Definition April 2024 - Web

Inside our April issue, we’re thrilled to present Definition: The Virtual Frontier, a special supplement delving into the impact and potential of virtual production. As well as the bleeding edge, we’re exploring the history of cinema – and how to restore it to its former glory – with a look at the technical and creative nuances of 4K film restoration. Laurie Rose, BSC advises on navigating life as a DOP at any level, while Warwick Thornton discusses his experience of stepping into the daunting triple role of writer, director and cinematographer on The New Boy. We also immerse ourselves in the gritty glamour of Griselda with DOP Armando Salas, ASC, plus hear how Alejandro Mejía, AMC captured the vision for Sundance Grand Jury winner In The Summers. Enjoy!

VIRTUAL PRODUCTION SPECIAL & AWARDS! Meet the innovators, creators & educators blazing a trail in the VP revolution





What not to miss at the industry summit in Vegas this April!

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EDITORIAL Editor in chief Nicola Foley

Senior staff writer Katie Kasperson Chief sub editor Matthew Winney Sub editor Minhaj Zia Junior sub editor Molly Constanti Editorial director Roger Payne Contributors Marcus B Brodersen, Will Lawrence, Carl Noble, Phil Rhodes, Sales director Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457 Sales manager Emma Stevens 01223 499462 | +447376665779 DESIGN Design director Andy Jennings Magazine manager Lucy Woolcomb Ad production Holly May PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck 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. Robert Shepherd ADVERTISING Bright Publishing LTD Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire, CB22 3HJ, UK

I n the space of a few short years, virtual production has revolutionised filmmaking, bringing about a monumental shift in the way that stories are conceptualised, created and experienced. Providing an ever-growing arsenal of tools and limitless creative opportunities, it’s far more than just a flashy trend – it’s reshaping the very fabric of our industry. In recognition of this, we’re thrilled to present Definition: The Virtual Frontier , a special inside this issue that explores the impact and potential of VP, as well as celebrating the individuals and companies at the vanguard. Turn to page 39 to dive into our 37-page supplement! As well as the bleeding edge, we’re exploring the history of cinema – and how to restore it to its former glory – with a look at the technical and creative nuances of 4K film restoration. Check out this month’s Def Guide (page 80) for insight from experts at Kodak, Cinelab and DIAMANT. Elsewhere, Laurie Rose, BSC offers up sage advice for navigating life as a DOP at any level, while Warwick Thornton discusses his preference for traditional techniques – and his experience of stepping into the daunting triple role of writer, director and cinematographer on The New Boy . We also immerse ourselves in the gritty glamour of seventies Miami with word from Griselda DOP Armando Salas, ASC, as well as hearing how Alejandro Mejía, AMC captured the vision for Sundance Grand Jury winner In The Summers . Veteran entrepreneur Michael Cioni gives us the lowdown on Strada, a potentially game- changing new AI-enabled cloud platform, plus we take the industry temperature on Sora, OpenAI’s divisive text-to-video model. Enjoy the issue – see you next month!

Editor in chief







A P R I L 2024


Takeaways from Datacolor’s Spyder Checkr Video survey and webinar 85 COLOUR MANAGEMENT 82 ÉLITE How Deluxe Spain shaped Netflix’s popular Spanish teen drama Three brand reps talk film restoration in this Q&A-style feature 80 THE DEF GUIDE TO... 4K RESTORATION 32 NAB PREVIEW What to expect from Sin City’s annual industry-leading event 76 PHOTOGRAPHER An inside look at the life of a National Geographic photojournalist 86 TOOLKIT The latest and greatest gear from ARRI, Creamsource, VELVET and more – plus two technology deep dives



This month’s VP special spans 37 pages, spotlighting studios, use cases and training programmes. We also launch our inaugural VP Excellence Awards 39 DEFINITION: THE VIRTUAL FRONTIER

06 INDUSTRY BRIEFINGS Nikon acquires RED, the ASC honours Spike Lee and more news this month 10 MASTERS OF THE AIR An interview with the Apple TV+ series’ DOP on the men of the Eighth Air Force 16 IN THE SUMMERS A spotlight on this Sundance Grand Jury winner’s soft, nostalgic look 20 CAREER STORIES We profile Laurie Rose, whose credits include Rebecca and Peaky Blinders 22 GRISELDA DOP Armando Salas on getting the right look for this seventies-era series 30 THE NEW BOY The latest work from Australian writer, director and DOP Warwick Thornton



© Apple TV+




Boutique post-production facility launches in Glasgow

O fficially launched at the Berlinale, Brick and Mortar is a new post- production facility located at Trinity House, Glasgow. Focusing on offline editorial, 4K HDR colour grading and picture finishing services, the company deploys Baselight colour grading systems and boasts Scotland’s first and only DCI- compliant auditorium. The team – led by senior colourist Tom Cairns (formerly of Molinare, Twickenham Film Studios and Dirty Looks) – have been hard at work, having already completed a raft of high-end commercials as well as their first five feature films, including Leonora in the Morning Light and Spilt Milk. Facilities include state-of-the-art offline suites as

well as two advanced Baselight grading theatres, high-end remote review facilities and advanced media storage and management solutions. “We’re excited and honoured to introduce Brick and Mortar to the market in what is shaping up to be a propulsive year for feature film production in Scotland,” commented co-founder and editor Jack Lang. “We’re starting out with a truly great team driving some exciting new suites and technology. With the only projector-based grading theatre in the country, we’re looking to attract top filmmakers to cut, grade and mix their films in Scotland with ourselves and the sound expertise available through Savalas’ audio department.”

