DECEMBER 2021 DEFINITIONMAGAZINE.COM
IBC SHOW PREVIEW CAMERA LISTINGS ONE NIGHT IN SOHO
Illuminating the fragility of Diana in Spencer, up close and personal Portrait of a princess
Eben Bolter honours neon-noir, with experimental lighting in Night Teeth COLOUR POP
Capturing true stories is often a risk, but how far is too far? We explore the ethics, safety and appropriate gear for documentary filmmaking
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Regulars 04 ON THE COVER
Industry 33 HEAD IN THE CLOUD PT.2
Dazzling single-take sequences keep in time to the beat of Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho. 07 INDUSTRY BRIEFINGS News, views and tips from the world of production.
We continue our talk with the cloud crowd: technology experts discuss ideas on its post-production future.
09 SHOW PREVIEW IBC returns after a
pandemic-induced hiatus. Here’s what to expect.
A fter a challenging couple of years for the industry, IBC is back and we’re 100% here for it. It’s been a long time since the Definition team has embarked on an overseas adventure; to see friends old and new, gather stories and support major players in the video production world. But the moment has finally come – and we can’t wait to re-engage and catch up. Needless to say, many of you will be reading this while already walking the halls of the RAI, or taking a moment to soak up the winter rays at the beach bar. So, let me highlight the features that will equip you with the knowledge needed to cover all the hot topics at the show. These include our stories on post-production in the cloud (p33), 5G connectivity (p49) and, of course, the exhibition preview on page nine. Don’t forget to say hi! DEPUTY EDITOR Chelsea Fearnley 09
Production 18 STORY OF A BROKEN PRINCESS
41 TO FILM OR NOT TO FILM?
How to bring true stories to the small screen, ethically, and with the right gear.
DOP Claire Mathon explains how she used close-ups and film stock to capture the fragility of Diana in Spencer.
49 5G: A NEW DAWN OF CONNECTIVITY What does 5G mobile networking technology mean for production? 53 SMOOTH OPERATOR
We explore the extraordinary gimbals helping filmmakers capture moving images with stability.
23 BRIGHT LIFE AND NIGHT LIFE
63 CAMERA LISTINGS Showcasing the latest bodies revolutionising digital images.
DOP Eben Bolter discusses making Night Teeth a technicolour dream, using some experimental lighting.
BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD Bright House 82 High Street Sawston Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ, UK EDITORIAL DEPUTY EDITOR Chelsea Fearnley firstname.lastname@example.org FEATURES WRITER Lee Renwick CHIEF SUB EDITOR Alex Bell SUB EDITORS Matthew Winney & Harriet Williams CONTRIBUTORS Alex Fice, Phil Rhodes & Emily Williamson EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Roger Payne
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PUBLISHING MANAGING DIRECTORS Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck
Cover image Last Night in Soho | © Focus Features
3. DECEMBER 2021
ON THE COVER . LAST NIGHT IN SOHO
MYSTERY AND MALICE Thomasin McKenzie’s Eloise (right) dreams up a double life as the ambitious, troubled Sandie, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (left)
LAST NIGHT IN SOHO Coverage commitment DAZZLING SINGLE-TAKE DREAM SEQUENCES T homasin McKenzie stars in Last Night in Soho as Eloise Turner, a young woman in the present day that is obsessed with the music and style of 1960s London, and who travels there to study fashion. Once there,
promise is fulfilled here in the dance sequences. Exactly as he did with the jukebox combat of Shaun of the Dead and choreographed car chases of Baby Driver , these scenes were shot in a single take to preserve the stranglehold on the audience. “The key was to rehearse a lot,” says Wright. “Unbroken takes are very complicated bits of choreography – where there’s body switching and sleight-of- hand. The more you can do it in one take, the more you’re not breaking the spell of the movie, in the same way the spell is not broken for Eloise in the dream.” Wright has skillfully distinguished himself from directors of his generation by the evident joy he takes in telling stories through movement and placement of the camera. The DOP here, working with Wright for the first time, is the virtuosic Chung-hoon Chung, best known for collaborations with Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook. “I’ve always been a fan of his work – it has a dark opulence to it. The idea of him doing Last Night in Soho was very exciting,” says Wright.
she finds herself transported back to the capital’s swinging past each night, through the ghostly, mirrored life of singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who went to London in the sixties seeking romance and stardom. In her dreams, Eloise both watches and becomes Sandie, aiming for the stars but falling to the streets, as the sordid realities of London life hit home. A glittering 360º shot shows both women dancing with Jack (a superb, slimy Matt Smith), one morphing into the other when they enter and exit the frame. Another tour-de-force moment comes as Sandie, descending a mirrored staircase, sees her reflection broken up into a series of Eloises. It’s a beautiful image that illustrates the splintering of Eloise’s identity, as she loses herself in fantasy. Director Edgar Wright’s films always verge on becoming musicals, and that
LAST NIGHT IN SOHO ON THE COVER .
05. DECEMBER 2021
BRIEFINGS INDUS TRY.
