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M E M B E R P O R T R A I T
ELLEN KURAS, ASC
W W W . T H E A S C . C O M
TO SUBSCRIBE BY PHONE:
Call (800) 448-0145 (U.S. only)
(323) 969-4333 or visit the ASC Web site
hen I was a teenager,
I saw a film called
Billy Jack, and I
was enthralled by its power to
dramatize a real-life dilemma so
the viewers could be informed
and swayed to question their own
preconceptions. At that point,
cinematography seemed like a
world of magic that was accessible
only to those far away. Later,
eager to learn how the big guys
managed to shoot such amazing
films, Id sometimes sneak copies
of American Cinematographer
out of equipment houses.
AC is a place where
cinematographers share our
knowledge in the spirit of creative
camaraderie, and it introduces
our work to those outside of Los
Angeles. Having your work
acknowledged and recognized is
critical if youre going to continue
working creatively in the film
business.
Ellen Kuras, ASC
W

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28 Watchmakers
Larry Fong films the unfilmable superhero
saga Watchmen
44 Sum of All Fears
Simon Duggan, ACS shoots the big-budget
thriller Knowing with Red One cameras
54 An Epic Endeavor
A digital restoration brings the 1953
CinemaScope epic The Robe back to full glory
62 Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived
Award-winning festival entries make strong
visual impressions
Departments
Features
Vi s i t us o nl i ne a t www. t he a s c . c o m
On Our Cover: Relentless vigilante Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) hunts for the killer of an ex-super-
hero in Watchmen, shot by Larry Fong. (Unit photography by Clay Enos, courtesy of Warner Bros.)
8 Editors Note
10 Short Takes: Patiences
16 Production Slate: Hunger
Crank High Voltage
78 Post Focus: Autodesk Updates Lustre
82 New Products & Services
92 International Marketplace
94 Classified Ads
94 Ad Index
96 ASC Membership Roster
98 Clubhouse News
100 ASC Close-Up: Thomas Ackerman
62
A P R I L 2 0 0 9 V O L . 9 0 N O . 4
The International Journal of Film & Digital Production Techniques
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A p r i l 2 0 0 9 V o l . 9 0 , N o . 4
The International Journal of Film & Digital Production Techniques Since 1920
Visit us online at
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PUBLISHER Martha Winterhalter

EDITORIAL
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Stephen Pizzello
SENIOR EDITOR Rachael K. Bosley
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Jon D. Witmer
TECHNICAL EDITOR Christopher Probst
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Stephanie Argy, Benjamin B, Douglas Bankston, Robert S. Birchard, John Calhoun,
Bob Davis, Bob Fisher, Simon Gray, Jim Hemphill, David Heuring, Jay Holben,
Noah Kadner, Ron Magid, Jean Oppenheimer, John Pavlus, Chris Pizzello, Jon Silberg,
Iain Stasukevich, Kenneth Sweeney, Patricia Thomson, David E. Williams

ART DEPARTMENT
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DESIGN ASSOCIATE Erik M. Gonzalez

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American Cinematographer (ISSN 0002-7928), established 1920 and in its 88th year of publication, is published
monthly in Hollywood by ASC Holding Corp., 1782 N. Orange Dr., Hollywood, CA 90028, U.S.A.,
(800) 448-0145, (323) 969-4333, Fax (323) 876-4973, direct line for subscription inquiries (323) 969-4344.
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W
atchmen is one of the most hotly anticipated films of
2009, but its journey to the screen has not been easy.
Fans of the groundbreaking graphic novel have been
awaiting a movie version for years, and several high-profile
directors passed on the project after deeming the source
material unfilmable. Finally, flush with confidence after the
success of his action epic 300, Zach Snyder valiantly agreed
to take on the challenge, despite daunting odds that might
make even a Spartan warrior cringe.
Snyder asked 300 cinematographer Larry Fong to rejoin
him on the creative battlefield, along with production designer Alex McDowell and
visual-effects supervisor John D.J. DesJardin. Fong was given just over two months to
prep for the massive show, which eventually required roughly 100 shooting days on
about 150 sets. Before anything was built, my crew and I would study the conceptual
drawings, paintings and blueprints, and Alex was really thoughtful about getting my
input on any lighting that would be built into the sets, says Fong. He and his key collab-
orators lay out the behind-the-scenes saga for associate editor Jon Witmer, a self-
confessed graphic-novel bergeek, who pursued the Watchmen principals with an
intensity that might impress even Rorschach, the tales most relentless vigilante
(Watchmakers, page 28).
AC readers have been clamoring for more coverage of the Red One camera,
and we continue to oblige with this months feature on the thriller Knowing, shot by
Simon Duggan, ACS, one of the first cinematographers to employ the One on a high-
profile feature. The impetus, he tells Australian correspondent Simon Gray (Sum of All
Fears, page 44), came from director Alex Proyas: Alex is an avid photographer and uses
a digital stills camera with the same type of chip as the Red, a CMOS, says Duggan.
He is very impressed with the quality of the images, and consequently, he suggested
we test the Red as an acquisition format.
Five of the best-shot entries from this years Sundance Film Festival are spot-
lighted in our annual roundup: Sin Nombre (shot by Adriano Goldman); An Education
(John de Borman, BSC); The September Issue (Bob Richman); Push: Based on the Novel
by Sapphire (Andrew Dunn, BSC); and Big River Man (John Maringouin). Witmer, New
York correspondent Pat Thomson and I braved Utahs freezing temperatures to see them
all on big screens (Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived, page 62).
Students of film history will appreciate David Heurings piece detailing
the digital restoration of The Robe, the first motion picture released in the ultra-wide
CinemaScope format (An Epic Endeavor, page 54). 20th Century Fox and the Academy
Film Archive partnered with The Film Foundation to preserve this landmark film, which
has left a lasting impression on everyone who saw the original theatrical presentation.
Ill never forget going to see The Robe on its initial release, recalls director Martin
Scorsese, who aided the restoration by providing an original dye-transfer print from his
personal collection. I sat there, and the curtains kept opening wider and wider and
wider. None of us, not me or anyone else in the audience, was prepared for the experi-
ence, and it changed the movies forever.
Stephen Pizzello
Executive Editor
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P
atiences begins with a static wide
shot on a country road as a vintage
British auto pulls up to the front of a
rustic cabin. Its autumn, and the
reddish-gold shade of leaves in the trees
and on the ground reflect the changing
of the seasons. A woman (Davina Stew-
art) gets out of the car and enters the
cabin. She appears to be waiting for
someone, and she snaps a series of
Polaroids and stretches out on the bed
to pass the time. Eventually, she closes
up the cabin and leaves.
One of the things that stands out
about Patiences, a title that refers to the
European name for the game Solitaire,
is how it takes its time to unfold. There
is no dialogue, and even at a trim seven
minutes, the moments seem to stretch
out in a relaxed, sensual way. Every
action and every shot has a purpose. It
makes for a keenly visual experience;
this comes as no surprise because it
was directed by a cinematographer,
Peter Wunstorf, ASC, who also shot it.
Wunstorf met Patiences screen-
writer Sylvia Petit at the Cannes Film
Festival in 1992, and while the two
stayed in touch, Petit wrote the script for
what would become Wunstorfs directo-
rial debut. He recalls his first impression
of her script: I thought it was one of the
best scripts Id ever read. It had no
dialogue, just descriptions of action and
sound, almost like a shot list. I could
picture the movie in my head right
away. But it was another 12 years
before he could film it. While working
as the second-unit cinematographer on
Ang Lees Brokeback Mountain,
Wunstorf shared the Patiences script
with Karen Redford, Lees personal
assistant, and she agreed to co-produce
it.
In order to get the film made,
Wunstorf had to call in a few favors;
Kodak provided the film stock, Vision
500T 5279, and Panavision Vancouver
provided the camera package, an Arri
BL-4 and Zeiss Superspeed prime
lenses. They were incredibly gener-
ous, says Wunstorf. The production
also benefited from the crucial financial
support of the National Film Board of
Canada and the Alberta Foundation for
the Arts.
Production finally got underway
in September 2006. Principal photogra-
A Cinematographer Directs Patiences
by Iain Stasukevich
Short Takes
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A woman
(Davina
Stewart) passes
the time while
awaiting a lover
in the short film
Patiences,
directed and
shot by Peter
Wunstorf, ASC.
10 April 2009
including the adjacent apartment build-
ings, he let the windows blow out and
asked for sheer curtains to be hung in
them. Window-screen frames from
Home Depot a tip I learned from
Stephen Burum [ASC] were lined
with ND gels and used to cut down the
overexposure and bring out the texture
in the curtains.
Any time the camera was
pointed away from the windows, it was
either before sunrise or after sundown.
The windows were gelled with 85 to
warm the daylight coming in and make
it easier to match the tungsten lamps
set up inside. It was easy to re-create
that ambience with 500-ASA film,
notes Wunstorf. In the interest of effi-
ciency, very low-wattage lamps were
used; only about 2K worth of lighting
was up at any given time, bouncing off
muslin or a ceiling or wall, or sometimes
directly through half or full gridcloth.
At one point, Wunstorf came up
with an idea for a poor mans space
light, utilizing a laundry hamper from
Ikea. The hamper has no color, its very
light and portable, and it can be
compressed into a flat disk about 18
inches in diameter. You can hang it from
a C-stand or stand it on the floor. Ikeas
a great resource, especially when youre
working with a small budget.
In the winter months, after Stew-
art was cast, Wunstorf was unable to
shoot around the snow-covered grounds
12 April 2009
phy was split into halves because
Wunstorf wanted to capture the autum-
nal textures of Fort Edmonton Park,
where the house exterior is located, and
at the time, he hadnt yet cast the films
sole actor. I always imagined the film
taking place in the fall, says Wunstorf.
Its prettier, and it underscores the fact
that shes in a dying relationship with
the person who doesnt show up. By
the time he locked in the interior loca-
tion and cast Stewart, it was winter.
The interior set was the second
level of a heritage house in downtown
Edmonton. In the film, every room is
bathed in soft daylight, an effect that
was harder to achieve than one might
think. Some of it is daylight,
and some of it is re-created
daylight, says Wunstorf.
Using natural light meant
being lucky with the sun.
He and his 15-person
crew worked for four days,
taking 10 hours each day to
capture shots that would
comprise the films single
afternoon. The daylight
hours were short, from
about 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
When the sun is that low in
the sky, it penetrates the
room really nicely, but it also
moves really quickly! notes
Wunstorf.
He arranged the shoot-
ing schedule so the camera
would be pointed toward the
windows during the
daytime. To hide details
outside the windows,
Top left:
Stewart enjoys a
laugh with the
crew, including
co-production
designer/chief
lighting
technician Matt
Vest (in
doorway), whom
Wunstorf calls
my MVP. Top
right: Wunstorf
checks the light
on his subject.
Below: The
woman begins to
suspect she is
waiting in vain.
14 April 2009
of the house exterior. At the beginning
of Patiences, we see the womans hand
in close-up as she retrieves a key
hidden above the houses front door,
then we see her feet stepping across
the threshold. Once inside, she slips off
her shoes, cues up an LP record on a
turntable, and fills two flutes with
champagne all actions we see in
close-up. She settles in, and only then
does the camera find her face. We
dont reveal her face until about 10
shots into the film, but it wasnt written
that way, says Wunstorf. After a
pause, he muses, I think its the way it
was meant to be shot.
The filmmakers also had to
improvise for a scene in which the
woman leaves the house and lies out on
the balcony. Again, it was too cold to
shoot this outside, and there was too
much background to avoid, so the scene
was set up inside, with the woman on
the bed, against the blown-out window.
The shot became the poster image for
the film and is one of Wunstorfs
favorites.
Because there is no dialogue, the
filmmakers had to find a way to help the
audience relate to the solitary character.
The camera, operated by Brett Manyluk,
follows her from a distance as she bides
her time, maintaining an observational
stance. If you want to create a sense of
loneliness, you need to keep the camera
static and removed, says Wunstorf.
Im a big fan of Gordon Willis [ASC],
and his work features a lot of tableaux;
the camera is never moving unless its
supposed to be. Working in the stan-
dard 1.85:1 aspect ratio, we rarely shot
wider than a 25mm or longer than an
85mm, he adds.
Directing was a bit terrifying
and intimidating, he observes. He
devoted a lot of time to preparing for the
new role. To gain tips on directing
actors, he enrolled in Judith Westons
Directing Actors workshop in Holly-
wood. You spend three days acting, so
you get to appreciate what its like to be
an actor, he explains.
As far as shooting, once he found
the locations, the plan was simply to
come up with a shot list and stick to it.
Id made a shot list a year in advance,
and I modified it a bit for the locations,
he recalls. During shooting, you usually
realize theres a shot you dont need, but
overall, the shoot didnt deviate much
from what Id planned. It also helped
that I was working with a great team.
In particular, he cites Matt Vest,
who served as co-production designer
(with Rachel Livingstone) and chief light-
ing technician. Matt was my MVP,
says Wunstorf. He has an eye for what
looks good on camera. Some people are
purely technical, and some people are
just visual, but he was able to help me
with both. Plus, he just has good taste.
The productions footage was
processed at Studio Post and Transfer in
Edmonton, and Wunstorf supervised the
photochemical finish at Vision Globale
in Montreal. Patiences had its premiere
at the 2008 St. Louis International Film
Festival. I
Right: Wunstorf
lines up a shot.
Below: A
laundry hamper
from Ikea serves
as a poor mans
space light.
Ikea is a great
resource,
especially when
youre working
with a small
budget, notes
Wunstorf.
16 April 2009
Taking a Fatal Stand
by Jean Oppenheimer
The conflict between Britain and
Ireland over the status of Northern
Ireland has raged for more than a century.
Protestants, who have long comprised a
majority in the region, wanted to remain
part of the United Kingdom, while
Catholics, feeling marginalized, wanted
to join the Republic of Ireland. The level
of violence escalated between 1968 and
1998, a period known as The Troubles,
as extremists on both sides engaged in a
series of deadly attacks that claimed
thousands of lives.
Hunger is set in Belfasts infamous
Maze Prison, where members of the
outlawed Irish Republican Army were
incarcerated, in 1981. Specifically, it
covers the last six weeks in the life of
Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender);
responding to the British governments
revocation of their status as paramili-
tary prisoners, the inmates staged a
series of protests, and Sands began a
hunger strike that proved fatal.
Although there are many histori-
cally accurate elements in the film, we
did not want it to look like a documen-
tary, notes cinematographer Sean
Bobbitt, BSC, speaking from his home
outside London. [Director] Steve
McQueen wanted the license to create
abstract visual concepts and more effec-
tive emotional elements. To distance
ourselves from a documentary feel, we
decided to shoot widescreen and
35mm.
Hunger was initially budgeted for
Super 16mm, but the filmmakers were
able to shoot 2-perf Super 35mm after
Fujis London office agreed to give them
a deal. In order to reduce the grain of
Super 16, we wouldve had to shoot
1.85, which we felt was too close to the
look of widescreen TV [1.78:1], says
Bobbitt. The 2-perf Super 35 frame is
actually 2.39:1. Widescreen helps to
heighten the feeling of incarceration;
the cells in Maze are a mere 6-by-9 feet,
and widescreen gives the sense of
walls all around you.
Ive shot primarily with Fuji for
the past six or seven years, he contin-
ues. To my eye, Fuji stocks have a much
softer color saturation and lend them-
selves to slightly more pastel shades.
For Hunger, he shot day exteriors
predominantly on Eterna 250D 8563,
day interiors on Eterna 250T 8553, night
scenes on Eterna 500T 8573, and hospi-
tal-ward scenes on Eterna 400T 8583.
8583 has a tighter grain structure, and
[I like the way it] picks up color, he
notes. It has more latitude and much
Willful Resistance and Amped-Up Action
Production Slate
H
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F
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s
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Prisoner Bobby
Sands (Michael
Fassbender,
left) meets with
Father Moran
(Liam
Cunningham) in
a scene that
serves as the
centerpiece of
Hunger, shot by
Sean Bobbitt,
BSC. Most of
the 23-minute
scene plays out
in a static,
medium-wide
shot; this
production still
features
slightly
different
framing.
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18 April 2009
softer blacks than 8573. For the
movies final scene, which shows Sands
as a child, Bobbitt shot Eterna Vivid 160
8543.
The production re-created Maze
Prison in a warehouse outside Belfast.
The filmmakers were allowed to walk
through the real Maze Prison to gather
visual reference materials, and Bobbitt
made sketches and shot stills to devise
his lighting plan for the set. He notes
that it was particularly helpful that
Hungers production designer, Tom
McCullagh, had built replicas of the
prison twice before and knew it inti-
mately.
The set had no breakaway walls,
but Bobbitts news-cameraman back-
ground had prepared him to fit into tight
spaces with a camera. He used an Arri-
cam Lite for handheld work, an Arricam
Studio for tracking and dolly shots (and
in cells, because the Lite proved too
noisy in close quarters), and an Arri 235
for a few other shots. His lenses were
Cooke S4 primes and a Zeiss 100mm
Macro. The Cookes have a softness
and warmth, and I like the way the
focus falls off, declares Bobbitt. I felt
that posed an interesting contrast with
the brutality of what was going on
inside the prison.
Given the size of the cells, the
camera had to be quite close to the
actors. The 35mm S4 gives a very close
focus, so you can get in tight without
creating distortion, notes the cine-
matographer. When I needed to get a
two-shot in the cell, the 12mm lens was
the only way to do it. We reserved the
100mm Macro for when we wanted to
get right into an eye.
During prep, McQueen gave
Bobbitt a book on 17th-century Spanish
painter Diego Velzquez to communi-
cate the kind of light he had in mind.
There is a physicality and texture to
the light in his paintings, explains
McQueen. Bobbitt designed the prison-
lighting scheme to mimic Velzquezs
reliance on single sources. He notes,
The cells really lent themselves to that
style of lighting; each cell had one small
window, and I put a 20K through full
grid outside and added CTB on the glass
to create a level of coldness. For night
scenes, he switched out the CTB for
CTO and Bastard Amber to mimic the
prison yards sodium lights.
The centerpiece of Hunger is a
conversation between Sands and a
priest, Father Dominic Moran (Liam
Cunningham), who are seated at a
table, facing each other. The scene lasts
almost 23 minutes, and the first 17.5
minutes comprise a single static shot
that holds the two men in a medium-
wide frame. Steve pointed out that
when hes listening to two people talk,
he doesnt stand up and walk around
the room, looking at them from different
angles he sits in one place and
listens, explains Bobbitt.
Windows cover the wall in the
background of the scene, and outside
them, Bobbitts crew positioned an 18K,
a 12K, two 6Ks and four 4Ks at different
angles. Framed against the windows,
the actors are in partial silhouette. I felt
the scene would work only if their faces
were partially hidden, says Bobbitt.
When viewers can almost, but not
completely, see the men, they project
their own emotions onto the characters,
and I think that keeps them engrossed in
whats being said. I added no fill light;
whatever fill exists is natural bounce
coming off the walls behind the
camera.
The cinematographer notes that
McQueen doesnt shoot coverage; the
director prefers to let a scene play out in
one shot, usually in front of a stationary
camera. One such scene depicts Sands
being brutally beaten by guards and
then dragged down the corridor. The
camera seems to be right in the middle
of the assault, and it remains on Sands
face as he is dragged away. Id always
seen that shot that way in my mind
the camera looking up at Bobby as hes
carried down the hallway, says
Prison guards
make inmates
run the gauntlet
as an extra
punishment. The
production re-
created Northern
Irelands
notorious Maze
Prison in a
warehouse near
Belfast.
Bobbitt. You get that wonderful mix of
light and shadow as he passes under
the ceiling lights. My fantastic key grip,
Steve Pugh, and I devised a system to
get the shot. The camera is on a
PeeWee dolly, and off the end of the
dolly is a little skateboard dolly with a
mirror on it. Its just under Sands, who is
facedown, almost comatose. I simply
pointed the camera into the mirror [as
the actor was being dragged].
At another point, a badly beaten
Sands is thrown into a bathtub to wash
off the blood. As he lies there, semi-
conscious, a guard continues to beat
him. The opposite side of the bathtub is
against a wall, and the camera seems
to be inside the wall, looking down into
the tub. We pulled the bathtub away
from the wall just enough for me to get
behind it, explains Bobbitt. Then, they
pushed the bathtub onto me. I was liter-
ally wedged between the tub and the
wall, and I was covered in plastic so the
camera wouldnt get wet.
The filmmakers deviated from
their decision to not move walls only
once, for a shot of Sands lying in the
hospital ward. The camera looks down
on him from ceiling height but weaves
around the room in an elliptical fashion.
Steve [McQueen] wanted the camera
to feel like a bird flying around, trying to
escape, says Bobbitt. Steve Pugh and
I came up with all sorts of weird and
wonderful ways to move the camera
like that, but none of them was practi-
cal. In the end, we removed the ceiling
and used a Technocrane.
The hospital room is bigger and
brighter than the cells and contains a
larger window. Its less oppressive, but
it still has an institutional feel, remarks
Bobbitt. His crew shined a 20K through
full grid through the window, and fluo-
rescent light floats into the room
through a doorway leading to the hall.
At night, the 20K was more heavily
diffused. I think we also had it on a
dimmer to warm it up a bit, and we used
scrims, adds Bobbitt.
During his walk through the
actual prison, Bobbitt noticed small
skylights in all the corridors, and he
asked McCullagh to incorporate some
into his set design. That allowed me to
mix color temperatures. The practical
fluorescent tubes lining the ceiling
provided the main source of illumina-
tion, of course, and we chose them
carefully. The cheap ones have a nasty
green spike thats generally considered
undesirable, but I wanted the green
because it created a grunginess that
contrasted nicely with the blue light
coming through the skylights. I think we
put two 1K Pups above each skylight
coming in at different angles, and we
made up frames of different levels of
CTB and diffusion that we could put on
the skylight to quickly change the qual-
ity and color temperature of the light.
The negative was processed at
Todd-AO in London, and the 2K digital
intermediate was carried out at Dragon
DI in Wales. I cant praise colorist
Geoffrey Case enough, says Bobbitt.
He is very skilled, very sympathetic and
very creative and fast.
At the end of the day, its the
crew that makes the film, he adds,
and in addition to Steve Pugh, I have to
thank my gaffer, Brian Beaumont; best
boy, Ian Glenister; and focus puller,
Conor Hammond, who did a fantastic
job under very difficult circumstances.
TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
Super 35mm (2-perf)
Arricam System, Arri 235
Cooke and Zeiss lenses
Fuji Eterna 250D 8563, 250T 8553,
400T 8583, 500T 8573, Vivid 160 8543
Digital Intermediate
Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

