MA Y 2 0 1 1

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Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC
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used to ride my 18-speed
race bike to the Librairie
Contact, a small bookshop
near the Champs Élysées, the
only place in Paris where I
could buy American
Cinematographer. The ride
had to be carefully planned —
too soon and the issue wouldn’t
have arrived, too late and the
copies would all be sold. It was
the only way to learn how the
images I was discovering
onscreen had been achieved.
“I still rely on AC for
information as well as
inspiration. One sentence in
an article will initiate a chain
of thoughts, which will then
lead me to try something
technically or stylistically
different on my next project.”
— Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC
“I
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The International Journal of Motion Imaging
28 Living Out Loud
Affonso Beato, ASC, ABC dramatizes television’s first reality
show for HBO’s Cinema Verite
40 A Saint and a Sinner
Gabriel Beristain, ASC, BSC explores spiritual conflict in
There Be Dragons
52 First Dance
Byron Shah assesses the Arri Alexa on Prom
60 Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1
AC explains digital-imaging sensors
69 A Hollywood Affair
Snapshots from the ASC Awards weekend
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8 Editor’s Note
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16 Production Slate: Cameraman • Academy Sci-Tech Awards
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American Cinematographer (ISSN 0002-7928), established 1920 and in its 91st year of publication, is published
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6
Today’s television landscape is so rife with reality shows that it
may be difficult for younger viewers to imagine an era when
the only celebrities on the tube were professional performers,
not the family down the block. Back in the early Seventies,
shows like The Real World, The Real Housewives of Orange
County and Jon & Kate Plus 8 were nonexistent. Although
England’s Up films, which have been tracking the progress of
14 British children since 1964, may have pioneered the form,
it was the 1973 PBS series An American Family that provided
a true template for later shows to follow. Comprising 12
episodes culled from around 300 hours of footage, the land-
mark documentary series followed the everyday lives of Cali-
fornia’s seemingly perfect Loud family, whose problems
became more and more evident as the show progressed.
The Louds’ saga is dramatized in the new HBO telefilm Cinema Verite, shot by Affonso
Beato, ASC, ABC for co-directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman. The project offered
Beato a wealth of visual possibilities. “We used Super 35mm, high-definition video that was digi-
tally manipulated to look like 16mm, Super 8mm, and clips from the original PBS series, which
was shot on 16mm,” he tells Jean Oppenheimer (“Living Out Loud,” page 28). “We differenti-
ated the formats by aligning them with certain points of view.”
The period religious drama There Be Dragons presented Gabriel Beristain, ASC, BSC with
a similarly rich palette on locations in Spain and Argentina. In helping director Roland Joffé tell the
tale of childhood friends who pursue distinctly different spiritual paths, Beristain was tasked with
presenting four time periods, including the Spanish Civil War era. “The war period, with all the
famous visual references, took place around the time that color photography was becoming more
common, and that was, of course, fascinating to me,” Beristain notes in a piece by David Heur-
ing (“A Saint and a Sinner,” page 40). “Also, our production design, by Eugenio Zanetti, was a
visual feast because of all the period details and textures. Added to that is the rich iconography
and symbolism of the Catholic Church. I knew we could make a great film from these elements.”
Prom, shot by Byron Shah, is the first U.S. feature shot with Arri’s digital Alexa camera.
Introduced in April 2010, the Alexa features a 3.5K CMOS sensor and records up to 60 fps at
1920x1080 high-definition internally to ProRes 422 or externally to Arri’s proprietary ArriRaw
format. The camera also outputs an uncompressed 1080PsF 4:4:4 RGB stream, suitable for
uncompressed capture using external recorders. In interviews with Noah Kadner (“First Dance,”
page 52), Shah, director Joe Nussbaum and members of their crew offer a full rundown of their
creative strategies and how the camera performed on set.
For those of you seeking a deeper understanding of how digital cameras actually capture
and process images, AC technical editor Christopher Probst explains it all in the first half of a
detailed two-part primer (“Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1,” page 60).
Last but not least is our annual pictorial recap of the ASC Awards weekend (“A Hollywood
Affair,” page 69). Our 25th-anniversary events were rousing, maximum-capacity successes that
drew raves from all who attended.
Stephen Pizzello
Executive Editor
Editor’s Note
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8
What propels a cinematographer to step away from the camera and direct a movie? Is it the
desire to have more complete control over the artistic process, the opportunity to work directly
with talented actors and writers, dissatisfaction with the course of one’s career, or the need to
express a point of view about the world that no one else is addressing?
With their documentaries No Subtitles Necessary and The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) , James
Chressanthis, ASC and Ellen Kuras, ASC, respectively, brought dignity and awareness to the strug-
gles of individuals caught up in tumultuous world events. With his Oscar-winning short film, Two
Soldiers, Aaron Schneider, ASC used narrative form to express the bond between two brothers
during a time of war.
This month brings the DVD release of a feature I wrote and directed called Megan Is Miss-
ing. I did not think about why I decided to direct a film until just now, when the journey to
get it into distribution is almost over. I’ve realized that the film was born out of rage, an intense
dissatisfaction with many aspects of the ways in which child abductions and Internet predators
have been handled in the media and in the legal system. My goal in taking the director’s chair
was to make the most disturbing movie of all time using only factual occurrences as the basis of
the drama; to that end, I spent two years researching seven different cases with a forensics inves-
tigator.
I decided early on that the movie should feel like it was not filmed by anybody; it had to
feel like it was happening now. At my insistence, cinematographers Keith Eisberg and Joshua Harrison used no movie lights and no
grip equipment (except for what was necessary to create TV-news sequences), and the young actresses wore no makeup. All the
dialogue was based on recordings I’d made of my friends’ 14-year-old daughters. We shot the whole film in 8
1
⁄2 days to both accom-
modate the number of children involved and give the unfolding drama a visceral pace.
When the film was completed, I became convinced I’d made an unreleasable movie. It was exactly the movie I wanted to
make — and how often do you get to say that? — but to what end, if no one would see it?
Then glimmers of validation emerged. My agent said it was not the film he expected from a cinematographer — there were
no sweeping crane shots, no beautiful lighting — but it had pure, realistic emotion. And Marc Klaas, whose daughter, Polly, was
abducted and murdered, said the movie was the only filmed depiction of the subject that he and his wife had ever seen that deal t
with the subject honestly, without concern for a “commercial” resolution.
So as the journey to tell this story has been fulfilled, has the rage that compelled me to make the movie been pacified?
My forensics-investigator friend recently called to ask if I would like to know any details of a case he was working on, a high-
profile child disappearance that had been reported on national TV. I told him no, I didn’t want to know anything. He said that was
because I already knew. He correctly surmised that I had done my own investigating using the online search tools now available to
everyone, and that I had pieced together a possible scenario based on background checks I’d done on the individuals who may hav e
been involved. Three days later, the authorities confirmed my conclusion: the child had perished at the hands of her uncle.
My forensics friend called again once that news was announced and said, “It’s in your blood now. You will never accept what
is told to you by the media as being the entire truth. You will always dig for the real story. And you will never look at the w orld the
same way again.”
I suppose looking at the world in a different way is ultimately what drives a cinematographer to direct. We’re always looking
for that new way of telling a compelling story, and that search never ends.
Michael Goi, ASC
President
President’s Desk
10 May 2011 American Cinematographer
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Screen image simulated.
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12 May 2011 American Cinematographer
ASC William A. Fraker Heritage Award
Honors 2 Students
By Iain Stasukevich
ASC William A. Fraker Heritage Awards were given to two
student cinematographers, Dagmar Weaver-Madsen of the Univer-
sity of California-Los Angeles and Boyd Hobbs of Full Sail University,
in February. (Honorable mentions were Wesley Cardino of the Amer-
ican Film Institute, Michal Dabal of the American Film Institute,
Madeline Eberhard of Florida State University and Allen Liu of Chap-
man University.)
Weaver-Madsen’s winning entry, The Absence , charts the
path of an upwardly mobile assistant manager in the records depart-
ment of a mysterious company called Black House Securities. He is
sent on a mission to a rural town, where he uncovers the truth
behind Black House, and ultimately must choose between kowtow-
ing to the messianic upper management and calling it quits.
Weaver-Madsen entered UCLA’s graduate program in film,
television and digital media knowing she wanted to study cine-
matography. (She had already shot a comedy series on video and a
short film on 16mm.) In her first year, the MFA program’s three cine-
matography students and 18 directing students were rotated
through various crew positions over the course of multiple films;
someone served as camera operator on one film, then director on
another, then sound recordist on another, and so on. That way, no
matter what area a student finally focuses on, he or she knows what
the other departments are doing.
On her first project, Weaver-Madsen was assigned to be the
cinematographer for directing student Alex DeMille, and they
quickly discovered they worked well together. In their second year,
she shot DeMille’s advanced project, and by the time their thesis
projects were being prepped, they had already developed a tight
shorthand. “We could work together almost without even talking to
each other,” says Weaver-Madsen. “We’d just look at each other
Short Takes
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Cinematographer
Dagmar Weaver-
Madsen (below
right, holding
camera) won an
ASC William A.
Fraker Heritage
Award for her
work on the short
film The Absence,
which she
photographed as a
graduate student
at the University of
California-Los
Angeles. Next to
Weaver-Madsen is
1st AC Nate Slevin.
I
14 May 2011 American Cinematographer
and know what the other person needed.”
Production on The Absence began in
New York in November 2008. Weaver-
Madsen spent the month leading up to the
start of principal photography doing loca-
tion scouts and tech scouts with DeMille.
“We had terrible, freezing weather,” she
recalls. “It had a beautiful, dreary look, so I
was very happy for the photography, but it
was hard on the crew. Luckily, we were so
prepared that we were ready for any
circumstance.”
Primary locations included farms in
Suffolk County and Oheka Castle on Long
Island’s Gold Coast. The latter “was used as
Xanadu in Citizen Kane ,” notes Weaver-
Madsen, who defers some of the credit for
her award-winning work to the Olmsted
brothers’ celebrated landscape architecture
at the historic estate.
The resourceful filmmakers made
the most of every opportunity they were
given. The script won the Deluxe Film
Award, which took care of their negative-
processing fees, and because Weaver-
Madsen assisted Fuji with some film tests,
much of the stock (Fuji Eterna Vivid 500
8547 and the since-discontinued Super F-
125 8532) was provided at a discount,
making it affordable to shoot 3-perf Super
35mm. The production rented an Arricam
Lite and Moviecam Compact and a set of
Arri Master Primes.
“The film is really about isolation,
and Alex and I both worked to make sure
that came across visually,” says the cine-
matographer. “With the lighting, stock and
lens choices, we really tried to underscore
how the main character begins as a stranger
to the world that he is exploring; for exam-
ple, we used shallow depth-of-field for the
first part of the story to underscore that he
is separate from that world and alone. Later,
after he decides to embrace this new world,
he is no longer isolated from the back-
grounds, and everything becomes sharp.”
Above all, Weaver-Madsen regards
her relationships with her instructors (Bill
McDonald, Tom Denove and John
Simmons, ASC), DeMille and crewmembers
as the driving forces behind her work. Since
graduating, she has maintained close ties to
all of her collaborators on The Absence.
“There’s a family feeling in the MFA
program because it’s so small,” she explains.
“It teaches you to navigate relationships
and maintain communication and friend-
ship. If you’re always open with your collab-
orators about what you want to accom-
plish, then you’ll have a very effective set.”
Hobbs’ winning entry, Loves Me Not,
takes place in an abandoned apartment
building in Atlanta, where a woman lives
with her lover. What starts out as a seem-
ingly ordinary day begins to spin out of
control when the woman has a flashback
revealing she has been kidnapped and
forced into sex slavery and is experiencing
symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome.
Hobbs dabbled in still photography
before focusing on filmmaking as a course
of study. He started at Georgia State before
switching to Full Sail, which offers a 21-
month production-oriented program culmi-
nating with a B.S. degree.
“It’s an extremely competitive
program,” says Hobbs. “In our class, there
were only three 35mm films that were
picked to go into production out of about
75 students.” Directing students have to
pitch their final projects to a panel of
instructors, so cinematography students
need to get on board with as many direc-
tors and scripts as possible to improve their
chances at shooting something.
Hobbs says he was immediately
comfortable working with motion-picture
cameras, but the lighting aspects of cine-
matography were initially somewhat intimi-
dating. “It didn’t really come naturally at
first, so I challenged myself to figure it out,”
he recalls. “You see pictures of sets where
there are just a couple of lamps and a
camera, and somehow through the lens it
all looks right, and that’s what I wanted to
learn: how the light comes together.”
The script for Loves Me Not, written
by student directors Rebecca Hodges and
Ewa Pazera, offered Hobbs a variety of
opportunities to develop a personal
approach to lighting. Hodges, who had a
background in production design, worked
closely with him on the look of the film,
which Hobbs shot in Super 35mm (framing
for 2.40:1) with an Arricam Lite and Zeiss
Super Speeds.
“Visually it’s a dark film, but at the
same time, light plays an important role,”
says the cinematographer. “We wanted
muted green colors that would fade into
warmer yellows, and we wanted [the look]
to go back-and-forth between something
that’s really dark and something kind of
happy. Most of the action takes place in the
The Absence
was
photographed
on location in
New York City
and eastern
Long Island,
including
portions shot at
Oheka Castle on
Long Island’s
Gold Coast.
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16 May 2011 American Cinematographer
apartment kitchen, and we worked with
[production designer] Alex Thomson and
[art director] Aaron Marinel to create a
single space that we could play a number of
different ways.”
The kitchen set was built on the Full
Sail stages and designed to facilitate the
creation of distinct zones of light; the film-
makers planned to use these to suggest the
characters’ wildly varying feelings. “There’s a
certain kind of light on the actor when he’s
in one space, and then a different kind of
light when he steps into another space,”
says Hobbs, who shot the kitchen scenes on
Kodak Vision3 500T 5219. “Sometimes
those spaces are two feet apart or visible
from a different camera angle. For example,
an open window offering bright light shares
the same space with a moodier window
crossed with narrow slats.”
Though he was tempted by the
school’s array of grip and electric assets,
Hobbs made an effort to keep things
simple, using a 5K tungsten lamp for each
window, a 2K open-face lamp in the hall-
way and three practicals in the kitchen,
along with a pair of 650-watt Tweenies on
stands that were positioned as needed. “On
my previous film, I used twice as many lights
on a stage half the size,” he says.
Full Sail uses Continental Film Lab in
Miami for students’ final transfers. Hobbs
notes, “They typically set you up with an
online-supervised transfer, but I opted
instead to drive down to supervise it on site.
I wanted to get it perfect before it went into
editing, because every student who worked
on it would also edit it. I made sure everyone
in my class knew it had already been color
corrected.
“I’m still trying to figure out how to
light with film, because I haven’t done it very
much,” he continues, noting that instruc-
tors Rob Tuscani and James Neihouse have
been particularly helpful in this regard. “Rob
and James really pushed me to get things
the way I envisioned it in my head, and take
the time I needed to do it.
“Loves Me Not was a success
because of the people who mentored and
worked with me. I can take on any project
knowing that as long as I don’t overthink or
underthink it, I can pull it off with the
support of my collaborators.” ●
Cinematographer
Boyd Hobbs (far
right) won the
undergraduate
Heritage Award
for Loves Me Not,
which examines
the effects of
Stockholm
Syndrome. “We
wanted muted
green colors that
would fade into
warmer yellows,
and we wanted
[the look] to go
back-and-forth
between
something that’s
really dark and
something kind of
happy,” says
Hobbs. Since
graduating from
Full Sail
University, Hobbs
has been
accepted as a
cinematography
fellow at AFI.
L
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CONGRATULATIONS
Wally Pfister, ASC
Winner of the Academy
®
Award for
Cinematography and ASC Award
for Outstanding Achievement
in Cinematography for
Theatrical Release.
“Inception,” directed by
Christopher Nolan.
We salute your passion for
pristine filmed images.
panav i s i on. com Photo by Owen Roizman, ASC
Strap on the Gibson SG and jam.
18 May 2011 American Cinematographer
Spotlighting a Legendary Cinematographer
By Mark Hope-Jones
It all started in the early 1990s, with a Bolex. Director Craig
McCall was making music videos at EMI in London, and an elderly
gentleman noticed the 16mm Bolex camera on his desk and
wandered over to take a look. “I didn’t know who he was,” recalls
McCall. “He came over, and we got to chatting.”
The man was Jack Cardiff, BSC, who shot many of the most
visually accomplished three-strip Technicolor films ever made,
including A Matter of Life and Death /Stairway to Heaven (1946),
The Red Shoes (1948), The African Queen (1951) and Black Narcis-
sus (1947). He won an Academy Award for the latter film, and 53
years later, he became the first cinematographer to be presented
with an honorary Oscar.
Cardiff was at EMI because he had been invited to shoot a
version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and he returned to the office
several times during his prep. McCall, now aware of his extraordi-
nary background, spoke with Cardiff again as soon as the oppor-
tunity arose. “One day Jack opened a newspaper and saw that it
had just snowed in Venice, Italy, which it hadn’t done for
decades,” recalls McCall. “He loved that image, and he wanted it
for The Four Seasons, but he didn’t have his budget yet, so he just
borrowed the Bolex, drove to Venice and got it in the can. I
thought that was fantastically inspiring. He had the enthusiasm of
a film student doing his first production, yet he was in his 80s and
had made so many amazing films.”
As their acquaintance developed, McCall had the idea of
making a film about Cardiff’s illustrious career. He put the idea to
the back of his mind for a few years, but in 1997, he was on the
lookout for a new project and decided to shoot a pilot with Cardiff
in the hopes of rustling up a television commission. When he
accepted Cardiff’s invitation to visit the cinematographer’s home
and discovered a treasure trove of production photos, behind-the-
scenes footage and other memorabilia that Cardiff had accumu-
lated over nine decades in the film business, he realized how much
potential the project really had.
Born to two Vaudeville performers, Cardiff grew up around
entertainers, and he started working as a child actor, first appear-
ing in My Son, My Son (1918) at the age of 4. After acting in
several more films as a youth, he worked as a runner on the silent
film The Informer (1929), then moved on to clapper loader (when
sound came in), then camera assistant, and eventually camera
operator.
A turning point came when Cardiff was selected by Techni-
color, which was looking to expand into London, to be trained as
the company’s first British camera operator. In the interview for the
position, he admitted that he knew nothing of the process’
complex technicalities, but said that what interested him about
color was the opportunity to tap his knowledge of how the Old
Masters had used it as an emotive tool in their paintings. He got
the job.
Production Slate
The late, great
Jack Cardiff,
BSC makes a
point in a
scene from
Cameraman:
The Life &
Work of Jack
Cardiff, a
documentary
directed by
Craig McCall
that was shot
over many
years and in
several
countries.
I
www.theasc.com May 2011 19
Analogies between painting and
cinematography are common, but in
Cardiff’s case they are resoundingly rele-
vant. Applying the principles of painters he
had meticulously studied and copied to
Technicolor cinematography, Cardiff
quickly became a deft and delicate master
of color. From Van Gogh he learned how
to use red and green; from Vermeer he
learned how to light interiors. In McCall’s
film, he speculates that J.M.W. Turner
would have been “the perfect camera-
man.”
Operating jobs with Technicolor
gave rise to work as a second-unit cine-
matographer, and it was while shooting an
insert montage sequence for The Life and
Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) that Cardiff
got his big break. Passing through the set,
director Michael Powell noticed the meth-
ods Cardiff was employing to suppress
multiple shadows, and stopped to watch
him work. The result was an offer to shoot
Powell’s next picture, A Matter of Life and
Death/Stairway to Heaven. It was Cardiff’s
first feature as director of photography
and the start of a remarkable collaboration
with The Archers, the filmmaking partner-
ship of Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
As accolades for Cardiff’s work
multiplied, he collaborated with many
other great directors, including Alfred
Hitchcock, Richard Fleischer, Henry Hath-
away, Joseph Mankiewicz and John
Huston. He became known for his ability
to light actresses, and was specifically
requested by Marilyn Monroe for The
Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Female
stars admired him so much that they
agreed to sit for photographic portraits
taken by Cardiff during lulls in filming.
Among these women were Monroe,
Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Anita
Ekberg.
As he sifted through prints of these
portraits at Cardiff’s home, McCall became
hooked. After completing the pilot for
Cameraman: The Life & Work of Jack
Cardiff, he made the rounds at the TV
companies but could find no takers. “The
timing wasn’t great because it had just
been the centenary of cinema, and every-
one had recently done special programs
on cinema history,” recalls the director.
“So although people praised the pilot, C
a
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.
Top: Cinematographer Ricardo Coll checks the light on his subject while filming at Pinewood
Studios. Middle: McCall (left) works with interviewee Lauren Bacall and cinematographer
Jonathan Rho in Los Angeles. Bottom: McCall uses a 16mm Bolex to capture interviewee Martin
Scorsese, who is keyed by a light in his lap.
20 May 2011 American Cinematographer
nobody bit, and I therefore had to go
down an independent path. I raised some
money and set about getting interviews in
the can, because many of the people I
wanted to film were getting older.”
Cardiff’s name opened a lot of
doors, and the interviewees McCall assem-
bled include Martin Scorsese, Kirk
Douglas, John Mills, Lauren Bacall and
Charlton Heston. As well as recognizable
names, McCall was keen to interview a
broad range of people who knew Cardiff
or could comment on his work. “The mix
of people pretty much reflects a film crew,
with actors, directors, editors, cameramen
and a sound recordist,” he says. “It also
reflects the transatlantic aspect of Jack’s
career.” (Historical context in the docu-
mentary is provided by film historian Ian
Christie and the late American Cinematog-
rapher editor George E. Turner.)
Interviews were conducted over a
period of years and in several countries.
Arri and Kodak provided ongoing support
for the project, but McCall had to source
equipment and crew for each period of
filming, which meant he wound up work-
ing with nine different cinematographers:
Steven Chivers, Ricardo Coll, Simon
Fanthorpe, Nicholas Hoffman, Jonathan
Rho, Ian Salvage, John Walker, James
Welland and Bob Williams. It was the
director, therefore, who had to conceive,
maintain and sometimes defend an overall
visual approach.
“For one particular interview, we
were putting a red light on Jack’s face,”
says McCall. “Ian Salvage was the cine-
matographer that day, and Jack said,
‘What are you doing with that red light?’
Ian explained that I’d asked him to do it so
the interview would intercut with clips
from A Matter of Life and Death, and Jack
replied that it didn’t look right to him. Ian
went to switch it off, but I told him not to
— if I learned anything from Jack, it was to
stand your ground! When Jack came to
look at the first cut, he said, ‘I really like
that with the red light on my face!’ So he
taught me a lesson. I had to stand up to
him that day, just as he probably had to
stand up to Michael Powell on certain
days.”
McCall shot the majority of the
documentary on Super 16mm, believing
the ubiquity of the format would suit such
a fragmented shoot, and he initially shot
the rostrum work on 35mm “to capture as
much texture and definition in the actress
portraits and photographs as possible,” he
says. On some occasions, Betacam SP was
also used, and a limited amount of rostrum
work was shot on high-definition video.
Shooting mostly on film permitted
McCall to re-telecine and grade all his film
rushes to create HDCam-SR masters when,
much later, completion funding came
through. He notes that if he’d shot on
DigiBeta, the best video format available at
the time, he would have been trapped by
the resolution. “I’m a great believer in
Super 16,” he says. “I would still shoot
with it today if I were doing anything that
involved documenting witnesses to
history.”
Shooting on film allowed McCall to
pursue a distinctive aesthetic, though it
also gave him a few nerve-wracking
moments. He recalls, “When we were at
Kirk Douglas’ house, he had all these beau-
tiful paintings by artists like Cézanne. He
left the room at one point, and I needed to
get the camera farther back, so I moved a
little Picasso sculpture that was in the way.
When Kirk came back, he asked, ‘Who
moved that?’ So I said, ‘Sorry, Mr. Douglas,
I moved it because we’re shooting on film
and we need the depth,’ and he replied,
‘Oh, okay.’ It was a bit terrifying, but he
went with it.
“For the Scorsese interview, I actu-
ally put a light on his lap because I wanted
it to look a bit different,” he continues.
“He was in a very good mood, so he said,
‘If you want to do it, I’ll do it.’
“I’d learned my lesson doing a lot of
bread-and-butter work interviewing heads
of corporations — my approach is to get in
early and have two lighting setups. If the
person comes in and is in a bad mood,
then I put in a soft light and quickly knock
it off. The second setup is a more compli-
Left: At the peak of their careers, Cardiff (left) and fellow cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, BSC pose with a Technicolor ca mera.
Right: McCall and Cardiff discuss a shot at Pinewood Studios.
I am extremely honored to have received the 2010
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences John A.
Bonner Award. This would not have been possible without
all of you. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to my
very gifted and loyal staff, my colleagues, my peers, my
family, but most importantly to all of you cinematographers
who inspire me. Thank you so very much!
Denny Clairmont
Thank You!
www.clairmont.com
22 May 2011 American Cinematographer
Academy Lauds Sci-Tech
Luminaries
By Jay Holben
At this year’s Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and
Technical Awards, held on Feb. 12 at the
Beverly Wilshire Hotel, actress Marissa
Tomei played hostess, handling the
evening’s esoteric jargon with ease and
humor. Award recipient Alex MacDonald of
Cablecam told her, “What you have to say
here is harder than what we do!”
Thirteen Technical Achievement
certificates and nine Scientific and Engineer-
ing plaques were awarded, and ASC associ-
ate member Denny Clairmont was honored
with the John A. Bonner Medal of
Commendation.
Technical Achievement Awards
are presented for accomplishments that
contribute to the progress of the industry.
This year individuals from four companies
were honored for their contributions to the
evolution of computer-render queue-
management systems:
Greg Ercolano,for the design and
engineering of a series of software systems
culminating in the Rush render-queue
management system. The Rush system has
hadan influential effect throughout the
industry, enabling scalable render farms at
numerous studios.
David M. Laur,for the development
of the Alfred render-queue management
system. Alfred was the first robust, scalable,
widely adopted commercial solution for
queue management in the industry. Its user
interface and support for multi-machine
assignment influenced the design of
modern-day queue-management tools.
Chris Allen, Gautham Krishna-
murti, Mark A. Brown and Lance Kimes,
for the development of Queue, a robust,
scalable approach to render-queue
management. Queue was one of the first
systems that allowed for statistical analysis
and process introspection, providing a
framework for the efficient use of render
farms.
Florian Kainz ,for the design and
development of the robust, highly scalable
distributed architecture of the ObaQ render-
queue management system. ObaQ has
scaled from managing a few hundred
processors in 1997 to many thousands
today, with minimal changes to the original
design.
Individuals from two companies were
honored for their contributions to the world
of computer-generated effects:
Eric Tabellionand Arnauld Lamor-
lette, for the creation of a computer-graph-
ics bounce-lighting methodology that is
cated one that I’d worked out with the
cinematographer and usually involved
putting the camera farther back. I was able
to do that with Scorsese and many of the
others I spoke to for this film.”
The most visually creative elements
of the project were shot at Pinewood
Studios, where McCall worked with art
director Miles Glyn and cinematographer
Ricardo Coll to re-create some of the light-
ing and matte effects from Black Narcissus
as a backdrop to several interviews. At
Pinewood, they also shot footage of
Cardiff’s amazing memorabilia collection
and of the great cinematographer demon-
strating a Technicolor camera, his fingers
still nimble at the controls and a sparkle in
his eyes as he describes the beam-splitting
prism that is the camera’s soul.
Between the completion of filming
and the documentary’s celebrated bow at
the 2010 Cannes Film Festival came a final
chapter both long and fraught with fund-
ing uncertainty. Ultimately, it was Cardiff’s
death, in 2009, that prompted renewed
interest in Cameraman and the last bit of
funding from the U.K. Film Council.
“Even at the first screening, at the
National Film Theatre, I was fretful that the
DCP projection wouldn’t work,” says
McCall. “It was only when I heard the
audience clap at the final credits that I real-
ized nothing else could go wrong. A few
days later, the movie was shown in
Cannes, and that opened it up to the
whole world.”
Cameraman has been screened at a
dozen U.S. film festivals to date and will be
theatrically released in New York City on
May 13, with additional cities to follow.
TECHNICAL SPECS
1.78:1
Super 16mm, 35mm, Digital Capture
Arri 16SR-2, Aaton LTR, Neilson-Hordell,
Sony HDW-750
Canon, Arri, Angenieux, Zeiss, Olympus
Kodak Double-X 7222, Plus-X 7231;
EXR 50D 7245, 200T 7274;
Vision 250D 7246, 320T 7277, 500T 7279
Digital Intermediate
Front row, left to right: Academy President Tom Sherak, actress Marisa Tomei and Sci-Tech
Committee chair Richard Edlund, ASC. 2nd row: David M. Laur, Arnauld Lamorlette, James
Rodnunsky, Denny Clairmont, Neil Wilson and Dr. Mark Sagar. 3rd row: Mark Noel, Eric Tabellion,
Florian Kainz, Alex MacDonald, Chris Allen, Mark Chapman and Rory McGregor. Last row: John
Frazier, Greg Ercolano, Mark A. Brown, Gautham Krishnamurti, Lance Kimes and Alan Rogers.
A
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.
I
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24 May 2011 American Cinematographer
practical at feature-film scale. This impor-
tant step in the evolution of global illumina-
tion techniques, first used on Shrek 2, was
shared with the industry in the duo’s techni-
cal paper, “An Approximate Global Illumi-
nation System for Computer Generated
Films.”
Tony Clark, Alan Rogers, Neil
Wilson and Rory McGregor,for the soft-
ware design and continued development of
CineSync, a tool for remote collaboration
and review of visual effects. Easy to use,
CineSync has become a widely accepted
solution for remote-production collabora-
tion.
Scientific and Engineering
Awards were presented for achievements
that exhibit a high level of engineering and
are important to the progress of the indus-
try. This year they were awarded to:
Mark Sagar,for his early and contin-
uing development of influential facial-
motion retargeting solutions. His work led
to a method for transforming facial-motion
capture data into an expression-based,
editable character-animated system that has
been used in motion pictures with a high
volume of digital characters.
Mark Noel ,for the design, engi-
neering and development of the NAC Servo
Winch System, and John Frazier ,for his
contributions to the system’s design and
safety features. The NAC System allows full-
sized cars, aircraft and other heavy props to
be flown on wires with unprecedented free-
dom of motion and a high degree of safety
onset and in real time. The system responds
to the motion of the operator’s hand,
permitting the recording and playback of all
axes of motion simultaneously, which may
be edited and refined for playback in subse-
quent takes.
In addition, two Scientific and Engi-
neering “upgrade” plaques were awarded
to the following individuals, who previously
earned Academy certificates for their work
on cable-driven camera systems that have
made it possible to move a camera safely
and accurately anywhere through a three-
dimensional space:
James Rodnunsky, Alex MacDon-
ald and Mark Chapman,for the develop-
ment of the Cablecam 3-D volumetric
suspended cable-camera technologies.
Tim Drnec, Ben Britten Smith and
Matt Davis ,for the development of the
Spydercam 3-D volumetric suspended
cable-camera technologies.
Finally, the John A. Bonner Medal
of Commendation, given for “outstand-
ing service and dedication in upholding the
high standards of the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences,” was presented
to ASC associate member Denny Clair-
mont.
In a later interview with AC, Clair-
mont noted that he grew up doing every-
thing he could to avoid working in the
motion-picture business. His father was a
commercial cinematographer, and Clair-
mont strove to stay as far away from “Dad’s
work” as possible. However, he and his
younger brother,Terry, took an early interest
in cars. “I loved anything with a motor in
it,” recalls Clairmont. “I started making my
own scooters when I was around 12 years
old. In high school,I took auto shop and
built my own hot-rod cars.”
After high school, the Clairmont
brothers started a shop and fixed up cars for
fellow racers. It became the go-to place for
local San Fernando drag racers. “We did
pretty well, but we weren’t really rolling in
cash,” he recalls. “Our customers were,
though. They all worked for the movie
studios in various positions, so Terry and I
went to our father and asked him how we
could get into the business. He taught us
photography and the tools of the trade, and
he said the best way to learn was to get a
Left: Sherak (top) and Edlund (bottom) greet the audience at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Above: ASC associate Clairmont accepts the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation.
www.schneideroptics.com
It Starts with the Glass
tm
Clairmont
The very mention of the name brings to mind integrity, perfection, fairness,
frankness, resourcefulness and can-do without compromise. Denny, we will
be forever grateful to you and your brother Terry for pushing the limits and
driving the bar of technology ever higher in the name of art.
You truly deserve the 2010 Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, John A. Bonner Award.
Congratulations
& Thank you!
consistently,and in 1973,Terry and Denny
decided to purchase a new Arri 35BL and
enter into the same contract with Birns. “At
that time, you could buy a 35BL with five
lenses and two 400-foot magazines for
$19,000,” Clairmont recalls. “I managed to
scrounge up $10,000 on my own and got
a bank to loan me the other $9,000. About
90 days later, when that camera was
constantly working, I went to the bank to
get a loan for a second camera.”
In 1976, Birns & Sawyer came under
new management, and a dispute with that
party cost Denny his job. He went home
and told his brother that he was out of
work,and asked if he could get a job on
Terry’s crew. “Terry said no,” he recalls with
a laugh. “He said,‘You’re the guy we go to
when we want good camera equipment.
Everyone knows you and trusts you, so we
should open up our own rental house.’”
Unfortunately, the three cameras the
brothers owned were under firm contract
with Birns &Sawyer. Because the Clair-
monts had a proven track record, though,
the bank agreed to loan them money to
position in a camera-rental shop.”
Denny found himself a position as a
driver at Birns &Sawyer in Hollywood, while
Terry kept the shop running. Birns &
Sawyer’s lead repair technician, John
Russell, took an immediate liking to Clair-
mont and promoted him to a position as his
assistant. In 1969,when Russell left Birns to
take another job, Clairmont was promoted
to lead repair technician, a position he held
until 1976. He quickly became known as a
guy who could create specialty gear for
cinematographers or camera assistants.
With the support of a strong machine shop
at Birns & Sawyer, Clairmont began crafting
specialty equipment on a regular basis.
When Birns goteven busier, Denny helped
Terry, who had found work as a camera
assistant, land a job at the facility as well.
In 1971, Terry was working with
future ASC member Michael Watkins,and
the two joined forces to purchase a Cinema
Products XR35 camera. They entered a
contract with Birns & Sawyer to stock and
maintain the camera in return for a share of
the rental proceeds. The camera worked
Tomei served as the evening’s hostess.
26
purchase additional cameras, and Ed
DiGiulio of Cinema Products helped them
start their new company with a separate
loan of camera equipment worth more
than $300,000. Taking note of DiGiulio’s
move, several other companies followed
suit with loans of their own, including Arri,
Harrison & Harrison and OConnor. Clair-
mont Camera was born.
Today, Clairmont Camera occupies a
33,000-square-foot facility in Hollywood,
with satellite offices in Albuquerque,
Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Denny
maintains his status as the go-to man for
custom equipment and was intrinsically
involved in the design of the Angenieux
Optimo zoom lenses.
He has been a member of the Acad-
emy Sci-Tech Committee since 1993 and
has served on the Steering Committee since
2000. He has been honored with two
Emmy Awards, as well as a 1991 Scientific
and Technical Academy Award for the
opto-mechanical design and development
of the Canon/Clairmont Camera Zoom
Lens.
“When I got the letter informing me
that I would be presented with the Bonner
Award, I was incredibly proud, but I was a
little worried, too,” he recalls. “So many
people deserve the credit I’m getting, and
one of them is my late brother, Terry. Over
the years, many cinematographers and
camera assistants have pushed me to
design things and come up with new tools.
I certainly wasn’t alone in earning this
honor.” ●
Sherak
commends this
year’s award
recipients.
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27
28 May 2011 American Cinematographer
Cinema Verite, shot by Affonso Beato,
ASC, ABC, revisits the first reality-TV
series.
By Jean Oppenheimer
•|•
Living
Out Loud
T
hey were supposed to be the perfect American family.
They turned out to be anything but, and as their lives
unraveled on national television, they incurred the wrath
of millions of viewers who were scandalized by what they
witnessed week after week. As a character in HBO’s Cinema
Verite notes early in the film, “One must never let the public
behind the scenes, for it is the illusion they love.”
In an age when reality TV blankets the airwaves, it
might be difficult to appreciate what it was like in 1973, when
the first reality series, An American Family, aired on PBS. The
12-part series, produced by WNET in New York, chronicled
the lives of Patricia and Bill Loud (portrayed by Diane Lane
and Tim Robbins in the new film) and their children, an
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 29
upper-middle-class family living in
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Cinema Verite, which premiered
April 23 and will play throughout May
and June, tells the behind-the-scenes
story of how the groundbreaking series
was made. When producer Craig
Gilbert (James Gandolfini) chose the
Louds, he didn’t know — but quickly
ascertained — that the seemingly model
marriage was coming apart at the
seams, and that the couple’s eldest son
was grappling with questions of sexual
orientation.
Director of photography Affonso
Beato, ASC, ABC was intrigued by the
movie-within-a-movie concept and the
visual possibilities it offered. “We used
Super 35mm, high-definition video
that was digitally manipulated to look
like 16mm, Super 8mm, and clips from
the original PBS series, which was shot
on 16mm, and the optical universes are
very different,” he says. “We differenti-
ated the formats by aligning them with
certain points of view.”
An Arricam Studio and Lite
captured “the movie POV” in 3-perf
Super 35mm (1.78:1), he continues. In
a sense, this was the big picture. Next
was the movie-within-the-movie, or the
documentary. Believing that “modern
Super 16 stock is so good and so grain-
less that it looks like 35mm,” Beato
U
n
i
t

