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Canada $8.

95
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I N T E R N A T I O N A L

J O U R N A L

O F

F I L M

&

D I G I T A L

P R O D U C T I O N

T E C H N I Q U E S

S I N C E

1 9 2 0

J U LY 2 0 0 7

A M E R I C A N C I N E M A T O G R A P H E R J U LY 2 0 0 7 L I V E F R E E O R D I E H A R D, R E S C U E D A W N , N A N C Y D R E W, A R M Y O F S H A D O W S V O L . 8 8 N O. 7

T H E

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ITS PREMIERE NIGHT. THE LOOK


CINEMATOGRAPHER HAD IMAGINED.

Eastman Kodak Company, 2007. Kodak and VISION are trademarks.

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ON SCREEN IS EXACTLY WHAT THE


GUESS WHO HELPED MAKE IT HAPPEN?

production

postproduction

distribution

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A Kodak imaging scientist, thats who. In fact, KODAK Imaging Science is hard at work throughout
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In post, 10-bit logarithmic files invented by Kodak are now the industry standard for digital
intermediate postproduction. And KODAK Color Science leverages advanced 3D Look-Up
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visually from script to screen. Learn what else were doing to improve workflow, enhance image
quality, and help ensure what you envision is what you get at www.kodak.com/go/motion.

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The International Journal of Film & Digital Production Techniques

Features 32
44
54
70

One-Man Riot Squad


Simon Duggan, ACS pushes the action envelope in
Live Free or Die Hard

Laws of the Jungle


Peter Zeitlinger enters the heart of darkness with
Werner Herzog on Rescue Dawn

A Hollywood Whodunit
Alexander Gruszynski, ASC brings pop style to
Nancy Drew: The Mystery in the Hollywood Hills

44

Pice de Rsistance
Pierre Lhomme, AFC recalls his collaboration
with Jean-Pierre Melville on the recently restored
French classic Army of Shadows

Departments
On Our Cover:
The unstoppable John
McClane (Bruce Willis)
takes on a group of
Internet terrorists in Live
Free or Die Hard, shot by
Simon Duggan, ACS.
(Photo by Frank Masi,
SMPSP, courtesy of 20th
Century Fox.)

8
12
18
72
78
84
86
92
94
95
96
98
100

Editors Note
DVD Playback
Production Slate
Short Takes
Post Focus
Filmmakers Forum
New Products & Services
Points East
International Marketplace
Classified Ads
Ad Index
Clubhouse News
ASC Close-Up

54

70

Visit us online at

www.theasc.com

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Dale Brooks, ABC-TV / Walt Disney Co

J u l y

2 0 0 7

V o l .

8 8 ,

N o .

The International Journal of Film & Digital Production Techniques Since 1920

Visit us online at

www.theasc.com

PUBLISHER Martha Winterhalter

EDITORIAL
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Stephen Pizzello
SENIOR EDITOR Rachael K. Bosley
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Douglas Bankston
TECHNICAL EDITOR Christopher Probst

1. The Cinesaddle is easy to use; to set it up


just put it down.

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Benjamin B, 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, Elina Shatkin, Jon Silberg,
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kit included with all professional models.

ART DEPARTMENT
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Marion Gore
DESIGN ASSOCIATE Erik M. Gonzalez

ADVERTISING
ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Angie Gollmann
323-936-3769 FAX 323-936-9188
e-mail: gollmann@pacbell.net
ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Sanja Pearce
323-908-3114 FAX 323-876-4973
e-mail: sanja@ascmag.com
ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Scott Burnell
323-936-0672 FAX 323-936-9188
e-mail: sburnell@earthlink.net
CLASSIFIEDS/ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Diella Nepomuceno
323-908-3124 FAX 323-876-4973
e-mail: diella@ascmag.com

CIRCULATION, BOOKS & PRODUCTS

Visit Cinekinetics website:

www.cinekinetic.com
and view streamed video clips of the
Cinesaddle in action.
Cinekinetic USA
345 W. 85th Street
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Telephone: (212) 202-0675
Email: info@cinekinetic.com

CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Saul Molina


CIRCULATION MANAGER Alex Lopez
SHIPPING MANAGER Javier Ibanez

ASC GENERAL MANAGER Brett Grauman


ASC EVENTS COORDINATOR Patricia Armacost
ASC PRESIDENTS ASSISTANT Kim Weston
ASC ACCOUNTING MANAGER Mila Basely
ASC ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE Corey Clark

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.
Subscriptions: U.S. $50; Canada/Mexico $70; all other foreign countries $95 a year (remit international
Money Order or other exchange payable in U.S. $). Advertising: Rate card upon request from Hollywood
office. Article Reprints: Requests for high-quality article reprints should be made to Sheridan Reprints at
(800) 394-5157 ext. 28. Copyright 2007 ASC Holding Corp. (All rights reserved.) Periodicals
postage paid at Los Angeles, CA and at additional mailing offices. Printed in the USA.
POSTMASTER: Send address change to American Cinematographer, P.O. Box 2230, Hollywood, CA 90078.

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TAKE A LOOK THROUGH FORMATT FILTERS


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And that philosophy of Formatt's is what really excites me and
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HD. The size of the circles of confusion are based upon the 2/3
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the character in front of the lens is more appealing and pleasingand that is a great asset to a cinematographer, because we get
hired to make people look good.. - This Formatt filter definitely
makes people look good.

Roy H Wagner,ASC

Shot using the Sony XDCAM HD PDW 350.A majority of the


production was interior of a house and on a Piccadilly tube
train. The raw HD image was too sharp and not the actors
friend,by using the SOFT and SUPERSOFT GOLD 2 & 3 filters,
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On occasion I did use HD ND0.3, ND0.6, ND0.9 to control
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Michael Elphick ACS, GBCT

There is a growing trend toward using HDV cameras for


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Obviously there are a number of qualitative issues that must
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We've found that a good selection of Formatt ND filters can
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Editors Note

Getting the perfect shot is


always a tricky job! But the
Cine 30 HD and its new
sideload mechanism are the
trick to that perfect shot!
www.sachtler.com

Stephen Pizzello
Executive Editor

Photo by Douglas Kirkland.

ts been 12 years since we last saw John McClane delivering wisecracks while whupping the bad guys, but Live Free
or Die Hard promises enough state-of-the-art mayhem to
make even Jack Bauer look lazy. Bruce Willis is back onboard
for this summers biggest action blockbuster, and cinematographer Simon Duggan, ACS assures us that while McClane is
older and a bit wiser, age certainly hasnt wearied him.
Describing the fourth film in the franchise as incredibly
kinetic, Duggan notes that technical advances allowed him
to fulfill director Len Wisemans main goal: achieving a level
of realism that would make the series gun battles, car chases
and stunts seem even more spectacular. Even when the
[onscreen] events are pushing the boundaries of reality, the audience doesnt want to be
taken out of the moment, Duggan tells Australian correspondent Simon Gray (One-Man
Riot Squad, page 32). Shooting a large part of the movie on location, the style of the stunt
work, and the cinematography all came from a desire to create a sense of realism.
A more stripped-down version of realism informs Werner Herzogs Rescue Dawn, the
harrowing true tale of a U.S. Navy pilot who endured months in a Laotian prison camp before
leading fellow inmates in a daring escape. Collaborating once again with cinematographer
Peter Zeitlinger (Grizzly Man), Herzog is back at what he does best, setting human drama
against intimidating natural environments in this case the jungles of Southeast Asia. As
Zeitlinger notes to Fred Schruers (Laws of the Jungle, page 44), There is a key sentence
in Rescue Dawn when Dieter and the other prisoners in the camp are talking about escaping, and one of them says, The jungle is the prison. That was leading Werners intention;
thats the reason we tried to make it as real as possible and keep the audience in the world
of the jungle, rather than show it to them with long-lens photography. [Long lenses] make
for beautiful pictures, but thats not the world you are in.
Harrowing adventures are also ahead for anyone who watches the newly restored
French World War II drama Army of Shadows. Released last year in U.S. theaters and now
available on DVD, this 1969 classic teamed director Jean-Pierre Melville with cinematographer Pierre Lhomme, AFC. Recalling his work on the film and its subsequent restoration
(Pice de Rsistance, page 70), Lhomme tells Paris-based correspondent Benjamin B that
the digital-intermediate process allowed him to create a new negative that may be more
faithful to Melvilles vision than the original print was. By doing the restoration of this film,
I restored my own memories no joke, says Lhomme. To restore is to discover, and 35
years [after I shot this film], I rediscovered it on the big screen and saw its extraordinary cinematic qualities.
After absorbing all of this hard action and heavy drama, some of you may want to
seek out lighter, more family-oriented fare. One fun option is Nancy Drew: The Mystery in
the Hills, shot by ASC member Alexander Gruszynski. In bringing the famous girl detective
to the big screen, Gruszynski and director Andrew Fleming crafted a variety of looks to reflect
all of the movies moods. The film has elements of a thriller, a comedy, a mystery and an
adventure, all wrapped under the label of a teen film, Gruszynski observes in his interview
with David Heuring (A Hollywood Whodunit, page 54). The nature of the material made
it difficult to create a consistent style, and jumping back and forth between the different
looks helps to create some excitement.

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- UNleashed Magazine

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DVD Playback
All That Jazz (1979)
Special Music Edition
1.85:1 (16x9 Enhanced)
Dolby Digital 5.1
20th Century Fox Home Video,
$19.98
Death, substance abuse, and
infidelity might not seem like natural
subjects for the genre that spawned
Singin in the Rain, but they inspired
director/choreographer Bob Fosse to
create a seminal American musical,
All That Jazz. Using the exuberant
style of classic musicals to explore
dark themes and morally ambiguous
characters, Fosse and cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, ASC, AIC
reinvented the genre.
All That Jazz is a brutally
honest yet exhilarating self-portrait
in which Roy Scheider plays Fosse
surrogate Joe Gideon, a selfabsorbed, self-loathing artist whose
disregard for others is surpassed
only by his supreme devotion to his
work. Gideon experiences a midlife
crisis and must come to terms with
his personal failures just as his
professional life is hitting its peak.
Plagued by visions of an angel of
death (Jessica Lange), Gideon fuels
himself with speed, alcohol and sex
as he tries to complete a film and a
Broadway show before his vices kill
him.
Given his work with Federico
12 July 2007

Fellini, Rotunno was a natural choice


to shoot the film. Like the blocked
director in Fellinis 812, Gideon views
life through the prism of his art,
defining his relationships and memories by imagining them as the kinds
of musical numbers he excels at
staging. The only way Gideon can
relate to anyone is through the work
he loves, a sentiment conveyed not
only in the films fantasy sequences
but also in more realistic scenes,
such as a touching dance Gideon
shares with his daughter.
Rotunno reinforces the characters complexity through a visual
style that alternates between high
stylization and gritty reality: the
fantasy sequences are as elaborate
as anything from MGMs heyday, but
the opening On Broadway number
plays like a documentary on the
process of casting a stage musical.
The cinematographer also employs
great contrasts between light and
shadow, especially in dark portraits
of Gideon in his apartment at night.
The transfer on this new DVD nicely
preserves the nuances of Rotunnos
photography and has a tonal range
comparable to theatrical release
prints of the film. The Dolby 5.1 mix
is strong in the musical numbers, but
in other scenes most of the sound is
directed toward the center channel,
with minimal use of the rear speakers.
The disc includes an insightful
commentary track by editor Alan
Heim an appropriate choice,
given the films heavy reliance on
cutting to generate meaning. All
That Jazz is actually structured like a
musical composition, with visual and
aural motifs that deepen in meaning
as they reappear throughout the
story. Just as Rotunno often aban-

dons reality in favor of emotional


truth, Heim shatters temporal continuity to jump back and forth in time
and back and forth between life
and fantasy several times within
the same scene. Every edit and
composition perfectly expresses
Gideons inner state at a particular
moment in time.
Unfortunately, this disc
doesnt include the select-scene
commentary by Scheider that was
available on Foxs previous DVD. Its
a curious omission, given the actors
absence from the discs featurettes.
The 23-minute Portrait of a Choreographer is an affectionate but
superficial collection of reminiscences about Fosse by various
friends and admirers, including Liza
Minnelli (Cabaret). The 8-minute
Perverting the Standards is a
slightly more incisive consideration
of the films unorthodox approach to
the musical form, featuring interviews with noted composers and
songwriters. The remaining supplement is a 312-minute piece on the
recording of George Bensons On
Broadway, the song that opens the
movie.
Also featured are two
galleries of production and publicity
stills, a music machine feature
that enables the viewer to jump to
many of the films set pieces, and a
karaoke supplement for those who
feel inclined to sing along with the
number Take Off With Us. Heims
commentary is the only supplement
of real worth to filmmakers and
scholars, but it and the transfer
are enough to make this new edition
of All That Jazz a worthwhile
purchase.
Jim Hemphill

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The Queen (2006)


1.85:1 (16x9 Enhanced)
Dolby Digital 5.1
Miramax Home Entertainment,
$29.99
Standing by the door, we bow
from the neck. I will introduce you. The
queen will extend her hand. You go to
her, bow again and then shake her
hand. Its maam as in ham, not
marm as in farm, and when you are
in the presence, at no point must you
show your back. These are the rules
briskly set out for newly elected Prime
Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) as
he prepares to meet Queen Elizabeth II
(Helen Mirren) for the first time in May
1997. It would prove to be a summer of
many firsts. A few months later, while
the queen and her husband, Philip
(James Cromwell), are on their annual
retreat at Balmoral, Princess Diana,
the ex-wife of Prince Charles (Alex
Jennings), is killed in a car accident in
Paris. Over the ensuing weeks, as the
world mourns the death of the
peoples princess, Queen Elizabeth,
fully formed by the long-standing traditions of the British monarchy, is
strongly encouraged by Blair to adopt a
more modern stance on government
and royal protocols.
With The Queen, director
Stephen Frears has fashioned a
remarkable docudrama of subtle
power and complexity. A meditation on
the conflicted role of the monarchy in
Blairs England, an indictment of the
media, and a frank look at the royals
difficult relationship with Diana, it is
also a complicated portrait of a leader
steeped in tradition who is forced to
reconsider some of her most closely
held beliefs.
14 July 2007

Frears felt strongly that in addition to using some actual news footage
of the events in 1997, the film should
use different visual textures for Blair
and the queens separate worlds; he
wanted a gritty, provincial look for
Blairs sequences and a smooth
elegance for the queens. Wisely, Frears
tapped cinematographer Affonso
Beato, ASC, ABC (Live Flesh, The Big
Easy, All About My Mother) to bring his
scheme to life. A veteran of many international projects of varied styles,
Beato, working closely with production
designer Alan MacDonald, realized the
films distinct worlds, made room for
the video news footage, and fused it all
into one cohesive vision. For Blairs
sequences, he shot Super 16mm with
spare or stark lighting and few
contrasting primary colors; when transferred to 35mm, this yielded evident
grain and sharp tone. By contrast, he
shot the queens world in 35mm, incorporating a warmer lighting scheme and
deeper, more solid colors.
This recently released DVD of
The Queen is a solid translation of the
theatrical presentation. The image is
letterboxed at 1.85:1 with a crisp, accurate, handsome transfer that is
enhanced for widescreen viewing. The
visual shifts between the storys two
worlds are well reproduced here, with
the subtle juxtapositions thematic
impact intact. The audio track, like the
queen herself, is pronounced but never
showy. The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation really comes to life when Alexandre Desplats mournful, low-key score
appears.
The DVDs supplements offer
insight into the difficulty of reconstructing recent history. An excellent 20minute featurette, The Making of The
Queen, includes interviews with
Frears, screenwriter Peter Morgan and
actors Mirren, Sheen, Cromwell, and
Sylvia Syms (who plays Elizabeth, the
Queen Mother). Also featured are two
audio commentaries, one by British
historian Robert Lacey, who explains
the changing role of the royal family
over the years, and the other by Frears
and Morgan, who occasionally share

notes of interest when theyre not


silently absorbed in watching their film.
Although The Queen is likely to
be remembered mostly for Mirrens
extraordinary performance, which
brought her an Academy Award and
numerous other honors, what really
distinguishes the film is how simple it
appears to be at first, and how gracefully it reveals its complexities. Filled
with rich detail and uniformly excellent
performances, The Queen is an intimate examination of a leader whose
public face is quite opaque.
Kenneth Sweeney

Notes on a Scandal (2006)


1.85:1 (16x9 Enhanced)
Dolby Digital 5.1
20th Century Fox Home
Entertainment, $29.98
Zoe Hellers novel Notes on a
Scandal is such an internal piece of
literature that at first glance, it might
not seem well suited to the screen.
Yet in the hands of a gifted team of
actors and filmmakers, it became one
of the most affecting and entertaining
films of 2006, a character study with
the intensity of a thriller.
Notes on a Scandal tells the
story of Barbara Covett (Judi Dench),
an aging, lonely teacher who is captivated by her schools new hire, the
attractive and warm Sheba (Cate
Blanchett). Shebas life, which
includes a husband (Bill Nighy) and
two children, seems to have everything Barbaras lacks. When Barbara
learns Sheba is having an affair with a
pupil, she is overcome with jealousy
and anger, and becomes determined
to use the situation to her advantage.
These characters constantly
reveal new facets of themselves right

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ONE-YEAR FILMMAKING PROGRAM


16mm Digital 35mm HD

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up until the final scene. The broad


psychological range of the piece is
expressed and elaborated upon by
the cinematography of Chris Menges,
ASC, BSC (Three Burials of
Melquiades Estrada, Dirty Pretty
Things), which conveys both the intimacy of the relationships and their
harsh collision with the outside world
when the scandal explodes. Throughout the film, Menges subtly manipulates point of view, giving the images
a layered, multidimensional perspective. For example, he often works
handheld to evoke an immediate,
documentary-style sensibility, yet in
those same rough compositions he
lights Blanchett with a soft, glamorous approach that reflects the way
Barbara sees her.
Richard Eyre, the films director, has observed that Menges is in
love with the human face, and every
image in Notes supports this claim;
its a film of great surface beauty, and
Menges method often comments
ironically on the ugly behavior at the
storys center. His lighting and framing are subtle and precise, and the
cinematography strikes a careful
balance between subjectivity and
distance that allows the audience to
consider the moral implications of the
content without being alienated by it.
It also allows the perspective to shift
dramatically; early scenes link the
viewer to Barbaras point of view, and
later, the scope of the tale is
expanded to present the perspectives
of Sheba and her husband as well.
This DVD features a luminous
transfer that displays Menges
palette in all its varied glory. The
Dolby 5.1 mix provides an added
dimension to the community
portrayed in the story, as the rear
channels evoke a vivid sense of
English street life. Eyre provides an
illuminating commentary track that
covers every facet of the production.
His narration is supplemented by
about 30 minutes of featurettes that
include interviews with Eyre, Heller,
screenwriter Patrick Marber, and the
actors. These documentaries, which
16

include nine short Webisodes from


the movies promotional Web site,
contain many insights into the movies
content and form; the only downside
is that theres some repetition, with
the same information from the
making-of featurettes repeated in
many of the Webisodes. However,
since the filmmakers are so articulate
this is a minor complaint.
Jim Hemphill

NEXT MONTHS REVIEWS

The Sergio Leone Anthology:


A Fistful of Dollars; For A Few
Dollars More;
The Good, The Bad and The
Ugly;
Duck, You Sucker (1964-1971)
Cinematographers:
Massimo Dallamano;
Federico Larraya;
Tonino Delli Colli, AIC;
Giuseppe Ruzzolini

Matador (1986)
Cinematographer:
ngel Luis Fernndez, AEC

The Chocolate War (1988)


Cinematographer: Tom Richmond

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5/25/07

12:12 PM

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Production Slate
Flesh-Eating Pets and a Family Drama

Zombies in Suburbia
by Patricia Thomson
Take a zombie flick, mix well with
a heartwarming boy-and-his-dog story,
season with a vintage Technicolor look,
and you might have a recipe for disaster.

18 July 2007

But in the hands of writer/director


Andrew Currie and director of photography Jan Kiesser, ASC, CSC, this
approach yields a perfectly balanced
comedic concoction called Fido.
The time is the 1950s, and the
setting is the idyllic suburb of Willard, a

place of maple-lined streets, white


picket fences, and nuclear families. Its
Leave It to Beaver land, except for one
thing: years ago, the Earth passed
through a cloud of space dust that
caused the dead to rise from their
graves. These flesh-eating zombies
were a menace to society until a collar
was invented that made them docile.
Soon, communities were filled with
rotting zombies who delivered newspapers, pumped gas, cleaned house, and
sometimes even served as the family
pet.
The Robinsons are the last on
their block to get a zombie. Because of
a childhood trauma, Bill Robinson (Dylan
Baker) has resisted, but his wife, Helen
(Carrie-Anne Moss), finally prevails. She
and son Timmy (KSun Ray) quickly
warm up to the new household member,
whom Timmy names Fido (Billy
Connolly). The two play, take long

Fido photos by Michael Courtney, courtesy of Lionsgate Films.

Right: In the
period comedy
Fido, the
Robinsons (from
left: Dylan
Baker, KSun
Ray and CarrieAnne Moss) are
the last family
on their block
to acquire a
domesticated
zombie (Billy
Connolly,
center). Below:
Director of
photography
Jan Kiesser,
ASC, CSC sets
up the shot.

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AMC_0707_p018-p029.qxd

Above: Young
Timmy Robinson
discovers that
the place where
he buried an
intrusive
neighbor has
been
discovered.
Right: Fido
twirls Mrs.
Robinson around
the living room.

