DEFINITION August 2019

MI B: I NTERNAT IONAL | DRAMA

M en in Black is now a 20-year-old franchise, which means that, for Men in Black: International , things had to evolve… but also stay the same. So, bring in some new characters – this time a couple of ex- Avengers: Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Take the whole show to London and Morocco – hence the ‘international’ title extension – and bring in a new director and director of photography: F Gary Gray and Stuart Dryburgh. Check out Dryburgh’s IMDb entry and his experience speaks for itself, with films like The Piano , Bridget Jones’s Diary , The Portrait of a Lady and, more recently, The Great Wall , directed by Yimou Zhang and the first full feature to be made with the Arri Alexa 65 camera. Dryburgh’s experience and his knowledge of the Alexa 65 held him in good stead for MIB , as he explains: “The camera has three Alexa sensors, so is truly a high-definition camera with very little aliasing and no compression. Optically, it performs like a medium format camera, so a really wide lens would be, say, a 28mm, a 24 would be an extremely wide lens and a standard lens would be around 80 or 100mm. It has a short depth-of-field like anamorphic, but it’s not anamorphic: it’s spherical. It’s a lovely camera.” THE GREAT WALL LINK The Great Wall and MIB: International had the same line producer, who recommended Dryburgh when the original cinematographer didn’t work out. When The Great Wall came out, it’s fair to say the

That big chip on the Alexa 65 pulls in a lot of detail, so things don’t get muddy

reviews were mixed, but it is a glorious- looking film thanks to Yimou Zhang, who also directed Hero and House of Flying Daggers . Dryburgh hinted at the care the director showed with The Great Wall : “It was a beautiful movie and Yimou Zhang was so careful with his choice of colours with costume designer Mayes C Rubeo, especially for the uniforms of the different types of soldier. He was terrified of people thinking they were Power Rangers. “Yimou Zhang is famous for working with colour, but normally only one colour at a time. If you look at Hero , shot by Christopher Doyle, there are different colour themes throughout the film, but in The Great Wall , Zhang wanted the different parts of the army identifiable by their uniform colour,” Dryburgh explains. “We helped by adding an overall colour wash to the lighting, which desaturates the colours a bit. Also, that big chip on the Alexa 65 pulls in a lot of detail so things don’t get muddy. All the separations are there without the usual aliasing advancements of a digital signal.” Using such a new type of camera for a feature had its own problems, not least the choice of lenses to cover such a large sensor. Arri did have lenses for the camera – the 65 Primes – but a set of 765s were also available, which were lenses from Arri’s 70mm cameras from the eighties. “They were compatible with the Prime 65 lenses. We only had those lenses, but they were very good and we had a wide selection of focal lengths,” says Dryburgh. The other big question Dryburgh had to deal with was how to archive such a

ABOVE Dryburgh chose the Alexa XT with a Sigma 300-800mm stills lens as part of the Morocco shoot

AUGUST 20 1 9 | DEF I N I T ION 13

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