20 April 2009
Right: Sands in
his cell. Below
(from left): 1st
AD Mark Fenn,
actress Helen
Madden,
director Steve
McQueen and
Bobbitt work
out their
approach to a
hallway scene.
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Michael Condon, SOC
VP Digital Division
Andree Martin
VP Technical Services
An HDV Action Spectacular
by Iain Stasukevich
In the final moments of the 2006
action film Crank, hitman-turned-hero
Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) takes a
mile-high swan dive from a helicopter.
The sequel, Crank High Voltage, picks
up right where that film left off, with
Chelios splayed out on the asphalt,
miraculously intact. Some Asian hood-
lums roll up, scrape him off the ground,
and take him away. When he comes to,
Chelios learns his organs are being
harvested for the benefit of a Triad mob
boss. He plots his escape, but the hitch
is that he has been fitted with an artifi-
cial heart that needs a steady supply of
electricity. For the next 90 minutes, he
finds increasingly weird ways to juice
himself while hunting down his real
heart, dispatching anyone who stands in
his way.
In planning CHV, co-directors
Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine
decided the only way to top its high-volt-
age predecessor, which was shot on
high-definition video by Adam Biddle,
would be to use small prosumer and
consumer HDV cameras, mainly the
Canon XH-A1 and HF10. (A Sony PMW-
EX1 was used for high-speed work.)
Theres no way we could have shot this
movie the way we wanted to with tradi-
tional HD or film cameras, says Taylor.
Cinematographer Brandon Trost
was tasked with creating highly
compressed 1440x1080 images that
would be suitable for a final transfer to
35mm. A friend of Taylors since their
student days at the Los Angeles Film
School, Trost cut his teeth on digital
video; the first camera he picked up was
a Canon XL-1. My experience comes
from learning to make little cameras
look like big cameras, says Trost. Ive
learned how to use their strengths to
make them feel cinematic. Its more of a
feeling than something technical.
CHV was shot much in the
manner of a skateboarding video it
was the only way to keep pace with the
action. The camerawork was fast, loose
and handheld, and shots were made
mostly with available light. There was
one HD monitor on set that was used
primarily for playback. There were no
waveform monitors and no video village.
Interior locations and complicated light-
ing setups were kept to a minimum.
Some days involved as many as 100
setups, according to Trost. We would
do reverses without cutting we just
jumped to the other side of the action,
he says. We didnt want to have every-
thing planned; we wanted to stay in the
moment so you could feel that inten-
sity.
There were at least three
cameras running at all times, and the
main three were operated by Trost,
Neveldine and Taylor, who were respon-
sible for composing their own shots.
Trost explains, Our main concern was
getting enough coverage that we
wouldnt be stuck. After the camera cut,
wed check with each other, and if
someone had a two-shot and someone
else had a single, we knew we could
move on.
The filmmakers created some
basic settings for the cameras, shooting
at -3dB, dialing up the detail, and pulling
the shutter down to
1
2000 of a second,
which helped to increase the images
apparent resolution and eliminate
motion blur. They didnt use cinema-lens
adapters in front of the XH-A1, opting
instead for the wide-angle and tele-
photo adapters that can be screwed to
the front of the cameras fixed lenses.
In terms of depth of field, we went to
extremes either super-shallow or
infinite, says Taylor. Jumping back and
forth between ultra-wide and ultra-tele-
photo makes video more exciting. The
operators had to do their own focusing,
and on wider shots, they could set the
focus to about 3
1
2' and not have to
worry because of the deep stop, recalls
Trost.
Exposure was measured using
In Crank High
Voltage, hard-to-
kill Chev Chelios
(Jason Statham)
requires constant
jolts of electricity
after his heart is
stolen by a
Chinese mobster
and replaced with
a battery-
powered ticker.
22 April 2009
C
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24 April 2009
the A1s internal zebra meter; Trost had
previously shot four features with the
camera and was comfortable enough
with the function to use it almost exclu-
sively. I set my zebras to 70 percent,
he explains. Its where I try to get the
typical Caucasian face, just for a prop-
erly exposed image. They always tried
to nail the exposures on the dot, but
when in doubt, they usually opted to
overexpose.
Taylor notes he has never had a
problem overexposing video. Ive never
bought into shooting flat and planning to
pull the blacks out later you cant pull
the blacks out later. When you try, the
image gets noisy and gray. Ive found
you can overexpose video just like you
can overexpose film.
We had a very collaborative
working relationship with Brandon,
continues Taylor. We didnt want to
take decisions about exposure away
from him, but at the same time, he
understood our philosophy, so he gave
us the green light to overexpose in the
moment if we needed to.
Perfectionism limits video,
observes Trost. He did, however, test the
A1s to determine their latitude, and he
knew how to expose for them with a
light meter. If he found the need for
movie lights, he was able to provide the
gaffer, Justin Duval, with the proper f-
stop. Much of the controlled lighting in
CHV is fill light. Because a lot of the
action takes place outside, Trost often
bounced sunlight into silver lam or
used direct 18K HMIs for fill. Everyone
has a sweaty look in this movie, and the
addition of a harsh fill made them snap,
he notes. It worked really nicely with
the narrow shutter.
The cameras small sizes
enabled the filmmakers to remain spon-
taneous while hammering through
pages and pages of action. Aside from
tripods, which were rarely used, the only
other camera-support accessory on set
was a Manfrotto Fig Rig. Everything
else, including a crane fashioned with a
piece of speed rail, was devised by the
crew. There was an improvisational
vibe on the set, Taylor enthuses.
Several camera-support rigs
were devised on set from materials on
hand. Trost credits key grip Phil Miller
with consistently creating new ways to
affix a camera to a car or otherwise
create a mind-blowing shot. One of
Millers rigs allowed the operator to add
a handheld Matrix-style bullet-time
effect to a scene. The rig comprised a
half-circle piece of speed rail outfitted
with eight Canon HF-10s mounted to
Manfrotto mini ball heads at equal inter-
vals, framed at the same focal point. To
use the rig, all of the cameras were set
to record and then slated. While shoot-
ing, the cameras captured eight angles
of action simultaneously and allowed
the editor to pause the action, jump-cut
around the scene, and then land on a
new angle at the same place where the
first shot left off. The filmmakers used
the effect for scenes that show Chelios
running or fighting which is to say,
quite often.
Another unusual rig came about
purely by coincidence. Robert Sharman,
the sound mixer, brought a remote-
control car to the set and was playing
around with it on a break. It caught
Trosts attention, and he realized the HF-
10 was a perfect match for the miniature
vehicle. They affixed the camera to the
toy and used it in chase scenes to create
shots where the camera zooms around
and under full-sized, fast-moving cars.
One of the shooting techniques
carried over from Crank was Neveldines
rollerblading. For the first movie, a 60-
pound HDCam-SR deck was strapped to
Neveldines back and he skated up and
down the street, shooting with a Sony
Right:
Cinematographer
Brandon Trost
inspects a
customized
bullet-time rig
built from a piece
of 6' circular
speed rail by key
grip Phil Miller.
Six Canon HF-10
camcorders were
atached to the rig
with Manfrotto
mini ball mounts.
Below: Co-
director Mark
Neveldine adds
the element of
motion after
donning a pair of
in-line skates.
26 April 2009
HDW F-950. Using the Canon cameras
on CHV, Neveldine was freed from all
that weight. Nevs a madman,
Statham marvels. Hell hang off the
side of a car going 50 mph on
rollerblades just to get a shot. He even
jumped off buildings with me. Hes got
no fear.
For one scene, I was rollerblad-
ing between two low-riders going down
the highway, recalls Neveldine. I was
pushing off the cars from Statham in the
drivers seat to the passenger seat of the
other car, and then Id bring the camera
down by the wheels to get some cool
details. You cant get those things with a
crane or a Steadicam or any other tradi-
tional technique. You can only get it by
getting a little crazy.
Mark brings the energy, the
crazy shots and the skater-video
aesthetic, notes Trost. On this shoot,
we had no stagnant waiting time. The
day flowed, and that freedom made for
more natural performances. Neveldine
adds, The actors love you and the crew
loves you because youre shooting
faster and youre still getting what you
need.
The filmmakers decision to
shoot a $20-million action movie with
prosumer/consumer cameras raised a
few eyebrows. HDV renders a 4:2:0 8-
bit image, which leaves very little
wiggle room in post. What was
recorded to tape had to be as close as
possible to what would end up
onscreen. I was never trying to make
things look pretty, says Trost. I was
more concerned with getting the right
level of contrast for the shot and keep-
ing it snappy and electric.
Up-rezzing the Canons propri-
etary 60i/24f (the internal HDV pull-
down) for the final transfer to 35mm
proved to be a challenge at first, but
Trost, Neveldine and Taylor say they are
all pleased with the filmout. People
have to get over the prejudice against
video, observes Taylor. If you act like
its real and you shoot it like its real,
then its going to look real. Let the story
be what guides you.
The decision to shoot video was
more about creating images people
havent seen before than it was about
pixel count, he adds. Our motto is, Its
not the resolution; its the revolution.
TECHNICAL SPECS
1.85:1
(extracted from 1.78:1 original)
High-Definition Video
Canon XH-A1, HF10;
Sony PMW-EX1
Digital Intermediate
I
Left: Co-director
Brian Taylor
positions a
pole-mounted
Canon XH-A1.
Right: Neveldine
gets the jump on
Statham while
palming a
camcorder.
28 April 2009
T
he year is 1985, and the 37th
president of the United States,
Richard M. Nixon, continues
to occupy the Oval Office, lead-
ing a nation on the brink of
war with the Soviet Union. The
Watchmen, self-made vigilantes
who emerged in the 1930s, have
recently been outlawed, but some of
them continue to operate as either
criminals or secret government
operatives. Their ranks include
Ozymandias, The Comedian, Night
Owl, Rorschach, Silk Spectre and
Dr. Manhattan.
The new film Watchmen is
based on a 12-part comic-book
miniseries written by Alan Moore,
illustrated by Dave Gibbons and
colored by John Higgins. Director
Zack Snyder says the project
made me realize comics can be so
much more than I ever dreamed. I
thought I knew what was possible
as far as superhero mythology and
how its experienced in pop
culture, but Watchmen showed me
I had no idea what was possible
my mind got blown.
Embracing the prospects of a
live-action rendition of the
labyrinthine story, Snyder gathered
a team that included cinematogra-
pher Larry Fong, a collaborator on
300 (AC April 06), and production
designer Alex McDowell and
visual-effects supervisor John
D.J. DesJardin. A director of
photography has to be someone
whos going to raise the bar for me
and care about the project as much
as I do, and Larry totally does, says
Snyder, whose friendship and
collaboration with Fong dates back
to their student days at the Art
Center College of Design in
Pasadena, Calif.
Fong was given a bit more
Cinematographer Larry Fong and director Zack Snyder
reteam to bring the epic graphic novel Watchmen to the
big screen.
by Jon D. Witmer
Unit photography by Clay Enos
Watchmakers
American Cinematographer 29
than two months of prep for the
roughly 100-day shoot, and he
recalls filling the time with a lot
of testing. We tested the costumes
[designed by Michael Wilkinson]
and how they would photograph,
we did a lot of makeup testing, and
we even tested the colors of sets
wed just shoot walls to see how
theyd come out on film, especially
when manipulated in the DI. We
also shot film for props, lighting
tests and physical-effects tests that
included flames, explosions and
rain.
Moores graphic novel is
rich in detail, constantly sewing
visual clues into the background,
and bringing the layered visuals to
the screen involved a great deal of
still photography. So many loca-
tions had some kind of poster,
photo or newspaper clipping in
the background, notes Fong. I
started to shoot that material, but
it became a massive undertaking,
so our set photographer, Clay
Enos, ended up shooting most of
it.
We had more graphic
designers and more graphic-
design time on this movie than
Ive ever had before, notes
McDowell (Charlie and the
Opposite, left to
right: The
Comedian (Jeffrey
Dean Morgan),
Silk Spectre
(Malin Akerman),
Dr. Manhattan
(Billy Crudup),
Ozymandias
(Matthew Goode),
Nite Owl (Patrick
Wilson) and
Rorschach (Jackie
Earle Haley). This
page, top: A super-
slow-motion
opening-credit
sequence,
bolstered by
visual-effects
company CIS,
charts the history
of costumed
heroes. Middle:
Richard Nixon
(Robert Wisden,
standing) meets
with Henry
Kissinger (Frank
Novak, second
from right) in a
war room inspired
by Dr. Strangelove.
Bottom, left to
right: Director
Zack Snyder,
production
designer Alex
McDowell and
cinematographer
Larry Fong watch
the Watchmen.
P
h
o
t
o
s

a
n
d

f
r
a
m
e

g
r
a
b
s

c
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

W
a
r
n
e
r

B
r
o
s
.
Were all
pretty proud of
the shot of The
Comedian
going out the
window, says
Fong. To
capture the
defenestration,
Morgan was
suspended by a
wire rig and
dropped from a
special set
piece
constructed 30'
above the stage
floor, and Fong
used a PanArri
435 rolling
at 150 fps on
a Technocrane.
30 April 2009
Chocolate Factory, Minority
Report). I think a lot of why
Watchmen is such a great graphic
novel and has been so recognized
is that Alan Moores narrative
instructions to Dave Gibbons are
all about how much story you can
put in the pictures, and Zack
wanted to be true to that. Fong
adds, Before anything was built,
my crew and I would study the
conceptual drawings, paintings
and blueprints, and Alex was really
thoughtful about getting my input
on any lighting that would be built
into the sets.
All told, the production
called for the construction of some
150 sets. The largest by far was the
New York City exterior, built from
the ground up near Canadian
Motion Picture Park Studios
outside of Vancouver. The film-
makers had flirted with shooting
on location in downtown Los
Angeles or the Big Apple, or using
the New York Street set on Warner
Bros. backlot, but they opted to
build the three city blocks from
scratch so they could faithfully
render the comics stylized
cityscape. It was really nice to be
able to completely design our own
world, says McDowell. We liter-
ally poured the street. We were
able to get really broken-up side-
walk and broken-up asphalt
the sorts of things youre compro-
mised with on backlots and we
were able to build the streets at a
decent scale. The set was 30-35
feet high, which allowed us to
contain close-ups and mid shots,
but we knew there were going to
be set extensions in almost every
scene; we put greenscreen at the
end of every street so we could
extend streets to the horizon.
Fongs lighting objective for
the outdoor set was the clash of
fixtures typical in real urban
settings. We tried to make as
much of the city light itself as
possible, he says, noting that
Snyder suggested Taxi Driver
(1976) as a reference. When
youre shooting at night in a real
city, youre usually trying to take
away all the weird colors and the
multiple shadows to make your
shots look beautiful and
controlled. In order to make this
look real, I decided to keep it raw.
To build the raw feel into the
set, Fong, gaffer Denis Brock and
rigging gaffer Jarrod Tiffin super-
vised the efforts of 24 set wiremen
before the lamp operators could
even bring in any fixtures. It
Watchmakers
became a real, wired place, says
Tiffin. We had the equivalent of
36 1,200-amp generators, but we
did it all on hydroelectric power.
We brought in an electrical
company and re-transformed
everything around the area, and
we dropped portable substations
in four corners [of the set]. Instead
of running cables all over the
place, we were selectively picking
zones based on the citys layout.
Once the lamp operators
came in to rig the lighting fixtures,
we mixed fluorescents, tungsten,
neon, gelled lights everything,
says Fong. We treated the days like
you would in any city, with big
rags and bounces, but night is
when it got tricky. Because of
budget restraints, we had to be
specific with the lights we put in
windows. We put 5K globes in our
streetlights so they would do a bit
of lighting, and we had Condors
with simulated moonlight.
Positioned at the end of the city
streets, the Condors were fitted
with Bardwell and McAlister Mac
Tech HPL fixtures, which were also
used to light the exterior green-
screens. According to Tiffin, each
Mac Tech uses 12 575-watt HPL
globes, but the reflector inside
creates an output of 1K per bulb.
We had 42 Mac Techs, all wired to
the dimmer board, he adds. In
fact, all lighting in the city set
including traffic signals and TV-
set effects visible through windows
was run off dimmer boards
employing a wireless DMX system
Tiffin had used on Fantastic Four:
Rise of the Silver Surfer (AC June
07); the wireless transmitters were
blended into the buildings to look
like antennas.
In comic-book terms,
Watchmen is a very realistic
graphic novel, so we didnt want to
stylize the sets to the extent that
they would feel fake, says
McDowell. We wanted the audi-
ence to believe these superheroes
American Cinematographer 31
Top: To re-create
the graphic
novels stylized
New York City,
three city blocks
were
constructed from
the ground up at
Canadian
Motion Picture
Park Studios
outside of
Vancouver.
Middle: Aided
by the Owl
Ships halogen
headlights, Nite
Owl keeps an
eye on a riot
while The
Comedian gets
his hands dirty
at street level.
The Owl Ship
was regularly
suspended from
cranes or
mounted on
gimbals. Bottom:
Silk Spectre
tours the Owl
Ships interior.
32 April 2009
exist in a real world with real
texture and grit. But the color gave
us a layer where we could make
the real world stylized enough to
believe that someone who looks
like Nite Owl could be standing in
these streets. We basically said gray
is purple. In the street, we used a
really extreme palette in the
secondary range purple, a
warm yellow and a warm green
and aged it as you would a realis-
tic, conventional set. It had an
underglow of a strong color that
Larry could bring out in the
timing, but for the purpose of
believability, it had texture and
aging.
Respecting the source mate-
rials richness of detail often called
for an increased depth of field.
We wanted more focus so we
could feel everything, and we
wanted to be right in there with
the characters, says Fong. We
shot a lot with 27mm and 35mm
lenses. Generally maintaining a
stop of T2.8, Fong shot
Watchmen on two Kodak Vision2
stocks, 100T 5212 (day exteriors)
and 500T 5218 (all other mater-
ial). He and Snyder opted to shoot
in 4-perf Super 35mm for a 2.40:1
release. The ideas in this movie
are big, and I wanted that feeling
to come across in the motion
picture, says Snyder.
The date is Oct. 12, 1985.
Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean
Morgan) a.k.a. The Comedian,
a government agent is sitting in
his high-rise apartment, watching
TV. Suddenly, his door gets kicked
in, and, after a fierce struggle, he is
thrown out the window. Were all
pretty proud of the shot of The
Comedian going out the window,
says Fong. To execute the move,
Morgan was suspended from a
wire rig and pulled out of a
window frame (sans glass) built
30' above the stage floor. Key grip
Mike Kirilenko suggested using a
Technocrane. We followed
[Morgan] through the window
and then tilted to follow him
down, says Fong. At some point,
the CG takes over, but for most of
the shot, its the real actor. We shot
that at 150 fps.
Theres a lot of speed-
ramping and slow motion [in the
film], continues the cinematogra-
pher. That was tough because
every time you double the film
speed, you need twice as much
light, and thats not something you
can just do on the spur of the
moment. We had to build that into
our sets, and for budgetary
Clockwise from
above: Fong
rigged an HMI
balloon light in a
vertical position
to suggest the
blue glow of a
30'-tall Dr.
Manhattan at
work in his lab.
At normal height,
Crudup (second
from left) wore a
special suit
fashioned by
Chris Gillman
and fitted with
LEDs and
tracking
markers; three
suits were made
to allow multiple
Manhattans to
appear in frame
at once. The suit
allowed Crudup
to actually light
his environment,
so we didnt
have to wave a
light around and
make believe he
was lighting
people on set,
says Fong.
Watchmakers
reasons, we had to commit ahead
of time to which scenes would
have slow motion. But Zacks
really good about planning things
like that; he storyboards every
shot.
The rest of the action in
Blakes apartment was filmed in a
fully dressed set constructed 8' off
the stage floor. There are practical
lights on in the kitchen and the
living room, but we determined
that most of [the apartment]
should be moonlit, with [ambi-
ent] city light influencing it, says
Fong. A greenscreen was rigged
outside the window for city exten-
sions (done by visual-effects house
MPC in Vancouver), and to simu-
late moonlight, the crew rigged
20Ks with Blue and some diffu-
sion on an I-beam and trolley so
they could move the lights
quickly; a row of Image 80s with a
mixed-tube configuration also
hung above the set to provide soft
ambience. To suggest the street-
lights far below, the crew posi-
tioned Par cans along the stage
floor and gelled them to affect a
sodium-vapor look.
In August 1959, Dr. Jon
Osterman (Billy Crudup) steps
into an experimental chamber in
the Gila Flats intrinsic-field test
center to retrieve a watch he left
behind. Programmed to lock
automatically for experiments, the
chamber door closes behind him,
and none of Ostermans fellow
scientists can countermand the
programming. Within moments,
every atom in Ostermans body
has been torn apart. A few months
later, he successfully reconstitutes
himself, and his resurrection
grants him a level of control over
space and time. He is truly the first
super-powered superhero, and the
U.S. government quickly enlists
him as a nuclear deterrent, chris-
tening him Dr. Manhattan.
When DesJardin began
preproduction for Watchmens
visual effects, in April 2007, deter-
mining how to shoot Dr.
Manhattans size-shifting, lumi-
nous body was among his first
priorities. At first, I was less
concerned about his blue glow
than I was about the fact that hes
30-feet tall when we first see him,
then he shrinks to normal size, and
then hes 200-feet tall when we see
him in Vietnam, recalls DesJardin.
And there have to be three of him
in a love scene! Zack and I decided
to make him an all-CG character;
the problems that solved were
massive.
Though his final form was
crafted in the computer at Sony
Pictures Imageworks (under the
guidance of SPI visual-effects
supervisor Peter Travers), Dr.
Manhattan still needed a presence
33
34 April 2009
onstage. To aid the animators and
Crudups fellow actors and facili-
tate Fongs lighting, the team
decided to put Crudup in a special
suit fitted with motion-capture
markers and blue LED lights. We
talked to Ian Hunter [at New Deal
Studios], who does a lot of physi-
cal effects and miniature work,
and Ian led us to Chris Gilman [of
Global Effects], who builds space-
suits for movies and museums and
exhibits, says DesJardin. Chris
was very familiar with building
things that were sort of strange,
and I told him we needed a suit
that would have 1,000 LEDs on it
the lights even needed to be
on his feet so hed light the floor
as he walked. And the suit had
to be portable and production-
friendly.
Gilman delivered three fully
functioning LED/motion-capture
suits, all of which were employed
in the aforementioned love scene.
Hoping to please his lover, Laurie
Juspeczyk (Malin Akerman)
a.k.a. Silk Spectre Dr.
Manhattan multiplies himself,
sending two duplicates to bed
while a third continues working in
his lab. We had three suits made
so that three people could be in
the same shot, as though there
were three Dr. Manhattans,
DesJardin explains. Billy was
always the featured one, of course.
We did little tricks to make them
appear and disappear; for exam-
Top to bottom:
Dr. Manhattan
abandons Earth
for the solitude
of Mars; in the
final film, the
character
appears as a
CG creation
courtesy of
Sony Pictures
Imageworks.
The Martian
landscape
comprised a
40'-square
patch of red dirt
surrounded by
greenscreen.
After
teleporting her
off of Earth,
Manhattan
guides Silk
Spectre aboard
his self-made
glass palace,
which existed
onstage as a
green
staircase. SPI
created the CG
palace, based
on McDowells
designs.
Watchmakers
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IN THE MOST INTENSIVE HANDS-ON PROGRAM IN THE WORLD
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HANDS-ON INTENSIVE SHORT-TERM WORKSHOPS
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36 April 2009
ple, one of them would drop down
behind Billy and wed turn his
lights off as he slid out of frame. It
was hokey to watch, but it worked
well, saved a lot of production time
and it gave SPI the performance
data they needed for the initial
capture-tracking.
Throughout principal pho-
tography, Travers and a small crew
from SPI were on set to manage
the witness cameras used for Dr.
Manhattans scenes, and during
prep, Crudup spent a day at SPI
running through a bunch of
motions and facial expressions,
says DesJardin. That led to a lot of
really good hand animation on the
back end that tied the film perfor-
mance into the CG character.
Fong adds, We shot all the close-
ups of [Crudups] dialogue
conventionally, with him doing
the performance, and we didnt
have to wave a light around and
make believe he was lighting
people on set. When necessary,
however, the crew was ready with
additional LEDs or other blue
fixtures to boost Dr. Manhattans
glow. When he is introduced, for
example, he stands 30' tall in his
lab, and Fong used an HMI
balloon light vertically to get a
bigger blue glow. I also often used
a mannequin dressed in one of the
extra suits to save Billy the trouble
when he was off camera.
At one point in the story,
tensions with the Soviet Union
propel the United States to
DEFCON 2, and President Nixon
retreats to a top-secret war room
that doubles as a nuclear shelter.
The filmmakers modeled this set
upon the war room in Dr.
Strangelove (1964). In Kubricks
movie, there are large graphics
showing maps of the world behind
the round table, and we tried to
figure out whether that was rear-
projection or a hard set, says
Watchmakers
Top: Rorschach
interrogates
Edgar Jacobi
(Matt Frewer),
formerly known
as Moloch the
Mystic. Middle:
On stage, Haley
wore a facemask
with eyeholes
and tracking
markers.
Intelligent
Creatures then
created the CG
blots emulating
the Rorschach
test. Bottom: The
Rumrunner sign
shines outside of
Molochs
brownstone set.
38 April 2009
Fong. When I showed our gaffer,
Denis Brock, a photo of the
Strangelove set, he said, It was defi-
nitely rear-projection. I asked,
How do you know? and he said,
Because I was working the projec-
tor. I realized Id hired the right
guy!
To create the circular light
that hangs above the table at the
heart of the war room, the crew
wired Kino Flo tubes to a different
ballast. That helped us with the
off-speed shooting and helped us
remain true to the look [of the
Strangelove set], notes Tiffin.
McDowells set also incorporated
forced perspective along the edges;
to make the space feel bigger, 4'-
tall actors were dressed as guards
and positioned against scaled-
down set pieces in the background.
One of the Watchmen who
continues to execute his own
brand of justice after vigilantism is
outlawed is Walter Kovacs, a.k.a.
Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley),
whose costume includes a trench
coat, a fedora and a white mask
that completely covers his head
and features ever-shifting blots
(emulating a Rorschach Test).
Through testing, I determined we
could give Jackie eyeholes and put
some tracking markers on the
cloth, says DesJardin. Then I
asked [visual-effects company]
Intelligent Creatures to replace the
eyeholes only, take out the track-
ing marks and animate the blots
over that. Ultimately, they talked
me into replacing his whole head
not the hat, not the scarf, but
the head itself. That worked 98
percent of the time; for a couple of
shots, we had to go back to my
original concept.
As for the blots, he contin-
ues, Alex McDowell and I were
going to get a library of real
Rorschach prints, but we found
out theyre all copyrighted, so we
worked with Intelligent Creatures
to create our own blots, which are
more or less duplicates of the ones
Dave Gibbons created for the
graphic novel. Using Maya and
Houdini, the Intelligent Creatures
team found a way to process the
2-D patterns to create noise
around the edges, like a saturated-
cloth look. (Hollywood-based
CIS rounded out DesJardins team
of visual-effects companies,
handling wire removals and the
opening credit sequence, which
spans the four-decade rise and fall
of costumed heroes in a series of
super-slow-motion vignettes.)
In one scene, Rorschach pays
a visit to Edgar Jacobi (Matt
Frewer), a reformed criminal who
formerly clashed with masked
heroes under the stage name
Moloch the Mystic. Jacobi now
lives in an unassuming brownstone
that is illuminated at night by a
flashing neon sign that adorns the
Rumrunner bar next door. That
sign followed me around every-
where we went! Tiffin exclaims.
Measuring nearly 20' high, the sign
was mounted on the backlot for
exteriors and onstage for interiors.
It was a bright yellow and blue,
and we were able to get tons of
neon light out of it, recalls Tiffin.
They were such overpowering
colors that there was really no need
to [supplement the light]; the
apartment interior was lit with that
and a few practicals.
Watchmakers
Nite Owls
subterranean
headquarters
was the only set
with a greenbed
around its
perimeter,
allowing the
filmmakers to
rig 5Ks and 10Ks
for backlight.
Fong also used
practical
fixtures in the
frame to lend the
space an
industrial feel.