20 July 2007

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Page 20

walks, and bond after the zombie


protects Timmy from the town bullies.
Helen, meanwhile, finds a degree of
companionship in Fido that her intimacy-phobic, golf-addicted husband
doesnt offer. All goes well until Fidos
collar malfunctions one day in the park
and he kills the neighborhood crank,
Mrs. Henderson. Returning at night to
bury the evidence, Timmy encounters
the old lady, now an unfettered zombie,
and has to decapitate her with his
shovel. Neighbor Mr. Bottoms (Henry
Czerny), head of security at zombiecontrol agency ZomCon, suspects
something is amiss at the Robinson
household and soon uncovers the truth,
threatening to destroy the happiness
the family has found with Fido.
With a laugh, Kiesser says
Curries script intrigued me. On the
page, its a graphic, traditional zombie
movie, and I wondered how that would
work on the screen. But what got me
was the level of humor and the subtle
social commentary and political satire.
That suggested there was more going
on in the writers head than was necessarily on the page. So I was looking
forward to the interview.
For his part, Currie thought
Kiesser would be perfect for the
project. Theres a real diversity to Jans
work, says the director. Hes worked a
lot with Alan Rudolph, he was 2nd-unit
director of photography on Kundun, he
was a camera operator for Vilmos Zsigmond [ASC] for five years, and he also
shot Fright Night. When they met to

discuss Fido, he continues, Jan had a


strong understanding of what I wanted
to achieve. He knew the style intimately
and completely got what I was going
for.
What Currie wanted was a Technicolor look reminiscent of Douglas
Sirks melodramas. Kiesser recalls,
Andrew had specific film references,
format ideas, and postproductionpipeline ideas that informed the overall
look of Fido. When I saw all that, I realized he had developed his visual
concept very thoroughly. Currie
showed Kiesser an 11"x17" stylebook
with full-color illustrations of key
images. He also put together a DVD
presentation that included orchestralmusic samples, zombie images and film
clips; this was initially used as a sales
tool when Currie was pitching the

project, but it later became a touchstone for the creative departments.


Sirks films, such as Written on the
Wind and Imitation of Life, were key
references. Those films have a very
beautiful, idealized visual palette,
says Kiesser. Everything looks very
perfect and in its place, but when you
get to know the characters, you realize
that the order disguises a tremendous
amount of dysfunction. And thats
pretty much the world Andrew wanted
to expose. The director adds, I
wanted the world [of Fido] to have a
very stylized and glossy surface, and
make it very lush and beautiful,
because I wanted to contrast that with
whats rotting in the neighborhood, so
to speak.
At the outset, Currie budgeted
for a 2K transfer and digital intermedi-

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Along with Fido


and Timmy, Mrs.
Robinson
watches as the
shed she set on
fire, with neerdo-wells inside,
burns to the
ground.

ate (DI) with the final Technicolor


palette in mind. However, he also
wanted to incorporate certain retro
techniques during the filming, such as
rear-screen projection and a handpainted moon on composite plates. The
productions modest budget determined
other choices, such as shooting spherical widescreen instead of anamorphic,
and shooting 3-perf. For his camera
package, Kiesser felt strongly about
using Cooke S4s. I knew they would
enable me to shoot unfiltered and still
get that Technicolor feel, he says.
Quite often Im torn between Primos
and Cooke S4s, but I felt the quality the
Cooke lenses have, especially in portraiture, was perfect for this show. But
because we chose S4s, we were unable
to afford the Arricam system, so we
used an Arri 535B instead. (Clairmont
Camera provided the package.)
During preproduction, Kiesser
and the other department heads plotted
out how they would achieve a highly
saturated Technicolor look. We had a
lot of conversations about colors, their
intensities, and the number of principal
colors we wanted in each scene, he
recalls. The team decided to limit each
scene to two main colors. The Robinsons kitchen, for instance, is turquoise
and bright red. We tried to avoid colors
that were close to flesh tones, so that in
the DI we would be able to simply push
the saturation on those primaries a little
22 July 2007

bit, or lean one way or the other to


heighten the look, without affecting
skin tones.
After extensive testing, Kiesser
determined that the best film-stock
choice was Kodak Vision2, hands
down. We were able to get that really
pushed, three-strip Technicolor look we
wanted. He used 250D 5205 for day
exteriors, and 500T 5218 for nights and
interiors.
Fido also contains a black-andwhite film within a film, a faux 1940s
educational film explaining why
zombies roam the earth. After obtaining
stock footage of B-17s and marching
armies on BetaSP and DigiBeta, as well
as a VHS clip of rampaging zombies
from Curries short film The Night of the
Living, Kiesser tested various options
for matching this pre-existing material.
We ended up shooting Super 16mm,
using Kodak Double-X 7222 and forcing
it 2 stops to increase the grain, he
says. This material was filmed with an
Arri 16SR-3, 16mm Zeiss prime lenses
and a Canon 8-64mm zoom. Per
Kiessers instruction, 2nd-unit director
of photography Randal Platt lit these
scenes in a flat style; Kiesser later used
tools in the DI suite to boost contrast.
Fido was shot mostly on location
in Kelowna, British Columbia, a small
town whose tree-lined streets and
1940s-era houses resembled the world
of the film. All that was needed was

fresh paint on several houses, and the


transformation of patchy green-andbrown lawns into emerald carpets
during the DI. (At Warner Bros. Motion
Picture Imaging, colorist Raymond
Grabowski and supervising colorist Jan
Yarbrough devised a look-up table that
mimicked the Technicolor look, and
small adjustments were then made on
individual shots.) Near Kelowna was an
abandoned distillery that served as
ZomCon headquarters. Conveniently, a
forest fire had ravaged the hillside
behind the factory the year before, and
its charred landscape made a perfect
setting for the Wild Zone, an area
beyond the community gates where
flesh-eating zombies roam free. We
couldnt have accomplished that digitally on our budget, Kiesser says of the
burnt landscape.
Camera movement in Fido
includes a judicious use of cranes. The
crane shot is a touchstone of the Fifties
style, so it was really critical for Fido,
says Currie. Eagle Camera Support
Systems supplied the production with
four cranes: two Movietechs, a Felix
and a Phoenix. Kiesser used these with
a Hot Gears remote-head system. In one
crane shot, Timmy leaves school and the
camera pulls back to reveal two
zombies holding the doors open for the
kids, then goes higher to reveal the
whole schoolyard and Fifties-era
setting. A crane shot also introduces the
Robinsons neighborhood, moving from
the lush maple trees down to the quiet
suburban street just as Bill Robinson
pulls up in his immaculate Chrysler
sedan.
For Kiesser, those trees were a
little too lush. Between preproduction
and the shoot, the leaves had filled in so
much [the street] was like a dark tunnel,
and there was a huge contrast range
with the houses, which were often
frontlit. I was wondering what the heck
to do. A local crew member, greensman Paul Bingham, contacted the citys
arborist and persuaded him to prune the
trees at no cost to the production.
They spent an entire day thinning the
trees, says Kiesser. And I asked them
to come back two more times! Im

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happy I did. We got some really great


dappled light.
Inspired by scenes in Gone With
the Wind and Night of the Hunter, Currie
decided to shoot some of Fidos
sequences in silhouette. During storyboarding, he determined which scenes
they would be. In one example, Timmy
dispatches Mrs. Henderson with a
shovel, and the two figures are silhouetted on a knoll under a craggy tree and
very large moon. [The silhouette] was
an interesting way of depicting whats
happening the chopping up of a
human body in a low-definition way
that viewers actually laugh at, notes
Kiesser. It worked really, really well. In
that shot, the tree was real, and the
moon was a hand-drawn matte painting.
Because we were going to be adding
the moon, we shot the action against a
20-by-20-foot greenscreen placed
slightly behind an elevated knoll in the
park. Everything just barely fit in front of
the greenscreen!
Greenscreen was also used for
scenes involving rear-screen projection.
Andrew was fascinated by the process
photography used in driving shots in the
Fifties, says Kiesser. He found a
certain level of humor in it. The background plates were shot conventionally,
and Kiesser desaturated them and gave
them a cool, bluish tint in the DI. We
couldnt film a lot of plates because of
limited time and money, so we went for
specific angles. We lined up shots with
finders and got specific heights,
distances and focal lengths, so we knew
where we were going when we got
onstage. If [rear-screen] isnt done right,
it looks artificial, and I was trying to hold
onto a certain level of reality so it
wouldnt take viewers completely out of
the story. But we also wanted it to look
a little quirky. I hope we found that
compromise.
Overall, Kiesser believes the Fido
team achieved the right tone. He recalls
that after a festival screening of the film,
a 70-something woman remarked, I
dont like gory things, but this was really
funny. Kiesser laughs at the memory:
When you get it, you get it.

24 July 2007

Close friends Ann (Claire Danes, left) and Lila (Mamie Gummer) celebrate Lilas imminent
wedding in a scene from Evening.

Lasting Love
by Jean Oppenheimer
Director of photography Gyula
Pados, HSC pays the director of his
latest film, Evening, the ultimate compliment: He has the eye of a cinematographer. In this instance, the declaration
happens to be true, because until he
turned to directing two years ago, Lajos
Koltai, ASC, HSC was an award-winning
cinematographer in his own right.
When it came time to choose a
cinematographer for his directing debut,
the Holocaust drama Fateless (see AC
Jan. 06), Koltai turned to Pados, a
fellow Hungarian who had transformed
Budapests labyrinthine underground
subway system into a lyrical purgatory in
the award-winning picture Kontroll (AC
April 05). The collaboration proved so
fruitful that Koltai asked Pados to shoot
his second feature, Evening, based on
the novel by Susan Minot.
A romantic drama about memory
and regret, Evening concerns an elderly
woman who, on her deathbed, recalls a
summer that shaped her future. The
story jumps back and forth between the
present and the past, with Vanessa
Redgrave portraying the central character, Ann, as an old woman and Claire
Danes portraying her younger self. We

wanted a muted, desaturated look for


the present, with as little color as possible in both the lighting and production
design, says Pados, speaking by phone
from his home in Budapest. The elderly
Anns bedroom, where much of the
present-day action takes place, is all
whites and [pale] browns and grays. We
didnt want a huge difference between
the key and fill lights; HMIs, heavily
diffused with Frost, came through the
bedroom windows, providing a soft,
white ambient light for day scenes. I
used the Varicon system on these
sequences to further soften the blacks.
By contrast, the flashbacks,
which constitute most of the story, are
colorful and vibrant. These scenes are
set at a Newport, Rhode Island,
mansion where Anns college friend,
Lila (Mamie Gummer), is getting
married over the weekend. Livening
things up is Lilas eccentric brother,
Buddy (Hugh Dancy), also a close friend
of Anns. It is here that Ann meets and
falls in love with Harris (Patrick Wilson),
a lifelong friend of the family.
The Newport mansion is
perched on a high bluff; almost every
window opens onto magnificent, manicured lawns and a brilliant, azure sea
and sky. Interior colors are soft blues
and greens, and sunlight streams

Evening photos by Gene Page, courtesy of Focus Features.

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Above: The
elderly Ann
(Vanessa
Redgrave)
shares her
reminiscences
with one of her
daughters
(Natasha
Richardson).
Below: Young
Ann escapes the
wedding
festivities with
Harris (Patrick
Wilson).

26 July 2007

5/31/07

2:20 PM

Page 26

through the windows, providing strong


backlight for the actors and an overall
glossiness to the scenes.
It isnt surprising to learn that
two quintessentially American artists,
Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper,
served as visual references for Evening.
Hoppers use of color and his passion for
sunlight are evident in the films flashback sequences, while Wyeths signature white, gray and wheat tones dominate the present-day scenes. Hopper is
one of my favorite painters, and I always
had him in my mind for this film, says
Koltai. When I saw the house that had

been selected for the mansion, I couldnt


believe it it was exactly what I had
envisioned.
Koltai also had a very specific
image in mind for Ann as she lies in bed,
drifting toward death. I always pictured
the room as a boat thats drifting away
from this life. There would be two big
windows, one on either side of the bed,
and billowing curtains that would look
like two sails. Our wonderful production
designer, Caroline Hanania, found me a
Wyeth painting that showed a perfect
relation of curtains to windows. As Ann
dies, the curtains are blowing, just like

the sails of a boat.


In addition to contrasting color
palettes, Koltai wanted past and
present differentiated by camera movement. The camera is largely stationary in
the present, as Ann nears death,
whereas lively tracking shots bring vitality to the past.
According to Pados, Koltai organized the shooting schedule around the
sun. Lajos has a fantastic eye and
knows what moment to shoot. He
planned each day so we could always
shoot in backlight. We filmed interiors
when the sun was high in the sky, and
knocked off outdoor shots in the late
afternoon, with its beautiful sunset
glow. If you plan well, you only need a
little fill. For that we used 12-by-12
white silks.
To give the film a sense of intimacy, Pados, who does his own operating, stuck primarily with 21mm and
27mm Primo prime lenses. This is a
very emotional story, and we always
wanted to feel close to the characters in
both the past and present. Lajos loves
faces, but he didnt want long lenses on
close-ups; he wanted to feel we were
right there with the characters. He
prefers primes for that reason. The
cinematographer kept 14 Tiffen Black
Pro-Mist on the lens the entire time.
The camera package, rented
from Panavision New York, also
included 4:1 (17.5-75mm) and 11:1 (24275mm) Primo zooms and two Panaflex
Platinums. Pados notes that using both
cameras simultaneously was rare.
Koltai and Pados hoped to shoot
anamorphic, as theyd done on Fateless,
but the studio objected, so they shot 3perf Super 35mm instead.
Pados shot the picture on three
Kodak Vision2 stocks: 500T 5218, 250D
5205 and 50D 5201. Footage was
processed at Technicolor New York, and
the final color timing was accomplished
with a digital intermediate (DI) at
Modern VideoFilm, where the filmmakers worked with colorist Joe Finley.
The entire film was shot on location, and in the mansion the crew was
not allowed to place anything on the
walls or hang anything from the ceilings.

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Director Lajos
Koltai, ASC
(right) and
cinematographer
Gyula Pados,
HSC discuss
their next shot.

Lajos and I both come from Eastern


Europe, where there is no money to
build sets, so we are used to shooting in
real locations, laughs Pados. Actually,
we both prefer that. A real location has
a different atmosphere to me and, I
believe, for the actors as well.
He recalls that the biggest challenge was lighting day interiors in the
mansion in such a way that the sea and
sky outside were always visible in the
distance. There were huge windows,
and its difficult to get the same amount
of light inside when you have a bright
sunny day outside. You have to balance
[the light levels] somehow so you can
see both inside the room and outside
the windows. One such scene finds Lila
and Buddys mother (played by Glenn
Close) sitting in an enclosed porch, with
windows behind and to the side of her.
Six 18Ks were required to create
enough light inside the room. Sheets of
.9ND were placed over the windows
because of windy conditions, hard gels
were used most of the time and a
heavy Frost filter was on the lens.
The dinner following Lilas
wedding was filmed in an enormous
ballroom in another Newport location.
With 200 extras, 57 setups and only one
shooting day scheduled, the filmmakers
had their work cut out for them. Pados
used both cameras and lit the room so
different kinds of shots wouldnt require
major lighting changes. Two 4K helium
balloons provided ambient light, while
28 July 2007

ornamental crystal practicals each


fitted with a 60-watt bulb in the
center of each table helped light actors
faces. Our gaffer, Jerry DeBlau, rolled
small pieces of Frost diffusion paper
around each of those bulbs to soften the
light a bit, says Pados. We dimmed
them down to make them a touch
warmer, and we also dimmed the
helium balloons.
While the A camera concentrated on tracking shots, the B camera,
equipped with slightly longer lenses,
handled cutaways. At one point during
the reception, Ann joins the orchestra to
sing a song dedicated to Lila. Harris
joins her during the number, and they
dance around the stage. Jerry built two
2-by-4-foot light boxes out of white
plastic and filled them with heavily
diffused bulbs I think we used F-1,
recalls Pados. The boxes were so light
the electricians could move them
around quickly. One provided the key
light for Ann and Harris; the other
provided ambience and fill.
A key scene in the film occurs in
the present, when an elderly Lila (Meryl
Streep) visits Ann, whom she hasnt
seen in years. Awakening from a sleep,
Ann sees Lila bathed in strong backlight
and mistakes her for an angel. The
bedroom is adjacent to an enclosed
porch, and the sunlight pouring onto the
porch reaches into the bedroom. I
wanted a strong beam effect, so we put
a 6K Par outside the porch window,

creating a strong backlight on Meryl.


You cant really see who she is. Ann is
close to death, and we wanted to make
this scene a bit dreamy.
Lila lies down on the bed, her
face just inches from Anns, and they
reminisce. Its one of the most intimate
moments in the film, notes Pados.
Lajos wanted to use extreme close-ups
for the two women. The light coming
through the window and bouncing off
the pillows is the only light in the scene.
We moved the pillows so the light
would bounce off them and into the
actresses faces. I had a 40mm lens on,
and we used a little arm on the Fisher
dolly to position the camera.
Evening was Pados first U.S.
shoot, and he has high praise for his
crew. Lajos recommended gaffer Jerry
DeBlau, and he turned out to be one of
the best Ive ever worked with. Hes
always thinking about the story and
how to make the atmosphere better. I
dont think I could have done this film
without him. Focus puller Blackford
Boots Shelton did a wonderful job,
adds Pados. He had to do walking
shots without rehearsals, which was
especially difficult because the actors
walked around without marks for many
of the scenes.
Also, I really like being part of
the prep, and fortunately, [production
designer] Caroline Hanania and I were
able to spend a lot of time collaborating
before the shoot. She has wonderful
taste and contributed many great ideas.
Evening is really about
choices, he muses in conclusion. We
always wonder whether were choosing
the right thing, and this is about a
woman questioning the choices shes
made in her life. We wanted the differences between the past and the present
to be gentle, not extreme. We didnt
want to distract from the emotions at
play with a strong stylized look. 

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Page 30

THE CLAIRMONT
ADVANTAGE

Simon Duggan, ACS, and crew members share their experiences


in the shooting of Live Free or Die Hard with Bruce Willis
Youll have to agree that there are three key factors in the success of most
any shoot. First is the skill of the crew, from the DP right down through the
assistants. Second, theres selecting the optimum equipment (cameras, lenses
and accessories) for the job. Third but critically important from our point of
view is the performance and dependability of the equipment, as well as
technical support. Thats what The Clairmont Advantage is all about.
We thank Simon Duggan, ACS (Director of Photography), Anthony Cappello
(A camera 1st AC), and John Holmes (B camera 1st AC) for elaborating on
points two and three. Credit Holmes for the production stills used in this ad.

THE EQUIPMENT USED

DUGGAN: When it came to selecting


the cameras and equipment for Live
Free or Die Hard I went with essentially
the same package from Clairmont that
Id used for a previous project,
Underworld: Evolution. Between Main
and Action units we used a complete
Arriflex package including the Arricam
ST and LT, several 435s and two of the
lightweight 235s. Lenses included
complete sets of Cooke S4 Primes from

12mm through 180mm and a full set


of Optimo Angenieux Zooms, the
15-40mm, the 17-80mm and the
24-290mm lens.

WHY CLAIRMONT?

DUGGAN: I had a very good experience


the first time I used Clairmont, and the
ACs all wanted to go there knowing they
would be looked after. And when it came
to pricing, Clairmont was very
competitive.

Award-winning cinematographer
Simon Duggan, ACS, on the set of
Live Free or Die Hard
HOLMES: Ive had dealings with
Clairmont Camera for 18 years now, and I
can always count on reliable gear and
great service. Their equipment is second
to none! I have dealt with rental houses
all over the world and I have dealt with
some good ones but I would have to
say that Clairmont is my favorite.
CAPPELLO: Ive worked with Clairmont
for over ten years and my experience has
always been a good one. Their staff,
especially Alan, Irving and Tom Boelens
have been extremely helpful, supportive,
and reliable.

EQUIPMENT AVAILABILITY

DUGGAN: Clairmont had everything we


required right on schedule and the gear
was all in like-new condition. The ACs

A Camera operator Mitch Dubin (left),


B Camera 1st AC John Holmes, and B
Camera/Steadicam operator Colin Hudson
(right) on the set of Live Free or Die Hard

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Page 31

had full run of the facility for


checking and testing all the gear. We
had additional equipment needs that
came up during the shoot, and it was
prepped by Clairmonts staff and sent
direct to the set.
HOLMES: Sean, the rental agent I work
with, has made the impossible possible
when we need equipment and the town
is busy. When out of town he always gets
us what we need when we need it.
CAPPELLO: When it comes to Arriflex
and other cameras, Clairmont is the
house to beat...bar none!

COMPLETE CONFIDENCE
IN THE EQUIPMENT

DUGGAN: Clairmonts equipment is


really very well maintained so its rare to
have a problem with any of the cameras
and lenses. Ive been caught before with
bad lenses, but Im confident the guys at
Clairmont rigorously check the gear when
they put a package together before the
ACs start their tests. Clairmont Camera
makes my job easier because I dont
have to worry about the quality of the
equipment. I know that in the event of a
problem or a piece of equipment getting
damaged they can usually replace or
repair it immediately.

Simon Duggan, ACS (right) discusses a shot with Jeff Murrell, Chief
Lighting Technician

EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE

HOLMES: Clairmont Camera has gone


above and beyond the call of duty
many times during the years Ive dealt
with them. Once, when we were
shooting a commercial at night, the
director wanted a 10mm lens and the
widest we had was a 14mm. I called
Denny Clairmont at home at 3 AM and
by 3:30 we had the lens. He did not
hesitate and helped us out when we
really needed it.
CAPPELLO: When you have the
commitment of a guy like Denny, who is
overseeing the operation on a daily basis
and willing to do what it takes to help
you get what you need, that makes your
job very easy. When it comes to service, I
rate Clairmont highly as they really

believe in customer satisfaction. Ive


been a union assistant for 20 years, and I
know a good rental house when I see it.