“Celluloid is alive and kicking” W hen Oppenheimer DOP Hoyte Van Hoytema ASC FSF NSC (pictured) took to the podium to collect his BAFTA for best cinematography, he used the opportunity to profess his love of celluloid, urging that the format is most definitely ‘alive and kicking’. “Four out of five nominated films were shot on celluloid, and it proves that film is resilient and wanted more by audiences than ever,” he continued. Oppenheimer is the latest collaboration between Van Hoytema and (famous analogue lover) Christopher Nolan, following Interstellar (2014), Dunkirk (2017) and Tenet (2020). The film was shot in IMAX (15-perf) format using KODAK 65mm large format film, and included, for the first time, sections shot in 65mm b&w using IMAX, adding a unique visual dimension.




ASC honours Spike Lee R enowned filmmaker Spike Lee was celebrated at the 38th ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards Gala in March, where he received the Board of Governors award from the American Society of Cinematographers. ASC president Shelly Johnson commended Lee’s notable impact, describing him as ‘one of the most brilliant filmmakers of our time’. The award recognises Lee’s contributions to cinema and respect for director/DOP partnership. A multi-hyphenate creative with credits as a director, writer, actor, producer and author, Lee has directed and produced over 30 films, including the Oscar-winning BlacKkKlansman . His legacy also extends to education: he serves as a tenured professor at NYU and started the Spike Lee Film Production Fund, supporting students in the NYU Tisch Graduate Film Program. This award adds Lee’s name to an esteemed list of recipients including Viola Davis, Sofia Coppola and Steven Spielberg.

Spring Budget gives boost to UK film & TV production

T he Culture, Media and Sport Committee met recently to continue its inquiry into Britain’s independent film and TV production, considering how best to bolster the industry and secure its future. James Hawes, director of One Life starring Anthony Hopkins, and producer Rebecca O’Brien – who recently worked with Ken Loach on The Old Oak – fielded questions around the impact of AI and the strikes, difficulties around raising finance and how the UK government can best support future generations of indie filmmakers. As a result, Dame Caroline Dinenage MP wrote to the chancellor to urge him to use the Spring Budget to support

Britain’s independent domestic film industry, a call which was answered with a series of landmark measures. These include the audio-visual expenditure credit (AVEC), a 53% expenditure credit (equating to a tax relief of approximately 40%) for UK film productions with a budget up to £15m. Support also comes with the new Visual Effects Tax Relief, which removes the 80% cap on qualifying expenditure for visual effects costs in the audio-visual expenditure credits. Additionally, business rates relief for film studios mean that eligible facilities in England will benefit from a 40% relief on business rates (applicable for ten years, starting April 2024).

Royal Television Society launches 2024 bursary schemes

C elebrating their tenth year in 2024, RTS’s esteemed bursary schemes are now open for applications. TV presenter AJ Odudu (pictured) is the official ambassador for the initiative, a role which will see her mentoring the scholars and attending events, as well as using her platform to highlight the importance of the schemes. To increase diversity and inclusivity in the TV industry, the bursaries are awarded to students from lower-income backgrounds studying an undergraduate degree or HND level 5 or 6. Key schemes include the digital innovation bursary – which addresses skills gaps in the industry through recruiting scholars in subjects such as VFX, IT systems, engineering, cybersecurity and virtual reality, and the television production and journalism bursary, which recruits scholars with an interest in TV production, journalism, animation, costume and set design. The schemes attract support in the form of donations and industry engagement through mentoring, networking and work experience, and are made possible with financial backing from STV, Apple TV+, All3Media, Steve Hewlett Fund, Hartswood Films, ITV Daytime and other benefactors. Applications close on 24 June.



INDUSTRY BRIEFINGS Visual Effects Society announces 22nd annual VES award winners R ecognising outstanding achievements in visual effects across a variety of mediums, the 22nd annual Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards returned in February to showcase the creativity and technical prowess of VFX artists working across film, animation, television, commercials, video games and special venues. Across the 25 categories, big winners included The Creator , which was named the photoreal feature winner with five awards, and Spider- Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which was named top animated film, scooping four awards. The Last of Us was named best photoreal episode, winning four awards, while Coca- Cola topped the commercial field. In the emerging technology award category, The Flash was awarded with a nod for its innovative use of volumetric capture.

CrewHQ Trainee Programme unveiled I n a bid to foster emerging talent in the film and TV production industry, Warner Bros Studios Leavesden has launched the CrewHQ Trainee Programme. Situated at the hub of major UK productions such as The Batman , Barbie and Wonka , this initiative offers exclusive behind-the-scenes access to Warner Bros Discovery projects, creating a direct pathway for aspiring professionals. Trainees will benefit from guidance by seasoned industry professionals, paid placements and networking opportunities. These will cover areas such as set etiquette, production paperwork and terminology, advice on freelancing and an exploration of entry-level roles and potential career pathways. Interviews and assessments will take place over April and May.