Industry briefings The latest news, views and hot tips from the world of video production
Exciting new additions to the full-frame family Cooke has expanded its line-up of full-frame lenses, with the Panchro/i Classic FF range and two new Varotal/i FF zooms. The Varotal/i FF lenses bring cutting-edge design and materials to its historic line of zoom lenses, and are matched in colour to the Cooke S7/i range. The focal lengths are 30- 95mm and 85-215mm, respectively, and mounts can be chosen as PL or LPL at time of order. Like all modern Cooke lenses, the zooms include /i Technology to record lens data, and are optimised to capture warmth and beautiful skin tones. The lenses are designed for all shooting applications, including handheld and Steadicam, providing a good balance between the latest digital cinema cameras. The Panchro/i Classic FF range offers the famed vintage Speed Panchro look for full-frame sensors, and the focal lengths – 18mm, 21mm, 27mm, 32mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm – have been redesigned to fit. At full aperture, these provide excellent control of flare, distortion and spherical aberration – and, like the standard Panchro/i Classic primes, they’re colour balanced, colour matched and compatible with all Cooke lenses. All products are available for pre-order now.
VENICE LEVELS UP Sony has introduced the Venice 2 to its arsenal of high-end digital cameras. The new flagship model builds upon the strength of the original Venice with new features, including a compact design, internal recording and the option for two different sensors: the newly developed full-frame 8.6K sensor, or the original 6K Venice sensor. The 8.6K sensor boasts excellent image quality, with 16 stops of latitude, featuring a dual-base ISO of 800/3200, allowing filmmakers to capture clean, filmic images in a wide range of lighting conditions. It supports everything from full-frame, full-frame anamorphic, to Super 35 at a minimum of 4K, and inherits its colour science from the original Venice, which is widely esteemed for natural skin tones. Working with industry professionals, Sony kept the body I/O and mounting thread options (including PL mount and Sony’s native E-mount) similar to the modular design of the original Venice, but with a slightly smaller and 10% lighter form factor. However, the biggest improvement is that the external AXS-R7 recorder is no longer required to record footage. Instead, you can record internally to new high-speed 6.6Gbps AXS-A1TS66
cards that enable you to record X-OCN and 4K ProRes formats right in the camera, saving on payload. Other updates are based on feedback from current Venice users. These include the ability to apply 4K LUTs on output, 8K output over SDI (with the 8.6K sensor), an internal scratch microphone, relocated LAN connector from the operator side to the assistant side, flexible anamorphic and full-frame licence upgrades, improved 3D LUTs, Ethernet and wireless of LUT/ASC- CDL control and a 2pin 12V Lemo output. DOP Robert McLachlan, who received Emmy nominations for his work on Game of Thrones , tested the Venice 2 and offered his reaction: “I wish we’d had a large format, 8.6K sensor like the Venice 2 on GoT . It would have made it feel even more epic, thanks to the increased resolution, richness and dimensionality. The increased speed, cleaner highlights and shadows – with the potential for super-shallow depth- of-field – would’ve been a huge asset.” The Venice 2 with 8.6K image sensor will start shipping in February 2022, and Venice 2 with pre-installed 6K image sensor in March 2022. The Venice 2 6K can be used with the existing Venice Extension System, with a next-generation Extension System for Venice 2 8K planned for release by 2023.
07. DECEMBER 2021
ADVERT I SEMENT FE ATURE . ATOMOS
ATOMOS EVOLUTION Atomos is pushing filmmaking technology to create new product categories
recognise the disruptive potential of Apple ProRes – and was one of the driving forces that helped establish the current ubiquity of the format. Atomos has continued to pursue this vision in the creation of a universal Raw platform, bringing together cameras from most major manufacturers, including Sony, Canon and Panasonic. The core recording functionality has grown to encompass an expanded range of formats, including Avid DNxHD/HR, HEVC (H.265), CNDG, Apple ProRes and ProRes Raw, at frame sizes up to 8K, with support for high frame rates and HDR standards. The development of timecode, trigger and Raw over HDMI has delivered an unprecedented level of sophistication across an entire range of cameras – and completely redefined the capabilities of the small camera rig. The technologies that Atomos develops have expanded to encompass different
FILM AND TECHNOLOGY are inseparable. From the earliest moving images through to today, technology has shaped the medium. For every innovation along the way, there have been filmmakers seeking to push the boundaries, challenging the existing technologies and breaking new ground. This sensibility is at the heart of Atomos. Spend any time with the Atomos team, and it’s clear they are driven by a singular vision to create devices that will redefine current technologies for filmmakers in pursuit of their art.
Over the last decade, Atomos has played a central role in a number of key innovations. The initial range of
to develop next-generation, adaptable, multi-function devices, which defy simple classification. In this way, Atomos has evolved what we normally think of as the monitor-recorder, to add new, modular features for switching, streaming, editing, grading, syncing devices and support for multi-cam recording. Learn more on the Atomos website, atomos.com, and Atomos Academy – giving you the perfect opportunity to experience the evolution.
products sought to overcome some of the fundamental hurdles of the DSLR revolution, including power, limits on recording time, and the compromises inherent in heavy file compression. Atomos was early to
kinds of production, as well as different aspects of the production workflow to meet the evolving needs of filmmakers. Atomos has grown the core product line from innovative monitor- recorders – such as the Ninja V/V+, Shogun 7, Shogun Studio 2 and Sumo 19 – and groundbreaking reference monitors, including the Shinobi and Neon series,
MOVING WITH THE TIMES The Ninja V+ has advanced technologically to keep pace with the ever-increasing demands of amateur and professional filmmakers
IBC SHOW PREVIEW INDUS TRY.