IN SUMMATION
The true measure of any company is
how customers like doing business
with them. At Clairmont Camera we try
to be the very best we can in every
aspect of our operation, so that we may
continue to earn the support of our
many valued customers.
I Equipment in like new or better
condition
I Ready on schedule
I Many special cameras and lenses
I Competitive pricing on camera
packages
I Exemplary service and tech support

w w w. c l a i r m o n t . c o m

HOLLYWOOD 818-761-4440

VANCOUVER 604-984-4563

TORONTO 416-467-1700

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Page 32

One-Man

Riot

Squad
John McClane is
back for more action
in Live Free or Die
Hard, shot by Simon
Duggan, ACS.
by Simon Gray

Unit photography by Frank Masi, SMPSP


and Peter Hopper Stone
32 July 2007

n 1988, Die Hard rejuvenated the


action-film genre and popularized everyman hero John
McClane (Bruce Willis), a
modern-day cowboy whose
quick thinking and even quicker
one-liners belied a troubled personal
life. In that film, McClane overcame
daunting odds to dispatch the bad
guys and save the day in a Los
Angeles high-rise office building,
where McClane was attempting to
reconcile with his estranged wife.
Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth and
perhaps final installment in the franchise, is set almost 20 years after the

events of the first film, but McClane


is no less troubled. Now a retired
cop, he is divorced and a recovering
alcoholic. Assigned by the
Department of Homeland Security
to transport hacker Matt Farrell
(Justin Long) into custody, McClane
must fend off attacks by a gang of
cyber-terrorists led by Thomas
Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), who
believe the ethical hacker, or white
hat, will be a threat to their ambitions. As the gang systematically
shuts down the nations critical and
financial infrastructure, McClane
leaps into action in his usual inim-

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Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Opposite: The
indestructible
John McClane
(Bruce Willis)
takes on a group
of Internet
terrorists in Live
Free or Die Hard.
This page, top:
Held hostage by
terrorist leader
Thomas Gabriel
(Timothy
Olyphant),
McClanes
daughter, Lucy
(Mary Elizabeth
Winstead),
listens as the
criminal kingpin
negotiates with
her father.
Below: McClane
attempts to
protect ethical
hacker Matt
Farrell (Justin
Long), who may
be able to foil
the terrorists
plans.

itable style.
McClane is older and a bit
wiser, but age certainly hasnt
wearied him, confirms the films
cinematographer, Simon Duggan,
ACS. Live Free or Die Hard is an
incredibly kinetic movie; everyone
and everything is always on the
move. To make the film, Duggan
reteamed with director Len
Wiseman, with whom he had previously collaborated on Underworld:
Evolution. The duos goal was to
make Live Free or Die Hard look as
realistic as possible. I know that
sounds almost contradictory, says
Duggan, but we both felt that
although Die Hard was groundbreaking for its time, audiences now
are incredibly discerning about the
level of realism they expect from
action films. McClane is very much
an everyman character, and the film
is set in a recognizable, real world, so
even when the events are pushing the
boundaries of reality, the audience
doesnt want to be taken out of the
moment. Shooting a large part of the
movie on location, the style of the
stunt work, and the cinematography

all came from a desire to create a


sense of realism.
Duggan shot Live Free or Die
Hard in Super 35mm using an Arri
package supplied by Clairmont
Cameras. Our kit consisted of two
lightweight Arricam LTs, a couple of
435s and the compact 235. The 235 is
my personal favorite; its a great

handheld camera and you can


squeeze it into the tightest of spaces.
The cinematographer used Cooke S4
primes and Angenieux Optimo
zooms. Ive used the Cookes a lot.
Theyre very sharp but not in an artificial way, and they have a certain
roundness to them. I often used
wider lenses. Between 21mm and

American Cinematographer 33

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One-Man Riot Squad


Right: Another
terrorist, Mai
(Maggie Q), gets
tough with Matt.
Below: A mix
of fixtures
illuminates
Matts
workspace. For
insert shots of
fingers typing on
computer
keyboards,
Duggan
employed a
Revolution
snorkel lens to
create wideangle close-ups.

40mm, you feel more a part of the


action and get a greater sense of the
environment. The B and C cameras
were by necessity on longer lenses,
around 60mm to 75mm, depending
on the shot.
At least two cameras were used
for each setup; one was always on a

34 July 2007

Steadicam and the others were


usually handheld. For dolly shots,
Duggan had the operator place the
camera on a Cinesaddle rather than a
head. Its just a more kinetic way of
shooting and gives you a different
kind of movement in the frame, he
explains. As befits a story that

involves cyberspace, the movie is


littered with insert shots of fingers
typing on computer keyboards, and
Duggan decided to give many of
these shots a dynamic feel by using a
Revolution snorkel lens for wideangle close-ups.
The cinematographer shot the
picture on two Kodak Vision2 stocks,
500T 5218 (often pushed 1 stop and
rated at ISO 800) for studio and
night work and 250D 5205 (rated at
ISO 200) for day-exterior work. I
shot most of the film around f2.8 to
f4, with the exteriors around the f5.6
mark because I prefer more depth
outside, says Duggan.I also pushed
the negative as I needed to. I often
push stocks and feel very comfortable doing so when I know Im going
to a digital intermediate [DI],
because contrast and color shifts are
easy to correct.
For logistical and aesthetic
reasons, much of Live Free or Die
Hard was shot on location. The
sheer size of places like the Edison
Power Plant at Redondo Beach could
never have been built in a studio, but

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Left:
Crewmembers
set up an
elaborate car rig
for one of the
films highoctane action
sequences.
Below: Willis
dangles in an
elevator shaft
built on a
soundstage.

more importantly, the Die Hard


films are very much about the environments where the action takes
place everyone remembers the
Nakatomi Plaza from the first film,
notes Duggan. For this movie, we
made great use of roads, tunnels and
a variety of industrial locations. Len
and I believed shooting on actual
locations whenever we could was the
only way to go.
When asked if a locationheavy shoot might dilute the role of
the production designer, Duggan
disagrees.Not at all. This is my third
film in a row with Patrick
[Tatopoulos], after I, Robot [see AC
July 04] and Underworld: Evolution,
and my communication with him
and his team on this movie was just
as essential, if not more so. They built
some amazing sets onstage that were
important to the plot but impossible
to shoot on location, including FBI
headquarters, an elevator shaft that
McClane crashes down inside his
vehicle, and a massive cooling tower
that features a dramatic fight
sequence. On a larger scale, Patricks

team built a 1,000-foot section of


concrete freeway for a fighter-plane
attack on McClanes truck. We talked
constantly about the angles Len and
I wanted to shoot; Len likes to shoot
from low angles into ceilings, so we
were very seldom able to put rigging
overhead. Patrick always considered
how I planned to light a set and
incorporate it into his designs.
The action in Live Free or
Die Hard essentially starts in
Washington, D.C., when McClane
and Farrell, riding in a police car, are
chased by members of Gabriels
gang, who are in a helicopter.
Duggan recalls, We shot Baltimore
for Washington in these opening
sequences, and it was important to
give them a warmer look that would
contrast with the blue-green palette
of the later night scenes. While I tried
to work in the shadow of the tall
buildings as much as possible, the
pace of shooting meant we ran the
gamut of lighting conditions
morning and afternoon shade, full
sunlight, rain, and even night for day.
Knowing wed finish with a DI gave
American Cinematographer 35

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One-Man Riot Squad


Right: A tow rig
is used for a
chase scene in
which McClane
and his
young friend
commandeer a
police car.
Below left: An
Ultimate Arm
mounted atop a
Mercedes SUV
is used to
capture dynamic
chase footage. In
other situations,
a MotoArm
was employed.
Below right: The
shows second
unit films a
police car
crashing through
a tollbooth.

me the confidence to keep shooting


late into the day. (The DI was
carried out at Company 3 with
colorist Siggy Ferstl.)
Knowing he would need to
match footage shot under diverse
conditions during the timing
process, Duggan tested several looks
for the scenes shot in Baltimore. I
found a slightly warm sepia tone that
worked beautifully with the sand-

36 July 2007

stone tones of the buildings and skin


tones, and it also fit the mood of a
warm summer day. To previsualize
looks, he took digital stills and
tweaked the images in Photoshop.
Those images were then used as
references by the telecine operator. I
compared the screen on my laptop
to his screen, we lined them up so
we had the same visual reference,
and that was it. It was a low-tech

approach, and it worked perfectly.


In order to maximize shooting
time, Duggan kept his day-exterior lighting concepts simple.
Maintaining a good pace on set
benefits everyone, and Bruce is so
familiar with his character by now
that he was always eager to move
ahead. There are so many logistical
considerations involved in location
shooting that simple is usually best.

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My approach was often to use HMI


fixtures for harder backlight and
directional soft bounce for fill.
The action quickly moves from
daylight into darkness as McClane
and Farrells police car is forced into
an underground tunnel by the
villainshelicopter. The terrorists, who
have gained control over the computerized traffic-control system, direct
vehicles into the one-way tunnel from
both ends, and sequentially turn out
the lights, plunging the tunnel into
almost complete darkness. This is
the first major sequence in the film,
and it was very time-consuming to set
up, recalls Duggan. The location
was a working 1,000-foot-long
service road, part of which was open
to the ground level. To create the
tunnel effect, we blacked out the rest
of the road and then lit it with about
60 Lumapanels mounted along its
length. Rigging gaffer D.J. Lootens
and his crew had to lay miles of DMX
cable, as every single tube in each
panel was linked to a control desk.
When the Lumapanels are turned off,
the main source becomes the headlights of the cars, which we supple-

Page 37

mented with tracking and panning


Source Four Lekos through the shots,
using them as back- and rimlight. For
very low-level fill, and to create some
color contrast, I used more
Lumapanels as bounced sources,
creating a shadow-less blue/green
ambience, and then punctuated the
scene with small red glows, justified

by the taillights of the cars.


Live Free or Die Hard features
action sequences involving a multitude of cars, trucks and helicopters,
and even a jet fighter. As is the norm
with action movies, much of the
stunt and special-effects work that
didnt involve the actors was shot by
the second unit, led by director Brian

A flying police
car collides with
the villains
helicopter in a
spectacular stunt
that was staged
the old-fashioned
way by specialeffects
coordinator
Michael
Meinardus and
his crew. Led by
director Brian
Smrz and
cinematographers
Jonathan Taylor,
ASC and Brian
Capo, the second
unit captured the
action.

American Cinematographer 37

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One-Man Riot Squad

Above: After
stealing the
villains mobile
command
center, McClane
is pursued by a
jet fighter and
eventually ends
up dangling
precariously
from the trailers
back end. The
trailer was hung
from a 35-ton
industrial crane.
Right: Shots of
McClane driving
the semi at
breakneck
speeds were
accomplished
with a truck cab
placed on a
computerized
hydraulic motion
base, which
allowed the cab
to be rocked
violently.

38 July 2007

Smrz
and
cinematographers
Jonathan Taylor, ASC and Brian
Capo. The main-unit cinematographers always say the second unit gets
to do all the fun stuff, Duggan says
with a laugh. However, those guys
really knew their stuff, so I was more
than happy to leave it to them.
Working with special-effects coordinator Michael Meinardus, they
created some fantastic sequences
with cars being catapulted through
the air, sometimes into helicopters,
sometimes into other cars and

sometimes several at a time. Its some


of the most amazing stunt work Ive
ever seen, and, of course, the explosions look great, too.
While the second unit
wreaked havoc, Duggan and his crew
shot process-vehicle work with
Willis and Long. We also mounted
their police vehicle, with them
inside, directly on a high-performance truck for realistic pursuit
sequences through city streets, and
for dynamic coverage using the
MotoArm, a remote-operated crane

on top of the vehicle used for highspeed maneuvers. (For other chase
sequences, an Ultimate Arm was
employed.) The close-up dialogue
coverage in the vehicles relied on
simulated travel lighting effects
against greenscreen. Ive always
used extensive interactive lighting
with greenscreen work, he notes.
Im convinced thats what ultimately sells it. A film like Live Free or
Die Hard was made for interactive
lighting, and we used a great variety
of lighting rigs to achieve different
effects.
For sequences that show
McClane driving a semi truck at
breakneck speed through freeway
interchanges, Duggan had the truck
cab placed on a computerized
hydraulic motion base, enabling the
cab to be rocked about violently.
Bruces close-up work was done
against bluescreen using interactive
lighting. We see Bruce with the
appropriate movement as well as
moving shadows, light, flying debris
and smoke as his rig is fired upon.
We always had three-camera coverage, including a Technocrane sweeping around the cabin. All these cues
sell it to the audience as real.
Another sequence shows

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2:30 PM

McClane and Farrell commandeering a helicopter and flying over D.C.,


which has gone dark because of a
power outage. To light the actors,
Duggan bounced Mini-Brutes gelled
with Rosco CalColor 30 Cyan into a
12'x20' frame of Ultrabounce, creating a shadow-less soft source. To
suggest ambient moonlight, as well
as reflections of moonlight off the
helicopter rotors, the crew used what
they dubbed The Commutator (a
wooden mockup of the rotor blades)
and old-fashioned whirly-barrels.
Above The Commutator, Duggan
mounted a 5K gelled with CalColor
30 Cyan. The whirly-barrels vertical, cylindrical versions of the rotor
blades were placed in front of or
behind 8'x8' or 4'x4' frames of Opal
diffusion, depending on the setup.
Red and green flashing navigation
strobes placed on the starboard and
port sides of the helicopter
completed the lighting.
Duggan used a combination
of HMIs and fluorescents for most of
the night scenes. HMIs gelled with
Full Plus Green and Lumapanels,
ParaBeam and VistaBeam fluorescent fixtures fitted with Cool White
tubes created a blue-green look for
industrial exteriors and interiors.

Page 39

Above: The
command trailer
careens past an
explosion on a
freeway
interchange. To
facilitate this
sequence,
production
designer Patrick
Tatopoulos and
his crew built a
1,000'-long
section of
concrete
freeway. Left:
The Ultimate
Arm captures
the action.

When using tungsten units, the crew


added CalColor 30 Cyan to achieve a
similar look. Although the extensive
use of fluorescent lighting is normal
for Duggan, he decided to test them
again against tungsten soft lights. I
still think the fluoros provide a
smoother, slightly more reflective
feel.
To enhance the industriallighting theme of many of our locations and sets, we fit Lumapanels,
VistaBeams and Kino Flos with Cool
White tubes, which have almost
twice the output of normal color-

corrected tubes. We even had enough


punch to use some of these lamps for
backlighting in large areas. The
production filmed existing underground structures of a working
power plant and water-treatment
facility, such as long, narrow tunnels
and access stairwells. They were
difficult locations to work in because
there was minimal space to hide our
lighting, says Duggan.But logistical
limitations can often lead you to
lighting decisions that work out
better, and that was often the case on
this film. We used a lot of Source
American Cinematographer 39

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One-Man Riot Squad

Above: The jet


fighter pursuing
McClane was
mounted on a
hydraulic
motion base
that provided
360-degree
movement.
Right: Cranemounted lights,
a remote
camera on a
telescoping
arm,
bluescreens
and Ritter fans
help sell the
illusion of flight.

40 July 2007

Fours as directional backlight and


for skimming walls; we didnt have
to worry about the source being in
shot as long as it wasnt focused
straight down the barrel of the lens.
I also played dozens of fluorescent
and LED fixtures as both practicals
or as sources hidden amongst the
structures within the plant. D.J.s

crew ran miles of cable throughout


the power plant and swapped out
hundreds of existing bulbs.
Chief lighting technician Jeff
Murrell had brought LED lighting
units to Duggans attention during
preproduction, and they quickly
became the cinematographers
favorite tools. The 1-by-1

Litepanels LED was great for tight


situations when close proximity to
the actors was required, says the
cinematographer. They provide a
soft yet directional and dimmable
light source with little spill and heat
output. They can also be joined
together and easily hidden behind
tables or under chairs. I used them

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Page 41

5k

Diagram and photo courtesy of Simon Duggan.

for a variety of purposes.


Duggan found LEDs well
suited to the terrorists mobile
command center. Gabriel has a
command center in the trailer of a
semi, and its basically a series of
booths with a computer in each one.
For reasons of practicality, I used the
LEDs almost exclusively on this set,
with some Kinos in the ceiling to
create ambience. We were able to
hide the LED panels in all sorts of
places on this set, because the directional quality of the light is quite
amazing. Once they are off-axis to
the lens, theres no spill at all.
The LEDs also proved to be
very useful as eyelights. I always
make sure the actor has detail in his
eyes, because thats where a lot of the
performance is, notes Duggan. Its
one of the main reasons I tend not to
use a lot of toplight on actors.
Theres a scene in the power station
where Bruce is leaning over a
computer console, and we had three
moving cameras on him: a
Technocrane circling the action, a
Steadicam on a longer lens following
in the shadow of the crane, and
another camera hidden behind a

5k

5k

A rig dubbed The


Commutator (a
wooden mockup
of rotor blades)
and old-fashioned
whirly-barrels
(vertical,
cylindrical
versions of the
rotor blades) were
used to creative
believable lighting
for a nighttime
helicopter
sequence. The A
camera was
equipped with a
65mm lens; the B
camera with a
75mm lens; and
the C camera with
a 27mm lens.

box. The only way I could light Bruce


was by using the LEDs from a low
angle. He had some initial concerns,
but when he realized the angle of the
lighting provided a strong eyelight,
he was more than happy. I rarely use
eyelights mounted on cameras, but
given these types of shots, I had a 2by-6-inch LED Mini Litepanel
mounted on the Steadicam, just to
give that reflection to Bruces eyes.
The use of soft fluorescent
light paid off for the films female

stars as well. Theres not much you


have to do for Maggie Q and Mary
Elizabeth Winstead, but fluorescents
are a reflective light source that fills
out imperfections in the skin, says
Duggan. Using them as my key
lights meant I didnt need to use any
softening filters throughout the
film.
At the other end of the spectrum, the BeBee Night Light proved
to be a favorite for lighting large exteriors and interiors.The BeBee saved
American Cinematographer 41

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One-Man Riot Squad


Taking a
meter reading,
cinematographer
Simon Duggan,
ACS sports a
Balin T-shirt
that may indicate
his desire to go
surfing after
completing the
grueling shoot.

us in many situations where we quite


simply ran out of daylight, which is
what a BeBee should be used for,
says the cinematographer. For the
last confrontation between McClane

and Gabriel, which takes place in a


warehouse as Gabriel is getting ready
to leave, I used two 15-6K HMI
BeBees outside the windows, which
were frosted glass. This extended our

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that included Willis were filmed
outdoors in front of semicircular
45'x200' bluescreen. The production
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with a safety cable, such as being on


the tailfin of the jet, or hanging from
the back of the truck.
To facilitate the digital effects
that would tie this sequence
together, Duggan and visual-effects
supervisor Patrick McClung opted
to shoot in the open sun. The cinematographer notes, By having the
jet mounted on the turntable, we
could keep it orientated to the sun
for shooting, but more significantly,
as it banked and turned on the
mount, the visual-effects guys were
getting the movement of the actual
light and shadows, enabling a much
more realistic effect.
Deluxe Laboratories in
Hollywood processed the productions footage, and the filmmakers
viewed the first two weeks of dailies
on 35mm and high-definition
DVD. The rest of the time, Duggan
had to be content with DVD dailies.
Id like to see more projected

Page 43

dailies, because things like focus can


only be properly judged on the big
screen. Its a matter of being confident that what youre seeing on the
DVD means the negative is the way
you want it to be. After two weeks of
film dailies, I knew what I was
getting. Every couple of weeks,
Deluxe would supply me with
virtual printing lights from the neg
without a print.
Duggan sums up his experience on Live Free or Die Hard by stating, On a film like this, you need a
crew that is not just enthusiastic and
hard-working, but also able to
maintain a sense of humor over a
long period of time. A-camera operator Mitch Dubin and B-camera/
Steadicam operator Colin Hudson
were always looking for creative
angles and movement. Jeff Murrell
and [key grip] Michael Anderson
were incredibly resourceful and
backed by great support teams.

Throughout the making of the film,


even when things got really tough,
the whole crew was terrific.

TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
Super 35mm
Arricam Lite; Arri 435, 235
Cooke, Angenieux and
Revolution lenses
Kodak Vision2
250D 5205, 500T 5218
Digital Intermediate
Printed on
Kodak Vision 2383

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Page 44

Laws of the

Jungle
Cinematographer Peter
Zeitlinger reteams with
Werner Herzog on Rescue
Dawn, the harrowing
true story of a U.S. Navy
pilot who escapes a POW
camp during the
Vietnam War.
by Fred Schruers
Unit photography by Lena Herzog
44 July 2007

n August 2005, director


Werner Herzog, cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger, and a
production company about 50
times larger than Herzogs
preferred shooting complement
of two arrived in northwestern
Thailand for a month of filming.
Their work began in the dense
rain forest near Khorat. It was
the jungle jungle, says Herzog,
but it was not arduous. We had
catering, we had good hotels in
the area, we had basically everything. He contrasts the shoot to
what he endured 37 years earlier

on Aguirre: The Wrath of God,


which he has called a barefoot
film: That was a small crew of
eight. We lived on rafts and in
makeshift native Indian huts.
There was never any settlement
nearby.
Rescue Dawn is based on
the true story of German-born
U.S. Navy aviator Dieter Dengler
(played by Christian Bale), who,
like Herzog, grew up in Germany
during the lean postwar years.
The new film is a companion
piece to Herzogs 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. It

Photos courtesy of MGM and Top Gun Productions.

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delves deeper than the documentary did into the harrowing


adventure lived by Dengler after
he was shot down in 1966 on a
secret mission over Laos. Dieter
was held captive by Pathet Lao
guerillas for 136 days before he
and some of the other imprisoned
Americans escaped. After spending 23 days evading recapture in
the jungle, he was rescued by U.S.
forces.
To stand in for the jungles of
Laos, Herzog chose a location in
the remote Northwestern Hill
Country of Thailand, near the
border with Burma. To the north
and east lay the Golden Triangle,
and somewhat south, the tourist
destination of Krabi, conveniently
close to an inland area chosen by
Herzog because I wanted to have
these very strange, beautiful limestone rock formations. Theres a
holiday resort nearby, so we had
good hotel facilities, but we

Page 45

moved inland to do the shooting.


After shooting several pictures for Herzog over the last 12
years, Zeitlinger qualifies as something of an expert on the director.
When its down to just two filmmakers as it was recently, when

Herzog and Zeitlinger crawled


into snow caves formed by the
heat from an active volcano in
Antarctica the Czech-born cinematographer is Herzogs go-to
man. Zeitlinger well understands
the motive for going into the figu-

Opposite: In a
scene from
Rescue Dawn,
Pathet Lao
guerrillas lead
U.S. Navy pilot
Dieter Dengler
(Christian Bale)
to a POW camp
after his plane is
shot down
during a secret
mission over
Laos. This page:
En route to the
camp, the
guerrillas test
Denglers mettle
by having him
dragged through
a village for
sport.