RAY EMERI T Z
March 1,1918 February 12, 2009
We are thankful to have been a part of your amazing legacy
in the art and craft of cinematography. Your generosity
and kindness will always be remembered.
Your loving family at Panavision.
40 April 2009
In the hours before
Rorschach visits Jacobi, Dr.
Manhattan abandons Earth in
favor of Mars. For Mars, we
created a 40-foot-square area of
red dirt and surrounded it with
greenscreen, says Fong. The land-
scape was then extended by artists
at SPI, who were also tasked with
realizing the glass palace, a float-
ing, reflective edifice that Dr.
Manhattan raises out of the red
dirt. Onstage, the glass palace
comprised little more than a giant
green staircase with mirrored
steps, says Fong. Shooting it all
with a Technocrane helped
because of the raised platform.
Our glass palace is, as it was
in the graphic novel, some kind of
atomic clock that exists outside the
rules of physics, says McDowell.
So we imagined parts of a clock
that were all able to intersect and
pass through one another. In
animating McDowells design,
Pete [Travers] and I realized it
was segmented enough that we
could do some collision avoidance
at the moment of intersection,
says DesJardin. That gave us a
really interesting look; wed get
areas with a little bit of a flutter as
pieces move out of the way of each
Watchmakers
In designing
Karnak,
Ozymandias
Antarctic
retreat, we
took the lines
from Egyptian
[architecture]
but said it was
cast in
concrete, says
McDowell. The
massive set was
lit from above
with 234 Kino
Flo Image 80s,
which also
illuminated an
adjacent snow-
bound set
(below).
other and then go back to their
normal motion.
Before Dr. Manhattan goes
to Mars, Juspeczyk leaves him and
goes to stay with Dan Dreiberg,
a.k.a. Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson).
Over the next several days, against
the backdrop of their mutual
attraction, Juspeczyk and Dreiberg
don their old costumes and
Dreiberg dusts off his old head-
quarters, located beneath his
brownstone in an abandoned
subway tunnel. That was the only
set where we had a greenbed
around the whole perimeter, says
Fong. We werent exactly sure
how the scenes in there were going
to be blocked, and the greenbeds
allowed us to be ready for
anything. Tiffin adds, Its a very
lively place. We had nine to 12
space lights, which we warmed up
a little, and we used Big Eye 10Ks
as backlights with 5Ks on the sides.
Beneath the area where [Nite
Owls] costumes are stored, we had
1K nook lights coming up through
a milk Plexiglas floor beneath a
metal grating. In the elevator shaft,
we punched 2K Lekos into mirrors
to bring out the dripping water.
Within Nite Owls lair rests
the Owl Ship, nicknamed Archie
after Merlins pet owl, Archimedes,
in The Sword and the Stone. The
egg-shaped aircraft has two cock-
pit windows, giving it the look of
an armored owl. Aside from a CG
version crafted by artists at
Moving Picture Co. in Vancouver,
there was only one full-scale ship
for the shoot. I wanted as much
lighting built into it as possible
because I knew it was going to be
too tight inside to bring in a lot of
lights, says Fong. The built-in
lighting included monitors and
buttons, all programmed through
a dimmer board to light up in vari-
ous configurations, as well as Kino
Flo tubes built into the ships floor,
ceiling and walls. We didnt want
raw, exposed tubes, so we created
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41
our own vented grill that we had
machined, notes Tiffin. The grills
could then be opened when tubes
were out of frame to boost the
ambience. For additional fill, says
Fong, we just squeezed Kinos in
wherever we could!
Archies exterior features
headlights and taillights; the head-
lights were all halogens, three
positioned vertically down the
center and two underneath each
eye. The wiring needed to power
all the fixtures was hidden
beneath a hatch inside the ship,
and hidden access ports on the top
and bottom allowed the Socapex
cable to be run from below when
the ship was on a gimbal or above
when the ship was on a crane.
Nite Owl and Rorschach
take the Owl Ship to Karnak, the
icy retreat of Adrian Veidt
(Matthew Goode), an entrepre-
neur who used to fight crime as
Ozymandias. Fong describes
Veidts wintry manse, where Dr.
Manhattan and Silk Spectre also
show up for the films final
confrontation, as gigantic. It has a
glass ceiling, so theres a ton of top
light, and there are big stairs at one
end that go up to another level.
The Technocrane was definitely a
lifesaver for the tracking shots up
and down those stairs!
In the graphic novel, the
location combines a late-70s
urban sensibility with Egyptian
influences and a domed vivarium
full of exotic plant life. We
Watchmakers
42
At the dawn
of a new world
order, the staff
of the right-
wing New
Frontiersman
editor Hector
Godfrey (L.
Harvey Gold,
left) and his
assistant,
Seymour (Chris
Gauthier)
enjoy some
takeout from
their
neighborhood
Burgers N
Borscht.
changed Karnak [from the graphic
novel] probably more than most of
the sets, says McDowell. Zack
wanted to minimize the amount of
greenery in the movie, so we didnt
do the vivarium, and we went even
more literally in the Egyptian vein.
We imagined Veidt had taken a
contemporary architect out to the
Antarctic, given him the brief of an
Egyptian building, and then flew
in a lot of big sculptures from a
museum in Cairo.
The Karnak set stretched
some 35' toward the stage ceiling,
which was just over 40' high. We
had a catwalk system, but we only
had 5 or 6 feet of room to work
in, recalls Tiffin. We ended up
dismantling Image 80s, pulling out
the yokes and creating a custom
bracket that held them all flat. We
created one giant softbox with 234
Image 80s, and the grips developed
a way to slide diffusion in and out
on aircraft cables. We used grid
most of the time, but if we wanted
to thicken it up, we could pull the
string and bring in a whole new
piece of diffusion.
When Fong spoke to AC, he
was working on Watchmens digi-
tal intermediate at Company 3,
where he was collaborating with
colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld. Of the
Karnak scenes, Fong says, Zack
and I wanted it to feel dusky, like
the sun is going down, but still in
icy Antarctica. It should be cool
and moody. When shooting, we
found the best color of light, and
tweaked it to achieve just the right
feel while in the DI suite.
Were doing the DI
painstakingly, but there are already
so many visual elements in the
movie that we havent been using
one overall extreme look, he adds.
Each scene warranted its own
requirements, which I discussed
with Zack way back in prep. Seeing
it come together in the DI so many
months later is very exciting, to say
the least.
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TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
Super 35mm
Panaflex Millennium XL,
Platinum; PanArri 435
Primo lenses
Kodak Vision2 100T 5212,
500T 5218
Digital Intermediate
Printed on
Kodak Vision Premier 2393
43
44 April 2009
K
nowing, the third collaboration
between director Alex Proyas
and cinematographer Simon
Duggan, ACS, is a thriller that
explores the cycle of life and
questions whether our future is
indeed preordained. It is centered
around a mystery, the solving of
which takes the audience in an
unexpected direction, but it is a
character-based story, with the
themes being represented through
the characters relationships, says
Duggan.
The film begins in 1959, with
pupils at a Massachusetts elemen-
tary school being asked to illustrate
their versions of the future. One of
the children covers the page in seem-
ingly random numbers. The pic-
tures are then placed in a time cap-
sule. Fifty years later, the capsule is
removed, and the pictures are hand-
ed out to the current pupils. When
the boy who receives the page of
numbers takes it home, his father,
Prof. John Koestler (Nicolas Cage),
soon realizes the numbers represent
a series of past and future dates of
disasters. Koestler comes to believe
the world is ending, and when mys-
terious figures threaten his son
(Chandler Canterbury), he knows
he is inextricably linked to the com-
ing apocalypse.
Knowing was one of the first
high-profile feature films to be shot
with the Red One 4K digital camera,
and it was Duggans first outing on a
digital format. According to the cin-
ematographer, the initial impetus to
use the One came from Proyas
interest in photography. Alex is an
avid photographer and uses a digital
stills camera with the same type of
chip as the Red, a CMOS, says
Duggan. He is very impressed with
the quality of the images, and conse-
quently, he suggested we test the
Red as an acquisition format. The
Simon Duggan, ACS
employs Red One cameras
on the big-budget thriller
Knowing, about a professor
who foresees the end
of the world.
by Simon Gray
Unit photography by Vince Valitutti
Sum of
All
Fears
Sum of
All
Fears
benefits of shooting 4K for the visu-
al effects were also obvious to both
of us.
The Red uses a CMOS
Mysterium chip with a physical res-
olution of 4900x2580 pixels.
Although some have compared its
image quality to that of 35mm film,
Duggan says this wasnt a primary
consideration for him and Proyas.
We didnt think purely in compar-
ative terms; we simply liked the look
the Red gave. The color rendition is
very good, and theres also a smooth
rendition of skin tones specific to
the system. The dynamic range, par-
ticularly in the highlights, can be a
problem, but I knew I could expose
more for the highlights when neces-
sary because its very easy to pull the
shadows up with the Redcode files.
Half of the filmmakers deci-
sion-making process comprised
finding a postproduction house
capable of handling the Redcodes
RAW variable-bitrate wavelet codec
in a satisfactory manner. Estab-
lishing the post workflow was a
rather difficult process, recalls
Duggan. By far, we saw the best
results at Park Road Post in New
Zealand, the facility that had fin-
ished Crossing the Line, the short
film Peter Jackson shot with a proto-
type Red One. The superior quality
of their results was particularly evi-
dent when we tested the camera at
1,000 ASA.
Principal photography com-
menced in March 2008, and prior to
that, the camera department was
allocated four weeks to prep its
approach to the two-unit feature.
The Red companys system of
making individual accessories avail-
able online took some getting used
to, and it can, in my opinion,
increase the potential for mistakes,
reports 1st AC David Elmes.
Putting a large kit together in that
manner isnt as film-friendly and
functional as it could be. Much of
our four weeks of prep involved
sourcing adapters for various inputs
American Cinematographer 45
Opposite page:
Amid ominous
signs of an
impending
apocalypse,
Caleb (Chandler
Canterbury)
peers out a
window in his
bedroom. This
page, top to
bottom: Prof.
John Koestler
(Nicolas Cage)
springs into
action with his
son close
behind; Koestler
and Diana (Rose
Byrne) examine
key clues;
cinematographer
Simon Duggan,
ACS (right)
blocks out a
scene with
Cages stand-in,
Paul James, in a
cabin set.
P
h
o
t
o
s

c
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

S
u
m
m
i
t

E
n
t
e
r
t
a
i
n
m
e
n
t
.
46 April 2009
Sum of All Fears
and outputs, and locating acces-
sories such as rods, base and sliding
plates, and so forth. At the time,
there were several third-party com-
panies who could fill the gap, and we
used the Element Technica video
break-out box and hired our lenses,
filters and matte boxes from Lemac
in Melbourne. A-camera operator
Peter McCaffrey adds, With Davids
thorough prep, the production was
in very good stead, and the system
stood up well.
Working with a digital-cap-
ture system also meant additional
camera crew. Theres a school of
thought that a loader isnt required
when shooting with a non-film
camera, but the opposite is true,
says Elmes. When Im working
with the Red or any system involv-
ing digital media, I insist on the data
wrangler [digital-imaging techni-
cian] as a position in its own right,
separate from the second camera
assistant. Quality control of the data
is a major consideration with these
systems. Our DIT for Knowing was
Ryan Kunkleman, who also per-
formed on-set grades. Simon also
wanted a second assistant with expe-
rience with the One, so we hired
Chas Lyon.
The production recorded to
150 8GB flash cards and 26 Red
Drives, 320GB external hard drives
that contain two 2.5" hard drives in a
RAID 0 configuration. When each
drive or card was full, Kunkleman
checked the footage in the Redcine
application. Uncorrected still frames
were pulled from the footage using
RedAlert. The metadata from the
drive was captured and imported
into a database built by Kunkleman,
then sent to editorial. The stills were
imported into Adobe Lightroom,
and a look for the scene was estab-
lished with Duggan. After the data
had been confirmed, the drives or
cards were sent to the data truck.
Using the reference still, Allan
Chesher and, later, Caleb Folkes per-
formed a quick one-light grade in
RedAlert. The data was then backed
up locally, and a transport copy on
one of 10 500GB G-Tech drives went
to editorial. All backups were made
using a checksum utility.
The editorial department also
checked the footage and then made
two 400GB LTO-3 tapes, one for
Animal Logic and one for Park Road
Post. We didnt delete any of the
original media until Park Road Post
had received its LTO-3 and con-
firmed that all the clips had passed
quality control, says Elmes. Any
drive coming back onto set had to be
completely free of data; otherwise,
we couldnt be sure it had been
backed up. There was a three-day
turnaround from when the drives
went to the truck until they came
back on set.
Duggan rated the One at the
recommended setting of 320 ISO.
On set, the footage was viewed at
720p through an HD-SDI output
into an HD Rec709 monitor.
Overall, I went for quite a moody
look, and in some ways, I was more
adventurous using the Red, he
reports. I often went much darker
than the suggested 320 ISO, and
having the ability to immediately
view the files gave me the confidence
to push the camera to its limits with-
out introducing noise.
Duggan viewed his para-
mount task as providing the visual
tone and atmosphere with lighting,
while Proyas worked very closely
with the camera operator. Alex
Left: Koestler
sheds some
light on the
mystery. Right:
The crew
positions their
equipment for a
night exterior.
wanted to shoot most of the film
handheld, and I wanted to give him
a great operator, which Peter
McCaffrey is, says Duggan. Alex
likes the intimacy between a hand-
held camera and the actors; he
enjoys letting the actors influence
and determine the blocking, and
using a handheld camera gives the
operator more freedom to respond
to the performances.
McCaffrey reports that he was
pleasantly surprised by the Red
One. The only downfall of the par-
ticular build we used, #15, was
shooting low-light scenes at night,
he notes. I struggled with the
brightness and resolution of the eye-
piece, and we eventually solved that
problem by using an on-board 5-
inch Transvideo HD monitor, which
gave a much better picture. I believe
Red has improved the eyepiece in
the later builds.
To determine the intensity of
the camera movement, Alex and I
established a caffeine-based system,
McCaffrey continues. A very steady
shot was a one cappuccino, whereas
a chase sequence might be four or
five cappuccinos. Some scenes
required a more aggressive handheld
feel for example, when Koestler is
trying to solve the secrets of the
numbers, the camera becomes more
active as he gets agitated. In other
scenes, Alex would want the camera
to create a slightly unsettled feeling.
We did handheld dolly work on the
back of ATVs and, for high-speed
work, on a rickshaw system. Im a
big believer in riding on toys when
you can. The versatility of key grip
Toby Coppings approach and the
rigs he built were fantastic.
Duggan favored short, light-
weight zooms for the majority of the
shoot, reserving prime lenses for
interiors with low light levels. The
One has a PL-mount, so I used
Cooke S4 primes and [Angenieux]
Optimo zooms, he says. The
[T2.6] 15-40mm Optimo was used
the most. Alexs coverage was often
mid-shot and wider, even in intense
coverage of a scene. He prefers to
contain body language in the frame.
Duggan says his basic
approach to lighting didnt change
with the One. Ive always lit by eye
and then taken meter readings, and
that didnt change, except that I was
also using the cameras built-in his-
togram. Under tungsten light, the
5000K chip is a bit more sensitive to
skin tones, and they can be a little
light. I used the monitor to stop
down by eye if I thought the skin
tones were becoming artificial. My
exposure settings were always slight-
ly under what the histogram sug-
gested. For the first couple of weeks,
I also used the highlight-clipping
zebra at half a stop under what the
chip can handle to get familiar with
its exposure range.
Rushes were delivered as
QuickTime files and viewed via an
HD plasma screen or 1K projector.
Seeing the rushes that way was a bit
off-putting, Duggan acknowledges.
Its a far-from-ideal method of
looking at the days work. I was,
however, reassured about the quality
of what we were getting by my visits
to Park Road Post, where I viewed
Above: Lucinda
(Lara Robinson)
stands in front of
her Boston
elementary
school in
reality, the
University of
Melbourne. The
location looks
the part lots
of large, leafy
trees and I
used a lot of
dappled light in
these scenes,
which are
mainly walk-
and-talks, says
Duggan. Left:
Cage and
director Alex
Proyas (standing
next to the actor,
in red shirt)
work out an
impactful dolly
move with the
crew.
American Cinematographer 47
house, and I didnt want to inhibit
the actors movements.
The best approach to this set
was to line the studio-interior set
perimeters with Tetris lights to
establish a soft ambience, explains
gaffer Shaun Conway, who designed
and built the 4'x4'x1' 1400-watt
tungsten soft boxes. The units are
so cheap and light that it was speed-
ier to pre-rig as many as possible
rather than move them around on
the day. That way, all we had to do
was bring up the appropriate light
on the [dimmer] board. For the
night scenes, Simon only ever used
one or two at a time; with the cam-
era rated at 320 ISO, he was shoot-
ing between T2 and T2.8. The prac-
ticals, which held 40-watt bulbs,
worked really well at those levels. We
used 1'x1' Litepanels [LEDs] for
minimal fill and eyelights. The sets
ceilings were removed, allowing the
Tetris lights to be dropped down to
floor level when required. For day
interiors, we also used 20Ks and Arri
T-12s through the windows, says
Conway. Space lights were used for
day- and night-exterior ambience.
For day-exterior sequences,
the filmmakers created autumnal
warmth, complete with brown
leaves falling through many of the
shots. The University of Melbourne
stood in for the Boston elementary
school. The location looks the part
lots of large, leafy trees and I
used a lot of dappled light in these
scenes, which are mainly walk-and-
talks, says Duggan. When the actors
were actually walking under trees, he
softened the natural sunlight with
12'x12' or 20'x20' frames of grid-
cloth. When they were walking in
the open, the crew created the dap-
pled effect with 20-by, 12-by or 4-by
leaf nets. We spent a lot of time get-
ting the effect looking natural,
recalls Conway. The nets are 20mm
deep and constructed with a criss-
cross of nylon fishing line. Attached
to that were different colored grid-
cloths blue, black and white to
enhance the naturalism of going
from sunlight into shadows of vary-
ing density.
One of the most dramatic
sequences in the film occurs when
Koestler, caught in a traffic jam in
pouring rain, witnesses a commer-
cial airplane crashing into a field.
Alex wanted to stage that scene in a
single handheld three-minute shot,
says Duggan. That puts the audi-
ence right into Koestlers shoes as he
sees the plane coming down and
then helps to search through the
wreckage for survivors. Alex didnt
want visual-effects work or editing
to obscure the emotion of the scene,
and the result is quite disturbing.
McCaffrey explains how the
the extracted material as DPX files
in the digital-intermediate theater.
Proyas sought a naturalistic,
minimal lighting aesthetic for
Knowing. To achieve this, Duggan
used soft, single-source lighting
where possible, with a minimum of
fill. A significant portion of the film
takes place in Koestlers two-story
home, which, like most of the films
interiors, was a set built at
Melbourne Central City Studios. I
wanted controlled, moody lighting,
and the house set was perfect for
that approach, recalls Duggan.
Alex wanted to provide the hand-
held camera with as much flexibili-
ty as possible. There were quite a few
intricate handheld shots in the
48 April 2009
Sum of All Fears
Above: The crew
illuminates the
scene of
a car crash.
Below: The
filmmakers set
up the movies
ambitious plane-
crash sequence,
which was
staged on an
unfinished
freeway in a
continuous,
three-minute
handheld shot.
Alex didnt want
visual-effects
work or editing
to obscure the
emotion of the
scene, and the
result is quite
disturbing,
Duggan attests.
50 April 2009
shot unfolds: It starts with the cam-
era looking over the policemans
shoulder to Koestler, with the traffic
jam behind him. As both characters
react to the planes screaming
engines, the camera whip-pans off
Koestler to see the [CG] plane rip-
ping through power pylons. The
plane is followed as it crashes into
the field, and we hold that frame as
several explosions go off. The cam-
era then tracks forward into a medi-
um close-up of Koestler, a move we
accomplished with me on an ATV.
As he starts running, the camera
turns a hard left and travels with
him in a three-quarter front to pro-
file down a small hill. He comes up a
small rise, and the camera slows
down so he gets ahead. As the cam-
era goes over the top, its looking
over his shoulder, following his run
toward the wreckage. As Cage slows
to attend to the first victim,
McCaffrey steps off the ATV; the
operator then continues on foot for
another two minutes, circling Cage
as he attempts to help the victims
while explosions erupt in the wreck-
age.
A ceiling rigged
with space
lights and a
crane-mounted
camera head
lent ominous
atmosphere to a
major sequence
set in a forest.
Sum of All Fears