Bubble Agency welcomes new commercial director Bubble Agency, a PR, marketing and events specialist for the media and entertainment technology and services sectors, has revealed Dayna McCallum will become its commercial director. With 20+ years’ experience, she’s worked with the big names in post-production and entertainment technology.

New head of brand & marketing at Motion Impossible Motion Impossible, a specialist in robotic camera dollys and stabilisation solutions, has announced Chelsea Fearnley as its new head of marketing and brand. Chelsea’s directive includes customer engagement, amplifying brand visibility and supporting business growth.

Josh Mandel to lead new division at DNEG Josh Mandel will lead visual effects and animation studio DNEG’s new IXP branch, specialising in immersive experiences. Mandel has previously held senior roles at companies such as The Mill, R/GA and Wieden+Kennedy, and collaborated with brands including Nike, Google and Beats by Dre.





O n 7 March, Nikon announced a 100% acquisition of RED Digital Cinema, the US manufacturer of popular cine cameras such as the RED V-RAPTOR X and ONE 4K. The move signals Nikon’s expansion into the professional digital cinema camera market, with RED machines used on huge productions like Annihilation , Stranger Things and Jurassic World . After 17 years of crafting award-winning cameras, founder Jim Jannard and president Jarred Land closed the deal with Nikon. Not only have REDs seen use on Oscar-winning films, but the company itself received a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for its industry contributions. “Nikon’s expertise in product development, exceptional reliability and know-how in image processing, optics and user interface – along with RED’s knowledge in cine cameras, including unique image compression technology and colour science – will enable the development of distinctive products in the pro digital cinema camera market,” said Nikon. This fresh news coincides with its announcement of a corporate reshuffle, with several changes in its executive appointments. Nikon acquires RED Digital Cinema

1. KODAK honourees named The 6th annual Kodak Film Awards named Killer Films as film production company of the year, as well as honouring Celine Song, Ava DuVernay, Hoyte Van Hoytema, Petra Collins, Andrew Haigh alongside Prime Video series Swarm . 2. Academy introduces casting award The 98th Academy Awards will feature a brand-new statuette that recognises the work of casting directors.

Rules for eligibility and voting for the

inaugural award will be announced in April 2025.

3. Cooke gallery & test space opens Located at Cooke’s Fitzrovia hub is a new test space featuring adjustable set, lighting options, a selection of cameras and a range of Cooke lenses. The gallery will showcase exhibitions that pay tribute to the artistry of cinematography in motion pictures.

Spider-Man sweeps 51st Annie Awards S ony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swung its way to glory at the 51st Annie Awards, dominating in seven categories including best feature. The impressive animated film was also victorious in categories for best FX, character design, direction, music, production design and editorial. Not to be outdone, Blue Eye Samurai snagged six Annies for best TV/media episode – mature, FX, character animation, production design, writing and editorial. Other notable winners included Robot Dreams for best independent feature and Ghee Happy episode Navagraha for best animated TV/media – preschool. The event featured presenters including Shameik Moore and animation luminaries Jorge R Gutierrez and Peter Ramsey. The ceremony also honoured animation legends such as Studio Ghibli’s Joe Hisaishi and Disney Animation’s artists with awards.




Bringing together a phenomenal roster of talent, Masters of the Air tells the story of the men of the Eighth Air Force and their role in defeating Nazi Germany. Cinematographer Richard Rutkowski takes Definition behind the scenes




W orking on the Apple TV+ World War II action-drama Masters of the Air provided DOP Richard Rutkowski with a host of special memories, but one in particular stands out. After shooting the series’ penultimate episode, which introduces the iconic Tuskegee Airmen and their red-tailed P-51 fighters, Rutkowski – a trained pilot – clambered into the cockpit of one of the 76-year-old aircraft and took to the skies. “One of the P-51s was a training plane that was used to train the airmen back in the forties,” he begins, “and contrary to what you might think of an old plane, it was so easy to fly. It’s cleverly designed, well balanced and so overpowered – like riding the fastest motorcycle you’ve ever been on. We could flip her over and come right back around to get level again.” Rutkowski’s enthusiasm is palpable: his passion for the subject and craft is clear as he recalls the time spent in England filming episodes 7 and 8 of the nine-part series, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as a companion to Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010). Created by John Shiban and John Orloff, the show tells the story of the 100th Bomb Group – dubbed the Bloody Hundredth – a USAF division that flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from their base at Thorpe Abbotts near Norfolk during WWII. It is drawn from