The show must go on IBC returns after a pandemic-induced hiatus, but what’s in store for the seminal event of the industry calendar?
WORDS. Chelsea Fearnley & Alex Fice
I BC provides the perfect platform to network and build important relationships with suppliers and customers of media and entertainment gear. It’s an opportunity to discover the latest trends in tech – and we’re sure this year will be an especially important one for the production and post-production sectors. Professionals from all over the world will reunite, for an in-person display of everything the future has to offer in the post-pandemic era. In this feature, we’ll highlight the seminars and sessions offering unparalleled insight into emerging, cutting-edge M&E technologies – and, as always, preview the newest products on display at this year’s show.
How virtual sets and AR are changing content production DATE. Friday 3 December TIME. 2.00-2.45pm In a pandemic year, when sport had to take place behind closed doors, AR triumphed. There were virtual crowds and stadiums, as broadcasters and clubs found ways of keeping fans engaged. This session will look at how AR solutions can continue to benefit sport, through intuitive advertising insertions, storytelling and real-time virtual production.
IBC Accelerator 5G LBXR
Cloud-based workflows – what IP can do for production of content DATE. Saturday 4 December TIME. 3.15-4.00pm Hosted by Thomas Lind, co-founder and director of product management at Appear, this session will explore the role of the cloud in remote and live production. He will analyse its ability to globally scale projects at low cost, and reduce the investment of proprietary technologies – as well as the challenges of moving completely into the cloud.
DATE. Friday 3 December TIME. 4.15-5.00pm The aim of this accelerator is to
enhance and empower the location- based entertainment experience in extended realities, with 5G’s fast-speed connectivity and cloud computing. It will look specifically at using groundbreaking, future-facing content formats in live, multiplayer gaming – within AR, VR, esports and live-animated avatars.
09. DECEMBER 2021
INDUS TRY. IBC SHOW PREVIEW
Shure Shure is delighted to confirm it will attend IBC in person this year, sharing insights into what the future holds for broadcasting and entertainment technology. IBC is an excellent opportunity to learn more about industry trends and market needs, through face-to-face conversations with customers. The audio expert will be found at stand 8.C75 in hall 8, which will be divided into three zones – Film & TV Production, Broadcast Studio and Content Creation – meaning there is plenty to see and do. Shure will showcase its broadcasting portfolio, and products like the PSM 1000 monitor system, TwinPlex lav mic, and more. Additionally, for the first time ever, the company will exhibit the latest addition to its pioneering Axient Digital wireless system – the ADX5D portable receiver. It boasts premium wireless capabilities, and is aimed at professionals in broadcast and film.
QUASAR SCIENCE Visitors will be able to discover the entire Quasar Science Rainbow range of linear LED lights. These utilise more than one quintillion diode combinations to produce over one billion unique colours, enabling the engine to reproduce hues with great accuracy. CCT control delivers an equal amount of colour change throughout the entire Kelvin range, while the company carefully calibrates all CCT spectrums to its TM-30 reference, to produce a high- colour rendition for the best photographic quality. Following research into gel spectrums, Quasar Science has refined the definition and calibration of saturation produced by the lights. The Rainbow
range also incorporates hue normalisation to create an even exposure, for a smooth, natural-looking light that’s perfect for cinematography. The metamer control feature enables creators to manipulate the spectrum of any chosen colour or XY coordinate, allowing for spectral duplication by replicating the fingerprint of other light sources. Cameras can record consistent lighting across multiple light sources on set, removing the struggle of trying to match manually. It’s possible to animate colour rendition changes in- camera using metamer control, enhancing freedom of expression. Find Quasar Science at IBC, stand 11.D20.
Atomos Find a large range of Atomos products at IBC, including the Ninja V+, Shinobi 7 and Ninja Cast, all released in 2021. The Ninja V+ arrived on the scene back in April, wowing with the world’s first 8K Raw HDR monitor/recorder capable of delivering up to 8K/30p and 4K/120p continuous recording in Apple ProRes Raw. The monitor utilises the new Atomos Silicon chip, AtomOS 10 and ProRes Raw to deliver high resolutions and frame rates. Released back in May, the Shinobi 7 is a sleek, seven-inch HDR screen offering a calibrated peak brightness of 2200 nits, enabling it to operate in the brightest environments. The Shinobi 7 is well-suited as a director or focus puller’s monitor, and functions as a program or preview display – perfect for video switchers and vloggers. On display will be the Ninja Cast, which combines the Ninja V and AtomX Cast, aimed at creators making broadcast-quality multi-camera video. It can also enhance virtual meetings, conferences and remote learning. Find out more at stand 11.C10.
IBC SHOW PREVIEW INDUS TRY.