The sequence was staged over


several days on an unfinished free-
way outside Melbourne. We had
been at the location for two days,
doing the lead-up scenes and then
rehearsals, and it was overcast, which
was exactly the look I wanted,
recalls Duggan. Thanks to the
vagaries of Melbourne weather,
however, the third day was bright
sunshine. As the day heated up, the
water from the rain towers remained
cold. There were also flame effects,
so the camera was traveling through
warm pockets while constantly hav-
ing cold rain falling on it. The motor
for the rain deflector started to heat
up, causing the deflector to fog. The
first two takes were aborted for that
reason. The small rain deflector was
replaced with a larger one that was
faster in its rotation. We did one take
in sunlight that we were reasonably
happy with. Then, as the sun dipped
behind the hills, we had a 5-to-7-
minute window [because of reset
time and the seasonal light], and we
did only one take in that light. Thats
the one in the film. Its the first time
Ive ever seen Alex clap behind the
monitor!
An informative example of
Duggans approach to night exteri-
ors is a sequence in which Koestler
and his son are in a car in the forest,
and the mysterious strangers are try-
ing to get the boy out of the car. To
provide overall ambience, Conways
crew built an octagonal moon box
20' in diameter. The box was hard-
rigged to a crane, avoiding the use of
guide ropes. We rigged 180 1K Par
cans gelled with
1
4 CTB and cyan in
the moon box and covered it with
Half Grid, explains the gaffer. The
spread covered a 60-by-60-foot area,
and Nic was handling a Surefire
Xenon-bulb flashlight, which is very
bright. For close-ups of the actors,
Roscolux Calcolor Cyan 7 was used
on 1'x1' Litepanels. Calcolor Cyan
15 was used on the moon box and
the space lights providing ambience
through narrow corridors of trees in
the background.
For t he a r r i v a l of t he
strangers spaceship at night,
Conways crew constructed a rig in
the classic flying-saucer configura-
tion; the rig provided interactive
light for the actors and visual-effects
Sum of All Fears
52
A rickshaw
system was
used to capture
high-speed
scenes.
department and was replaced with a
CG spaceship in post. To give the
ship a hot center of light hitting the
ground, we used Par cans pointing
back into the structure and down
through Quarter Grid. Around the
edge, space lights provided a soft
glow. All lights were programmed
on a chase sequence and pulsed
individually through a dimmer rack.
Duggan digitally graded
Knowing at Park Road with colorist
David Hollingsworth. Using the
Quantel Pablo, they worked at 2K
resolution. The footage was very
flexible when digging into shadows
or pulling down highlights without
introducing noise, says the cine-
matographer. The on-set grades
and one-frame reference pulls
increased the efficiency and speed of
the timing process definitely a big
advantage. For the printing, we
found that Fuji [Eterna-RDI] 4511
in combination with Kodak inter-
mediate stock [2242] and Fuji
[Eterna-CP] 3513-DI print stock
gave us the best results. Park Road
Post handled the filmout, and
Deluxe Laboratories generated the
release prints.
The DI also proved useful for
very specific image manipulation.
The film is set in autumn, during
the short period when the leaves
change color, explains Duggan.
However, because many of the
trees were still green at the time of
our shoot, we spent quite a while in
the DI changing the leaf colors
through color and luminance key-
ing to create the full range of pinks
and oranges. Skin tones generally
fell into place. Sometimes a little
extra contrast was required when
adjusting subtleties of tone and
color, such as when heavier makeup
was used on the actors.
Duggan sums up the process
of shooting Knowing by observing
that Proyas likes to have creative
tension on the set, because he feels it
brings out the best in everybody. He
pushes all of his collaborators to
their limits, and thats why I love
working with him. I
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53
54 April 2009
M
artin Scorsese can still vivid-
ly recall his first impression
of The Robe, the 20th
Century Fox production that
ushered in the CinemaScope
format in 1953. Ill never forget
going to see The Robe on its initial
release, he tells AC. I sat there, and
the curtains kept opening wider and
wider and wider. None of us, not
me or anyone else in the audience,
was prepared for the experience, and
it changed the movies forever.
CinemaScopes original aspect ratio
was 2.55:1, and at the time it was
introduced, audiences were accus-
tomed to seeing images on the silver
screen in 1.33:1 or 1.37:1.
Through his involvement in
The Film Foundation, a non-profit
that he and several other prominent
filmmakers founded in 1990,
Scorsese recently had an opportuni-
ty to play a role in restoring The
Robe to its original splendor. When
20th Century Fox partnered with
the Academy Film Archive to digi-
tally restore the movie, The Film
Foundation helped finance the proj-
ect. By all accounts, the work, car-
ried out by Lowry Digital and Audio
Mechanics, was painstaking. The
poor condition of the surviving ele-
ments pushed existing digital tools
to their limits and, in some cases,
beyond, necessitating the develop-
An Epic
Endeavor
20th Century
Fox and the Academy
Film Archive partner
with The Film
Foundation to
digitally restore The
Robe, the first
CinemaScope release.
by David Heuring
all agreed the results were good.
Michael Pogorzelski, director of the
Academy Film Archive, adds, We
knew that if our goal was to really
say that The Robe had been properly
restored to how it looked and
sounded when it had its premiere,
the job would be quite a challenge.
The team at Lowry Digital,
led by project manager Ryan
Gomez, worked with elements that
included original negative and orig-
inal black-and-white separation
masters; however, many sections of
the O-neg had been replaced over
the years with dupe negative that
had been struck at different labs in
different years. For example, Reel
4AB had dupe sections from 1967,
1972 and 1974, and all of the dupes
had been made at different labs,
says Gomez. The diversity of the
image structure was extraordinary
and quite daunting.
The project followed a 4K-
2K-4K workflow: scanning at 4K,
image-processing at 2K, and filmout
at 4K. We found that none of these
elements had more than 2K resolu-
tion, so we scanned them all at 4K
and down-sampled to 2K for the
work, says Inchalik. We modified
the Imagica Imager XE scanners,
which are designed to handle deli-
cate materials, to be even safer with
the film. Weve also customized the
ment of new software for both pic-
ture and sound restoration. We
couldnt have done this work as
recently as two years ago, says Mike
Inchalik, chief operating officer at
Lowry Digital. Its the most com-
plex and challenging restoration
weve done to date.
Directed by Henry Koster,
and filmed in Technicolor by Leon
Shamroy, ASC, The Robe earned
five Oscar nominations, including
Best Picture and Best Color
Cinematography; it took home the
statuettes for art direction and cos-
tume design. The film tells the story
of a Roman soldier (played by
Richard Burton) who supervises the
crucifixion of Jesus Christ and gains
possession of the garment Jesus
wore on the cross. Increasingly tor-
mented by guilt over his actions, the
soldier becomes obsessed with the
garment.
Given its significance in the
history of cinema, The Robe had
been on 20th Century Foxs restora-
tion wish list for some time, and
the studio had been making tests on
the title at various facilities for years,
according to Schawn Belston, Foxs
vice president of asset management
and film preservation. Wed been
making tests at Lowry alone for two
years, he notes. Finally, the tech-
nology reached the point where we
American Cinematographer 55
scanning to get as broad a dynamic
range as possible off the film; we
concentrated the bit allocation
where the picture information was
tightly compacted in a narrow range
of densities.
In addition to applying tools
to address dirt, flicker and image sta-
bilization, the Lowry team used pro-
prietary tools to ensure tight regis-
tration of the separation masters,
which wouldnt align properly at
Among the
picture flaws in
The Robe that
the restoration
team had to
tackle were
tears and roller
scratches,
some examples
of which are
visible in the
frame at left,
which features
Jean Simmons
(wearing
white), Jay
Robinson
(standing at
center) and
Richard Burton
(far right) in
their starring
roles. The
restored frame
is on the
opposite page.
Below: Director
Henry Koster
(left) and
producer Frank
Ross (second
from right, with
camera around
his neck) pose
with other
executives and
crew on
the set.
F
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a
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e

g
r
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b
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t
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.

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.
56 April 2009
An Epic Endeavor
first. When you recombine seps
optically, you can only move them
in the X-Y plane, says Gomez. But
the reality is that they shrink more at
the edges than they do in the mid-
dle, because the edges are where
they lose their moisture. Our cus-
tom software tools that address this
warping were essential.
The Robe contains approxi-
mately 517 transitions, including
edits and dissolves. Many of the
optical dissolves required repair as
well as contrast, grain and color
adjustments. Lowry uses propri-
etary temporal image processing to
ameliorate the effects of deteriora-
tion and generational loss associated
with duplication and opticals; the
process combines information from
a number of frames in a sequence
and uses that to restore proper
grain, contrast and resolution to
each frame. We dont simply digi-
tize film, color-correct to address
dye fading, paint out dirt and
scratches, and call that a restora-
tion, says Inchalik. The Lowry
Process incorporates powerful
imaging algorithms weve developed
and fine-tuned over the last nine
years.
In determining the proper
look for the restored Robe, Belston
and Pogorzelski referenced an
original dye-transfer print from
Germany (from Scorseses personal
collection) and a mag-striped, faded
Eastmancolor print in Foxs archive.
The dye-transfer print was an
invaluable reference because it
enabled us to see what the opticals,
the matte shots and the day-for-
night scenes looked like at the time,
says Pogorzelski. Belston notes that
the Eastmancolor print was useful
despite its severe fading because it
showed us what the image structure
Right: Roman
soldiers play
games to pass
the time as
Jesus and others
die on their
crosses. Below:
Filming the
atmospheric
exterior on a
studio
soundstage.
K_\cfZXk`fej%K_\Zi\nj%K_\
`e]iXjkilZkli\%K_\]`cd$dXb`e^
kiX[`k`fe%K_\kXo`eZ\ek`m\j%8e[
fg\e`e^jffe#JkX^\('%I\cXo%
E:=@CDF==@:<%/--%+-/%)).*
58 April 2009
An Epic Endeavor
in the original release was like
you can see the dupes, and you can
see the distortion at the edges of the
frame created by the prototype
CinemaScope lenses.
Belston and Pogorzelski were
intent on maintaining the original
look of The Robe, including the
anamorphic phenomenon caused
by the prototype lenses. We didnt
want to erase anything that was
present in the original image, says
Belston. The goal was to leave in as
many nuances of the original pro-
duction as possible. There are visible
matte lines throughout the movie,
and we left them in. The film ends
with a big process shot, not a partic-
ularly good one by todays stan-
dards, and we left it as is because it
speaks to the technology of the
time.
Maintaining the look of the
original release also meant applying
grain-reduction tools with a light
touch. Some people might not
realize that the least-grainy image
doesnt remotely resemble what The
Robe originally looked like, observes
Belston. When we compared a scan
with the grain as is to a scan with
the grain-reduction as high as it
would go, the differences were
remarkable. The grain-free image
looked strangely like high-definition
video, edgy and weird.
The restored Robe will be pre-
sented in its original 2.55:1 aspect
ratio in new prints and home-video
incarnations. (Fox recently released
the title on standard and Blu-ray
DVD.) The negative we scanned is
letterboxed within the 2.35
anamorphic frame, explains
Pogorzelski. This allows prints
made from the restored negative to
contain an analog optical track; all
original prints of The Robe con-
tained a mag track only because pic-
ture information appeared in the
part of the film strip where the opti-
cal track usually appeared. In the-
aters, the resultant image will appear
with slight black borders on the top
and bottom of the frame to allow for
the full 2.55 image to be seen with-
out any cropping of the original
compositions. (Fans of The Robe
will be interested to note that at
press time, supplements on the Blu-
ray DVD are to include some scenes
from the flat 1.33:1 version of the
film, which was shot in tandem with
the CinemaScope version. Intended
for theaters that were not equipped
to project CinemaScope, the flat ver-
sion contains some interesting
deviations in continuity from the
CinemaScope version, says
Pogorzelski.)
On the audio side, engineer
John Polito, president of Audio
Another pair of
before (top)
and after
frames shows
the results of
Lowrys work.
Mechanics, had to address a prob-
lem that pervaded The Robes
soundtrack: an unwanted variation
in pitch known as wow. The prob-
lem had been introduced into the
only surviving protection master of
the original four-track master, and
was most likely the result of warped
tape that created inconsistent con-
tact as it passed over playback heads
during the re-recording process.
(Magnetic four-track sound was
itself a major innovation at the time
of The Robes release, and the films
original sound mix was gone.)
The wow was moderate to
severe in more than 90 minutes of
The Robe and was long considered
uncorrectable, according to Polito. I
saw it as an opportunity to develop
some ideas I had in this area, he
says. I took my ideas to John
Amuedo at Signal Inference, and he
developed the software algorithms
to remove the wow. Because of the
60
The Robe and CinemaScope make a splashy Los Angeles debut at
Graumans Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
An Epic Endeavor
computational intensity of the algo-
rithms we developed, the show had
to be cut into nearly 200 pieces,
processed and then re-edited before
the final remastering. To address
other problems, such as hiss, hum
and equalization, we used tools
from Sonic Studio that are standard
in the industry.
Polito notes that although the
latter tools are automated to a
degree, using them requires aesthet-
ic judgment on the part of the
remastering engineer. The engineer
should always take into account the
aesthetics and technology of the
period, he says. The goal should be
to create a track that sounds like an
excellent print from the era, not nec-
essarily a modern-sounding track.
At the end of the restoration
process, Fox had a mix of new ana-
log and digital assets to preserve. In
addition to archiving its new 4K-
resolution 35mm elements, the stu-
dio will archive both sets of data
files: the color-corrected files that
were filmed out, and the original,
unprocessed 4K scans. We will con-
tinue to migrate all the data, notes
Belston. Were holding on to the
original scans because were assum-
ing that as good as the restoration
tools are today, there might be
something better down the road;
also, its possible that one of the tools
were using today will cause a prob-
lem in a new distribution format
down the line, and preserving the
unprocessed files is a hedge against
that. Fox is archiving the restored
audio track in both analog and digi-
tal formats, on polyester 35mm mag
film and gold DVD-Rs. The original
audio transfers are being preserved
as well.
Digital-restoration technolo-
gies are evolving quickly, and Gomez
points out that it is challenging proj-
ects like The Robe that accelerate the
evolution. After more than 400
restorations, we are rarely surprised,
but The Robe was difficult enough to
force us to lift our game to another
level, he says. The tools are evolving
so fast, says Inchalik, that if wed
started The Robe now, in early 2009,
I think we would have done it in
about a third of the time; thats how
fast the software breakthroughs are
coming.
Digital restoration is far
from a mature science, says
Inchalik. In fact, Id venture to say
that only half of the science has been
invented so far.
Additional reporting for this
article was done by Rachael K. Bosley.
I
61
C
ompetition was fierce at this
years Sundance Film Festival,
but films that emerged as
award winners in key cate-
gories had passionate backers
not only on the Dramatic and
Documentary juries, but also among
members of the press and general
audiences.
Push: Based on the Novel By
Sapphire was selected for the Grand
Jury Prize by the Dramatic jury,
which included actress Virginia
Madsen, producer Maud Nadler and
filmmakers Scott McGehee, Mike
White and Boaz Yakin. The same
group singled out Sin Nombre for
best cinematography in the U.S.-
Dramatic category.
An Education was selected as
the best-shot film in the World
Cinema-Dramatic competition by a
jury comprising New Zealand direc-
tor Christine Jeffs, Danish producer
Vibeke Windelov and New York edi-
tor Colin Brown of Screen
International.
Big River Man was feted for
its photography by the World
Documentary Jury: Australian
director Gillian Armstrong, French
director/producer Hubert Sauper
and New Yorker Thom Powers, the
documentary programmer for the
Toronto International Film Festival.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Docu-
mentary jury (producer Andrea
Meditch, editor Sam Pollard and
filmmakers Patrick Creadon, Carl
Deal and Marina Zenovich) made a
fashion statement by spotlighting
The September Issue, a behind-the-
scenes look at Vogue magazine, with
its Excellence in Cinematography
Award.
Sin Nombre
Cinematographer:
Adriano Goldman
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
When AC caught up with
him, Brazilian cinematographer
Adriano Goldman had traded
Utahs chilly clime for the equally
frigid environs of Michigan, where
he was prepping his next feature,
Tony Goldwyns Betty Anne Waters.
The job had actually pulled
Goldman out of Park City before
he won the Excellence in Cinema-
tography Award in the U.S.-
Dramatic Competition for Sin
Nombre.
A veteran of music videos,
commercials and such features as
The Year My Parents Went on
Vacation (2006) and City of Men
(2007), Goldman became aware of
by Stephen Pizzello,
Patricia Thomson
and
Jon D. Witmer
Sundance 2009:
5That Thrived
62 April 2009
Festivals award
winners make a
strong visual
impression.
production designer, Claudio
Pache Contreras. Pache is fantas-
tic, says Goldman. Cary was
amazed at how innovative he was in
coming up with ways to bring rich
colors to this very particular world.
Contreras was also tasked
with constructing the Destroyer,
the Maras sprawling, run-down
home. Viewers are introduced to the
setting at the same time as 12-year-
old Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer), an
eager inductee whom Casper intro-
duces to Lil Mago (Tenoch Huerta
Mejia), the leader of the gangs local
sect. As Casper and Smiley make
their way through the abode, the
camera follows in one long, hand-
held take. We didnt want that shot
to be too shaky, but we wanted it to
be more organic than a Steadicam,
explains Goldman. As the camera
moved from the exterior of the
Destroyer to the interior and
back outside to cross a patio before
reentering a back room 1st AC
Arturo Castaeda had to ramp the
aperture on the 25mm lens. The
wide view led Goldman and gaffer
Carlos Snchez to light primarily
from the outside, through windows.
Of course, I had a few practical
bulbs inside, such as fluorescents.
[The Maras were] smoking inside,
so we also added a little smoke.
Goldman typically trained his
lights through windows for day inte-
Sin Nombre when producer Amy
Kaufman sent him the script;
Kaufman had recently worked with
Fernando Meirelles, one of
Goldmans longtime friends and
collaborators. Cary Joji Fukunagas
script, which had been developed at
the Sundance Institute, was colored
with images the director had wit-
nessed firsthand while riding atop
trains across the Mexican country-
side. The story charts the intersect-
ing lives of Sayra (Paulina Gaytan), a
Honduran teenager who hopes to
immigrate to the United States with
her father and uncle, and Casper
(Edgar M. Flores), a member of the
Mara Salvatrucha street gang.
Casper ultimately severs his alle-
giance to his fellow Maras to help
Sayra, forcing both to go on the run.
In September 2007, the film-
makers went to Mexico to begin five
weeks of prep. With a tight, seven-
week shoot ahead of them, the prep
was really more about the shooting
strategy than looking at visual refer-
ences, Goldman recalls. I could see
that it was going to be very physical-
ly demanding for everyone, given all
the shooting on top of trains, being
handheld all the time, and all the
fighting. My first question for Cary
was, Are we going to shoot this in
16mm? But he wanted to use Super
35mm; he wanted the quality, he
wanted the widescreen aspect ratio,
and he wanted to have beautiful
landscapes.
Another of the directors
desires was to mimic the look of
reversal film stocks, with their rich
colors and bold contrast. Goldman
decided to achieve that by shooting
on two Fuji Eterna negatives, 500T
8573 (day interiors and night work)
and Vivid 160 8543 (day exteriors),
and tweaking the look in the digital
intermediate. Vivid really is a more
vivid stock, and we were convinced
its colors were important for the
movie, he notes.
Of course, putting a rich
palette onscreen also involved the
riors. I try to light the space and
leave the set free, which helps every-
body understand that the light is
coming from outside; its reality
thats a little enhanced. When I have
close-ups and tight shots, I bring in
Kino Flos or whatever else I need to
make it more beautiful.
When mixing fixtures with
real daylight, he adds, I dont like
HMIs. I find it hard to work with
their blue-green color temperature,
especially because the sunlight in
Mexico is so warm. So we rented
Dinos in Mexico, and we imported
60 or 70 Dino daylight bulbs from
Los Angeles. We also used daylight
Mini-Brutes bounced on the
actors.
Throughout the shoot,
Goldman operated the A camera, an
Arricam Lite. As much as I love the
lighting part of my work, I believe
its very important to be at the cam-
era all the time, he says. This
movie is all about the handheld
camera, which has been important
in my work since the beginning of
my career.
Most of Sin Nombre was shot
in 3-perf Super 35mm with a single
camera, but Goldman brought
along Brazilian camera operator
Rodrigo Carvalho and asked him to
find an additional angle whenever
possible. Shooting 4-perf, Carvalho
operated an Arri 235. Both of the
Opposite: When
he puts his
relationship with
Martha Marlene
(Diana Garca,
center) above his
commitment to
the Mara
Salvatrucha
gang, Casper
(Edgar Flores,
left) runs afoul of
the gangs leader,
Lil Mago
(Tenoch Huerta
Meja, right) in
Sin Nombre.
This page:
Cinematographer
Adriano Goldman
(standing) and
director Cary
Joji Fukunaga
find their angle
on the action.
Goldman earned
the Excellence in
Cinematography
Award in the U.S.
Dramatic
category.
American Cinematographer 63
S
i
n

