March 2019 £4.99

“PATIENCE, TALENT, LUCK AND INTUITION” Robert Richardson interview


Netflix meets the teenager SEX ED DYSFUNCTIONAL SUPERHEROES Get into The Umbrella Academy BSC EXPOREVIEW The acquisition trade show



EDITORIAL Editor Julian Mitchell 01223 492246 Features writer Chelsea Fearnley Contributor Madelyn Most Chief sub editor Beth Fletcher Senior sub editor Siobhan Godwood Sub editor Felicity Evans Junior sub editor Elisha Young ADVERTISING Sales director Matt Snow 01223 499453 Sales manager Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 Key accounts Nicki Mills 01223 499457 DESIGN Design director Andy Jennings Designer Lucy Woolcomb Senior designer & production manager Flo Thomas Ad production Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook @definitionmagazine Twitter @definitionmags Instagram @definitionmags MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD, BRIGHT HOUSE, 82 HIGH STREET, SAWSTON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE CB22 3HJ UK


T here are a few new directions that Definition are navigating at the moment. We’re all about recording the details of production, and traditionally we have concentrated on the international drama side; with good reason, due to the huge boom in this area over the last few years. But we’ve often watched with envious eyes other programme genres such as sports, reality and commercials. So from this issue on you will see more coverage in these areas. We will be cherry- picking the most interesting stories, which are usually the biggest productions – especially in sports and reality. For commercials there is also a recognition of the increasing role of film in this area. That resurgence will also explain new film-based stories and features starting very soon in the magazine. Additionally we are paying more attention to awards, which are many and varied in our industry. If you’re free of cynicism they do represent the pinnacle of performance, craft and technology. It also explains our For your consideration Oscar special in this issue and our Bafta coverage in this and last month’s issue.


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.

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GEAR TESTS SONNET EGFX 650 The arrival of Thunderbolt 3 outboard devices opens up the option of more portable number crunching. CAMERA LISTING Our unique reference guide to all professional video cameras from 4K capture and above.









We have the winner of the Best Cinematography BAFTA, Roma OBITUARY


We look back at the achievements of the late Alfred Piffl and his company, P+S Technik. BSC EXPO REVIEW Highlights of the industry’s first major trade show of the year, the BSC Expo in London. DRAMA FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION We preview the Oscar Best Picture and Best Cinematography awards. SEX EDUCATION Netflix has launched a major new teen angst episodic and it’s emotional. THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY Dysfunctional superhero family values








in a parallel universe. FEATURES


FILM ADDICT – WHAT MAKES ROBERT RICHARDSON TICK Our big interview is with three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson.


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WHAT WOULD CHIVO DO? Director and cinematographer of Roma , Alfonso Cuarón, won the 2019 BAFTA for Best Cinematography as his usual DOP, Emmanuel Lubezki or ‘Chivo’, was not available. In his acceptance speech Alfonso admitted that he got through the cinematography duties by imagining ‘what Chivo would do’. Chivo had started prepping the film and indeed Alfonso had written the film thinking of him shooting it, but unfortunately there were days added to the making of the film which made it impossible for Chivo to be part of it. “I was clear that I didn’t want to shoot on film,” says Cuarón. “I love film, but being in black & white I was afraid that it would give a nostalgic element to the look. I wanted the most contemporary tools that were available, which is the Arri Alexa 65 camera; so no grain, with amazing resolution, great dynamic range and very wide lenses.”

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ALFRED PIFFL Alfred sadly passed away earlier this year. We look back at his life in the film business and his company’s achievements OBITUARY A s company founder and managing director of P+S Technik, Alfred Piffl energetically and courageously navigated the company for over 25 years, through many ups and downs, with his positive vision and charisma. Ultimately, P+S Technik was Alfred’s lifetime

“In the future, the viewer won’t look through a window, but will be very close to the story, so that he’ll become part of it. P+S Technik sees not only a trend towards virtual reality, but also a trend in which moving images will increasingly interact with all levels of society.” Alfred Piffl

Rome working with their lenses. “That was the real movie world,” said Alfred. “At Arri, apart from the camera technology, I didn’t get in touch with much of the glamour of the film business. In the world of film technology, I believed back then that as a single inventor or creator, I was able to do remarkable things. But I wanted to control the adventure myself. So, I didn’t move to Rome.” TECHNOVISION In 1990, ironically, Alfred Piffl started P+S Technik and his first client was Technovision. P+S Technik started its career with the support of Arriflex products and conversions and became best known worldwide for the award-winning P+S Technik image converters MINI35 and PRO35. Nowadays, the company offers a wide range of optics products, especially anamorphic lenses, and is also a worldwide leading company for professional lens rehousing.