BEBOB Batteries from Bebob are a firm favourite with industry pros, and in use at film and television studios all over the world. Nevertheless, the company is constantly working to produce systems that meet the power-hungry demands of advancing camera and lighting technology, and its latest innovation – on display at IBC – is the B-Mount. Developed in close consultation with Arri, the new battery offers significant advantages over previous systems, with smooth mechanics and universal battery communication. Providing
ultra-compact Vmicro (V-Mount) and Amicro (Gold Mount-compatible) 14.4V packs. Both mount styles feature a choice of 43Wh and 147Wh versions. Find these at stand 12.C35.
multi-voltage capabilities (12V and 24V), the B-Mount also has the potential for increased power, three times greater than traditional 12V systems. Use it with a wide range of camera and
lighting equipment from manufacturers across the globe – making it possible to supply all devices on-set with a single battery system. Bebob will also be exhibiting legacy battery products, including the
Roe Visual Roe Visual will showcase its newest products and innovations tailored to broadcast and film applications, like the striking, next-generation Ruby 1.5F LED panel. Supportive of the demanding requirements that go hand-in-hand with in- camera shoots, Roe’s partnerships with Arri, Unreal Engine and disguise are focused on getting the most out of LED technology for users. Alongside new product displays, Roe Visual and its partners AGS and Megapixel VR will premiere the game-changing GhostFrame technology at IBC – and the GhostFrame team will demonstrate this virtual production solution live throughout the show. The pioneering company can be found at stand 9.A04.
13. DECEMBER 2021
INDUS TRY. IBC SHOW PREVIEW
SEAGATE Today, media and entertainment companies are creating remarkable amounts of content with increasing resolutions, resulting in a vast quantity of data. But managing it, so it can be easily shared, analysed and accessed across the media chain remains an enormous challenge. Demanding video streaming services, higher camera resolutions and broadcasting formats – and the need for quality content – are overwhelming old storage infrastructures with a deluge of video and image application data. Meanwhile, media teams are becoming increasingly distributed and reliant on remote collaboration. Support your workflows at every step of the data journey, with comprehensive storage solutions for creation, migration, production, post-production and cloud from Seagate. The team will demonstrate how to harness the power of world-class security, and efficiently manage
EMEA region now. Join Seagate at IBC 2021, stand 7.C12, to learn about its full portfolio of storage solutions for mass data management in the M&E industry.
workflows through cost-effective solutions and scalable collaborations. The new Lyve edge-to-cloud mass storage platform is available in the
Hedge Hedge makes smart software for filmmaking and post-production. This year, it will be debuting and demoing the Postlab for Media Composer, which enables you to edit and collaborate remotely with Avid projects from anywhere. For Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro teams, the company will also display Drive, its cloud storage solution that’s as easy to use as a local disk. Hedge is also the name of its flagship product, the de facto standard for camera file offload, transfer and backup – from multiple sources to various destinations. For storing huge quantities of production media, Canister is its modern, fast and safe LTO management engine. It’s an important year for Hedge, with new investment and significant growth. The company is famous for its friendly and efficient support – and listening to its customers – so don’t forget to go and talk to the team about its products on stand 7.A60. They want to know what you’d like to see, and show you what’s in store for next year.
Editshare Attendees are invited to celebrate creativity on stand 7.A35. Editshare’s senior leadership team and experts will be on hand to demonstrate its flagship Flow media management system, and EFS software-defined storage innovations. “IBC is an important connection point for the industry. It’s where we have ‘hallway’ conversations, impromptu get-togethers, and network with friends, customers, colleagues and partners. This year, we have quite a bit of catching up to do!” comments Conrad Clemson, Editshare CEO. Flow acts as a control layer across storage pools, with fast-production tools, and exceptional asset/metadata tracking. It brings Premiere Pro, Media Composer and DaVinci Resolve into one workflow, enabling real-time access to assets from anywhere, in a mixed editing environment. This will be shown alongside EFSv – making a debut after its 2020 announcement – and its seamless proxy editing capabilities. The patent-pending workflow reimagines editing in the cloud to cut costs by up to 75%.
Note: At the time of print, IBC was set to go ahead. But, as Covid-19 restrictions continue to tighten around the world, it’s possible the event has moved strictly online. Not to worry! Head to show.ibc.org , where everyone can attend.
ADVERT I SEMENT FE ATURE . DISGUISE
PUSHING BOUNDARIES Darmah, fully utilising disguise’s extended reality (xR) technology, made history with TV Azteca’s Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics coverage
RETHINK STUDIO SPACE TO EXTEND YOUR REALITY The extended reality solution from disguise gives broadcasters creative freedom to wow audiences, while enabling streamlined production workflows
WHAT IS DISGUISE’S POWERFUL XR SOLUTION?
core costs. Throw in the need to achieve sustainability and carbon-neutral production targets, and you’ve got the perfect storm. In this current climate, broadcasters and content creators can only sink or swim. One way that more broadcasters are gaining a competitive edge is through extended reality, or xR for short. xR is already a tried-and-tested technology that allows broadcasters to realise vast, imagined worlds. This is now possible without the need to build extensive hard sets, travel to distant locations, or rely on green screens.
THE BROADCAST INDUSTRY has seen the adoption of more remote and nimbler production processes because of the pandemic. This is a result of social distancing to some degree, but also due to budgetary concerns. Changes have also arisen from fierce competition for viewers, with consumers adopting new platforms – and direct-to- consumer content providers such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. Broadcasters are feeling the pressure for audience retention and maintaining advertising revenue, and are looking for new ways to impress, while cutting
A pioneer of extended reality technology, disguise’s software-on-hardware solution creates a powerful workflow. It takes photorealistic content from graphics engines like Unreal Engine, projects it to LED display panels, and uses live, real- time tracking data so that graphics change as the camera moves. This creates an immersive setting for talent and crew in- studio – and viewers watching the show. The sets incorporate data, imagery and video that change in real-time, enhancing the creative capabilities of the content.