WORDS Will Lawrence IMAGES Apple TV+




the book of the same name by Donald L Miller with No Time to Die helmer, Cary Joji Fukunaga, directing the first four episodes, setting the tone for the series alongside cinematographer Adam Arkapaw. Rutkowski’s two instalments are directed by Dee Rees with whom he worked on 2017’s Mudbound . “My role on Mudbound was fairly small,” continues Rutkowski. “I had filmed parts of the Mudbound aircraft scenes for Dee, getting the aircraft to look like they’re flying over Europe for some of our lead characters. Dee had remembered me from that and brought me onto this. She was my first point of contact for the content, style and ambition of the show.” Rees and Rutkowski’s portion of the show is full to the brim with enthusiasm and uniqueness. The episodes connect scenes set in England – on the Thorpe Abbotts airbase and in London – as well as France and Poland – at the prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III. The episodes also take us to Ramitelli on Italy’s Adriatic coast, home to the Tuskegee Airmen. This group of African-American pilots,


including the 332nd Fighter Group or Red Tails, famously adorned the tails and noses of their aircraft with crimson paint. Episode 8 features a thrilling Red Tails attack sequence, culminating in the shooting down of several fighters and the subsequent incarceration of the airmen. “Dee and I had the crossover between our airmen at Thorpe Abbotts and the Red Tails,” explains Rutkowski, who has previously earned much critical acclaim for his photography on the early seasons of the Cold War spy drama The Americans, and for his camerawork on the wartime drama Manhattan (which garnered two ASC Award nominations for best cinematography).

“They come together at the POW camp. That’s the site where integration begins for the Tuskegee Airmen and that felt like a huge lift of the script to perform. Dee worked very hard on those scenes with John Orloff and she brought a lot more to that story.” Rees is also a very adroit camera choreographer: “She would often sketch out the coverage for scenes way in advance of the shoot day,” he adds. “She is a terrific researcher.” Indeed, her research uncovered the memoirs and hand drawings of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Jefferson, a Tuskegee Airman who chronicled his time in the USAF at Ramitelli and as a POW. “He actually drew many of the frames




FLYING HIGH Rutkowski’s

cinematography (left) in episodes 7 and 8 is rooted in authenticity when recreating the intense aerial combat of WWII

that we emulate inside the POW camp,” Rutkowski explains. “His drawings were incredibly detailed, even down to the kind of cans that would be around, the wax candles used, the storage they had and how the tables and chairs were arranged in the barracks.” Jefferson, who was a second lieutenant at the time, and his artwork feature prominently in episode 8 (played by Branden Cook). “His drawings also showed that it was a grim lifestyle,” continues Rutkowski. “The conditions were extremely claustrophobic with very low ceilings – not at all like the expansive spaces in a Hollywood POW camp.” Stalag Luft III was the camp from which Allied airmen fled in the WWII prison break depicted in The Great Escape (which is referenced in episode 7). “But when we looked at films like that, everybody’s uniform is too nice and their shoes aren’t muddy. We needed it to be more accurate.” The desire for authenticity extended to all aspects of the shoot, including the action sequences with the Flying

Fortresses, the P-40 fighter-bombers and the impressive P-51s. “The scenes in which we are in the air with multiple aircraft at once are entirely CGI created,” says the cinematographer. “They took years and were very complex. “However, we shot a fair amount of air-to-air photography with two working P-51s ahead of time. We had an under- wing camera and made some very cool frames and manoeuvres with them. They were flying in such close proximity, you could hear them inside our cabin. Those shots then became modelling to help the CGI artists. “It was really quite complex to storyboard and realise these aerial sequences,” he says. “You have to coordinate a CGI plane coming at you with a shot of the actor in the cockpit, sometimes on a volume and sometimes against blue; then you had to organise their ejection and parachute landing. There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle.” Another challenge for Rutkowski came in the form of filming scenes set in Thorpe Abbotts, Stalag Luft III and Ramitelli all

using the same location: RAF Abingdon in Oxfordshire. “We were setting these locations up across from buildings we were already using as the British airbase,” he remembers. He also had to create the atmosphere of the Mediterranean in the middle of the English countryside. “I did some tests ahead of principal photography and reset a colour look. In the case of Italy, I added a slight antique suede filter,” he says. “That gave us an ochre, burnished look; it also helped with the uplift on the faces of the African-American flyers. They were so brave and gung-ho and we wanted to reflect that with an uplifted, warm look. “To make it more like Italy, we needed to take the greens out of the foliage. It was a complete work, involving the art department, choosing a new look and monitoring it through the dailies and into final colouring. “It was such a wonderful project. We’re at the tail-end of the first-hand knowledge of what it was like. To honour these men is just fantastic.”




IN THE FIELD Making waves Underwater wildlife photographer and filmmaker Elise Gibbins went on an incredible shoot in Raja Ampat – she reveals the kit she took along for the ride

L ocated at the heart of the Coral Triangle waters in Indonesia, Raja Ampat isn’t just a spectacularly beautiful archipelago, it’s also home to the greatest diversity of fish and coral on Earth. “It’s famous for being one of the last untouched places,” explains underwater filmmaker and photographer Elise Gibbins, who visited to capture the area’s breathtaking ecosystems. Pride of place in her kitbag was a Sony FX3 – one of the most affordable professional Sony cine cameras. With its 12.1-megapixel back-side illuminated full- frame sensor, the FX3 can shoot 120fps in 4K and 240fps in 1080p (Full HD), offering 15 stops of dynamic range, five-axis

SCHOOL OF THOUGHT Experimenting with light, Gibbins made sure to accentuate the beauty of marine life in motion

in-body image stabilisation as well as the ability to output a 16-bit Raw signal via HDMI. “To take full advantage of my Sony FX3 underwater, I have the Nauticam housing with a 230mm wide-angle dome port,” she shares. “I adapted this port with extensions to accommodate my Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. The large-diameter dome helps me to get sharper images and less optical aberration. “I also use the Nauticam housing for my Atomos Ninja V monitor,” continues Gibbins, “which gives me a bigger screen with more flexibility for shooting. This monitor helps with access and visibility when I am shooting underwater, as I like

to get below or in line with my subject to get a great composition.”