achievement. Although Alfred stepped down from his position as managing director in 2017, he remained active within the company and was a key member of the development team behind P+S Technik’s latest series of lenses. A visionary engineer, he founded P+S Technik in May 1990 in Munich, together with Zlatko Spajic, a former colleague from his time at Arri. Alfred had been working in development at Arri for six years, and during that time, he got the chance, at the age of 30, to work on the film transport of a new Arri camera, the Arriflex A535. The new film transport system was the first movement developed on a computer. For the design of the movement, Alfred was able to install the first CAD workstations at Arri (at that time rather a rarity outside the aircraft and automotive industries). With the completion of the development of the BL4s movement and some work on the A535 movement, Alfred devoted himself to new challenges and in a completely new and different field. He moved on to the optical works Rodenstock in Munich. TEMPTED BY ROME This was also the time when Henryk Chroscicki, owner of Technovision, became aware of Alfred Piffl and offered him a job in

BELOW Alfred Piffl with the BL4s Film Transport

I believed that as a single inventor or creator, I was able to do remarkable things



THE YEAR STARTS HERE SHOW TALK The BSC Expo was again incredibly popular with an international audience and exhibitor list WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL / PICTURES JULI AN & MOTION I MPOSSI BLE W hat used to be more of a backslapping catch-up after the doldrums of Christmas in a spare Pinewood studio, the BSC Expo at Battersea Evolution now reflects an industry that is busy making great content. There’s ENTER THE SHOW For the first time at Battersea Evolution the exhibitors burst out of the main hall and inhabited the foyer area; although the temperature was around 20° colder in the foyer than the main hall, the footfall was tremendous as everyone had to pass you. But this wasn’t the only new space

still plenty of backslapping, but also the constant hum of business being done. Negotiations for floor space went down to the wire this year with making room for the traditional art of networking very important to the major exhibitors. Stands were seemingly much closer to each other, the house lighting level was also markedly dimmed; presumably to give the lighting manufacturers more ‘cut through’. There was also a very excitable smoke machine exhibitor who flooded many stands with his product. Visually very dramatic but for those stands affected perhaps a little unwanted.

as the mezzanine area at the front of the hall was completely taken over by CVP. The reseller, according to their MD Jon Fry, had brought most of their Newman Street inventory to Battersea; there was a whole floor of kit. This was also the busiest stand of the show – a free bar helped that! A rumour buzzing around said that the number of people required a structural check of the floor support halfway through the two-day show. But as a statement of intent from CVP, their stand was very effective.

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The second day was all about one man; we were all waiting for the famous DOP Roger Deakins

SEMINARS What has always been true of the BSC Expo is the high standard of seminars. Cinematographers are realists and admit when they need help with new technologies; one of the first seminars illustrated this by introducing camera-based pre-vis technology from UK company ncam. BSC members are not too proud to seek help and the best way to start is to invite that new tech into their world. Great to see the world of VFX and DOPs getting on so well. The first day also had talks from Kino Flo on LED Colorimetry; Panavision on HDR; Sony’s Venice camera; an introduction to an ACES workflow from Mission Digital. BSC panels on challenging lighting set-ups and new media concluded the day. The second day was all about one man; we were all waiting for the famous DOP Roger Deakins (pictured on the Motion Impossible stand) to arrive. Unfortunately, the closeness of the stands was more obvious when the long queues started forming. There was one for the reserved tickets and one for the hopefuls. Both snaked two thirds of the way down the hall. When the queues emptied into the seminar hall it was a relief, when they all came out looking for lunch, it was a bun fight, literally.

THE GEAR As the BSC Expo gains acceptance, more overseas companies make the effort to attend and there are always new cameras. New cameras this year include the Red Ranger from Red, hidden away in its small (and freezing) cupboard room by the front door. Its slated availability is Spring 2019 and will be exclusively for Red Authorised rental houses. Yes, it’s the first rental-only Red camera and designed to be grabbed and run with, as most of what you need to shoot is already on the camera. Including Integrated I/Os, 24V and 12V power outs (two of each), Genlock, timecode, USB, and control. Sony had its now famous Citroen car on its stand to show off its Venice camera’s party trick of extending the camera head from the rest of the body. Sony also had news of the availability of a new update and new content made with the camera (See Sex Education article in this issue on page 28). Arri GB was showing all its cameras, especially the new LF model which was first announced exactly a year ago at BSC in 2018 . Arri Rental was showing its new DNA lens options as well as Alexa 65 camera content.

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Panavision was showing options for its DXL2 camera including an integrated C-Motion FIZ module to allow the use of Arri WCU4 wireless lens control handsets with full lens mapping support. There was also the DXL-M Module and accessory kit for Red’s DSMC cameras, which included expansive power and communication ports, the DXL menu system and LiColor2. PANASONIC SI On the Panasonic stand there were all its cameras with a major update for the EVA1 camera. This free upgrade is available now with a key feature being a new HEVC H.265 codec that can record in 4K 50p/60p video with 4:2:0 10-bit video sampling. Compared to the H.264 codec in version two, this allows up to twice the amount of compressed data, while maintaining the same high-quality resolution. Also on the Panasonic stand was the new full-frame mirrorless S1 and S1R cameras, hot from the new system’s launch in Barcelona. AERIALS If you wanted a heavy lift drone before BSC Expo 2019, you would have to talk to people like Intuitive Aerial and other specialists. But Helicopter Film Services, with the help of Arri, has now launched its own, called the Titan. Apparently the idea came from the aforesaid Roger Deakins who needed to