DISGUISE ADVERT I SEMENT FE ATURE .
HERE ARE THE FIVE MAIN WAYS BROADCASTERS CAN BENEFIT FROM THIS TECHNOLOGY:
ALLOW SMALLER STUDIOS TO BECOME BIG, IMMERSIVE SETS With xR, you don’t need to worry about the limitations of a studio. Build a massive, engaging world for your production – in what would usually be considered a photographic studio. The virtual set extension feature from disguise xR renders photorealistic graphics content from the camera’s point of view, and expands it – on-camera – beyond the physical LED walls. SAVE ON STUDIO TIME WITH RAPID CAMERA CALIBRATION The calibration of cameras and tracking systems using disguise xR takes minutes rather than hours (which can happen with green screen sets). This allows scenes to be shot across multiple sessions with minimal disruption and preparation. Production crews can change lenses and carry on shooting – ideal for broadcasters filming a show with various segments, needing a smooth transition between elements.
TELEPORT TALENT INTO THE STUDIO TO REDUCE TRAVEL With disguise, broadcast events like the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020 and 2020 US Open have been able to work around travel restrictions and social distancing measures. ‘Teleporting’ people from one location to another makes it appear to the viewer – and anyone on the main stage – as though they are in the same room. Bringing remote production teams and talent together is a massive help for broadcasters trying to reduce their carbon footprint. ELIMINATE POST-PRODUCTION BLUES BY CAPTURING VFX IN THE SHOT With a virtual production approach supported by disguise xR, broadcasters can avoid the headaches that often come with a linear production schedule. Instead of waiting until the studio, or even post-production, to find out if everything looks the way it should, every shot can be planned in advance – and will show up on-set as it will look in the final edit. Production teams can even make real-time changes to avoid expensive iterations later. xR workflows also allow productions to capture the right ambient light, realistic reflections on the actors and props, as well as eliminate any colour spill or extensive chroma key compositing that you may get from using green screens.
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TALENT xR’s in-shot, real-time visual effects also encourage much more natural performances from those on stage, both from experienced talent and guests. They can actually see and interact with their surrounding scenes displayed on LED. A recent example of this was in French broadcaster M6’s La Soirée Extraordinaire , where disguise xR helped creative studio, Blue Node Paris, immerse artists in 43 different virtual scenes. Vast imaginative worlds transported them from the studio venue to a forest cabin, and a Grand Canyon filled with dreamlike animals. Since all the visual content was being projected from the LED volumes rather than added in afterwards, the artists were able to see and react to the graphics as they were performing. The disguise xR workflow allows users to create content with high resolution and frame rate accuracy, that can be rendered at any scale. This, paired with accurate spatial and colour calibration, ensures broadcasters can deliver top-quality shows more easily than ever, with an extra layer of unbelievable visuals to keep audiences engaged. With disguise, productions can be turned around in the same studio space, eliminating set and strike days. Whether you need high-end, production-quality shots, or generative media rendered for a live broadcast, disguise xR is making any type of content delivery possible.
Learn more: disguise.one/xr
XR IN ACTION disguise’s workflow is an integral part of any xR studio.
17. DECEMBER 2021
PRODUC T I ON . SPENCER
Story of the broken princess Diana, as imagined in Spencer, is a remarkably visceral exploration of the woman behind the image. DOP Claire Mathon explains how she used close-ups and film stock to capture her fragility
WORDS. Chelsea Fearnley IMAGES. Various
D irector Pablo Larraín’s decision to make a fictionalised account of Princess Diana’s choice to end her marriage to Prince Charles and leave the British Royal Family was certainly an interesting one. Isn’t Season 5 of The Crown about to get into all that? Surely the decidedly mixed reviews of Naomi Watts in Diana made another big- screen treatment something of a poisoned chalice? But Spencer , a spectral and quite extraordinary film, might not be for fans of the Netflix juggernaut or devotees of royal intrigue. In fact, the filmmakers endeavoured to spare us such ceremony, with the 1991 Sandringham Christmas revealing ten years of accumulated frustration and pain. Spencer takes us directly into the stubborn mindset of the forlorn princess, as the watchful gaze of the in-laws bears down upon her. All Diana wants is to be alone, and the audience accompanies her on this stifling journey. Whether it’s an aimless trip through the countryside, or an incident in a bathroom as she delays turning up “Spencer might not be for fans of the Netflix juggernaut or devotees of royal intrigue”
for dinner, it’s an uncomfortable, but uncannily realistic watch. The relationship with food is a desperately sad one, as luxurious pastries and cakes are placed under her nose, with the world blissfully unaware of her eating disorder and the anguish it inflicts. Her conversations are with staff under employ – chefs, butlers and dressers. Prince Charles and the Queen are paid nothing better than lip service and minimal eye contact, while more screen time is given to her children. But mostly, Spencer is just Diana, with her face warmly enveloped by DOP Claire Mathon. Such a project wasn’t intimidating for Mathon, having already achieved Cannes accolades for Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Atlantics in 2019. THE OVERLOOK HOTEL Our protagonist is effectively a living ghost – trapped in a world for which she bares no feeling – and it is Mathon, who shot on 16mm with an Arri 416 camera, that is responsible for the film’s haunting aesthetic. “The grain and timelessness of the stock evokes a ghostliness on the level of the image,” she says. The divine visuals were further heightened by the ominous presence of Anne Boleyn’s spirit and the cinematographer’s lighting choices. Although the movie takes place during wintertime, she keeps warm lights on in the home, with fireplaces burning in as many scenes as possible.