N
o
m
b
r
e
p
h
o
t
o
s

b
y

E
n
i
a
c

M
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r
t
i
n
e
z
,

c
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s

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a
t
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e
s
.
productions cameras were fitted
with Arri Master Primes, and we
mostly used lenses between the
40mm and the 100mm, says
Goldman. (The camera package was
provided by Equipment and Film
Design in Mexico City.)
In one scene, Lil Mago con-
fronts Casper about his disloyalty
and sends Casper to the ground
with a sudden blow to the head. We
were trying to find a way to suggest
Caspers disorientation, says
Goldman. He ended up following
Casper in a close-up as he fell to the
ground, which enters from the side
of the frame before the camera
rotates 90 degrees to reorient the
ground along the bottom of the
screen. To get the shot, we had a
fake floor in a vertical position, like a
wall, with grass glued on it, the cin-
ematographer explains. Casper was
standing up and hitting himself
against the wall, and I followed him
[with the camera] handheld and
then turned the camera 90 degrees.
With that punishment behind
him, Casper is enlisted along with
Smiley to join Lil Mago on a train-
top pillage. They hop the rails at a
large train yard, where Sayra and her
family are also waiting for the next
ride northward. As the family hud-
dles together to wait out the night, it
is illuminated by a bright light posi-
tioned atop a tall radio tower. That
was Carys idea, says Goldman. We
rigged a 6K HMI Par on top of the
tower, and we had another closer to
the ground and a little farther away,
but I only used one at a time. We
also used smoke for atmosphere. In
order to have just the one head [illu-
minating the scene], we needed to
understand the best camera angles
so we could avoid any frontlit shots.
For close-ups, he added bounce
boards or small Kino Flos, and the
scene is also touched by yellow
headlights of parked trains as well
as practical bulbs that dot the build-
ings alongside the yard.
The next day, when the train
arrives, all of the waiting passengers
climb aboard, and capturing their
journey required the filmmakers to
spend about a week shooting atop
real trains. Cary wanted to have
many, many different landscapes in
the movie, but the train company in
Mexico only gave us permission to
shoot within a few kilometers on
real tracks, so the landscapes were
more or less the same all the time,
notes Goldman.
To vary the surroundings and
give the filmmakers more control,
Contreras built a process train,
which was actually a truck about 60
meters long that Pache made into a
perfect replica [of a train], says the
cinematographer. We chose a very
straight road, about 12 kilometers
long, near Tierra Blanca, Veracruz,
and shot there for four or five days.
You could see trees behind [the
actors], and we could bring in water
equipment to shoot the rain
sequence. It worked perfectly, and
its impossible to tell its not a real
train.
When the rain starts, the pas-
sengers pull tarps over their heads,
and Lil Mago takes the opportunity
to take them by surprise at gun-
point. However, when Lil Mago
gives too much attention to Sayra,
Casper steps in and kills the gang
leader, dropping his body off the
train. Afterward, Casper spends a
sleepless night atop the train. I
pushed the 8573 one stop for that
scene, but you cant tell because the
grain is still really fine and beauti-
ful, says Goldman. We had a 1.2K
HMI at the end [of the process
train], just so you could see a glow,
and for Casper it was just a small
Kino Flo and a Dedolight. We also
put a few fluorescent bulbs on the
sides of the process train so you
could see the edges of the trees by
the tracks and feel a bit of the night.
Goldman supervised the
films DI at Deluxe Toronto, where
he worked with colorist Chris
Wallace. The DI proved especially
useful for establishing consistency
the weather in Mexico changes all
the time, he notes. Digital tools
also enabled us to fully achieve the
color and contrast we wanted. Im
convinced that shooting 35mm and
finishing with a DI is the best
method these days. Release prints
were made on Kodak Vision 2383.
Sin Nombre was hard to
shoot, but Im really happy I was
given the opportunity, concludes
Goldman. I hope to work with
Cary again; he is really, really talent-
ed, and this movie was an amazing
experience.
Jon D. Witmer
Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived
On the run from
his gang,
Casper mulls
his options.
64 April 2009

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WHAT DO ALL THESE
ACADEMY AWARD

NOMINATED FILMS HAVE IN COMMON ?


66 April 2009
An Education
Cinematographer:
John de Borman, BSC
Director: Lone Scherfig
The heroine of An Education,
16-year-old English schoolgirl Jenny
(Carey Mulligan), learns some
painful life lessons when she
becomes romantically involved with
David (Peter Sarsgaard), a charming
man in his 30s who is not as honor-
able as he initially seems. Viewers
enjoy a lesson in classic cinematog-
raphy courtesy of John de Borman,
BSC, whose elegant work earned the
cinematography award in the World
Cinema-Dramatic category. I never
knew there was a cinematographers
award at Sundance, he confesses.
Since it happened, I cant tell you
how many people have been phon-
ing and texting me. When you get
an award at Sundance, lots of people
know about it!
De Bormans previous work
hardly went unnoticed. In 2000, he
earned an Evening Standard British
Film Award for his body of work
and for Best Technical/Artistic
Achievement (for Hideous Kinky), as
well as an Independent Spirit Award
nomination for Hamlet; in 2007, he
added a BAFTA nomination for the
television project Tsunami: The
Aftermath. His rsum also includes
Last Chance Harvey, Ella Enchanted
and The Full Monty. Still, he was
especially chuffed about the
Sundance kudos. Im interested in
shooting proper stories, grown-up
stories, and I actually havent done
half as many as Id like to do. To
receive an award for that is sensa-
tional.
Set in London in the early
1960s, An Education blends two
worlds. The safe but slightly drab
suburb of Twickenham is represent-
ed by the home Jenny shares with
her doting parents (Alfred Molina
and Cara Seymour) and the halls of
her all-girl high school, where the
star pupils progress is closely mon-
itored by her English teacher (Olivia
Williams) and headmistress (Emma
Thompson). At the other extreme
are the swank urban nightspots
Jenny experiences with David and
his fashionable friends, Danny
(Dominic Cooper) and Helen
(Rosamund Pike). De Borman, who
grew up in London, brought a
personal perspective to the period
settings. My father had a restaurant
in the Kings Road, so I knew the
glamorous Sixties from my child-
hood, and I tried to bring some of
those memories to the film, he
says. Shooting scenes at the
Walthamstow greyhound racing
club was my suggestion. It has been
closed down for quite some time, so
I suppose we immortalized it
onscreen.
De Borman says he and
director Lone Scherfig built their
narrative foundation on the
straightforward virtues of Englands
kitchen sink films, which brought
social realism to dramas focused on
the lives of working Britons. The
cinematographer cites The L-
Shaped Room (1962), shot by
Douglas Slocombe, BSC, as a partic-
ular inspiration. That picture is
beautifully shot and composed, and
it really made an impression on
me, he says. Its about portraiture,
its about faces, and it concerns peo-
ple who are lonely and out of sorts,
so it has some thematic similarities
with our film. Those films were
about the human condition, and
Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived
Right: English
schoolgirl Jenny
(Carey Mulligan)
succumbs to the
charms of an
older man (Peter
Saarsgard) in An
Education.
Below:
Cinematographer
John de Borman,
BSC prepares to
shoot one of the
films handheld
scenes. His work
earned the
Excellence in
Cinematography
Award in the
World Cinema-
Dramatic
competition.
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Website: www.transvideointl.com
Email: info@transvideointl.com
68 April 2009
they were so good at telling stories
plus, they did it simply. There was
still an air of innocence in that era,
too; the cynicism thats crept into life
these days wasnt as prevalent back
then. Lone and I were constantly
saying, Weve got to try to capture
that periods simplicity and get that
naivet into the characters.
De Borman shot An
Education with Arri cameras, using
3-perf Super 35mm to save on stock
and facilitate the fine-tuning of col-
ors and contrast in a digital interme-
diate, which was carried out at
Londons Midnight Transfer. He felt
the widescreen format lent the char-
acter-based picture more cinematic
sweep: Its an intimate story, so you
want to fight against it feeling like
television. In my opinion, 90 percent
of good photography is composition
and 10 percent is lighting. In gener-
al, I wanted the camera to be close to
Jenny so viewers could feel her emo-
tions. That doesnt mean I was
always using huge close-ups; I just
gave a lot of thought to where I put
the camera to reveal the characters
whether to push in during a sen-
sitive moment, and so forth. I would
look for those moments and discuss
them with Lone. Everything I did
with the camera was based on
Jennys emotions.
The real key to the look de
Borman fashioned was his decision
to shoot with a set of vintage Cooke
S2 prime lenses. When you do a
period film, theres always that ques-
tion: should you emulate films that
were shot in that period, or do you
do your own interpretation of the
period? I sort of discovered how to
do a period look by using second-
generation Cooke S2 lenses that had
a slight softness about them; theyre
sharp, but they have a quick falloff.
Id used them on Miss Pettigrew
Lives for a Day, a film set in the
1930s, because I was trying to emu-
late the work of a photographer
from that era. I found that the lens-
es really helped to create a period
look before Id even done anything
with lighting or contrast, and with-
out it looking too filtered or obvi-
ous. On this film, I was trying to
work a bit against whats happening
at the moment with digital capture,
which yields high contrast and very
sharp focus. I wanted a combination
of softness and contrast, and I ulti-
mately decided to shoot on Kodak
[Vision2 500T] 5218 exclusively. I
know that stock very well, so I know
how far I can push it, and it has sen-
sational latitude. Essentially, I was
trying to soften the images and cre-
ate the kinds of images youd see in
older photographs.
De Borman conspired with
production designer Andrew
McAlpine to give Jennys home a
lived-in look. The set was built at
Twickenham Studios, and McAlpine
made the most of it. I always like to
move through corridors and go
from one room to another, and
Andrew very cleverly designed the
set to look as real as possible, says de
Borman. It had some depth to it, so
you could see into the main corridor
from any position, and we could
play with that. He also mixed furni-
ture and objects from different peri-
ods, not just the Sixties, to make
everything look more authentic. In
real life, people generally have a mix-
ture of furniture from different eras.
In the house, I didnt want to
use overall lighting; I wanted to
make the lighting very soft and very
specific, he continues. I used soft
lighting on faces throughout the
film, but particularly in the house, I
wanted to have areas that were dark,
so I tried to create pools of light that
would make things more moody. I
used a lot of China balls and smaller
units, and I had a lot of mixed light-
ing as well, especially for scenes set
in the late afternoon, so that things
went a bit dark in the corners.
De Borman adjusted his
approach for a key sequence in
which Jenny, David and his friends
bask in the glamour of the posh
nightclub Caf de Paris, where they
enjoy a performance by a sultry
torch singer. I tried to lend that
sequence as much glamour as possi-
ble to create a contrast with Jennys
home life, he says. I tried not to
make everything too bright, but the
lighting was still much brighter and
more polished than the scenes in the
familys house. I also lit Jennys face
much more to make her seem liveli-
er. I bounced Par Fours off the white
Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived
Jenny dances
with her
paramours best
friend and
business
partner, Danny
(Dominic
Cooper), after a
day at the races.
De Borman lent
club scenes
added glamour
to create
contrast with
Jennys cozy but
predictable
home life with
her parents.
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tablecloths to create a soft uplight on
the four actors, and I also added a bit
of rim lighting to make them look
their best. We were using two cam-
eras in the club scene, so the
bounced lighting was a good way to
create nice lighting for all of them.
We wanted to reveal the characters
on particular lines of dialogue, so we
always had the cameras on dolly
tracks laid down on opposite sides
of the table. The dollying lent the
scene a classy feel with a bit more
energy, which helped create further
contrast with her home life, where
the camera is more static.
One of the biggest challenges
de Borman faced was a long walk-
and-talk in which David, driving
his fancy car, offers a ride to Jenny,
who is lugging her cello home in a
pouring rain. The crew set up rain
towers along the route, and de
Borman mounted the camera on a
Libra head attached to a four-
wheeler, from which additional
water could be sprayed on the
actress. That scene was a night-
mare, he recalls with a rueful
laugh. If you look at it carefully,
you can see it was a very cloudy day,
but then the sun came out sudden-
ly. If it had been a big-budget film,
wed have gone back the next day to
get a gray sky again. Instead, we
simply rationalized that sometimes
the sun does come out when it
rains. The editor was on location
with us in Ealing, and we were quite
specific: Okay, well just pretend
the suns come out from this point
on. A week later, I re-created part of
the scene with some fake sunlight I
created with lamps so we could use
the wide shot wed made on the
actual day! We intercut our shots to
try to disguise the weather changes
as much as we could, but it was
quite complicated to create a sense
of lighting continuity. I hope view-
ers will be caught up in the charac-
ters and the story and wont notice
it too much!
Stephen Pizzello
The September Issue
Cinematographer:
Bob Richman
Director: R.J. Cutler
When youre on a jury, you
have to separate whose job [on a
film] is what, and thats sometimes
hard with documentaries, but the
role of the cinematographer in The
September Issue really stood out,
says director Marina Zenovich
(Roman Polanski: Wanted and
Desired), a juror for Sundances U.S.
Documentary competition this year.
The jury subsequently awarded
director of photography Bob
Richman the Excellence in
Cinematography Award for his
work on the film. Bob Richman is a
true vrit master, continues
Zenovich. He was not pushy; he
was gently there but never let go.
Its no surprise that The
September Issue is a textbook exam-
ple of successful vrit work both
Richman and the director, R.J.
Cutler, learned their craft from mas-
ters. Cutler worked with D.A.
Pennebaker, producing The War
Room, and Richman had a 30-year
professional relationship with the
Maysles brothers starting in 1977,
when he was a production assistant.
(He worked his way up to lighting
director, second camera, commer-
cials director of photography, and
then feature cinematography; he co-
shot Christos Umbrellas with Albert
Maysles.)
The September Issue was
Richman and Cutlers first collabo-
ration, but they were on the same
page from the outset. Taking an
observational approach, they knew
the films subject would reveal itself
over time. Ostensibly, it was about
the assembly of Vogues September
issue, a bible for fashionistas, but
capturing all of that on film wasnt
easy. Creativity at Vogue was like
mist you dont think its raining,
but all of a sudden, youre soaking
wet, says Cutler. You dont know
when they talk about these things,
but another issue just got pub-
lished.
Shooting in Vogues offices in
New York and at fashion shows and
photo shoots in London, Paris and
Rome, the filmmakers struggled for
months to find their real subject.
The fractured spaces at Vogue head-
quarters all narrow corridors and
cubicles didnt help, nor did the
fact that the magazines editor-in-
chief, Anna Wintour, neglected to
tell her staff about the documentary.
Richman recalls that when he
entered an office with his camera,
Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived
Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour takes in a fashion show in The September Issue, for
which Bob Richman won the Excellence in Cinematography Award in the U.S.
Documentary category.
70 April 2009
everything would stop, and theyd
look at me as if to say, What do you
want?
After three months, the films
core subject became evident: the
yin-and-yang dynamic between
Wintour and her creative director,
Grace Coddington, a colleague of 20
years. But Coddington was angry at
Wintour for granting the filmmak-
ers access and refused to play ball.
Then, Cutler noticed how
Coddington enjoyed working with
photographers. He recalls, I told
Bob that Grace would feel different-
ly about our film if she got to know
him; she could connect to his artistic
soul. Cutlers instinct proved cor-
rect. Coddington agreed to look at
My Architect, which Richman shot,
and Cutlers Perfect Candidate, about
Oliver Norths Senate race. The next
day, she said shed cooperate.
Cutler recalls Pennebakers
technique for disarming his subjects:
The first thing hed do was go over
to the table, take the camera apart
and start cleaning it. That way, the
cameraman became just another
guy doing his job, setting people at
ease. Richman, however, says he
doesnt have a technique. Instead, I
have a demeanor. I treat people the
way I would if I didnt have a cam-
era. The first time you walk into a
room, you might see something
great happening, but you dont have
the right to shoot it yet. You have to
believe that if you dont shoot it now,
you will get something better later. If
you treat people with respect, then
you shouldnt go past that boundary.
That boundary will get closer and
closer until you have those moments
youve been waiting for.
Richmans restraint won the
trust of the notoriously private
Wintour. Anna liked me because I
didnt try to engage her in small
talk, he says. With Coddington, the
bond came more slowly. Grace is a
lovely person, so once she let her
guard down, she became this incred-
ible on-camera personality, says the
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cinematographer.
Production lasted almost nine
months, resulting in 300 hours of
footage. Richman used a Panasonic
AJ-HDX900 mounted with a Fuji
13x4.5 wide-angle zoom, which
accommodated his predilection for
close-ups. He shot at 24p, framing
for 16x9. He used very few film
lights, reflectors or filters and only
did single-camera setups. I wanted
to shoot in the most natural way. If
you start adding things, they get in
the shot. He tweaked three fre-
quently used spaces, adding practi-
cals to a Vogue conference room, dif-
fusion to the harsh overheads in
Wintours office, and fluorescents to
a corridor lined with clothing racks
where Coddington spent much of
her time. He also used Diva-Lites to
illuminate Wintours interview in
her Long Island home.
Elsewhere, he used existing
lighting and adjusted exposure and
color balance on the fly. For a scene
in which designer John Galliano
shows Wintour his fall collection,
Richman was shooting while flip-
ping the filter wheel, and they left it
in! he notes. It goes by fast, and
they color-corrected it, so you dont
notice. But in all these situations,
youre in mixed sources, and the
exposure changes depending on the
day. As much as I love beautiful
lighting, in order to do this kind of
work, my approach has to be, Let
me have an exposure, let the lighting
not be horrendously hard, and let
me shoot 360 degrees. Otherwise,
you get in trouble.
A vrit cinematographers
first priority, he notes, is listening.
Thats the biggest complaint I get
from editors about cameramen. Of
course, you dont have to follow the
voice if you did, youd be like a
Ping-Pong ball but you have to
know whats going on and make the
right decisions. The only way to do
that is by listening to whats happen-
ing.
The second priority is under-
standing the editing process. A vrit
scene has to stand on its own, and its
the cameramans job to provide the
ingredients. He explains, If you
shoot over and over in the same
location, youve been getting cut-
aways, and you start thinking you
got the cutaways for this scene
because youve shot in this room in
what seemed like this scene. But no,
you have to do that all over again.
You have to keep yourself fresh.
Richman never considers
himself the proverbial fly on the
wall. Thats a conceit that isnt true.
What happens is that your subjects
become collaborators. That spirit is
on full display in a scene in The
September Issue that shows
Coddington devilishly recruiting
Richman for a fashion spread.
Photographed jumping with his
camera, Richman becomes part of
the film, shattering the illusion of
invisibility.
A more private acknowledge-
ment of Richmans rapport with his
subjects occurred after the final
interview with Wintour. The cine-
matographer recalls that when
Cutler asked Wintour what she
thought of the filming process, she
said, Well, everyone was very nice
and respectful, and they will be sore-
ly missed. Then she turned and
looked me right in the eye. I was
actually taken aback. It was her way
of saying it to me.
Patricia Thomson
The September
Issues Bob
Richman takes
a break on
another project.
Push: Based on the Novel
by Sapphire
Cinematographer:
Andrew Dunn, BSC
Director: Lee Daniels
To push her way out of a
deadlocked life, Precious (Gabourey
Sidibe), the pregnant, obese teenag-
er at the center of Push: Based on the
Novel by Sapphire, calls on inner
resources she never knew she had.
Just as she succeeds, so did the film
itself, winning Sundances presti-
gious Grand Jury Award in the U.S.
Dramatic category and days of
enthusiastic buzz.
In order to bring the film into
being, a monumental push was also
needed from director Lee Daniels
and director of photography
Andrew Dunn, BSC. The film,
Daniels second directorial outing,
was a low-budget affair, and Dunn
had a mere three days of prep
Daniels had fired the original direc-
tor of photography 16 days into
production, and Dunn, whose cred-
its include Miss Potter (AC Feb. 07),
Hitch and Gosford Park (AC Jan.
02), was riding to the rescue. Ive
always been a huge fan of Andrews
and felt he would bring a life to this
world, says Daniels. Dunn recalls,
A phone call came in to my agent
on a Tuesday, I spoke to Lee on
Wednesday, and they did the deal
on Thursday. I traveled to New York
that weekend, and we had Monday
through Wednesday to prep.
During those three days,
Dunn had no time for tests, but he
spent hours in discussion with
Daniels. Its an interesting way to
make films, actually, the cine-
matographer notes with a laugh. In
reality, prep is an ongoing process
on any film; its a collaborative,
organic situation. My bag is to think
on my feet, to act and react, if Im
lucky enough to have good people
around me and I did on this
show. The Writers Guild of
America was striking at the time,
Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived
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73
which meant some crewmembers
were available who might not have
been otherwise; these included
camera operator Peter Agliata (30
Rock), key grip Tim Smythe, gaffer
Ken Shibata and 1st AC Stanley
Fernandez.
Dunns creative dexterity
enabled him to follow Daniels sud-
den detours. The director acknowl-
edges that he was the trickiest part
for Andrew because Id change [my
mind] at the last minute. Dunn
downplays the matter, noting, I do
get a big kick out of these situa-
tions. The opposite of that is a film
that gets tedious, like doing an
office job. To think on your feet,
thats brilliant.
Push was shot in 3-perf
35mm in the standard 1.85:1 aspect
ratio, and Dunn used an Arricam
System provided by Arri CSC. His
lenses were Cooke S4 primes,
Angenieux Optimo zooms (15-
40mm, 28-76mm, 24-290mm) and
an Arri Lightweight LWZ-1 zoom.
Because 13 days worth of
material had to be reshot, Dunn felt
free to switch from the productions
original Kodak stocks to Fuji stocks
(Eterna 500T 8573 and 250D
8563), which he has favored since
Miss Potter. I think Fuji has a great
texture, and I love the way it looks
with filtration the blacks are so
creamy and real, he remarks. As is
his habit, Dunn rated the 8573 at
320 ASA. That way, I know I have
a bit left in my pocket in a jam. He
brought a set of Schneider Black
Frosts, which he used most often,
and Tiffen Soft/FX diffusion, which
he used with other filtration for
fantasy sequences.
The central story in Push
takes place mostly in two locations:
an apartment Precious shares with
her abusive mother (MoNique),
and the classroom where Ms. Rain
(Paula Patton) teaches literacy to
Precious and other at-risk teens. In
addition to these two environ-
ments, Daniels added one that was
not present in Sapphires novel: the
fantasy world Precious enters when
unspeakably bad things happen.
Each of the environments was
given a distinct look. The apart-
ment, which we built at Broadway
Stages in Brooklyn, looks like the
home I grew up in, and we wanted
Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) is taunted by neighborhood men in a scene from Push:
Based on the Novel by Sapphire.
74 April 2009
it to feel very real, says Daniels.
Handheld camerawork under-
scores the emotional instability of
this world, where Precious has
been abused by both of her parents
for years. Dunn created a dark set-
ting punctuated by golden,
chiaroscuro light. It was very sim-
ple lighting that we accomplished
with practicals and a few key lights
here and there, says the cine-
matographer, who used salmon
gels to augment the sets warm
palette. We kept it pretty free-form
because we never quite knew what
[the actors] would do. Light from
the television and stairwell helped
create fill, but overall, light doesnt
come in, says Dunn. The mother
doesnt care about the outside
world, and it doesnt care about
her.
By contrast, Ms. Rains sunlit
classroom is a nurturing cocoon,
and shots in this setting were typi-
cally made on a dolly. Built in a for-
mer municipal building, the class-
room set was keyed with a soft
light coming through the windows,
and we used the Venetian blinds to
control it and a lot of negative fill to
give it some texture, says Dunn. It
was quite difficult to make that
room look interesting for that
Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived
On the set of
Push, director
Lee Daniels
(left) and
cinematographer
Andrew Dunn,
BSC discuss the
scene at hand.
length of time, but in those scenes,
youre looking at the kids faces. If I
had a dollar for every time Ive told
a director, Trust the actor and the
story, I could retire!
Of the fantasy sequences,
Daniels says, Theyre a small por-
tion of the film, and we were so
focused on hitting our mark with
the apartment and Ms. Rains
world that we missed [having] an
in-depth conversation about the
fantastical world. So we found our
way on the set. Among the fan-
tasies Precious entertains when the
pain in her life becomes unbearable
are that she is the star at a red-car-
pet movie premiere, shes in a sexy
Bob Fosse dance number, and shes
in the black-and-white world of
Vittorio De Sicas Two Women (seen
earlier on her TV), speaking Italian
with her newly compassionate
mother. Each of these things are
clichs, which is valid because kids
get so many of their ideas from
films and TV, says Dunn. Each
sequence is over-stylized in its own
way. These methods included
overexposure, the use of colored
gels, and flaring Par cans on an All
That Jazz set.
We did the digital interme-
diate at Technicolor New York, a
really great facility, and my Man
Friday was [colorist] Tim Stipan,
who managed the whole process
with an extremely efficient, creative
and collaborative approach, says
Dunn. Tim was full of ideas about
what we might achieve and how we
might enhance the already-excep-
tional material. The DI allowed us
to push the limits of what we had
tried to achieve on the original
film. A good example is the transi-
tion from the street where Precious
gets knocked to the ground; the
image goes from her face to the
dead leaves, then seamlessly from
browns and oranges into the bright
lights and glitter of the All That Jazz
dream sequence. Digital timing is
wonderful for accentuating the
abnormal and transforming the
ordinary into something extraordi-
nary!
One of the challenges posed
by the fantasies was their narrative
brevity. We had to tell these snip-
pets in a short space of time, like
doing a commercial, says Dunn.
Budget was another challenge. For
the movie premiere, for instance,
the production had only a small
patch of sidewalk outside a
Chinatown nightclub and no
money or space for klieg lights.
Dunn created the look of roving
spotlights with a few 10Ks and mir-
rors. I had a guy cut some shapes
with cards, and we shined the
[10Ks] into mirrors and spun the
mirrors around, he recalls. I love
to make a virtue of necessity.
Although Push tells a har-
rowing story, Precious fantasies
and personal growth offer
moments of brightness. When
you describe the story, it sounds so
down, dark and sad, but it isnt
relentless, says Dunn. Some really
joyous moments come through as
you see into Precious head. Thats
what I was trying to do with the
camera: go inside her head.
Patricia Thomson
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75
Big River Man
Director/Cinematographer:
John Maringouin
John Maringouin was barely
listening when the Sundance jury
for the World Documentary com-
petition announced the Excellence
in Cinematography Award. He
recalls, I remember they said they
were blown away by how many
visual ideas were in the film, and
then I stopped paying attention
because I assumed it wasnt me!
But Big River Man, Maringouins
third film, snagged the prize.
The award was particularly
satisfying because Maringouins fear
throughout production was that
hed end up with a visually boring
film. His subject was Martin Strel, a
Slovenian endurance swimmer who
tackles the worlds longest rivers and
planned to take on the 3,274-mile
Amazon. As a subject, Strel was
appealing for his contradictions:
Hes a marathon swimmer whos
middle-aged, overweight and par-
tial to horse-burgers and two bottles
of wine a day, a national icon who is
also an underemployed guitar
teacher and former gambler. But
Maringouin made a few worrisome
discoveries once he began spending
time with Strel: The swimmer
speaks no English, so he relied on his
son to act as manager and mouth-
piece, and once he got in the water,
he became uncommunicative. I
realized I would have to express his
state of mind visually, says
Maringouin.
Maringouin took three trips
to Slovenia to capture Strel in train-
ing. With no financing in place, and
no guarantee that Strel would actu-
ally go to the Amazon, he brought
just one camera, a Panasonic AG-
DVX100. I made sure it was small
so I could get close to him without
intimidating him, he explains.
Once it became clear the trip to
South America was on, Maringouin
purchased a Panasonic AG-
HVX200, which comes with a wide-
angle Leica Dicomar lens. In terms
of the blow-up and color tones, it
was the best match to the cam-
corder, he notes. The catch was
that it records to P2 cards, which
Endurance swimmer Martin Strel sits down to a carb-heavy meal in Big River Man,
which brought director/cinematographer John Maringouin the Excellence in
Cinematography Award in the World Documentary category.
B
i
g

