and visitors will be able to control the latest TVC-FA301 cameras in live trials. The TVK-4000SH is a 4K HDMI/SDI cross converter with HD/UHD up and down scaling capabilities. Already tested by a number of London post houses, visitors can try the TVK-4000 for themselves.
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7 CODEX (STAND P37) Codex engineers high-performance digital production workflow tools for Independent films, major Hollywood motion pictures, commercials, and high-end TV productions worldwide. 8 CONVERGENT DESIGN (STAND Q43) Large range of 4K recorder monitors including Apollo, Odyssey and the latest Titan. Titan uses one 4K camera to create three HD video signals. One frame is a Supersample of the full image area and two are windows selected from within the original input. These windows can be panned smoothly through the 4K field and the three angles can be live-switched. All four HD signals can be recorded simultaneously in Apple ProRes with matching timecode and filenames. 9 CIRRO LITE (STAND N19) Cirro Lite has added Dedolight DLED7 ‘Turbo’ bi-colour kits to its rental fleet. The four-head kits are colour tuneable from 2700K to 6500K and come complete with four AC controllers plus one extra DC controller and V-Lok battery plate. Lighting stands and gel filter holders are also included in the hard roller kit cases. Luminys Systems Corp has introduced the newest addition to the line of Light Strikes fixtures; the LED Paparazzi 1500. 10 GARLANDS PARTNERS (STAND K08) Garland will showcase LiveU’s flagship LU600 portable transmission solution with the HEVC Pro Card. This combined solution offers live streaming for global newsgathering. When you pair the 4K HEVC Pro Card with the LU600 you gain video performance with extreme bandwidth efficiency – all while using one of the smallest portable cellular bonding units in the market. The LU600 delivers one of the highest video quality and bitrate, fastest file transfer and lowest delay in the market.
11 HOLDAN (STAND G30) Distributor of production and broadcast products from companies like Blackmagic Design, Datavideo, Lumens, Manfrotto, Panasonic, Paralinx, SmallHD, Teradek and Wooden Camera. 12 IDX (STAND H26) Manufacturer of high-quality, V-Mount Lithium-ion batteries and charger systems for broadcast and professional use. IDX pioneered wireless video transmission systems and now offer 4 systems catering for different needs. 13 JVC (STAND H51) JVC will be demonstrating its class-leading range of live-streaming camcorders at BVE 2018, including models for news and events, cine-style shooting and studio production. The GY-LS300CHE Super35 camcorder now offers live 4K 4:2:2 50P output, ideal for cinematography, while the GY-HM200ESB offers a built-in full-screen graphics overlay. 14 LACIE (STAND K19) A large range of big and small storage products including the innovative LaCie 2big Dock and products for larger storage needs and smaller transfer drive possibilities. 15 LCA (STAND L39) LCA is exhibiting some new and exciting innovations at BVE including the latest from Litegear, DoP choice, Cineo and Hudson Spider. 16 MTF (STAND P35) MTF will present aspects from across the broad cross-section of brands and products, including its development of both FZ and Micro 4/3 adapters for the Fujinon MK lens. There will also be its usual lines of innovative lighting and batteries.