p
h
o
t
o
g
r
a
p
h
y

b
y

D
o
u
g

H
y
u
n
,

P
e
t
e
r

I
o
v
i
n
o

a
n
d

S
a
m

U
r
d
a
n
k
,

c
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

H
B
O
.
Opposite: Bill Loud
(Tim Robbins) and his
wife, Pat (Diane Lane),
see their marriage and
family disintegrate on
national television
after they agree to let
a television producer
film their lives. This
page, top: The Louds
meet with the
producer, Craig Gilbert
(James Gandolfini), on
the outdoor patio of a
Mexican restaurant.
Middle: A cameraman
captures footage of
the Louds in their
Santa Barbara home.
Bottom:
Cinematographer
Affonso Beato, ASC,
ABC (right) works
through a scene with
Lane and Cinema
Verite co-directors
Robert Pulcini and
Shari Springer Berman.
30 May 2011 American Cinematographer
decided to shoot this material with a
Panasonic AJ-HPX3700 VariCam and
use the digital grade to give it the look
of 16mm stock from that era. The
Panasonic was referred to variously as
“the documentary camera,” “the crew
POV” and sometimes “the 16mm
POV,” he says.
CinemaVerite jumps back and
forth between what the movie camera
sees and what the documentary camera
sees. It was essential that the footage
look substantially different so that view-
ers would immediately know which one
they were watching. “The movie POV is
composed, well-behaved, and we always
used a dolly, or occasionally a crane, for
that material,” says Beato. “The crew
POV, on the other hand, is kind of a
character in itself. We went handheld
and did a lot of panning and zooming, in
keeping with the style of the PBS series.”
The onscreen documentary crew
carries an old Éclair, but the footage
incorporated into the film was shot by
documentary cinematographer Sandra
Chandler, who walked onto the set after
the main camera operators, Anthony
Arendt and Joseph Arena, were
finished; she used the same lighting
setup. “Given that I would be shooting
handheld, I needed a shoulder-mount
camera, and the VariCam is set up

Living Out Loud
Top: Gilbert
ingratiates
himself with Pat
at a California
resort hotel.
Bottom left: The
Louds and their
friends attempt
to stay “natural”
on camera.
Bottom right:
Beato finds his
angle. “Affonso
has a real gift for
seeing shots on
the spot and
executing them
quickly,” says
Pulcini.
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 31
ergonomically for that,” says Chandler,
who had worked previously with
Cinema Verite directors Robert Pulcini
and Shari Springer Berman. “The 3700
records to P2 cards and has the F-Rec
gamma mode, which gave Affonso
great latitude in post to create the
16mm look.” She kept a standard
Fujinon HD ENG zoom lens on the
camera.
Chandler also shot Super 8
“home movies” of the Loud family at
earlier, happier stages of their lives,
using a Beaulieu 4008 ZM4 borrowed
from loader Christian Kessler.
(Pro8mm in Burbank processed and
transferred the negative.)
Finally, clips from the 1973 PBS
documentary were added to the mix.
Often, two different formats appear
side-by-side on screen. Archival footage
of the real Louds plays on one side
while the actors portraying them appear
on the other. At times, the actors repli-
cate the exact movements of their real-
life counterparts.
Keeping track of which format
was to be used when, and what each
camera would need for a given shot,
could have been a nightmare. It turned
out not to be, however, thanks to the
meticulously organized workflow charts
Beato creates on every project. “Affonso
breaks down the entire [schedule]
during prep and sends the charts to his
crew,” says 1st AC Carlos Doerr. “He
lists cameras and lenses, any special
equipment, the stock we’ll need and
exactly how much to order, whether any
Top: The stress of
living on camera
causes tension to
creep into the
Louds’
relationship, but
Bill’s off-camera
philandering
pushes Pat to the
point of no
return. Bottom:
Both Bill and Pat
confide in Gilbert
when the
cameras aren’t
rolling.
32 May 2011 American Cinematographer
cables, all while 50 or 100 people
waited. That doesn’t happen anymore.”
But when things do change on
set, Beato can quickly alter his course.
“Affonso has a real gift for seeing shots
on the spot and executing them
quickly,” says Pulcini. Though he and
co-director Berman both interacted
with Beato on the set, Pulcini recalls, “I
spent more time with him because I
deal more with the camera and the look
of the film, while Shari concentrates on
the actors.”
AC visited the Cinema Verite set
on a cloudless, blistering-hot California
morning. In the scene at hand, Pat
arrives at a resort hotel to meet Gilbert
for the first time. Pat, a friend and
Gilbert sit down at a patio table under
an umbrella. Tennis courts and a swim-
ming pool are clearly visible in the back-
ground. The scene comprised five pages
of dialogue and had to be completed
before the sun crept behind the building
and threw the action into shadow.
Furthermore, Beato wanted the tennis
courts to retain strong definition; he
couldn’t just expose for the foreground
and let the background go bright.
Beato had his crew put a 20'x40'
softener over the table, and both
Arricams were backed up as far as they
could go, right against the sliding glass
doors of the clubhouse. The actors were
only 8'-10'away. “We had to light the
actors 3 stops over what we’d normally
do,” says gaffer Justin Holdsworth. “To
raise the light level, we used gold and
silver lamé bounces. Then, to give some
shape to the faces, we brought in a 6K
Par with a Chimera, moving it closer
effects work is involved, and so on.
Those charts always keep us one step
ahead.”
Beato notes that planning ahead
is a necessity these days. Tight shooting
schedules mean “there’s no time to
inspire yourself or change your mind on
the set anymore. It used to be that the
director would come to the set, plan
with the cinematographer, and then the
electricians would appear with their

Living Out Loud
The documentary
show’s camera
team (top) tracks
the family’s
movements with a
vintage Éclair
camera, while
HBO’s crew
(bottom) captures
the scene with
modern
technology.
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than I normally would.”
Beato kept an eye on the sun. “I
was getting nervous,” he admits. “We
had one shot left when the directors
decided that another problem took
precedence. By the time we went back
to the patio to get the final shot, there
was no way to match the light levels.
The last shot we got wasn’t used.”
The blue skies and hard light of
California serve as Cinema Verite ’s
predominant look. Beato describes it as
“a Kodachrome dream: colorful, bright
and sunny.” This typically translated
into tungsten lamps gelled with ¼
Straw or CTO. There was also a much
cooler “New York look” (HMIs with a
bit of CTB) that was used for scenes
showing Pat visiting her eldest son,
Lance (Thomas Dekker), at the famed
Chelsea Hotel. (The interior of the
hotel was created onstage.) At the end
of the movie, after An American Family
has aired and the Louds find themselves
the target of intense ridicule and scorn,
the California look takes on a severe
tone, a heavier, bluish-green hue;
instead of using lens filtration to achieve
this, Beato planned to create the look in
the DI.
The Louds’ home figured promi-
nently in the series, and the Cinema
Verite team managed to find a house in
34 May 2011 American Cinematographer

Living Out Loud
Scenes set inside
the Louds’ home
were shot at a
house in
Sherman Oaks
that provided a
nearly perfect
match for the
real residence.
The living room
offered a deep
background
thanks to the
pool area beyond
the sliding-glass
doors, but the
setting required
Beato to carefully
balance his
interior and
exterior
exposures.
36 May 2011 American Cinematographer
Sherman Oaks, Calif., whose interior
was almost a mirror image of the real
residence. (Another location provided
the front exterior.) The family tended to
hang out in the living room, which
looks out onto a patio, a swimming pool
and the back yard, all of which are visi-
ble through a wall of sliding glass doors.
“Affonso didn’t want to lose the depth of
having the pool in the background
while looking out from [the living
room],” notes Holdsworth. “That
meant balancing exposure inside for the
exterior.”
One such scene, early in the film,
shows Gilbert and all seven members of
the Loud family sitting around the
living room, discussing what the docu-
mentary crew will be doing. Gilbert is
sitting in a chair, his back to the sliding
doors. To create soft ambient light,
Beato bounced sunlight (and occasion-
ally an 18K) into the room off 8'x8'
frames of unbleached muslin.
Additionally, sheets of muslin were
spread across the patio outside and on
the living-room floor.
Arri T12s and 5Ks with
Chimeras, all bouncing off muslin, were
used inside. Because the ceilings were
low, it wasn’t always possible to hang
lights. “When we couldn’t hang lights, I
had a huge tripod with a menace arm to
position a Chinese lantern above the
actor,” recalls Beato. “If it was a moving
shot, we might hang the menace arm
from the dolly. All of the lights were on
dimmers.” A few Lowel Rifa 44 lights
were also used for the actors’ faces.
Unbleached muslin was the
diffusion of choice. To light a scene in
which Pat and Bill talk, 30"“Mus Balls”
containing 1,000-watt bulbs were
strewn across the bedroom floor. Pat
stands at the bathroom sink, looking
into the mirror, and Bill is a few feet
away in the bedroom, standing at a full-
length mirror. “This was a very tricky
scene to shoot,” notes Beato. “The scene
opens on Bill’s reflection in the stand-
alone mirror. He steps into frame,
admires himself in the mirror and starts
talking to Pat. The camera is stationary
behind him, so we see both his back and