A MOTHER’S LOVE Spencer often shows Diana and her children, warm lighting denoting affection
SPENCER PRODUC T I ON .
Location, location, location
With the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing, filming was bound to be logistical challenge. Principal photography began in January 2021, with the Schlosshotel Kronberg in Germany doubling as Sandringham, before moving to the UK for the final stretch in March.
19. DECEMBER 2021
PRODUC T I ON . SPENCER
LOOKING AT A WINNER? From sets to wardrobe, and Stewart’s Diana, Spencer could see lots of nominations this award season
Wigging it Princess Diana has very architectural hair, which had to be built by hair and makeup designer Wakana Yoshihara, because it couldn’t be done with Kristen Stewart’s natural look.
Queen Mary, the Queen’s grandmother – felt this malaise. He said Sandringham was an “emphatically, almost defiantly hideous, and gloomy house with a horrible atmosphere in parts, and in others no atmosphere at all. It was like a visit to the morgue.” The omnipresent feeling of being trapped is similar to Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining . Interestingly, Larraín referenced to Mathon the use of evocative locations by Kubrick. “I like that the sets are a space for freedom and staging. They’re very expressive and participate in the mystery of the film,” she says. But there are other layers of Kubrick’s style visible here; because his films, like Spencer , are often fleshed out with a suggestive musical score. When the family assemble for the Christmas Eve dinner, a string quartet plays and moves from Baroque into jazz, as the reality of Diana’s eating disorder becomes ever more fraught and crushing. Though Spencer clearly novelises Diana’s narrative – we wonder if she did ask a dresser to leave her alone by simply declaring, ‘I wish to masturbate’. But Larraín is careful not to let the unfaltering love for her sons go unspoken
or undemonstrated. From the time they were born, Diana pushed the boundaries of what was expected of a mother to royal heirs – she chose their names and breastfed them as infants. That rebelliousness is portrayed here, as they drive around in her car while listening to Mike and the Mechanics and eating KFC. In other interviews, Mathon expressed that she was motivated by Princess Diana’s relationship to her sons, and would be constantly drawn to images of the three of them during her research. She said that it helped inspire “the most touching” aspects of the film. STEWART’S DIANA Mathon also said that she wasn’t particularly familiar with Diana growing up, unlike Larraín, who felt the icon was a large part of his childhood, due to his mother’s fascination with the woman. “To be honest, I wasn’t an immense fan. I was maybe too young,” she says. “She wasn’t something that was really spoken about in my family.” Spencer , then, was her looking glass into the icon’s life, with Kristen Stewart a perfect embodiment. Mathon and Stewart first encountered each other in pre-production: with the
“There was lots of work upstream on the sets with the production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas; the choice of circulations, colours and lamps,” she explains. The fact that the Sandringham exteriors were filmed at an enormous German schloss, with blank and imposing architecture – nothing like the sprawling 18th-century spoil of the Norfolk country home – adds to the sense of Diana entering a place that reflects her own psyche. In private papers compiled by Hugo Vickers, James Pope-Hennessy – while researching the biography of
SPENCER PRODUC T I ON .
No surprises Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood composed the score – but with nine film soundtracks to his name, the music was in very safe hands. It delivers a wonderful mix of Baroque with jazz, to emphasise how chaotic and vibrant Princess Diana was. the way she moved. It was a pleasure to film all the actors, but especially Kristen, because of this unique cinematographic experience.” Mathon adds that while Larraín was fervent in his preference for short focal lengths, he wanted wide shots to give room to the cruel world around Diana. This keeps her confined – before she makes it out the fire escape, when she decides to end her marriage. Despite the Covid-19 complications that caused several filming disruptions, Mathon concludes that Spencer was a joy to work on. It was the great bond between Larraín and herself that allowed them to continue with “precision on the rhythm and choreography of the shots,” all while keeping “a certain vibrating and fragility” in their approach. Available to watch in UK cinemas
“It was weird how much the process actually conflated Diana and Kristen,” says the cinematographer. For Mathon, the process of filming with Stewart was intimate, with close- up shots captured on Zeiss Ultra 16 and Summilux-C Series lenses. “Pablo was looking for proximity to the character; and spoke of her interiority,” she says. “I often had the feeling I was almost touching her. I could sense her breathe and watch every little action; what she was thinking and
actor in character, donning a trademark wig and her eyes rimmed with thick kohl. They instantly connected, and the DOP found her to be a born performer. Stewart has been acting since childhood, and herself became immensely famous after the Twilight trilogy over a decade ago. She’s all too familiar with the insatiable appetite of the media, an experience which would have undoubtedly helped in her role as Diana, who was aggressively pursued by the paparazzi.
