LOW-FI CHALLENGE Lighting Phantom Thread
ACTION PLAN Rebooting Tomb Raider
LIQUID SPIRIT The Shape of Water
UPWARD GROWTH Pioneers of Large-Format
NEW CAMERA ROLL CALL Nine of the latest and the best new cameras
PANASONIC GH5S CAMERA NBC UNIVERSAL LIGHT BLADES SWIT CAMERA TRANSMITTER
Surviving Stop-Motion Cinematography DOGDAYS
Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ UK EDITORIAL EDITOR Julian Mitchell 01223 492246 firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTORS Phil Rhodes, Adam Garstone, Adam Duckworth SENIOR SUB EDITOR Lisa Clatworthy SUB EDITORS Siobhan Godwood, Felicity Evans ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Matt Snow 01223 499453 email@example.com SALES MANAGER Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT MANAGER Harriet Abbs 01223 499460 email@example.com KEY ACCOUNTS Nicki Mills 01223 499457 firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN DESIGN DIRECTOR Andy Jennings DESIGN MANAGER
THE S FACTOR Panasonic’s camera engineers don’t like taking no for an answer. The GH5S is here to prove it.
Welcome Customer and manufacturer working in perfect harmony. That’s what we all want: engineers vibing with customers, producing products that perfectly fit the bill. What would we all talk about if that was the case? Alas, trade shows are full of customers with their dream list in hand and complaints not far from their lips waiting for an unsuspecting marketing guy to dump on. So it is with great pleasure that I can convey a relationship between camera manufacturer and customer that we should all look to emulate. Jon Shepley, who looks after all the minicams on The Grand Tour for Amazon Video, was looking for a new camera for Season 2. He looked at the new Panasonic GH5 as the GH4 had been (and still is) such a terrific workhorse for Season 1. But with the camera’s new stabilised sensor Jon found that, for his purposes, it didn’t work and he went back to the GH4. Panasonic weren’t happy with this and challenged themselves to find an answer for such a high-profile customer, even glueing a sensor in place to see if that would work for him. It didn’t; but that didn’t stop the Panasonic engineers burning the midnight oil and flying over something completely new, something they had no product road map for. That was the GH5S with nearly everything Jon wanted – the rest is currently being worked on.
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
APRIL 2018 DEFINITION
TITLE SEQUENCE 06 WINGING IT ARRI ALEXA shoots Tomb Raider . NEWS 08 LARGE-FORMAT PIONEER The term that’s blurring the lines between full-frame and 70mm. SHOOT STORY 14 IN A DOG EAT DOG WORLD Taking a dogged approach to Wes Anderson’s stop-motion movie. 22 LIQUID MAGIC How The Shape of Water revives old Hollywood lighting styles. 29 CRAZY RICH ASIANS With 38 locations in 43 days, a consistent look is no mean feat. FEATURES 36 THE FORGIVEN The DOP and director discuss the look of this new movie. 46 REBOOTING TOMB RAIDER The secrets behind shooting action. 52 INSIDE THE TROJAN HORSE Troy – Fall of a City had a trio of Technicolor techniques to call on. 57 SUPER BOWL How to make the biggest sporting event in the world look bigger. LIGHTING 60 PHANTOM THREAD The lighting story behind one of this year’s low contrast and low-fi movies. GEAR TESTS 66 SWIT CW-H 150 Trying out the HDMI version with The GH5 for moving pictures, plus its Grand Tour prospects. 80 LIGHT BLADES US broadcaster NBC’s own range of LED lights on test. 82 4K CAMERA LIST Keep up to date with the latest. a RED Dragon 6K camera. 70 PANASONIC GH5S
APRIL 2018 DEFINITION
In the reboot of the remake of the PlayStation game about Lara Croft, Oscar winner Alicia Vikander is the one to bulk up to face the cameras
IMAGE Alicia Vikander gets close to the ARRI ALEXA while doing some wing walking. ©2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES INC.
ou may have played the game and even seen the original films with Angelina Jolie as the precocious fatherless daughter who grows up looking for answers about her missing dad. But Tomb Raider is the first digital version and this time Oscar winning actress Alicia Vikander dons the vest and looks for the tomb that holds the answers she seeks. Shot by DOP George Richmond with the ARRI ALEXA XT Plus camera and Panavision glass with CODEX recording.
LARGE-FORMAT PIONEERS With the arrival of ARRI’s LF 4K camera, we unveil the explosion of new aesthetics that the company’s large-format ALEXA 65 camera brought WORDS JULIAN MITCHELL
ARRI’s ALEXA 65 has garnered 72 feature film credits in three years, with 41 of those films using ALEXA 65 as the main unit A camera. Also since 1950 there have been roughly 160 theatrically released 70mm films of which ALEXA 65 now accounts for 33%. Since ALEXA 65’s inception 70mm analogue film production has also grown, illustrating an overall growth in the larger format in general. The ALEXA 65’s arrival on the ARRI Rental camera list piqued the interest of some major DOPs, including Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki who was one of the first to call ARRI to get a camera. “When the camera was announced, we immediately got a couple of calls,” says Andrew Prior, Head of Cameras and Digital Systems at ARRI Rental UK. “One of them was from Chivo and he said that he would test a camera for us. He was shooting The Revenant and wanted one on set. We, of course, said yes but kept in mind that it was -25˚C and snowing
he trouble with a collective or generic term like large-format is that it doesn’t tell the full story. Everyone understands the term full-frame as its heritage is from film and it is now set in concrete as a recognised measure. But large-format unfortunately bundles everything together, from full-frame to VistaVision to large-format to 70mm. There needs to be some demarcation especially when you’re dealing with such different experiences and ways of working.