improved VFX by synchronising the three sensors in one flight. Previously done by multiple flyovers and a vast amount of time- consuming post-production to try to create the same angle, lighting and other variables. LIGHTING Litepanels launched three new accessories for its Gemini LED soft light. A dual battery bracket is available in either a Gold Mount or V-Mount version, each supporting two batteries in sizes ranging from 90 to 190 watt- hours, including Anton Bauer’s Dionic XT on- board cinema and broadcast batteries. The new bracket has been specifically designed to regulate power output to ensure maximum battery life and maintain peak performance for the Gemini 2x1, and it includes a connecting cable. The new floor stand kit for Gemini 2x1 is ideal in any broadcast, ENG, or EFP location setting where floor mounting is desired — to light up a wall, for example. The stand is a low-profile, convenient, and sturdy way to position and/or mount the Gemini on the floor or to any other flat surface. The floor mounting kit includes all hardware necessary to connect the Gemini 2x1 Soft Panel to the supports.

fly the Alexa 65 and film cameras. Jeremy Braben, CEO at Helicopter Film Services commented about the new drone: “We’ve trialled other heavy-lift machines, and all of them have been marginal when carrying the larger cameras that we’re asked to fly. “What we needed, and what we’ve designed, is a system that will capably operate the large format cameras and glass that top productions demand. “With industry leading triple redundancy on flight control, and double redundancy on power supply and ballistic recovery, this gives us the confidence to push the envelope. “The real challenge has been engineering this performance and capacity into a size of aircraft that still allows us to deploy and operate easily in any production.” Jeremy added that final proving flights are currently taking place. GB Helicopters had a series of camera systems on display including the Shotover K1 with Hammerhead Array. This Hammerhead configuration will host three DSMC2 Monstro 8K VV sensors, which allows production companies near full IMAX resolution, wide panoramic field and

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With the other movie awards brushed under the (red) carpet, we take a look at the film and cinematography awards at this year’s Oscars

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VERY FEW AMERICAN FILMS were invited to the 2018 Cannes Festival. Spike Lee’s latest, BlacKkKlansman , was the powerful exception that sent shockwaves through the audience. Lee’s first Cannes experience was in 1986, when he won the Prix de Jeunesse for She’s Gotta Have it . His 1989 Do the Right Thing was nominated for the Palme d’Or, but was displaced by Steven Soderbergh’s debut, Sex, Lies, and Videotape . Chayse Irvin was chosen as the cinematographer. He explains: “I’m very attached to European cinema and have done more European projects than American. BlacKkKlansman was my first American studio film. It was very American and much bigger than the European films I usually shoot. “Spike said he shoots two cameras all the time and that was new for me,” continues Irvin. “I always work two cameras, but never simultaneously. I overlap them so we keep shooting, keep moving forward and don’t waste time. I talk to the operators on coms, whisper to them if they have to adjust the composition. I had no rapport with these New York camera operators. I never worked with them before, so I was a bit apprehensive and I always operate the camera myself. “The decision to shoot on 35mm film happened in the process of testing. Panavision has a plethora of different options,” he says, “so I tested the Alexa XT, an Alexa Mini, Red, the Dragon, Arricam LT and Panavision’s XL2. I tested anamorphic and spherical lenses. Panavision had some vintage Ultra Speeds from the ’70s. We tested different film stocks and I experimented with pre-flashing the negative and looked at the images in the DI suite. “The final package was four cameras: two Panavision Millennium XL2 cameras from Panavision NY, my own Arricam LT and an Aaton Penelope that was shipped

Spike said he shoots two cameras all the time, and that was new for me

in from Sweden. Nothing can rival the Penelope for handholding inside cars, because it’s so compact and well-designed. Panavision NY adapted my own Arricam LT so I could shoot both Panavision and Zeiss lenses, and we used the older lenses that were challenging for the assistants. “In pre-production, I was testing different formats,” Irvin explains, “but I hadn’t really thought shooting on film was feasible. Then all this serendipity happened. The cameras were right, the lenses looked right, Kodak Lab had just opened in New York and they loved and wanted to support the project. It was one of their first productions and they did a fantastic job.”

IMAGES Stills and behind the scenes shots from the already award- winning BlacKkKlansman

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This is where we made the transition to the Alexa 65 and Arri’s DNA lenses

“ BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY IS BOOKENDED by Queen’s performance at Live Aid in 1985 – universally considered one of the greatest rock’n’roll performances ever,” explains DOP, Newton Thomas Sigel. “The stadium was open to the sky, but by the time Queen went on, the sun had dipped behind Wembley’s walls and created a soft, subdued light over the crowd. The stage lighting, like the whole concert, was minimal. For the movie, we recreated the stage and I duplicated the lighting rig that can be seen in the broadcast. We did take a little poetic licence with the cues, but not much. “We cut back to 1970 when Freddie has just emigrated with his family to London and he is working at Heathrow Airport. This was shot with the Alexa SXT and old Cooke Speed Panchro lenses. We created a special LUT for this period to emphasise the golds, yellows and oranges. It reflects the romantic idealism that Freddie had in the days when he first met Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. It was all about possibility and potential, with a healthy dose of naivity. “Eventually Queen forms,” Sigel continues, “they luck into a gig on Top Of The Pops and begin to take off. This is where we made a transition to the Alexa 65 and Arri’s DNA lenses. Where the first act of the story was all handheld, now the Steadicam and dolly join in. The Alexa 65 is a remarkable camera. It has this giant sensor that delivers exquisite picture detail. Not sharper, just more detailed. I don’t really care about the

number of pixels – I care about their quality. The Alexas are quite large, which allows for this tremendous breadth of colour and dynamic range. They call the camera ASA 800, but I think it is so much more than that. “The earliest venues were at Ealing College. Then, the venues get bigger with the band’s rise in popularity,” says Sigel. “We introduce the drum riser with all the aircraft landing lights, a crown of light on the backdrop, some decorative lighting instruments on the sides. By the time we get to Madison Square Garden, we have recreated Queen’s massive lighting rigs. They were also one of the very early adopters of the moving light. They had these massive banks of par cans they could raise and lower right in the middle of a song. I loved when it felt like the lamps were enshrining the band. “With the DNA lenses, the 45mm and 55mmwere the workhorses. For close-ups, we might go to the 70mm, 80mm or 110mm. Occasionally, we’d use the 35mm or 28mm for wide shots.” Sigel explains: “The DNAs are purpose- built lenses with a very handcrafted feel to them, each with its own weird little characteristics. They tend to fall off toward the edges and roll off gently in the focus. I shot most of the movie relatively wide open to emphasise this. I think that’s part of what gives the film its naturalistic look.”

RIGHT Queen in full flight. For the film’s second act, the Steadicam and dolly joined in (above)

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refer to that. It highlighted the absurdity of the situation.” It’s easy to see all of these choices as a determinedly traditional approach, especially given Lanthimos’ attitude to lighting. “He didn’t want to use any lights,” Ryan explains. “He would only use lights if he had to compromise his approach. Luckily, when we were filming, the weather was quite sunny and we didn’t end up using lights very much. The Favourite is very naturally lit. I learnt a lot working with him. I would maybe have used a bit of something here and there, but his mindset is not to use lights at all because as soon as you do, you have to do corrections to fit it all in later on. That was a mantra, and it paid off.” Rob Pizzey, who graded the film at Goldcrest, explains that most of The Favourite was shot in available light. “There were hardly any lights at all,” he says, “the night scenes were candlelight and needed a lot of candles. If you watch the movie, you can see what I mean. The blacks are really black on some of those night scenes, but it looks awesome. “The night scenes are very rich, very warm, so automatically you’d back off the warm and dial it down a bit, put in desaturation, but it just didn’t look right. We tried to use a bit more of the toolset and it just looked fake. It didn’t look real, so we stripped the grade back and just went with how it came out of the can.” now refer to the use of extremely wide lenses. It highlighted the absurdity of the situation A lot of people watching the film

Director Yorgos [Lanthimos] actually likes the look of the 500T in daylight, as well,” Ryan recalls. “It had a touch of a colder feel to it – well, not necessarily colder, maybe, but it seems to be a good workhorse of a stock. It gives you good latitude.” The choice of pull-processing a slow stock, rather than simply using ND filters, was practical. “We were shooting on very wide lenses,” Ryan explains. “The lens was too physically large to put a filter on it. They were Primo. We used a fisheye 6mm, quite an unusual lens, a 10mm and up to 100mm, but we mainly ranged between the 6mm, 10mm and 75mm a lot of the time. None of us had used the 6mm. We found it at Panavision and thought, ‘wow, that’s pretty wide’. Yorgos said ‘that’s brilliant, I’ll have that!’ A lot of people watching the film now

“I’VE BEEN LUCKY. Out of the last five features, four of them have been on film,” says Robbie Ryan, who was director of photography for The Favourite . “You shoot on film, maybe people get in touch with you. I thoroughly enjoy shooting on film and I think the productions are enhanced by it.” Ryan’s camera package came from Panavision, with the production mainly using Kodak’s 500T stock 5219. For particularly well-lit day exteriors, Ryan chose slower 200T or 50D stocks. The 50D was pull-processed two stops to offset bright light even more and to normalise the higher-contrast look of the slower stock with respect to the less contrasty 500T. “The thing about 50D is that it’s a very contrasty stock, by pulling it you lose a bit of contrast but it made it very beautiful.