17 OWC (STAND P38) From production-grade SSDs and external hard drives to expansion products and enterprise storage. 18 ROTOLIGHT (STAND K01) Showing the Anova PRO 2, one of the brightest LED lights in its class, designed for professional studio/location use. For photographers on location, the Rotolight AEOS has a unique ultra-thin design concept with integrated aluminium handles to work the light in any location. The NEO 2 delivers 2000 Lux at 3ft and can be used on or off camera. 19 SAMYANG (INTRO 2020) (STAND P34) Importers and distributors of Samyang photo and video lenses and the Samyang Xeen range of professional cine lenses. Microphone system (as specified last year, for example, by Gearhouse Broadcast for Britain’s Got Talent ). The D6000 system is now available with Command functionality, and a Dual Dante port option. 21 SIGMA (STAND L36) A range of cine lenses where SIGMA has combined the highest level of optical performance with compact design while keeping the cost of development and production to a minimum. 22 SOHO EDITORS (SEMINARS) Since 2000 Soho Editors has been one of Europe’s largest media training companies delivering manufacturer accredited and bespoke courses for many post-production professional applications. Certified training partner for Apple, Adobe, Avid, Blackmagic Design and Maxon. 20 SENNHEISER (STAND K09) Showing the Digital 6000 Wireless
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23 SOFT PANELS (STAND Q21) SoftPanels are a completely new approach to LED lighting for the broadcast industry. Designed by the founder of Litepanels, Kevin Baxter, SoftPanels claim to provide unprecedented colour precision and smart control over the emitted light. 24 QUANTUM (STAND G15) At BVE 2018, Quantum will present its latest innovations for demanding storage workflows, including major new enhancements for its Xcellis workflow storage family and the StorNext shared file system and data management platform. Quantum will showcase its new Xcellis Scale-out NAS solution, which delivers the highest levels of storage performance and scalability in a cost-effective Ethernet- based appliance. 25 VISION RESEARCH (STAND M39) Phantom high-speed cameras deliver unmatched imaging, resolution, and framerate to every industry. Industrial, medical, research, automotive, and entertainment professionals will be able to achieve their specific needs. 26 VITEC (STAND G14) Vitec brings together some of the most respected, innovative, and sought-after brands: Anton/Bauer, Autocue, Autoscript, Camera Corps, JOBY, Litepanels, Lowepro, OConnor, OffHollywood, Paralinx, RTMotion, Sachtler, SmallHD, Teradek, The Camera Store, Wooden Camera, and Vinten.
VITEC BRINGS TOGETHER SOME OF THE MOST RESPECTED, INNOVATIVE AND SOUGHT-AFTER BRANDS
With design for purpose, ingenuity and quality at the forefront, the CueScript team has developed a range of exciting teleprompting products and the world’s first complete IP-based solution. This revolutionises the way prompting can be used, enabling prompt from anywhere to anywhere over a network. CueScript offers a wealth of features for today’s multipurpose productions. Providing the feature set in one complete system and offering flexibility has been fundamental in its approach to design. CueScript teleprompters, CueiT software and scroll controls all have the IP option included in addition to conventional connection methods, as the company recognises that not everyone is ready for IP just yet. This allows for individual choice and pace of growth in terms of connectivity, and future-proofs the purchase.
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SHOOT STORY PEAKY BLINDERS
Rough Diamonds From humble beginnings, Peaky Blinders has turned into an international cultural phenomenon – and its look has played a huge part
WORDS PHIL RHODES IMAGES BBC
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PEAKY BLINDERS SHOOT STORY
roadcast at the end of 2017, the fourth season of Peaky Blinders has continued the success of the previous three in terms of both
critical and audience reaction. The word ‘stylish’ comes up repeatedly, perhaps in reference to the assured sangfroid of the characters, perhaps in reference to the use of modern music, but certainly in response to the visuals. To date, all but one season has used a single director of photography, with George Steel establishing the look in the 2013 season. Simon Dennis (with a single episode by Peter Robertson) worked on the 2014 season, and Laurie Rose, BSC, in 2016. The fourth season was photographed by Cathal Watters, ISC, who took a break from grading the feature film Dark Lies the Island to discuss his involvement in Peaky Blinders . The production’s fourth season was Watters’ first collaboration with director David Caffrey, who was also new to the world of 1920s gangsters. “This was his first season,” Watters begins, “and it was my first season. I did all the episodes… it was massive, absolutely massive pressure going in. I thought it looked completely amazing, every season. I was being handed over a mantle and it was this precious thing: Peaky Blinders is more than the sum of its parts. It has this massive cult following. If you go onto Twitter, once the season has aired fans are putting up new cuts of stuff, people are commenting – my main aim was to get to the end without being fired!”
ABOVE Apart from regular shoots around Birmingham, Bradford and
IS THERE INTENT IN EVERY SINGLE SHOT? IS IT MOVING THE STORY ALONG, TRYING TO SAY SOMETHING? IS IT BELOW A CHARACTER TRYING TO MAKE HIM A HERO? IS THE LIGHT SOFT ON HER SO SHE BECOMES THE LOVE INTEREST?