IMAGES The ARRI ALEXA 65: responsible for an explosion of new aesthetics in cinema, including for 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. © Disney
in deepest Canada and he had a prototype. “The other interest came from Robert Elswit who was shooting Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and was doing an underwater sequence with Tom Cruise that involved Tom holding his breath for a long time. They were doing it in a tank and there was going to be a lot of CGI and so he wanted to use the 65 format’s resolution to be able to reframe. They could shoot Open Gate and then they could punch in and move around. Also the VFX team would be quite happy about the resolution. THE ALEXA 65’S ARRIVAL ON THE ARRI RENTAL CAMERA LIST PIQUED THE INTEREST OF SOME MAJOR DOPS
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
“Interestingly the first two uses of the camera were extremely cold with dangerous outdoor conditions and extremely hot underwater conditions,” continues Andrew. “It was a real test for the system and bar a couple of minor hiccups, the camera just did the job and that was when we realised we had something we could trust and rely on, but also from seeing Revenant material we suddenly realised that this is an interesting format to shoot narratively on, not just a VFX camera. “Chivo kept that camera; he was going to use it for a week or two and then we just never got it back. What I think he discovered, which a lot of other cinematographers discovered, was that ‘yes it is a wonderful format for 70mm for the big vistas’, which he used it for. There is a famous shot in the movie of Leo DiCaprio walking in this massive area and he is just this small speck. He realised, as others did, that in the ALEXA 65 you have a camera that is not only for the physical landscape of the earth but the facial landscape. Bradford Young, DOP on Solo describes it as ‘exploring the landscape of the face’. “That’s where the large-format side of the system comes in to play; you can use longer lenses to get a much wider angle of view,” says Andrew. “So a 35mm lens on a 35mm
this new LED lighting technology. As a filmmaker, I just think we’re entering into this new world of very interesting technology.”
camera is a medium wide. A 35mm lens on the ALEXA 65 is basically a 17mm. So you are getting a 17mm field of view with the qualities and telephoto perspective of a 35mm lens. Which is the same as medium format stills photography. That’s the interesting part and although we knew that, until we had put the camera in the hands of cinematographers who came to understand that too, we just didn’t know fully what was going on. That’s when it took off. That was when, for example, Greig Fraser started testing it for Rogue One .” Talking about shooting with the ALEXA 65, Greig says: “The format is something that I’m quite passionate about, especially in conjunction with
ABOVE ARRI ALEXA 65 on set with Greig Fraser. BELOW The full set of ARRI Signature prime lenses for the new LF camera.
ROGUE ONE IN MEDIUM FORMAT
DOP Greig Fraser used to shoot medium-format stills and so when he got his hands on the ALEXA 65, he got very excited. To him the 65 was the medium-format equivalent motion picture camera. “What he was seeing, as were other early adopters like Bob Richardson and Stuart Dryburgh with The Great Wall ,” continues Andrew, “were images that were not only much higher resolution, thanks to ALEXA’s pixel quality and low
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
noise floor, but were also in this new larger format, like you would see from a 70mm film camera – but that’s a huge budget choice. It was a look that they hadn’t seen before, even though it was an ALEXA; it was almost three dimensional in some cases because of the mix of the resolution, the pixel quality and the format itself. “We weren’t expecting the camera to be so popular so quickly,” explains Andrew, “and we had to make a second run of cameras as we were having to turn people down because all our cameras were in use. So another 30 cameras were made, which became 40 because IMAX wanted to partner with us to make a bespoke camera for them. “The high resolution side of the camera obviously attracted the films that used massive VFX, films like Ant Man , Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok and The Great Wall . So the cinematographers had these great images and a new format that they could tell great stories with.” Bringing this story up to date, Bradford Young has just shot Solo: A Stars Wars Story on the ALEXA 65 with the brand-new ARRI DNA glass. Disney had been very happy with what they had seen on Rogue One so gave the film the green light. He had to get used to the space he was working in with large-format and how it would help himmake the film the way he wanted. “Lenses and format have to be ready to adapt to my particular taste,” says Bradford. “DNA glass is a revelation and revolution in my journey to anchor my artistic residue into a particular story – truly my way of seeing, thus my way of feeling. No other glass has afforded me this opportunity. It’s a true game changer!” Solo: A Stars Wars Story is out in cinemas on May 25.
WEWEREN’T EXPECTING THE CAMERA TO BE SO POPULAR SO QUICKLY. WE HAD TO MAKE A SECOND RUN
IMAGES The large-format aesthetic offered by the ARRI ALEXA 65 has been used in (clockwise from above) Solo: A Star Wars Story , Doctor Strange and Thor: Ragnarok .
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
14 SHOOT STORY ISLE OF DOGS
Dogged There is a good reason stop-motion movies aren’t the norm. We talked with Isle Of Dogs DOP Tristan Oliver about surviving the experience
WORDS PHIL RHODES PICTURES TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
Image Two years in the making and nothing to with the near ‘island’ in East London.