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v
e
r

M
a
n

p
h
o
t
o

c
o
u
r
t
e
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f

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r
k
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.

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a
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i
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n

p
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a
r
i
n
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n
.
meant wed have to have a laptop
and an external hard drive on this
ship of fools. My main cameraman,
Paul Marchand, and I ended up on a
bush plane with one camera, two P2
cards, a hard drive and an old 15-
inch Apple laptop, along with
bounce cards, polarizers, ND filters
and a small jib. Maringouin record-
ed at 720p partially because it was
economical in terms of memory
we only had two P2 cards, and at the
time, they were $1,300 each. Of
course, we didnt realize we could
rent them! But after Martin made it
to Brazil, the investors got a bit more
relaxed and sent money for a backup
camera and several more P2 cards.
Its just the initial couple of weeks
that were really dodgy.
Financing fell in place just a
week before Strels start date. (The
swimmer refused to adjust his date
to accommodate production.
Maringouin notes, That was
Martins compulsion if he didnt
go on that day, he wasnt going to go
at all.) The short prep meant
Maringouin would be missing one
critical element: an aerial perspec-
tive. I decided that if I didnt have
an aerial perspective to give the film
context and scale, I wouldnt have a
film. I told the producer, Im not
going to jump in a boat with this guy
and risk my life so that I can shoot
the same exact shot over and over.
His protests had no effect,
however, so he decided to improvise.
He bought an inexpensive Camera
Crane 1 with a 9' extension. When
we got to the Amazon, we extended
it another 6 feet with 2-by-4s and
duct tape so the camera could go
out over Martin, he explains. We
got on top of the crew-boat pilot
house and did a pretty successful
faking of aerial perspectives.
Strels swim lasted 66 days,
and later in the journey, the team
w w w . f o c a l p r e s s . c o m
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76
Sundance 2009: 5 That Thrived
Big River Man filmmaker John Maringouin.
managed to rent a seaplane in Peru
to capture some shots. We took C-
clamps and duct tape and clamped
the camera upside-down to the strut
that connects the wing to the body,
says Maringouin. We didnt have
gyro housing. I thought it would be
a horrible, vibrating image, but it
ended up looking like a brilliant aer-
ial. But the stress I went through
watching that camera with a
naked lens! I thought it was going to
pop off. A particularly anxious
moment occurred when the pilot
executed a hard pontoon landing
after the plane stalled 500' above the
river. The plane basically crashed,
says Maringouin. The pilot said,
Overheated! No problem! It was
harrowing.
Filming on the water also had
its difficulties. To make it look inti-
mate and not flat, we had to literally
lean over the side of the boat, which
was swirling around in these
whirlpools, and try to get the camera
as close to the water as possible. So I
was about 2 inches from the water
with a camera we had no backup for.
Really, it was a miracle that camera
survived. Whats more, glare and
focus were constant problems.
Although they shot mostly at magic
hour, not overexposing was chal-
lenging, says Maringouin. We used
a really dark polarizer and ND filter;
the image was practically black. And
theres so much glare on the Amazon
that we could never really tell if the
shot was in focus. I had to keep my
thumb pressed to the auto-focus
button really hard all the time, just in
case. His only way of checking
dailies was on the laptop.
Another perspective Marin-
gouin knew he needed was the
swimmers. After trying various low-
tech flotation devices without suc-
cess, he reluctantly got in the water.
I didnt have a wetsuit, and the
Amazon is full of orifice-invading
parasites, he notes. It was a dreaded
moment, but ultimately, just one of
many. By the end of Strels swim,
most of my nightmares had come
true, says the filmmaker. We ran
into pirates, guys with guns in the
bushes, mosquitoes that got through
our mosquito net we had to turn
the air-conditioning down to 50

F
to kill all these bugs and I did the
one thing I said Id never do: swim
in the Amazon with that guy. But I
had to get that perspective. Upon
taking the plunge, he made a sur-
prising discovery: The water is real-
ly clean. The reason there are so
many organisms in it is that theres
so little pollution. Its a really
vibrant, alive, beautiful river.
Patricia Thomson
I
77
Autodesk Updates Lustre
by Stephanie Argy
Late last year, Autodesk shipped
Lustre 2009, the latest version of its
color-grading system. The upgrades
most dramatic new feature could be its
ability to color-correct stereoscopic
material, but it also brings improvements
in project management, new ways for
colorists to sort and prioritize material in
their timeline, and enhanced integration
with Autodesks other products, including
Flame, Inferno, Flint and Smoke.
According to Dave Cole, senior
digital colorist at LaserPacific, Lustre has
been a pioneering tool in the way digital
intermediates are done because it was
the first software-based color-correction
tool; prior to Lustre, color-correction was
done on hardware-based systems built
around proprietary machines. Hard-
ware defines your capabilities, notes
Cole. On a hardware system, if you
want to put a window on something, you
need a board that can draw that
window. Because of that, adding new
features takes a lot longer because new
chips and boards must be built to accom-
modate those changes.
But Lustre and other software-
based systems, such as FilmLight Base-
light, Digital Vision Film Master, Assimi-
late Scratch and Apple Color, can be
updated very quickly. They may not have
quite the same real-time capabilities as
a hardware-based system, but they offer
colorists a much wider creative toolset.
In the past, as today, you can imple-
ment more features faster in software
than you can in hardware and PC, and
graphics-card performance is constantly
eroding any advantage custom hard-
ware provides, maintains Maurice
Patel, Autodesks entertainment-industry
manager.
Post Focus
S
c
r
e
e
n

g
r
a
b
s

c
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

A
u
t
o
d
e
s
k
.
Right: In Lustre
2009, Shot
Priority allows
the artist to
efficiently
manage the
shots that will
be played out
and rendered
when working
with multiple
grading
versions on the
multi-layer
timeline. Below:
GPU grading
significantly
improves the
real-time
interaction for
the colorist
throughout
client-led
sessions. GPU-
supported
features include
primary and
secondary
grading tools,
reposition,
several of the
effects plug-ins,
real-time
deliverables,
and LUT
processing.
78 April 2009
Timothy Vincent, another colorist
at LaserPacific, has been using Lustre
systems for over two years, after work-
ing on Pogle and da Vinci. As a veteran
of those hardware-based systems,
Vincent found that the unlimited shapes
available in Lustre make it easier to hide
windows. Thats a great thing to gain,
because you can do things without leav-
ing a heavy colorist footprint on the
image. The way you can blend the light
looks more naturalistic; it doesnt look
like light was fixed or added. Even if I
use only one window at a time, it can at
least be the exact, perfect-shaped
window. These are precision tools.
Many of the key improvements
in Lustre 2009 have less to do with new
tools than with making the overall work
process run more smoothly. Project
management is more streamlined and
intuitive, with colorists able to use
point-and-click menus to define their
projects, create templates and set their
particular user preferences, including
adjusting the sensitivity of their control
panel.
Previous versions of Lustre had a
timeline, but this update introduces new
ways for colorists to prioritize and sort
clips on that timeline. For each clip, its
now possible to try out and save a vari-
ety of looks, with all the variations for
each clip stacked on top of each other in
the timeline; the colorist can then
choose which of those variations should
be used for playback and output, making
it easy to experiment with different
approaches for each clip.
Also, the order of clips on the
timeline can be rearranged in multiple
ways. A project can be played in
sequence order (known as A-mode in
Lustre), or it can be sorted so that
common shots are grouped together (C-
mode), which can make them faster to
grade. This sorting can be done to an
entire timeline or to a small range of
selected shots.
Colorist Bobby Maruvada
recently used Lustre to grade an Indian
feature called Villu, and he worked with
cinematographer Ravi Varman to finish
eight 20-minute reels and five music
videos in approximately two weeks.
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79
Maruvada says the Sort functions in
Lustre 2009 were one of the main
reasons he was able to work so fast.
An important under-the-hood
change in Lustre 2009 is its increased
ability to take advantage of the Graphics
Processing Unit, which offers faster
performance than the Central Process-
ing Unit. At this point, GPU acceleration
works for approximately 95 percent of
80
Lustres features, including shapes and
blurs. It really is an enhancement,
says Cole. In the past, you could use
some tools but not others, and there
was a limit to how many you could use.
They opened that up a great deal.
The update also brings the capa-
bility to grade live-action and computer-
generated stereoscopic content. Sebast-
ian Sylwan, Autodesks senior film-
industry manager, says that in deciding
how to approach working in stereo, the
designers focused on three things. First,
they made it possible for colorists to
access Lustres full creative toolset
when working on stereo projects.
Second, they gave the colorists access
to 3-D at all times, so that its possible to
grade both eyes simultaneously or each
separately. Finally, they prioritized which
areas to focus on initially specifically
grading, being able to access the time-
line, being able to tweak the parallax,
and having the Lustre become part of a
larger stereoscopic workflow that
includes Maya (for 3-D modeling and
animation), Toxik (for compositing) and
Lustre (for grading).
Cole says LaserPacific has done
some tests with the stereoscopic
elements of the system and found them
promising. The good thing about the
stereo system in Lustre is that you can
gang eyes, so you dont have to copy
settings from one eye to the other, he
remarks.
Lustres
stereoscopic
timeline shows
right and left point
of views on
separate layers.
The result can be
monitored in
stereoscopic
context in dual-
projection mode
using stereoscopic
glasses.
81
Integration between applica-
tions is another important aspect of
Lustre 2009. Lustre runs on the same
platform as the current releases of
Autodesk Smoke, Flame, Inferno and
Flint, making it easy to incorporate
Lustre into a broader workflow. Maru-
vada, who is also a Flame artist, says
this was a very important capability on
Villu, because he was able to jump back
and forth between Lustre, Smoke and
Flame and make adjustments. He notes
that Lustre has borrowed some features
from other Autodesk applications,
including the Shape Tracker, which auto-
matically detects and follows shapes on
screen. Thats a piece of Flame, says
Maruvada. No other program has it,
and it kicks butt.
Industry-wide, interoperability is
growing increasingly important, and it is
a key element of products such as
Adobe Production Bundle and Final Cut
Studio, as well as Autodesks suite of
tools. Sylwan says he is also seeing
more crossover among artists, espe-
cially in smaller boutique facilities,
where people have to be able to under-
stand and move between various appli-
cations.
Autodesk trainers and designers,
like Lustre demo artist and colorist Kent
Pritchett, have found that there are three
basic kinds of colorists. Traditional color
timers gravitate to Lustres logarithmic
controls, which emulate settings from
the photochemical-timing world, such
as points and stops. Traditional video
colorists, who came up using systems
like da Vinci, tend to think in terms of
gamma, lift and gain and are most
comfortable using the control surface to
make their adjustments. And an increas-
ing number of colorists with a back-
ground in visual effects tend to be very
quick to catch on to tools like shapes and
tracking.
Cinematographers also have
different backgrounds, and Cole says
thats why he finds Lustres two different
architectures linear for video-style
adjustments and logarithmic for film-
style adjustments so useful. A cine-
matographer can say, Print up half a
stop or give me half a point of yellow,
and I can do that, he says. I usually
keep it in log; that allows me to do my
primary color-correction pretty much like
a lab color timer, before I start doing all
the crazy stuff. With Lustre, cinematog-
raphers familiar with traditional timing
can come in and immediately feel at
home. I can introduce them to new tools
later.
Vincent says the additional tools
and plug-ins in Lustre empower him to
do more to give directors and cine-
matographers what they want. Before,
my capability was tied to the limits of
the machine, but now, its more a matter
of whether they have enough time [in
the post schedule] to achieve what they
want, he says. I definitely feel Im able
to grant their wishes more often than I
was before. I
Upgraded Camcorders Drive
Canons Business Strategy
by Stephen Pizzello
Canon U.S.A., Inc. recently
announced a new line of camcorders
that includes five VIXIA high-definition
cameras and six standard-definition
models. According to Canon executives,
the camcorders and the innovative
technologies they offer will be a key
component of the companys global
business strategy in the coming years.
The key news for users is that the
hi-def cameras are more advanced than
older HDV models like the HF10, which
was used to shoot some footage for the
upcoming theatrical feature Crank High
Voltage (see article in Production Slate,
page 22). Makoto Shimokoriyama,
deputy senior general manager of the
companys Image Communication R&D
Center, noted that the same basic image
processor, the DIGIC, is being used in
both the consumer and prosumer
cameras, telling AC, If you look at the
specifications, youll notice that the
sensors and the lenses are different;
however, at the end of the day, DIGICs
are DIGICs. In other words, from the
beginning we have designed DIGIC so
that it can also meet the requirements of
professionals.
The 2009 line of VIXIA hi-def
camcorders retains Canons three core
imaging technologies: the Genuine
Canon HD Video Lens; an HD CMOS
image sensor, designed and manufac-
tured by the company; and Canon-
developed DIGIC DV II and DIGIC DV III
image processors. Other features found
in select VIXIA models include Instant
AutoFocus, SuperRange Optical Image
Stabilization and 24Mbps Recording,
the highest bit rate available in AVCHD.
The DIGIC DV III image proces-
sor, featured in the top VIXIA models, is
Canons latest and most sophisticated
image processor. The company is tout-
ing this new imaging engine for its abil-
ity to deliver stunning color reproduc-
tion, clarity and enhanced noise reduc-
tion. The upgraded processors high-
speed engine powers a variety of other
new camcorder features, including 8.0
megapixel photo capture, Genuine
Canon Face Detection Technology and
an advanced Auto Exposure system.
Hidekazu Takahashi, assistant general
manager of Sensor R&D, contends that
the CMOS sensor has several advan-
tages over CCD sensors, including
better resolution, fewer image artifacts
(such as moire problems) and lower
power consumption.
Canons face-detection technol-
ogy, which helps users track subjects in
the frame, was previously pioneered in
the companys digital still cameras. Up
to 35 faces can be detected automati-
cally, and nine detection frames can be
displayed at one time. The system can
even recognize faces that are turned
down or sideways. Users can also
select a face they would like the
camcorder to continuously track. While
the cameras are in playback mode,
users can access specific scenes based
on chosen faces.
Another new twist is Video
Snapshot Mode, a home movie
feature that enables users to record a
series of 4-second video clips that then
can be blended with background music
provided on supplied software.
New Products & Services
82 April 2009
Right: The VIXIA
HF S10 offers the
option of
recording video to
a 32GB internal
flash drive or
directly to an
SDHC memory
card. Below: At
Canons
manufacturing
headquarters in
Oita, Japan,
workers are
organized into
teams called
cells to
increase
efficiency and
productivity as
they assemble
products.
P
h
o
t
o
s