Lighting the way Gibbins focused mainly on natural light, as a lot of the sites with coral restoration and schooling fish were shallow. “I mainly shot above a 10m depth. As I was using the sun as my key light, I kept my back to it and used the dancing rays to highlight the subjects in front of me,” she recalls.



When filming, Gibbins found the water and fish movements created a ‘disco-like effect’ over the shoal – a look which she accentuated by filming in slow motion at 100fps. “Another approach I took was to use the sun to backlight the school of fish, using their silhouettes to create an interesting, layered composition,” she adds. “The current kept this massive shoal of fusiliers tightly together, close to the reef, which gave me lots of time to play with lighting and composition.” Pro tips In the past, Gibbins has experimented with the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS ZEISS Vario-Tessar T* underwater, but the 16-35mm f/2.8 is her current go-to, thanks to its versatility and ability to capture both wide and close-up shots. Using the 16mm wide-angle lens helps to create scale in a seascape shot, capturing the layers of coral and sheer number of fish. “Underwater subjects appear bigger because the light is bent inwards, so a wide-angle lens increases the field of view,” she advises. “When I shoot underwater, I try to reduce the amount of water between my camera and subject – without disturbing them – as there are

“The Sony FX3 is awesome at low light, so it was incredible to shoot the seagrass meadow at sunset,” she enthuses. “For this shot, I wanted to use the sun to capture oxygen bubbles coming off the blades, so I used a shallow depth-of-field to highlight the foreground and create layers, but a wide depth-of-field for the coral reef and its abundant ecosystem. “This was captured in the midday sun, which shows a great comparison as to how light affects the tone of the image,” she shares. “Underwater, the sun’s light helps to increase visibility and improve the reef’s colours.” Discover MPB MPB is the largest global platform for buying, selling and trading used photography and videography kit. With its simple, safe and circular model, the company recirculates more than 485,000 cameras, lenses and accessories each year, giving them new life. Learn more at

lots of particles in the water and this will decrease the sharpness of my image.” Though this lens is not specifically a macro, its 28cm focus distance allows beautiful close-ups. “As I am using my Nauticam housing, I have a zoom and focus ring,” she explains. “Being able to switch between these focal lengths allows me to play with different angles and compositions relatively quickly.” Gibbins was keen to capture the marine ecosystems around the island, exploring coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove nurseries. Deciding to dive at various times of day and experiment with light conditions helped realise her vision for the shoot. I USED THE dancing rays TO highlight the subjects IN FRONT OF ME”








WORDS Robert Shepherd

The cinematographer of Sundance winner In the Summers details his role in delivering poignant Latin-American storytelling with beauty S undance Film Festival’s US Dramatic Competition bestowed the 2024 Grand Jury prize on In the Summers , marking an impressive feature

film debut for Alessandra Lacorazza Samudio. Over 20 years, the poignant Latin-American narrative film unfolds in four distinct chapters, detailing the annual visits of sisters Violeta (Dreya Castillo) and Eva (Luciana Elisa Quinonez) to their father, Vicente (René Pérez Joglar, professionally known as Residente), in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Despite the patriarch’s rugged appearance, marked by tattoos and a cigarette, his demeanour softens upon reuniting with his daughters at the local airport. Initial awkwardness fades as they dive into Vicente’s backyard pool, promising summers ahead. Yet, underlying tension hints at his enigmatic nature. The director intricately structures each chapter in this one hour 38 minute bilingual film (both English and Spanish), commencing with a candlelit altar that symbolises the family’s state. In Chapter II, set years later, teenage Violeta and Eva (now portrayed by Kimaya Thais and Allison Salinas) find Vicente changed, grappling visibly with addiction, with his once-pristine pool now reflecting inner turmoil. With his absence felt, Violeta explores her sexuality alongside Vicente’s friend Carmen (Emma Ramos), while Eva questions her place within the family. BEHIND THE CAMERA The production, which took place in New Mexico and wrapped last summer, was shot in by in-demand director of photography Alejandro Mejía AMC – widely admired for previous works

BREAKING GROUND Lacorazza’s debut film brings her cinematic vision to the screen, blending storytelling and creativity




including the Sundance Alfred P Sloan award-winning Son of Monarchs . In this latest film, the visual language is elegant and helps emotionally catapult the audience into a love letter to resilience. Mejía selected the ARRI ALEXA 35 as his first camera choice, because of the latitude and colour science behind the sensor, making it ’the perfect tool for the conditions of the project’ at hand. “After extensive camera and lens tests at ARRI Rental NYC, we determined the Moviecam lenses combined with the ALEXA 35 to be the perfect match for our film,” he explains. “The lenses have an organic look and possess a nice, gentle softness. What I like most is how they render faces, maintaining consistent sharpness and contrast throughout the set – all within a modern housing. Combined with the ALEXA 35’s soft, nostalgic texture, we found a look that was perfect for our story.” Told in chapters, the story weaves memories of childhood with adult realities, paired with Mejía’s exquisite lighting changes to reflect the various time periods. He says his approach to THE LENSES POSSESS AN organic look AND A gentle softness ”