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
ISLE OF DOGS SHOOT STORY
stop-motion feature films: Chicken Run , The Curse of the Were-Rabbit , Fantastic Mr. Fox , and ParaNorman . His fifth is Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs , produced by Anderson’s American Empirical Pictures and Indian Paintbrush, which had also been involved in the Anderson-directed Fantastic Mr. Fox , The Grand Budapest Hotel , The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. Pre- production on Isle of Dogs began in October 2015, with camera tests about six months before principal photography. “Everything is built,” Oliver says. “It’s not a case of going to John Lewis and buying your crockery. There’s a lot of issues in paint, textures, will the materials they’re using for the faces take light properly... I’m usually involved pretty early.” The film’s voice cast is an impressive ensemble including Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson and many others. This group spent only a few days recording the production dialogue, which was then edited into essentially a radio play to which the animators would work. “We can’t animate to scratch because the timing is wrong,” says Oliver, emphasising the importance of planning. “You go into a stop- motion project knowing every frame you are going to shoot. It is utterly pointless shooting coverage or making it up on the fly.”
irector of Photography Tristan Oliver had, he says, “a fairly unconventional route into the industry. I was very much a performer in my early adult life. I wanted to be an actor and all that stuff. I had a small amount of success doing that, but it was whilst I was shooting a movie called Another Country that I became very, very interested in what the camera crew were doing.” Pursuing camera at film school, Oliver found himself amongst “a lucky group of people. We gelled as a group and one of the movies I shot as a graduation piece did very well on the student film circuit.” Initially, Oliver was keen to move up in the conventional way, but “very quickly proved myself to be a wholly inadequate focus puller – which was a good thing, I think. If you are a good focus puller, people won’t let you do anything else as you’re too valuable!” In 1988, Oliver made first contact with Aardman Animations, who would later produce the Wallace and Gromit TV and feature series as well as Chicken Run , Shaun the Sheep Movie , Early Man and many other stop-motion greats. “One sort of fateful day I rang Aardman,” he says, “who at that time were three blokes in a garage, because I knew someone there and I needed some lights for a pop promo. They said ‘what are you doing next week?’”
“There was the kid in the corner of the room who was finishing off his graduation film,” Oliver recalls. “That was Nick [Park], who was making Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out . But they were mainly shooting commercials.” Oliver is keen to cite the influence of Aardman co-founder David Sproxton, who was “driving towards a cinematic approach to shooting stop- motion. All it was at that point was children’s TV stuff: flat, toplit, soft, no shadows, knock it out as fast as you can. He was frustrated with that... the camera department was trying not to make any concessions to the medium of animation.” Since the 1980s and Aardman, Oliver had up to now directed photography on four YOU ARE GOING TO SHOOT. IT’S UTTERLY POINTLESS SHOOTING COVERAGE OR MAKING IT UP YOU GO INTO A STOP-MOTION PROJECT KNOWING EVERY FRAME
APRIL 2018 DEFINITION
SHOOT STORY ISLE OF DOGS
“Ever since we stopped using 35mm we ’ ve picked cameras that aren ’ t very good because... no still camera manufacturer is making a camera especially to shoot stop frame on. We ask of it more than it ’ s ever designed to do. We force it into providing a live image off the chip pretty much all the time. That takes it toll on chips – they get very hot, you get density fluctuations, you get fluttering in the shadows.” been popular for stop-motion production but just such a tendency to overheat when used continuously in live-view mode, often to the point where magenta flickering became visible in the shadows. During the production of ParaNorman , production company Laika had been forced to retain what Oliver calls “a gang of people in VFX whose job it is to sort out the overnight fluctuations and flicker. This time we didn ’ t have to do that. We spent more money on the cameras but saved that money on the fixes. That was the same camera, the 1Dx, that Aardman used to shoot Early Man on – we both did a full Canon ’ s 5D family had previously
Oliver refers frequently to animators using terminology more often associated with actors. “The animator is very much stepping out on the stage to give a performance. The nuances of performance might vary between them. There ’ s a high concentration level required and having anyone else in that space can actually be distracting. If you have a crowd scene, you might have an assistant animator tweaking the background. If it ’ s acting, it ’ s one guy in a room for as long as it takes.” The time required, he says, is hugely variable. “You could be doing a single close-up on a character frowning and it might take forever because it has to look absolutely right to whatever emotion is going through the character ’ s head.” CANON 1DX Isle of Dogs was shot on digital stills cameras, in common with many other recent stop-motion productions, although Oliver emphasises that the recently-developed Canon 1Dx DSLR is much better for stop-motion work than pre-existing options.
CAMERA AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT FOR ISLE OF DOGS WAS PURCHASED OUTRIGHT
testing programme of cameras out there and both came to the same conclusion without knowing what the other had chosen.” Camera and lighting equipment for Isle of Dogs was purchased outright, given that it would be required continuously for two years. “I bought 600 C-stands,” Oliver recalls. “They all get sold at the end – someone gets a fab deal... and it ’ s all immaculate because it ’ s never been on a truck in its life!” He describes the lighting package as conventional: “The whole bucket of fresnels, 10Ks, 5Ks, 2Ks, 300s, mainly ARRI. Some Strand in there, cyc lights, dedolights.” The Altman Micro Ellipse, a miniature profile, was widely used: “We ’ ll buy a couple of hundred of those for a job.” Miniature practical lighting, Oliver notes, is something that ’ s changed in the last few years. “Whereas we used to use mini incandescents, we use a lot more LEDs because they ’ re
ABOVE The Canon 1Dx DSLR is by far the best camera for stop motion.
BELOW 600 C-stands were part of the gear purchase order.
