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Cinematography Filmmaking

Vittorio Storaro ASC at CineGear 2016

I went to CineGear this year. It was great, was able to catch up and reconnect with some old friends and make new ones.

  • I got a picture of the new Leonard Nimoy street sign on the Paramount lot where the Expo was held.

Nimoy sign

He was also a photographer as well as a director and did many projects at Disney including Body Wars.

  • Zeiss was there with a cut away of one of their lenses.

Zeiss cut away

Stage 19 Kane

  • Panavision showed the new DXL 8K camera. The footage shown was very nice!

panavisionDXL

  • The best thing was seeing Vittorio Storaro ASC.

He talked about working with Woody Allen on his new film for Amazon Studios, Cafe Society.

This is Woody’s first digital feature and Vittorio used the Sony F65;

“I had seen that the Sony F65 was capable of recording beautiful images in 4K and 16 bit-colour depth in 1:2, which is my favorite composition,” Storaro said. “So when Woody called me this year asking me to be the cinematographer of his new film with the working title ‘WASP 2015,’ my decision was already made. I convinced him to record the film in digital, so we can begin our journey together in the digital world. It’s time now for the Sony F65!”

He spoke of the Technicolor IB process, light, shadows and color and said that digital makes it too easy.

He stated that a trend that has emerged with the use of digital cameras is that “people want to work faster or show that they can use less light, but they don’t look for the proper light the scenes needs. That isn’t cinematography, that’s recording an image. … I was never happy in any set to just see available light,” said Storaro, who has won Oscars for Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor. “Even in very important films that take Academy Awards, you can record an image without location lighting. But that’s not necessarily the right light for the character. We have to always move a story forward, not step back.”

Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

He elaborated on his work with Coppola and that he hasn’t used anamorphic lenses for many years. Sorry Mr. Tarantino.

The best and most important part though, was when he got even more philosophical. He mentioned Mozart, the Lumiere brothers, Newton, Caravaggio, architecture, and Plato and the Cave. From his website:

Ever since Plato’s “Myth of the Cave” we are used to seeing Images in a specific space. In Plato’s myth, prisoners are kept in a cave facing an interior wall, while behind them, at the entrance to the cave, there is a lighted fire, with some people with statues and flags passing in front of the fire. At the same time, their shadows are projected onto the interior wall of the cave by fire’s light. The prisoners are looking at the moving shadows in that specific area of the wall. They are watching images as a simulation, a “simulacre” of reality, not reality itself. The myth of Plato is a metaphor for the Cinema.

He believes that film is a collaboration as opposed to the auteur theory and emphasized the importance of story.

“You need to find the balance of technology and art,” continued Storaro, who was inspiring and thought-provoking in his speech, also raising an argument against the use of the term ‘director of photography’ to define the role of the cinematographer. “That’s a major mistake. There cannot be two directors. … Let’s respect the director,” he asserted, saying that ‘cinematographer’ is the appropriate word, and adding that it’s not interchangeable with photographer. “Cinematography is motion, we need a journey and to arrive at another point. We don’t create a beautiful frame, but a beautiful film. That’s why I say ‘writing with light.'”

lastemperor

 

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Cinematography Filmmaking Interview

Tarantino on Ultra Panavision

The 65mm workhorse of roadshow films.
Photo courtesy of Roy H. Wagner ASC
Via The American WideScreen Museum

Excerpts from  Bill Desowitz at Thompson on Hollywood.

Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson ASC digs into the technical nitty-gritty of the large-format anamorphic film process that hasn’t been used in nearly 50 years.

Hateful8

The comeback of motion picture film will literally get its biggest boost yet with the Ultra Panavision 70 release of celluloid defender Quentin Tarantino’s post-Civil War Western “The Hateful Eight.”

Shot on 65mm film with classic Panavision lenses in the widest aspect ratio of 2.76:1, this marks the first anamorphic 70mm theatrical release in nearly 50 years. The two-week roadshow engagement (they’re aiming for 100 theaters with the Cinerama Dome in contention for LA, of course) would be the best holiday gift for cinephiles.

“The Hateful Eight” will also pit three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (“Hugo,” “The Aviator,” “JFK”) in a shoot-out with Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, who’s going for a third Oscar in a row for his own frozen wilderness adventure, “The Revenant,” from “Birdman” director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. (Both films are racing to the editorial finish line for a Christmas Day release.)

Richardson proclaimed that Ultra Panavision 70 more than reinforces the notion that film can coexist with digital: it provides such unparalleled scope, resolution and beauty that everyone should be using it. “When we saw Sam Jackson in a closeup — or anyone — it just aided the skin. It’s remarkable. We never used diffusion, the only filters we ever did were outside. It was stunning.”

Khartoum-651537948-large

The last Ultra Panavision 70 release was “Khartoum” (1966), the biopic with Charlton Heston as British Gen. Charles Gordon. The list also includes “Ben-Hur,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Fall of the Roman Empire,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and “The Battle of the Bulge.”

In fact, Panavision took Tarantino into a screening room and surprised him with the chariot race from “Ben-Hur,” starting with the sides at the normal width and then spread out to expose the full frame — and the film nerd was totally hooked on Ultra Panavision 70.

But this all began accidentally: “We went in thinking we were going to shoot standard format for 65mm and one day I was with Gregor Tavenner, my first camera assistant, and Dan Sasaki [Panavision VP of optical engineering] was showing us standard Panavision lenses for 65mm and while looking at them, I slipped behind the curtain and saw this shelf filled with odd-shaped lenses [triangular with prisms]. They were Ultra Panavision lenses,” Richardson said.

Panavision also made a 2,000-foot magazine for the film cameras to accommodate Tarantino’s penchant for long takes.

The team brought a very analogue approach to shooting in Telluride and onstage at LA’s Red Studios, where they lowered the temperature to 30 degrees. They screened dailies in 70mm, with no digital intermediate, and the film is being color-timed photochemically, the old-school way, by FotoKem.

“There’s a great deal of interior landscape available and the actors loved it. Also, I think they enjoyed the visual feast that was given to them in terms of their own faces,” said Richardson, who admitted, though, that throwback photochemical color timing has been frightening.

“I’d become reliant on a digital intermediate for fixing things in post and you can let certain things go. For example, you realize that the backgrounds are blown out but you don’t want to take the time to put a hard gel up. You know you can rescue that with the window and tracking, or if your weather doesn’t quite match, it’s easier to work a look between sunny and overcast.

But not when it came to this gorgeous look. And this is just the beginning, as Gareth Edwards’ “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is also reportedly being shot with Ultra Panavision 70 lenses.

Thanks to the Widescreen Museum and In70mm for technical information.

Parts of this story originally appeared in Carolyn Giardina’s article in The Hollywood Reporter from Cine Gear Expo.