Definition April 2021 - Web


Matt Windon’s big break as a splinter DOP on The Witches opened doors and introduced him to new tools. Now, he’s putting them to use as an additional DOP on Pennyworth (OR SOUP)

MARKING THE EIGHTH feature-length collaboration between director Robert Zemeckis and cinematographer Don

Windon was tasked with shooting elements of live-action animation. Typically, these were scenes containing cast members in the foreground, while animation occupied the background. “What we shot could be slotted easily into the background of Don’s foreground scenes with the actors,” he explains. One sequence, capturing the children as they turn into mice, exemplifies this perfectly. The animated rodents interact briefly among themselves, before scurrying along the hotel floors between the guests’ feet. Windon recalls another: “We even did the famous banquet scene, with mice funnelling into the kitchen through air vents and running across all the pots and pans to pour the deadly potion into the witches’ soup.” While shooting these memorable moments from Roald Dahl’s original tale was a novelty, the task had its challenges. Notably, splinter units land the meticulous task of matching their shots’ lighting with those captured by the main camera unit. “Don had already shot the foreground elements for each scene weeks before I was due to get the background elements,” Windon outlines. “But while Don was working, I shadowed him, paying attention to how each scene was lit. I took notes, plus photos of the lighting rigs. That allowed me to set up the fixtures correctly for either an Arri SkyPanel S360-C or S60-C.” With lighting fixtures in the right positions, Windon had a fighting chance of achieving harmonious light levels between scenes. There’s still no magic computer that does this automatically. “A lot of it comes down to your eyes – that’s why it was important I was there while Don shot,” he says. “But I could also utilise the digital imaging technician’s monitors; one monitor displaying the picture that Don shot, and another with my picture. That really helped me match the lighting perfectly.”

Burgess, The Witches remake also reunited the latter with trusted cameraman, Matt Windon.

The pair started out working together on Fool’s Gold (2008), with Windon operating as Burgess’ first AC – the partnership blooming ever since. On this occasion, Windon was even given the opportunity to lead aspects of the shoot. “Working with Don in the past, I had always expressed an interest in shooting and becoming a DOP. When he and Robert came to town and asked if I could lead the splinter unit on The Witches , I was thrilled,” says Windon. “It’s a promotion in my career that’s happened much sooner than I expected, but having this relationship with Don and earning his trust has definitely helped me progress.” The splinter unit is usually responsible for catching additional footage that doesn’t require the main cast, such as establishing shots, inserts and stunts. In particular,

BELOW The Ronin 2 excels on film sets, featuring a three-axis gimbal stabiliser that enables filmmakers to transition effortlessly between scenes

28 DEF I N I T ION | APR I L 202 1

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