Manchester, there are excursions to the coast.
cinematographer is well known for its variability, with some directors preferring to be very specific, and others delegating almost entirely to the camera department. Watters describes his interaction with Caffrey as avoiding either extreme while affording the flexibility to pursue that crucial intent. “I would suggest ‘this is how I think we should shoot it’, and he’d say ‘go ahead’. He didn’t micromanage me. He got the best out of me, the best out of the actors. That’s the sign of a good leader, you’re trying to do your best for him.” Watters describes the 75-day schedule, during which the crew would produce six hours of high quality television, as “absolutely gruelling... some days you’d be doing eight pages, nine pages.” The production allowed more time for more complex material, particularly involving a spectacular shoot-out that takes place, “meandering through a tenement house. Thankfully we had a good few days for that, we were doing one or two pages a day – I guess we were nearly five days’ shooting it.” With a clear mandate to be
maintain the series’ experienced crew. “Everyone from Phil Brookes, the gaffer, and all the camera crew – they’d worked on it before. I just called up the producer and I ensured he’d recommend everyone, and he did, so I called them and asked them back. Phil had lit the sets before, he knew what sort of an animal Peaky Blinders was. Chris Hutchinson had done Steadicam on three series. His moves were amazing. There’s a familiarity in the crew as well and I didn’t want to be changing that. They came back on a show that they loved.” The cinematographer describes his approach as being based on two key considerations, “intent and consistency. Does season four have a consistent look from beginning to end, and is there intent in every single shot? Is it moving the story along, trying to say something? Is it below a character trying to make him a hero? Is the light soft on her, so that she becomes the love interest? That’s the most important – intent.” The distribution of responsibilities between director and
KEEPING CONSISTENCY Peaky Blinders is shot around Birmingham, Bradford and
Manchester, with the fourth season wrapping in July 2017 and completing post-production as the series began to be transmitted in November. Watters made an early decision to
BELOW Cillian Murphy, as anti-hero Tommy, dominates the skyline.
MARCH 2018 DEFINITION
SHOOT STORY PEAKY BLINDERS
it, a golden opulent sort of hue – the gold is reflected in the tables – and then I had blues, I had different things.” Here, Watters mentions the involvement of production designer Stephen Daly. “We asked for the stippled glass because it would catch the light.” In this scene, what appears to be an exterior window actually opens on to an interior atrium in the location. Watters had the atrium blacked out then relit it with SkyPanels to create a dependable daylight, and used a 9kW HMI to project hard shadows through the window blinds. He admits happily that, “I went over the top on that. You know, you’d have thought a 4K would be ample, but I went over the top so you could get those harsh shadows. I put shadow on Cillian’s face. I was trying to bring out film noir aspects but put that colour in behind him.” Watters’ approach to choosing those colours was a two-step process. “I had a small book of filters and I’d dial through them and say, let’s try this colour, that colour. I went through filters and I chose 20 or 30 filters beforehand, then Phil Brookes put them on a page. We had three pages of filters that we could hold
adventurous, Watters was, “treating it like a complete western. I was doing these tight shots of eyes looking up, fingers on triggers, and it was all used in the edit. It’s an insane amount of gunfire. I think the guys handling the guns, the armourers, were there 14 days the previous season and 47 days this season. Ear defenders all the time!” Even two-character dialogue scenes, a staple of television drama, were an opportunity to push the envelope. “Because it is Peaky , to light that you can really create something. It’s not just two people in a room – you can really go to town on it, up the stakes, up the drama by lighting it. It’s great, you can let the creativity flow. Every shot is considered, every shot is lit; nothing is haphazard.” Murphy’s character, Thomas Shelby, first meets Jessie Eden, played by Charlie Murphy, Watters dives keenly into the details of the shot design. “I used a lot of colour in this. I’m using colour a lot now in much of what I do, I used a lot of blue. In Tommy’s office, behind his window, I put a wash over THOMAS AND CHARLIE Describing a scene where Cillian
up and figure out – this is what we’ll do for this scene.” Having specified ARRI SkyPanels for what he calls “techy reasons,” Watters was then able to simply, “dial in a colour. On this film I’m just off doing, we use SkyPanels for colour all the time. I would show the gaffer that we’re looking for a particular filter colour, he’d stick it in, he’d get near and we’d do a bit of figuring out to find the hue we wanted.” ALEXA MINI Season four of Peaky Blinders was shot on the ALEXA Mini, making life easier for both handheld and
ABOVE Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby, Tommy's unstable older brother.