WORLD-CLASS CREW Although following the story of a British institution, Spencer was an international collaboration. Primary filming locations were in Germany, there was an American lead, a Chilean director and, of course, a French DOP. The film brought together a host of global stars
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NIGHT TEETH PRODUC T I ON .
Bright light and nightlife
DOP Eben Bolter discusses LED screens, HDR monitoring and other colourful solutions for the production of Night Teeth
WORDS. Emily Williamson IMAGES. Netflix
BLOODTHIRSTY Debby Ryan and Lucy Fry star as Blaire and Zoe in the Netflix thriller, Night Teeth
23. DECEMBER 2021
PRODUC T I ON . NIGHT TEETH
N ight Teeth is the third project for the British duo of DOP Eben Bolter and director Adam Randall, following Level Up (2016) and iBoy (2017). Bolter describes this as the third iteration of fish-out-of-water stories, for which they’ve cultivated a strong visual style. The film chronicles a single night for our hero Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr), as he covers for his chauffeur brother. After picking up clients, Blaire (Debby Ryan) and Zoe (Lucy Fry), he quickly becomes embroiled in a high-octane, vampiric
turf-war enveloping the length and breadth of Los Angeles. We follow college student Benny, as he carts the undead henchwomen from party to party, and witnesses more action and violence than he’s seen in his short life. The team’s approach to Night Teeth is rooted in a deep love and understanding for cinema – references are numerous – which left room for experimentation on- set. Bolter explains that the director’s high standards and creativity kept him on top of his game during production. The aim was to elevate the narrative with striking visuals, always avoiding the boring or obvious. This often meant taking a seemingly unusual route through the challenges they encountered. Bolter – a dedicated fan of Arri cameras – opted to shoot with the Alexa Mini LF, after deciding the Alexa 65 was too cumbersome for the job. This way, they could opt for large format, while also being able to perform agile camera work. “I’ve always shot Alexa, basically, for pretty much the past ten years. It has the best dynamic range and colour reproduction, and is the most cinematic digital camera. If I can’t shoot film, I’m going to shoot Alexa, full stop.” To achieve an overtly photographic look throughout the movie – and a style that references his inspirations as a DOP – using anamorphic lenses was a
NIGHT TEETH PRODUC T I ON .
production team – from costume to set – had a playbook from which to work. It also provided the framework to build on during production. Along with planning the gradual ramp-up of experimental lighting, Bolter and Randall visually bookmarked the locations throughout the course of the film. This assists the audience in subconsciously understanding the physical world they’re seeing. Bolter explains that, although he was looking to be bold with his colour choices, he didn’t want the unconventional lighting to be purely stylistic and extraneous. There should always be an in-world explanation causing it. “I’ve always been fascinated by cinematographers who are brave enough to wash the whole street in green light – and use colour in a really bold way. Me being me, I require some sort of motivation for the light. I’ve got to be a little bit grounded in reality.” For example, he would intensify the neon signs that peppered the LA skyline, or make use of a large green billboard to flood a street with light – rather than the ghoulish green moon in the world of Night Teeth . This results in a film that feels like it’s set in a heightened, hyperreal version of LA, rather than a cartoonish comic book universe. In order to achieve some of these effects, Bolter got creative with LED and rear projection screens. The club was earmarked to be a blue and purple space, so we first see a large, purple
no-brainer. He tested two of the Caldwell Chameleon Anamorphic lenses. While they do have a large format option, he opted for the Super 35+, which was actually slightly too small for the large format sensor. “We had to zoom in on the sensor by about 3%, which still kept us above the Netflix threshold for 4K.” He explains: “I wanted that because the lenses are sharpest in the middle, and towards the edge the focus just falls apart. It’s got this sort of watery quality that’s gorgeous, and I love all of the distortion. They’ve got the contrast and colour of a modern lens, with the flowering and distortion of an old- fashioned lens.” Though at first it may seem like an odd choice, deciding to use the smaller lenses only exaggerated the distinct aesthetic for which anamorphics are so fervently revered. WITH FLYING COLOURS The daring use of colour throughout the film – lovingly paying homage to neon- noir goliaths such as John Wick and Blade Runner – was achieved by keeping it at the forefront of the minds of everyone on the production team, Bolter reveals. “A long time ago, Adam and I sat down with the script and went through it as colours. We wanted to plot out a visual journey for Benny and go down a rabbit hole – but avoid going too big, too soon. Initially, it’s elegant: moonlight and candlelight for the first party. For the second location, we introduce a blue neon to start to elevate it.” This, he explains, meant the whole
“Deciding to use the smaller lenses only exaggerated the distinct aesthetic for which anamorphics are so fervently revered”
SUPERNATURAL Bolter used light in the film to visually distinguish between
different locations – but the source was always based within real-world logistics
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NIGHT TEETH PRODUC T I ON .