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
SHOOT STORY ISLE OF DOGS
colour true and they hold their colour while dimmed. They ’ re very useful for eyelights... they have so little dimension.” The use of large 10K and 12K fresnels on miniature sets might seem surprising, especially given the option to use long exposures to maintain the required depth of field. The reality, though, is that a convincing exterior light can require upscale resources. “Although a 2K would cover the area, it wouldn ’ t look like daylight,” Oliver feels. “A big old bugeye 10K keeps the shadows together. It ’ s a natural looking light because the source is very big... you get something that looks like there ’ s a bit of atmos haze in there. Our exteriors are super simple, they ’ re one big source, usually catching that on polyboard, maybe a butterfly over the top with some fill in it so it looks like natural daylight.” Any stop-motion scene requiring a camera move must use motion control and, as Oliver says, “the purchase of motion control rigs is a very expensive thing, so I went to a guy called Justin Pentecost. Between us, we designed a set of modular components – tracker beds, pan and tilt heads, risers, various sizes and lengths which could be bolted together... which would get me more or less any move I wanted.” In conjunction with this custom- made hardware, the production used Mantis motion control software, THE 1DX CAMERAS WERE EACH TETHERED TO WORKSTATIONS RUNNING DRAGONFRAME
mainly obtained through Grays of Westminster, who Oliver is quick to credit for their excellent service. “I give him a list of 150 lenses, he says ‘ I can get 75% of this now, the rest in two weeks. ’ Who wouldn ’ t take that level of service?” The 1Dx cameras were each tethered to workstations running DragonFrame, a piece of software specifically designed for stop-motion work. As well as managing the raw frames shot by each camera, DragonFrame provides replay of frames shot to date as well as frame- by-frame control of lighting cues and camera motion, plus a guide to lip sync for any dialogue in the scene. “The camera goes into that,” continues Oliver. “When a frame is taken, it captures a raw and then it makes from that raw a JPEG with a LUT. That LUT has to work through our entire pipeline. It has to work on the studio floor where we use Eizo calibrated monitors, it has to work in our projection theatre, in our VFX environment and it gives us a pretty good first look when we take the material into our grade.” Control of the colour pipeline, Oliver feels, is crucial. “We know what we ’ re getting all the way down the line. We don ’ t have that horrifying experience of getting
collaborating with its developer in order to improve and expand its capabilities. NIKON PRIME LENSES Isle of Dogs was shot on Nikon stills prime lenses, which were the only practical way to supply the production ’ s 50 simultaneous shooting stages. It also fulfilled the need for a lens which would not suffer the problems of modern electronic lenses intended for stills use with autofocus. “We want full manual control over the lens,” says Oliver. “We don ’ t want the camera trying to talk to the lens... [Nikon lenses] are a lot more stable for focus pulling because they ’ re not full of little motors.” Lenses were
IMAGES Stills from Isle Of Dogs . In cinemas this month.
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
SHOOT STORY ISLE OF DOGS
to the DI and realising you don ’ t have the range you thought... if you ’ re shooting a set that ’ s been split in two so you ’ re shooting one way on one set and one way on another, you don ’ t want the two halves of that set looking different. People know what they ’ re getting.” “The day starts with rushes,” Oliver says. “We ’ ve got an immediate view of what we ’ ve done. We sit in the viewing theatre and watch the day ’ s work projected. Heads of department sit there and there is a normal rushes viewing process.” On any given morning, anywhere between ten and 30 of the production ’ s 50 working sets may need to be reset to shoot different scenes, a process involving sets, lighting, and motion control. “I can ’ t physically light 50 sets,” Oliver admits, “so I will typically take a dozen to 15 sets, usually the best stuff, of course.”
breakaway sections to allow them to be shot effectively. “It entirely takes over your life,” Oliver says simply. “All you really have is your weekends, so if you work a Saturday it ’ s wretched. You can work Saturdays if it ’ s a short job, but [not] if you ’ re on a job that consumes your life for two years. I don ’ t take holiday, I don ’ t leave the floor unless it ’ s a bank holiday or Christmas. I try to eat sensibly, take enough exercise, get enough sleep. Even a single night of bad sleep can completely screw you up.” At the time of writing, Oliver was in Berlin for the premiere of Isle of Dogs and, perhaps unsurprisingly, had no plans to dive immediately back into further stop-motion work. “What I really want to do now... is to have a break and wallpaper my house. I ’ ll be going back into commercials and kicking back for a bit.”
“I have two or three other guys who light for me and I have to make sure that what they ’ re doing fits in with the movie.” Oliver describes lighting cameraman James Lewis as a key collaborator: “He can handle the same size workload, he ’ s great. And then other people who are good, we give them delicate careful stuff to do and they can run six to eight units.” Beyond direct involvement, Oliver will also spend time liaising with gaffer Toby Farrar and his team as well as the art department, who must create sets with appropriate
ABOVE Isle Of Dogs , a marathon of filmmaking.