American Cinematographer 45

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Page 46

Laws of the Jungle


Right: Dengler
whiles away
some time with
Duane (Steve
Zahn), a fellow
American
prisoner. Below:
Director Werner
Herzog gives
some last-minute
instruction to
Bale and
Zahn as
cinematographer
Peter Zeitlinger
(holding camera)
and 1st AC Erik
Sllner stand by.

rative and literal bush, often with


handheld cameras bearing short
lenses: There is a key sentence in
Rescue Dawn when Dieter and the
other prisoners in the camp are
talking about escaping, and one of
them says, The jungle is the
prison. That key sentence was
leading Werners intention; thats
the reason we tried to make it as
real as possible and keep the audi-

46 July 2007

ence in the world of the jungle,


rather than show it to them with
long-lens photography. [Long
lenses] make for beautiful pictures, but thats not the world you
are in.
Zeitlingers solidarity with
Herzogs intent is the key to a loyalty reciprocated by the director,
who tells AC that Rescue Dawns
neophyte producers, who wanted

something on the order of the deft


action flick The Rundown, did not
want Zeitlinger to shoot the picture. Peters strong and has a
great eye, and having him around,
I was confident, says the director.
The production company tried
to move him out before hed
shown up on the set, and that was
my line in the sand. I said, If you
force Zeitlinger out, I might as
well go, too.
The film that first drew
Herzogs attention to Zeitlinger
was one that delved into the cinematographers own history as a
refugee. Zeitlinger was 9 years old
when he fled with his mother to
Austria from the Soviet Unions
1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia. He reflected on that period
of his life while shooting and editing Ulrich Seidls Loss Is to Be
Expected, about the turbulence
created in society and families
when the Czech/Austrian border
was opened after 40 years. When
the producers balked at financing
the films completion, Herzog,

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2:34 PM

then living in Vienna, saw footage


and spoke up for the film, gaining
it the funds to finish. He told
Zeitlinger he liked the films
handheld cinematography. I
responded by saying it would be
so fine to make a film with him,
recalls Zeitlinger. Three years
later, Werner phoned me and said,
Hey, I have a job for you.
Over their next few collaborations,
Zeitlinger
learned
Herzogs method, whereby the
director, often with a hand on the
cinematographer, dictates the
shot by whispering in his ear.
Herzog had used cinematographer Thomas Mauch on a number
of films, including the jungle
adventures Aguirre: The Wrath of
God and Fitzcarraldo, and Jorg
Schmidt-Reitwein on statelier fare
such as Heart of Glass and
Nosferatu. (Sometimes there
have been difficult choices to
make, the director told his
Herzog on Herzog chronicler Paul
Cronin, about which of these
fine cameramen to work with on
particular films. Thomas Mauch
is the cameraman I go to when I
need something more physical
Schmidt-Reirtwein has a very
good feeling for darkness and
threatening shadows and gloom,

Page 47

in part, I suspect, because just


after the Berlin Wall went up he
was caught smuggling his girlfriend out of the East and was
placed into solitary confinement
for several months.)
Herzog, whose collaborations with Zeitlinger include
Grizzly Man (see AC Aug. 05) and
Invincible, makes it clear that he
requires very game directors of
photography. The first thing he
says about Zeitlinger is, Hes a
man of enormous physique. He
used to be a hockey player for one
of the best teams in the world.
With some amusement, Zeitlinger
elaborates, It was a childrens
league in Prague. [Making that
claim] is very important for
Werner, and he does it at any possible situation. One interviewer
who spoke to him about
Invincible complimented my cinematography, and Werner said,
Yes, hes very good. He used to be
an ice-hockey player.
Having decided that upclose handheld shots many
made with a 14mm lens would
dominate their work on Rescue
Dawn, Herzog and Zeitlinger
went into the shoot with one crucial influence in mind. The cinematographer explains, One of

the favorite 14mm-lens movies is


Soy Cuba [I Am Cuba], a movie
from the 60s that was a propaganda movie for the Russians,
against the Americans. Although
we used other lenses on Rescue
Dawn, notably a 35mm and a
25mm, we even used the 14mm
with a handheld camera for special moments. With that lens,
when you make just a very small
movement the frame changes
totally. My favorite scene we used
it for comes just after the escape,
when Dieter and the other
escapees reunite in the forest.
Gene [Jeremy Davies] and Dieter
are having a discussion about
their shoes, and just a slight movement of 20 centimeters to camera
left brings Jeremy very close in
frame. He acted it very well,
[using] the [Klaus] Kinski spiral,
as Werner might call it; he turned
toward the camera, even when he
was talking with Christian, who
was almost behind him. Its not
only a very good scenic moment,
with the landscape behind them,
but also an optic and acting
moment working simultaneously
to show the characters in a tense
situation.
Zeitlingers responsibilities
were substantial, thanks to

Herzog, Sllner
and Zeitlinger
prepare another
take in the
camp. Erik has
worked with
me on many
Herzog movies,
Zeitlinger says
of his 1st AC.
When were
looking down
into a deep
abyss and
Herzog says,
Peter, I will
hold you onto
your belt when
you turn the
camera down
over the edge,
Erik takes out
his harness and
mountaineer
rope and says,
Werner, I will
secure Peter.
Hes the one
who gave me
the job, not
you. Erik is the
one who cut a
path for me
through the
jungle on this
shoot. He had a
machete in one
hand and the
focus wheel in
the other.

American Cinematographer 47

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Page 48

Laws of the Jungle


Right: The other
prisoners listen
as Dengler lays
out his escape
plan. The
filmmakers set
scenes in the
hut at different
times of day to
help suggest
the passage of
time. Below:
Herzog outlines
his plan for the
actors.

Herzogs dictum that there is no


storyboarding, ever. You dont
find it in the past and you wont
find it in Rescue Dawn, nor in the
future, says the director, who
even gave Zeitlinger license to critique the acting. On one scene,

48 July 2007

for example, Peter stopped the


camera and said, Werner, we have
to go into it once more. The scene
has no rhythm. And he was right.
Something to do with how the
actors would mill around and
how the camera would get into it

had no rhythm. So in five minutes


flat, we came up with an alternative version that all of a sudden
flowed and worked and had suspense and rhythm.
As the operator, Im the
first audience, says Zeitlinger.
Sometimes Werner accepted my
comments and sometimes he didnt. Thats my way of working
with all directors, because Im not
looking at only the framing, Im
also listening to what the actors
are saying and trying to feel the
scene. If the performance does
not really express what it should, I
will feel it and say that to the
director.
During prep for Rescue
Dawn, Zeitlinger proposed shooting in a widescreen format, with
the rationale that its shaped
more like the view our eyes have
of the world. Its more a window
into the world than a framed
image. And I thought it would
help our intention to create reality. However, Herzog doesnt care

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Page 49

Left: On the run


from their
captors, Duane
and Dieter try to
camouflage
themselves on
the river. The
prominence of
the color green
in the pictures
palette led the
filmmakers to
scour the globe
for more of their
primary stock,
Fuji 64D, when
their supplier
ran out of it. I
would always
choose Fuji
when filming in
a rain forest,
says Herzog.
Below:
Preparing to film
the actors at
rivers edge.

for widescreen. When the image


is too stretched out, I dont like it,
and I say that as a spectator. My
screen ratio is 1.85:1. To take
advantage of a bigger negative,
Zeitlinger shot in Super 35mm
and framed for a final 1.85:1
extraction.
Herzog secured a digital
intermediate
(DI)
before
Zeitlinger came aboard the project. Many decisions were made in
the production department before
I arrived, and I was pleased to
learn we would finish with a DI,
says the cinematographer. Even
though I had not done a DI for a
theatrical release before, I was
quite familiar with the advantages
of digital grading, thanks to my
work on feature films for television.
Werner knew we would
need to integrate some CG effects,
and he also wanted to be able to
reframe in post, and those things
are easy with a digital internegative, continues Zeitlinger. We
thought we would need to
reframe some of the freestyle
multi-camera scenes, but I actualAmerican Cinematographer 49

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Page 50

Laws of the Jungle


The escapees
survive a
harrowing set
of rapids.

ly dont remember any take that


we had to reframe in post; our
Thai B-camera operator, Picha
Srisansanee, did a very good job.
Overall, to save time and money
we used just a few of the capabilities the DI offers it was like
having an orchestra at your fingertips and only using the first
violin but at least we preserved
an untouched original negative
for future use. Werner loves to use
stock material for his movies, and
thats much easier when it isnt cut
into pieces. (The DI was carried
out at Warner Bros. Motion
Picture Imaging.)
Shooting Rescue Dawn digitally was not even considered,
even though Herzog acknowledges it is the wave of the future.
Im a man of celluloid, he says.
50 July 2007

We should not forget that celluloid is something much more living, and it has a certain depth of
layer, of chemistry, that very often
renders the most fascinating
results. When you shoot digitally,
you end up with a digital file that
doesnt have the same kind of
depth.
Zeitlinger shot most of
Rescue Dawn on Fuji Super F-64D
8522, a choice that created anxiety
late in the shoot, when production
learned its supplier had no more
on hand because Fuji had discontinued it. Our location was green
jungle, and green especially shows
the difference between Kodak and
Fuji, notes the cinematographer.
Fuji 64-ASA produces a fresh and
shiny green with a touch of steel
blue in it, whereas with Kodak,

especially the 50-ASA, green tones


go more toward brown. So we
tried to find more Fuji 8522 all
over the world, from Japan to
America. Finally we found some
rolls in Munich. He used Fuji
Eterna 250D 8563 on day exteriors when he started to lose light,
and Eterna 400T 8583 for interiors and night material.
We used some graduated
Tiffen Neutral Density filters to
control the sky and clouds, but we
didnt use any soft filters, as they
do in the commercial filmmaking
world, he adds. Basically, the
look of the movie is very, very
clean.
Much of the films action
takes place in the POW camp,
where Dieter shares a bamboo hut
with other captured Americans,

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2:35 PM

including Gene and Duane (Steve


Zahn). Werner and I wanted the
light in the hut to look natural, so
we didnt use any lamps inside at
all for the day scenes, notes
Zeitlinger. We had three 64-kilowatt generators powering four 6K,
six 4K, eight 2.5K and two 18K
HMIs that were set around and
under the hut, and we used mirrors and reflectors to squeeze the
lightbeams through the narrow
gaps in the bamboo floor and
walls. We set every scene in there
at a different time of day to create
the illusion of time passing by.
For night interiors, I used
mostly Kino Flo Image 80 flatheads and 4-banks, and for exterior night scenes we used two HMI
helium balloons, which were
enough to light a vast area to a
stop of T2. Even though the light
from the balloons was soft, the
landscape was full of mysterious
shadows.
I like to work with shadows more than light, continues
Zeitlinger. In the real world there
is never a clean, unfiltered or
unbounced light. In the jungle
only a few gaps between the leaves
allow the sun to break through,
and the reflections from the leaves
tint the light green. Thats the
impression I was trying to
achieve. He only used artificial
lighting on day exteriors when
there was significant cloud cover,
or when the team was losing light.
Toward the end of the day, to
maintain the warm light of sunset
I used four Dinos with tungsten
spot lamps. I prefer to use big
units and send the light through
some natural obstacle or bounce
it rather than use small lamps.
The productions camera
package comprised a Moviecam
Compact and SL, and an Arri 435
and 235. Zeitlinger used
Arri/Bayonet-mounted
Zeiss
Superspeeds (18mm, 25mm,
35mm, 50mm and 85mm) and a

Page 51

Zeitlinger and
Herzog line up
a shot in the
camp.

14mm Zeiss Ultra Prime. Relying


on Zeitlingers nimble feet and
instincts, Herzog eschewed shooting coverage whenever possible.
When a second camera was
involved, Zeitlinger would set it
up and then keep an eye on that
cameras framing via a wireless
video feed that sent the image to a
small screen mounted near his
own eyepiece.
Herzog clearly preferred
single-camera handheld sprints
through the jungle, which were
facilitated by a crewmember who
raced ahead of Zeitlinger, hacking
a path for him. When the actors
are plowing through the densest
thickets, its just sensational, marvels Herzog. It still baffles me
how Peter shot it. It looks like no
camera on Gods wide earth could

ever follow those guys through


those vines.
I dont use many long lenses, he continues. Theyre harder
to work with than wider lenses
because everything in frame has
to be perfect. In this movie, were
not focusing on one face alone.
Herzog was devoted to the ensemble ethic because this story is a
test and trial of men, not a prison
movie, not a war movie.
That proved to be true on
both sides of the camera, but no
one was more avid than the director, says Zeitlinger. One of the
most beautiful locations was the
waterfall that Duane and Dieter
had to pass under. There was such
a strong wind, with the slippery
stones permanently covered by
the spray of the waterfall. It was
American Cinematographer 51

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Page 52

Laws of the Jungle

Following his
rescue, an
ecstatic Dengler
is greeted by
his fellow
servicemen.

52

very difficult to move on those


stones to set up the camera. We
built a cable car to cross the
wild water to be able to find the
right spot for the camera. Werner

doesnt wear shoes in the jungle;


because you often lose them in the
mud, the only way to move in the
muddy jungle is barefoot. On the
slippery rocks at the waterfall,

Werner slipped as he was trying to


help stabilize the camera, and the
nails on both his big toes were
torn off, but he succeeded in preventing the camera from going
into the water. With his toes
bleeding, he said, Lets continue
shooting. The main thing is that
we did not lose the camera.
In addition to going on a
diet in solidarity with his actors
he lost about half of the 58
pounds Bale dropped Herzog
ran through stunts for them.
Zeitlinger recalls, There was an
old rope-and-plank bridge over a
river, and many of the boards
were rotten and weak. Werner
wanted the actors to rush over the
bridge while we shot from a distant bridge. Christian was keen to
do everything running barefoot through the jungle, hanging
upside down with real ants crawling on his face, eating real mag-

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2:35 PM

gots and worms but he refused


to run across the bridge before it
had been checked for safety. The
sun was already low and we had to
move on, so Werner ran over the
bridge and proved it himself.
Sometimes Werner likes resistance [from actors]; he is strong
enough to deal with it. And sometimes it brings a better result. If
Christian had not refused to run
at the first moment, we would not
have had the good light, because
we were in a hurry and would not
have waited for it. Bale adds, I
love that theres somebody as
dangerous and crazy as Werner,
but Ill tell you, hes not nearly as
dangerous and crazy as people
think. He gets to those places on
occasion [but] no guns were
pulled on me at any point. It was
great heading off to the jungle
without knowing what we were
going to do each and every day.

Page 53

Werner had last read the script


about two years before we shot
the movie! Every day was like,
Whats happening today?
Zeitlinger believes Herzogs
reluctance to rely on video playback has enhanced a symbiosis:
Because weve made so many
films together, I think I manage
quite well to figure out what his
intuition is. On the other hand,
he continues, Werners approach
to the art is always fresh and kind
of nave, which I think is the
highest approach to cinema. The
stories he tells do not feature the
classic structure that leads to a
happy ending. Hes always attracted to special characters who are
looking for some kind of truth or
reason.
I think there is something
of Werner in all these characters,
even if the person is his complete
opposite, like Kinski. Fitzcarraldo

has the vision to build an opera


house in the jungle. I think this
wish to do something that nobody
else believes in is a very strong
part of Werner. It makes him special, and also powerful enough to
achieve what he has achieved.

TECHNICAL SPECS
Super 1.85:1
(Super 35mm for 1.85:1 extraction)
Moviecam Compact, SL;
Arri 435, 235
Zeiss Superspeed, Ultra Prime
lenses
Fuji Super F-64D 8522;
Eterna 250D 8563, 400T 8583
Digital Intermediate

INNOVATIONS FOR FILM AND VIDEO

DIRECTORS VIEWFINDER

NEW

 lenses with 54 PL-mount


 BNC socket available
 eyepiece from -3 to +2 diopter
 suitable for left- and right eye
 ground glasses Arriex 435/535
 convenient joint for
comfort handle position

 left, right and universal

ergonomic formed handle


made from cherry wood

7 integrated groundglass markings


 no exchange of groundglasses
 immediate change from
format to format

 for all lenses with 54 PL-mount


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 suitable for left- and right eye
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53

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Page 54

A
Hollywood

Whodunit
Alexander Gruszynski, ASC brings his keen eye to
Nancy Drew: The Mystery in the Hollywood Hills, in which
the famous teen detective solves a show-biz murder.
by David Heuring
Unit photography by Melinda Sue Gordon, SMPSP

itian-haired teen sleuth Nancy


Drew first hit the big screen in
the 1930s, in four films photographed by legendary ASC
members Arthur Edeson and
L.W. OConnell. Since then, she has
been featured in dozens of books
(written by various authors under
the pseudonym Carolyn Keene),
numerous television series, and a
popular line of video games. Her

54 July 2007

latest appearance is in the new film


Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the
Hollywood Hills, shot by Alexander
Gruszynski, ASC for director
Andrew Fleming.
A native of Warsaw, Poland,
Gruszynski became interested in
filmmaking at an early age thanks to
his father, who was a screenwriter.
After his family immigrated to
Denmark, Gruszynski studied at the

National Film School, and he began


his career by making documentaries. We shot a lot of black-andwhite in film school, and I was
tremendously influenced by the cinematography of Robert Krasker
[The Third Man] and James Wong
Howe [ASC], says Gruszynski.
Whats so amazing about those
noir films is the beauty of the shadows. In the mid-1980s, he traveled

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Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Opposite: Girl
detective Nancy
Drew (Emma
Roberts) feels
shes being
followed as she
tries to solve a
murder mystery.
This page, top:
Nancy is joined
on her
adventures by
her pals Ned
(Max Thieriot,
top) and Corky
(Josh Flitter).
Bottom: Nancy
bonds with her
dad, Carson (Tate
Donovan), whose
business trip
takes them both
to Hollywood.

to New York to photograph Almost


You for director Adam Brooks. Soon
thereafter, he met Fleming and shot
the directors first feature, Bad
Dreams; they have since collaborated on five other pictures, including
The Craft (see AC May 96), Dick
and The In-Laws. Gruszynskis other
credits include the features Tremors
and Five Fingers and the telefilm
Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long (AC
May 96), which earned a 1996 ASC
Award nomination and a 1995
Cable ACE Award for cinematography. Gruszynski also earned a 1995
Independent Spirit Award nomination for I Like It Like That and a 1994
Camerimage Golden Frog nomination for Den Russiske sangerinde.
Coming into Nancy Drew,
Gruszynski was unfamiliar with the
popular series of mystery stories.
The script was not based on any particular book in the series, and the
story is set in the present. The
adventure begins when Nancy
(Emma Roberts) accompanies her
father on a trip to Los Angeles,
where they rent a decrepit mansion
once inhabited by a famous actress

who disappeared under mysterious


circumstances. The film has elements of a thriller, a comedy, a mystery and an adventure, all wrapped
under the label of a teen film, says
Gruszynski. The nature of the
material made it difficult to create a
consistent style, and jumping back
and forth between the different
looks helps to create some excite-

ment. Im a firm believer in juxtapositions, dramatically speaking. If you


tell a story entirely in darkness, the
darkness loses its dramatic value.
Your eye gets used to the darkness
and the mystery is gone. Darkness
only means something if you juxtapose it against brightness.
The filmmakers chose the
Super 35mm format, in part because

American Cinematographer 55

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Page 56

A Hollywood Whodunit
Right: Nancy
tends to a
fallen Corky as
Trish (Kelly
Vitz) and Inga
(Daniella
Monet) look
on. Below: The
crew adds
some bounce
to Roberts step
while filming
the sequence.

theres a built-in excitement in the


Scope format, says Gruszynski.
Theres a lot of area that can be
used editorially, and a lot can be
happening in the same frame. I like
the big canvas. I like wide shots
where you dont have to worry about
losing detail. In this case, we had a

56 July 2007

girl roaming around alone in a large,


dark house; shes a small figure in a
big space. With Super 35, we could
make the point with a static frame as
opposed to panning around to show
her surroundings. I think the wide
frame creates a whole different tension for the audience.

The productions camera


package comprised three Panaflex
cameras two Platinums and a
Lightweight and two were used
for most setups. As a cinematographer, I cant ignore the fact that
shooting with two cameras is actorfriendly, notes Gruszynski. One of
the great things about working with
Andy is that although he prefers
working two cameras simultaneously, he is flexible enough to drop
the second camera if its too hard to
fit in lighting-wise. But generally,
using two cameras helps the performances and saves shooting time.
In most situations, you can find
another good angle within 90
degrees from your master. As long
as you collaborate with people who
understand and care about light
and look, its perfect. He adds that
throughout the Nancy Drew shoot,
he was aided by the expert eyes of
[A-camera/Steadicam operator]
Henry Tirl and [B-camera operator] Dale Myrand.
Gruszynskis lenses were
Primo primes and 11:1 (24-

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Page 57

Leshing
(Marshall Bell),
a caretaker who
knew the famous
actress who
once owned the
Drews mansion,
reveals details
about her as
the womans
image plays
on a screen.
Cinematographer
Alexander
Gruszynski, ASC
and gaffer James
Plannette used
an LCD projector
to simulate the
beam of light
emanating from
the onscreen
movie projector.