c
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

C
a
n
o
n
.
The camcorders are available in
a variety of different recording formats,
but the company is placing special
emphasis on those equipped with flash
memory. The companys top-of-the-line
models are the VIXIA HF S10 (which
offers the option of recording video to a
32GB internal flash drive or directly to
an SDHC memory card) and the VIXIA
S100 (which records to an SDHC
memory card only). Both models feature
the DIGIC DV III image processor, an
8.59 megapixel full-HD CMOS image
sensor, Canons face-detection technol-
ogy, the advanced Auto Exposure and
Video Snapshot systems, and Dual Shot
Modes. In addition, both cameras can
deliver digital photographs at a resolu-
tion of 8.0 megapixels.
Canons most compact hi-def
flash-memory camcorders are the VIXIA
HF20 (which also offers the option of
recording to either a 32GB internal flash
drive or the SDHC card slot) and the
HF200 (which records to the memory
card only).
The hi-def line also includes the
VIXIA HV40; standard-def models
include the FS22, FS21 and FS200 (all
equipped with Flash Memory), the
DC420 and DC410 DVD camcorders,
and the ZR960 MiniDV model.
In pursuing its global strategies
for technology and marketing, Canon
recently opened the doors of its Japan-
ese corporate and manufacturing head-
quarters to a group of 15 journalists
from the U.S. and Canada. During
several days of meetings, top execu-
tives outlined not only the specifics of
the companys new technologies, but its
broader business strategies.
While addressing the media in
Tokyo, Canon president and COO Tsuneji
Uchido noted that in the mid-1990s,
Canon launched a three-phase plan
(optimistically dubbed the Excellent
Global Corporation Plan) designed to
boost the strength of both its products
and fiscal outlook. Phase I, from 1996-
2000, was aimed at bolstering the
companys financial structure; Phase II,
from 2001-2005, addressed product
strength; and Phase III, from 2006-2010,
focuses on business growth. Takashi
83
Kuniyoshi, deputy chief executive of
Image Communications Product Opera-
tions, noted that Canon currently ranks
second in worldwide camcorder sales,
with a market share of 36 percent (trail-
ing industry leader Sony, at 48 percent).
He attributes Sonys top position to the
fact that in past years, Canon did not
manufacture its own CMOS sensors,
relying instead on sensors produced by
other companies; the company has
since internalized production of its
CMOS sensors and other components at
its Japanese manufacturing headquar-
ters in Oita.
In a further attempt to close the
gap in market share, Canon is focusing
on the development of high-definition
camcorders equipped with flash
memory, which represents the next
stage in an evolution that began with
tape-based camcorders before
progressing to DVD and hard-disk
systems. Explaining Canons strategy
during an interview with AC, Kuniyoshi
maintained that flash memory will soon
be the dominant format. We recog-
nized in the early days that [tape] would
not be the ideal media, he said. Next
came the DVD [format], which did not
allow us to deliver a portable camcorder
that would fit into the palm of your hand.
When it came to the hard disk [format],
we understood that in terms of capacity
there was potential; however, it also
presented a problem in terms of the size
of the medium. [Disk-based camcorders]
also had many mechanical movements
that led to concerns about crashes. From
that point we arrived at the conclusion
that flash memory would be the optimal
medium.
The companys concentration on
HD camcorders is also based on the
idea that consumers are becoming more
and more tech-savvy and image
conscious. Yuichiro Asano, deputy
executive of the Video Products Group,
concluded that the arrival of HDTV sets
has helped Canons marketing team
stress the importance of shooting HD
images. People now understand why
they have to [shoot] HD-quality
pictures, he said.
For more information, visit
www.usa.canon.com.
OB-1 Offers New Hope
for Recording
S.two has introduced the OB-1,
an on-board recorder featuring remov-
able FlashMag solid-state digital-film
magazines.
Weighing in at less than 6
pounds and measuring approximately
8"x5"x4", the OB-1 uses less than 25
watts at 10-36 volts DC while recording
uncompressed images as industry-stan-
dard DPX files. Four HD-SDI inputs
support two dual-link cameras for 3-D
projects or even four 4:2:2 cameras, all
with metadata support, and it can
record two channels of balanced analog
audio. The recorder can also accept
external time code and hold sync for up
to 24 hours without external power, and
it can de-Bayer and display raw images
in real time while applying user-loaded
1-D and 3-D LUTs.
The OB-1 provides full compati-
bility with S.twos existing workflow
products. Using a simple adapter, the
FlashMag can be used in an i.Dock for
automated, frame-accurate, color-timed
dailies in Final Cut or Avid; in a DSR digi-
tal studio recorder; and in an A.Dock4
for dual uncompressed data tape archiv-
ing and automated neg pull. With an
easy-to-use interface that offers
complete feature control, the OB-1 also
supports a wide range of digital cine-
matography cameras from Arri, Sony,
Panasonic and others.
For more information, visit
www.stwo-corp.com.
Liquid Red Makes Splash
Tampa Digital Studios recently
collaborated with director and cine-
matographer Jordan Klein Jr. to shoot
underwater footage for a television
commercial using the Red One camera.
The 10-pound camera was housed in an
80-pound metal casing built by Klein
and dubbed the Liquid Red.
Constructed of
6061 aircraft aluminum,
the Liquid Red allows
users to mount zoom or
prime lenses to the
camera and control
them electronically via
motors for focus, iris
and zoom. The Liquid
Red can be fully
remote-operated, and
for the recent commer-
84 April 2009
The exterior of
Canons
manufacturing
facility in Oita.
cial shoot, Klein used the housing in
tandem with his self-designed Aqua
Crane. The housing also accommodates
an electronic viewfinder and electronic
camera controls.
The Liquid Red is available
for rent. For more information, con-
tact Jordan Klein c/o Tampa Digital
Studios at (813) 241-2012 or visit
www.tampadigital.com.
JVC Adds to Solid-State
Lineup
JVC has expanded its line of
ProHD camcorders with the GY-HM100
and GY-HM700. Both solid-state
camcorders record 35Mbps high-defini-
tion video and uncompressed audio
directly to reliable and inexpensive
SDHC media cards in the native Quick-
Time format used by Apple Final Cut
Pro. Accordingly, video clips can be
dragged directly from the storage
media onto the non-linear editors time-
line, eliminating the need for time-
consuming trasncoding while preserv-
ing first-generation image quality.
We are pleased to support a
seamless experience for professional
videographers working with Final Cut
Studio 2, says Hioyuki Takekura,
managing director of JVCs Professional
Systems Division. We expect that pro
video users will find huge workflow
benefits as this optimized workflow
bridges the gap between production
and postproduction tasks.
In addition to supporting full
1920x1080 encoding in HQ mode, both
cameras can record 720p (19/35Mbps)
and 1080i (25Mbps) in SP mode. The
cameras also provide two memory-card
slots, and they automatically begin
Techno-Jib 24 & 15 telescoping
remote camera jib arms
Finally a family of jibs that instantly extend or retract
to get the best shots possible. A single operator
controls diverse camera movements: zoom, focus,
& telescoping - all through the customizable user
interface. Smooth. Quick. Silent. The camera
extends in and out of hard to reach areas. Now
Techno-Jib enables innovative shots that before
were considered too costly or too challenging.
Techno-Jib Features
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Compatible with most remote heads
Accommodates popular cameras
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86 April 2009
recording on the second card when the
first is full.
While the HM100 features three
" CCDs and a Fujinon 10:1 zoom, the
HM700 has three
1
3" CCDs and an inter-
changeable lens designed by Canon.
The ultra-compact 3-pound HM100 also
features Optical Image Stabilization,
Focus Assist, a color viewfinder and
LCD display, two-channel balanced
audio inputs, HDMI output and USB 2.0
interface. Additional features of the 8.9-
pound shoulder-mount HM700 include a
high-quality LCOS viewfinder, a large
LCD display, a double-memory hybrid
recording system, HD-SDI output, SD
down-convert capability over IEEE 1394
interface and USB 2.0 interface.
For more information, visit
www.jvc.com/pro.
MaxEdit, MaxCut
Now Shipping
Maximum Throughput is now
shipping MaxEdit Server Edition, a
multi-user editing application. MaxEdit
allows broadcasters, post facilities and
studios to rapidly and cost-effectively
set up a multi-seat editing environment.
Multiple concurrent users can access
MaxEdit by launching it from a Web
browser, and they can then review, edit
and render compressed and uncom-
pressed SD/HD content without using
specialized workstations or upgrading
their existing network infrastructure; all
editing operations are processed and
executed on the MaxEdit server. The
scalable editing solution fits into any
workflow with its broad native support
of formats such as Panasonic P2, Sony
XDCam, AVC HD, DVCPro HD, MPEG-
2/4 and DPX.
Maximum Throughput has also
unveiled its new MaxCut, a companion
tool to MaxEdit. MaxCut further
enhances MaxEdits convenience and
functionality by giving media profes-
sionals and their clients a streamlined
tool to quickly assemble rough cuts and
storyboards that can be readily refined
by an editor in MaxEdit. MaxCut is
designed for novice and professional
editors alike, enabling them to easily
share creative editing decisions with
team members and contribute to the
review-and-approval cycle from
anywhere at anytime.
For more information, visit
www.max-t.com.
Nvidia Boosts Adobe CS4
Adobe Creative Suite 4 natively
supports Nvidias graphics processing
units (GPUs), enabling a faster, more
natural way of working with images,
while improving quality and productiv-
ity. The latest edition in a long line of
award-winning software toolsets,
Adobe CS4 is the first application set of
its kind to take advantage of the power
of native GPU acceleration.
A critical element of CS4 was to
capture the enormous power of the
GPU, says John Loiacono, senior vice
president of Creative Solutions at
Adobe. Performance is important to
creative professionals, and with the
Nvidia GPU, they are assured to be able
to interact with images and videos in a
much faster, smoother, more engaging
way.
Adobe CS4 features a variety of
creative tools that automatically
detect the presence of
Nvidia Quadro or
GeForce GPUs and use the parallel-
processing capability of the GPUs to
speed a number of visually intensive
operations. Photoshop CS4 uses the
Quadro or GeForce GPUs to enable real-
time image rotation, zooming and
panning, and to make changes to the
view instantaneous and smooth. Photo-
shop CS4 also taps the GPU for 2-D and
3-D compositing and high-quality anti-
aliasing, as well as brush resizing,
brushstroke preview, 3-D movement,
high-dynamic-range tone mapping and
color conversion. After Effects CS4
features a variety of visual effects
such as depth of field, bilateral blur,
turbulent noise and cartoon effects
accelerated by Quadro GPUs, making it
easier than ever to add graphics and
visual effects to a video. Premiere Pro
CS4 takes advantage of Quadro GPUs to
accelerate high-quality video effects
such as motion, opacity, color and image
distortion, and to enable faster editing
of multiple high-definition video
streams and graphic overlays.
The GPU being a central ingre-
dient of Adobe Creative Suite 4 is a
monumental milestone in the comput-
ing industry, says Dan Vivoli, executive
vice president of marketing for Nvidia.
We are honored to have been able to
work so closely with the talented engi-
neers at Adobe to help them take their
world-renowned suite to the next level.
For more information, visit
www.adobe.com or www.nvidia.com.
Offhollywood Goes South
Encouraging productions to take
advantage of Louisianas 25-percent tax
credit on in-state motion-picture produc-
tion expenditures exceeding $300,000,
digital-cinema company Offhollywood
has officially launched Offhollywood
South in Baton Rouge. The company will
offer advanced end-to-end motion-
picture production and postproduction
services backed by expertise in the
latest digital technology offerings.
Offhollywood Souths facility
includes a 6,000-square-foot sound-
stage, five edit suites, six visual-effects
suites and a DI color-grading suite. The
company is a collaborative venture by
co-owners Mark L. Pederson, CEO of
Offhollywood in New York City, and
Greg Milneck, founder and creative
director of Digital FX.
With its unique culture and
diverse range of locations and environ-
ments, Louisiana has a great deal to
offer the feature-film industry, says
Milneck. With our facilities and capa-
bilities, Offhollywood South will give
filmmakers a one-stop shop for all of
their production needs. And, given our
experience working with the state tax
credit, we also can ease that process
and help productions to move ahead
more rapidly.
Greg has been associated with
the postproduction business in
Louisiana for 25 years, and our joint
launch of Offhollywood South brings
together a wealth of experience, adds
Pederson. Combining our rolodexes
and resources gives producers
unmatched leverage in the state.
Following New York and Los Angeles,
Louisiana is the third-largest market in
the U.S. for film production. Offholly-
wood South is the first local company to
offer the robust service and high stan-
dard of quality suited to the states
87
active production environment.
Offhollywood also plans to intro-
duce services in London later in 2009.
For more information, visit www.offhol
lywooddigital.com.
Bi-Color LED Burns Bright
Litepanels has introduced the
1x1 Bi-Color LED light, a single fixture
capable of generating a color tempera-
ture of 3200K, 5600K or anything in
between. Color temperature can be
dialed-in by using the onboard dial,
onboard digital color-temperature
settings or a built-in DMX controller.
The 1x1 Bi-Color LED features
Litepanels full-range integrated
dimmer, enabling instant dimming from
0 to 100 percent with minimum color
shifting. The fixture is extremely power
efficient, and like other Litepanels units,
it generates practically no heat. It can be
powered from a variety of 12-30-volt
sources, including an optional 1.75-hour
onboard lithium-ion battery pack, a car
battery or an AC adapter. Measuring
only 12"x12"x1.75", the 1x1 Bi-Color is
ideal even for tight quarters.
Litepanels has also expanded
into a larger facility, leaving behind its
North Hollywood home and moving into
a larger and more efficient space in Van
Nuys, Calif.
Litepanels, 16152 Saticoy St.,
Van Nuys, CA, 91406. For more informa-
tion, call (818) 752-7009 or visit
www.litepanels.com.
Panasonic Intros HD LCD
Panasonics 25.5" high-resolution
BT-LH2550 LCD HD production monitor
is now available, boasting a full
1920x1200-pixel In-Plane Switching
(IPS) panel and an expanded color
gamut, ensuring vivid, true-to-life colors
for critical monitoring.
The LH2550 offers six color
space settings SMPTE, EBU, ITU-R
BT.709, Adobe 2.2, Adobe 1.8 and D-
Cinema to expand the range of
colors that can be viewed onscreen for
high-end applications. The monitors
image-processing engine has a three-
dimensional look-up table to reproduce
content according to the specific color
standard selected, and the LH2550 also
boasts high contrast and brightness, and
a 178-degree horizontal/vertical viewing
angle.
The monitor is also equipped
with valuable production tools, including
built-in waveform monitor and
vectorscope functions that display all
picture lines for signal-level monitoring.
It also features pre-installed calibration
software, allowing the monitor to be
calibrated directly with color analyzers
without using a PC. A split-
screen/freeze-frame function permits
the simultaneous display of two video
sources side-by-side from two different
video inputs, and additional monitoring
tools include standard markers and
blue-only markers, H/V delay display,
monochrome display and cross-hatch
overlay display.
The LH2550 incorporates a light-
weight, slim-frame, space-saving
design and an aluminum-alloy back
panel. The monitor features a full range
of professional-level inputs including
DVI-D input, two auto-switching SDI
31 0/301-81 87
www.hydroflex.com
UNDERWATER
HOUSINGS
for
RED ONE
and
PHANTOM HD
NOW AVAILABLE
88
(HD/SD) inputs, component and RGB
inputs, and RS-232C and GPI remote
inputs and it also has an embedded
audio decoder, time-code display, closed
caption and audio-level-meter display of
up to eight channels. Five customizable
function keys on the front panel can be
assigned with various display modes
and settings for quick, one-touch adjust-
ments.
The LH2550 operates without a
cooling fan for noise-free performance.
It comes standard with a desk stand and
is VESA-mount compatible. A 24-volt AC
adapter, 3-pin AC cord and 4-pin XLR DC
cord are also included. The recom-
mended price of the LH2550 is $5,995.
For more information, visit
www.panasonic.com/productiontough.
Heated Shut Eye from Denz
Denz has updated its Shut Eye
closing eyecup to provide integrated
heating. Users have two temperature
levels to choose from, and an electronic
regulator holds them constant regard-
less of the supply voltage.
The Heated Shut Eye can be used
with the HDVF-C35W, HDVF-C30, HDVF-
20 and HDVF-20A Sony color viewfind-
ers, as well as the HDVF-200 Sony
black-and-white viewfinder. Denz is
currently working on additional versions
of the Heated Shut Eye to work with a
broader line of cameras and viewfind-
ers.
The Heated Shut Eye is available
through 16x9 Inc. For more information,
visit www.16x9inc.com or www.denz-
deniz.com.
89