BELOW Opulent colours with a noir look characterised Watters' visual approach.
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SHOOT STORY PEAKY BLINDERS
bit of old carpet from my parents – I got such a kick out of seeing that on television.” MAKE THE GRADE With production wrapping in July, Watters was supervising grading on the final two episodes as the first were being broadcast. Simone Grattarola, head of grading at Time Based Arts, used Blackmagic’s Resolve software and spent three days per episode finalising colour. Watters was on hand for two of those days, and enthusiastically confirms that his on-set intentions were fully realised in the final product. “We did some film noir stuff, we got to accentuate that in the grade – you think of things and they go in. That’s the thing, you go out and shoot something and you don’t know what’s going to be used or not going to be used until it’s all locked off. It was
ABOVE The show has become known for its stylised look and jaw-dropping set pieces.
YOU SEE A SHOT OF THIS AMERICAN-STAMPED LETTER BEING DELIVERED. IN MY KITCHEN!
BELOW The Americans are coming: Adrien Brody (right) is looking for revenge.
an example, he refers to a scene in which Adrien Brody’s character, Luca Changretta, and an accomplice search a basement for Murphy’s character, Shelby. “I found these glass bricks. We weren’t sure if they were period enough but they looked cool. We had eight windows, we put an insane green gel behind them and they were lit by that. They were complete film noir against this green. Brody goes up and looks out the window – you can’t look out these windows, but it’s fine, it’s within the realm of where we are.” Watters thinks for a moment: “That might have been pushing it a bit.” Despite the soaring ambitions of the production, Watters speaks fondly of an endearingly low-tech approach to an extra shot that was later found to be needed. “I had the lenses, it was a very quick pickup – I did it at home in my kitchen,” he says. “They’re being served a black hand from America – they all get letters. Adrien Brody’s character is coming in to serve this vendetta, and one of the letters was delivered to Helen McCrory’s character, Polly. You see a shot of this American-stamped letter being delivered. In my kitchen! I had no carpet, I had to go and borrow a
Steadicam operators. The production often shot with two cameras simultaneously, with Watters regularly assigning Hutchinson’s B camera to provide more adventurous, perhaps riskier coverage. “I was more interested in his shot,” Watters says. “His shot is the one that will make the style – the low angle, profile shots, those were the shots I wanted, if I could get him in… I was always trying that and it would seem to work well.” While the production principally used Zeiss Super Speed lenses, an Angenieux Optimo 24-290mm zoom was also kept available. Schneider’s Hollywood Black Magic filters were commonly used, although some set-ups used the company’s Black Frost filter instead. “Sometimes when you’re using Hollywood Black Magic you get a double image if it’s close to highlights – I’d stick in a Black Frost if that was the case. I used a classic soft on the ladies, sometimes.” Watters was also careful to match the apparent filter density on different focal lengths. “I think it was half Hollywood Black Magic on anything up to a 50mm, and after a 50mm we used a quarter.” The production’s look, Watters says, is “completely stylised”. As
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joy for me to see that shoot-out and what you might say would be over the top shooting, but it works beautifully.” “Traditionally it was one DOP per season,” Watters muses. “If I was asked again, being honest, I’d find it difficult to refuse. It’s an incredible thing to do. You don’t often get to light like that, to shoot like that.” Having achieved enviable viewing figures on its BBC2 broadcast, the production built further support when it was released in a single block on Netflix. “When it was going out, I was gone on recess, I wasn’t in the country,” Watters recalls, “but people were telling me, ‘I can’t wait for next week!’ I’m not a big social media fan but it was incredible to hear what people think. You get a very raw, very immediate reaction on the likes of Twitter. Since it went on Netflix in the States it’s been incredible. People have contacted me from Sweden, Brazil, Canada, different people, and I think that’s incredible. It’s something I’d never experienced – it was amazing to see the reaction.” Peaky Blinders won BAFTA Television Craft awards for George Steel’s cinematography and Simone
IF I WAS ASKED AGAIN, BEING HONEST, I'D FIND IT DIFFICULT TO REFUSE
Grattarola’s colour work in 2014. Watters’ work on season four is set to continue that tradition, standing nominated for the Irish Film and Television Academy’s award for cinematography, among several other 2018 IFTA nominations. Everyone involved with the production is clear that Peaky Blinders gleefully occupies its own somewhat hyper-realised world. “It’s in the world, you don’t question it. That’s what I love about Peaky ,” says Watters. “That’s what the other DOPs who have worked on it have done, particularly George Steel who started it. He and director Otto Bathurst created a world where you could. You’ve got this modern music, this modern way of telling stories. It just really works.”