275mm) and 4:1 (17.5-75mm)


Primo zooms. To a certain degree, I
went against my own philosophy on
this project, he says. Ive been very
strict about using primes because
that gives you a certain visual discipline. But theres a convenience with
zoom lenses that justifies using them
in some situations. Asked if he
depended on certain focal lengths on
Nancy Drew, he says, When I start a
project, I never make a conscious
decision to stick to certain lenses, but
strangely enough, there often seem
to be one or two lenses I end up
using much more than any others. I
cant really explain it. It must be
intuitive.
The Scope format tends to
shift you to wider lenses. For Nancy
Drew, I mostly used the 21mm and
27mm primes. Of course, the second
camera usually had a longer lens;
thats a practical rather than an aesthetic decision, because you have to
stay out of the first cameras view.
The production was scheduled for about 42 days, with roughly
half of that time spent at locations in

Los Angeles and the other half


onstage at Warner Bros. The main
set was the Drews rented home, the
dark mansion. The house needed
its own visual feel that would be different from the outside world, says
Gruszynski. Its much darker and
more high-contrast, with a lot of
dramatic and not necessarily motivated lighting. In post, we desaturated it somewhat, giving it a feeling
closer to an old black-and-white
movie.
Shafts of light were often
brought through windows and glass
partitions and broken up in interesting ways by greenery outside, and by
imperfections in the glass. The quality of light was hard, resulting in distinct, dramatic shadows. Gruszynski
often lit with 7K Xenons bounced
off mirrors, which helped him direct
and control the light in tight spaces
around the large sets. Light depicting moonlight was neutral, while
sunlight sources were gelled with 18
or 14 CTO to be a touch warmer.
In the story, Nancy discovers
the mansion is connected to a near-

by apartment building by a secret


underground tunnel. That was a
great opportunity to create some
darkness and visual excitement,
says Gruszynski. The tunnel breaks
at two corners, which allowed me to
put some very dim, almost unnoticeable light in the background to
pick up a little edge. Of course,
Nancy is holding a flashlight, which
we reflected back toward her with a
bounce card to get some exposure
on her face.
Emma was a dream to photograph, he continues. She has a
very fair complexion that glows,
almost like shes lit from inside, and
that adds a certain innocence and
purity to the character she plays. I
generally lit her face with less contrast. I couldnt claim that this
formed an entire philosophy, but it
affected my thinking on an instinctive level.
Gruszynski used three Kodak
Vision2 film stocks on the show:
200T 5217 for most day exteriors;
Expression 500T 5229 for Nancys
hometown, a location rendered in
American Cinematographer 57

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A Hollywood Whodunit
Right: Nancy
surprises her
landlady (Pat
Carroll) while
exploring the
old mansion.
Below: Director
Andrew Fleming
works with
Roberts for a
scene in which
Nancy and her
father travel to
Los Angeles on
a night train. In
addition to the
fixtures used to
light the
interior of the
compartment,
Gruszynski
employed a
low-cost strobe
box to create
the effect of
movement
outside the
window.

cooler and less saturated images;


and 500T 5218 for all other material. The movie includes scenes in
which Nancy watches projected
black-and-white footage of the
actress who once lived in the mansion. Gruszynski created the old
footage by shooting on 5218 and
draining the color out in post; to

58 July 2007

give the footage an aged look,


scratches and dirt were added digitally by the effects house Hydraulx.
The black-and-white images
required classic dolly moves and a
direct, hard-light approach. In traditional black-and-white lighting, as
a rule there is no such thing as
bounce light, Gruszynski says.

Bounce light as keylight was only


used extensively with the advent of
color photography. So when I think
of lighting for a black-and-white
look, I think of direct, defined, spotted keylight coming from a very distinct source. The light must be illuminating the subject and also creating a sense of the spectrum, because
you have no actual color spectrum
to work with. When you photograph in color, you get a lot of things
for free, so to speak, because the
color itself creates variation. In
black-and-white, theres a lot of
nuance that just doesnt register. The
effects need to be more pronounced,
and you have to be much more
aware of shaping things with light,
which is done with distinct shafts
rather than soft ambience.
On the set, the old clips were
projected using a digital LCD projector. In the story, they emanate
from an old 35mm projector Nancy
has discovered in a projection
booth. An important dialogue takes
place in the booth between Nancy
and Leshing (Marshall Bell), an old

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Page 59

caretaker who reveals details about


his relationship with the actress as
her image plays on the screen. These
shots were designed to include the
head and shoulders of both characters, as well as the moving shaft of
light emanating from the projector,
which crosses the top of the frame
and is visible on the front element of
the projector lens.
Gruszynski and his gaffer,
James Plannette, found that running the projector with film during
takes created too much noise, and
running it without film didnt look
right because the shaft of light had
no variations. In a moment of desperation, it struck me that if we
turned the LCD projector around
and projected its image onto the
lens of the 35mm projector, it would
look as though the light was coming
from the 35mm projector, says
Gruszynski. We placed the LCD
projector about 4 feet away, out of
frame, with the beam directly on the
axis of the other projector, and you

could see the image moving in the


shaft of light and on the 35mm projectors lens. Theres a little spill onto
the projector body that can be
explained by reflections from the
inside of the booths window. For
my money, its totally believable that
the 35mm projector is running.

Sometimes you feel like


everything you do has been done
before, either by you or someone
else, he adds. That was one
moment where I thought, Wow,
Ive learned something. James and I
found the solution to a problem, a
solution I didnt know existed.

Above: Nancy
and her pals
tool around
Tinseltown in
a stylish,
retro Nash
Metropolitan
convertible. Left:
The crew
captures the
scene with the
help of a tow rig.

American Cinematographer 59

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Page 60

A Hollywood Whodunit
Gruszynski
provides some
book light as
Roberts reads
in bed.

Another low-tech solution


that gave Gruszynski satisfaction
was devised for a scene in which
Nancy is traveling to Los Angeles by
train at night. She is reading while
her father sleeps. There wasnt
much of a set, he says.The shade is

60

half-drawn, and theres nothing to


look at out the window. I was trying
to figure out how to make it look
interesting, and how to make it look
like its a moving train. Its the middle of nowhere, so what kind of
lighting effect is realistic? I tried all

different kinds of lighting, wipes,


effects, and so on, but they all looked
fake. Finally, out of frustration, I got
one of those strobe boxes you can
get at Radio Shack for $20. Normally
youd have a strobe that can be
synced to the camera, but this wasnt
one of those. You could dial it faster
or slower, and I found a speed that
worked. It had a feel a bit like the little sparks that are sometimes created
by train wheels and tracks. These
flashes were penetrating the window, creating the feeling of speed
and movement. The effect was
extremely simple and low-tech, and
I liked it.
The decision to finish Nancy
Drew with a digital intermediate
(DI) was made midway through the
shoot, so Gruszynski planned and
executed the cinematography with a
traditional photochemical finish in
mind. Im very conservative when
it comes to exposing film. I come

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Page 61

from the old school: create a thick


negative no matter what. I do like
low-level lighting, but I dont like
finding myself on the wrong side of
exposure. You can always print
things down. You cant print them
up, at least in the chemical world. Of
course, with a DI you have quite a
bit more latitude. Theres a lot you
can do in the DI that takes some of
the load off your shoulders in production. But I dont necessarily like
to depend on that, because in a way
it changes the whole creative
process.
The DI was carried out at
Pacific Title, where Gruszynski
spent about a week working with
colorist Maxine Gervais. The scans
were done at 4K resolution. Of
course, the DI eliminated the optical
step with Super 35, which makes a
huge difference, and it simplified
certain other things tremendously,
says the cinematographer. The

problem is that because you have all


these options, the process kind of
takes on a life of its own. The color
correction can take a long time.
Im a firm believer that cinematic storytelling is all in the subtleties. Whatever tricks you use and
whatever you do with your color
scheme cant become self-conscious
and take the audience out of the
movie. In the case of Nancy Drew,
we didnt do a lot of gymnastics in
the DI. We changed some saturation
levels, but we were very restrained.
Its an approach I take to all my creative work. You get an approximation of what youre trying to do in
production and then just finesse it
in post, rather than changing the
whole thing around.
The decisions about subtle
nuances are made in the context of
how strong a statement you want to
make, he concludes. Nancy Drew
is a teen movie that doesnt have

that kind of pronounced genre feel


written all over it. Andy and I
wanted to take the audience on a little mystery trip, but our point of
departure wasnt consciously stylized. Knowing whats enough and
whats too much is intuitive. 

TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
Super 35mm
Panaflex Platinum, Lightweight
Primo lenses
Kodak Vision2 200T 5217,
500T 5218,
Expression 500T 5229
Digital Intermediate
Printed on
Fuji Eterna-CP 3513DI

61

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Pice
de
Rsistance

Pierre Lhomme, AFC recalls his work on


Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melvilles
1969 masterpiece about the French
Resistance that was released in the States
for the first time last year.
by Benjamin B
62 July 2007

rance, 1943. A German soldier


peers into a holding cell. Seven
French prisoners in leg irons
are spread out across the large
space. One of them, Gerbier
(Lino Ventura), fishes out a pack of
cigarettes and throws it to his
neighbor. Each man in turn takes
out a cigarette, and throws the
pack, then a lighter, to the next

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Page 63

Photos courtesy of Rialto Pictures and The Criterion Collection.

Opposite: In a
scene from Army
of Shadows, two
agents of the
French
Resistance,
Gerbier (Lino
Ventura, left) and
Felix (Paul
Crauchet),
discuss an
imminent
operation. This
page, top:
Director JeanPierre Melville
(far left, in white
hat) stands by as
the crew sets up
a shot at Gestapo
headquarters.
Below:
Cinematographer
Pierre Lhomme,
AFC.

man. One man puts the cigarette


behind his ear, saying, Ill keep it
for later. The sixth man takes out a
cigarette, looks at Gerbier, and
crumples the pack: there are none
left for Gerbier. The camera dollies
in slowly on each man, lost in his
own thoughts. Through the door, a
soldier says something in German.
Gerbier translates, He says to
hurry up, because theyre coming
to take us and he doesnt want any
trouble. The man takes his cigarette from his ear and retorts, One
has the troubles one can.
The scene is from Army of
Shadows (Larme des ombres).
With a few sober shots and sparse
dialogue, director Jean-Pierre
Melville takes the clich of the condemned mans last cigarette and
creates a scene of powerful emotion. Based on Joseph Kessels book
about his work with the French
Resistance during the Nazi occupation of France, Army of Shadows is
a series of vignettes that include a
few dramatic moments, but the

story mostly focuses on the everyday work of the Resistance: moving


a radio transmitter, hiding wanted
men, arranging parachute drops,
and swiftly reorganizing when
members are captured.
Released in the United States
for the first time last year, Army of
Shadows topped many critics lists
of the best pictures of 2006 an
extraordinary achievement for a
37-year-old film that was a critical
and commercial flop when it
opened in France in 1969.
Melville, who died in 1973 at
the age of 56, was a maverick who
toiled on low-budget films outside
of the mainstream. He is considered by many to be the godfather of
the Nouvelle Vague, and was
among the first to shoot on location. His most celebrated films
include Le Samourai and Le Circle
Rouge, but Army of Shadows, which
is closely related to his own
wartime experiences, is his most
personal picture.
Following a restoration of
American Cinematographer 63

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Page 64

Pice de Rsistance
Melville keeps
a close eye on
proceedings
during the
filming of
several French
prisoners
awaiting
execution.

the film that was supervised by its


director of photography, Pierre
Lhomme, AFC, Army of Shadows
was theatrically released by Rialto
Pictures in 2006. The Criterion
Collection recently released a
DVD of the film that includes rare
French television interviews with
Melville, interviews with Lhomme
and editor Franoise Bonnot, and
an excellent documentary about
the liberation of Paris in 1944.
Over the course of his
career, Lhomme, now a vigorous
77 years old, collaborated with a
host of influential directors,
including Chris Marker, Robert
Bresson, Jean Eustache, Dusan
Makavejev, Patrice Chreau,
Marguerite Duras and Bertrand
Blier. His credits include Le Joli
Mai, The King of Hearts, The
Mother and the Whore, Camille
Claudel and Cyrano de Bergerac.
He served as the first president of
the AFC.
The cinematographer recalls meeting Melville to discuss
64 July 2007

Army of Shadows in 1968, when


Lhomme was in his late 30s. I was
surprised when he called me, given
the small number of films Id
made, he says. He told me to
meet him in a small, provincial
railway station near his home.
When I arrived, the station square
was deserted except for a white
Camaro. I said to myself, Thats
Melville. I approached the car, and
out came a man wearing a Stetson
hat and Ray-Ban sunglasses. He
opened the door and said,
Monsieur Lhomme, climb in. We
zoom off, and he immediately
starts talking cinema. He had seen
the few films Id made and told me
what he liked about my work, and
he spoke about the directors he
liked: William Wyler, Howard
Hawks and Robert Wise. That was
how it began.
The subsequent shoot took
14 weeks, back when we only
worked eight hours a day, and
Lhomme notes this was a tight
schedule for a 140-minute feature.

He reveals that Melville wanted to


shoot the picture in black-andwhite, but the financiers mandated color. The filmmakers subsequently strove for images that
were as desaturated as possible,
leaning toward the blue tones.
Melville hated warm colors, so
every effort was made to avoid
them, and bright colors in general, says Lhomme. In addition, a
thin orange-yellow wash of paint
was sometimes added to the set
walls and later timed out by
adding blue; this allowed the
filmmakers to achieve paler skin
tones while keeping the walls
gray.
The restoration of Army of
Shadows was initiated by Studio
Canal with assistance from the
CNC, the French National Center
for Cinema. Lhomme was
involved in the timing of the
restored print and the digital
master, working with restoration
supervisor Ronald Boullet and
color timer Raymond Terrentin

d-army of shadowsx

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Page 65

at clair Laboratories. (Batrice


Valbin of Studio Canal shepherded
the project from start to finish.)
When asked whether the restored
version matches the original 1969
print, Lhomme replies with a laugh,
I dont remember what the original
print looked like anymore! The
truth underlying his jocular
response is that because the prints
have faded, there is no absolute reference for the look of the timed
print.
During production, Lhomme
shot a reference shot, called a Lily
in France, with a small grayscale for
each setup. He kept a few frames of
the negative of these Lilys and stuck
them to the appropriate pages of his
script. Prints from these Lilys served
as a reminder of what was on the
negative, and as a starting place for
timing.
Lhomme notes that the digital-intermediate (DI) process
allowed him to create a restored
negative that is perhaps more faithful to Melvilles vision than the
original print was, in that he was
able to further desaturate the
images and increase the blue tonalities. The DVD might be even more
faithful, he continues, because it
was a further refinement of the DI
created for the new digital negative. By doing the restoration of
this film, I restored my own memories no joke, says Lhomme. To
restore is to discover, and 35 years
[after I shot this film], I rediscovered it on the big screen and saw its
extraordinary cinematic qualities.
The
principal
camera
Lhomme used on Army of Shadows
was a 35mm Mitchell with an external parallax viewfinder. I started
my career with this camera, and its
tough for a first assistant, he
remarks. The viewfinder swivels
with change of focus, so you need
an entente cordiale between the first
assistant and the operator. The
production also used a lighter but
noisier Cameflex, which was the

This sequence of
frames from the
DVD depicts
Gerbiers arrival
at a prison camp
in rural France at
dusk. The interior
scene, shot on a
soundstage and
featuring a
painted backing
behind the
window, gives
way to a wintry
exterior. I love
those end-of day
scenes, notes
Lhomme. We had
to work quickly
with meticulous
planning
beforehand [in
order to get
them].

65

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Page 66

For the
restoration, the
team at clair
Laboratories
scanned three
film elements:
the original
negative,
different strands
of internegative
that had been
spliced to the
original, and a
worn print of the
films first 141
frames, which
show the
Germans
marching on the
Arc de Triomphe
(before/after
frames above).
Lhomme
supervised the
color timing of
both the new
print and
the DVD.

66 July 2007

jewel we would never part with, he


adds. The lenses used were a T4
Angenieux zoom and Cooke
primes. The film stocks were Kodak

5251, with an EI of 50, and the


then-new 5254, with a fast EI of
100. Lhomme notes that these slow
stocks made it difficult to use the

zoom indoors.
Army of Shadows begins
with its most spectacular scene:
German soldiers parading toward
the camera with the Arc de
Triomphe behind them. Obtaining
permission to shoot in front of an
iconic Parisian monument was a
coup for Melville, and in a later
interview he called it perhaps the
most expensive shot in the history
French cinema. According to
Lhomme, the Germans were
played by dancers who had spent
many hours practicing military
marches.
In an interview on the
Criterion DVD, editor Bonnot
recalls that Melville was uncertain
about where to place the marching
scene, and the shot was constantly
moved back and forth from the
beginning to the end of the movie.
When the picture was released in
Paris, Melville had one last change
of heart. Bonnot recalls, We took

Diagrams by Benjamin B.

Pice de Rsistance

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Page 67

a splicer and went to all six of the


theaters where the film was showing, and we actually cut the scene
from the end and moved it to the
beginning! The first audiences
that day saw the shot at the end of
the movie, she adds.
The second shot in the film
is a rainy exterior of a police van
that is transporting the main character, Gerbier, to a prison camp.
One of Melvilles trademark zooms
singles out the van in the landscape. Lhomme recalls telling
Melville that the raindrops from
the rain machine in the foreground
would disappear out of focus at the
long end of the zoom, and the
director therefore decided the
scene should be shot without rain.
He then set up a rain shot in front
of a black background, which was
optically combined with the zoom
shot in the lab. The resulting scene
works, although the trickery is visible to careful viewers. Lhomme
notes that Melville loved to employ
such tricks, which he had learned
on his low-budget films.
Broadly speaking, the style of
Army of Shadows can be seen as a
blend of classical cinema and
Nouvelle Vague, a mixture that
reflects, in part, the difference in
sensibilities of the director and his
slightly younger cinematographer.
Steeped in documentaries and the
location photography of the
Nouvelle Vague, Lhomme was
unhappy with the lack of realism in
many of Melvilles old school
approaches. In an interview on the
DVD, Lhomme recalls, I had to
stand up for my ideas of lighting,
and it was a kind of game we had.
Melville once said to me, Look at
Hitchcock! His films are full of
cardboard sets, and no one cares.
And I answered him, But I care.
The sequence in the prison
camp at the beginning of Army of
Shadows illustrates this stylistic
duality. Like most of the productions interiors, Gerbiers meeting
67

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Pice de Rsistance
In one of the
films bestknown
sequences,
Gerbier
supervises the
execution of a
young traitor,
Dounat (Alain
Libolt), at a
seaside house.
All of the men
are committing
murder for the
first time. The
sequence starts
with daylight
outside the
windows and
ends at twilight.

68

with the camp commander was


shot on a soundstage. Windows
give out to painted background
panels, and the modulated shadows come from units hung above
the set, creating a classical, almost
theatrical look that still respects the
onscreen light source. When
Gerbier steps outside the office, the
shot is a dusk exterior, and an elegant dolly move follows him as he
is taken to his quarters by two
guards. I love those end-of-day
scenes, says Lhomme. We started
to shoot as soon as the light was
right, and we had to work quickly
with meticulous planning beforehand. The lighting axis had been
chosen and set up, and the dolly
tracks had been laid. In such cases,
you have to be well prepared, and
everyone has to know what he has
to do. I was very lucky we had gray
weather, otherwise there would
have been no way to do it.
Lhomme recalls another
moment of the shoot, when the
crew went on location in Marseille
to shoot the reunion of two key
characters (played Paul Crauchet
and Jean-Pierre Cassel) in a bar.
Melville left as the crew finished up
in the location, and then Lhomme
went outside to set up for the final
night exterior of the two walking
in the street. Suddenly the Camaro
drove up, and Melville asked
Lhomme to hop in. We drove to a
deserted section of Marseille, and
Melville said, I made a mistake.
This is where we should shoot.
Lhomme noted that it was 1 a.m.,
and the crew would need another
half-day to switch locations.
Melville said, I wont get any
more time. Were already two days
late. But I have a photographer
friend here, and Ill ask him to
photograph this location, and well
shoot [the action] onstage in
Paris. In the end, Lhomme
remembers, the actors walked in
front of giant blowups of the photos Melvilles primitive version

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of todays TransLites. Onscreen, the


scene has a credible though abstract
quality.
One of the best-known
sequences in Army of Shadows takes
place 30 minutes in, when Gerbier
has to oversee the execution of a
traitor, Dounat. The young traitor is
picked up in a square by Felix, a
Resistance member posing as a
policeman, and taken by car to a
seaside house. In the house, the
shades are drawn, and Gerbier, Felix
and another colleague, Claude,
debate how to kill the whimpering
boy. Clearly new at this, they end up
strangling him with an improvised
garrote, an ordeal that marks their
rite of passage into the Resistance.
The emotional impact of the
execution sequence comes in great
part from its rhythm and length.
Melville takes the time to show each
beat of hesitation, decision and
fumbling as the Resistance members carry out their first execution.
Throughout the picture, many
scenes play out in lengthy wide
shots with a minimum of dialogue,
allowing the viewer to become
immersed in the action. As
Lhomme puts it on the DVD,As an
audience member, you always have
time to think, even to ask yourself
what you would do in that situation. Whats so strong about
Melvilles mise en scne, about his
way of storytelling, is that the audience is not violated. Its not manipulative cinema.
The 11-minute execution
sequence begins with a simple day
exterior, as Felix meets with the traitor and takes him to the car.
Lhomme remembers providing a
little fill for the scene with a white
sheet. To the cinematographers
chagrin, the car ride was shot on a
soundstage with classic rear-screen
projection. Melville orchestrated a
dolly move alongside the car. Its
the opposite of what I would have
done, and I was really unhappy,
says Lhomme. Since the end of the

Page 69

Fifties, we had been shooting car


scenes in real cars on location, just
as we had stopped shooting cars
without windshields. But Melville
loved rear-screen. Lhomme notes
that the basic lighting unit for this
scene was a quartz lamp with ordinary tracing paper diffusion, and
often a 14 CTB gel to offset the
warm tone of the paper. For closeups, he was forced to put Mitchell
diffusion in front of the lens so
the close-ups wouldnt look
sharper than the wide shots.
When the car stops, the film
shifts to a day exterior, which was
shot on location in Marseille.
Melville films the traitor being
walked to the safe house in one
economical shot that combines
zoom, pan and crane moves to follow the trio down an alley. You
dont really notice the moves
because theyre well done, says
Lhomme. The camera operator,
Philippe Brun, was one of the
best.
The action inside the house
was shot on a soundstage, and the
set was a modest, nondescript
space. The scene begins with dark,
moody day interiors, with light
seeping in from shuttered windows. Then, in a wide-angle oneshot scene, the men close the curtains and turn on an overhead
bulb, changing the setting to a
night-like interior. With the slow
film stocks of the time, says
Lhomme,I could not light whimsically. I had an overall indirect
light and added punctual strokes
to underline the light sources. In
fact, I was trying to apply to the
soundstage what I had learned on
location. It must have been tough
doing all those lighting changes in
one shot.
All of the light sources had
to come from walkways above the
set, because Melvilles propensity
for wide shots made it impossible
to place lights on the floor. When
the lighting is above, it follows that

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69

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Pice de Rsistance

Above: At left is
Lhommes Lily,
a gray-card
reference frame,
for the execution
scene, and the
shot at right
shows the final
look. Melville
hated warm
colors, notes
Lhomme, so
every effort was
made to avoid
them.
Below: Lhomme
today, still not
far from a
camera.