I DON’T TAKE HOLIDAY, I DON’T LEAVE THE SET UNLESS IT’S A BANK HOLIDAY OR CHRISTMAS
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
22 SHOOT STORY THE SHAPE OF WATER
In a highly technical digital movie some old Hollywood techniques carried the narrative WORDS JULIAN MITCHELL PICTURES FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
“We knew that we wanted to have a period looking movie and also wanted to have classic lighting. Single source lighting with deep shadows but still with some details and some sweetness in the highlights. In this world it would be greens, teal, steel blue. Sally Hawkins, who plays the mute, is such a strong character,she has to look like she has this glow coming from inside. She should never look like a beaten-down, working-class woman. She should have this princess-like look from the beginning. This look should get stronger and stronger as the movie goes on and as she gets more and more powerful and falls more in love with the fish man. “That was something we talked about when we were prepping the movie. So we decided to light her very classically, very old Hollywood. We wanted to go more 40s or 50s but when you’re shooting digitally you have to use more soft light. In the old days those guys would use more hard light. I don’t think that works for colour in digital, it looks wrong. We tried to do a couple of tests like that and we didn’t like it. So we went back to this super-soft close-up design which was very directional so she had a dark side as well.”
hen Guillermo del Toro, the director of The Shape Of Water , called DOP Dan Laustsen about a story that involved a mute cleaner’s relationship with a merman, Dan wasn’t alarmed: “I’ve got used to the storylines from Guillermo.” Dan had previous experiences of shooting movies with del Toro, including Crimson Peak which in comparison was a more run-of- the-mill, ‘evil brother and sister cooped up in a bleeding, breathing and very haunted house’ type of story. “I’ve done three movies with Guillermo. Firstly Mimic in 1996, and then we had a break for 20 years. Then he called me to do Crimson Peak, where he told me about the idea for The Shape Of Water . A working-class mute falling in love with a fish man. If someone else had told me about it, I would think he was mad. Guillermo’s world is always fantastic but then he added, ‘By the way, we have to shoot in black & white’.” As most DOPs know, the challenge of shooting in black & white is a big ambition for many of them. Unfortunately we now know it fell apart because they couldn’t find the money. “We went back to colour and I think this was a very clever decision because the colours became a big part of the movie.
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
THE SHAPE OF WATER SHOOT STORY
IMAGE Many of the underwater scenes borrowed old theatrical tricks to shoot them.
APRIL 2018 DEFINITION
SHOOT STORY THE SHAPE OF WATER
Dan designed this lighting idea just for Sally’s character and mixed it with a more one-dimensional dark design for the bad guys. “They should be a little bit more contrasty with more side lighting and a little bit more dramatic camera angles and deep shadows. I think that works really well but of course you cannot cheat too much as you might make it too artificial. We are using filtration all the way through; initially we were planning on diffusing Sally but with the ARRI ALEXA XT you can put a filter behind the lens. I think it was a quarter black Pro-Mist we had in there. We started only using it for Sally but it didn’t work out for me, it was getting too weird. So we decided to go with the Pro-Mist all the way through. I think it works pretty well with the XT and Master Primes.
BELOW Dan wanted Sally Hawkins’ character to look as if she has ‘this glow coming from inside’. RIGHT The movie needed to have a classic, old Hollywood soft look.
flare there’ or something like that. If you want to have a flare you have to do it yourself. I really like that. We’re not using the whole set, most of the shots are between 21mm and 32mm. A lot of them are 21mm, 25mm and 27mm. We never used long lenses and only used one camera although we had a B camera.”
“I’m a big fan of Master Primes, I think they are fantastic lenses and do a really good job. We don’t want any surprises, with the way we are designing the movie and the look, we want to be able to control everything. These lenses are unforgiving but they are still giving you exactly what you’re asking for. It’s not like ‘by the way we have a
DAN DESIGNED THIS LIGHTING IDEA FOR SALLY’S CHARACTER AND MIXED IT WITH A MORE ONE- DIMENSIONAL DESIGN FOR THE BAD GUYS
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
SHOOT STORY THE SHAPE OF WATER
COLOUR PALETTE Each Guillermo del Toro movie is evolved using a succinct colour palette. This is shorthand for the DOP and production designer to pick up and run with. “We are talking a lot about the colours of the walls, comparing them to skin tones, wardrobes and set design. Everything is blending in together and because all the colours are so specific we’re kind of doing the colour correction on the set. The colours we’re shooting on set were the exactly the same colours in the movie, we didn’t change anything colour wise when I did the DI.” The lighting design hinged on the close-up design but there were still a lot of lights around for wider shots. Dan also had a distinct idea for shooting with certain focal lengths. “I prefer to shoot 3.5, between 2.8 and 4.0, so you know we need a lot of EACH GUILLERMO DEL TORO MOVIE IS EVOLVED USING A SUCCINCT COLOUR PALETTE. THIS IS SHORTHAND FOR THE DOP AND PRODUCTION DESIGNER TO PICK UP
light actually, as I’m not a full open shooter. So there is a lot of light in the sets; mostly LED and the practicals are doing their job. This was a small budget movie so we could afford all ARRI lighting. We had to use all kinds of different lights because of this tight budget. It’s fine, you just have to work around it. IS ITWATER? As the movie gets more attention due to its many nominations, the news of
how they shot with water is coming out. The truth was that much of the start and finish was shot dry for wet. “The opening scene and the ending scene were shot with what we call ‘dry for wet’. This means that there was no water at all. So the trick is to fill the studio up with a lot of smoke; and we’re talking about lots of it. Also instead of having film light you have film projectors so you can project, like a Gobo light, what you look like when you are below the water because the light is moving around a little bit. Then of course the visual effects guys are putting fish in and bottles and all that kind of stuff. So the beginning and the end of the movie are shot like that and then you’re shooting high speed to get the movement a little bit slower. The VFX guys also have to put the hair in as you need that effect of floating water. “I’ve never used the technique before, I think it’s an old trick from the theatre. But I think we did it
TOP Director Guillermo del Toro on set with Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer. ABOVE DOP Dan Laustsen on set with Guillermo. LEFT Dan’s colour palette included lots of greens, blues and teal.