cinematography side was to deliver the right amount of light and darkness on those shots.” Despite being very proud of the film overall, Mejía has no doubt his favourite part is Chapter III. “I like the look we achieved and the composition,” he expresses. “It’s more static in terms of camera movement and very emotional. I’m also extremely happy and proud of the colour grade we achieved together with colourist Kath Raisch at Company 3.” When it came to the most complex scene, Mejía identifies a car accident that takes place at night and in the desert. “It required us to position our light sources in places where there is practically nothing, using a large softbox created by ten to 12 SkyPanels mounted on a Condor Crane, which we achieved thanks to the support of the incredible local New Mexico crew,” he continues. “The logistics to transport all the equipment there during the day and the high temperatures added another layer to the challenge, but in the end we were successful thanks to all the support from our producers.” In the Summers premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with ongoing discussions for worldwide distribution

lighting always came from a naturalistic standpoint, adopting subtle but powerful changes during each chapter. “From the beginning, we wanted to incorporate hard light to our approach because of the location, time of year and story,” he adds. “Normally, we see a tendency towards soft light, but for this project we chose to embrace what this desert place of Las Cruces offered us. We used a combination of ARRI HMI M18s and sometimes would bounce light with the Cine Reflectors from Lightbridge.” For certain scenes, Mejía and his team also used ARRI SkyPanels and the Creamsource Vortex. “The Astera Titan Tubes and Rosco DMG DASH were very helpful for some quicker set-ups; for our day exteriors we worked a lot with natural light,” he comments. TECH TRICKS No blue or green screen was used on the film, while a mere 17 shots of the total project required VFX. “Most of them were shots at night where we needed to add stars – some were for our car accident sequence,” Mejía explains. “We worked closely with the VFX team; the most important consideration from the

NIGHTFALL A robust set-up of SkyPanels and a Condor Crane lit the challenging scene




INTERVIEW Nicola Foley IMAGES Kerry Brown/Netflix

Cinematographer Laurie Rose is known for his work on Rebecca (2020), Kill List (2011), Peaky Blinders and Rosaline (2022). He was granted the British Academy Television Craft award for photography & lighting in fiction for his work on London Spy (2015)

Definition: How did you get into filmmaking? Laurie Rose: I went to art school; but I couldn’t draw so wanted to do sculpture. I did a lot of welding things together – and blowing things up! – which somehow developed into performance art and installations. I sometimes videoed these events; those were the days of video editing tape to tape, something I did not enjoy! I left art school pretty disillusioned by it all and had no plans to carry on… Def: What initially appealed to you about becoming a DOP? LR: It was never a conscious plan for me, and it was a long and winding path. From

LR: Every director and cinematographer relationship is different – and it should be. People’s backgrounds and approaches can vary wildly, but I hope that I can be a solid partner for any director. It’s always a team effort: none of us can do this work alone without any input from others, and the best teams always bring different things to a project, even if it’s a sense of humour! Similarly, cinematographers alone cannot make good cinematography, they always need talented people around them and a director to motivate, inspire and encourage that process. I hope I can do that in return.

running at a TV company, to freelance documentary sound, to TV location camera, to full-time narrative work, it was about a 15-year process in total. But what I love about what I do is the creation of ‘things’ to convey a story or a message, which I guess speaks to my time at art school. I love the blend of craft and technology. I love working with people who are on the same journey as you, with collaborative crew – or friends as I like to see them – this is the centre for me on any project. Def: How would you describe the dynamics between DOP and director?




Def: What are your favourite bits of kit? LR: I got into the versatility of DJI Ronin 2s post-Covid, and more recently I’m having a love affair with the Filmotechnic F27 crane (thanks to Jean-Philippe Gossart). The combination of these two things is utter joy. In another part of the forest, LED lighting and on-set wireless DMX control is my other biggest delight. Control like that is intoxicating. But then again, I find happiness in the basics like handheld. There’s an honesty and authenticity to that, at the end of the day. Def: What’s been your proudest career moment so far, and why? LR: I have a bunch of micro-proud moments: the feeling of doing good prep; seeing your name on the slate for the first shot of a project (this includes the BSC letters after my name!); the last take of a scene that was a huge worry and has gone far better than expected; the end of the first day of shooting and the final take of the whole project before wrapping; starting and finishing a successful picture post. And then about two years after a project has come out, when I can finally look back at it and not be terrified and appreciate the amazing work we all did and actually enjoy it. Then, ultimately, I’m proud of everything I’ve done and the people I’ve worked with. Def: What about your biggest career challenge – and how did you overcome it? LR: All the best endeavours will be challenging, that’s what keeps it thrilling. If you can see scary things as exciting then you’ll be OK. As I said, nobody can do this alone and having that support around you is something to believe in. Other major