Living Out Loud
Top: A truck-
mounted platform
facilitates a view
from the road.
Middle: The crew
captures a New
York street scene
outside the Chelsea
Hotel. Bottom: AC
visited the
production while
scenes were being
shot at the Altadena
Town & Country
Club (doubling as
the Santa Barbara
Biltmore), where
Beato strove to
capture the more
idyllic aspects of
California living.
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his reflection in the mirror.”
The scene cuts to the bathroom.
The camera is to the left and slightly
behind Pat as she stands in front of the
mirror, so we see her reflection. Another
mirror hangs on a closet door behind
Pat, catching a different reflection.
Doerr picks up the story: “Affonso, the
operator and I were snuggled into a
narrow hallway. The matte box was just
barely off-camera. The most difficult
part of this was when Pat reached down
to grab Bill’s hairbrush. I think we did a
135mm shot on that, really tight,
following her hand and going up to her
face and racking to the mirror.”
Beato used several pieces of
equipment on Cinema Verite that he’d
never tried before.He had heard good
things about a new HD video-tap
system, HD IVS, that attaches to the
Arricam cameras. It comes with a 6"
trans-video cine monitor. Beato notes
that it’s an expensive item to rent, and
he was grateful to Sean Jenkins at
Clairmont Camera in Hollywood for
fitting it into the production’s budget.
“Up until now, video taps have been
standard definition, which just isn’t
good enough,” asserts the cinematogra-
pher.
Another item Beato had never
used before was the Airstar Cloud, a
thin, flat balloon that is used as diffu-
sion. Made of Lunix fabric, it acts like a
huge silk. The scene was the outdoor
patio of a Mexican restaurant, and the
place was packed with people. Bill is
sitting at a table, drinking with friends,
when Pat and Gilbert arrive. “We spent
two days at that location, and the sun
going around would have totally
destroyed the light continuity,” says

Living Out Loud
Bill tends to
business as his
home life begins
to spiral
downward.
38
Beato. “It turned out to be less expen-
sive to rent the Cloud than to pump [up
the] light to balance the restaurant’s
interior and exterior. It was absolutely
fantastic.”
The Cloud is 20'x20'but can be
expanded by zipping two or more
together. Beato’s team created one that
was 40'x40'. (It was provided by Airstar
Space Lighting USA.) When darkness
started to fall, the crew set up three
18Ks to replicate sunlight.
Beato used three Kodak stocks
for most of the project — Vision3 500T
5219 and Vision2 250D 5207 and 50D
5201 — and he also mixed in two Fuji
Eterna Vivid stocks, 160 8543 and 500
8547, for the Super 8 material to help
differentiate its look.
All of the 35mm material was
processed at Technicolor Hollywood,
where AC caught upwith Beato again
as he started the digital grade with
colorist Jill Bogdanowicz. “We’ve got
some intricate keys going through the
movie to give it a 1970s look,” says
Bogdanowicz. “For example, I have
[primary color] chroma keys working
on the California look, and I’m popping
these colors separately, which makes it
really saturated, like the look of early
’70s film stocks. That’s the vibe we’re
going for.”
Even with four formats to
contend with, Beato maintains that the
shoot was never confusing, though he
readily admits “it was very complex.” It
also brought back some unique memo-
ries. “I was the first person in Brazil to
use the Éclair, the camera used by Alan
Raymond and Joan Churchill [ASC] to
shoot An American Family,” he observes.
“It was the first portable camera that
really gave you the opportunity to be
mobile and shoot sound at the same
time with a Nagra.”
With a laugh, he adds, “I was the
only person on the [ Cinema Verite] set
who knew how to hold the Nagra. I had
lived it.” ●
TECHNICAL SPECS
1.78:1
3-perf Super 35mm,
Digital Capture, Super 8mm
Arricam Studio, Lite;
Panasonic AJ-HPX3700;
Beaulieu 4008 ZM4
Cooke S4,Angenieux Optimo,
Nikkor and Arri Macro
Kodak Vision3 500T 5219;
Vision2 250D 5207, 50D 5201;
Fuji Eterna Vivid 160 8543,
500 8547
Digital Intermediate
40 May 2011 American Cinematographer
R
oland Joffé’s There Be Dragons tells the story of a Spanish
journalist who, in the course of reconciling with his
elderly father, discovers that the older man was a close
childhood friend of Josemaría Escrivá (played by Charlie
Cox), a real historical figure who was named a saint in 2002,
nearly 75 years after founding the devout Catholic organiza-
tion Opus Dei. Joffé has said that the movie, which was
partially funded by Opus Dei, is “about love, human love,
divine love, hate, betrayal, war, mistakes — everything it is to
be a human being.”
The movie’s cast includes Dougray Scott as the journal-
ist and Wes Bentley as his father, Manolo. Their story unfolds
in four segments: the boyhood years of Manolo and Josemaría
in Spain during the early 20th century; the duo’s early
manhood in the 1920s; the Spanish Civil War era, which tore
the country apart in the late 1930s; and the 1980s, which serve
as the story’s present day.
Joffé chose Gabriel Beristain, ASC, BSC to photo-
graph There Be Dragons. Beristain was born in Mexico, where
Gabriel Beristain,
ASC, BSC goes on
location in Spain and
Argentina for the
atmospheric religious
drama There Be
Dragons.
By David Heuring
•|•
A
Saint
and a
Sinner
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 41
his parents were successful actors. He
shot documentaries and commercials
before moving to Europe, and eventu-
ally studied at the National Film and
Television School in England. After
spending 15 years working in the
British film and television industries,
Beristain took the advice of Allen
Daviau, ASC and moved to the
United States. “I was also aided by
Sandra Marsh, my agent at that time,
who persuaded Taylor Hackford to
consider me for Blood In, Blood Out,” he
notes. His résumé has since grown to
include 40 films, among them
Caravaggio, K2, Dolores Claiborne and
The Spanish Prisoner. He recently
wrapped the pilot for Exit Strategy.
When Beristain first read the
script for There Be Dragons, he saw two
ways to think about the visuals:
through the four main time periods,
and by tracing the distinct emotional
paths followed by Manolo and
Josemaría. “The war period, with all
the famous visual references, took
place around the time that color
photography was becoming more
common, and that was, of course,
fascinating to me,” says Beristain.
“Also, our production design, by
Eugenio Zanetti, was a visual feast
because of all the period details and
textures. Added to that is the rich
iconography and symbolism of the
Catholic Church. The story concerns
one person who found a religious
mission in life and another who devel-
oped a hatred of religion. I knew we
could make a great film from these
elements.”
Early conversations between
Beristain and Joffé focused on texture,
atmosphere and décor, and how to
create chiaroscuro without losing sight
of delicate details, like the lace of a
dress. All this would need to be done
on a modest budget at locations in
Spain and Argentina. Two fundamen- P
h
o
t
o
s

c
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

M
o
u
n
t

S
a
n
t
a

F
e
.
Opposite:
Childhood
friends Manolo
Torres (Wes
Bentley, seated)
and Josemaría
Escrivá (Charlie
Cox) find
themselves on
conflicting
spiritual paths
as adults. This
page: Manolo
takes up arms
(top) while
future saint
Josemaría
chooses the
priesthood.
42 May 2011 American Cinematographer
tal technical choices that grew out of
their conversations were the decision to
light primarily with direct, undiffused
light (except for the 1980s scenes), and
the decision to keep the A camera
almost always mounted on a three-axis
Scorpio head operated by Beristain. The
Scorpio head was often used in conjunc-
tion with a Technocrane to facilitate
dramatic, sweeping movement.
Beristain describes his approach
to light as “emotional lighting” —
letting the emotional content of indi-
vidual scenes dictate his approach, as
opposed to applying an overall style to
the entire film. “Direct light is old-
fashioned, in a way, but it gives me very
precise control over what part of the
scene to emphasize or intensify,” he
says. “Considerable engineering and
ingenuity went into creating the lyrical
camera moves Roland sought for this
film. In exterior situations, we usually
used the Technocrane; for interiors, the
camera was usually on a jib arm, some-
times attached to the Scorpio, which
became my dependable steed. I was
almost always operating, which is
something I trained extensively for
during my years in Europe.”
The producers raised the possi-
bility of shooting digitally, but Beristain
says Joffé left the decision to him.
“After we considered all the options
and weighed all the practical and artis-
tic factors, we decided to shoot on
film,” says the cinematographer. “We
were going to have many different
cameras, and there were unknowns
about the dependability of postproduc-
tion in Argentina, which made using a
digital format less attractive. We
planned to film our exterior battle
scenes with half a dozen cameras and
two Technocranes, which would limit

A Saint and a Sinner
Top and bottom
left: As children,
Manolo and
Josemaría make
frequent visits
to a chocolate
factory where
they receive
tasty treats —
and bits of
wisdom — from
Honorio (Derek
Jacobi). Bottom
right: The boys
enjoy the
comforts of an
opulent
upbringing.
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 43
our lighting options. Film would give
us the maximum latitude and dynamic
range, as well as the flexibility to make
everything match in post. We also
knew we would be shooting during the
summer in Argentina, sometimes in
the mountains, where the skies are very
powerful and very clean. With film,
there’s no problem with strong high-
lights.” Beristain ultimately decided to
use four Kodak stocks: Vision2 100T
5212, 200T 5217 and 250D 5205, and
Vision3 500T 5219.
Joffé was keen to spread the
right mood throughout the set. “I
could see from the beginning that I was
working with a method director,” says
Beristain. “The mood of the scene was
something Roland wanted to bring to
everyone on the set, thereby leading
each department to the right contribu-
tion. Cinematographers have to recog-
nize how a director works and then
adapt to that method. Ours wasn’t a
‘heavy’ set, but we were invited to
recognize the dramatic value of the
scene and the need to execute the shots
in a way that was harmonious with that
mood. Roland got excellent perfor-
mances that way.”
The boyhood scenes were filmed
in a tiny, picturesque village in Castile
called Sepulveda. “That’s as Spanish as
it gets,” Beristain attests. “It’s a
medieval stone town, a harsh place, and
we mostly filmed exteriors there for
about three weeks.” Beristain mainly
used available light, although he was
occasionally able to augment the loca-
tion’s existing ambience with HMIs.
Once the company moved to
Argentina, production became more
complicated. Wide shots sometimes
required extensive bluescreen and
greenscreen construction to cover
period-inaccurate elements. “In a place
like Argentina, these challenges are
solved in an artisanal way,” says
Beristain. “The crews may not have all
the resources and be as well prepared
for these situations as they are in
Hollywood, but today, these kinds of
techniques can be accomplished
anywhere. Buenos Aires has many
In the film’s present day, Manolo’s journalist son, Robert (Dougray Scott, top), has trouble
connecting with his emotionally distant father (Bentley, middle, in old-age makeup), but his
quest for understanding leads him to do some research at the Vatican (bottom).
beautiful, turn-of-the-century colonial
buildings, but some of them are right
smack in the middle of ghastly modern
architecture, so we needed to isolate
those locations by using large green-
screens. The scale was nowhere near
what I experienced when I was shoot-
ing additional photography on Iron
Man, but the Argentinian crew built
the greenscreens using whatever was at
hand, and those shots made a signifi-
cant contribution to the look of the
film.
“By way of example, I’ll note that
any screen larger than 20-by-20 feet
has to be put together skillfully in order
to avoid seams and folds, and our crew
put together an 80-by-80-foot screen
using several 20-bys carefully
suspended from a giant construction
crane,” he continues. “Just before the
shot, we discovered we needed an extra
20-by to cover a last-minute change of
composition. My point is, if you are
working with film crews far from
Hollywood, don’t assume something is
impossible. If you have the will, it’s
neither expensive nor difficult.”
Another visually arresting scene
44 May 2011 American Cinematographer

A Saint and a Sinner
During the
Spanish Civil
War, Manolo
aligns himself
with the rebels
but turns on
them and
serves as a
Fascist spy.
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 45
shows Manolo, now a soldier, making
his first attempt to kill a rebellious
worker. “I found a factory warehouse
with a glass roof, and we shot it day-for-
night,” says Beristain. “I shot it during
the daytime but underexposed by 6 or 7
stops. I knew that once we got to the
digital intermediate, I could pick out
the windows and bring them down
further. I put three 10Ks inside the
office, and everything else was available
light. It lends the scene an ominous
quality. That shot was all in knowing
how to manipulate the exposure and
knowing what can be achieved in the
DI.”
Like the majority of Beristain’s
crew on the film, gaffer Daniel Hermo
is Argentinean. Hermo studied
photography at National School
of Cinematographic Production and
Experimentation, and has served as
gaffer on many commercials and about
30 features, including the Oscar-
winning The Secret in Their Eyes.
Beristain’s direct-light approach
meant larger sources and more rigging.
Hermo explains, “To achieve the
aesthetic Gabriel described, we used
tungsten Fresnel lamps ranging from
650-watt units to 20Ks. We used HMI
mixtures in daylight situations. Most of
the sets were so large and complex that
we had two teams working simultane-
ously, with one crew pre-lighting the
subsequent scene. Close collaboration
with key grip Anibal Cattaneo was
crucial.
“For several scenes, including a
church sequence, Gabriel asked me for
Musco or Bebee [Night] lights, but
they are not available in Argentina,”
Hermo continues. “We couldn’t access
the roofs, and we needed an 82-foot
boom, so we rented a 131-foot tele-
scopic mobile crane that is normally
used on construction sites. We assem-
bled a truss structure that would absorb
vibrations and wind, and mounted
After joining the
rebels, Manolo
becomes a
jealous rival of
the faction’s
charismatic
leader, Oriol
(Rodrigo
Santoro, top).

46 May 2011 American Cinematographer

A Saint and a Sinner
three Arri 18K HMIs on the truss. We
used this rig to bring light into high
windows, casting beams through the
smoke we had laid in the church inte-
rior.”In some situations, the crane rig
was augmented with an Arri
MaxMover to facilitate remote aiming
and focus of the lights.
The project’s “pièce de résis-
tance,” according to Beristain, was a
vast battle scene in which the square
and cathedral in Luján, Argentina,
stand in for Madrid. In addition to the
numerous greenscreens, the scene
required extensive special effects, large
numbers of actors and extras, and care-
ful choreography. The size of the square
meant Beristain had to work with
available light, and because the cathe-
dral was oriented east-west, it was
backlit in the morning and front-lit in
the afternoon. “Luckily, I had the
element of smoke to work with,” says
Beristain. “Whenever I had shadow
areas, I justified it as though smoke
were covering that area. The opening
shot was done in overcast conditions,
but once the sun came out, the smoke
saved my life. There are many actors
running through the scene, squibs
everywhere, explosions, shots being
fired — it’s chaotic, and the adrenaline
was pumping. You can’t stop everyone
and say, ‘Sorry, the light isn’t right.’
That’s a reality for most cinematogra-
phers. We need to sharpen our wits and
find a way. When it was sunny, some-
times the sun would break through the
smoke and create fantastic shots.”
“Our primary
concern was the
dramatic mood of
the scene.”
Cinematographer
Gabriel Beristain,
ASC, BSC says he
tailored his
lighting to the
emotional
content of
individual scenes
rather than
fashioning an
overall style.
48 May 2011 American Cinematographer
Filming battle sequences with
kinetic intensity also required ingenious
solutions. To render a documentary feel
for certain scenes, the production
combined a Steadicam rig with a
Segway two-wheeled vehicle, which
camera operator Matías Mesa used to
cover rough terrain at high speeds.
“Roland is not generally very keen on
the Steadicam,” Beristain says, “but we
used it with the Segway in the battle
situations, and it added very much to
the sense of advancement we needed to
create. It’s more than just following the
characters.
“One of our most dramatic loca-
tions was the town of Epecuen, where

A Saint and a Sinner
The movie’s main
battle sequence
was shot on a
square in Luján,
Argentina, which
stood in for
Madrid. A
Steadicam rig
combined with a
Segway two-
wheeled vehicle
(middle right)
allowed the
filmmakers to
traverse rough
terrain at high
speeds.
we shot a big battle scene,” he
continues. “It became a ghost town two
decades ago, when the nearby lake
flooded half the villa. Half the town
comprises water avenues and sub-
merged rooftops, and the other half is
dead trees, barren soil and abandoned
ruins. The soggy soil made it impossible
for us to bring in any heavy equipment,
so cranes and dollies were out of the
question. The Segway would just glide
over anything, and Matty achieved
phenomenal shots, like moving forward
with enemy infantry as they charged
our heroes.”
Beristain knew that many long,
moving shots might not make the final
cut intact, and “Roland and I felt we
should not be saddened or discouraged
by this fact,” he says. “We believed that
by creating these dynamic, choreo-
graphed moves with the Scorpio head,
Technocrane, jib arm and Steadicam,
we were giving the film a different look,
and that even the cuts would be made
special by that movement. The cuts are
not simple, narrative-based cuts, but
rather based on the whole poetry.
Ideally the cuts and the movement
work in harmony to become something
very special, an integral part of the
mise-en-scène.
“I think it’s important for films to
have that [fully integrated] quality,” he
says. “People don’t talk about that any
longer, and I think it’s a vital part of the
cinematic language. Roland under-
stands this, so I trusted him. In that
respect, There Be Dragons was a fasci-

A Saint and a Sinner
50
An ailing
Manolo
experiences a
vision from his
youth while
lying on his
hospital
deathbed.
nating experiment.”
The production’s front-end lab
work was done at Cinecolor Argentina
in Buenos Aires. That lab also handled
the majority of the 2K scanning; some
other scanning work was done at
Technicolor in Madrid, where
Beristain worked on the digital grade
with colorist Noémie Dulau.
“Nowadays I’m involved in many
conversations, panels and interviews
regarding how new technologies can
optimize the way a cinematographer
communicates with the dailies and final
colorists,” he notes. “Of course, the
integrity and artistic value of the
images cinematographers produce
depends very much on this communi-
cation, but I think equally important is
our close contact with the person who
will sit behind the machine, and our
capacity to involve him or her in the
project.
“When I met Noémie and told
her about my ‘emotional lighting’
concept, she looked at me with an
expression that said, ‘Oh, no, this is
going to be painful,’ but after she read
the script and we had a few conversa-
tions, she understood that our primary
concern was going to be the dramatic
mood of the scene. We didn’t care
about the period or have any precon-
ceived notions about certain colors for
certain characters. If the mood called
for cool light, we made it cool; if it
called for strong contrast, we’d crank
those blacks. The [Autodesk] Lustre
helped us make the lighting a great
character, like a storyteller within the
film.” ●
51
TECHNICAL SPECS
2.40:1
3-perf Super 35mm
Arricam Studio, Lite
Arri Master Prime,
Angenieux Optimo
Kodak Vision2 100T 5212,
200T 5217, 250D 5205;
Vision3 500T 5219
Digital Intermediate
52 May 2011 American Cinematographer
T
he new Disney movie Prom,a coming-of-age story about
an ensemble of teens getting ready for the biggest night
of their young lives, marks the U.S.-featuredebut of
Arri’s Alexadigital motion-picture camera. (The
European film Anonymous, shot by Anna Foerster, was the
camera’s first feature outing, according to Arri.)
For director Joe Nussbaum and cinematographer Byron
Shah, the goal was a look “that felt real, raw and a little out of
control,” says Shah. “The movie weaves together multiple
love stories, and the look had to match the whirlwind inten-
sity of teen love.”
“We created a digital look-book made up of stills from
other movies, all of which had been shot on film; there were
no references for a digitally shot movie that had the look we
wanted,”notes Nussbaum.
Before production commenced, the filmmakers tested
the Alexa side-by-side with a Red One MX and a Sony F35.
“There was no studio mandate to shoot digitally, but Joe and
I both were open to the idea provided we could find a format
that worked for the project,” says Shah. “We didn’t test film
because we knew what film looks like, and we wanted to
judge the digital formats on their own terms. We set up an
apples-to-apples test: same lens, same stop, same filters, same
setup, same lighting, same settings and so on. We just
switched out the camera bodies.”
First
Dance
First
Dance
Arri’s Alexa makes its U.S. feature
debut on Prom, shot by Byron Shah.
By Noah Kadner
•|•
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 53
Footage from representative
scenes was taken through to a 35mm
print and screened blind at FotoKem.
Everyone agreed that the Alexa most
closely represented the look they
wanted. “It was really unanimous, from
Disney’s head of production, Sean
Bailey, on down,” says Shah. “The
dynamic range was what sold us on the
Alexa. We lit a scene at the main loca-
tion, a school, that featured an actress
walking through a hot splash of
sunlight. It was 8 stops over key, but
instead of clipping, the Alexa rolled off
more naturally, as your eye would
perceive the scene.
“Blown highlights are one of the
real tells of a digital format, and you
could never get away with such
extremes of contrast on any other digi-
tal camera without it looking elec-
tronic,” he continues. “When I’ve shot
with other digital cameras — Red, the
F35, a [Panavision] Genesis or
[Thomson] Viper — I’ve always had to
protect those highlights like a fanatic.
With the Alexa, we found a format that
could capture the extremes of bright-
ness and darkness necessary for a story
about the extremes of the teen heart.”
Introduced in April 2010, the
Alexa features a 3.5K CMOS sensor
and a PL mount, and records up to 60
fps at 1920x1080 high-definition inter-
nally to ProRes 422 or externally to
Arri’s proprietary ArriRaw format. The
camera also outputs an uncompressed
1080PsF 4:4:4 RGB stream, suitable
for uncompressed capture using exter-
nal recorders.
“We found the camera to be very
user-friendly,” says Shah. “It has great
ergonomics and very clear onboard
menus. Its viewfinder is the nicest elec-
tronic one I’ve seen yet. Of course, it’s
not the same as an optical viewfinder. It
wasn’t quite sharp enough to judge crit-
ical focus; that still has to be evaluated
on a big reference monitor.”
Eager to see its new camera put
through its paces in a feature-film
workflow, Arri offered the production
support that included access to Stephan
Ukas-Bradley, the company’s U.S. P
h
o
t
o
s