ABOVE BAFTA award-winning actress Rachel Weisz in The Favourite with Oscar nominee, Robbie Ryan

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“ON COLD WAR , we prepped from June 2016 to January 2017. We found references in many different places,” explains Łukasz Żal, cinematographer for the Polish-language film. “We looked at a lot of still photography by artists, such as Ralph Gibson and Helmut Newton. We also watched films by Godard and Tarkovsky and reviewed film archives of Paris and jazz photography from the ’60s and ’70s. We listened to musicians, such as Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, and spent a long time watching the Mazowsze folk group. We then began to film their concerts and, later, the rehearsals with Joanna Kulig, who played Zula, looking for formal solutions. “We created storyboards using photos and then began to catalogue the stills by the different locations for each scene. These storyboards started to represent what we wanted to capture in the frames when we finally went to shoot it. “Early on,” recalls Żal, “we chose the 4:3 aspect ratio. At the beginning of the film in Poland, the frame is fairly static and we use wide shots and fixed prime lenses. When we meet Zula, we introduce movement, energy, singing and dancing, which motivates the camera to follow her. We get closer to our two protagonists and focus on their relationship. Using different lenses, they become distanced or separated from the background, which is now blurry or soft focus because of the shallow depth-of-field. It was funny – the producers complained that it ‘cost so much to film in Paris and we don’t see anything!’ “We wanted to keep the look for this film as simple as possible,” he explains. “The camera is used as a function and it moves when it needs to move. We felt the light design should come from the actual location. For instance, when we were in Poland during the winter, it had a bleached,

grey look and when we were in Paris in the summer, we used the sun, because we wanted a high contrast look. We went to Paris with the gaffer and the production designers, and made detailed sketches of which street lamps we’d use and which ones we wouldn’t by turning them off. “I’ve always used a lot of backlight, side light, rim light, but this is the first film in my career where I have used a beauty light, like Helmut Newton, where you put a front light directly on the actor close to camera. We were lighting the scene with one source. Most days, I watched rushes alone while Paweł [Pawlikowski, the director] was sending me his newest version of the cut and inviting me into the editing room.” Knowing it would be too expensive and impractical to shoot on film, Żal did camera tests with two cameras side by side: a 35mm film camera and an Alexa with the same lenses. “We did the camera tests using the actors in their costumes and make up, using different types of lighting. We learned we saw different shades of grey and black that almost blended, so we knew we needed to select costumes with bright yellows, dark greens and strong hues of purple, because those colours registered better. We were constantly looking for a contrast in production design, costume and lighting.

“Many people respond to the final scene of the film. It looks great now, but it was a bit crazy to film. I had no lighting and it was dark. I pushed it up to ISO 1600, so it was underexposed and we needed to remove the noise. Paweł knew we were highly underexposed, but he asked, ‘Łukasz, can we do one more?’ As it was the last shot, I said ‘OK, but please do it quickly’. I was stressed beyond belief, because we were losing what little light we did have. In the end, when it became pitch black, we had managed to get something out of it.”

At the beginning of the film in Poland, the frame is fairly static and we use wide shots and fixed prime lenses

RIGHT Cinematographer Łukasz Żal with director Paweł Pawlikowski on the set of Cold War, nominated for an Academy Award

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Yet again, Arri rules the Oscar awards with a mixture of its Alexa (and variants) camera and some timeless Arri film machinery. We wonder though – with the recent resurgence of film – will things be different next year? Highlights for us included the glorious Roma , with a black & white non-nostalgic aesthetic shot by Cuarón himself. He has already won a BAFTA for his cinematography and was vocal about the Oscars creative awards snub. A favourite for many of the awards this season has been Robbie Ryan, with his obscure use of fisheye lenses in The Favourite . But he’s up against tough competition from Cuarón; that journey to Mexico City has charmed so many. Film and digital capture completes the picture for the Academy Awards Yet again, Arri rules the Oscars with its Alexa variants and film cameras

GREEN BOOK The Arri Alexa Mini was used with Leica Summilux-C lenses. The cinematographer was Sean Porter

NEVER LOOK AWAY Shot by Caleb Deschanel and nominated for Best Cinematography, using the Arri Alexa XT Plus and Zeiss Master Primes

VICE Shot by Greig Fraser

(pictured) on film using Arricam and Arriflex cameras with Cooke and Zeiss lenses

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ROMA Cinematographer and director Alfonso Cuarón used Arri Alexa 65 with Prime 65 lenses for the exacting and pristine black & white look

BLACK PANTHER Shot with Arri Alexa XT Plus and Panavision Primo lenses. The cinematographer was Rachel Morrison

A STAR IS BORN Director Bradley Cooper shot with the Arri Alexa Mini and Cooke Anamorphic/i SF. Matthew Libatique was the DOP

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HP workstations are the standard across the creative industries in London and beyond. There are some very good reasons for that THE KING OF THE WORKSTATIONS

EQUIPMENT RESELLER ESCAPE TECHNOLOGY has been a Gold Partner of HP’s Workstation range for nearly ten years and that brings with it some caché for both brands. You have to earn the title with proven sales and support but when you become a customer on whatever level, you also benefit. At the moment Escape supports over 40 companies with HP and other equipment. But if you’re an independent filmmaker, for instance, and walk into the company’s office, the service and choices you’ll be offered are just the same. In fact, as a Gold Partner with HP, Escape might be able to find you a very good deal on a used HP Workstation and also explain your choices from there, on premises and in the cloud. REMOTE ACCESS Although in the large majority of cases Escape will provide you with a workstation you can use wherever you are, there are times that using your power remotely is a necessity. This is usually to do with security in the larger studios. In these cases, Escape can arrange for you to access your processing and rendering power when you’re working at a client’s premises or off-site. You can even measure how much rendering time you are using remotely so