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
SHOOT STORY THE SHAPE OF WATER
MOVEMENT FOR EDIT In fact most of the shots are
really well especially at the beginning as we were setting this weird tone. We just wanted to warn the audience that this is a normal movie but a little bit weird at the same time. It’s a little bit unsettling from the start.” “There is a tank used in the middle of the movie when Sally’s character and the merman are together but of course the problem using real water is that people can’t perform. You can’t really open your eyes properly. That middle sequence was just a matter of coming up for air and getting through it. In the opening she is lying on the sofa for about two minutes and that would never be possible under water. “We couldn’t afford to build a big tank and there were no really big tanks around Toronto where we shot. A lot of people I’ve spoken to, even filmmakers, didn’t know it was faked. They were saying, ‘that tank must be pretty big’. It works really well and the first shot is a long Steadicam shot so the camera’s really floating in there.”
Steadicam or shot with a jib arm on a dolly with a hot head on. “Most of the shots are designed by me and Guillermo. The way he is editing the movie is to shoot in a linear fashion, all set-ups are designed to go next to each other. The takes are more or less the length that they will be in the movie. The only person who can design that is Guillermo because he’s got to cut it together. Guillermo is so precise about his editing, the design of the shoot is mostly from him. He is shooting very chronologically so we have to turn around a lot. Of course that’s a bit painful as a cinematographer because you have to come back to the same lighting set-ups and some of those were pretty complicated to replicate. But you get used to that. Normally you shoot in one direction in the morning and then you’re turning around in the afternoon. We’re turning around all the time!”
TOP Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins. ABOVE Guillermo del Toro, Dan Laustsen, cast and crew.
THE PROBLEM OF COURSE USING REAL WATER IS THAT PEOPLE CAN’T PERFORM. YOU CAN’T REALLY OPEN YOUR EYES PROPERLY
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
CRAZY RICH ASIANS SHOOT STORY
Dual Native DOP Vanja Černjul wanted to use a consistently high- end look for a shoot with 38 different locations
WORDS JULIAN MITCHELL IMAGES WARNER BROS. STUDIOS
the Panasonic VariCam was the right choice.” Vanja has become familiar with the VariCam 35 on HBO’s The Deuce , which is set in the 1970s and was shot last year on location in the streets of New York City, with available light. For the production of Crazy Rich Asians , Vanja turned to TCS in New York for the VariCam 35 package. TCS recently upgraded their VariCam 35 camera systems to the VariCam Pure with Raw recording capability using Codex media. TCS is known for offering a vast inventory of motion picture cameras, and modern and vintage cinema lenses, to support independent filmmakers, TV show productions and feature films. Vanja was comfortable with TCS’s endorsement of the VariCam Pure with Raw recording and Codex. “I was blown away by the results,” he says. “I thought the dual native sensitivity was something that could help me on that project. In testing, I found that I could switch between
ast year, Vanja Černjul ASC was commended by his peers in the American Society of Cinematographers for his
IT WAS A CHALLENGING SHOW BECAUSE WE HAD 43 SHOOTING DAYS AND 38 LOCATIONS
outstanding work on Netflix’s Marco Polo . The ASC Award is all the more impressive given the competition – today’s television cinematography sets a high standard. Vanja’s education began in his native Croatia and continued at New York University, where he earned an MFA. His career began in earnest in the late 1990s, and he has since crafted a varied body of work that includes television landmarks like 30 Rock , Orange is the New Black , and Nurse Jackie as well as features like The English Teacher , Violet and Daisy and, most recently, Crazy Rich Asians , a Warner Bros. romantic comedy shot in Malaysia and Singapore. The project is based on a bestselling novel in which an American-born economics professor travels to her wealthy boyfriend’s hometown for a wedding and
discovers that he is desired by a flock of unscrupulous, rich and ruthless women. CRAZY SCHEDULE Crazy Rich Asians is believed to be the first major studio production with an all-Asian cast, directed by Jon Chu. “It was a great experience, but it was a challenging show because we had 43 shooting days and something like 38 different locations,” says Vanja. “We considered the ALEXA 65 because we wanted a big, classic Hollywood look. But I knew we were going to be moving a lot. I thought that in order to consistently get the look I wanted in all these locations,
ABOVE Crazy Rich Asians was shot on location in Malaysia and Singapore.
APRIL 2018 DEFINITION
SHOOT STORY CRAZY RICH ASIANS
ISO looked surprisingly clean. We may add some grain in post, so it was very important for me to have as clean an image as possible so that there is no interaction between the noise of the camera and any texture we end up adding.” The lenses were Hawk 1.3x anamorphics from Vantage Film. The final aspect ratio will be 2.40:1. “The 1.3x lenses give you a bit of anamorphic feel, but the lenses are small and open up to T-2.2,” he says. “The VariCam viewfinder allows you to switch to 1.3x very easily. We tended to stay on the wider focal lengths because we wanted the environment to be present in every shot. Even the close-ups were done between 35mm and 40mm. Also, the VariCam Pure is more compact than the original VariCam 35, which is nice for location work. We were working in the tropics, and the camera didn’t let me down once. It was the ideal choice for this job, and it paid off. It was a beautiful combination.”