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r
d

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r
e
m
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n

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.
,

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,

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e
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,

I
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c
.
Opposite: Despite an
early antagonism, Nova
(Aimee Teegarden) and
Jesse (Thomas
McDonell) grow close in
Prom. This page, top:
Justin (Jared Kusnitz)
asks Mei (Yin Chang) to
the big dance in creative
fashion.Middle:
Cinematographer Byron
Shah (far right) and
company prepare a
close-up of Chang.
Bottom: Shah confers
with director Joe
Nussbaum as camera
operator Paul Sanchez
(far right) frames a shot.
54 May 2011 American Cinematographer

First Dance
manager of technical services. Otto
Nemenz supplied the filmmakers with
two Alexas, a set of Cooke S4 prime
lenses and an Angenieux Optimo24-
290mmzoom lens; grip and lighting
gear was provided by Paskal Lighting.
Of the S4 primes, Shah notes,
“I’d tested Cooke Speed Panchros,
thinking they’d give us their lovely low-
con look, but on the Alexa they looked
muddy, not at all the way they look on
film. But the S4s looked fantastic on the
Alexa, delivering open blacks with a lot
of detail, and smooth skin texture. We
shot most of the movie between T2 and
T2.8, lending the characters a subtle
separation from their backgrounds to
heighten the intense emotions of the
moment.”
Prom is set in Michigan, but the
production shot the movie exclusively
in Los Angeles. Shah’s key crew
included 1st AC Ethan McDonald,
gaffer Jack English, camera operator
Paul Sanchez and key grip Patrick
Heffernan.
Footage was fed at 1920x1080
24p from the Alexa’s HD-SDI port to
an outboard Codex Digital recorder
capturing to the Codex’s native RAW
format. “The Codex files were
transcoded by FotoKem to DPX and
laid off to LTO tape,” explains Shah. “It
was a bit of a challenge because I cali-
brated my monitor to the Alexa’s Rec
709 color space LUT, so I was seeing a
lot less latitude than what the Codex
was actually picking up. But I knew
what we were truly getting, and I could
also monitor raw to confirm if needed.”
“With a lens on, the Alexa is a
little front-heavy, and the Codex
recorder helped to act as a physical
counterbalance, adding weight to the
back of the rig,” notes McDonald. “We
used an EasyRig backpack harness to
make things easier. The complete pack-
age — camera, recorder and lens — was
small enough and light enough to
handhold comfortably.”
Shah used varying degrees of lens
filtration, often a mix of Tiffen Low
Con and Smoque filters. “Sometimes
we combined them with ND/IR
Top: Nova leads a meeting outside the shed that houses the school’s prom decorations.
Middle: After the shed burns down, Principal Dunnan (Jere Burns, center) tasks Jesse with
helping to remake the decorations. Bottom: Jesse and Nova restore a water fountain in
the school’s art room.
filters,” says McDonald. “In testing, we
found that the Alexa has some built-in
IR protection, whereas most digital
cameras don’t have as much. We found
that NDs alone weren’t keeping skin
tones neutral, so we moved up to IR
filters.”
One of Prom’s big sequences is a
quintessential rite of passage, an elabo-
rate “ask” to the prom. In this case, it’s a
theatrical moment set, appropriately, on
the school’s auditorium stage. “We shot
that scene, between Justin [Jared
Kusnitz] and Mei [Yin Chang], on our
first day of principal photography,” says
Shah. “With a Steadicam, we follow
Mei running up to the stage, where
Justin has lit up the word ‘Prom?’ in
giant letters. We lit the letters with
Source Four [Lekos] on irises that we
hung amongst the theatrical lights
already at the location.
“The theatrical lights had beauti-
ful, vintage, amber glass stipple filters
that we augmented with 250 diffusion,”
continues the cinematographer. “Jack
[English] followed alongside the
Steadicam rig with a 500-watt ECT
globe in a Chinese lantern on a boom
pole. We backlit the auditorium chairs
using two Blondes with doubles on
them. We also used a Smoque filter,
which can give you some crazy, intense
flares.
“To create those flares, we used a
2K Xenon Super Trooper theatrical
follow spot on the balcony and shined it
just into the matte box, and a 27mm
Cooke S4 and a Tiffen Smoque 1,”
adds Shah. “It gave us some
marvelously out-of-control but very
spontaneous-looking flares. I was a little
nervous about giving the studio dailies
like that on day one because we’d
pushed the look so far, but they were
totally stoked, and we were off.”
Befitting a story about high-
school students, many scenes in Prom
take place in hallways and classrooms.
“In those spaces, we swapped out the
overhead fluorescents for daylight-
balanced Kino tubes,” says Shah.
“When there weren’t sufficient ceiling
fixtures, we’d augment with Joker
Source Fours for ceiling bounce and
Kino Flo Vista Beams. As our key, we
put a 400-watt Joker light with a Jem
Ball on a boom pole that we’d dance
around with.
“Since this was a digital show, we
initially did a fair amount of ND’ing on
windows, and it turned out we were a
little overzealous,” he continues.
“When we started seeing how those
shots looked on the Alexa, we decided
to not waste the gel. The Alexa holds
hot windows really well, and we ended
up using less and less ND gel in general
as the shoot continued.”
A confrontational scene between
bad boy Jesse (Thomas McDonell) and
the father of his would-be date takes
place on a grocery-store loading dock
at night. “Jack created a special ‘pump-
kin light,’ which was basically a bare
400-watt industrial sodium-vapor
lamp that matched the practical on the
wall of that location,” says Shah. “We
rated the Alexa at 640 ISO and shot
handheld. The slightly desaturated
lamp gave a rough look, which was
perfect for the hard emotions of the
scene.”
Another night scene that tested
the Alexa shows the shed holding the
prom’s decorations catching fire and
burning to the ground. “We built the
shed on a football field at a middle
school in Northridge,” says Shah.
“We had one 18K HMI gelled with
Lee Steel Blue on a Condor hitting
the grass in front of the shed, and that
was about it in terms of lighting. The
special-effects team estimated that
the flames would only go up about 4
feet off the roof, so I had to guess the
exposure.
“We set the camera ISO to 200
and exposed at a T8, hoping that
everything else would be balanced
with the fire. We set up two Alexas;
one was a wide shot that dollied in,
and the other was on the 12:1 Optimo
to grab pieces. Once the burn started,
the flames leapt as high as 25 feet off
the roof, but the Alexa held the expo-
sure, and we got it all in one take.”
In the aftermath of the fire, Jesse
and Nova (Aimee Teegarden) find
themselves relegated to the school’s art
room to design new decorations. “It
was a ground-floor location that was
meant to play as a basement,” says
Shah. “So we started with four 4K
Xenons bounced off mirrors, projected
through clerestory windows playing as
Nova’s father, Frank (Dean Norris, right), confronts Jesse at a grocery-store loading dock. To boost the
practicals on location, Shah reports that gaffer Jack English “created a special ‘pumpkin light,’ which was
basically a bare 400-watt industrial sodium-vapor lamp.”
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 55
56 May 2011 American Cinematographer
hard sun, and used a few Jokers with
Source Four attachments for extra
splashes of sunlight.
“Scenes progress in this room
from a bright day to a bluish twilight,”
continues the cinematographer. “We
bounced four HMIs [two 18Ks and
two 12Ks] into a row of 12-by-12
Ultrabounce frames for skylight
through the high windows, and then
used a tungsten key light inside with
our ubiquitous Chinese lantern fitted
with a 500-watt ECT. We also dressed
the art room with lots of practical lamps
on hand-squeeze dimmers to play as
warm and inviting as antagonism
between the two characters gives way to
romance. We did a lot of long, hand-
held takes to emphasize their changing
emotions.”
Nova and Jesse create a giant,
functional fountain for the prom’s
centerpiece. “We bounced Dedolights
into the fountain,” says English, “and
we also brought in a bunch of 150-watt
waterproof garden lights that we gelled
with Full Straw and ND. The fountain
had a copper-tile surface, and we
bounced two 300-watt Arri Fresnels
and two Peppers with 200-watt FEV
bulbs off it to produce shimmering
light on the kids’ faces.”
“For a lot of the night scenes, we
rated the Alexa at 500 ISO for more
shadow detail,” says McDonald. “In a
couple of instances, we went to 800 to
make a shot; that added some image
noise, but it was a pleasing, film-grain
sort of noise. For day scenes, we kept
the camera at 320 ISO, which seemed
to give us the best-looking skin tones.”
As Jesse and Nova complete their
work, the film transitions to the night
of the prom. “We lit the prom scene
with 56 Pars and 19-degree Source
Fours rigged over the tables,” says
English. “We dressed practical table
lamps with 216 diffusion gel in glass
cylinders and put two Jokers and
Source Fours gelled with
1
⁄4 CTB on a
mirror ball over the dance floor.”
During the dance, the filmmakers also
made judicious use of a 25'
Technocrane and a Steadicam.
At the beginning of the shoot,
Shah and Nussbaum screened a selec-
tion of dailies at 2K resolution on a big
screen in a Pablo suite at FotoKem,
using a custom-designed film-emula-
tion LUT. “We didn’t film out any
dailies,” notes Shah. “Once we got
going, we had Internet dailies via the
Pix network.”
“In the dailies, I was surprised to
see a big difference in resolution
between our prime and zoom lenses,”
he says. “Like a lot of digital cameras,
the Alexa still needs that extra snap that
primes give on the big screen. That was
fine with me, because we would have
used primes for almost the whole show,
anyway.”
FotoKem’s involvement in Prom
began early in prep, with the help of
Tom Vice, manager and vice president
of FotoKem’s NextLab. “We’ve had a

First Dance
Top: Nussbaum directs Cameron Monaghan (left) and Nolan Sotillo (center). For scenes set in
hallways and classrooms, Shah says, “we swapped out the overhead fluorescents for daylight-balanced
Kino tubes.” Bottom: Lloyd (Nicholas Braun) talks with Besty (Allie Trimm) in the library. Shooting
with Arri’s Alexa digital camera, Shah never shied away from extreme highlights. “The Alexa holds
hot windows really well,” he says.
58 May 2011 American Cinematographer

First Dance
long relationship with Arri, and this
was an important project for them and
for Disney,” notes Vice. “Arri was heav-
ily involved and helped us in the early
stages, confirming workflows and
frame-rate combinations.
“We set Byron up with enough
Codex magazines to shoot for two full
days, which gave us enough time for
our dailies turnaround,” continues Vice.
“As each drive arrived, we’d load the
Codex RAW files onto the network
from our in-house transfer station. The
digital-imaging technician on set had
already input some scene slates and
metadata, which helped a lot.
“The Codex RAW format uses a
proprietary 3:1 wavelet compression,
which we’d immediately decode for
PIX and compress for Avid with
Byron’s desired LUT already applied,”
he continues. “Then we’d run off DPX
frames onto LTO tape for safekeeping.
The beauty of our system is that those
Codex files stay on our network and
can be called up directly in the Pablo
DI suite for the conform stage. We can
take the editor’s pull list, load it into the
Pablo, conform from Codex to DPX,
and then go right out to film.”
Shah worked with colorist John
Daro to create the film’s final output. “I
knew the Alexa’s latitude was profound,
but it was a little crazy how much room
we had to play with and how easily we
could adjust files,” says Shah. “We shot
into hot windows whenever we could,
but the only blown highlights were in
the flames of the burning shed!
“Going in, my chief concern was
that the texture of close-ups on the big
screen would feel electronic and unap-
pealing,” he continues. “Diffusion
wasn’t an option, because I didn’t like
how even light amounts of [Schneider]
Classic Soft look on this format —
totally phony. So I was delighted to see
that for the first time in my experience
with a digital format, the close-ups look
gorgeous, supple and natural.”
Looking back on the experience,
both Shah and Nussbaum are pleased
with the Alexa’s performance. “It was
initially a race against time just to get
our camera bodies right off the assem-
bly line,” recalls Nussbaum. “But after
that, it was unbelievable how few prob-
lems we had during production and
post. We had all the range we needed in
the DI, and Byron just nailed the look.”
“Everyone was making the same
movie,” notes Shah. “The studio gave
us the support we needed, and the
results are a tribute to Joe and our
producer, Justin Spring. They encour-
aged me to take some chances on my
first studio movie, and all those chances
paid off.” ●
Jesse and Nova
survey their
handiwork.
Looking back
over his first
dance with the
Alexa, Shah
notes, “we found
a format that
could capture the
extremes of
brightness and
darkness
necessary for a
story about the
extremes of the
teen heart.”
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A History of Digital Imagers
The invention of the first passive Metal-Oxide
Semiconductor imager is credited to Gene P. Weckler of
Fairchild Semiconductor, who authored the article
“Operation of p-n Junction Photodetectors in a Photon Flux
Integrating Mode” in the Sept. 1967 issue of the IEEE
Journal of Solid-State Circuits . Weckler’s early work in MOS
imagers was also detailed in his influential follow-up paper,
“Integrated Arrays of Silicon Photodetectors for Image
Sensing,” co-written with Rudolph H. Dyck for the April
1968 edition of the IEEE Journal of Transactions on Electron
Devices.
Simultaneously, in the United Kingdom, Peter J.W.
Noble documented his active pixel concepts in the article
“Self-Scanned Silicon Image Detector Arrays,” which was
also printed in the April 1968 edition of IEEE Transactions
on Electron Devices.
An invention that is more directly related to today’s
60 May 2011 American Cinematographer
G
iven the proliferation of digital motion-picture camera
systems available to cinematographers today, a primer
on how these various digital imagers function is perhaps
overdue. If you are a cinematographer, a clear under-
standing of the factors that influence a sensor’s function and
integration into a camera’s design can help you make better
decisions about which system best suits your needs.
The first installment of this two-part series will discuss
how digital imagers developed and evolved, differentiate
between CCD and CMOS imagers, and touch upon the
concepts of resolution, Modulation Transfer Function,
perceived picture sharpness and Nyquist Sampling Theorem.
Next month, Part 2 will delve further into the function of
CCD and CMOS imagers and their application in various
camera systems, color-filter arrays, image processing, digital
output specs and recording mechanisms.
To begin our dissection of this topic, let’s look at how
digital imagers developed.
Decoding
Digital
Imagers: Part 1
The first of a two-part
look at the origins,
design characteristics
and functions of
today’s digital-imaging
sensors.
By Christopher Probst
•|•
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 61
digital-imager environment, however,
occurred in 1969 at Bell Labs, with
George E. Smith and Willard S. Boyle’s
creation of the Charge-Coupled
Device, or CCD. The CCD imager
quickly established itself as a more easily
produced technology for the state of
semiconductor fabrication capabilities
in the 1970s and on through the 1980s.
Smith and Boyle were presented with a
2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for their
contribution to the birth of digital
imaging.
CCDs dominated early on partly
because of strong R&D by corporations
such as Sony, RCA and Bell Labs. In
fact, the Sony Corp. Research Center
actively developed CCD technology in
the early 1970s, and by 1972 displayed a
96-pixel linear CCD sensor at its
annual exhibition. By July 1976, Sony
had created its first single-chip color
camera prototype, and in March 1978,
it unveiled its first three-chip CCD
camera design that utilized three
110,000-pixel Interline Transfer CCD
sensors.
Defining the Pixel
In order to better understand how
digital imagers such as CCDs work, we
should first define an oft-misunder-
stood term: the pixel. The first known
use of the word was in a 1965 paper by
Fred C. Billingsley and George
Peterson, who collaborated at the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory.
“The term ‘pixel’ comes from two
words: Picture and Element,” says Larry
Thorpe, national marketing executive of
Canon’s Broadcast and Communication
Division and formerly a veteran of more
than 20 years in Sony’s HD division.
“However, there are several different
types of pixels, denoting several different
types of things. There are imaging pixels
in the sensor of a camera. There are
digital pixels associated with the camera
digitization processing and interfacing.
And today, with fixed-pixel displays,
there are also display pixels.”
For this discussion, we will focus
primarily on imaging pixels and their
derived digital pixels used in the
Opposite page: Arri's ALEV-III Super 35mm CMOS sensor used in the Alexa camera. This page,
top: At Bell Labs in 1974, Willard Boyle (left) and George Smith demonstrate an experimental
camera featuring an early CCD imager. (Reprinted with permission of Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc.)
Below: The principle behind the charge-transfer and readout of a CCD chip. One row at a time is
then shifted through an A/D Converter, which makes the output signal digital.
62 May 2011 American Cinematographer
construction of a SMPTE-prescribed
delivery format. To help avoid confu-
sion, we will use the term “photosite” to
refer to imaging pixels and “pixel” when
referring to digital pixels. By definition,
imager photosites are the tiny receptors
in a CCD or CMOS sensor that trans-
form the two-dimensional optical
image projected by the lens onto the
sensor into an analog electronic signal.
CCD Imagers
The CCD, at its most basic, is
designed to store and transfer informa-
tion in the form of an electrical charge.
In cross-section, it consists of a substrate
of semiconductor material covered with
an insulator.
A pattern of metal electrodes is
positioned on the insulator, and every
third electrode is connected to a
common conductor. When voltage is
applied to an electrode, a potential
“well” forms in the semiconductor
beneath it. In the case of an imaging
sensor, the amount of charge that fills a
well depends on the amount of light
striking that area of the CCD. By
applying voltage to the next electrodes,
potential wells form under them, and
part of the stored charge shifts over to
the new well areas. When voltage is
removed from the original energized
electrodes, the charge in their wells like-
wise spills over into the new wells. This
process continues down the line of elec-
trodes to a detector in a sort of “bucket-
brigade” fashion.
“Functionally, CCDs are the
simplest of imagers,” states John Galt,
senior vice president of Panavision’s
Advanced Digital Imaging Group, “but
to manufacture them with today’s specs
requires an amazingly complex process.
In fact, there are only a few manufactur-
ers of CCDs in the world.”
Jeffrey Zarnowski, sensor-design
engineer and chief technology officerof
Panavision Imaging, adds, “CCDs have
dominated the solid-state-imager
market over MOS or CMOS photodi-
odes for the past 30-plus years because
CCDs have the lowest noise and high-
est sensitivity. Sony had the lion’s share
of the CCD market thanks to its Hole
Accumulation Diode pixel technology,
which allowed for improved blue
response over standard photogate pixels.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, CCDs
continued to evolve in resolution and
quality, and in the year 2000, Panavision
and Sony introduced the F900 as the
first 3-CCD 24-fps progressive HD
video camera.”
CMOS Imagers
Many of today’s digital-stills
cameras and digital-cinema camera
systems use a different type of digital-
imaging architecture: Complimen-
tary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor, or
CMOS, sensors. These are fabricated
with many of the same processes as
today’s highly complex integrated
circuits for microprocessors and
memory.
CMOS sensors differ from
CCDs in that they incorporate on-chip
much of the amplification and digitiza-
tion circuitry necessary to capture a
photosite’s analog electronic signal.
This circuitry allows CMOS photosites
to perform their own charge-to-voltage
conversion, instead of requiring the
charge to be transferred to an output
node for subsequent conversion into an
electronic signal. It does this by arrang-
ing the photosites in a checkerboard of
readout busses that contain not only the
photosite, but also as many as eight

Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1
Left: The structure of a typical CMOS photosite
with a microlens and a single color of a color-filter
array. A certain percentage of the “real estate” is
occupied by processing circuitry, leaving only a
fraction of the area for actual photo-electric
sensing. Right: One of the first CCD sensors
produced. (Reprinted with permission of
Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc.)
Typical CMOS Photosite Structure
Microlens
Amplifier
Transistor
Column
Bus
Transistor
Silicon
Substrate
Photodiode
Potential
Well
Red
Color
Filter
Reset
Transistor
Row
Select
Bus
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 63
transistors that convert the accumulated
electron charge into a measurable volt-
age. These additional electronic compo-
nents reside alongside the light-sensitive
photodiode and occupy a certain
percentage of the area of the photosite.
This remaining percentageis the actual
photosensitive area and mostly deter-
mines the actual sensitivity and dynamic
range of the sensor.
After converting the photosite’s
stored charge into an electrical voltage,
and before transferring the photosite’s
analog electrical signal to a vertical
column bus, this digital circuitry must
reset the photodiode to begin the next
integration cycle. The bus’s function is
to also supply necessary timing signals
to the photodiodes and send their read-
out information to the analog decoding
and processing circuitry. A benefit of
this grid structure of buses is that it
allows each of the photosites in the array
to be read as simple x and y coordinates.
“With a CMOS imaging device,
each photosite has an amplifier with a
number of transistors, diodes and capac-
itors — a miniature circuit — that occu-
pies the same [substrate],” explains Galt.
“With CMOS manufacturing, it has
been proven that the size of the features
on any semiconductor have been follow-
ing Moore’s Law, getting smaller and
smaller.”
Moore’s Law refers to Gordon
Moore, the co-founder of Intel Corp.,
who stated, “Every 18 months, the
density doubles, or the feature-sizes
half.” This rapid pace of increasing
technological complexity has allowed
CMOS imagers to make significant
qualitative steps. As Galt notes, “They
have gone from having circuit features
that you could see with the human eye
to having features that you can only see
with an electron microscope!
“To grasp the manufacturing
challenges this presents,” he continues,
“I use an analogy to help people get a
sense of how small the elements of these
devices can get. On edge, a dollar bill is
pretty consistently 100 microns thick.
On the sensor we use for the
[Panavision] Genesis, a photosite is only
4.1 microns wide.”
Zarnowski expands, “The initial
promise of CMOS imagers was
hindered by the fact that they were
noisy [compared] to CCDs. This was
due to both Fixed Pattern Noise and
Temporal Noise, and as a result CMOS
imagers had objectionable patterns
that could be seen by the viewer and
didn’t quite have the same sensitivity
as CCDs. With the recent archi-
tecture changes made to eliminate
FPN and the creation of overall lower-
noise pixels — through the addition of
pinned photodiodes — CMOS imagers
are now living up to their potential.”
“CCD technology was the supe-
rior technology in the ’80s and probably
through the ’90s, but CMOS was on a
real growth curve because it’s a technol-
ogy that is used in all of the other semi-
conductor manufacturing operations,”
agrees Glenn Kennel, president and
CEO of Arri, Inc. “Unfortunately, all of
the Moore’s Law’s improvements no
longer apply to CCD because there just
aren’t enough products being developed
for them. CCD is still a viable technol-
ogy, but it’s more expensive to make,
and it isn’t improving at the same rate.
In fact, it has reached a kind of plateau.
CMOS imagers continue to improve
and have now passed CCDs in sensitiv-
ity, dynamic range and frame-rate capa-
bilities.”
General Components of a
Digital Camera
For simplicity’s sake, we can say
the digital camera has two discrete
sections: the front-end imaging section
and the back end for digital processing
and output digital interfaces.
In the imaging section, an image
enters a lens and is projected onto a
sensor. The sensor then samples this
image opto-electrically with its photo-
sites and generates an analog electrical
signal. It is at this step when the resolu-
tion for the entire system is greatly
determined and/or influenced by the
number of samples on the sensor — in
this case, the number of photosites.
This analog sampling of the image is
then “handed” to the digital section and
subsequently subjected to separate digi-
tal sampling.
“In the digital section, we have to
grab that analog information and digi-
tize it — it’s a second sampling step,”
A photomicrograph image of a cross-section of a pixel. Visible are the
microlens above each photosite “well,” as well as the color filter
photo-lithographically printed beneath the lens. (Image courtesy of Panavision.)
64 May 2011 American Cinematographer
says Thorpe. “The resolution, the
dynamic range and the tonal reproduc-
tion, all of the really important imaging
attributes, have to faithfully be repre-
sented digitally. With some sensors,
such as CMOS imagers, that analog-
to-digital conversion is done inside the
sensor, but it’s still a two-step process:
analog transformation followed by digi-
tization. From that digital sampling
structure, you then do a lot of processing
and formulate interface signals that can
go to the outside world in the form of a
video-output signal to be viewed, or to
be sent to a recorder or other various
systems.
“Now,” he notes, “is there a link
between the total number of imaging
photosites and their resultant digital
pixels? There can be, but there might
not be!”
In fact, it is not mandatory to
have a direct 1:1 relationship between
the number of photosites on a sensor
and the digital-pixel dimensions derived
from that photosite array. Indeed, the
concept of an imager’s photosites
directly corresponding to its digital-
pixel output specs is fraught with confu-
sion.
Thorpe recalls, “In 1981, when
the world created the first digital stan-
dards for standard-definition video,
SMPTE defined the North American
standard as: 720 (H) x 480 (V). The
CCD cameras invented at that time
were all horizontally sub-sampled [with
imager photosites numbering less than
the horizontal output standard]. That
was all they could build! But as the ’80s
progressed, manufacturers learned how
to build more sophisticated CCDs, and
by the late ’80s, they started to over-
sample, or super-sample, in the hori-
zontal direction. To my knowledge,
however, even today there is no profes-
sional standard-def camera that has [a
1:1 ratio of] optical photosites and
[output] digital pixels.
“Super-sampling facilitates sub-
sequent digital filtering and helps
produce a very nice ‘aperture,’ as we call
it,” Thorpe continues. “In HD,
however, in both the single-chip and
tri-imager systems, you will find a lot of
linkage between the photosites and the
digital pixels. One reason for that is that
when the first 3-chip CCD HD
cameras came out, in the early ’90s, the
creators decided to go as high as they
possibly could [in terms of definition].
Even today we still see lots of HD
cameras whose optical sites match their
digital pixels, but, surprisingly, we also
see lots of sub-sampling in HD camera
systems. Additionally, there are several
Ultra High Definition camera systems
emerging on the market that are now
super-sampling.”
Resolution
Clearly, there is some room for
interpretation in talking about photo-
sites, pixels and resolution. “The resolu-
tion of a digital camera is often defined
as the number of pixels in the signal
that’s being delivered, but that is inaccu-
rate,” states Thorpe. “However, it is true
that the topic of resolution and the
specifications for it are bound up in
discussions of pixels.”
Looking at the specs of various
camera systems on the market today,
you see a range of different photosite
dimensions utilized in various HD, 2K
and even 4K camera systems.
“There are a lot of differences to
be seen in each of these specs,” notes

Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 65
Thorpe. “Why? Because every manufac-
turer wants lots of photosites on the
sensor to get more resolution, but that
creates a problem: As the number of
photosites goes up on a sensor, the
photosites get smaller, and when the
photosites get smaller, you see increased
noise and reduced dynamic range. So
there’s a tradeoff between resolution and
management of dynamic range and
noise; each manufacturer decides on a
certain number of photosites and then
does some clever processing — especially
if they sub-sample — to try to recover
some of the resolution.”
Sampling Theory and MTF
To describe the performance of an
imager, it is also necessary to define the
concept of sampling. “Let’s say I have a
CCD that’s looking at an image
projected onto it by a lens,” says Thorpe.
“That sensor is photosampling that
image with its photosites. With that
information, you will then have to recon-
struct all of those samples in order to get
something useful, like a video signal.
However, in 1928, Harry Nyquist wrote
a famous mathematical paper that
haunts us to this day. He concluded that
if you sample — optically, electrically or
digitally — you are stuck with a funda-
mental rule: If you have N samples
[across a line] or N-samples vertically,
you can only resolve N/2without experi-
encing an interference.
“In other words,” he continues, “in
the reconstruction of an image, your
sampling of those photosites must be at
least twice the highest detail that is of
interest to you. Otherwise, you’re going
to get interference, which we call aliasing
or moiré. This applies to the sensor that’s
doing optical sampling, and it also applies
to the digitization process that’s doing
digital sampling. Harry hits you twice in
any digital camera!”
To break it down mathematically,
if you have an HD imager with 1,920
horizontal samples, you can unambigu-
ously resolve only 960 line-pairs per
picture width. And if some information
coming in from the lens has a frequency
that is higher than 960, it is going to
generate a problem. In fact, if that infor-
mation is of very high frequency detail,
it will generate spurious signal interfer-
ence at a correspondingly low spatial
frequency intermixed into the signal:
aliasing.
The sampling capabilities of a
digital sensor are more commonly
denoted as line-pairs per picture height,
or lp/ph. To derive this number, you
need to transform the line-pairs-per-
picture-width value by the inverse of the
aspect ratio (16:9 in most digital
imagers), or by 9/16. So with our exam-
ple of 960 lp/pw, we transform that by
the inverse of the aspect ratio, resulting
in a calculation for the 1,920 samples in
the sensor example being able to accu-
rately resolve 540 line-pairs per picture
height across the picture.
But what exactly are the parame-
ters of resolving line-pairs? Here is
where Modulation Transfer Function,
or MTF, rears its confounding head.
“MTF begs the questions, ‘What
are we modulating, and what are we
transferring?’” says Thorpe. “Let’s
postulate a lens looking at a scene,
which in our test case is low-frequency
black-and-white bars that have a nice,
high contrast of 600:1. The lens’s job is
to transfer that scene from the real
world into an object-image. We hope
that object-image will be exactly the
same as the scene in front of the lens, but
there is no such thing as a perfect lens, so
we cannot get the same 600:1 contrast
ratio through the lens. But let’s suppose
that we have a very good lens that deliv-
ers a contrast ratio of 595:1. We’ll lose a
little contrast, even at the lowest
frequencies of a black-and-white high-
contrast input.
“But here’s the bad part: If we
increase the frequency of that scene,
which means increasing the fineness of
the detail in the black-and-white bars
[like a test chart], the delivered image
will come through at an even lower
contrast than the lower-frequency scene.
That is true of every lens on the planet.
[An image projected through a lens] will
lose contrast increasingly as you raise the
detail fineness. Plainly stated, the trans-
ferred contrast is being altered as we
move up in higher and higher frequen-
cies. And it’s the variations in trans-
ferred-detail contrast that constitute this
transfer function; the transfer function is
how your contrast behaves as you raise
the fineness of the detail. If you put
enough of these frequencies in, measure
their output and plot them on a graph,
you get a profile, or modulation, of the
transfer of contrast. Hence, MTF.”
MTF occurs at multiple steps in
the image-capture, digitization and
output chain, and has a cumulative effect
66 May 2011 American Cinematographer
on the “total system” resolution possible
in a digital camera. The lens fitted to
the front of the camera has its own
MTF characteristics, as do the sensor
sampling the image, the lens of a projec-
tor showing the image, and your very
own eyes.
Fill Factor
An additional consideration with
both CCD and CMOS imagers is that
because part of the sensor’s surface area
features additional circuitry components
necessary to capture and digitize each
photosite’s charge, the photosensitive
areas of the pixel do not abut one
another. This “gap” between the
photosensitive portions of the photo-
sites — the fill factor — is often
discussed as a percentage of the area. For
example, a sensor with a 60-percent fill
factor would have 60 percent of a
photosite’s area devoted to capturing the
incident light. The remaining 40
percent would denote the area occupied
by the additional digital components on
the chip.
“In designing CMOS-sensor
photosites, there are metal wires that
run vertically and horizontally in a grid
pattern,” says Zarnowski. “These metal
wires both block and reflect light to
neighboring ‘pixels.’ It is this scattered
light that can distort color, as adjacent
pixels are usually a different color, and
it’s why a microlens over each pixel is
formed to focus the light directly onto
the photodiode.”
A microlens is essentially a
single-element lens formed on the
sensor above each individual photosite.
The microlens is typically circular in
shape but covers a square photosite.
How well a microlens is positioned and
shaped has great affect on MTF and
the fill factor of a photosite.
“MTF is only one aspect of
image quality that goes into the numer-
ous tradeoffs that have to be made in
the design of the pixel,” expands
Zarnowski. “Different pixel designs can
have as few as 1.33 transistors per pixel
or as many as 5 transistors per pixel.
The fewer transistors per pixel, the
higher the fill factor; usually there’s a
direct increase of the photosite’s full
well capacity. Additionally, a larger
photodiode and full well [capacity] can
have a direct impact on the sensitivity
and dynamic range of the pixel — two
other very important factors of imager
quality.”
An ironic aspect of fill factor is
that as the space between the photosites
increases due to these additional elec-
tronic components, so does the sensor’s
MTF response. “If you have a large gap
between photosites, the MTF curve
actually lifts,” notes Thorpe. “That’s great
because it gives us a potential for more
resolution, but it’s also bad because
[increased resolution] gives us more
energy to generate aliasing.”
“Typically, photosites using
microlenses will have a fill factor of
approximately 70 percent,” says
Zarnowski, “and most photosites that are
6 microns or smaller will have a
microlens. On larger photosites that don’t
use a microlens, the MTF is directly
related to the percentage of the pixel that
the photodiode occupies. The smaller the
percentage, the lower the fill factor and
the higher the MTF; as the photodiodes
are effectively isolated from one another,
less cross-talk between them can occur.”
Perceived Picture Sharpness
and Optical Low-Pass Filtering
Resolution is often thought of as
synonymous with “sharp” and “in focus.”
However, the concept is also entangled
with our own human perceptionof
sharpness. During the 1950s, RCA engi-
neer Otto Schade did extensive testing of
the subjective human response to resolu-
tion and perceived picture sharpness.
From this research, he determined that
the human-perceived impression of
sharpness was proportional to the square
of the area under the MTF curve.
Thorpe explains, “Schade found
that when you look at a screen some
distance away, the perceived sharpness
that you see with your eyes and your brain
is weighted much more toward the
lower-band and mid-band spatial
frequencies. Higher frequencies do
almost nothing to your perception of
sharpness. When you square an MTF
curve, that new curve, and specifically the
shape and area underneath it, is what
your eyes and brain see as perceived sharp-
ness. It’s not about having 1,000 or 2,000
lines of resolution; that range is almost
meaningless to us because we can’t see
frequencies that high from a normal
viewing distance.”
In other words, good contrast
reproduction in the overalllow-band and
mid-band frequencies in an image is what
stimulates us to perceive an image as

Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 67
sharp. However, as most concepts in the
science of cinematography go, these
parameters of sharpness, contrast and
resolution are inextricably intertwined. In
fact, a sensor’s high-resolution capability
does impact its reproduction of the low-
band and mid-band frequencies.
“Contrast and sharpness areinex-
tricably linked,” confirms Thorpe. “We
can measure the MTF of a lens/camera
in line-pairs or with burst charts [a chart
that has some contrast in it], but the
bottom line is that you want the lens and
camera to deliver a curve with as high of
a ‘belly’ as possible at the lower-band and
mid-band spatial frequencies. A lens and
camera with the highest curve, the fattest
belly in terms of shape, will be perceived
as the sharpest. You don’t want to go into
the camera and turn up the digital edge-
enhancement to get edges reproduced
with clarity and no softness. You want
inherent sharpness coming from a good
MTF.”
Just how you get “a good MTF” is
determined from the start by the number
of photosites sampling the image at the
sensor and the quality of the lens. Every
step thereafter serves only to reduce the
image’s resolution, as Nyquist explained.
Put more directly, in order to get good
MTF performance at low-band and
mid-band frequencies, we need as much
high-frequency performance as possible,
even though we won’t ultimately see that
fine detail with our eyes.
However, in order to produce the
high-resolution performance necessary
to produce a “big belly” MTF response
curve in the low-band and mid-band
frequency ranges, we must deal first with
Nyquist’s sampling theorem to avoid
interference. This means pre-filteringout
any higher frequencies that might gener-
ate aliasing.
Thorpe describes this filtering
solution: “If we have a 1,920 (H) imager
that can unambiguously resolve 540 line-
pairs per picture height horizontally, and
if these photosites are large and abut one
another, then you get a curve like the one
[on page 66].
“Now, let’s say the lens projects
onto this sensor a very high-detail scene.
If its very-high-frequency detail is
higher than the carrier [or maximum
resolution capability of the sensor], it
will then generate a spurious interfer-
ence at a very low frequency in the
signal. That’s aliasing. And once created,
aliasing cannot be removed — it’s
indelible.
“How do you avoid that? You use
an Optical Low-Pass Filterin front of
the sensor, and shape that filter to try to
keep the in-band resolution up and the
aliasing down as far as possible. There is
no perfect way of doing that, so you end
up with a tradeoff. All camera manufac-
turers have their own criteria for their
Optical Low-Pass Filters, but they
rarely publish what those criteria are.”
As its name suggests, an Optical
Low-Pass Filter optically passes only the
lower frequencies at a manufacturer-
specified range. Frequencies above the
cutoff are effectively blocked by a
process that blurs the high-frequency
details, thereby preventing them from
generating interference. As Nyquist’s
theory suggests, the filtering must be
done at any and all sampling steps — in
the camera’s imaging section (in front of
the sensor for the photosite’s sampling
of the image) and then again in the digi-
tal section (for the digital sampling that
occurs electronically).
“The sensor is looking at the
image from the lens and is therefore
sampling it,” says Thorpe. “So it has a
sampling frequency and a corresponding
optical Nyquist value. The camera
manufacturer has to then put in an
Optical Low-Pass Filter, which allows
you to keep most of the [low-band and
mid-band] resolution, but there is still a
tradeoff in order to keep the aliasing
way down.
“Then that analog signal must be
digitized, and the digital section has a
digital sampling frequency that also has
a digital Nyquist value, which may or
may not be the same frequency,” contin-
ues Thorpe. “So, as you did with the
imaging section, you must filter the
digital section.
“Finally, all camera manufacturers
will put a third filter near the output of
the camera that’s intended to apply a
finite limit that protects against down-
stream digital processing [in the record-
ing system, in post and in subsequent
digital distribution]. With HD cameras,
the shape of that final filter is prescribed
by the SMPTE to be 30 Mhz. That is
built into the production standard and is
deliberately below the camera Nyquist
limit for HD.”
Ed. Note: See next month’s issue for
Part 2. ●
The top graph shows the sensor's MTF response to an incoming image in blue and the subsequent
Optical Low Pass Filtering at the Nyquist limit, resulting in the green curve below it. The bottom graph
shows all of the necessary digital filtering for Nyquist and SMPTE output requirements.
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 69
C
elebrating cinematographers’ 2010 accomplishments for screens both big and small, the
Society presented the 25th annual ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in
Cinematography on Feb. 13. The gala awards banquet was held at the Hollywood & Highland
Grand Ballroom, just around the corner from the ASC Clubhouse, where the Society hosted
a lively afterparty. In the days leading up to the Awards, the Clubhouse also provided the setting for
the ASC's annual Open House, the Nominees Dinner and the inaugural Friends of the ASC event.
These were the nominees for ASC Awards in competitive categories. They are presented in
alphabetical order, with the winners highlighted in boldface type:
Regular Series/Pilot: Eagle Egilsson, ASC, Dark Blue, “Shell Game”; Jonathan Freeman,
ASC, Boardwalk Empire, “Home”; Christopher Manley, ASC, Mad Men , “Blowing Smoke”;
Kramer Morgenthau, ASC, Boardwalk Empire, “Family Limitation”; David Stockton, ASC, Nikita,
“Pilot”; Michael Wale, CSC, Smallville, “Shield”; Glen Winter, CSC, Smallville, “Abandoned.”
Motion Picture/Miniseries Television: David Gribble, ACS, Jesse Stone: No Remorse ;
Jon Joffin, Alice, “Episode 2”; Stephen F. Windon, ACS, The Pacific, “Okinawa.”
Theatrical Release: Danny Cohen, BSC, The King’s Speech ; Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, The
Social Network; Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, True Grit ; Matthew Libatique, ASC, Black Swan;
Wally Pfister, ASC, Inception.
A Hollywood Affair
Photography by
Alex Lopez; Chris Mankofsky; Isidore Mankofsky, ASC; Georgia Packard, SOC;
Jason Redman; Logan Schneider; Dan Steinberg; and Matt Turve.
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC
graciously accepts his
Lifetime Achievement
Award, “even if it is a bit
premature,“ he quips.
70 May 2011 American Cinematographer
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Enjoying a moment in the spotlight at the ASC
Awards ceremony are: 1. Victor J. Kemper, ASC;
2. Awards Chairman Richard Crudo, ASC; 3. actress
Allison Janney, who presented the Regular Series
category, and Richard Kline, ASC;
4. Michael Watkins, ASC and Janney;
5. Owen Roizman, ASC; 6. Ellen Kuras, ASC, who
introduced the Presidents Award; 7. an exuberant
Douglas Kirkland, who received the Presidents
Award in recognition of his remarkable career as a
stills photographer; 8. student filmmakers Dagmar
Weaver-Madsen of UCLA and Boyd Hobbs of Full
Sail University, who earned ASC William A. Fraker
Heritage Awards; 9. Stephen H. Burum, ASC;
10. Kirkland and Kuras; 11. Woody Omens, ASC;
12. Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC.
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Others who stepped to the podium: 1. director Michael Apted, who introduced the
International Award; 2. International Award recipient John Seale, ASC, ACS;
3. Bill Butler, ASC; 4. Seale and Apted; 5. ASC President Michael Goi; 6. actress
Gillian Jacobs, who presented the Motion Picture/Miniseries category;
7. cinematographer Marc Windon, who accepted the award on behalf of his
brother, Stephen Windon, ACS (The Pacific, “Okinawa”); 8. ASC members Robert
Liu, George Spiro Dibie and Donald M. Morgan; 9. John C. Flinn III, ASC, who
introduced the Career Achievement in Television Award;
10. Michael D. O’Shea, ASC, who received the award;
11. longtime friends O’Shea and Flinn.
72 May 2011 American Cinematographer
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The cavalcade continues with: 1. Haskell Wexler, ASC; 2. Tom Hanks
introducing his friend Julia Roberts, who received the Board of
Governors Award; 3. Roberts hefting her trophy; 4. Hanks and Roberts
doubling their star wattage as they stroll offstage; 5. Jack Green, ASC;
6. Joel Coen introducing Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Roger
Deakins, ASC, BSC; 7. Deakins applauding his peers; 8. Michael
Chapman, ASC; 9. actress Diane Lane introducing the Theatrical
Release category; 10. Roizman reading a note from winner Wally
Pfister, ASC (Inception); Goi and Crudo closing the show.
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Guests and honorees making the rounds at the pre-Awards cocktail hour
included: 1. nominee Kramer Morgenthau, ASC ( Boardwalk Empire, “Family
Limitation”) and Tracy Fleischman; 2. Kodak execs Kim Snyder and Bruce
Berke with Snyder’s husband, Jim; 3. Isidore Mankofsky, ASC;
4. ASC members Stephen H. Burum and Robert Primes; 5. John Seale, ASC,
ACS with Owen and Mona Roizman (Seale's wife, Louise, chats in
foreground); 6. Veronica Lighthill and her husband, Stephen Lighthill, ASC,
with Dan Kaslow and Nancy Schreiber, ASC; 7. Carmen Cabana and her
beau, American Cinematographer circulation director Saul Molina;
8. nominee Michael Wale, CSC ( Smallville, “Shield”) and his wife, Janice;
9. Technicolor’s Bob Hoffman and his wife, Claire; 10. ASC events
coordinator Patty Armacost, Gina and Michael Goi, and ASC president’s
assistant Delphine Figueras; 11. the schmoozing throng.
74 May 2011 American Cinematographer
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1. Françoise and Douglas Kirkland; 2. American Cinematographer
circulation manager Alex Lopez and his wife, Noemi;
3. Julio Macat, ASC and “Miss ASC,” Elizabeth Barndt, with Richard
Crudo, ASC and Joe Dunton, BSC; 4. Kay Baker and Shari Belafonte;
5: honorary ASC members Bob Fisher and Larry Mole Parker with
Victor J. Kemper, ASC and his wife, Claire; 6. ASC general manager
Brett Grauman and his wife, Benita; 7. Gordon Lonsdale, ASC and
his wife, Lynn; 8: Richard Kline, ASC and his daughter, Rija;
9. Macat with his agent, Frank Balkin, and Crescenzo Notarile, ASC;
10. Frank Kay, Jim Fisher, Barbara Bass and Alan Gitlin;
11. Kees Van Oostrum, ASC and his daughter, Sara;
12. Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC and his wife, Joy.
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Circulating at the Awards afterparty held at the newly renovated ASC Clubhouse: 1. Dion Beebe, ASC, ACS;
2. AFI students Mihal Dabal and Wesley Cardino (who earned honorable mentions in the student category) flank
cinematographer Polly Morgan; 3. Walt Lloyd, ASC, with friends; 4. Fujifilm’s Curtis Jones; 5. Daniel Pearl, ASC;
6. Chris Manley, ASC; 7. Dean Cundey, ASC and his wife, Tisha; 8. John C. Flinn III, ASC and his fiancée, Julie Phillips;
9. Logan Schneider, a dedicated Friend of the ASC; 10. Canon’s Tim Smith with Rodney Charters, ASC, CSC and
Kish Sadhvani of Kish Optics; 11. associate member Denny Clairmont; 12. Joel Coen;
13. honorary ASC member Brian Spruill; 14. Fujifilm’s Sandy Kurotobi.
76 May 2011 American Cinematographer
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Snaps from the Nominees Dinner: 1. ASC President Michael Goi; 2. Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC and his wife, Susan, flank
American Cinematographer executive editor Stephen Pizzello; 3. Glen Winter, CSC; 4. Eagle Egilsson, ASC;
5. Carol Peterson and Florence Omens; 6. the more spacious Great Room; 7. Ralph Woolsey, ASC and Justina Mintz;
8. Owen and Mona Roizman with Kodak’s Michael Zakula; 9. Kramer Morgenthau, ASC; 10. Douglas Kirkland with
Milt and Joy Shefter; 11. Don McCuaig, ASC and Richard Crudo, ASC; 12. nominee Michael Wale, CSC;
13. Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC; 14. Matt Leonetti, ASC and his wife, Mary Jane.
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1. Roger and James Deakins with John and Louise Seale; 2. John Bailey, ASC with
Kodak’s Judy Doherty; 3. Kodak president and general manager Kim Snyder;
4. Sharon and Michael O’Shea with Betty Negrin; 5. Janice Simpson and associate
member Grover Crisp; 6. Boston Red Sox fan Stephen Pizzello plays hardball with
New York Yankees apologist Owen Roizman, ASC as nominee David Gribble, ACS
(Jesse Stone: No Remorse) mediates; 7. Frank Kay and his wife, Sharlene;
8. Janet Parks and Michael Margulies, ASC with Victor J. Kemper, ASC and his
wife, Claire; 9. Roizman poses proudly with his own Reserved Parking sign,
which will mark his space on the ASC lot to salute his years of hard work as
chairman of the Building Committee; 10. Glen Winter, CSC and Julie Marr;
11. Michael Goi, ASC and nominee David Stockton, ASC ( Nikita pilot);
12. Robert Liu, ASC and his wife, Ivy.
78 May 2011 American Cinematographer
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Enjoying the first Friends
of the ASC event are:
1. ASC pals Michael Goi and
George Spiro Dibie; 2. nominee
Michael Wale, CSC; 3. John Seale,
ASC, ACS (middle); 4. nominee
David Gribble, ACS and Goi;
5. a Friend of the ASC with Roger
and James Deakins; 6. nominee
Jon Joffin (Alice, “Episode 2”);
7. Stephen H. Burum, ASC and
Polly Morgan; 8. a roomful
of cinematography fans;
9. Nancy Schreiber, ASC and some
Friends of the ASC;
10. ASC compatriots Dibie and
Victor J. Kemper, ASC (at right)
flank Fujifilm’s Curtis Jones as
Kees Van Oostrum, ASC
chats in backgound;
11. Burum, John Simmons, ASC
and Mark Bender; 12. a Friend of
the ASC poses for a photo with
Haskell Wexler, ASC;
13. Frank Kay and Larry Mole Parker
welcome a guest.
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 79
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1. George Spiro Dibie, ASC takes to the microphone like a duck to water; 2. an Open House
attendee chats with Michael Negrin, ASC; 3. Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC and nominee Kramer
Morgenthau, ASC; 4. nominee David Stockton, ASC with fellow members Ellen Kuras and
Eagle Egilsson; 5. a Friend of the ASC with David Darby, ASC; 6. two Friends flank Steven
Fierberg, ASC; 7. Dibie anoints someone as “sexy”; 8. Bob Yeoman, ASC and two guests;
9. Haskell Wexler, ASC and Douglas Kirkland with attendees.
80 May 2011 American Cinematographer
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Soaking up both the sun and interior ambience at the ASC
Open House are: 1. nominees Glen Winter, CSC (left),
Jon Joffin (hydrating in the hot sun) and David Gribble, ACS
(brown leather jacket); 2. a throng of visitors; 3. Michael
Negrin, ASC (second from left) and his father, Sol Negrin, ASC
(far right) mingle with guests; 4. John Seale, ASC, ACS and a
circle of admirers; 5. Gil Hubbs, ASC (right); 6. Logan Hall and
Conrad Hall, Jr.; 7. Ellen Kuras, ASC and a group of
cinematography buffs; 8. the first Friend of the ASC, Christian
La Fountaine, with his father, George La Fountaine, ASC;
9. Haskell Wexler, ASC (third from left) and students.
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Back in the open air: 1. associate member Andy Romanoff; 2. Nancy Schreiber, ASC and
Beverly Wood of Deluxe; 3. Haskell Wexler, ASC signs an autograph; 4. Larry Mole Parker and
Amy Vincent, ASC; 5. Tom Houghton, ASC holds court; 6. an Izzy’s-eye view captured from the
Clubhouse roof by Isidore Mankofsky, ASC.
82 May 2011 American Cinematographer
Sokolsky, Stanley Detail “KB Workflow”
By Michael Goldman
In digital television production, there is no such thing as a
standard workflow. As digital acquisition proliferates, a wide range
of innovative solutions are popping up to meet network and
producer demands, budget parameters, creative requirements, and
logistical limitations. Some shows have abandoned tape altogether.
Others remain in an in-between place, using cameras capable of all-
data acquisition but continuing to record to HDCam-SR tape.
But the reverse is also true, at least for Bing Sokolsky, ASC.
Last year, he shot the first 13 episodes of the CBS series Criminal
Minds: Suspect Behavior with a tape-based camera, Sony’s F35,
while simultaneously recording and using data on set and beyond.
Sokolsky had just finished shooting a pilot, Nomads, in Thailand,
using an all-data pipeline with the Red One in collaboration with
digital-imaging technician Kevin Stanley, and he’d enjoyed the bene-
fits of that workflow.
FotoKem’s NextLab mobile data system was a key part of
Sokolsky and Stanley’s process on Nomads; it enabled them to sync,
encode and color-correct data at the production’s headquarters, and
transmit that data to editorial back in the United States via the Inter-
net. When they began prepping Criminal Minds , for which the
studio mandated a tape-based camera, Sokolsky and Stanley
decided to use NextLab again.
“We had good success using Reds and a file-based workflow
on Nomads, but for Criminal Minds we were using the F35, which
typically records to HDCam-SR tape,” says Sokolsky. “There are
ways, of course, to record files with those cameras using hard drives
and other systems, but those record a large digital file, one that
would be too large for us to move data and color-correct dailies on
set. Using NextLab gave me more control over the look of dailies,
and gave dailies to post about a day ahead of a normal workflow,
but it didn’t support large files from Codex or Panavision DSSR [Solid
State] mags. So Kevin and I explored how we could record data with
the F35 that could be ingested by NextLab.”
They decided to use Convergent Design NanoFlash HD-SD
data recorders to capture proxy 8-bit images (as 4:2:2 Long GOP
100Mbps QuickTime files in S-Log color space) of everything Sokol-
sky shot, while simultaneously recording 10-bit raw images to Sony
SRW-1 decks (as 4:2:2 PSF Sony S-Log files). The team was able to
shoot with both of those recorders onboard their F35s. This allowed
Stanley to manage and color correct NanoFlash media on his own
system near the set.
After being recorded, all files were sent via shuttle drive to
post facility Keep Me Posted, which used its own NextLab system to
render out data, apply color metadata and sound, and synchronize
all 8-bit image data quickly. Simultaneously, the production could
provide Keep Me Posted colorist Tom Overton with synchronized,
raw, 10-bit 4:2:2 HD images from the tapes.
“Both versions have embedded time code, so they’re dupli-
cates, making it fairly straightforward to conform the show after
Post Focus
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Special Agent
Sam Cooper
(Forest
Whitaker, at
head of table)
works with his
colleagues in a
scene from
Criminal
Minds: Suspect
Behavior.
I
we’ve provided proxies for dailies and edito-
rial,” says Stanley. “It didn’t change my job
much in the sense that I still checked for
signal/file corruption, managed media,
applied looks to the log files and discussed
exposure and camera-related issues with
Bing, only I did it in a truck on location,
without that central hub of cables and
monitors running through the DIT system
on set. That freed Bing to work faster and
light by eye, the way he’s always done with
film.
“And we’re not burning in any look
we can’t change later,” he adds. “With
NanoFlash, we’re using a proxy editing or
dailies format. That makes time code essen-
tial on both. The big ticket is to save money
on files up front, to media manage and
color on location, and then to let NextLab
sync and render everything on the back
end.”
Sokolsky and Stanley have dubbed
this the “KB Workflow,” after the initials in
their first names. Their method of syncing
the two recordings relies on Ambient
Recording Clockit time-code sync boxes to
feed master time code from the sound
department, with that time code then
looped from the SRW-1 recorder to the
NanoFlash recorder via a 10-bit HD-SDI
stream with embedded time code. This
ensures that the conform process can be
straightforward.
Both recorders are powered by a
common power supply, but the biggest
engineering hurdle involved the creation of
a custom toggle switch to use as a trigger
to start and stop both the SRW-1 and
NanoFlash recorders at exactly the same
time. Steve Lucas designed the switch to
the filmmakers’ specs.
Sokolsky and Stanley chose a tape
stock and Compact Flash card size for the
two recorders that allowed both to record
for approximately 30 minutes at a time,
with file names designed to match the
corresponding recorder. After reloads, tapes
and cards were labeled and brought back
to Stanley’s DIT station, and he copied and
downloaded them to a protected RAID
storage array and verified everything with
his NextLab software. He also performed a
best-light color grade using Sokolsky’s
guidelines on the NanoFlash QuickTime
clips, creating corrected dailies with synced
audio that could rapidly move by physical
media or the Internet to various parties.
Then, he sent master tapes to Keep Me
Posted for the eventual conform.
Before any of this could be imple-
mented on Criminal Minds, however,
Sokolsky had to sell producers on the
concept, which he did with a series of tests.
Eventually, all 13 initial episodes of the
show were made this way.
The producers’ wariness illustrates
the state of the industry right now, says
Sokolsky. “I had to prove to the studio and
the network that this would work,” he
says. “We shot screen tests onstage with
actors, and while executives were watch-
ing, we took the NanoFlash CF cards to the
DIT cart, had Kevin color the images and
hand them off to Keep Me Posted, and they
then used NextLab to sync up sound files in
just a matter of minutes. They transcoded
them and backed them up to LTO4 [tape],
loaded a hard drive with transcoded files in
the DNX36 [Avid] format and carried that
over to editorial, where they were loaded
into the Avid. Executives saw us shoot, color
correct, sync and edit, all within an hour.
“When we started the show, the
studio was not ready to accept a file-based
camera only, and I just didn’t want to push
them too fast,” continues the cinematogra-
pher. “My next project, a pilot called Part-
ners, will be shot on the [Arri] Alexa, so we
won’t need NanoFlash drives or tape.
Instead, we’ll use SxS [Solid State] cards in
the ProRes 4:4:4:4 format, and we’ll still use
NextLab.
“Many other TV shows will continue
to want tape involved, and this workflow is
perfect for them,” he notes. “I can work
untethered with any digital system and light
by eye, learning the new camera sensors
just like I would learn any new film emul-
sion.”
The cinematographer estimates that
the KB Workflow “put post a day ahead of
schedule and saved $15,000 an episode in
dailies. Plus, working untethered let us do
about 50-plus setups a day most of the
time, which was really nice.” ●
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Cast and crew work in one of the show’s main sets. For the first 13 episodes of the series, Sokolsky (visible at far right in r ight-hand photo) and
digital-imaging technician Kevin Stanley integrated the tape-based Sony F35 with FotoKem’s NextLab mobile data system.
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 83
84 May 2011 American Cinematographer
Canon Introduces Ultra-Compact XA10
Canon U.S.A., Inc, has introduced the ultra-compact XA10
Professional Camcorder, ideal for situations that demand mobility.
The XA10 records Full HD 1080p video using an AVCHD codec.
The compact XA10 includes a detachable handle for low-
angle shooting and portabil-
ity; with the handle attached,
the XA10’s functionality is
further enhanced with the
addition of XLR inputs and an
external microphone holder.
The camcorder also boasts
infrared video capture, as
well as the option of record-
ing to a 64GB internal flash
drive or two SDXC-compati-
ble card slots, as well as Relay
Recording and the ability to
record simultaneously to two cards for instant backup.
The XA10 features a Genuine Canon 10x HD Zoom lens,
Canon DIGIC DV III Image Processor and a Canon
1
⁄3" native
1920x1080 CMOS image sensor,which delivers outstanding resolu-
tion and quality. The zoom boasts a 35mm equivalent range of
30.4mm–304mm withan eight-blade iris capable of rendering
natural, smooth background blur with reduced lens diffraction. The
lens also features Canon’s SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS)
system with standard, Dynamic and Powered IS modes for steady
video in almost any shooting situation. Autofocus speeds can be
selected from Instant, Medium and Normal to match the shooter’s
preference, and a focus ring on the lens allows for manual focus as
well.
For extreme low-light shooting the XA10 includes an infrared
feature. The camcorder also includes an infrared emitter with a
diffuser as well as a Green or White color option to shoot pleasing
high-definition infrared imagery even in complete darkness.
The XA10 provides users with complete manual control of
various functions including frame rates, zooming speed, focus, shut-
ter speed, white balance and gain control. Various frame rates can
be selected to match the user’s preference — 60i, PF30, PF24 and
native 24p. Through internal menus, users can adjust zoom-speed
settingsfor High, Middle and Low in 16 one-step increments for
both the body lever as well as the handle control. The focus ring on
the lens can be customized for manual focus control and users can
set the direction of rotation, as well as three levels of response
control. Auto-focus speed can be adjusted for smooth auto-focus
transitions, and a Face-Only AF mode allows for a blurred image as
a person walks offscreen. The camcorder’s white balance is
adjustable from 2,000°K to 15,000°K in 100°K increments.
The XA10 camcorder also incorporates a waveform monitor
into the camera body for accurate exposure and detailed analysis of
image brightness. Checking critical focus is also extremely easy with
the high-resolution LCD screen and peaking,magnify and Canon’s
Edge Monitor Focus Assist system.
For in-camera cinematic effects, the XA10 provides nine
customizable cinema filters, which can be adjusted in three levels —
Low, Medium and High. Additionally,the Standard Cinema Filter
function is further customizable through Color Depth, Contrast, Soft
Filter and Key adjustments.
The camcorder’s overall design is intended for comfortable
operation whether gripped in the operator’s palm or by the handle
for low-angle shooting. Compact and lightweight,the entire
camcorder weighs only 1.7 lbs. and measures only 3.7"x8.1"x7.0",
including the lens hood and handle. The 3.5" high-resolution
(922,000 dot) touch-panel LCD screen provides a large, vibrant
display and can be flipped for solo shooting with the LCD screen
facing the subject. The camcorder also includes an electronic
viewfinder for use in bright conditions where it would be difficult to
use the LCD panel.
The XA10 features dual XLR inputs for external audio sources
as well as a built-in stereo microphone. The camcorder supports
Dolby Digital 2ch (AC-3 2ch) with automatic and manual audio-level
adjustment.
Embedded in the detachable handle are the camcorder’s XLR
terminal inputs, audio switches, infrared light, tally lamp, removable
microphone holder, zoom and record switches,and a “cold” shoe.
For easy connection to both Canon and third-party wired remote
controllers, the XA10 has a built-in remote-control terminal (compat-
ible with LANC protocol). A custom key and dial allow for more
convenient, one-touch access to various functions such as focus or
exposure.
The Canon XA10 Professional camcorder is available for a
suggested price of$1,999.99. For more information, visit
www.usa.canon.com.
Sony’s PMW-F3 Takes Pro Line Handheld
Sony has unveiled the PMW-F3, its first professional handheld
digital-production camera with a Super 35mm imager.
The F3 camcorder is based on Sony’s XDCam EX workflow
and uses Sony’s SxS ExpressCard-based recording media format. Its
Super 35mm CMOS imager delivers shallow depth of field with high
sensitivity, low noise levels and wide dynamic range. Through the
use of an HD-SDI dual-link output for external recording (4:2:2 1080
50/59.94P as standard and RGB 1080 23.98/25/29.97PsF as an
option), footage shot with the F3 can be seamlessly intercut with
New Products & Services
• SUBMISSION INFORMATION •
Please e-mail New Products/Services releases to:
newproducts@ascmag.com and include full contact
information and product images. Photos must be
TIFF or JPEG files of at least 300dpi.
content shot on Sony’s F35 or SRW-9000PL
cameras. The F3’s PL-mount adapter can
accommodate both PL and upcoming Sony
zoom lenses, and offers compatibility with a
variety of cine lenses such as Cooke, Fujinon
and Zeiss.
Users can select S-Log and Hyper
Gamma to increase the F3’s dynamic-range
performance. S-Log represents Sony’s
approach to the raw “digital negative,”
allowing access to the full dynamic range of
the Super 35mm imager for maximum flex-
ibility in image manipulation during post-
production. This capability, combined with
the widely used SxS format, lets user take
advantage of already well-established
XDCam EX and HDCam SR workflows.
Recording formats include
1920x1080, 1440x1080 and 1280x720 at
23.98/25/29.97p, 50/59.94i and, in DVCam
mode, 25/29.97PsF and 50/59.94i. Users
can also take advantage of “slow” and
“quick” recording, from 1 to 30 fps at
1920x1080 (17 to 30 fps in dual-link mode)
and 1 to 60 fps at 1280x720 (17 to 60 fps
in dual-link mode).
The F3 supports look-up tables for
dailies and on-set color management. Up to
four LUTs can be stored in the camera and
stamped onto the footage on the SxS card,
simultaneously using the camera’s dual-link
output with S-Log for the unprocessed
image.
Sony is also planning to introduce a
compatible SR Memory Portable Recorder
for the F3 camcorder. SR Memory, Sony’s
high-speed, high-capacity card format, will
give users the ability to record directly to the
industry-standard HDCam SR codec using
the SR Memory Portable Recorder
connected to the F3’s single-link and dual-
link output.
The PMW-F3 has a basic list price of
$16,000 without lenses. The camera is also
86 May 2011 American Cinematographer
available with a lens kit (comprising 35mm,
50mm and 85mm T2.0 prime lenses) for a
suggested price of $23,000.
For additional information, visit
www.sony.com/cinealta.
Panasonic Expands P2
Camcorder Line
Panasonic Solutions Company has
introduced the AJ-HPX3100 master-quality
1080p P2 HD camcorder, its most compact
and lowest-price
2
⁄3" 1080p 3-CCD
camcorder.
Featuring three
2
⁄3" high-density 2.2-
million-pixel CCDs, the HPX3100 captures
full-raster 1920x1080-resolution imaging
with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling using the
advanced AVC-Intra codec. The camcorder
records in multiple worldwide formats, in
HD in AVC-Intra and in DVCPro HD at 1080
in 24p, 25p, 30p, 50i and 60i, and in SD
(480i/586i) in DVCPro50, DVCPro and DV.
New features in the HPX3100
include 24-bit audio in AVC-Intra 100/50,
wireless metadata input capability via wire-
less LAN and high-quality proxy recording.
The proxy board also provides uncom-
pressed audio, which can enhance editing,
especially for projects with a large amount
of content, like reality TV and long-form
projects.
The camcorder is equipped with
seven advanced gamma settings, including
Film-Rec 600-percent mode (made popular
by the VariCam) for capturing increased
dynamic range. It also features a built-in
reverse scan that allows unique setups such
as mounting the camera upside down or
the use of a prime lens or an anamorphic
lens adapter to create a 2.35:1 image.
Offering a new slim-line size for
added mobility, the HPX3100 sports a low
center of gravity and weighs only 8.6
pounds. The P2 HD camcorder’s superb
performance is enhanced with advanced
14-bit A/D conversion and a 12-pole matrix
color-correction function. Additional high-
end features include a Chromatic Aberra-
tion Compensation (CAC) function that
corrects for lateral chromatic aberration in
lenses, and a three-level Dynamic Range
Stretch (DRS) function that reduces blocked
shadows and blown highlights in scenes
where bright and dark objects coexist. The
HPX3100 has a high sensitivity of F11 at
2,000 lux in 1080i, and an S/N ratio of 59
dB (with Digital Noise Reduction turned on).
Power consumption is about 34 watts.
The camcorder records on high data
transfer speed E-Series P2 cards (capacity up
to 64GB).The HPX3100 has dual optical
filter wheels for separate control of ND and
CC,and a flip-out, 3.5" color LCD monitor
for easy viewing. There is an option for a
color or black-and-white type viewfinder.
Standard interfaces include an HD-SDI input
for external line recording, IEEE 1394A
in/out, USB 2.0 in/out, genlock in with HD
Tri-Level Sync or VBS in, and SMPTE time
code in/out.
The HPX3100 supports full 48-
kHz/24-bit audio recording on all four chan-
nels (in AVC-Intra 100/50), and supports the
optional AJ-RC10G and AJ-EC4 remote
control units for image and control adjust-
ment. Other features include Digital Zoom
and Digital Super Gain, and a One-clip REC
function that records up to 99 consecutive
cuts as a single clip, greatly facilitating editing.
The AJ-HPX3100 is available at a
suggested price of $19,950. To lower total
ownership costs, Panasonic offers a five-year
limited warranty (the company’s normal 1-
year basic warranty plus an extended
warranty for years two through five upon
registration).
For additional information, visit
www.panasonic.com/broadcast.
Arri Updates Alexa Software
Arri has released Software Update
Packet 3.0 for its Alexa digital camera
system. SUP 3.0 enables a host of new and
updated features.
For low-light situations, SUP 3.0
extends Alexa’s sensitivity to EI 3,200; the
new lineup of exposure indices is EI 160, EI
200, EI 400, EI 800, EI 1,600 and EI 3,200.
Alexa’s color-processing engine has also
been significantly enhanced, providing
higher color saturation in highlights as well
as improved skin tones under tungsten light.
Two new gamma options have also been
added: Log C delivers a signal similar to
negative film scanned on an Arriscan, and
DCI P3 is the color space used for digital
cinema projectors.
P+S Technik Develops Weisscam
Upgrade Modules
P+S Technik has developed three
software-based Application Upgrade
Modules for the multi-purpose Weisscam
HS-2 MKII high-speed camera system,
which can capture from 1 to 70,000 fps.
The Film Mode Module provides
enhanced image quality for recording at any
frame rate. This mode optimizes the camera
settings, significantly enhancing and stabi-
lizing blacks and low-light areas. The result
is 30-percent better performance on the
signal, especially at lower frame rates;
reduced readout noise; and increased
dynamic range.
The Studio Mode Module allows for
the integration of the Weisscam HS-2 MKII
directly into studio environments. It provides
RAW support for external IT recording
devices via GigE, and RAM HD-SDI preview
is available from the camera during record-
ing and playback. The Studio Mode also
enables easy setup and control of the
camera via a Hand Unit.
The Rental Mode Module offers the
possibility to modify the Weisscam HS-2
MKII to the needs of rental customers.
Customers can choose from three different
presets tailored for different applications,
and all feature sets can be changed and
unlocked on set by entering a PIN code. The
three presets currently available are
Commercial, Fiction and TV Drama.
For additional information, visit
www.pstechnik.de.
The false color exposure check
changes the image to black-and-white, and
uses color to indicate specific signal levels
such as clipping, skin tones and 18-percent
medium grey. SUP 3.0 also introduces the
ability to superimpose two frame lines, two
user rectangles, a center mark and a
surround view mask over the viewfinder and
output images, all at the same time, which
is especially useful for productions with
deliverables of different aspect ratios.
SUP 3.0 enables in-camera playback
of QuickTime clips from on-board SxS Pro
cards, so takes can be played back on the
camera viewfinder or via different camera
outputs, allowing for an instant image
check; frame lines as well as information
about each clip can optionally be seen in the
viewfinder or superimposed on the image
output.
The optional smooth mode, for any
frame rate up to 30 fps and any shutter
angle up to 180 degrees, eliminates shutter-
ing in the viewfinder image, making camera
operating easier for shots involving fast pans
or fast action within the frame.
SUP 3.0 allows still images for conti-
nuity, lighting or grading references to be
grabbed and stored on the camera’s SD card
at any time during standby, recording or
playback; images can be stored as JPEG, TIFF
or DPX files.Audio can now be recorded at
various frame rates and embedded into the
image output, providing a useful guide track
that significantly streamlines the audio
workflow. Additionally, an HD-SDI 3G Single
Link allows a 4:2:2 signal at 48, 50, 59.94 or
60 fps to be sent over just one BNC cable.
SUP 3.0 also introduces the ability to include
a Variflag signal
All new ALEXAs will have SUP 3.0
installed, and all existing cameras can be
upgraded to SUP 3.0. For more information
or to download Software Update Packet
3.0, visitwww.arri.com. ●
International Marketplace
88 May 2011 American Cinematographer
Monitor Yoke Mounts
TM
w ww.theasc.com May 2011 89
CLASSIFIED AD RATES
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 advertiser’s name can be set in capitals
without extra charge. No agency commission or
discounts on clas si fied advertising.PAYMENTMUSTAC -
COM PA NYORDER. VISA, Mastercard, AmEx and Discover
card are ac cept ed. Send ad to Clas si fied Ad ver tis -
ing, Amer i can Cin e ma tog ra pher, P.O. Box 2230,
Hol ly wood, CA 90078.Or FAX (323) 876-4973. Dead -
line for payment and copy must be in the office by 15th
of second month preceding pub li ca tion. Sub ject mat ter
is lim it ed to items and ser vic es per tain ing to film mak -
ing and vid eo pro duc tion. Words used are sub ject to
mag a zine style ab bre vi a tion. Min i mum amount per
ad: $45
CLASSIFIEDS ON-LINE
Ads may now also be placed in the on-line Classi-
fieds 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: classi-
fieds@theasc.com.
Classifieds
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Inquires to: info@Historicfilms.com
Advertiser’s Index
16x9, Inc. 88
AC 1, 89, 92
Aja Video Systems, Inc. 23
Alan Gordon Enterprises 88
Arri 33
ASC 68
AZGrip 88
Backstage Equipment, Inc.
6
Bardwell & McAlister, Inc. 7
Barger-Lite 88
Bron Imaging Group - US 39
Burrell Enterprises 88
Camera Essentials 89
Cavision Enterprises 35
Chapman/Leonard Studio
Equipment Inc. 9
Chemical Wedding 93
Cine Gear Expo 91
Cinema India 95
Cinematography
Electronics 6
Cinekinetic 88
Clairmont Film & Digital 21
Codex Digital Ltd., 49
Convergent Design 37
Cooke Optics 27
Deluxe C2
Eastman Kodak C4
EFD USA, Inc 13
Film Gear 85
Filmtools 87
Five Towns College 85
Fujifilm 47
Glidecam Industries C3
Innovision 88
Kino Flo 51
Kobold 39
Lite Panels 2
Los Angeles Film Festival 59
Maine Media Workshops 6
M. M. Mukhi and Sons 99
New York Film Academy 38
Oppenheimer Camera Prod.
88
Panasonic Broadcast
TV Division 5
Panavision, Inc. 17
Pille Film Gmbh 89
Power Gems Limited 26
Pro8mm 88
Schneider Optics 25
Shelton Communications
88
Sony Electronics 11
Stanton Video Services 87
Super16 Inc. 89
Tessive LLC 57
Thales Angenieux 15
VF Gadgets, Inc. 88
Willy’s Widgets 88
www.theasc.com 4, 50,
88, 90
Zacuto Films 89
90
Cine Gear Expo
June 2-5, 2011
Expo & Conference
Premiere & Master Classes, Film Competition
The Studios at Paramount, Hollywood, CA, USA
September 24-25, 2011
Expo & Conference
Metropolitan Pavilion, New York City, NY, USA
phone: 310.472.0809 fax: 310.471.8973 email: info@cinegearexpo.com
www.cinegearexpo.com
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limit,and he pushed me to the limit.”
In 1987, Peterman garnered a
second Oscar nomination and an ASC
nomination for Star Trek IV: The Voyage
Home (AC Dec. ’86). Directed by Leonard
Nimoy, the film found the intrepid crew
of the starship
Enterprise trans-
ported back to
mid-1980s San
Francisco, a story
that allowed
Peterman to take
advantage of
location filming
to expand the
franchise’s visual
palette. “Star Trek was filmed mostly on a
stage before, and they could never use long
lenses because it’s impossible to get back
far enough,” he told AC. “We tried to
make it a little different by using really long
lenses as much as we could.”
“Don Peterman shoots from an
idea,” said Nimoy. “I saw stuff that he did
that tells me somebody has been paying
attention. There is tone; it’s not just,‘Light it
and get an image.’”
In 1984, Peterman was recom-
mended for ASC membership by Society
fellows Wheeler, Jack Cooperman, Gene
Polito and Howard Schwartz.
His credits also include Splash;
Cocoon; Planes, Trains & Automobiles ;
Point Break ; Addams Family Values ; Get
Shorty; Mighty Joe Young(1998); and How
the Grinch Stole Christmas.
“I don’t think you have to have a
style,” he told AC in 1983. “I think it’s good
if you do a different style in every picture.”
Peterman is survived by his wife of
54 years, Sally; a daughter, Diane; sons
Keith, Jay and Brad, and 10 grandchildren.
— Jon D. Witmer