©Territory Studio, Ready Player One, 2017 Warner Bros

“We ensure that each build is set up with the right technology for the job at hand”

your employer can see what they’re paying for. Nick Mathews from Escape explains further: “We can achieve remote access to compute power, which we do with many of our customers, with PC over IP – a protocol that allows you that access. Your project could be stored in a cloud volume or on a local server connected to your workstation. And that workstation could also be cloud based, in a data centre, or on-site.” MANY GENRES Although the VFX world is a major customer of Escape’s, HP Workstations are also used by other industries like

architecture, industrial design studios, motion graphics, visualisation and automotive. They all have common requirements, for example to be able to model something virtually and then to be able to render it into a lifelike photorealistic image at the end of it. “We cover a range of different specifications for different requirements,” continues Mathews. “Certain applications, such as Flame, are very resource intensive and place a high demand on hardware. That means using the best processors, it has to have lots of RAM, and very fast storage built in. In 99% of cases that’s an HP machine. “We ensure that each build is set up with the right technology for the job at hand. That might mean a new HP Z6 with an NVIDIA RTX GPU, or a previous generation ex-studio machine with a bit of an upgrade.” The HP Workstation range is the predominant standard in all these industries and with Escape Technology’s Gold Partner status you are assured of the best customer service.


ABOVE HP’s Z8 workstation

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IT’S BEEN EMOTIONAL Netflix’s Sex Education is a huge production with multiple set-ups, magnetic casting and a new camera. We talk to DOP Jamie Cairney


DEFINITION: With so much episodic shooting happening, how did you want to make this show different? What was your plan or aesthetic from pre-production? JAMIE CAIRNEY: As with all my projects, I don’t start with time, money or kit; I have to be led by the script. I need to feel some kind of connection with the story and the characters and, importantly, I need to believe it. The quality of Laurie Nunn’s writing and the depth to the characters made for a quick first read and the images formed quickly. I realised straight away: I have to shoot this! The icing on the cake was that Ben Taylor would be directing, who I’ve worked with many times. Ben always pushes for the best and this is one of the reasons we get on so well. We spent a lot of time talking about

what the look of the show would be. A key point for Ben was the idea of bringing an American high-school-film feel to the UK, but at the same time creating a sense the show could be set anywhere and at any time in the last 30 years. This led us to several references. First, John Hughes – in particular an old favourite of ours, The Breakfast Club . Hughes shaped the cast and photographed them in such a way that everyone in the audience couldn’t fail to feel a connection with all the characters on some level. It’s like the camera was the unseen member of the group of misfits; one minute you’d be laughing with them, the next, crying. It was really important for Ben that we treat the characters of Sex Education in a similar way. Another important reference for us was Dazed and Confused . Both of us always loved

this film and we watched a very clean version together that looked like it was shot yesterday. If Mr Linklater has watched our show, I hope he can see his influence! We were certainly inspired by the colour palette and costumes in his film. Finally, with production designer SamHarley, we spent lots of time enjoying Venetia Scott’s splendid photography. DEF: How did you feel about using the new Sony Venice? Can you tell us what you got from the Venice and how it performed? JC: Being Netflix, this show was always going to be digital. I like to think of myself as ‘format agnostic’ in that I always take time to choose the right system for the job and happily flit between film and digital cameras. Obviously, whatever system and workflow we ultimately used would

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It’s like the camera was the unseen member of the group of misfits

have to be approved by and adhere to the uncompromising Netflix standards. Some people bemoan this because it means they can’t use the most ubiquitous digital camera in the world, but I agree with the stance Netflix has taken – it has its eyes on the future, not the past. There were several obvious options available to me. Ben, Sam and I had already started detailed conversations regarding colour, and I knew I needed something able to handle the wide, slightly unusual gamut we were moving towards. This is where Sony stepped in: it offered me an opportunity to extensively test the Venice when there were only about three or four of them in existence! I was slightly sceptical, as I’m not a fan of the F55, but I have been very impressed with everything shot on the F65 – especially Rob Hardy’s work on Ex Machina . Sony was touting the

Venice as an evolution of the F65, so I was keen to try it. Richard Lewis and Pablo Soriano at Sony UK were incredibly generous with their time and knowledge – these guys were pivotal to the camera’s development and let me do everything I could to try and ‘break’ the camera, then I graded the results with Pablo using DaVinci Resolve. Everyone knows Pablo is the absolute master of colour and I was pleasantly surprised by how easily he achieved nice pictures with just basic primaries applied. First impressions are important, right? DEF: Can you explain how you tested the camera? JC: With a bit more time and work, Pablo showed me just how good the dynamic range of the camera is. While still not as good as film, in my tests it proved to be better than other digital systems. Of most interest was the 16-bit colour reproduction, which is far superior to any other system and extremely sensitive to the nuance of the colours we were putting in front of it. Basically, it seemed to be behaving like film transparency with colour, and a bit like film negative with shadow and highlight detail. Although the camera has a 6K Full- Frame sensor, I was more interested in capturing in 4K. The bonus was, in this mode, Venice allows the use of any 35mm lens out there. I didn’t need expensive and scarce large format lenses or unusual mounts. I could pick up anything PL and pop it on. This opened up all the lens options in the world and, using the X-OCN ST codec, kept the data far more manageable than any other system shooting Raw at this resolution. Further testing continued in prep, where

