Definition October 2021 - Web


Fact File

VFX Approximately 180 VFX shots were created for compositing and

environment work, such as the creation of the fictional Dunloch naval base

PRODUCTION Filming started in late 2019, but the subsequent pandemic delayed production substantially. It picked back up again in August 2020, with the final edit completed in May this year KEEPING IT REAL As much footage as possible was shot in camera (top), adding bold realism. Reuben Joseph and Rose Leslie (left), as DS Porter and DS Kirsten Longacre

“We wanted to play with opposing colour tones throughout the series, because there’s also the investigation that takes place back on land. For that, we leaned into tones that were representative of the real world and relied on natural lighting,” comments Gray. “In the sub, the tones are very acidic and man-made.” PICK ‘N’ MIX The decision to split the narrative between the sea and terra firma was indisputably wise. Had Vigil only unfolded within the submarine, the sense of claustrophobia could have become overwhelming or lost its edge. Photographically, this is done exceptionally well, with Gray switching up his lenses to minimise the anxiety of a drama predominantly set underwater. “I initially thought I would use spherical lenses in the submarine and anamorphic on land, but separating them like that was too obvious. To me, it made more sense to mix them up based on different intensity cues in the story, whether on land or in the submarine,” says Gray. “I had a set of Tokina spherical

“We did some testing in the submarine set with our Steadicam and B camera operator Martin Newstead, but some adjustments had to be made so that the Steadicam was able to take full advantage. We wanted the camera to be constantly moving and flowing through the environment – never letting it get too static, not to distract from the pace of the story,” says Gray. “We [Gray, gaffer Paul Jarvis and best boy Paul Bates] also worked with Tom to integrate a full range of Astera LED tubes into the set – and that all went back through a DMX, to be managed via tablet. This gave me complete control over every source on the sub – I could envision quite complex lighting changes.” Lighting choices on the submarine were driven by its mythical ability to descend below the surface for long periods of time. Since ballistic subs are nuclear powered, they theoretically have limited endurance – though, in practice, last 90 days at sea, due to finite food stores and depleting crew stamina. This was also the case for DCI Silva’s journey.

lenses, which I used for a good chunk, as it allowed us to compress things and not make it feel too wide. These lenses also have a slight period feel, because they only have one coat on the front. They are much more interpretive than anamorphics, which we used to open the space up a bit.” A set of Arri Master Anamorphics was used to illustrate the expanse of life on land, but also the magnitude of the sub. Gray explains: “These nuclear boats are enormous; they’re one and a half football pitches long and 12 double-decker buses deep. We wanted to be able to show the reality of that.” He adds: “Along with the Master Anamorphics, we employed the Kowa 75mm for our main storyline.” The lenses were paired with an Arri Alexa LF, because of the 4K HDR constraint from the BBC. But more than that, the camera’s sensor was able to hit Gray’s visual requirement for shallow focus and a fall-off around the frame. “I could get near to the actors on the set, which was to be expected in a close- proximity subterranean environment,

19. OCTOBER 2021

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