ABOVE A talented ensemble cast, coupled with a consistently strong visual style, ensures Peaky Blinders ' continued success.
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28 SHOOT STORY ALTERED CARBON
In Altered Carbon, Netflix is adding to its rich vein of sci-fi where most of the budget is on screen and most of the VFX are in-camera WORDS JULIAN MITCHELL IMAGES NETFLIX / MARTIN AHLGREN
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ALTERED CARBON SHOOT STORY
THE INVOLVEMENT OF NETFLIX WITH ALTERED CARBON TOOK IT OUT OF ITS GRINDING DEVELOPMENT
ltered Carbon started life as a book by British sci-fi writer, Richard Morgan. In 2002, not long after it was published,
the book was optioned for feature film development; little did Richard know, but development hell had just started. If you want an example of how the Hollywood studio system is being disrupted look no further than how the involvement of Netflix with Altered Carbon took it out of its grinding development and assigned it a huge budget without years of painful analysis of its commercial worth. The Netflix show has just aired with ten hour-long episodes and has already been commissioned for another season. The rumoured $7 million per episode arguably initiated other development, more social this time, with the creation of a huge studio complex on the grounds of an old print works in the city of Surrey, part of the Metro area of Vancouver. The new Skydance Media studios now consist of five sound stages and for Altered Carbon that meant the use of one of the longest and tallest sound stages in the world, 500 feet long, 50 feet high and 50 feet wide. This is where the world of Altered Carbon is centred, with a huge San Francisco streetscape circa 2516. Altered Carbon tells the story of a future where those who can afford it copy and paste themselves in to younger bodies or ‘sleeves’ to basically live forever, ‘making death a mere inconvenience’ as the evil Psychasec Corporation puts it. A typical tale of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ that plays out with the cyberpunk feeling of Blade Runner but in ten one-hour episodes. Such a huge visual undertaking needed two cinematographers, Neville Kidd and Martin Ahlgren, and six different directors. Martin Ahlgren noted how ironic it was working in such a huge ‘old Hollywood’- style studio complex where all the departments were housed including editing and stunt rehearsal. “If
ABOVE The world of Altered Carbon was created in a 500 foot long super studio in Vancouver.
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you wanted to speak to any of the departments they were all there, you just had to walk to their offices. It’s like you’d imagine a Hollywood lot would be back in the day. It was great, as if you were prepping an episode in between blocks you could speak with the art department for instance and just walk over there. The producers and writers were also there talking about things coming up.” The really big sound stage for the street set was a great asset, as unless you pointed the camera very high up all you could see was the built set. They could even push through the walls and build restaurants with fronts to continue a shot or knock out a wall on the second level and it could be a balcony to a hotel. The downside was that when they weren’t shooting they had to tear the lighting down as they couldn’t afford to have it in place permanently. The Netflix production model does have downsides. FIRST TIME We spoke to both shooters about how they shared the load and how they shot over the 11 months at Skydance. The two got very close (even carpooling to work) and bounced ideas off each other to the extent that
more than 60fps. Most of the pre- production talk however was about the huge data rate that a full-sensored ALEXA 65 outputs at 6.5K when the mandate is only for 4K. Both Neville and Martin really wanted to use the bigger part of the sensor; part of the look is the large-format 70mm photography that you can’t get with a S35mm sensor. Neville and Martin asked another Netflix show, Okja , also shooting in Vancouver about their ALEXA 65 data strategy. It turned out the difference in price for LTO tapes alone with 6.5 and 5K was around $100,000. They shot occasionally on the full sensor but only when post needed the extra resolution to play around with. Some of the lenses started to vignette but post still needed everything available.