IMAGES References came from American High School classics like The Breakfast Club

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we took the Venice to the main location and spent several days testing lenses, skin tone, colour, exposure, LED lighting, filters and movement. The camera continued to perform really well and, with the backing of Kate Murrell and Eleven, we took a leap of faith and were the second production ever to shoot on it. Films at 59 in Bristol provided all our camera equipment. A special shout-out to the one and only Dave Wride, who was happy to go out and buy several Venice cameras when no one else had them and spent so much time perfecting our kit. Films at 59 and Dave have a really lovely down-to-earth personal approach. They invest themselves, give you time and knowledge, and give every job priority, no matter how big or small. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. DEF: Could you explain the shooting schedules? What shooting plans did JC: The schedule was a pretty standard UK TV drama schedule. It’s all about being prepped and flexible at the same time, so I could give Ben everything and more, but also enjoy each day and be creative without the fear of something not being ready. Of course, none of this is possible without a superb team to make you look good and we were blessed with the best. Gaffer Gary Chaisty and his brilliant team were an absolute delight and implemented my lighting design with ease and good humour. The schedule would change here and there or a location would be lost, and they took it in their stride, always smiling and always happy to graft. Gary also offered up plenty of great ideas and expertly lit scenes if we needed to run two sets at once. The camera team was led by the stoic Ian Pearce, my long-suffering focus puller. Everyone loves Ian and he is a focus ninja. His input was so important, as the majority of the cast were quite new to being on you have for each?

camera. Ian spent time becoming their friend and helping them with the jargon and chaos of being on a film set. Furthermore, he was able to take any unexpected positions in his stride, so the cast never felt self-conscious or intimidated if they missed a mark. However, the absolute key to the success of the show’s look and smooth running was production designer SamHarley, who worked like a machine to keep the style consistently at a high standard. I think she didn’t sleep the whole time we were shooting. With around 105 sets and locations in her control, both Sam and her teammoved mountains to get them up and running and available for us to shoot at a moment’s notice. Sam’s attention to detail and awareness of my needs made every set loads of fun to be in. When you’re faced with high page counts, lots of characters and two cameras running constantly, having a top-drawer designer who personally makes sure everything is perfect on set and thinks about what is needed ten steps ahead pays dividends. Coupled with this, Sam is the loveliest, warmest person in this industry. Ben and I relished each time we were able to step off set and sit in her office to look at the delights she was preparing for us next.

Zeiss Master Primes and Fujinon Premier T2 zooms gave the wonderful paradox of soft but sharp IMAGES Production designer Sam Harley managed around 105 sets and locations, which had to be available to shoot at a moment’s notice

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DEF: What was your lens choice? Did you want to detune the digital with some old glass or look to use some more modern lenses? What focal lengths did you decide on? Did the large format nature of the Venice help you? spherical and, in testing, selected Zeiss Master Primes and Fujinon Premier 4K 18-85mm and 14.5-45mmT2 zooms. These lenses gave us the wonderful paradox of soft but sharp, which worked well with the variety of skin tones and ages we would be shooting. I knew I could use the same lens on any character without the fear of it being unflattering. The wide end of the Master Prime range is especially good and has many sizes on offer. We used the 14 and 16mm for bold graphic wides and the 21, 27 and 40mm for shooting masters and faces. Most of the show was shot on these sizes. Occasionally, we bought in a 10mm Ultra Prime. The Fujinon zooms are big but amazing. It’s difficult to tell the difference from the Masters and my two brilliant camera operators Nick Martin and Ilana Garrard made regular use of the 18-85mm. Although we opted for spherical capture, when we made this decision, I offered up JC: Early on, Ben and I talked about anamorphic, but ultimately opted for

camera’s movement – and we blocked scenes accordingly. Our key grip, Gary Sheppard, is an extraordinary man whose strength, ideas and practicality know no limits. No matter where we wanted the camera, no matter how complex, he would always get it there in no time and with no fuss. When I tasked him with building a custom rig to track along the ceiling of the disused toilet set without much money or motorisation, he rose to the challenge and knocked it out the park. Both camera operators and myself had a real soft spot for ‘Sheppy’ – he was such an asset to the camera team and made us laugh all day. When extra movement was required, such as in the school corridors, Ilana Garrard handled this beautifully with her Steadicam. Mike Drury joined us on several occasions with his Jimmy Jib and, when this wasn’t big enough, we used a Technocrane from Panavision Grips. Compositionally, I’m always very specific and spend a lot of time thinking about the right approach for each project. Again, this has to be influenced by the story. I’d never be the guy to say: “Let’s make this show the ‘Loads of Headroom’ show” or whatever, just because I’d seen it on another show or because I’ve got no ideas.