70 July 2007

the top of the set is more lit than the


bottom, so you often have to graduate the top of the set, says the cinematographer. Some of the great
art directors would ask if I wanted
them to graduate the top of the set,
and I always answered, Of course.
Or you can use grad filters on the
camera. Nowadays its easy to do
that in the DI.
Once the curtains are drawn,
the lighting underlines the hard
shadow line of the circular shade
above the bare bulb. Part of the
dark area, Lhomme notes, was hiding the hard shadow of the giraffe
microphone boom above the set.
The garroting of the traitor happens mostly offscreen; instead, we
see tight shots of the three executioners, emphasizing their transformation. The action is lit starkly
from above with almost no fill. I
was using a maximum of contrast,

says Lhomme.I didnt want to lose


Felixs eyes, but I put them in as
much darkness as possible. Theres
a minimum of fill, which I adjusted
by eye; I probably used a piece of
coarse drawing paper fixed on a
French flag with three clothespins.
Also, theres a small light on
Gerbiers eyes, so as not to lose his
[expression].
The scene returns to a wide
shot as the men lay the body down
and cover it with a blanket. The
light is turned out, and the screen is
almost entirely black as the camera
follows Gerbier to the window.
With a laugh, Lhomme observes
that the shot is magnificently
underexposed! On the DVD I
retimed it a little bit, but in projection there was almost nothing. Its
very rare to have a director who
loves nocturnal ambience, who is
not afraid of the dark, who is not

afraid to guess rather than see.


Melville pushed me toward darkness until this shot, where I blew it.
I was very unhappy and wanted to
redo the shot. I said, Jean-Pierre, it
doesnt work, you really cant see
anything, and he said,Dont worry,
it will work once we put in the
music. And it did! The shot could
be black leader, but Luc Demarsans
magnificent music fills it in.
As Gerbier peers out the window, Melville places the camera in a
new vantage point: outside pointing
in, framing a stunning shot with
dark, soft, blue lighting that has a
contemporary feel. This shot
marks the passage of time we
started in daylight and carried on
through penumbra, towards night,
says Lhomme. The shot is also
unusual for its lack of depth of field,
highlighting Gerbiers isolation as
he ponders his deed.
You know, the everyday production of Army of Shadows was so
stressful and rushed that I finished
shooting without knowing I had
worked on a great film, concludes
Lhomme. Every time I see this
film, Im astounded. What is
impressive and rare is the use of
durations that allow for the intelligence and the sensitivity of the
audience. Melvilles mise en scne is
so rigorous and sober. He had a
respect for the audience that is
often lacking today.


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Page 71

TWENTY-ONE CINEMATOGRAPHERS AT WORK


by Benjamin Bergery

n Reflections, professional cinematographers analyze their craft in terms of technique


and aesthetics in an array of wide-ranging lectures given to college classes. Each
lesson includes 35mm film frames and lighting diagrams depicting specific setups.
The cinematographers also discuss many other aspects of their profession, such as
working with directors, handling politics on the set, and time management.
Level: College through Professional Paperback 268 pages ISBN # 0-935578-16-1

Available online at www.theasc.com


Or order by phone (800) 448-0145 (U.S. Only) (323) 969-4344

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Page 72

Short Takes
A Surrealistic Ghost Story
by Elina Shatkin

inematographer Adam David


Meltzer knew he wanted to collaborate with director Hoku Uchiyama
the moment he walked into the cafeteria at Art Center College of Design and
saw Uchiyama storyboarding a spec

72 July 2007

spot for a competition. It combined


puppets and live action in a way that
was visually inventive and very bold,
says Meltzer. Uchiyamas spot, a PSA
about drunk driving, went on to win
second place at the Cannes Young

Directors Awards in 2003.


When Uchiyama met with
Meltzer to discuss the short film Rose,
about a young man who returns every
year to the same spot on the same day
to commune with the ghost of a dead
woman, he came with equally unique
and comprehensive ideas about the
visuals. Hoku had done illustrations of
all the characters and all the costumes,
Meltzer recalls. He was already in the
process of storyboarding and creating
animatics. He had put all of this on a
DVD that he was presenting to people
he wanted to work with. Uchiyama
wanted to emphasize the storys fairytale elements. Ive always been in love
with classic fairytale images that are
extreme, evocative and very simple,
says the director. They have a way of
staying with you.
Uchiyama and Meltzer took
inspiration from Stephen Gammells
illustrations for Scary Stories to Tell in
the Dark, a book that features high-

Photos and frame grabs by Adam David Meltzer, courtesy of Hoku Uchiyama.

Right: A young
boy (Blaine
Miller) bonds
with the spirit of
a dead woman
(Kathryn
Robinson) in
Rose. Below:
Cinematographer
Adam David
Meltzer (far left),
1st AC Aaron
Schuh and
Robinson go out
on a limb for
their art.

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07_07 short takes

The shorts
stylized images
were inspired
by Stephen
Gammells
high-contrast
illustrations for
the book Scary
Stories to Tell
in the Dark.

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Page 74

contrast images with deep blacks set


against misty whites. The whole world
looks covered in graphite, which is
what we wanted for Rose, notes
Uchiyama. He also had very definite
ideas about camera moves. Says
Meltzer, Hoku really takes the reins
when it comes to moving the camera,
and he expressed from the beginning
that he wanted a lot of movement.

Accomplishing these moves


often tested Meltzers creative powers.
One of his favorite moments in the film
is a dramatic but simple scene in which
Rose (Kathryn Robinson) and the older
Travis (Phillip Rogers) lie on the ground
as the camera circles above them. We
didnt have a crane or a Power Pod, so I
had to figure out a way to get the
camera to spin and boom down on them

without blocking the light, he explains.


He and key grip Mark Napier mounted a
Weaver Steadman three-axis head onto
an 8' two-axis Clairmont jib and clipped
a C-stand gobo head and arm onto the
Steadman head. Meltzer then walked
several circles around the actors while
operating the camera, which was being
boomed down.
Meltzer shot Rose in Super
16mm with an Arri 16SR-3 that came
from Clairmont Camera. He used Zeiss
Superspeed primes, as well as an Elite
4.5mm lens, an Optika 7mm lens, a
200mm Canon lens and a 50mm Arri
Macro lens. The Superspeeds went
down to T1.3, and we needed every bit
of that because 80 percent of this film
was shot outside at night, he notes. I
was really pushing the bottom of the
meter, taking exposure readings on the
background that read .75. Fortunately, I
knew the film stock could handle it.
To avoid the grain of a highspeed stock, Meltzer made the somewhat risky decision to shoot the entire
film on Kodak Vision 200T 7274. I love
its grain structure and contrast, he
says. I didnt want too much grain, but
I also didnt want zero grain because

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07_07 short takes

Meltzer
shoulders the
camera while
capturing a
scene with
actors Tim
Cowgill (as
Roses father)
and Robinson.

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that looks too much like high-definition


video. He rated the stock normally and
used ND filters on the lens when shooting day exteriors. Hoku was a little
nervous at first, he recalls. It was
really dark, we were shooting 200-ASA
stock, and we didnt get dailies until
three days into the night shoot and
they were on DVCam, so they werent
much to judge things by. But even on the
DVCam dailies, Hoku was happy with
what he saw. We definitely pushed the
limits of the toe of the film stock.
The 11-day shoot took the crew
to Piru in Ventura County and Tejon
Ranch on the border of Los Angeles and
Kern counties, where they shot in the
woods at an approximate altitude of
3,000'. The logistical problems of hauling equipment to the Tejon location and
shooting there were numerous. Meltzer
recounts, It was hard to get stuff to the
location because there were dirt roads.
We shot in December, so it was freezing
outside. On two different nights the
generator, which was lighting not just
the scene but the whole set, gave out,
so we were stranded in the dark for
hours while waiting for the rental
company to bring us a new genny. Then,
a massive branch fell down and broke
through our trailer. We had a Condor, but
it was so windy there we often couldnt
send anyone up in it.
Lacking the budget to rent large
HMIs, Meltzer had to make the most
of natural light. He used Fomecore

bounces, Ultrabounces, and negative fill


during the day, and a Nine-light MaxiBrute gelled with 12 CTB when magic
hour drew near. He always sent the light
from the mirror boards through frames
of Opal to add softness while maintaining the sourcey quality of the light. He
added 14 or 12 Tiffen White Pro-Mist to
the lens on day exteriors in the woods
to help give the image a fantasy feel.
The primary lighting consideration throughout the film was Rose. We
were trying to create a world where the
dead and decayed are beautiful, so we
wanted Rose to have her own special
light, says Meltzer. This was the kind
of movie where giving the lead her own
light was appropriate. To enhance the
characters ghostliness, Meltzer didnt
give her an eyelight and intensified the
shadows under her eyes by placing 6'x6'
solids above the actress to cut some
light off her.
The biggest challenge was
shooting outside in the woods at night.
Meltzer typically lit these scenes by
keying 5K tungsten Fresnels and 2K and
1K open-faced tungsten units off 6'x6'
or 12'x12' frames of Ultrabounce, wrapping light softly around the actors.
Uchiyama wanted to make sure viewers
could see as much as possible in the
surrounding woods; to accomplish this,
Meltzer placed a 24K Moleeno gelled
with 14 CTB on a Condor to serve as
backlight and/or moonlight. For larger
scenes, Meltzer added 5K and 10K units

through Opal frames to bring up the


overall fill in some of the darker areas in
the background. The tricky part was
that we didnt have the crew, the space
or the time to move the Condor every
time we turned around, he recalls.
Instead, wed flip the action and
slightly change our camera angles so
the backgrounds didnt look exactly the
same.
The film was processed at
FotoKem, and DVCam dailies were
provided by Magic Film & Video and
graded by Jerald Jones. Uchiyama had a
1.85:1 matte added in post because he
believed it enhanced the landscapes in
the film. He and Meltzer carried out the
final color correction themselves, working on editor Hovig Menakians Final Cut
Pro system. Id shot the film very lowcontrast so that in post we could bump
up the contrast to give it that dreamlike
feel, say Meltzer. On top of that, we
desaturated the image until all that was
left were little touches of color. We used
a vectorscope, which allowed us to
determine exactly how much color we
had in each scene. All of this helped to
give Rose its aged, surreal look. 

To have your short-form


project considered for coverage, send
us a copy of the work on DVD (Region
1) and include a brief description of
the photographic techniques used
and your contact information. If you
want the DVD returned to you,
include a postage-paid, selfaddressed envelope. Upon request,
you must be able to provide highresolution stills (TIFF or JPEG) for
illustration purposes. Send to: Short
Takes, c/o American Cinematographer, 1782 N. Orange Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90028.
Because of the volume of
submissions, personal responses are
not possible. If you do not hear from
us within 6 months of submission,
you can assume we are unable to
cover your project.

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At the front
end of
LaserPacifics
new AIM colormanagement
workflow,
telecine
colorist Bruce
Goodman
grades dailies
through a print
stock look-up
table using a
calibrated
Panasonic
PT-AE1000U
wide-gamut
LCD projector.

78 July 2007

LaserPacific Aims for End-ToEnd Color Management


by Douglas Bankston
Color management in a hybrid filmdigital workflow is still in its infancy,
meaning images frequently wont match
in appearance from one post step to the
next and extra time (and money) is spent
bringing those looks back in line. Factor in
a shift toward digital dailies, a decidedly
video affair that behaves differently than
film, and surprises at the digital-intermediate (DI) and filmout stages can result.
Hollywood post house LaserPacific
has heeded cinematographers calls for
accurate images by developing an end-toend color calibration system for digital
postproduction, aptly titled AccurateImage, or AIM. The closed-loop system faithfully emulates a projects film look
throughout each step of postproduction,
and any color decision or change made
during the early stages of the project are
carried through and accurately represented on digital displays.
To achieve this, LaserPacific first
tackles the digital-dailies bugaboo. This
is where weve put a lot of technology

calibrating the telecines so that they


match scanners, says Glenn Kennel,
LaserPacifics vice president and general
manager of motion-picture feature film
services. Thats critically important,
because we capture the whole range of
the negative and lay it down to tape in a
raw scan mode that preserves the flexibility for further color correction downstream. The tape Kennel refers to is 10bit HDCam SR. Its like a digital proxy on
SR tape of the original negative, he
explains further. Yes, it is HD resolution,
but it is at a very low compression ratio,
full color sampling, full range. It has a
very high-quality picture record.
Dailies telecine color grading is
done through a print stock look-up table
(LUT) using a calibrated Panasonic PTAE1000U projector, not a CRT monitor.
LaserPacific characterizes, calibrates and
builds LUTs specific to each Panasonic
projector. What the dailies colorist references for grading are still-image proxies
taken on set, primarily JPEGs (though
other formats will work) that are treated
by the cinematographer in a program
such as Adobe Photoshop or Kodaks Look
Management System and sent to Laser-

Pacific through the Internet via FTP.


LaserPacific calibrates the cinematographers monitor to match the colorists.
The name of the game for LaserPacifics AIM is, obviously, calibration.
That has to be done routinely, otherwise these things could drift out of
control, Kennel notes. Because of this
rigorous, internal scanner, telecine and
display characterization and calibration,
AIM is proprietary to LaserPacific and its
parent, Kodak. However, it supports the
ASC Color Decision List (CDL), so implementation across facilities could happen
in the future. CDL is the color communication mechanism that follows from the
dailies telecine to the dailies playback in
the field, says Kennel of the ASCs
numerical annotation of nine color
settings that carries through the workflow, much like an edit decision list (EDL).
With all the look-management and
previsualization systems out there, the
weak links are that most dont support
the CDL yet, so they lack a common
communication language, and displays
arent necessarily calibrated. Some are,
but not all.
Dailies playback on set utilizes
the AIM Dailies Player, which is built
upon an industry-standard digital cinema
platform the Kodak Digital Cinema
Server with full color gamut and a
very high bit rate to prevent compression
artifacts. The Kodak server plays back
encrypted JPEG 2000 files on hard drives
(downloaded either from drives, or by
direct data link if the location has the
bandwidth) while a proprietary LUT
adjusts the images in real time to mimic
the projected-film look (based on the
chosen print stock and print lab). Dailies
are projected by a Panasonic PTAE1000U that is calibrated on site to
match the AE1000U back at the ranch.
Not only does the cinematographer receive and then view accurate
dailies, he also is afforded printer-light
control in the AIM Player. For example,

Photos courtesy of LaserPacific.

Post Focus

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Page 79

while viewing a particular shot, the cinematographer decides he wants to see


into the shadows a bit more. He merely
adjusts the printing density slider on the
players graphical user interface to print
up the shot, and the shot can be played
back with that adjustment nearly instantaneously. Plus, that adjustment can be
saved into the CDL, which accompanies
that shot through the workflow in an ALE
file, preserved within Avid or Final Cut Pro
in editing and output as part of the timecode stream for the conform that is used
for the preview grading down the road.
The change is not baked in, thus the digital negative retains its original full range.
Its actually as though you have a lab on
set, Kennel remarks. You have the digital negative, the print model which is the
LUT, the calibrated system, and the
controls in between so you can print it up
or down.
The Panasonic PT-AE1000U is a
high-definition, 1080p home-theaterstyle LCD projector with Rec 709 color
space and a contrast ratio Panasonic
claims to be up to 11,000:1, though that
wont be achieved in real-world conditions. Uniquely, the projector has a wide
color gamut mode that brings its gamut
closer to that of digital cinemas P3. Panasonic has even gone so far as to work
with cinematographers to refine this
feature. So if the cinematographer makes
an adjustment on the Dailies Player that
is out of gamut on the projector, chances
are it will also be out of gamut on film.
Dailies copies that go to editorial
and to producers (usually on DVD) have
the final print film look LUT applied to
them so that they can view truer creative
intent. Essentially, we have to rebuild
that table to compensate for the characteristics of the display devices they are
using, says Kennel. We cant do that
perfectly because we dont control their
environments, but we get it pretty close.
We do a gamut mapping for the smaller
gamut of a video display, and we also do
a tone-scale mapping because it will be
viewed in ambient light conditions. Thats
important for consistency so that editorial, the director and the executives all see
the same picture. Its no secret the director, editor and executives often become
79

07_07 post focus

The AIM
Dailies Player
is built upon
the industrystandard Kodak
Digital Cinema
Server.

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Page 80

enamored with the video look after


months of editing. With LaserPacifics
film-look emulation applied to those
dailies, surprises in the DI stage can be
minimized in most cases because the
original creative intent has been maintained.
In the DI, LaserPacific rescans the
selects and applies the CDL to those files,
which means the DI starting point is
where the preview left off which
included global corrections and primary
corrections stored in the CDL. Youre
maximizing time and creativity in the DI
suite, Kennel adds. We want to be able
to build on the color-correction decisions
that were made before so we dont have
to start over at each step in the process.
Daryn Okada, ASC enlisted a beta
version of AIM during production of the
comedy Harold and Kumar 2, as did
Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC on Bolden!, a
biography of jazz cornet player Buddy
Bolden, though the beta versions lacked
printer-light control in the AIM Dailies
Player. (Zsigmond was scheduled to
receive a software upgrade for printerlight control in the Dailies Player before
the end of production.)
The dailies had an entirely different feel than any high-definition dailies,
truly more filmic, notes Okada, who
would have been saddled with standarddef DVD dailies on a video monitor if he
hadnt selected the beta AIM dailies.
The gamma and everything in the detail
from lights to darks were pretty closely
represented, not like linear video.
With the ability to see his fullrange HD dailies projected on a 6' screen

at 14 foot-lamberts of brightness, Okada


noticed proper tonalities of skin tones
that you dont see when you have other
digital-video setups. We got more detail
affordably and colors represented accurately. It was a compelling image for
people to watch, like back when we
could watch film dailies. There are no
longer excuses for the images to look any
different when they are rescanned for DI
or go to film.
The AIM system kept the crews
coming back [to view dailies], he continues, and also enabled us to become
tuned to our jobs without having to
second-guess what we were doing. The
hair and makeup people could see the
response of a certain color on a face. The
camera crew could see when a shot was
just hanging on to focus so they could
feel out the characteristics of the lens.
Youd lose all that with any type of standard-video dailies because video resolution is so low that the tolerances are too
wide.
At LaserPacific, both Harold and
Kumar 2 and Bolden! will undergo
preview assemblies with color grading,
followed by DI finishes.
Simplifying Deliverables with
Digital Multi-Masters
by Simon Cuff
The work involved in making
multiple versions and multiple deliverables has made postproduction
extremely complex. For historical
reasons, the investment priority and
apparent raison dtre of post houses has
been to focus on editing, visual effects
and grading, while the versioning and
deliverables side has been viewed as
something of an add-on, with a smaller
investment in equipment and personnel.
However, recent trends in the media
market seem to indicate a switch of priorities. It is often the talent for the original
post work that first attracts customers to
the premises, so it would seem investing
in an efficient post-post process could
pay dividends.
In todays multi-resolution, multiplatform world, we must ask if the solution to multiple deliverables is a universal

digital master at the highest spatial resolution. Technically, this should produce a
good, oversampled source for downconverting to make the other deliverables, but achieving good spatial resolution is only a part of todays mix of
requirements. In recent years, the scale of
this operation has ballooned, with examples of requirements for more than 60
versions of one production to multiple
formats. Quite often this results in the
client being charged significantly more for
these versions and deliverables than for
the original online.
The notion of a universal master
supposes that the onward operations are
linear. That might have been true in the
past, but it was always a compromised,
one-size-fits-all concept. Now there are
some requirements that challenge that
notion, and others that dictate an altogether different approach. Good technical
quality for all viewing platforms, creative
aims, commercial and censorship requirements, and the ever-present desire to
make changes right up to the last moment
all indicate the need for a new methodology for making deliverables and versioning that uses a far more flexible form of
master.
The Traditional Universal
Digital Master
In using a universal digital master,
some considerations must be taken into
account. The look of images on the screen
is part of the creative aim and includes
the control of color and grain. The process
of grading tends to stretch the contrast
and thus increase the appearance of
grain. Therefore, the ideal workflow order
is linear, in that grain management should
be completed before starting the grade.
The universal digital master is a
suitable solution only if clients are
prepared to accept one grade on all deliverables. Today they rarely are. If any of
the deliverables are to be encoded or
compressed, the resulting image noise or
grain can adversely affect the efficiency
of the coding. For example, DVD, HD-DVD
and Blu-ray encoding all involve 4:2:0
sampling of YCrCb color space at 8-bit
resolution. This pre-compression also

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has the effect of magnifying the noise and


so increasing signal-to-noise ratio of the
encoder input. Noise is exactly what you
dont want to feed into MPEG4 codecs,
which are based on DCT blocks and interframe and intraframe compression. This
process is susceptible to grain noise, as
it can be interpreted as high-frequency
image content, and thus wastes valuable
bits. Movies are coded for theatrical exhibition using a totally different process,
with 4:4:4 sampling of XYZ color space
and wavelet-based JPEG2000 compression that is only intraframe. In this case,
some grain is often desirable to suggest a
filmic look. The upshot is that the grain, or
noise, management of a film master
will have to be revisited to further reduce
its appearance and create a clean, crisp
look on video discs and in transmissions.
That process is best done before grading
effectively pushing the grain management up the workflow to before the grade.
Another consideration is the quality of images on different types of
screens. The appearance of grain noise
and blocking artifacts on CRT screens
differs from that on LCDs. CRTs are
becoming much less available, and the
public is switching to LCDs. The 8-bit digital system of LCDs means that LSB (Least
Significant Bit) noise (a truncation of pixel
color information values when downconverting from 10 bits to 8 bits), especially in blacks, is more apparent than
when viewing the same material on CRTs.
Also, computer-generated images with
smooth surfaces may show banding
errors. With CRTs, the minute inaccuracies introduced by analog noise and the
smearing effect of the analog device as it
scans actually enhance viewing by
randomizing the LSB truncation and so
smoothing its appearance. Such noise
could help reduce the digital noise noticeable in dark picture areas on LCDs. It
would seem that LCD displays would
benefit from the introduction of a degree
of non-coherent noise that is friendly to
the encoder to reduce the visibility of LSB
truncation effects and blocking.
Although there are no technical
problems associated with reducing image
size to fit smaller screens, there is often
also a requirement to change the visual

emphasis, especially for very small


displays used for mobile viewing. When
the picture is so small, its necessary to
apply stronger vignettes and more of
them to draw the viewers eyes to key
characters or action.
A creative grade different from
the cinema grade might be required for
the DVD version, which is generally
viewed in a living room with much higher
ambient light than a cinema. To compensate for the viewing conditions, the TV
grade involves lifting the darker scenes.
Typically this takes one to five days for a
feature-length project.
Different audiences might require
or be delivered different versions of the
production. This may involve straight
cutting, in which case it may be possible
to work directly from the universal digital
master, but in many cases it will not.
In the search for new revenue
streams, product placement is increasingly used. The brand that is to be shown
may vary according to the location of the
audience; for example, the logo on the
fin of an aircraft might have to be
changed. Clearly, this would require
going back the original material and
reassembling it with the new logo added
to an original, or pre-prepared, blank fin.
Then the scene must be reinserted into
the film.
Some material included in the
universal digital master might not be
acceptable in some countries, or two
versions might be required, one for
family viewing and the other to be
shown after the watershed hour. In
either case, this will require further editing, and the people doing this work will
probably work from the source material
and reassembly.
If making cuts or changes to the
images, work on the audio must follow.
This may require access to the source
audio to correctly rebuild the tracks so
that they again fit with the onscreen
action.