challenges are maintaining a family/work balance (still welcoming advice on that). Having an incredibly supportive partner and family is beyond crucial and cannot be stressed enough. Def: Is there anything you’d do differently in your career, if you had the chance? LR: Start sooner perhaps, but then I think everyone has their own path and you get there when you get there. Many years ago, someone said to me ‘quality not quantity’, and as a freelancer that’s not always an option. You have to pay the bills, but you also need to find joy wherever you can. Every day is a learning day – so take the time to indulge that and keep moving forward. I’ve been very lucky and hope that doesn’t run out for a while! Def: What would your number one piece of advice be to people wanting to follow a similar trajectory to yours? LR: Don’t stop trying, or throwing yourself into scary situations. See above! Def: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in the industry currently? LR: The post-Covid gold rush and then post-strikes, it’s been an incredibly intense few years. I know a lot of people are being stretched very thin due to a lack of work, and I hope they can recover, and not just by volume but with really good material. The UK is a goldmine of world-class and diverse talent across the board in every department, and that culture needs supporting and sticking up for, domestically as well as on the world stage. I hope that can be done in solidarity with each other: no one should get overlooked or left behind.


TRUST THE PROCESS Rose has worked on many iconic projects throughout his career, including Netflix’s Rebecca, earning his place in the British Society of Cinematographers




Griselda, the hit Netflix series inspired by the life of cocaine kingpin Griselda Blanco, blends seventies glamour and gruesome gang warfare. Cinematographer Armando Salas, ASC tells Nicola Foley about creating the show’s drop-dead-gorgeous look

chain, ruthlessly taking out rivals and accumulating money, power and an army of ‘Marielitos’ (Cuban refugees) to do her brutal bidding on the streets. At the height of her reign, Blanco was the kingpin in one of the most profitable and notorious drug cartels in history. A central figure in the flow of cocaine between Columbia and US cities, ‘The Godmother’ loomed large in the Miami drug wars of the seventies and eighties, amassing a vast empire and turning over tens of millions of dollars a month. It’s a story that showrunner Eric Newman – who’d already immersed himself in the grisly world of cocaine trafficking on Narcos – couldn’t resist. Joined by fellow Narcos alumni Andrés Baiz, who directs all six episodes, and co-creator Doug Miro, Sofia Vergara steps into the position of executive producer as well as leading the cast with a powerhouse performance. Lensing duties were given to cinematographer Armando Salas, ASC ( Ozark , The Terminal List ), who had first set foot in Griselda Blanco’s universe on an earlier project. “I don’t know if Andi [Baiz] was aware at the time or not, but I had shot Cocaine Cowboys 20 years earlier, so I already knew of the story,” shares Salas.

IMAGES Netflix

I n the opening scenes of Griselda , its glamorous antihero – a fictionalised version of real-life drug lord Griselda Blanco – is struggling. A bullet wound in her side, a murdered husband in her wake, and nothing to her name except three kids and a kilo of cocaine, she arrives in Miami determined to start anew. From there, she begins her ascent to the top of the city’s drug






During production for the 2006 documentary – which chronicles Miami’s drug trade in the eighties – he had even visited Blanco’s hitmen Rivi and Miguelito in federal prison, interviewing them as research while they served their life sentences. “I was very familiar with the world, some of the players – and with Griselda herself,” he explains. THAT SEVENTIES LOOK Across its six parts, the show does an incredible job of transporting us to seventies (and later eighties) Miami, exquisitely capturing the era’s gritty glamour in a haze of cigarette smoke and sequins. The note-perfect period setting was the result of a huge amount of work from the team, which took advantage of a lengthy pre-production phase in part caused by the pandemic. Director and DOP collaborated closely with the production designer (Knut Loewe) and costume designers (Sarah Evelyn and Safowa Bright Bitzelberger) for months before the cameras started rolling, collecting newspaper clippings, polaroids and other reference points until they were ‘steeped in it’. “The world-building, based on the research, was one part of it – but the other aspect was unifying all this in the look, lensing and colour palette that our digital film stock was going to create,” shares Salas. “I shot tests which I then presented back to the art and costume departments. Since it was a painterly interpretation of the real-world colours, there were certain bands of the spectrum that weren’t going to render accurately. It was making sure everyone knew how the colours would skew, and creating a unified look inspired by the seventies, but our own version of it – and we needed people to buy into this. It was important that the truth and essence of the world was accurate to itself.” The palette changes slightly as the narrative enters the eighties, so the team created two LUTs – one for 1978 and one for 1983 – with each capturing the visual influences of the respective eras. Then it was time to build in the halation and grain, with Salas previewing the look live on-set, and embedding it into the dailies and VFX workflow to ensure it was ‘very much ingrained into the project’.

MIAMI VICE The team used the photography of Miami-based Andy Sweet as inspiration when choosing locations for the series

In episode 4, Griselda takes a bath in her palatial Palm Beach home, and we see a huge mural of Salome by German artist Franz von Stuck, depicting the princess dancing with joy as she’s given the head of John the Baptist. The painting formed a part of the team’s reference wall and served as a huge inspiration to Salas. “It had this incredible combination of gold and green; I was fine-tuning the LUT during hair, makeup and wardrobe tests and that became an important ingredient of the look. There was an olive tint to the shadows and we incorporated a lot of gold into the highlights, by shifting amber hues more towards yellow in our lighting fixtures. We also looked at a photographer from the time period in Miami called Andy Sweet. That was more inspirational in terms of finding locations which felt like those pictures. It was a nice guide for us.” IN THE FRAME Adding to Griselda ’s unique look is the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, a lesser-used choice which allows for powerful close-ups. “We wanted the ability to isolate Griselda

and centre her, without having to get too close,” explains Salas. “So we can be in a medium-wide lens and either back up enough to include other characters or isolate her in the frame – and that was much easier to do in 1.66:1 than it would have been in a widescreen aspect ratio. “It also inspired us to think in this aspect ratio that we hadn’t really explored before, and to reinterpret the world that way – because we had both just done a lot of widescreen work. Lastly, it felt very close to the golden ratio, and it felt like many of the seventies photographs that we were looking at




were more in line with that aspect ratio than with widescreen, for example.”