using low light levels without compromising on the quality of light. I wanted to work with smaller, cooler light sources, and to diffuse and bounce the light, while still getting the stop I needed. I knew I could do it with this camera.” CODEX RECORDING The Panasonic VariCam Pure offers a 4K Super 35 sensor and features integrated Codex recording media and the proven simplicity of the Codex One Workflow. During the Crazy Rich Asians shoot, the ISO was set at 2000 or below, with one or two exceptions. “I wanted to preserve as much information as possible to work with in colour grading,” says Vanja. “I thought 4K uncompressed Raw was the right choice, and that’s why I chose to use the VariCam Pure with uncompressed Raw recording. I shot tests and looked at them on the largest screen I could find in Kuala Lumpur, and the images shot at 2000
800 and 3200 ISO with virtually no difference in the texture. I convinced HBO to let me use it, and I was elated. Once you have that flexibility, you can start working in a completely new way, and it’s difficult to go back. You get used to it quickly.” The additional latitude changes every aspect of photography, he says. “You can make decisions in the middle of the scene. For example, you have complete control in depth-of- field. You can decide to go up on the ISO if you want more depth-of-field or want to close down, which was not possible before without relighting. It’s easy to do unplanned slow motion or use camera and lighting filters that used to require boosting light levels.” On Crazy Rich Asians , that versatility would come in handy. The filmmakers wanted to showcase the beautiful locations and make extensive use of existing practical light. “This project is a very stylish romantic comedy,” Vanja says. “I needed the ability to work quickly
I WANTED TO WORK WITH SMALLER, COOLER LIGHT SOURCES AND TO DIFFUSE AND BOUNCE THE LIGHT
ABOVE Vanja needed a camera that would give him a consistent look in a lot of different locations.
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE SAMSUNG
The new Samsung Portable SSD T5 drive is helping many digital media creators. But who knew that the analogue film business would also benefit? THE FILM PROCESS
SPINNING DISK DELAYS Sometimes the drives sent in to Cinelab have enough capacity but can only manage around 25MB/s data rate. When Adrian was initially introduced to the Samsung Portable SSD T5 drive, he had a lightbulb moment. “We placed the Samsung Portable drive into our process and immediately were attaining transfer speeds of perhaps ten times what we were used to. You can’t underestimate how impactful this is when clients are waiting for their files. Usually transferring 2TB of data to a drive is done as the last step of the process and you are looking at hours of waiting. With the Samsung Portable SSD T5 drive you are cutting down hugely on that stressful time when clients are calling and asking how much longer they have to wait. “Because we have had such a positive experience using Samsung’s
and quickened up the process – but there is an inherent log jam and that is based on transfer storage. Adrian Bull, CEO of Cinelab London, explains the process. “All of our processes are regimented thoroughly. Our clients send us their rushes and often send us a drive so we can send back the scanned files to them. Modern scanners produce files that are around 75MB per frame; for a day’s rushes you could be talking around 2TB per day especially when you’re dealing with uncompressed DPX files. “We use all the modern interfaces but the drives that sit behind them are the Achilles heel. You can be spending hours and hours copying stuff off and then the client spends similar amounts of time transferring the files at their end. In fact, we can actually generate the data far quicker than we can deliver it.”
inelab London is one of only two film processing plants left in the UK. In fact, it is bucking the trend of film not being popular for use in shooting movies – its service includes processing and scanning all formats from 8mm to 65mm. It has the only 65mm line in Europe with their first job being the movie Murder on the Orient Express . The business also handles film restoration, recording back to film and film cleaning. But Cinelab has a problem and it’s not of its own making. When digital cinematography first appeared, crew and actors alike loved the way you could immediately see what had been shot. With film, you had to develop the rushes at a lab and wait sometimes days to get to see the results. Since then the film processing and scanning business has smartened up its act
WE USE ALL THE MODERN INTERFACES BUT THE DRIVES THAT SIT BEHIND THEM ARE THE ACHILLES HEEL
ABOVE Cinelab is one of only two film processing plants in the UK.
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
SAMSUNG ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE
ABOVE With the size of the files that Cinelab has to deal with, the team often found they could generate data much quicker than they were able to transfer it.
Portable SSD T5 drives, we are thinking of changing the way we operate. There’s a strong chance we may use Samsung’s Portable SSDs as the only drives we use for sending the data to clients. If acceptable to clients, we would then rent the drives to them for say a week for that project. That way we benefit from the speed of transfer and our clients will too when they download the data at their end.” Adrian is sure that some clients will recognise how this increase in speed will lead to a film set getting to see what they’ve shot more quickly. He also presumes that these companies might buy their own Samsung SSD drives so they can control their process. But whatever happens as a result, when someone hands you a way of increasing productivity by a factor of ten, you take advantage of it. “I can see the benefits of having a number of Samsung Portable SSD
T5 drives in circulation knowing that they’re more reliable than spinning disk technology and include high- level security. This is a viable option.” LOVE OF FILM Adrian thinks that more and more often his clients are recognising that they have to look at alternatives to the use of spinning disk technology. He understands this but sees that the bigger challenge for him is to in some cases reintroduce the benefits of film to the production world. With a quicker turnaround of filmed content he will have happier clients and ones that will love the film process even more. “We have identified 400 clients that we deliver media to. If we can set a precedent of a reliable and fast device for delivery I think many of them will either buy the SSD or be happy to pay the weekly rental charge. This Samsung SSD technology could change everything.”