90 April 2009
the focus rings action, which works in
the opposite direction of a cinema lens.
When shooting without a focus puller,
Chrosziel recommends using the Studio
Rig Photo combined with the VariLock
hand wheel, which stores two fixed
focus points for exact repeatability of
focus without even looking at the
wheel. An Adjustable Gear Ring for lens
diameters between 60 and 100mm fits
most photo lenses.
Chrosziels Light Weight Support
system for camcorders has also been
modified for use with dSLRs, offering
enough space on the support rods to
mount a follow focus or zoom drive even
when the lens ring is close to the body.
The system also features a thumb
screw for tool-free locking of the
camera, as well as M5 and " threads
for accessories.
The dSLR systems also accom-
modate Chrosziels MB 450 mattebox
series, with its Light Protection Rings,
Flexi Light Cover Rings and other acces-
sories. The dSLR systems also work
with the DV Balancer ENG shoulder
brace.
Chrosziel products are distrib-
uted in the U.S. by 16x9 Inc. For more
information, visit www.16x9inc.com or
www.chrosziel.com.
Gaffers Glass from Filmtools
Burbank, Calif.-based Filmtools
has introduced a 3.8 Neutral Density
Gaffers Glass. The 6061-T6 CNC one-
piece milled bezel holder offers users a
sturdy feel, and the glass itself is
welders grade with a UV inhibitor.
The Gaffers Glass is used to
view light-fixture quality; standing at
least 10' from the light source and with
the glass lens hood held to the eye, the
user can quickly assess the location of
the center of the beam and offer precise
placement instructions to the lamp
operator. The glass also allows users to
look at the sun when it is behind clouds
in order to determine when the sun will
reemerge.
The Filmtools Gaffers Glass sells
for $89.95 and comes with a free Lind-
craft belt-loop pouch. For more informa-
tion, visit www.filmtools.com.
Fresh Perspective with
Ringo Head
Spider Support Systems has
introduced the Ringo Head, designed to
allow an operator to mount a range of
cameras at 90 degrees.
Productions often call for images
to be captured with the camera in a
vertical orientation. The Ringo Head
keeps the cameras lens and center of
gravity aligned over the center of a
tripod head, jib or Steadicam, and it is
compatible with full-size video cameras,
small-format video cameras, the Red
One camera and film cameras.
For more information, visit
www.spidersupport.com. I
Pro8mm Gives Wide Gate
to 814
Pro8mm has introduced a new
wide-gate modification to the Pro814
super 8mm camera. The modification
allows for an expanded image on the
negative, giving 20 percent better reso-
lution when scanning in HD.
The Pro814 comprises a rebuilt
Canon 814 Auto Zoom camera, modified
to optimize performance with modern
super 8mm film stocks. The Pro814 with
regular gate is priced at $795, or it can
be purchased with the wide-gate modi-
fication for $995. Additionally, owners of
the regular Pro814 can receive the wide-
gate modification for $300, and owners
of vintage Canon 814 Auto Zooms can
have their cameras upgraded to Pro814s
for $495 or to wide-gate Pro814s for
$695.
Pro8mm also offers a new
eyecup with an expanded rubber piece
for $125. This eyecup is softer on the
eye and blocks out more ambient light
than its predecessor.
For more information, call (818)
848-5522 or visit www.pro8mm.com.
Chrosziel Accessories for
dSLR Video
Chrosziel has introduced a new
line of supports specifically designed for
use with dSLR cameras.
Chrosziels Studio Rig Photo
keeps all sides of the camera accessi-
ble, with easy access to monitor and
microphone connections as well as
memory-card slots and batteries. Addi-
tionally, the modified focus gear can
mount either in front of or behind the
focus ring of the still-photo lens, and it
features a reverse gear to accommodate
SUBMISSION INFORMATION
Please e-mail New Products/Services
releases to newproducts@ascmag.com and
include full contact information and product
images. Photos must be TIFF or JPEG files of at
least 300dpi.
SUPER16INC.COM
Top-notch camera and lens servicing
Ask about Ultra 16!
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92 April 2009
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16x9, Inc. 92
Abel Cinetech 17
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Alamar Productions, Inc. 92
Alan Gordon Enterprises
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Arri 49
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Chimera 19
Cinekinetic 4
Cinematographer Style 99
Cinema Vision 93
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Cinevation 23
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Cmotion Film Technologies
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Cooke 6
Debbie Clifton 92
Deluxe C2
Denecke, Inc. 93
Eastman Kodak 13, 65, C4
Entertainment Lighting
Services 92
Filmtools 6
Focal Press 76
FTC/West 92
Fuji Motion Picture 51
Gamma & Density 42
Gekko Technology 75
Glidecam Industries 25
Golden Animations 93
Hybrid Cases 93
Hydroflex 88
Innoventive Software 79
Innovision 93
JEM Studio Lighting Inc. 97
J.L. Fisher 27
K 5600, Inc. 77
Kino Flo 81
Koerner 79
Laffoux Solutions, Inc. 92
Lee Filters 73
Lights! Action! Company 93
LitePanels 2
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Maine Media Workshops 87
Movie Tech AG 92
MP&E Mayo Productions 93
Nalpak 93
NBC/Universal 33
New York Film Academy 35
North Carolina Film
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Otto Nemenz 69
Panasonic Broadcast 7
Panavision, Inc. 39
Panther Gmbh 43
PED Denz 71, 92
Photo-Sonics, Rental 61
Pille Film Gmbh 92
PowerMills 93
Professional Sound 88
Pro8mm 92
Rag Place, The 83
Samys DV & Edit 53
Servicevision USA 80
Sim Video Productions, Ltd.
37
Spectra Film & Video 93
Stanton Video Services 87
Super16 Inc. 92
Superflycam 41
Telescopic 85
Thales Angenieux 9
Tiffen C3
Transvideo 67
VF Gadgets, Inc. 93
Videocraft Equipment Pty
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Visual Products 71
Walter Klassen FX 60
Welch Integrated 95
Willys Widgets 92
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96 April 2009
American Society of Cinematographers Roster
OFFICERS 2008-09
Daryn Okada,
President
Michael Goi,
Vice President
Richard Crudo,
Vice President
Owen Roizman,
Vice President
Victor J. Kemper,
Treasurer
Isidore Mankofsky,
Secretary
John Hora,
Sergeant-at-Arms
MEMBERS
OF THE BOARD
Curtis Clark
Richard Crudo
Caleb Deschanel
John C. Flinn III
William A. Fraker
Michael Goi
John Hora
Victor J. Kemper
Stephen Lighthill
Daryn Okada
Robert Primes
Owen Roizman
Nancy Schreiber
Dante Spinotti
Kees Van Oostrum
ALTERNATES
Matthew Leonetti
Steven Fierberg
Michael D. OShea
Sol Negrin
Michael Negrin
Ernest Dickerson
Billy Dickson
Bill Dill
Bert Dunk
John Dykstra
Richard Edlund
Frederick Elmes
Robert Elswit
Geoffrey Erb
Jon Fauer
Don E. FauntLeRoy
Gerald Feil
Steven Fierberg
Gerald Perry Finnerman
Mauro Fiore
John C. Flinn III
Ron Fortunato
William A. Fraker
Tak Fujimoto
Alex Funke
Steve Gainer
Ron Garcia
Dejan Georgevich
Michael Goi
Stephen Goldblatt
Paul Goldsmith
Frederic Goodich
Victor Goss
Jack Green
Adam Greenberg
Robbie Greenberg
Alexander Gruszynski
Changwei Gu
Rick Gunter
Rob Hahn
Gerald Hirschfeld
Henner Hofmann
Adam Holender
Ernie Holzman
John C. Hora
Gil Hubbs
Michel Hugo
Shane Hurlbut
Judy Irola
Mark Irwin
Levie Isaacks
Andrew Jackson
Peter James
Johnny E. Jensen
Torben Johnke
Frank Johnson
Shelly Johnson
Jeffrey Jur
William K. Jurgensen
Adam Kane
Stephen M. Katz
Ken Kelsch
Victor J. Kemper
Wayne Kennan
Francis Kenny
Glenn Kershaw
Darius Khondji
Gary Kibbe
Jan Kiesser
Jeffrey L. Kimball
Alar Kivilo
Richard Kline
George Koblasa
Thomas Olgeirsson
Woody Omens
Miroslav Ondricek
Michael D. OShea
Anthony Palmieri
Phedon Papamichael
Daniel Pearl
Edward J. Pei
James Pergola
Don Peterman
Lowell Peterson
Wally Pfister
Gene Polito
Bill Pope
Steven Poster
Tom Priestley Jr.
Rodrigo Prieto
Robert Primes
Frank Prinzi
Richard Quinlan
Declan Quinn
Earl Rath
Richard Rawlings Jr.
Frank Raymond
Tami Reiker
Marc Reshovsky
Robert Richardson
Anthony B. Richmond
Bill Roe
Owen Roizman
Pete Romano
Charles Rosher Jr.
Giuseppe Rotunno
Philippe Rousselot
Juan Ruiz-Anchia
Marvin Rush
Paul Ryan
Eric Saarinen
Alik Sakharov
Mikael Salomon
Harris Savides
Roberto Schaefer
Aaron Schneider
Nancy Schreiber
Fred Schuler
John Schwartzman
John Seale
Christian Sebaldt
Dean Semler
Eduardo Serra
Steven Shaw
Richard Shore
Newton Thomas Sigel
John Simmons
Sandi Sissel
Bradley B. Six
Dennis L. Smith
Roland Ozzie Smith
Reed Smoot
Bing Sokolsky
Peter Sova
Dante Spinotti
Robert Steadman
Ueli Steiger
Peter Stein
Robert M. Stevens
Tom Stern
Vittorio Storaro
Fred J. Koenekamp
Lajos Koltai
Pete Kozachik
Neil Krepela
Willy Kurant
Ellen M. Kuras
George La Fountaine
Edward Lachman
Ken Lamkin
Jacek Laskus
Andrew Laszlo
Denis Lenoir
John R. Leonetti
Matthew Leonetti
Andrew Lesnie
Peter Levy
Matthew Libatique
Stephen Lighthill
Karl Walter Lindenlaub
John Lindley
Robert F. Liu
Walt Lloyd
Bruce Logan
Gordon Lonsdale
Emmanuel Lubezki
Julio G. Macat
Glen MacPherson
Constantine Makris
Karl Malkames
Denis Maloney
Isidore Mankofsky
Christopher Manley
Michael D. Margulies
Barry Markowitz
Vincent Martinelli
Steve Mason
Clark Mathis
Don McAlpine
Don McCuaig
Seamus McGarvey
Robert McLachlan
Greg McMurry
Steve McNutt
Terry K. Meade
Chris Menges
Rexford Metz
Anastas Michos
Douglas Milsome
Charles Minsky
Richard Moore
Donald A. Morgan
Donald M. Morgan
Kramer Morgenthau
M. David Mullen
Dennis Muren
Fred Murphy
Hiro Narita
Guillermo Navarro
Michael B. Negrin
Sol Negrin
Bill Neil
Alex Nepomniaschy
Yuri Neyman
John Newby
Sam Nicholson
David B. Nowell
Rene Ohashi
Daryn Okada
ACTIVE MEMBERS
Thomas Ackerman
Lance Acord
Lloyd Ahern II
Herbert Alpert
Russ Alsobrook
Howard A. Anderson III
Howard A. Anderson Jr.
James Anderson
Peter Anderson
Tony Askins
Charles Austin
Christopher Baffa
James Bagdonas
King Baggot
John Bailey
Michael Ballhaus
Andrzej Bartkowiak
John Bartley
Bojan Bazelli
Frank Beascoechea
Affonso Beato
Mat Beck
Dion Beebe
Bill Bennett
Andres Berenguer
Carl Berger
Gabriel Beristain
Steven Bernstein
Ross Berryman
Michael Bonvillain
Richard Bowen
David Boyd
Russell Boyd
Jonathan Brown
Don Burgess
Stephen H. Burum
Bill Butler
Frank B. Byers
Bobby Byrne
Antonio Calvache
Paul Cameron
Russell P. Carpenter
James L. Carter
Alan Caso
Michael Chapman
Rodney Charters
James A. Chressanthis
Joan Churchill
Curtis Clark
Peter L. Collister
Jack Cooperman
Jack Couffer
Vincent G. Cox
Jeff Cronenweth
Richard Crudo
Dean R. Cundey
Stefan Czapsky
David Darby
Allen Daviau
Roger Deakins
Jan DeBont
Thomas Del Ruth
Peter Deming
Caleb Deschanel
Ron Dexter
George Spiro Dibie
Craig Di Bona
97
A P R I L 2 0 0 9
Harry Stradling Jr.
David Stump
Tim Suhrstedt
Peter Suschitzky
Alfred Taylor
Jonathan Taylor
Rodney Taylor
William Taylor
Don Thorin
John Toll
Mario Tosi
Salvatore Totino
Luciano Tovoli
Jost Vacano
Theo Van de Sande
Eric Van Haren Noman
Kees Van Oostrum
Ron Vargas
Mark Vargo
Amelia Vincent
William Wages
Roy H. Wagner
Ric Waite
Michael Watkins
Jonathan West
Haskell Wexler
Jack Whitman
Gordon Willis
Dariusz Wolski
Ralph Woolsey
Peter Wunstorf
Robert Yeoman
Richard Yuricich
Jerzy Zielinski
Vilmos Zsigmond
Kenneth Zunder
ASSOCIATE MEMBERS
Alan Albert
Richard Aschman
Volker Bahnemann
Joseph J. Ball
Carly M. Barber
Craig Barron
Thomas M. Barron
Larry Barton
Bob Beitcher
Bruce Berke
John Bickford
Steven A. Blakely
Mitchell Bogdanowicz
Jack Bonura
Michael Bravin
William Brodersen
Garrett Brown
Ronald D. Burdett
Reid Burns
Vincent Carabello
Jim Carter
Leonard Chapman
Denny Clairmont
Cary Clayton
Emory M. Cohen
Sean Coughlin
Robert B. Creamer
Grover Crisp
Daniel Curry
Ross Danielson
Carlos D. DeMattos
Gary Demos
Richard Di Bona
Kevin Dillon
David Dodson
Judith Doherty
Don Donigi
Cyril Drabinsky
Jesse Dylan
Jonathan Erland
John Farrand
Ray Feeney
William Feightner
Phil Feiner
Jimmy Fisher
Scott Fleischer
Thomas Fletcher
Steve Garfinkel
Salvatore Giarratano
Richard B. Glickman
John A. Gresch
Jim Hannafin
William Hansard
Bill Hansard, Jr.
Richard Hart
Roman I. Harte
Robert Harvey
Don Henderson
Charles Herzfeld
Larry Hezzelwood
Frieder Hochheim
Bob Hoffman
Vinny Hogan
Robert C. Hummel
Roy Isaia
George Joblove
Joel Johnson
John Johnston
Curtis Jones
Frank Kay
Debbie Kennard
Milton Keslow
Robert Keslow
Larry Kingen
Douglas Kirkland
Timothy J. Knapp
Ron Koch
Karl Kresser
Lou Levinson
Suzanne Lezotte
Grant Loucks
Andy Maltz
Steven E. Manios
Robert Mastronardi
Joe Matza
Albert L. Mayer, Sr.
Albert Mayer, Jr.
Andy McIntyre
Stan Miller
Walter H. Mills
George Milton
Mike Mimaki
Rami Mina
Tak Miyagishima
Michael Morelli
Dash Morrison
Nolan Murdock
Mark W. Murphy
Dan Muscarella
F. Jack Napor
Iain A. Neil
Otto Nemenz
Ernst Nettmann
Tony Ngai
Mickel Niehenke
Marty Oppenheimer
Walt Ordway
Larry Parker
Michael Parker
Warren Parker
Doug Pentek
Ed Phillips
Nick Phillips
Jerry Pierce
Joshua Pines
Carl Porcello
Howard Preston
David Pringle
Phil Radin
Christopher Reyna
Colin Ritchie
Eric G. Rodli
Andy Romanoff
Daniel Rosen
Dana Ross
Bill Russell
Kish Sadhvani
David Samuelson
Peter K. Schnitzler
Walter Schonfeld
Juergen Schwinzer
Ronald Scott
Steven Scott
Don Shapiro
Milton R. Shefter
Leon Silverman
Garrett Smith
Stefan Sonnenfeld
Jurgen Sporn
John L. Sprung
Joseph N. Tawil
Ira Tiffen
Arthur Tostado
Ann Turner
Bill Turner
Stephan Ukas-Bradley
Mark Van Horne
Richard Vetter
Joe Violante
Dedo Weigert
Franz Weiser
Evans Wetmore
Beverly Wood
Jan Yarbrough
Hoyt Yeatman
Irwin M. Young
Michael Zacharia
Bob Zahn
Nazir Zaidi
Michael Zakula
Les Zellan
HONORARY MEMBERS
Col. Edwin E. Al drin Jr.
Neil A. Armstrong
Col. Michael Collins
Bob Fisher
Cpt. Bruce McCandless II
David MacDonald
D. Brian Spruill
98 April 2009
CTO of Digital Cinema Initiatives, where
he worked with the ASC to evaluate
issues related to digital-cinema projec-
tion. He is currently working on creating
the specs for the Digital Video Package
for release formats of Hollywood
movies.
Kuras Notches Oscar
Nomination
Ellen Kuras, ASC earned an
Academy Award nomination for Best
Documentary Feature for her directorial
debut, Betrayal (Nerakhoon), which
chronicles a Laotian immigrants efforts
to adjust to life in the United States (AC
April 08). Kuras was also the cine-
matographer on the project.
Semler Revisits
Thunderdome
Dean Semler, ASC, ACS
recently stopped by the American Cine-
matheques Aero Theater in Santa
Monica to discuss his work on George
Millers The Road Warrior (1981) and
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).
Semler spoke between screenings of
McGarvey Becomes
Active Member
Born in Armagh, Northern Ireland,
new Society member Seamus McGar-
vey, ASC, BSC took to still photography
before he began shooting moving
pictures. He studied film and television
arts at the University of Westminster in
London and upon graduating, in 1988, he
began shooting short films and docu-
mentaries. He also shot more than 100
music videos for acts that included P.J.
Harvey and The Rolling Stones.
McGarvey became a member of
the British Society of Cinematographers
in 1998, and since then, his credits have
included The War Zone (1999), High
Fidelity (2000), Wit (2001), The Hours
(2002), Sahara (2005), Atonement (2007),
The Soloist (2009) and the pilot for The
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (2009).
New Associate Member
Walter F. Ordway has joined the
Society as an associate member. After
earning a degree in electrical engineer-
ing from Penn State University, he moved
to Southern California, in 1967, to take a
job with the Hughes Aircraft Co. He
remained at Hughes for 30 years, during
which he headed the companys digital-
cinema division and served as a vice
president of DirecTV. In 2000, SMPTE
selected Ordway to be in charge of the
Digital Cinema DC28-4 group, which
defined the requirements for digital-
cinema security, and in 2002, he became
the two films, which played as part of a
Mad Max triple feature.
ASC Associates Receive
SOC Honors
ASC associate member Larry
Parker of Mole Richardson Co. was
recently honored with the Society of
Camera Operators Presidents Award in
recognition of his efforts to support the
education of new filmmakers. Fellow
ASC associate Andy Romanoff of
Panavision took home the Distinguished
Service Award for his dedication to
camera crews throughout his career.
Additionally, John Toll, ASC
was on hand to present the Camera
Operator of the Year Award to Robert
Gorelick, SOC for his work on The Dark
Knight (AC July 08). As a director of
photography, I know how much I rely on
the artistry and the skill of camera oper-
ators, says Toll. I trust their taste and
appreciate their talent, and I understand
what a tremendous contribution they
make in accomplishing the creative
ambitions of any film.
Clubhouse News
John Toll, ASC (third from right) and Camera Operator of the Year winner Robert Gorelick,
SOC (holding award) with nominees (from left to right) Will Arnot, SOC; Stephen
Campanelli, SOC; Martin Schaer, SOC; and Kim Marks, SOC.
Spruill Named Honorary ASC
During the 23rd Annual ASC
Outstanding Achievement Awards, D.
Brian Spruill (above) was named an
honorary member of the Society. Spruill,
who has been an ASC associate
member since 1997, served as vice pres-
ident of Kodaks Entertainment Imaging
Division and general manager of the
companys Worldwide Sales and
Marketing Operations. He retired from
that post in 2005.
Kirkland in Spotlight at
New Photography Center
ASC associate member Douglas
Kirkland is among 11 photographers
featured in L8s Ang3les, the inaugural
exhibit at the new Annenberg Space for
Photography in Los Angeles. The exhibit
opened March 27 and will be up through
June 20. The other participating photog-
raphers are John Baldessari, Carolyn
Cole, Greg Gorman, Lauren Greenfield,
Lawrence Ho, Kirk McKoy, Genaro
Molina, Catherine Opie, Tim Street-
Porter and Julius Shulman.
During the exhibits run, most of
the show participants will also partici-
pate in a lecture series. Kirklands talk,
A 50-Year Love Affair with Photogra-
phy, will take place April 2 at 6:30 p.m.
The Annenberg is located at
2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City.
Hours are Wednesday through Sunday
from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and admission is
free. For more information, visit
www.annenbergfoundation.org. I
99
100 April 2009
When you were a child, what film made the strongest
impression on you?
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), which I saw when I was
5 at the Times Theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. All the adults in the audi-
ence were laughing their heads off, but to me, it was absolutely horri-
fying. My tastes were rather indiscriminate. I even loved the Francis the
Talking Mule series with Donald OConnor.
Which cinematographers, past or present, do you most admire?
Its a long list, but to name a few: Hal Mohr, ASC; Oswald Morris, BSC;
Gabriel Figueroa; Gordon Willis, ASC; Caleb Deschanel, ASC; Harris
Savides, ASC; and Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC.
What sparked your interest in photography?
It certainly had something to do with all the movies I saw growing up;
those images presented a world that was truly magical. I was drawn to
the way they looked. At the same time, I would hang out at Hardendorfs
Camera Shop, drooling over the Rollei in the display case. I had to settle
for a Kodak Pony 135, which I found under the Christmas tree, along
with a single roll of Kodachrome, when I was in the seventh grade. I
rationed those 36 exposures over the two-week holiday, and when they
finally came back from the lab, it was an out-of-body experience. Even
now, in dailies, I get that same vibe.
Where did you train and/or study?
In a medium-sized midwestern town, there was no opportunity to learn
cinematography except the occasional 8mm backyard epic. Formal
training came at the University of Iowa. The cinema program was not
very production-oriented, although a student could subvert the system
and make a lot of movies, which I did. My first experience came after
graduation, when I was commissioned as a motion-picture officer in the
U.S. Air Force.
Who were your early teachers or mentors?
There were many. A pillar of strength at the University of Iowa was
Gene Jones, a former chemistry teacher who ran the 16mm lab on
campus. He could be a terror; thin negative meant a trip to his cramped
little Quonset hut for a lecture on densitometry. Charles Guggenheim
was a great mentor. I went to work for him just after he won his second
Oscar, for Robert Kennedy Remembered. He was a rigorous taskmaster
who taught me how to tell a story on film. In the early 1980s, Vittorio
Storaro asked me to operate on One From the Heart, and to this day, he
is a source of inspiration and moral support.
What are some of your key artistic influences?
Almost everything, with fine arts heading the list. Iowa was Grant
Wood country; a lot of his work was in private collections dating from
his days as a teacher at the local high school. Those paintings, along
with those of the great Missourian Thomas Hart Benton, were enor-
mously influential. Rural landscapes became a celebration of form and
color. For a teenager itching to see bright lights and the big city, it was
a lesson in how art can change the perception of the world around us.
How did you get your first
break in the business?
When Marshall Lovrien,
manager of the University of
Iowa Motion Picture Unit,
hired me to shoot Hawkeye
football games and training
films for the School of Dentistry, he gave me a break long before I had any
rational idea of how I would make it to Hollywood.
What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?
There have been countless times when I've felt like the luckiest person
alive to be doing this job. But the ultimate satisfaction is sitting with a
real audience enjoying the movie. Theres nothing like it.
Have you made any memorable blunders?
The university production unit did a big documentary on the Iowa legisla-
ture. My camera, a blimped Arri 16mm, had a vital close-up while two
others shot reverse angles. Each operator did double duty as his own
assistant. The next morning, downloading the magazine, I found that the
loop had never actually been threaded through the gate. Not an inch of
film was exposed! I glumly presented this fact to Marsh Lovrien, and after
what seemed like a half-hour of dead silence, he outlined his plan for a
reshoot. So as it turns out, Marsh provided both my first and second
breaks in the business!
What is the best professional advice youve ever received?
Legendary gaffer George Popeye Dahlquist used to tell his lamp opera-
tors, Boys, if youre not 10 minutes early, youre 10 minutes late. Readi-
ness is a big part of what we do.
What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?
The book American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to try?
Its a fair question, but I think cinematographers shoot films, not genres.
Im up for the projects with great visual opportunities.
If you werent a cinematographer, what might you be
doing instead?
Teaching, if it wouldnt mean scrubbing my day job.
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for
membership?
John McPherson, Roy Wagner and Vittorio Storaro.
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
I cant imagine a greater honor. To join the cinematographers, present and
past, who have so influenced the way films are made is an enormous
privilege. It has a profound impact on ones life and career. Theres a lot
to live up to. I
ASC CLOSE-UP
Thomas Ackerman, ASC
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