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Digital Multi-Masters
Clearly, there are ample grounds
for seeking a new post workflow and
producing a new type of master. This
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should give access to any part of the


program and allow changes to any
aspect, even work that was completed
early on in the workflow and is now
buried under several layers of additional work. The traditional workflow
does not allow this, as the universal
digital master is flattened, merging all
layers and not carrying any of the data
describing the original sources and all
the processes that have been applied to
it since.
The requirement is to store all
the metadata associated with making a
master; this is not just a shot log or an
EDL, but all information about the
footage used and all the detail of the
processes applied to the media from
grain management through all post.
This should then allow someone to
revisit any stage of the operation at any
time. At the end of the process, the
finished project can exist as the original
footage including visual-effects shots
and metadata, which contains all the
information of the processes applied to
the material to make a master. This
requires a database to store and recall
all the metadata and a storage infrastructure that allows fast access to all
the media, as well as all the equipment
and applications needed to process the
82 July 2007

media. Organizations with big budgets


can build and support their own systems,
but most post houses do not have the
resources, specifically the programmers
and engineers, to create such bespoken
solutions. There needs to be a simpler
solution to meet the needs of modern
post facilities.
A major part of the solution must
be a database that can manage the
metadata and associated source media.
Most facilities have secret sauce
elements to their workflows, but they
need a backbone infrastructure that is off
the shelf and can be managed and maintained. This must include storage infrastructure and media and metadata
management. Avids Interplay looks like a
possible database solution. It is also a
part of Avids Open Storage Initiative.
This means its storage, including the
Unity ISIS (Infinitely Scalable Intelligent
Storage) media network and databases,
is now being opened up. Avid claims
more than 100 file types, both media and
non-media, are supported by Interplay,
including multi-resolution video,
Microsoft Office documents, Adobe
Photoshop and After Effects layered
files, MPEGs, TIFFs and spreadsheets.
This is designed to create a businesswide workflow that can assist large and

small production teams to manage


media.
Interplay and its access to the
Unity ISIS environment could be used as
a part of a move toward implementing
digital multi-masters. It will allow sharing the process over appropriate platforms while building metadata of the
processes and media used. The work
could be spread over several platforms in
the facility as well as outside. It should
then be possible to revisit any part of the
project at any time, and to be provided
with the complete and precise settings
and media that were originally used.
For example, if the grading of a
digital film master needed adjusting for
home viewing rather than theatrical
exhibition, the necessary processes
could be accessed while the rest of the
work remained unchanged. In this case,
the processes would start pre-grade
with revisiting grain management to
further reduce the grain noise for more
efficient MPEG coding and better
presentation on LCD screens. Next
comes aperture correction to adjust
sharpness, followed by grading to
improve home viewing by giving the
appropriate lifts to the darker scenes
while leaving other aspects of the grade
untouched. Then the result needs to be

Diagram courtesy of Simon Cuff.

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rescaled for the DVD format, while again


keeping an eye on sharpness. Other individual adjustments, such as pan and
scan, can also be made, and a complete
DVD specific media master produced.
In many cases, mastering can
provide the confidence of knowing
exactly how the production will look on
the target platform. Much has been
made of grading suites furnished with
digital projectors that have been set up
using color-management systems to
show the footage as it will be seen
when printed on a selected film stock.
This is useful, but only if the target platform is film. What if it isnt? Having the
results immediately available for realtime replay allows interactive grading. It
is important to see the detail on a big
screen, but if the target medium is an
iPod, its worth checking the replay on
that, too. This goes for all target viewing
platforms.
Mobile devices, high-definition
DVD players, new types of TV screens,
and digital projectors for cinemas all
have different requirements for giving
viewers the optimum experience. The
high-quality versioning they require can
no longer be adequately achieved by
working from a flattened master tailored
for film output and exhibition. The
demand for versioning justifies a new,
more flexible multi-master that will
allow any aspect of the post process to
be adjusted. This can be realized with a
data-centric, nonlinear approach not only
for the digital intermediate/post operation, but also for versioning. A multimaster setup could be achieved by
adding a database to log and recall all
the process settings and source-material
metadata. In order to put this within
reach of most post facilities, it must be
available off the shelf.
Simon Cuff, president and COO
of Digital Vision, first presented this
concept in Digital Multi-Masters:
Seeing the Forest and Not the Trees at
the 2007 Hollywood Post Alliance Technology Retreat.


83

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Filmmakers Forum
South Korea Hosts Cinematography Summit
by Curtis Clark, ASC

was recently given the honor of


representing the ASC at the first
International Digital Cinema Technology Forum, which took place in
Seoul, South Korea. The event was
initiated and sponsored by the
Korean Society of Cinematographers
with significant participation from
the Japanese Society of Cinematographers. The purpose of the forum
was to review and assess the
changes that digital motion-imaging
technologies are making in production and postproduction workflows,
and how these technologies are
affecting the cinematographers ability to execute and manage a photographic look.
I was asked to talk about the
impact high-definition digital motionpicture cameras are having on the
cinematographers ability to maintain
creative control over his or her photographic vision. In addition to my
presentation, there were complementary presentations by members
of the KSC and JSC that investigated
aspects of the challenging nature of
new digital-imaging technologies
from the cinematographers perspective. The emphasis was on a thorough understanding of the impact
these digital technologies are having
on the workflow, so that they might
be more effectively harnessed to
support the cinematographers
creative intent.
What really struck me about
this innovative forum was the groups
recognition of the significance of
sharing our respective ideas,
perspectives and experiences in
ways that strengthened our confidence in being able to gain expert
skill in using digital-imaging tech84 July 2007

nologies. This sharing also reinforced


a collective resolve and determination
to influence the further development
of these technologies in ways that
will better serve the cinematographers needs.
The experience was especially
gratifying because of the considerable
number of Korean and Japanese cine-

What really
struck me about
this innovative
forum was
the groups
recognition of
the significance
of sharing our
respective ideas,
perspectives
and
experiences .
matographers in attendance. Fortunately, I was able to spend some time
with my gracious hosts at the KSC,
especially KSC President Sang Woo
An, discussing these issues with a
view to exploring ways we can better
coordinate future collaborative activities between the ASC and KSC, along
with the JSC. During our discussions,
the idea emerged of creating a Pacific
Rim association of cinematography

societies, starting with the three


principal societies whose members
attended the forum and extending it
to other societies in Asia, as well as
Australia and New Zealand. The KSC
and JSC showed tremendous respect
for the historic leadership role of the
ASC and the important work being
done by the ASC Technology Committee. President An indicated that the
KSC intends to create a technology
committee modeled after ours.
This tangible manifestation of
international solidarity between
cinematographic
societies
in
expressing a determination to
address the immense technology
challenges common to all cinematographers has certainly reinforced my
sense of optimism that we will not
only be able to maintain but also
enhance the traditional role of the
cinematographer in this new era of
digital production and postproduction. For us to have the greatest
chance of success, the ASC, in
conjunction with our fraternal cinematography societies around the
world, must make a concerted,
sustained and coordinated effort to
not only ensure that cinematographers gain access to the tools essential for the creation and management
of their images, but also help them
acquire a genuine understanding of
how to effectively use them.


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New Products & Services


JVC GY-HD250U
by Jay Holben
I was eager to try out the new GYHD250U professional 1280x720 HDV
camera from JVC. This is no prosumer
handycam boasting HD, this is a
professional-grade camera utilizing the
HDV format for cost-effective high definition.
Right off the bat, the GY-HD250U
is a breath of fresh air in the small digital-camcorder arena. The JVC designers
have adopted many professional
camcorder functions and incorporated
them into this camera what JVC calls
compact shoulder form while
seamlessly integrating the common
benefits of a small digital prosumer
camera.
Upon picking up the camera, I
noted that the gain switches, whitebalance settings and power switch were
exactly where I would expect to find
them on a full-sized professional camera,
easily accessible to the left hand and
controlled through the same switches
and buttons with which I am accustomed. This was wonderful to see. The
250 is designed for field operation as
well as the studio no fumbling for
buttons at the back or top of the camera
while shooting handheld. Everything you
need on the fly is immediately and
comfortably accessible to either hand in
natural shooting positions.
The camera has a 1 3" bayonet
86 July 2007

mount and can


accept many available professional
ENG
lenses;
adapters are available to accept 1 2"
and 2 3" lens
mounts. An additional benefit to
this, beyond the
flexibility of choosing the best lens for
your application and price range, is that
the iris control is actually a physical iris
in the individual lenses, not an electronic
dial or switch on the camera body.
I was pleasantly surprised to see
that there is also a 250,000-pixel 3.5"
color TFT LCD flip-out screen. This is not
something youd expect to find on a
professional camera, but in the world of
small-camera digital video such screens
are invaluable. I was excited to see this
low-end feature integrated into a highend camera.
Other great features of the 250
are a padded speaker on the left side
that enables the operator to casually
monitor sound while shooting. Its
comfortably placed and quite functional.
The compact shoulder form is exactly
what the term implies: a camera that sits
very comfortably on your shoulder and
weighs a mere 10 pounds with
viewfinder, microphone, Fujinon 16x
lens, and Anton-Bauer Dionic90 battery.
An additional feature is the viewfinder
extension (with an adjustable range of
over 2.5"!) that allows you to shoot from
right or left eye, offering incredible flexibility. The physical design of the camera
is the best of both worlds, prosumer and
professional.
Digging deeper, I found the menu
control to be a bit clumsy. To access the
cameras main menu, you must press the
menu button and the shutter control
wheel. This is frustrating, and I cant
imagine any benefit that would

outweigh the inconvenience of struggling


to get to the menus, which I was rarely
able to easily do with my left hand while
holding the camera. Even when I put the
camera down, turned it around and used
my right hand, it often took two or three
tries to get into the menu; I often went into
the first page of the menu one step too
far because I had inadvertently pressed
the button too many times. I wanted to
easily access the cameras menu on the fly,
but I was never really able to do that
because of the two-button requirement.
The GY-HD250U is a 1 3" 3-CCD
native 16:9 HDV camera. The imager is
4.864mm x 2.739mm, giving it a diagonal
of 5.5mm (for a lens equivalent of 2.3x to
16mm). I tested two Fujinon lenses with it,
the Th16x5.5BRMU (5.5mm to 88mm,
provided by Birns & Sawyer in Hollywood)
one of the standard lenses offered in
available JVC packages and the
HTS18x4.2BRM (4.2mm to 76mm,
provided by JVC). Both lenses had a
considerable amount of breathing but had
very clean, medium-contrast images. With
ENG lenses, the right-hand grip is on the
lens, including the zoom rocker, VTR
start/stop button, and other controls
(depending on the lens). This makes the
camera very easy to hold, and with the
handgrip at the front of the camera, the
balance is distributed more evenly.
JVC also manufactures its own
film-lens adapter, the HZ-CA13U, which
connects to the 1 3" bayonet mount and
can accept any PL cine lens. This is not like
many other adapters on the market; rather,
it is more of a standard extension tube
with only a single element to help refocus
the cine lens image directly onto the
cameras imager. Such a simple adapter
has exponentially fewer elements than
even the standard ENG lens, and as a
result, is actually a full 2 stops faster than
standard lenses.
With the Fujinon lenses, I tested
the cameras ISO and found a result
between 200 and 320 in 24p mode and

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500 in 30p mode. With the Cine Adapter, I


was surprised to find the ISO to be 1000 to
1250 in 24p mode. The camera is designed
to work seamlessly with this kind of
adapter; it has a menu function for flipping
the viewfinder image so you can operate
without requiring additional optical
elements to flip the viewing and recorded
image.
Focusing mainly on narrative cinematography as opposed to newsgathering
or event videography, I tested the camera
primarily in 24p mode with Cine Gamma
turned on. I put the camera through a series
of technical tests, examining the ISO, latitude and color reproduction, and then put it
through its paces in a full day of shooting
on a seven-minute short film shot in a practical location with very minimal lighting.
Through the generous assistance of
Bill Meurer and Steven Tobenkin of Birns &
Sawyer, I was able to test the camera and
the HA-CA13U adapter with a full complement of 16mm Zeiss Superspeed lenses, in
addition to several of the accessories Birns
& Sawyer manufactures specifically for the
JVC 250.
One of the first accessories that
caught my eye was the handheld bracket. I
have found that most handheld brackets
arent comfortable Im generally happier
just holding the lens rods but this one
was flexible enough to set the camera
perfectly on my shoulder and center the
weight naturally between my hands and
shoulder. Working handheld, which is
common with small digital cameras, is
painful when all the weight is only on your
arms all day long. The 250 has a very
comfortable weight, and with the Birns &
Sawyer handheld bracket I could move
around all day long without discomfort.
This is a wonderful accessory, especially
with the Cine Adapter on the camera,
because the adapter does not have a handgrip (like ENG lenses).
Testing the cameras latitude, I
found a very limited high end of about 221 2 stops of overexposure to loss of detail;
with underexposure, I found 4-4 1 2 stops to
loss of detail. As with all digital media,
there is greater shadow sensitivity, but
there is also a good deal of noise that
comes with underexposure. Determining
87

07_07 new prods

The JVC GYHD250U with


Fujinon zoom
lens above, and
below with the
H2-CA13U Cine
Adapter.

88 July 2007

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wherein the noise crossed the threshold


of acceptability was no small feat. Unfortunately, due to extremely limited support
for the JVC ProHD (or what should be
called HDV Pro) format, I didnt have the
opportunity to take the footage through a
full workflow. ProHD can only be played
in JVC ProHD decks; Sony and Panasonic
do not have decks that support the
format. Of the 15 post facilities I
consulted in Los Angeles, only one had
support for JVC ProHD: Digital Film Tree.
Unfortunately, their schedule was so
packed that we were not able to book
time to review my test footage in their
workflow. Ramy Katric, the companys cofounder and CEO, said Digital Film Tree
generally advises clients to transfer off
of HDV as quickly as possible. When they
come in with HDV footage, well usually
bump that up to HDCam SR right away
and take it from there.
The HDV format has always struck
me as a rushed concept intended to get
high definition into the hands of techsavvy consumers. On paper, it is an
extreme compromise, trying to force a
1280x720 image or, worse, a 1920x1080
image onto a tiny MiniDV tape. It utilizes
the same language as DVDs MPEG2
compression in GOPs, or Groups of
Pictures to achieve this data squeeze,
taking what should be at least 100
megabytes per second (MB/s) and cram-

ming it into 25 MB/s (19.7MB/s in the


case of JVC ProHD HDV), exactly the
same data rate as standard-definition
(720x480) MiniDV. The difficulty I had
trying to find a post workflow for my HDV
footage confirmed my initial trepidation
about the format, and some of the
results I eventually saw left me more
puzzled than satisfied.
Before I started testing, I understood that Final Cut Pro HD, an early
supporter of the HDV format (even back
to version 4), could work with JVC
ProHD. Then I discovered that only Final
Cut version 5.1.2 could work with the
format, but not in 60p. (Avid claims it will
offer support for ProHD in the future.)
Unfortunately, I only had Final Cut 5.1.14,
as did Blissium, a professional editorial
house in Santa Monica that I was using
at the time. I contacted three other
professional editorial facilities that
feature Final Cut Pro HD systems, and
they, too, only had Final Cut 5.1.14.
(While I was doing this test, Final Cut
announced version 6 FCP Studio 2
but I did not have the opportunity to test
this footage with it.)
The upgrade from 5.1.14 to 5.1.2
costs $700 (buying 5.1.2 new costs
$1,300) and requires an operatingsystem upgrade from OSX to OSX Tiger.
Apple, instead, generously provided me
with a new Intel Core Duo 2 MacBook for
this review, and JVC sent me the BRHD50U ProHD deck. This deck integrated
with the MacBook well via FireWire 400
(IEEE 1394), and I had no problems
capturing, editing and working with
multiple layers of ProHD footage. At the
time of my test, I had JVCs new DTV24L1U 24" LCD HD monitor, and I used
it throughout my testing.
The BR-HD50U deck has three
options for HD output: analog HD component, FireWire 400 and HDMI. The
camera has an HD-SDI output, so why
doesnt the deck? On the JVC 24" LCD, I
was startled by the level of noise evident
in underexposure. I viewed live footage
from the camera as well as playback of
recorded media from the camera, both
via HD-SDI, and playback from the deck
via the HD analog component output.
Even at 2 stops under, the noise levels

were beyond what I would consider


acceptable. On playback, any noise I noted
in live viewing turned into horribly aliased
and blocky artifacts. But later, through the
assistance of Birns & Sawyer, I reviewed
the test footage using the BR-HD50U deck
and a Sony BVM-D20F1U HD CRT and
noticed very different results. Even as far as
41 2 stops underexposed (the point of loss
of detail), the noise levels were quite
acceptable, and I didnt see any overly
obtrusive aliasing or blocky artifacts. I
cranked the brightness on the Sony monitor
nearly to the top and saw little appreciable
increase in noise or artifacting. The CRT
review returned excellent results and
demonstrated a camera latitude of about
71 2-8 stops. On the JVC 24" LCD, the
results were much more disappointing,
5-51 2 stops. Unfortunately, I was not able
to compare the CRT and LCD results side by
side.
The BR-HD50U has a composite SD
output for instant down-conversion to SD,
and at first I thought this was a welcome
feature. But the result was less than satisfactory, with highly compromised black
levels, extreme noise and artifacting, and
total loss of detail in anything less than 2
stops underexposed; I found the downconversions entirely unusable. On top of
this, in addition to the fact that 14 of the 15
professional post companies I contacted do
not work with JVC ProHD, the two major
duplication facilities in Los Angeles that I
typically use for down-conversions also do
not work with the format.
With the Fujinon lenses, I found a
great disparity between the aperture markings on the lens and the aperture readout in
the cameras display, as much as 34 of a
stop at times. I elected to go by the readout
in the display as a control for all testing
with the ENG lenses, and T-stop markings
for the cine lenses. (There is no stop readout in the display when using the Cine
Adapter.)
The camera offers gain settings
from 0 to +18dB, but I found +9dB to be too
much noise for my taste. I also would have
appreciated the option of -6dB, or even just
-3dB, for higher-key situations. To nitpick,
the gain switch seemed to be inverted,
with high gain in the lower position and
low gain in the higher position. I have seen

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this configuration on other cameras, and it


always strikes me as counterintuitive.
Because this switch is assignable, I merely
inverted the settings so that high gain was
at 0 and low gain was at +6.
I was relieved to find audio-level
controls easily accessible to the left hand
rather than hidden in the camera menus or
at the back of the camera. This is a great
touch that shows an understanding of how
fieldwork really happens.
The VTR playback control buttons
on the camera seem to go against every
other element of design, because they are
improperly placed and hardly practical.
They hide under the earpiece monitor and
are only labeled as cutout shapes on the
small black buttons (black-on-black) no
easy markings and no light on the buttons.
These controls need significant refinement
in order to be more practical.
The camera has two XLR audio
inputs and comes with a mono microphone
with XLR plug. Unfortunately, the two XLR
inputs are at the front right-hand side of
the camera, which means you have obtrusive trailing cables when connected to an
external sound mixer.
I was very pleased to see that the
viewfinder has peaking adjustments,
though I found the max peaking setting still
quite low for focus assistance in dark locations. The viewfinder also has JVCs Focus
Assist, with color highlight selectable in
red, green or blue. This was rarely useful,
as it only seemed to work in areas of
extreme contrast areas where I could
easily judge focus without it.
For my day of shooting, I was
primarily working in handheld mode with
the HZ-CA13U Cine Adapter and Zeiss
Superspeed lenses. The camera was so
light and comfortable that I rarely took it off
my shoulder between takes. I did notice,
especially on 25mm and longer lenses, a
vignetting around the upper portion of the
frame with the Cine Adapter. This suited
the look I was going for, but other Cine
Adapter users should test for this first. I did
not have a sound mixer for my small shoot,
so I was running primarily with the camera
mike. I was a bit frustrated to note that the
color bars arent SMPTE-standard, but
rather ARIB Multi-Format HD color bars,
which are less useful for simple field cali-