they didn’t need a dedicated second unit as they shot each other’s episodes (they moved to three units near the end of production when it was busier). Martin talked about the choice of the ARRI ALEXA 65 as the main camera. “We were the first episodic to use the camera, now it’s relatively commonplace. We needed the camera for the main unit and the second unit and we were very grateful to ARRI for letting us use so many of the 65s so it was exclusive to the show. Eventually we had five ALEXA 65 bodies at a time where there weren’t that many in the world. There was also an ALEXA Mini camera on both units which initially we thought of for tight corners or maybe as a crash cam. Netflix is very firm on its 4K mandate and the Mini is around 3.4K so we got very specific guidelines on its use, it had to be used less than 10% of the show but also it couldn’t be used when you’re holding on the shot; so if you’re doing a dialogue scene where someone is doing a long monologue it definitely has to be the ALEXA 65. A quick action scene could be the Mini.” As it turned out nearly 99% of the show was shot using the 65 with the Mini being used if they wanted
LEFT Actor Joel Kinnaman and B-camera operator
Sasha Proctor, ready for more action.
BELOW Actors Lisa Chandler and Dichen Lachman with director (Episode 2 and 3) Executive Producer Nick Hurran.
NETFLIX IS VERY FIRM ON ITS 4K MANDATE AND THE MINI IS AROUND 3.4K
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Neville explains the camera choice further: “We used one of the largest sensored digital
cinematography cameras and before we started shooting we went into a long period of testing which lenses would suit. The camera can shoot 6.5K images which results in a lot of data to deal with; we decided to bring that down to 5K so it would be cheaper to post-produce. We then had a problem with close focus using some lenses, but we looked at the Canon Cinema lenses and realised that they would cover the cropped sensor perfectly and give us the range we really needed. “The only problem was we needed XPL lens mounts and the Cine Primes up to now have only been available in Canon EF mount,” Neville continues. But luckily, and because of their popularity, the excellent 35mm full- frame Canon CN-E Primes will work on just about any PL mount camera with a simple modification that can be returned to factory spec with the OEM Canon EF mount if needed. “We ended up with two sets of the lenses from the CN-E14mm T3 to the CN-E85mm T1.3. These are great fast lenses which is what you need in these types of episodics – everything has to be quick. We thought about using vintage glass but they are just not fast enough. Now we used the primes for most of the shooting; we did use other character glass but the Canon lenses match up beautifully in the grade. We were really happy with the performance; we got nice flares out of them and they match the other lenses beautifully. When we saw that, we knew we were up and running. Now they are our go-to lenses. “We tested so many lenses for AC and because we weren’t going down the 6.5K route, we looked at vintage primes, the old VistaVision lenses
which are fantastic but a bit slow. A lot of those are like T4, working on a TV schedule in episodic mode, you kind of need faster lenses. You can’t have lenses that jump around too much. The Canon’s vary from 1.3 to 1.5 depending on the focal length. The main priority was the coverage of the sensor, but we were really happy with the performance. “ARRI had converted them through Duclos for the XPL lens mount. They had to get a second set for our third unit as well. We used the Canons from 14 to 85 then started using the Cookes. The advantage of the Cookes is when you get to the longer lens you don’t need the coverage as much and we had the short focus ability; so we had the 65, 100, 135, 150. The Cookes have got that Cooke look and the Canons are a little bit more contrasty, bit more crunchy. We managed to match the lenses and
actually just to complicate things even more we’ve used a few Zeiss compact primes as well. Basically all the lenses that were made for large sensor DSLRs that have been reborn for the ALEXA 65. I certainly loved the Cookes and the 65mm was the one we used a tremendous amount; it’s also great for close focus.” They used the Cooke S5s from 65mm and up because the longer lenses and a bigger image circle projected back towards the sensor, so the 65mm, 75mm, 100mm and 150mm big enough to cover the VistaVision sensor. Then they moved to the Cooke S4s for the really long ones like the 150mm and 180mm, they also carried a Hawk 100-400mm zoom. VISTAVISION Originally the plan was to shoot widescreen like a 2.39 format but after long discussions Netflix didn’t agree to it, basically because of the way customers watch their content
TOP Altered Carbon goes on location.