GLASS ACT Salas tested everything from sharp, modern lenses to true vintage glass, paired with a variety of cameras – eventually selecting the RED V-RAPTOR 8K VV (so new at that point it wasn’t even on the shelves yet) teamed with Panavision Panaspeed lenses. “What was great about that combination is that the RAPTOR is a very small camera. I knew that we would be shooting mostly in practical locations – and off a compact remote head – so it made for an incredibly small footprint. But, equally, we could quickly go from studio mode to Steadicam to remote head to Technocrane back to dolly. My AC was able to make a functional, fast-moving camera build,” he enthuses. On the lens front, Salas adored the Panaspeeds’ pleasant rendering of skin tones, but also their consistency from lens to lens, mechanically and optically – something that likely wouldn’t have been possible with a true vintage lens. “It gave

me comfort because I knew I was going to be very aggressive with the lighting and contrast ratios,” he shares.

– that’s all being executed in terms of lighting, colour of the light, wardrobe, set dressing, location choices. So you have these drastically different looks that progress over the course of the show, but it’s woven into the fabric of the scene. I’m proud that, from the most austere to the most lavish moments in terms of colour and lighting, they feel authentic.” As his first large project shooting on a RED camera, and his first time using Panaspeeds, Salas was keen to step out of his comfort zone on Griselda – something he sees as essential to creative development. “A lesson I keep trying to teach myself is to take chances and be bold,” he concludes. “If you are being true to the story and the vision of the director, it’ll pay off.”

LESSONS LEARNED Looking back on the project, Salas is especially proud of the cohesiveness of the final look and the way it came together visually. “When Griselda is at Mutiny, for example, there are all these mosaic ceiling pieces with copper and gold, and all these interactive lights. There’s a lot going on, but it’s the same LUT, camera and lensing as when we’re shooting June’s storyline, which is much more austere. She’s confined by the lines and architecture of the homicide department, the colours are subdued

GOLDEN TO GRISLY Salas' clever use of colour depicts the contrast between vibrant hedonism and a cold, bleak Miami PD




Passion project We follow Michael Fitzpatrick’s first foray into creating a sporty ‘spec ad’. Atomos is one of many that helped make it happen IMAGES Courtesy of @roxanapedan and @callummurphy_cmc

B eing a freelance creative often involves taking a gamble, pitching your ideas without any financial guarantees. Such is the case with a ‘spec ad’ – short for speculative advertisement – which serves to showcase the creator’s artistic and technical ability with the hope of eventual employment in mind. Wanting to add more sport to his portfolio, videographer and editor Michael Fitzpatrick shot a spec ad for Nike, using the tagline ‘you’re making a show of yourself’ – putting a positive spin on the Irish idiom. He gathered a cast of Irish athletes – including Cillín Greene, Daniel Flanagan, Aiesha Wong and Ella Thompson – who each excel in sprinting, CrossFit, dance and boxing, respectively. First things first Fitzpatrick first asked his friend to create a previs in a Nike-inspired style before reaching out to any talent. This previs, communicating the overall vision via

stock footage, akin to a lookbook or storyboard, provided a solid foundation for the project. Fitzpatrick then shared this with the athletes, giving them a taste of how the final video might turn out. “I saw this as a good opportunity to assemble a crew and have fun while making something creative,” relays Fitzpatrick, summarising the laid-back nature of a spec ad. “It’s low pressure. Ultimately, there’s no budget riding on the success of the project, and it can be seen as an opportunity to learn and grow.” Getting the gear The absence of a budget typically means a lack of funding. “Generally, you have to pay for everything yourself if you want to take this path,” admits Fitzpatrick, acknowledging the common yet unfortunate barrier to entry. Luckily, Atomos stepped in to sponsor the ad, lending two Shogun Ultra monitors to the cause.

Paired with a Sony FX6, the monitors served Fitzpatrick and his DOP Callum Murphy in a variety of ways. “You can plug an SSD into them and record directly onto the monitors, giving you access to file formats and codecs you wouldn’t otherwise be able to play with,” shares Fitzpatrick, such as ProRes Raw or Avid DNxHD. Murphy ultimately settled on Apple ProRes 422 for this project. “The FX6 doesn’t record Raw internally,” describes Murphy. “But it does output Raw,” he points out. By using the Atomos Shogun Ultra, “we have a lot more to play with in terms of dynamic range, as well as being able to push the colours further,” adds Fitzpatrick. As for optics, he and Murphy ‘wanted to give this piece a vintage, dreamlike look’, leading them to a range of Helios lenses. “They allowed us to achieve this




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