the idea of combining this with a post- produced effect to create a more vintage look at a level that was both not distracting, but also entirely controllable. David Fincher used this idea to great effect on Mindhunter , which was shot on the ultra-sharp combo of Red Helium with Leica Summilux. Initially, Squint, who handled our VFX work, was tasked with creating a plug-in for us, but this proved to be too complex. So TomUrbye at The Look stepped in and did a great job of repurposing a tool on his system designed to correct aberration and distortion. He basically reversed it so it added these artefacts rather than removing them. This allowed us to completely control the ‘vintage’ look, unlike when you actually shoot with vintage lenses and have no control over distortion, abberation and softness. DEF: Tell us about the camera movement. What framing were you looking at and which movement technology did you want to achieve it? JC: We wanted the show to feel energised and optimistic without moving the camera unnecessarily. We started from the perspective that the movement of the cast would inform the

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means a huge development in digital. With any camera I try to find the ‘sweet spot’, where the image itself comes alive through the way it communicates with the lenses and depicts the colour and light. The Venice kept its promise every time we lit a scene. “As a true story, the agenda of Official Secrets was to tell the narrative in the most sensitive and accurate way. The Venice strongly fits with the cinematic, yet natural aesthetic we wished to achieve. We wanted to bring this vision to reality and with Keira coming on set completely natural, with very little make-up or styled hair, we needed a camera that produced atmospheric and distinguished images to translate the vulnerability of each take onto the screen. The richness of colour, naturalness of contrast and the immediacy of large format with the Venice allowed us to translate the story’s agenda perfectly.” Using two of Sony’s Venice camera systems for principal photography, the production team avoided the use of anamorphic lenses and effectively added additional layers of glass in an attempt to maintain the natural and pure aesthetic of Official Secrets . Camera lens and grip specialist Movietech (with initial supply from accredited Sony Venice reseller Top- Teks) supported the Official Secrets production team with a camera and lens package based around the Venice. Official Secrets debuted at Sundance on 28 January

The Sony Venice has also been used for principal photography on a new political thriller called Official Secrets . The cast includes Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes and Matt Smith. Captured by cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister BSC, the feature made its debut at Sundance Film Festival. It is scheduled for distribution later in 2019 through eOne across its territories. Sierra/Affinity represents all other international territories outside the US. Official Secrets is based on the true story of Katharine Gun, a former translator at GCHQ, who leaked top-secret information to the press concerning a joint US-UK illegal spying operation against UN Security Council members in their push for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Gun was arrested under the Official Secrets Act 1989 and her story commanded attention on a global scale. Sony’s Venice was selected to bring Gun’s story to life in the most accurate and telling way. Director of photography, Florian Hoffmeister BSC, explains: “I think that large format cinematography has become a great asset for digital filmmaking, and the Sony Venice represents a huge step forward in that field. We immediately knew we wanted to trial the camera and after a test shoot, through Movietech, all of my expectations were met when it came to colour and contrast. “The camera has an incredible ability to deliver a natural richness in colour, which – in my experience –

An approach like that sticks out like a sore thumb, because it’ll be at odds with the script and always feels unjustified. The composition of Sex Education is the result of Ben and I talking at length about the right lens size to bring us close to the cast, so, when you watch the show, you can almost feel like one of their friends. We wanted the audience to be able to feel the mixed emotions, love and fear the characters do. This led to us mainly using the 27mm for mids and the 40mm for closer shots. The actual composition on a shot-by-shot basis is quite simple. A lot of the time it’s about observing a rehearsal and reacting to that. I really enjoy getting the feeling this is the right place to put the camera. DEF: Tell us about your lighting design. With so many set-ups, how did you include suitable lighting? What were your basic lighting kits? natural, but also by the ‘optimistic’ American concept. I avoided making the lighting too depressing, which is normally how schools are represented in UK shows. We approached the interiors with big sources outside and a little bit of fill inside, combined with smoke. I like how smoke catches light; we used this a lot in Otis and Jean’s house, but I like it more for the softening effect it offers – very useful with all digital cameras! However, most colourists hate smoke and nearly all those I have worked with have slapped my wrists at some point for using it. The lighting in the school had to be flexible by design, because of the sheer amount of material we needed to get through and the speed at which we had to do it. I had the pleasure of working with the most extraordinary practical spark by the name of Jamie Venn – he knows how much I owe him for the way in which he turned around a basically derelict location [the school]. He saved my bacon on a daily basis! Our lighting kit was provided by John Lawton at Panalux. Panalux has been looking after me for absolutely yonks and I’m seriously indebted to them for everything they’ve done for me over the years. Also, JC: The lighting design for Sex Education was led partly by a desire to keep things

RIGHT Keira Knightley in Official Secrets, which premiered at Sundance and was shot on the Venice

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