more stunning than the rest of the club. At first, Bolter sought to create a ceiling made purely of his beloved LED screens, but this quickly proved unviable. Not to be defeated, he chose a different route. “We ended up using two rear projection screens side by side, which made a 40x20ft ceiling that was like two cinema screens. Then, we had two projectors behind, and I essentially lit the room with just that.” But it wasn’t enough to create a flurry of floral above the cast, he continues. “We made the walls of the room a reflective material, and made sure the floor was almost like a mirror, as reflective as possible, so that every surface is undulating and moving.” This, again, is rooted in what one might find in a real VIP room, but the dancing colours have an ostensible dreamlike quality. It really gives the viewer the sense that Benny’s
neon sign outside. When inside, the DOP required creative ways to transform the space and, as stated, find environmental reasons for unnatural lights. “I didn’t want to use club lights only – I knew we needed something else to elevate it,” Bolter explains. “I love lighting with screens, and we decided that the club would have a kaleidoscopic flower theme. So, we basically made these screensavers that were moving flowers, and fundamentally all blue and purple. Suddenly, that’s a massive light source of those two central tones – and it’s all moving around.” The shoot had foundational goals – to push the boundaries of what could be done, and be bold and brave with light. One such opportunity presented itself when the crew needed to one-up themselves, and make the VIP room even
STEERING A COURSE With so much of the film set inside a car, Bolter and his team had to get creative to make the framing interesting – using reflections proved useful
concept of reality is being tested over the course of the night. DRIVING SUCCESS Due to the nature of the narrative, a daunting 30% of the script takes place in a car. Constraints such as these can often be a frustrating and debilitating challenge for DOPs. It limits options for camera angles, and restricts opportunities for dynamic, interesting visuals. Bolter and the team tried to liberate themselves from these limitations, elevate the narrative and, of course, have fun. “We broke it down into scenes we felt had to be done on location – so we could be outside of the car, using the world and the reflections,” he explains. “For scenes where we could be in the car, it would be more about interesting angles. We actually shot four days in LA, but on a sound stage using LED screens.” The irony is not lost on Bolter – spending time in LA, shooting a film set in LA, but tucked away in NLAB (Netflix’s own sound stage), rather than using its beautiful locations. “We ended up using two rear projection screens side by side, which made a 40x20ft ceiling”
DREAMING IN COLOUR A psychedelic palette begins to gain prominence, as Benny’s sense of reality is thrown into question
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NIGHT TEETH PRODUC T I ON .
This meant the team could assess the luxe highlights and rich shadows in all their splendour – which is how it should be, thinks Bolter. The DOP was mindful of using HDR the right way. He feels it can often be overused in a manner that is distracting, or even uncomfortable for the viewer. “We created our own law: a general 70% cap on highlights. Poor use of HDR is when you look at a light bulb and squint, because that doesn’t happen in real life.” Though he is a technology lover, and believes HDR is not being used to its full potential in film and TV, as it is in gaming, Bolter was not interested in using the full range of colour only to shallowly showcase the tech. He was eager to create a beautiful image that would make the most of its format. “My philosophy is for it to look rich, bold and colourful – but not like a gimmick. I don’t want it to stand out as being clearly HDR. It should just feel like, ‘Wow, this is a good television.’” Though Bolter and the team were looking to avoid frivolously pushing their
It was, however, a completely prudent trade-off in order to gain the immense amount of control a sound stage afforded them. Again, largely using LED screens – a whopping 14 of them. “There’s a scene where the police go past Benny, and rather than making it crazily complicated, it was as simple as using one of the screens that have the city moving past him. I just got the FX crew to use a blue blob and a red blob, make them really bright, flash them on and off, then move them across the screen. When you look at Benny, it’s a perfect police light hitting his face and moving down. That’s in the film, untouched from VFX.” When watching the finished version, it’s clear that all the thought and care put into getting the car For a film dripping with colour, and produced specifically for Netflix, Bolter knew that he wanted to get the most out of the HDR format by monitoring it on-set. “Everything I’ve done to this point that’s been HDR, we’ve shot and monitored SDR, done the SDR grade, then you get an HDR pass. It’s almost like an afterthought,” he laments. “And for a film all about extreme colour, we decided to have HDR on set. Netflix was incredibly supportive of that – and they got us the best Flanders HDR monitor they could.” scenes correct paid off. HDR AT THE HEART
highlights too bright in most cases, they also recognised the opportunity when there was a justification for doing so. For example, when light is harmful to most of your characters. “The vampire home has this special glass that stops sunlight from coming in. But, later on in the film, Benny manages to counteract this in an interesting way, using that source of light as a tool,” says Bolter. “The sun is weaponised in our film, so it had to feel hot, dangerous and exciting all at once. That’s when we could really have some fun with the HDR and push it close to 100%.” Fundamentally, Night Teeth is a beautifully lit film – visually bold and a delight to behold. The fun had by the production team is evident, and comes through as a rollicking watch for the viewer, even when the subject matter gets dark. Bolter and the team prove that unconventional choices – and resisting the allure of the gimmick – are creatively worthwhile. Watch Night Teeth now on Netflix
“Bolter knew that he wanted to get the most out of the HDR format by monitoring it on-set”
Production Fact File
LOCATION The film was shot both in New Orleans and Los Angeles.
SCHEDULE Shooting began in February 2020, but was then halted for six months. This allowed the team to shoot an alternate opening scene when production resumed.
SCRIPT Though this is unmistakably a vampire flick, the
word ‘vampire’ itself doesn’t appear at any point in the dialogue.
VIRTUAL Much of Night Teeth was filmed on a sound stage in LA using LED technology – a whole 14 screens in total – as well as some location shooting
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