Page 89

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89

07_07 new prods

6/4/07

10:36 AM

Page 90

bration. In addition, although the camera


can generate internal 1kHz tone to go with
the color bars, these are two separate
menu selections quite far from one
another. You can easily assign bars to a
function button, but you must still go deep
into the menus for tone.
The camera is designed to integrate with an OEM FireStore DR-HD100
DTE (direct-to-edit) drive. The two communicate so that the VTR start button on the
camera simultaneously starts the FireStore
DR-HD100 and the cameras tape drive
a nice feature. However, the FireStore only
connects via FireWire 400 and only records
HDV footage; it does not record anything
different from what is recorded to MiniDV
tape. In fact, there is almost no way to get
higher than, or better than, HDV footage
from this camera. There is an HD-SDI
output from the camera, and in studio
configuration (with additional hardware) it
can be used as a live 1080 4:2:2 camera,
but only in 60p through an internal crossconversion. I would like to have been able
to connect my own deck or drive to the
camera and record a non-MPEG2 HD
image in 1080 or 720 in 24p. JVC has an
optional mount for the back of the camera
to hold the FireStore drive, but I found
this configuration awkward, especially
because the advantages the FireStore
presents are limited. In fact, there is one:
you dont have to capture footage to a hard
drive because its ready for instant access
in an NLE program (which, of course, is
able to work with JVC ProHD). That benefit was not worth the extra weight and
technical complication.
The camera records HDV in 24p,
25p, 30p, 50p and 60p at 720 resolution in
4:2:0. Audio in HDV mode is MPEG1 Audio
Layer II. In DV mode, the camera records
24p or 60i in 480-line resolution with 16-bit
48kHz PCM encoding.
JVC offers several packages. The
GY-HD250U with Anton-Bauer battery
configuration without lens sells for
$11,085. With a Fujinon 16x lens, it is
$12,085. The Fujinon 18x lens sells for
$10,800 by itself, and the HZ-CA13U Cine
Adapter is $4,395.
All in all, the GY-HD250Us physical
design is excellent, comfortable and
ergonomically sound. The cameras
90 July 2007

biggest disadvantage is its exclusive and


inflexible format: ProHD HDV. The addition of an uncompressed 720p output
would improve it considerably.
For more information, visit
www.pro.jvc.com or call (973) 317-5000.
PERA Celebrates Anniversary
by Jon D. Witmer
In 1992, a group of rental companies in Southern California banded
together to address concerns ranging
from standards and safety to education
and insurance policies. Adopting the
name Production Equipment Rental Association (PERA), this group has since
grown to embrace rental companies
nationwide and is currently in the midst
of celebrating its 15th anniversary.
Richard Hart, formerly of
Xenotech, is an ASC associate member
and one of PERAs founders. He recounts
the state of the industry when the group
was conceived: Rental companies were
losing money through what felt like
competition but really wasnt. Companies
were being played against each other for
the lowest prices, and some of the major
companies would get the job they
wanted no matter what price. So we got
together to exchange ideas. We
werent there to try to control the pricing,
but we wanted [our members to] offer
quality product at fair prices. And there
was kind of an unwritten rule that you
shouldnt badmouth the other companies
just to try and get the job.
PERAs membership quickly
expanded well beyond the confines of
Southern California, thanks to the leadership of longtime executive director Ed
Clare. According to PERA President Kay
Baker (of Film/Video Equipment Supply
Co.), the organizations early years went a
long way toward improving the
economic growth of the member companies and promoting trade for the industry
and the rental members.
However, Baker goes on to
explain that in the pre-9/11 marketplace,
some of the original reasons PERA was
organized began to fall by the wayside.
Everybody was making great money and
everybody was busy. The Internet hadnt

yet become a place where production


companies and production managers
would go trolling for the best price.
When the industry went into a
recession in late 2001, PERA decided to
reinvent itself. It brought us back full
circle, recalls Baker. We really needed
to work together and re-educate the
production community about why a PERA
rental house is so important to the overall success of a production. PERA drew
up a code of conduct, drawing on and
adding to the unwritten rules to which
the member companies had already
subscribed. Baker muses, The code put
some enthusiasm back into being a
member. It got people energized and
encouraged them to participate in their
organization.
The updated code was launched
in conjunction with PERAs revamped
Web site, which has grown into a hub for
members to share information and find
technical bulletins. Baker emphasizes the
cooperation between members: If we
arent respectful of our fellow members,
and if we dont try to work out our problems or concerns, then were not doing
anybody any good. We become self-serving instead of industry-serving. Particularly with the abundance of sub-rentals
between companies, PERA members
benefit from the dissemination of information, ensuring that products are maintained to the same high standards across
all of its rental houses.
PERA members are known for
being the first and early adopters of new
technology and new tools, notes Baker.
Were the collectors of data and information when somethings not right, and
were able to get that information back to
the manufacturer. PERA recently
expanded its relationships with manufacturers by welcoming Russ Walker of
Panasonic as a board member emeritus.
We really appreciate our friends
at American Cinematographer and the
ASC for recognizing the value PERA
offers the industry, says Baker. Were
professionals who work very hard to
provide the best service, support and
tools to the production industry.
To learn more, visit www.peraon
line.org.

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Battery Advisory
by Jon D. Witmer
Although accidents involving
batteries and battery-powered electronic
devices are few and far between, the
Department of Transportation (DOT)
recently issued an advisory about how to
properly transport batteries on airlines.
Working with the DOT on this
issue is the Portable Rechargeable
Battery Association (PRBA), a nonprofit
trade organization whose members are
rechargeable-battery manufacturers and
consumer-products companies that use
such batteries. George Kerchner, the
executive director of PRBA, notes,
Spare batteries should be carried
onboard, not placed in checked luggage.
Its also important that spare batteries
have the correct packaging or insulation.
Otherwise, they can contact other batteries or metals, increasing the risk of shortcircuiting. Most battery-transportation
incidents could have been avoided had
shippers or passengers followed the
required regulations.
Kerchner points out that these
guidelines fall under the DOTs
hazardous materials regulations,
making them enforceable by agencies
operating under the DOTs umbrella, such
as the Federal Aviation Administration.
Airline passengers are responsible for
ensuring that the appropriate steps are
taken to protect their batteries and
battery-powered equipment, he says.
There are significant civil penalties for
failing to comply with the regulations.
PRBA members are committed
to educating consumers on the safe
use and handling of these products, and
working with U.S. and international
transportation agencies and organizations to further these goals.
For more information, or to
download the DOT advisory, visit
www.prba.org.


91

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6/1/07

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Page 92

Points East
A Terrorist Targets Times Square
by Patricia Thomson

yndicated sex columnist Dan Savage


has legions of readers who track his
advice, but director Julia Loktev was
probably the first filmmaker to use
Savage Love for guidance when
choosing a cinematographer. Dan
Savage has a term for what makes a
good lover: GGG, which means good,
giving and game, says Loktev. Thats
what we wanted for a director of
photography. Game was super-important, because 40 minutes of the film was
going to be shot in Times Square without
crowd management! A lot of cinematographers we talked to panicked at the
idea, but Benot Debie was fearless.
Loktevs project, Day Night Day
Night, was Debies first U.S. feature.
(Shortly afterward, the Belgian cinematographer returned to the States to
shoot Joshua [see AC April 07] and
Carriers.) For Loktev, Debies unfamiliarity with the key location was an asset.
The film is about a girl who comes to
92 July 2007

Times Square for the first time, and I had


joked that it would be nice to see the
place through fresh eyes, she says.
When she met Debie in Brussels, she
showed him photos of Times Square on
her cell phone. He said, Where is

this? she recalls with a laugh. So it


was perfect.
The central character in Day
Night Day Night is a seemingly normal
19-year-old American (Luisa Williams)
who is a suicide bomber. She arrives in
New York intending to detonate a bomb
in her backpack in one of the citys
busiest and most famous intersections.
There are no details about her background, nor are there clues about her
masked handlers, who equip her with a
fake ID and the explosives. With minimal, largely improvised dialogue and
long takes, the film follows the logistics
of this enterprise in minute detail.
Day Night Day Night was
conceived in two parts. The first takes
place mostly in a motel room in New
Jersey, and the second follows the girl
in Times Square. From the very first
treatment, we knew the film would be
shot like two different movies, says
Loktev. The first half would be desatu-

Photo and frame grabs courtesy of IFC Films.

Right: A young
American (Luisa
Williams) meets
with her
handlers in a
motel room to
prepare for a
suicide
bombing in
Manhattan.
Below: Director
of photography
Benot Debie on
location in
New York.

07_07 points east

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Page 93

The woman
heads into the
human traffic of
Times Square.

rated and feature a lot of geometric


compositions, and the second half
would be oversaturated and looser. For
the first half, the filmmakers referenced
19th-century Danish painter Vilhelm
Hammershoi; for the second, Loktev
showed Debie a book of photos of
Shanghai at night.
Different camera packages
enhanced the contrast. Debie shot the
first half of the story with a Sony
CineAlta HDW-F900R and Zeiss
DigiPrimes, recording at 25p to more
easily integrate with the second half of
the picture, which was shot with a Sony
HDR-FX1 at 50i. The FX1 permitted
mobility on crowded sidewalks and
attracted no attention. Debie maintained
all factory settings but increased gain by
+3 in the motel and +9 in Times Square;
he wanted additional sensitivity in low
light and the added grain. On the F900R,
he also worked with the sharpness
setting, increasing it on close-ups and
decreasing it on wide shots.
Though the logistics of shooting
in Times Square might seem the greater
challenge, Debie says the tightly
composed first half of the story was
actually a bigger stretch. The second
part was more like my style, he says.
Usually I like to work with a lot of
contrast, a lot of color, and the first part

of the story is completely different, soft


and monochromatic. Debie created
soft ambient light in the motel room by
rigging a China ball on the ceiling and
replacing bulbs in practical fixtures with
standard incandescents purchased at
Home Depot.
For me, the frame was more
difficult than the light, he notes. Julia
asked me not to use a tripod but at the
same time to be very stable to shoot
pictures, not a movie. I had to be static
but at the same time very flexible about
moving the camera. To stabilize the
camera, he sometimes used an Easyrig
support. By the end of the day, it was
hard to keep the camera on my shoulder
all the time. The Easyrig helps you maintain stability and move the camera without bearing all the weight of it.
Shooting in Times Square, he
continues, was fun because there
were just three of us: Julia, the actress
and me. The sound guy was on the other
side of the street. You know, when you
shoot a feature with huge equipment
and lights, it can be very difficult. But in
this case, I was like a tourist who was
filming his girlfriend. If Debie had to
move backwards through the throng,
Lektov grabbed his jacket and guided
him. We worked very fluidly, like a
dance, says the director.

Working with existing light in


Times Square fit well with Debies
approach to his craft. I dont like to use
too much light when I work. I prefer to
have a good feeling about the location
or the city and see exactly what we can
do with natural light. Only once did he
supplement light, and then only with
two flashlights, one red and one white.
The scene was the final close-up of the
girl, when the city lights are reflected on
her weary features. At 4 a.m. there
were sometimes no cars in the street,
so I just panned a flashlight on her face
to create a traffic effect, he recalls.
Such tactics pleased Loktev. Benot
was able to use the look of the street to
create something very, very visual yet
totally real. Hes incredible.


Erratum
In our May coverage of The
Nanny Diaries, Steve Scammell was
incorrectly identified as the visualeffects supervisor for RhinoFX. This
work was shared by Arman Matin
and Harry Dorrington. Scammell was
the owner/operator of the MoSys
motion-control system used on the
show.

American Cinematographer 93

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Classifieds
RATES

EQUIPMENT FOR SALE

All classifications are $4.50 per word. Words set in bold face or all capitals are $5.00 per word. First word of ad and advertisers
name can be set in capitals without extra charge. No agency commission or discounts on classified advertising.PAYMENT MUST ACCOMPANY ORDER. VISA, Mastercard, AmEx and Discover card are accepted. Send ad to Classified Advertising, American Cinematographer, P.O. Box 2230, Hollywood, CA 90078. Or FAX (323) 876-4973. Deadline for payment and copy must be in the office
by 15th of second month preceding publication. Subject matter is limited to items and services pertaining to filmmaking and video
production. Words used are subject to magazine style abbreviation. Minimum amount per ad: $45

USED EQUIPMENT. PRO VIDEO & FILM EQUIPMENT COMPANY.


(888) 869-9998.

CLASSIFIEDS ON-LINE
Ads may now also be placed in the on-line Classifieds at the ASC web site.
Internet ads are seen around the world at the same great rate as in print, or for slightly more you can
appear both online and in print.
For more information please visit www.theasc.com/advertiser, or e-mail: classifieds@theasc.com.

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(888) 869-9998, providfilm@aol.com. www.ProVideoFilm.com.
Mint 16mm and 35mm cameras, lenses, accessories, support at great
prices www.gallusproductions.com.
PRO VIDEO & FILM EQUIPMENT COMPANY. USED EQUIPMENT.
(888) 869-9998.

07_07 marketplace&ad index

6/1/07

12:57 PM

Page 96

Classifieds continued Advertisers Index


EQUIPMENT FOR SALE
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Canon Video 10-11
Chapman/Leonard Studio
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Chimera 60
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CinemaGadgets.com 95
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Cinematographer Style 17
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Clairmont Camera 30-31
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96

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Film Emporium 95
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Fuji Motion Picture 25
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Panasonic Broadcast 27
PED Denz 53, 95
Photosonics 89
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Powermills 87
Pro8mm 94

Glidecam Industries 23
Go Easy Lighting, Inc. 52

Sachtler 8
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Siggraph 77
Sony Electronics 19
Spectra Film & Video 95
Stanton Video Services 67
Super16 Inc. 94
Sydney Film School 91

Hollywood Post Alliance 83


Hybrid Cases 94
Hydroflex 81
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K 5600, Inc. 29
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Laffoux Solutions, Inc. 94
Lights! Action! Company
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AMC_0707_p075

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12:28 PM

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07_07 clubhouse

6/1/07

1:01 PM

Page 98

Clubhouse News
and he is also the associate chair of
Cinematographers Day at the Palm
Springs International Film Festival.

New Member
Frederic Goodich, ASC, was
recently welcomed into active membership
by the Society.
Goodichs affinity for the visual arts
began with an interest in drawing and
painting, and soon carried over into still
photography. When it came time to enroll
in college, he embraced cinematography as
the perfect combination of all his interests,
which also included science and technology. At the City College of New Yorks Hans
Richter/Robert Flaherty Institute, Goodich
formed an appreciation for avant-garde and
documentary films, and a part-time job as a
film handler at the Museum of Modern Art
enabled him to study works in both fields.
Some of Goodichs post-college
adventures found him working in Washington, D.C., for a magazine-style show; shooting travelogues aboard a four-mast
windjammer; and assisting Isidore Mankofsky, ASC at Encyclopedia Brittanica Films,
where he soon became a staff
director/cameraman.
Goodichs cinematography credits
include features, documentaries, telefilms,
short films, music and fashion videos, and
commercials. Some of his recent features
are GI Jesus, Surviving Eden and The
Affair. He is a lecturer in the cinematography program at the American Film Institute,
98 July 2007

Kodak Contest
For the second year in a row,
Peter James, ASC, ACS will judge the
finalists in the Kodak Filmschool Competition, a duty previously carried out by
ASC members Caleb Deschanel,
Frederick Elmes and Laszlo Kovacs,
among others.
Now in its eighth year, the
contest provides an opportunity for
students to showcase their best work in
three regions: Latin America, Asia Pacific
and U.S./Canada. Films compete first at
the national level, where local judges
select the projects that will go on to vie
for top honors in the regional competitions, which will be judged by James.
The grand prizes include screening of the
winning entries at the Clermont-Ferrand
Short Film Festival in France, where the
filmmakers will participate in a number
of activities hosted by Kodak.
More information about the
competition can be found at
www.kodak.com/go/filmschoolcom
petition.
Burum on Campus
Stephen H. Burum, ASC spent
the spring of 2007 as the Kodak Cinematographer in Residence at the University of California-Los Angeles School of
Theater, Film and Television.
An alumnus of UCLAs undergraduate and graduate theater arts
programs, Burum kicked off his engagement by screening a 70mm print of
Casualties of War, the third of his eight
collaborations with director Brian De
Palma. Burum also hosted eight lighting
workshops and held weekly office hours,
during which he met with students to
discuss their work and answer questions.

AC Contributors Win Awards


At the Music Video Production
Association Awards in May, AC contributor and technical editor Christopher
Probst was feted with the top honor in
the cinematography category for his work
on Muses Knights of Cydonia music
video. Filmed on location in the Romanian desert, Knights lays on the camp as
it blends Spaghetti Westerns with kungfu action and retro 1980s sci-fi.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific,
AC s Australian correspondent, Simon
Gray, took home the trophy for best cinematography in the student section of the
National Australian Cinematographers
Society Awards. Working with digital
video, Gray photographed the short film
Afterlife during his first year in the cinematography course at the Australian
Film, Television and Radio School.
Lubezki Travels to Vietnam
Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC,
AMC, recently participated in a delegation from the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, traveling to Hanoi and
Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for the countrys first-ever American Film Week.
Lubezki and fellow Academy members
contributed to a series of screenings,
workshops and seminars, sharing their
experiences of working in the American
film industry and learning from their Vietnamese counterparts. This marked the
first time that such a group from the U.S.
has been officially invited to Vietnam,
and the first time in over 25 years that an
Academy delegation has been hosted by
another nations governmental film
agency.
Jon D. Witmer


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David Stump, ASC
When you were a child, what film made the strongest impression on you?
It was probably House on Haunted Hill, which scared the living crap out
of me. I didnt sleep at all afterward; I was wide-awake all night, imagining what creatures were waiting to come pouring out of my closet the
moment I went to sleep.
Which cinematographers, past or present, do you most admire?
I was always a great admirer of James Wong Howe, ASC. He did so
much beautiful black-and-white cinematography with hard light. I have
always loved the work of my first mentor, Phil Lathrop, ASC, who shot
The Pink Panther, which fueled my interest in comedy, and Vittorio
Storaro, ASC, AICs work on The Conformist and The Spiders Stratagem, which was startlingly different and way ahead of its time.
What sparked your interest in photography?
Ive been taking pictures since childhood, so its always been one of my
passions. Ive always liked anything mechanical or technical: cameras,
chemistry sets, old TV sets, record players anything that was fair
game for me to take apart. At age 10, I built my own very, very lowpower radio station in my garage, and I went door to door throughout
my neighborhood begging the neighbors to listen! When I visited Hollywood as a kid, I realized that it was actually a real place where real
people made movies. Suddenly, it seemed possible to become involved
in film.
Where did you study and/or train?
My only training in film has come from actually working on films. Until
I made my way into the business, I had been studying and working in
engineering.
Who were your early teachers or mentors?
I learned a lot from Phil Lathrop. He gave me advice and guidance every
time I asked.
What are some of your key artistic influences?
Ive always been a student of Monet and the Impressionists. The first
time I saw the giant Water Lilies in the galleries of Paris, I was
awestruck. I have also always been a student of Rembrandt. He was
the acknowledged master of light, and anyone who aspires to beautiful lighting begins by studying his work.
How did you get your first break in the business?
I was working with a comedy group that got a pilot deal. Overnight, I
went from being out of work to producing a TV show.
What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?
I worked on the visual effects for the TV miniseries The Day After, a very
frightening story about a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia.
After the last night of the show, there was a panel show on ABC with
Henry Kissinger and others of equal stature discussing the implications
of the story. Watching that made me feel the VFX atomic-bomb clouds
I had photographed for the miniseries had actually had an effect on the
American public, a sobering effect. It was very gratifying to see a TV
show I had worked on affect so many people so profoundly.
Have you made any memorable blunders?
When I first became a director of photography, I was setting up a table100 July 2007

David Stump (left) with actor Robert Englund.

top credit-card shot for a commercial on a beach in Malibu. About an hour


into the shoot, as I was setting up an HMI backlight, I didnt notice the
tide was coming in. The tripod was grip-chained to several apple boxes,
and when a wave suddenly washed a lot farther up the beach than any
previous wave had traveled, the whole camera and tripod began to float
away! I grabbed the sticks and held on for dear life until my AC and a grip
joined in to help. That taught me to always check the tide charts and
weather reports.
Whats the best professional advice youve ever received?
The thing that makes you a filmmaker is the act of making a film.
What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?
I found it amazing that someone could take such an enormous volume of
work as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and try to put it on film. Peter Jacksons trilogy was an ambitious and daunting task that stands as a milestone in filmmaking. As for literature, Im not surprised at the effect comic
books and graphic novels are having on our industry. There is some amazingly creative stuff being published these days that redefines the meaning of the word literature. In terms of artwork, I love to spend evenings
and weekends looking at photo exhibits in galleries and museums. Its
inspiring to see so many fresh new ideas in photography. Every time The
Getty Center changes its photo exhibit, I have to go for a visit!
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to try?
I love shooting comedy, because people are telling stories with the intent
of making other people laugh. Making people laugh is a noble pursuit,
and if you can entertain and distract an audience for an hour or two and
really make them laugh, then you have helped increase the amount of
collective joy on the planet.
If you werent a cinematographer, what might you be doing
instead?
I would probably be an engineer of some kind, or perhaps an art photographer.
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for membership?
Bill Taylor, Bing Sokolsky and Kees Van Oostrum, with help from Steven
Poster. Thank you all!
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
I have become much more community-oriented. My work with the Technology Committees Camera Subcommittee and Metadata Subcommittee
has made me a more social participant in the industry. I now give a lot of
my time to the ASC for committee work.


ACM1106p029

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FR O M D R E A M TO SC R E EN

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FEDERAL

FINANCIAL AID
NOW AVAILABLE

2006 LAFS

CINEMATOGRAPHY DIRECTING EDITING PRODUCING PRODUCTION DESIGN SCREENWRITING SOUND DESIGN


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Financial Aid available to those who qualify Accredited by ACCSCT Career Development Assistance
2006 The Los Angeles Film School. All rights reserved. The Projector Head image and the terms The Los Angeles Film School
and From Dream to Screen are registered trade marks or service marks of The Los Angeles Film School.

Project1

5/25/07

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ONFILM
ROBERTO SCHAEFER, ASC

Most of us who work on movies do it


because we have a passion for the art. I
began by creating images for installation
art. My lifes experiences led me to become
a cinematographer. I cant imagine doing
anything else. I think that everything you do in
life is an experience that you bring to your work.
When I was in college, I traveled to Europe and
Africa and took pictures of people and places.
Later, I shot documentaries in Italy, Egypt, Peru,
New Guinea and other countries. I learned to
look for the moment when unplanned things
happen that I wanted to catch on lm
The rules are constantly changing. It is all
about taking the audience into somebody
elses world.
Roberto Schaefers narrative lm credits
include Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show,
Monsters Ball, Finding Neverland, Stay, Stranger
Than Fiction, For Your Consideration, and the
upcoming release of The Kite Runner. He has
also shot documentaries and hundreds of
commercials and music videos around
the world.
[All these lms were shot on Kodak motion picture lm.]

For an extended interview with Roberto Schaefer, ASC


visit www.kodak.com/go/onlm.
To order Kodak motion picture lm,
call (800) 621 - lm.
www.kodak.com/go/motion
Eastman Kodak Company, 2007.
Photography: 2007 Douglas Kirkland