MORE INFORMATION: www.samsung.com/uk/ssd/
APRIL 2018 DEFINITION
FEATURE THE FORGIVEN
illiamWages, ASC, is a hugely experienced cinematographer with credits behind the camera stretching all the
he met director Roland Joffé. William remembers the latter production as being “about the beginning of rock and roll in Sun Studio. Sam Phillips, who discovered Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, was the centre of the rock and roll universe in this converted garage in Memphis.” This production would turn out to be prophetic, based on William’s use of Panasonic’s Varicam series alongside their compact Lumix stills cameras, for use in tight spaces. Williamdescribes Roland, who immediately liked the combination of Varicam and Lumix, as being “as progressive a thinker as anyone I’ve ever been around.” On Sun Records , Roland and William found themselves in such a state of creative agreement that much of the usual discussion could be short-circuited. “If we did a shot list, it was the same. I still did the prep but we didn’t compare notes any more because we were on the same page... and halfway through he told me about The Forgiven in South Africa.” William had worked in the country before, and “I know the ropes, so I jumped at the chance.” Even so, the production was immediately challenging. “The budget was still in flux. When we got there we had to decide what we could do. My philosophy of making movies, and
way back to 1979. As such, he is a rare example of the Hollywood moviemaker who has never lived in Los Angeles. “I never moved out there to Hollywood,” he chuckles. “I don’t keep it a secret – nobody asked, so I don’t tell them!” William began shooting at the tender age of 16. He worked, he says, “a summer job at a machine shop and bought the Bolex and a 25mm lens... the only thing I didn’t have was film, that was the expensive part. A show came into Atlanta which was basically like MTV. They made videos of people dancing, typical stuff of the 70s. They said, ‘here’s three rolls of film. If we like it, we’ll give you two hundred and fifty dollars’. I was at high school. My grades plummeted, but my filmmaking...”. History finishes the sentence. PAYING THEWAGES Having worked on almost every type of production, William’s recent credits include several television series, including episodes of Burn Notice , Revolution , Containment and most recently Sun Records , on which
We speak to DOPWilliamWages and Director Roland Joffé about the look for this moment in time newmovie
WORDS PHIL RHODES PICTURES SABAN FILMS
SHOT DURING 2016 ON LOCATION IN CAPE TOWN’S POLLSMOOR PRISON, THE PRODUCTION BOASTS A CAST INCLUDING ERIC BANA AND FOREST WHITTAKER AS DESMOND TUTU
DEFINITION APRIL 2018
THE FORGIVEN FEATURE
to make the movie the way we did,” William continues. “In Paris I saw the movie for the first time in a really wonderful rental facility in a beautiful screening room. As fate would have it, I had to sit in the front row which is the worst seat in the house, where I could really see the flaws. But even sitting 15 feet from the gigantic screen it looked tremendous.” Getting down to specifics, William tells us that, “With this camera, if we go indoors or outdoors, day or night, it doesn’t matter. I’m at ISO 5000. There’s a filter wheel in the camera so I can turn the 5000 into 400 if I need to, so I’m not at f/11.” Williammade frequent use of this straightforward option to balance ND filtering against aperture in order to control depth-of-field. “If the A camera is at 25mm, the B camera may be at 150mm. If I shoot both at f/2.8 then it’s a completely different look. With this camera, I can spin the filter wheel and give B camera an f/5.6 – so both the subjects’ eyes are in focus. I hate it when we’re saying ‘which eye do we want in focus?’. This camera allows that.” William pursued a realistic image, keen to avoid betraying the reality of the location with overly manufactured photography. “What I said to Roland
Roland’s, is that you don’t look at what you don’t have, you look at what you have. You have a script, you have the actors and all this other stuff to make the movie. Don’t focus on what you don’t have.” TRAVELLING LIGHT The Forgiven is based on Michael Ashton’s stage play The Archbishop and the Antichrist , which describes a fictional – or at least fictionalised – series of events in which Desmond Tutu, the titular archbishop, meets a death row inmate in a grim South African prison. Shot during 2016 on location in Cape Town’s Pollsmoor Forest Whitaker as Desmond Tutu. Pollsmoor is still a working prison, and only the intervention of the real Desmond Tutu made it practical to shoot there. Even then, the production was forced to move quickly and travel light in order to make such a sensitive location practical. To this end, William combined the Varicam 35 with Fujinon’s cinema zoom lenses, particularly the Cabrio ZK4.7x19 19-90mm T2.9 and the Cabrio ZK3.5x85 85-300mm T2.9-4.0. “This lens and this camera combination are what allowed us prison, the production boasts a cast including Eric Bana and
was that I feel my job is for nobody to know I was ever there,” he says. “I want it to be real. Brutally real, and not affected with perfect Hollywood-style lighting and all of that. That sounds like I didn’t do anything – in fact I worked harder. That Hollywood style three-point lighting is pretty easy to do, but to go into a place like this and make it feel natural when nothing was real, that’s a whole different story. I don’t want them to think about the camera. I want them to think about the mood and the atmosphere.” Under the circumstances, William found himself spending a lot of time controlling the available light. “I light with the grips,” he says. “I spend time blocking windows,
ABOVE Forest Whitaker as Desmond Tutu.
BELOW AND FAR LEFT The Forgiven is shot on location in Cape Town’s Pollsmoor Prison.
APRIL 2018 DEFINITIONPage 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92
Powered by FlippingBook