Oscar-nominated cinematographer
Donald William Peterman, ASC died on
Feb. 5 at the age of 79.
Peterman was born on Jan. 3, 1932,
in Los Angeles, Calif. After graduating from
Redondo Beach Union High School, he
served in the U.S.
Army, where he
was assigned to
travel the country
filming adocu-
mentary.
He began
his civilian career
as a film loader at
Hal Roach Studios,
and then spent
five years as an optical-lineup man and opti-
cal-printer operator at effects company
Cascade Studios.“All of that [optical-
effects] experience is out the window
because of computers, but I understand the
concept of compositing layers of images,”
he told AC while discussing his work on
Men in Black (June ’97). “There’s a certain
mindset you have to have on an effects film
… in order to piece everything together
and have a complete image of the film in
your head while you’re shooting.”
Peterman eventually began finding
work as a camera assistant and, before
long, as an operator. His operating credits
include the feature The Bubble (for Charles
F. Wheeler, ASC)and two seasons of Lassie
(for Robert Sparks).
In the 1970s, Peterman began find-
ing steady work shooting commercials, and
he eventually photographed more than
200 national-television spots. In 1979, he
notched his first featurecredit as a director
of photography on When a Stranger Calls .
He later told AC, “I shot that one with
nothing — strictly Sun Guns and bounce
cards at T1.4.” The scale of his projects
quickly grew, though, and in 1984 he
earned his first Oscar nomination, for
Adrian Lyne’s Flashdance (AC May ’83).
“Don is a guy who won’t accept second
best,” Lyne told AC.“I pushed him to the
Don Peterman, ASC, 1932-2011
In Memoriam
92
Deakins, ASC Associates
Visit Createasphere
Createasphere recently hosted Roger
Deakins, ASC, BSC in conversation with AC
associate editor Jon D. Witmer at the Enter-
tainment Technology Exposition in Burbank.
Marking the latest in the joint Createas-
phere-AC series of “Legendary Conversa-
tions,” the discussion offered a survey of
Deakins’ storied career, touching on his early
work shooting documentaries, his pioneer-
ing work with digital intermediates, his
recent forays into consulting on animated
features,and his use of Arri’s Alexa digital
camera on the upcoming feature Now.
ASC associate member Michael
Bravin also participated in the Expo,
presenting the seminar “About Digital
Cinema: Our Past, Present and Future.”
Meanwhile, Createasphere’s Digital
Asset Management Conference opened
with a panel moderated by ASC associate
member Rob Hummel that focused on
how to best manage digital assets as legacy
systems become obsolete. The other
panelists were Andrea Kalas of Paramount
Pictures, Steve Kochak of Deluxe Media
Services and Michael Friend of Sony Pictures
Entertainment.
Stein Teaches for
StudentFilmmakers.com
Peter Stein, ASC recently led the
workshop “Lighting to Create a Mood” for
StudentFilmmakers.com. The lesson began
with a discussion of three-point lighting and
then moved into an exploration of hard and
soft light. Stein demonstrated uses for Fres-
nel fixtures as well as open-face units, and
he showed the attendees how to shape
light with barn doors, flags and nets. Other
points of discussion included key-to-fill
ratios and background lighting techniques.
“With the new technologies at
hand, current film students have the chance
to be the innovators creating the newest
and most daring styles in future filmmak-
ing,” said Stein.
Stein is scheduled to lead a series
of workshops with StudentFilmmakers
throughout this year. For more information,
visit www.studentfilmmakers.com.
Morgenthau, Baffa Discuss
“Best of TV”
Createasphere recently launched the
“Best of TV” webcast series, offering a
behind-the-scenes look at a number of tele-
vision shows. The webinars have so far
examined Boardwalk Empire (featuring
Kramer Morgenthau, ASC and editors
Tim Streeto and Kate Sanford, moderated by
AC associate editor Jon D. Witmer); Dexter
(featuring director/cinematographer Romeo
Tirone and editor Louis Cioffi, ACE, moder-
ated by AC contributor Iain Stasukevich);
Glee (featuring cinematographer Christo-
pher Baffa, ASC and producer/editor
Bradley Buecker, moderated by AC contribu-
tor Jim Hemphill); and Sons of Anarchy
(featuring cinematographer Paul Maibaum
and camera operators/SOC members Steve
Fracol and David Frederick, moderated by
Stasukevich).
Members at the Movies
Haskell Wexler, ASCrecently visited
the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre
in Santa Monica for a screening of Medium
Cool (1969), which Wexler shot and
directed. Following the screening, Wexler
joined the film’s star, Robert Forster, for a
Q&A.
Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC recently
attended a screening of Scarecrowat the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art. The film,
which Zsigmond photographed in 1973 for
director Jerry Schatzberg, was screened as
part of the series “True Grit: The Golden Age
of Road Movies.” ●
Clubhouse News
94 May 2011 American Cinematographer
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g
.
Top: AC associate editor Jon D. Witmer (left) and
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. Middle (left to right): ASC
associate member Rob Hummel with Andrea Kalas,
Michael Friend and Steve Kochak. Bottom: During a
recent event at the Clubhouse, Bill Bennett, ASC
snapped this 360-degree panorama using his iPhone;
the exposure took 42.3 seconds.
96 May 2011 American Cinematographer
When you were a child, what film made the strongest impres-
sion on you?
Growing up in Baden-Baden, Germany, I was always fascinated by
American film culture. It represented another world. I loved Steve
McQueen and Paul Newman. Le Mans (1971), Bullitt (1968), Cool
Hand Luke (1967) and The Sting (1973) all made a huge impression.
At the same time, the German TV miniseries Eight Hours Are Not a Day
(1972), directed by Fassbinder, had all of Germany glued to the televi-
sion and got me hooked on German filmmaking.
Which cinematographers, past
or present, do you most admire?
[ASC members] Vittorio Storaro,
Gordon Willis, Conrad Hall, Owen
Roizman, Roger Deakins,
Emmanuel Lubezki and Harris
Savides, and the list goes on. Each
of them is an incredible visual artist.
They push the boundaries without
ever sacrificing technical perfection,
and their cinematography always
serves the story.
What sparked your interest in
photography?
I grew up in a filmmaking family. My father, Martin, made adventure
documentaries, and my mother, Anemone, was his editor. I was load-
ing magazines and rewinding film on a Steenbeck from an early age. I
used to read my father’s Kameraman magazines, which were basically
the equivalent of American Cinematographer in Germany. I loved the
spreads showing the huge movie sets with all the lights and cameras,
and I wanted to be part of that world.
Where did you train and/or study?
In my twenties, I moved to Vancouver, Canada, and studied film at
Simon Fraser University. Early on, I figured out that cinematography
was my passion, and I shot as many student films as I could.
Who were your early teachers or mentors?
In terms of life, my grandmother, mother, brother, sisters and daughter
have taught me all the important things. As for work, I’ve always
learned the most from my gaffers and key grips.
What are some of your key artistic influences?
I love to collect and surround myself with paintings and sculpture, but
I’m most influenced by the work of my peers and by contemporary
photography. For instance, I referenced a lot of William Eggleston’s
work for the movie Friday Night Lights. Right now I’m inspired by the
lighting in the work of Australian photographer Bill Henson.
How did you get your first break in the business?
I find it almost impossible to pinpoint my first break. All I know is that
every director and producer who has ever hired me has given me a
break.
What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?
I remember standing on the set of Dreamgirls, a foot away from
Beyoncé during one of her incredible musical performances. I was
giving her an eyelight with a Kino Flo in my hand while the theatri-
cal lighting designed by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer
surrounded her. I felt like I was at
the center of the moviemaking
world I had always dreamed of.
Have you made any memo-
rable blunders?
At the age of 13, I flashed an
exposed roll of film while working
for my father — a classic mistake
that you only make once.
What is the best professional
advice you’ve ever received?
‘Don’t shoot your demo reel. Be
true to the story.’
What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?
The Secret in Their Eyes was one my favorite films of last year. It was
such a powerful story, so well told.
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like
to try?
I’d love to shoot a dark social/family drama like The Ice Storm or
American Beauty.
If you weren’t a cinematographer, what might you be doing
instead?
I can’t think of a better job, except maybe a Formula One driver.
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for
membership?
Daryn Okada, Karl Walter Lindenlaub and Peter Collister.
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
I think of being invited into the ASC by my peers as the ultimate
professional honor. I’m grateful for the support and camaraderie of
other ASC members. ●
Tobias Schliessler, ASC Close-up
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Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC

“I

used to ride my 18-speed race bike to the Librairie Contact, a small bookshop near the Champs Élysées, the only place in Paris where I could buy American Cinematographer. The ride had to be carefully planned — too soon and the issue wouldn’t have arrived, too late and the copies would all be sold. It was the only way to learn how the images I was discovering onscreen had been achieved. “I still rely on AC for information as well as inspiration. One sentence in an article will initiate a chain of thoughts, which will then lead me to try something technically or stylistically different on my next project.” — Denis Lenoir, ASC, AFC

TO SUBSCRIBE BY PHONE:

Call (800) 448-0145 (U.S. only) (323) 969-4333 or visit the ASC Web site

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©photo by Owen Roizman, ASC

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) FEATURES 28 40 52 60 69 Affonso Beato. 5 The International Journal of Motion Imaging On Our Cover: Bill and Pat Loud (Tim Robbins and Diane Lane) see their marriage and family disintegrate on national television in Cinema Verite. Fraker Heritage Award winners Production Slate: Cameraman • Academy Sci-Tech Awards Post Focus: The KB Workflow New Products & Services International Marketplace Classified Ads Ad Index In Memoriam: Don Peterman. ABC dramatizes television’s first reality show for HBO’s Cinema Verite Gabriel Beristain.M A Y 2 0 1 1 V O L . BSC explores spiritual conflict in There Be Dragons Byron Shah assesses the Arri Alexa on Prom AC explains digital-imaging sensors Living Out Loud 40 A Saint and a Sinner First Dance Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1 A Hollywood Affair 52 Snapshots from the ASC Awards weekend DEPARTMENTS 8 10 12 16 82 84 88 89 90 92 94 96 Editor’s Note President’s Desk Short Takes: ASC William A.THEASC. shot by Affonso Beato. (Photo by Doug Hyun. 9 2 N O . ASC Clubhouse News ASC Close-Up: Tobias Schliessler 69 — VISIT WWW. ABC. ASC. ASC. courtesy of HBO. ASC.COM TO ENJOY THESE WEB EXCLUSIVES — D V D Pl ayback:The Sweet Smell of Success • Network .

Fax (323) 876-4973. Copyright 2011 ASC Holding Corp. BOOKS & PRODUCTS CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Saul Molina CIRCULATION MANAGER Alex Lopez SHIPPING MANAGER Miguel Madrigal ———————————————————————————————————— ASC GENERAL MANAGER Brett Grauman ASC EVENTS COORDINATOR Patricia Armacost ASC PRESIDENT’S ASSISTANT Kim Weston ASC ACCOUNTING MANAGER Mila Basely ASC ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE Corey Clark ———————————————————————————————————— American Cinematographer (ISSN 0002-7928). (800) 448-0145.S. Witmer TECHNICAL EDITOR Christopher Probst CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Stephanie Argy. Jean Oppenheimer. Robert S. Jon Silberg.net ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Sanja Pearce 323-952-2114 FAX 323-876-4973 e-mail: sanja@ascmag. N o . David Heuring.S. Iain Stasukevich. CA and at additional mailing offices. P.theasc. Bosley ASSOCIATE EDITOR Jon D.O. CA 90028. is published monthly in Hollywood by ASC Holding Corp. (323) 969-4333. Birchard.. POSTMASTER: Send address change to American Cinematographer. Jay Holben. 5 The International Journal ofMotion Imaging www.S.com ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Scott Burnell 323-936-0672 FAX 323-936-9188 e-mail: sburnell@earthlink. Chris Pizzello.com. Noah Kadner. Douglas Bankston.net CLASSIFIEDS/ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Diella Nepomuceno 323-952-2124 FAX 323-876-4973 e-mail: diella@ascmag. Printed in the USA. (All rights reserved. Hollywood. U. Michael Goldman. $).. Orange Dr.. Kenneth Sweeney. all other foreign countries $95 a year (remit international Money Order or other exchange payable in U. Patricia Thomson ———————————————————————————————————— ART DEPARTMENT CREATIVE DIRECTOR Marion Gore ———————————————————————————————————— ADVERTISING ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Angie Gollmann 323-936-3769 FAX 323-936-9188 e-mail: gollmann@pacbell.com ———————————————————————————————————— CIRCULATION. John Calhoun. 1782 N. Benjamin B. CA 90078. Article Reprints: Requests for high-quality article reprints (or electronic reprints) should be made to Sheridan Reprints at (800) 635-7181 ext. Advertising: Rate card upon request from Hollywood office. Subscriptions: U. direct line for subscription inquiries (323) 969-4344. 9 2 .) Periodicals postage paid at Los Angeles. Bob Fisher. Simon Gray.sheridan. 8065 or by e-mail hrobinson@tsp. Mark Hope-Jones. Hollywood. 4 ———————————————————————————————————— . Box 2230. John Pavlus.A. Canada/Mexico $70. established 1920 and in its 91st year of publication. Jim Hemphill.com ———————————————————————————————————— PUBLISHER Martha Winterhalter ———————————————————————————————————— Visit us online at EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR Stephen Pizzello SENIOR EDITOR Rachael K. $50.M a y 2 0 1 1 V o l .

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O’Shea Sol Negrin Michael B. but an educational.American Society of Cine matographers The ASC is not a labor union or a guild. Flinn III Matthew Leonetti Rodney Taylor Sergeant At Arms Ron Garcia MEMBERS OF THE BOARD John Bailey Stephen Burum Curtis Clark George Spiro Dibie Richard Edlund John C. Flinn III Michael Goi Stephen Lighthill Isidore Mankofsky Daryn Okada Robert Primes Nancy Schreiber Kees Van Oostrum Haskell Wexler Vilmos Zsigmond ALTERNATES Fred Elmes Rodney Taylor Michael D. cultural and pro fes sion al or ga ni za tion. OFFICERS . Membership is by invitation to those who are actively en gaged as di rec tors of photography and have dem on strated out stand ing ability. ASC membership has be come one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a pro fes sional cin e ma tog ra pher — a mark of prestige and excellence.2010/2011 Michael Goi President Richard Crudo Vice President Vice President Vice President Treasurer Secretary Owen Roizman John C. Negrin MUSEUM CURATOR 6 Steve Gainer .

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“We differentiated the formats by aligning them with certain points of view. ASC. The project offered Beato a wealth of visual possibilities.” The period religious drama There Be Dragons presented Gabriel Beristain. by Eugenio Zanetti. high-definition video that was digitally manipulated to look like 16mm. The Louds’ saga is dramatized in the new HBO telefilm Cinema Verite. Last but not least is our annual pictorial recap of the ASC Awards weekend (“A Hollywood Affair. Shah. “The war period. the landmark documentary series followed the everyday lives of California’s seemingly perfect Loud family. which was shot on 16mm. ASC. not the family down the block. ASC.” he tells Jean Oppenheimer (“Living Out Loud. I knew we could make a great film from these elements. suitable for uncompressed capture using external recorders. fascinating to me. shows like The Real World.” page 69). In interviews with Noah Kadner (“First Dance. and clips from the original PBS series. “Also. Although England’s Up films. Stephen Pizzello Executive Editor 8 Photo by Owen Roizman. Beristain was tasked with presenting four time periods. . BSC with a similarly rich palette on locations in Spain and Argentina. Our 25th-anniversary events were rousing. “We used Super 35mm.” page 60). ABC for co-directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman. and that was.” page 40).” Beristain notes in a piece by David Heuring (“A Saint and a Sinner. with all the famous visual references. is the first U. may have pioneered the form. maximum-capacity successes that drew raves from all who attended. of course. the Alexa features a 3. Introduced in April 2010. whose problems became more and more evident as the show progressed.Editor’s Note Today’s television landscape is so rife with reality shows that it may be difficult for younger viewers to imagine an era when the only celebrities on the tube were professional performers. Super 8mm. was a visual feast because of all the period details and textures.” page 28). which have been tracking the progress of 14 British children since 1964. Comprising 12 episodes culled from around 300 hours of footage. Added to that is the rich iconography and symbolism of the Catholic Church. Back in the early Seventies.S. For those of you seeking a deeper understanding of how digital cameras actually capture and process images. it was the 1973 PBS series An American Family that provided a true template for later shows to follow. took place around the time that color photography was becoming more common. The camera also outputs an uncompressed 1080PsF 4:4:4 RGB stream.” Prom.” page 52). The Real Housewives of Orange County and Jon & Kate Plus 8 were nonexistent. feature shot with Arri’s digital Alexa camera. In helping director Roland Joffé tell the tale of childhood friends who pursue distinctly different spiritual paths. director Joe Nussbaum and members of their crew offer a full rundown of their creative strategies and how the camera performed on set.5K CMOS sensor and records up to 60 fps at 1920x1080 high-definition internally to ProRes 422 or externally to Arri’s proprietary ArriRaw format. AC technical editor Christopher Probst explains it all in the first half of a detailed two-part primer (“Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1. our production design. including the Spanish Civil War era. shot by Byron Shah. shot by Affonso Beato.