ABOVE Director (Episode 1) and
Executive Producer Miguel Sapochnik gets hands on with the car gimbal..
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WHITE AND BLACK LIGHTING For Altered Carbon ’s main street set the DOPs put up huge softboxes full of ARRI SkyPanels as they knew that every time a camera tilted up those shots would be replaced by digital set extensions. The boxes could come down and articulate into key lights and back lights and other set-ups which was a very flexible way of organising rental stock. Perhaps more interesting was the use of ‘black light’. Martin explains, “Our production designer Carey Meyer had this idea that at each end of this huge street set we needed translights to continue the look, like a never-ending street. “The idea was to use ultraviolet paint on the front of this translight and then light it with black light (UV light) from the front and it would pick up very intensely and shine back towards the camera. These translights became intricate but in a good way because we didn’t have to do green screen or CG afterwards. It was basically a front-lit cityscape lit by a continuous normal light then it would have things like neons and street lights or anything that needed to look like a light source painted with the UV paint. There would also be translucent parts of the backing and we would use a 40K (lumens) projector on the back, shooting through with a projected video pattern of the mass transit system in the city. So you’re seeing trains passing through tubes with the other elements of translights and back lighting on both sides of the street. This all meant that 90% of the shooting was in-camera, lessening
which could be on smartphones. Martin explains the aspect ratio thinking: “The widest they would allow was 2:1. At 6.5K, 2:1 is the native sensor size but when you go to 5K the capture image is 16:9. We cropped in the 16:9 to 2:1 so a fairly small crop at the top and bottom but post told us it was enormously helpful in terms of tracking images with a little extra space they wouldn’t have had otherwise. “The size of the ALEXA 65 sensor when you’re shooting 5K is similar to VistaVision which is a slightly more workable format in terms of lens choice. These were lenses that opened up to a 1.4 or even 1.3 where the lenses for a 6.5K start at around 2.8 and go up. This gave us a tremendous benefit when we were shooting in low-light situations and we calculated that we were getting a shallower depth- of-field than we would have got with 6.5K because our aperture was so open. Hard on the focus pullers but it was an amazing look especially for your wider shots, you’re shooting a wide shot so your characters are fairly small in frame but you could still do a very selective focus and with a very beautiful large format photography look to it.”
the need for CG effects. Although there was an extensive post budget, Altered Carbon is a ten-hour movie, not a 90-minute one so VFX for that amount of time is too cost prohibitive. “This led to me and Neville using video projection onto netting and plastic, just to do things to the background that would give it movement and look like a futuristic light source without calling for a visual effect. The agenda was to capture as much in-camera as possible. Shots on green screen were actually no more than ten in the whole show. “The ARRI SkyPanels were our workhorse light because of their reliability when you’re shooting off speed and their colour range. All our lights were worked through a dimmer board so we could create sequences of movement through the lights. Something I enjoyed doing was to programme the lights to slowly go from one colour to another; it gives another dimension to the scene.”
ALTERED CARBON IS A TEN-HOUR MOVIE, NOT A 90-MINUTE ONE
ABOVE Stills from Altered Carbon , top one looking like a shot from Ghost In The Shell . LEFT ALEXA 65 with Hawk 100-400mm and rain cover.
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