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President’s Desk
What propels a cinematographer to step away from the camera and direct a movie? Is it the desire to have more complete control over the artistic process, the opportunity to work directly with talented actors and writers, dissatisfaction with the course of one’s career, or the need to express a point of view about the world that no one else is addressing? With their documentaries No Subtitles Necessary and The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) , James Chressanthis, ASC and Ellen Kuras, ASC, respectively, brought dignity and awareness to the struggles of individuals caught up in tumultuous world events. With his Oscar-winning short film, Two Soldiers, Aaron Schneider, ASC used narrative form to express the bond between two brothers during a time of war. This month brings the DVD release of a feature I wrote and directed called Megan Is Missing. I did not think about why I decided to direct a film until just now, when the journey to get it into distribution is almost over. I’ve realized that the film was born out of rage, an intense dissatisfaction with many aspects of the ways in which child abductions and Internet predators have been handled in the media and in the legal system. My goal in taking the director’s chair was to make the most disturbing movie of all time using only factual occurrences as the basis of the drama; to that end, I spent two years researching seven different cases with a forensics investigator. I decided early on that the movie should feel like it was not filmed by anybody; it had to feel like it was happening now. At my insistence, cinematographers Keith Eisberg and Joshua Harrison used no movie lights and no grip equipment (except for what was necessary to create TV-news sequences), and the young actresses wore no makeup. All the dialogue was based on recordings I’d made of my friends’ 14-year-old daughters. We shot the whole film in 81⁄2 days to both accommodate the number of children involved and give the unfolding drama a visceral pace. When the film was completed, I became convinced I’d made an unreleasable movie. It was exactly the movie I wanted to make — and how often do you get to say that? — but to what end, if no one would see it? Then glimmers of validation emerged. My agent said it was not the film he expected from a cinematographer — there were no sweeping crane shots, no beautiful lighting — but it had pure, realistic emotion. And Marc Klaas, whose daughter, Polly, was abducted and murdered, said the movie was the only filmed depiction of the subject that he and his wife had ever seen that deal t with the subject honestly, without concern for a “commercial” resolution. So as the journey to tell this story has been fulfilled, has the rage that compelled me to make the movie been pacified? My forensics-investigator friend recently called to ask if I would like to know any details of a case he was working on, a highprofile child disappearance that had been reported on national TV. I told him no, I didn’t want to know anything. He said that was because I already knew. He correctly surmised that I had done my own investigating using the online search tools now available to everyone, and that I had pieced together a possible scenario based on background checks I’d done on the individuals who may hav e been involved. Three days later, the authorities confirmed my conclusion: the child had perished at the hands of her uncle. My forensics friend called again once that news was announced and said, “It’s in your blood now. You will never accept what is told to you by the media as being the entire truth. You will always dig for the real story. And you will never look at the w orld the same way again.” I suppose looking at the world in a different way is ultimately what drives a cinematographer to direct. We’re always looking for that new way of telling a compelling story, and that search never ends.
Portrait by Owen Roizman, ASC. American Cinematographer

Michael Goi, ASC President

10

May 2011

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Short Takes
Cinematographer Dagmar WeaverMadsen (below right, holding camera) won an ASC William A. Fraker Heritage Award for her work on the short film The Absence, which she photographed as a graduate student at the University of California-Los Angeles. Next to Weaver-Madsen is 1st AC Nate Slevin.

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ASC William A. Fraker Heritage Award Honors 2 Students By Iain Stasukevich

ASC William A. Fraker Heritage Awards were given to two student cinematographers, Dagmar Weaver-Madsen of the University of California-Los Angeles and Boyd Hobbs of Full Sail University, in February. (Honorable mentions were Wesley Cardino of the American Film Institute, Michal Dabal of the American Film Institute, Madeline Eberhard of Florida State University and Allen Liu of Chapman University.) Weaver-Madsen’s winning entry, The Absence , charts the path of an upwardly mobile assistant manager in the records department of a mysterious company called Black House Securities. He is sent on a mission to a rural town, where he uncovers the truth behind Black House, and ultimately must choose between kowtowing to the messianic upper management and calling it quits.
12 May 2011

Weaver-Madsen entered UCLA’s graduate program in film, television and digital media knowing she wanted to study cinematography. (She had already shot a comedy series on video and a short film on 16mm.) In her first year, the MFA program’s three cinematography students and 18 directing students were rotated through various crew positions over the course of multiple films; someone served as camera operator on one film, then director on another, then sound recordist on another, and so on. That way, no matter what area a student finally focuses on, he or she knows what the other departments are doing. On her first project, Weaver-Madsen was assigned to be the cinematographer for directing student Alex DeMille, and they quickly discovered they worked well together. In their second year, she shot DeMille’s advanced project, and by the time their thesis projects were being prepped, they had already developed a tight shorthand. “We could work together almost without even talking to each other,” says Weaver-Madsen. “We’d just look at each other

American Cinematographer

The Absence photos by Jon Cannon and Kyle Warmack. Photos and frame grabs courtesy of the filmmakers.

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much of the stock (Fuji Eterna Vivid 500 8547 and the since-discontinued Super F125 8532) was provided at a discount. which offers a 21month production-oriented program culminating with a B. worked closely with him on the look of the film. “We wanted muted green colors that would fade into warmer yellows. and because WeaverMadsen assisted Fuji with some film tests. but at the same time. making it affordable to shoot 3-perf Super 35mm. Tom Denove and John Simmons. If you’re always open with your collaborators about what you want to accomplish. she has maintained close ties to all of her collaborators on The Absence. including portions shot at Oheka Castle on Long Island’s Gold Coast. “With the lighting. The production rented an Arricam Lite and Moviecam Compact and a set of Arri Master Primes.40:1) with an Arricam Lite and Zeiss Super Speeds. “It had a beautiful. Hobbs dabbled in still photography before focusing on filmmaking as a course of study. The latter “was used as Xanadu in Citizen Kane . but it was hard on the crew. “It’s an extremely competitive American Cinematographer program. who had a background in production design. and everything becomes sharp. we used shallow depth-of-field for the first part of the story to underscore that he is separate from that world and alone. Most of the action takes place in the . after he decides to embrace this new world. “It didn’t really come naturally at first.” says the cinematographer. “In our class. and know what the other person needed. but the lighting aspects of cinematography were initially somewhat intimidating. Hodges.S.” notes WeaverMadsen. and we wanted [the look] to go back-and-forth between something that’s really dark and something kind of happy. Luckily. dreary look.” Production on The Absence began in N ew York in N ovember 2008. we really tried to underscore 14 May 2011 how the main character begins as a stranger to the world that he is exploring. takes place in an abandoned apartment building in Atlanta. offered Hobbs a variety of opportunities to develop a personal approach to lighting. Since graduating. “We had terrible.” Directing students have to pitch their final projects to a panel of instructors. “You see pictures of sets where there are just a couple of lamps and a camera. he is no longer isolated from the backgrounds. we were so prepared that we were ready for any circumstance. and somehow through the lens it all looks right. so cinematography students need to get on board with as many directors and scripts as possible to improve their chances at shooting something. “Visually it’s a dark film.” says Hobbs. which took care of their negativeprocessing fees. The script won the Deluxe Film Award. light plays an important role.” Hobbs’ winning entry. so I was very happy for the photography. and that’s what I wanted to learn: how the light comes together.” Primary locations included farms in Suffolk County and Oheka Castle on Long Island’s Gold Coast. degree.” The script for Loves Me Not. and Alex and I both worked to make sure that came across visually. where a woman lives with her lover.” says the cinematographer. there were only three 35mm films that were picked to go into production out of about 75 students. so I challenged myself to figure it out.” Above all. He started at Georgia State before switching to Full Sail. Hobbs says he was immediately comfortable working with motion-picture cameras.” she explains. freezing weather. stock and lens choices. WeaverMadsen spent the month leading up to the start of principal photography doing location scouts and tech scouts with DeMille. DeMille and crewmembers as the driving forces behind her work. Later. who defers some of the credit for her award-winning work to the Olmsted brothers’ celebrated landscape architecture at the historic estate. Loves Me Not.” she recalls. Weaver-Madsen regards her relationships with her instructors (Bill McDonald. ASC). The resourceful filmmakers made the most of every opportunity they were given. “There’s a family feeling in the MFA program because it’s so small.The Absence was photographed on location in New York City and eastern Long Island. which Hobbs shot in Super 35mm (framing for 2. for example. What starts out as a seemingly ordinary day begins to spin out of control when the woman has a flashback revealing she has been kidnapped and forced into sex slavery and is experiencing symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. written by student directors Rebecca Hodges and Ewa Pazera. “The film is really about isolation. then you’ll have a very effective set.” he recalls. “It teaches you to navigate relationships and maintain communication and friendship.

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“We wanted muted green colors that would fade into warmer yellows. but I opted instead to drive down to supervise it on site. along with a pair of 650-watt Tweenies on stands that were positioned as needed. Since graduating from Full Sail University.” he says. an open window offering bright light shares American Cinematographer Loves Me Not photos by Nuh Omar. using a 5K tungsten lamp for each window. “Sometimes those spaces are two feet apart or visible from a different camera angle. a 2K open-face lamp in the hallway and three practicals in the kitchen. Hobbs made an effort to keep things simple. I used twice as many lights on a stage half the size. because every student who worked on it would also edit it. “I’m still trying to figure out how to light with film. and we wanted [the look] to go back-and-forth between something that’s really dark and something kind of happy.” says Hobbs.Cinematographer Boyd Hobbs (far right) won the undergraduate Heritage Award for Loves Me Not. “Loves Me N ot was a success because of the people who mentored and worked with me. because I haven’t done it very much. I made sure everyone in my class knew it had already been color corrected. Photos and frame grabs courtesy of the filmmakers. “On my previous film. Full Sail uses Continental Film Lab in Miami for students’ final transfers.” ● . I can pull it off with the support of my collaborators. who shot the kitchen scenes on Kodak Vision3 500T 5219. which examines the effects of Stockholm Syndrome. I wanted to get it perfect before it went into editing. the filmmakers planned to use these to suggest the 16 May 2011 characters’ wildly varying feelings. apartment kitchen. “There’s a certain kind of light on the actor when he’s in one space. noting that instructors Rob Tuscani and James Neihouse have been particularly helpful in this regard. Hobbs notes. and take the time I needed to do it. Hobbs has been accepted as a cinematography fellow at AFI. the same space with a moodier window crossed with narrow slats.” he continues.” The kitchen set was built on the Full Sail stages and designed to facilitate the creation of distinct zones of light. For example. and then a different kind of light when he steps into another space.” Though he was tempted by the school’s array of grip and electric assets. “Rob and James really pushed me to get things the way I envisioned it in my head. and we worked with [production designer] Alex Thomson and [art director] Aaron Marinel to create a single space that we could play a number of different ways.” says Hobbs. “They typically set you up with an online-supervised transfer. I can take on any project knowing that as long as I don’t overthink or underthink it.

We salute your passion for pristine filmed images. ASC panavision. Strap on the Gibson SG and jam. Photo by Owen Roizman.” directed by Christopher Nolan.com . “Inception. ASC Winner of the Academy ® Award for Cinematography and ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for Theatrical Release.CONGRATULATIONS Wally Pfister.

now aware of his extraordinary background. McCall had the idea of making a film about Cardiff’s illustrious career. he admitted that he knew nothing of the process’ complex technicalities. He had the enthusiasm of a film student doing his first production. Cardiff grew up around entertainers. which it hadn’t done for decades. and an elderly gentleman noticed the 16mm Bolex camera on his desk and wandered over to take a look. My Son (1918) at the age of 4. and he returned to the office several times during his prep.Production Slate The late. and we got to chatting. he became the first cinematographer to be presented with an honorary Oscar. He put the idea to the back of his mind for a few years.” As their acquaintance developed. and 53 years later. and he wanted it for The Four Seasons. which was looking to expand into London. yet he was in his 80s and 18 May 2011 had made so many amazing films. Cardiff was at EMI because he had been invited to shoot a version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. a documentary directed by Craig McCall that was shot over many years and in several countries. but in 1997.” recalls McCall. McCall.” The man was Jack Cardiff. to be trained as the company’s first British camera operator. He won an Academy Award for the latter film. Italy. When he accepted Cardiff’s invitation to visit the cinematographer’s home and discovered a treasure trove of production photos. but said that what interested him about color was the opportunity to tap his knowledge of how the Old Masters had used it as an emotive tool in their paintings. then camera assistant. who shot many of the most visually accomplished three-strip Technicolor films ever made. he was on the lookout for a new project and decided to shoot a pilot with Cardiff in the hopes of rustling up a television commission. “He loved that image. he worked as a runner on the silent film The Informer (1929). great Jack Cardiff. A turning point came when Cardiff was selected by Technicolor. then moved on to clapper loader (when sound came in). so he just borrowed the Bolex. The African Queen (1951) and Black Narcissus (1947). drove to Venice and got it in the can. Born to two Vaudeville performers. I thought that was fantastically inspiring. The Red Shoes (1948). “One day Jack opened a newspaper and saw that it had just snowed in Venice. behind-thescenes footage and other memorabilia that Cardiff had accumulated over nine decades in the film business. “He came over. including A Matter of Life and Death /Stairway to Heaven (1946). spoke with Cardiff again as soon as the opportunity arose. and he started working as a child actor. and eventually camera operator. BSC makes a point in a scene from Cameraman: The Life & Work of Jack Cardiff. He got the job. American Cinematographer . After acting in several more films as a youth. Director Craig McCall was making music videos at EMI in London. BSC. with a Bolex. “I didn’t know who he was. In the interview for the position. he realized how much potential the project really had.” recalls McCall. I Spotlighting a Legendary Cinematographer By Mark Hope-Jones It all started in the early 1990s. but he didn’t have his budget yet. first appearing in My Son.

” Operating jobs with Technicolor gave rise to work as a second-unit cinematographer. “So although people praised the pilot. “The timing wasn’t great because it had just been the centenary of cinema.M. he speculates that J. Sophia Loren and Anita Ekberg. Richard Fleischer. he made the rounds at the TV companies but could find no takers. Female stars admired him so much that they agreed to sit for photographic portraits taken by Cardiff during lulls in filming.Analogies between painting and cinematography are common. In McCall’s film. Passing through the set. he collaborated with many other great directors. including Alfred Hitchcock. who is keyed by a light in his lap. Cameraman photos courtesy of Modus Operandi Films. and it was while shooting an insert montage sequence for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) that Cardiff got his big break. A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven. but in Cardiff’s case they are resoundingly relevant. Top: Cinematographer Ricardo Coll checks the light on his subject while filming at Pinewood Studios. After completing the pilot for Cameraman: The Life & Work of Jack Cardiff. Applying the principles of painters he had meticulously studied and copied to Technicolor cinematography. Among these women were Monroe. www. McCall became hooked. and was specifically requested by Marilyn Monroe for The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Bottom: McCall uses a 16mm Bolex to capture interviewee Martin Scorsese. Cardiff quickly became a deft and delicate master of color. It was Cardiff’s first feature as director of photography and the start of a remarkable collaboration with The Archers. Henry Hathaway. The result was an offer to shoot Powell’s next picture. and stopped to watch him work. Turner would have been “the perfect cameraman. As he sifted through prints of these portraits at Cardiff’s home.” recalls the director. the filmmaking partnership of Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Joseph Mankiewicz and John Huston. from Vermeer he learned how to light interiors. He became known for his ability to light actresses.theasc. As accolades for Cardiff’s work multiplied. director Michael Powell noticed the methods Cardiff was employing to suppress multiple shadows. and everyone had recently done special programs on cinema history.com May 2011 19 . Middle: McCall (left) works with interviewee Lauren Bacall and cinematographer Jonathan Rho in Los Angeles. Audrey Hepburn. From Van Gogh he learned how to use red and green.W.

“I’m a great believer in Super 16. and a limited amount of rostrum work was shot on high-definition video. and Jack said. believing the ubiquity of the format would suit such a fragmented shoot. cameramen and a sound recordist. and I therefore had to go down an independent path. The second setup is a more compli- . and I needed to get the camera farther back.’ It was a bit terrifying. he had all these beautiful paintings by artists like Cézanne. ‘If you want to do it. ‘Sorry. ‘Oh. He recalls. Shooting mostly on film permitted McCall to re-telecine and grade all his film rushes to create HDCam-SR masters when. we were putting a red light on Jack’s face. which meant he wound up working with nine different cinematographers: Steven Chivers. “It also reflects the transatlantic aspect of Jack’s career. “Ian Salvage was the cinematographer that day. ‘What are you doing with that red light?’ Ian explained that I’d asked him to do it so the interview would intercut with clips from A Matter of Life and Death. I moved it because we’re shooting on film and we need the depth.” Shooting on film allowed McCall to pursue a distinctive aesthetic. “For one particular interview. If the person comes in and is in a bad mood. It was the director.” he says. I raised some money and set about getting interviews in the can. Arri and Kodak provided ongoing support for the project. so I moved a little Picasso sculpture that was in the way. Turner. and the interviewees McCall assembled include Martin Scorsese. nobody bit. but he went with it.’ and he replied. maintain and sometimes defend an overall 20 May 2011 visual approach. ‘Who moved that?’ So I said. Betacam SP was also used. it was to stand your ground! When Jack came to look at the first cut. BSC pose with a Technicolor ca mera.” (Historical context in the documentary is provided by film historian Ian Christie and the late American Cinematographer editor George E. much later. John Walker. but I told him not to — if I learned anything from Jack. “I would still shoot with it today if I were doing anything that involved documenting witnesses to history. I’ll do it. John Mills. James Welland and Bob Williams. ‘I really like that with the red light on my face!’ So he taught me a lesson. he asked. On some occasions. Jonathan Rho. Simon Fanthorpe. editors. completion funding came through. Douglas. Cardiff (left) and fellow cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth.” says McCall. but McCall had to source equipment and crew for each period of filming. Kirk Douglas. okay. he would have been trapped by the resolution. “For the Scorsese interview. and he initially shot the rostrum work on 35mm “to capture as much texture and definition in the actress portraits and photographs as possible. Right: McCall and Cardiff discuss a shot at Pinewood Studios. I actually put a light on his lap because I wanted it to look a bit different.Left: At the peak of their careers. Lauren Bacall and Charlton Heston.” McCall shot the majority of the documentary on Super 16mm. “He was in a very good mood. therefore. When Kirk came back. so he said. N icholas Hoffman. the best video format available at the time.” he says. just as he probably had to stand up to Michael Powell on certain days. Mr.) Interviews were conducted over a period of years and in several countries. and Jack replied that it didn’t look right to him. “The mix of people pretty much reflects a film crew. “When we were at Kirk Douglas’ house. directors. He left the room at one point. Ian Salvage.” Cardiff’s name opened a lot of doors.’ “I’d learned my lesson doing a lot of bread-and-butter work interviewing heads of corporations — my approach is to get in early and have two lighting setups. who had to conceive. I had to stand up to him that day. then I put in a soft light and quickly knock it off. McCall was keen to interview a broad range of people who knew Cardiff or could comment on his work. because many of the people I wanted to film were getting older. He notes that if he’d shot on American Cinematographer DigiBeta. with actors. though it also gave him a few nerve-wracking moments.” he says. Ricardo Coll. Ian went to switch it off. As well as recognizable names. he said.” he continues.

Thank You! I am extremely honored to have received the 2010 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences John A. my family.clairmont. my peers. This would not have been possible without all of you. Thank you so very much! www.com . Bonner Award. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to my Denny Clairmont very gifted and loyal staff. but most importantly to all of you cinematographers who inspire me. my colleagues.

Alfred was the first robust. Sony HDW-750 Canon. “Even at the first screening. actress Marissa Tomei played hostess. The Rush system has hadan influential effect throughout the industry. A few days later. a robust. providing a framework for the efficient use of render farms. Chris Allen. with minimal changes to the original design.” says McCall. Eric Tabellion. Technical Achievement Awards are presented for accomplishments that contribute to the progress of the industry. 2nd row: David M. Laur. Laur. Denny Clairmont. 500T 7279 Digital Intermediate At this year’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and Technical Awards. At Pinewood. Greg Ercolano. Front row.for the development of the Alfred render-queue management system. Between the completion of filming and the documentary’s celebrated bow at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival came a final chapter both long and fraught with funding uncertainty. ASC. 320T 7277.” Cameraman has been screened at a dozen U. EXR 50D 7245. Film Council. I was fretful that the DCP projection wouldn’t work. Queue was one of the first systems that allowed for statistical analysis and process introspection. courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Vision 250D 7246.S. widely adopted commercial solution for queue management in the industry.” The most visually creative elements of the project were shot at Pinewood Studios.for the design and development of the robust.K. Brown. highly scalable distributed architecture of the ObaQ renderqueue management system. Neil Wilson and Dr. where McCall worked with art director Miles Glyn and cinematographer Ricardo Coll to re-create some of the lighting and matte effects from Black Narcissus as a backdrop to several interviews. they also shot footage of Cardiff’s amazing memorabilia collection and of the great cinematographer demonstrating a Technicolor camera. Florian Kainz . Ultimately. Olympus Kodak Double-X 7222. Florian Kainz. Mark A. Aaton LTR. and that opened it up to the whole world. Bonner Medal of Commendation. Zeiss. that prompted renewed interest in Cameraman and the last bit of funding from the U. Lance Kimes and Alan Rogers. and ASC associate member Denny Clairmont was honored with the John A. scalable. left to right: Academy President Tom Sherak. for the creation of a computer-graphics bounce-lighting methodology that is 22 May 2011 Academy Sci-Tech Awards photos by Richard Harbaugh and Todd Wawrychuk. actress Marisa Tomei and Sci-Tech Committee chair Richard Edlund.78:1 Super 16mm. ObaQ has scaled from managing a few hundred processors in 1997 to many thousands today.for the design and engineering of a series of software systems culminating in the Rush render-queue management system. N eilson-Hordell. “What you have to say here is harder than what we do!” Thirteen Technical Achievement certificates and nine Scientific and Engineering plaques were awarded.I Academy Lauds Sci-Tech Luminaries By Jay Holben TECHNICAL SPECS 1. . 200T 7274. James Rodnunsky. for the development of Queue. Individuals from two companies were honored for their contributions to the world of computer-generated effects: Eric Tabellionand Arnauld Lamorlette. Alex MacDonald. Mark A. Its user interface and support for multi-machine assignment influenced the design of modern-day queue-management tools. 35mm. Digital Capture Arri 16SR-2. 3rd row: Mark Noel. cated one that I’d worked out with the cinematographer and usually involved putting the camera farther back. scalable approach to render-queue management. the movie was shown in Cannes. enabling scalable render farms at American Cinematographer numerous studios. Gautham Krishnamurti. film festivals to date and will be theatrically released in N ew York City on May 13. Arri. Brown and Lance Kimes. Plus-X 7231. handling the evening’s esoteric jargon with ease and humor. Angenieux. “It was only when I heard the audience clap at the final credits that I realized nothing else could go wrong. Last row: John Frazier. it was Cardiff’s death. 12 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. I was able to do that with Scorsese and many of the others I spoke to for this film. held on Feb. Mark Sagar. at the National Film Theatre. Chris Allen. Mark Chapman and Rory McGregor. in 2009. This year individuals from four companies were honored for their contributions to the evolution of computer-render queuemanagement systems: Greg Ercolano. David M. with additional cities to follow. his fingers still nimble at the controls and a sparkle in his eyes as he describes the beam-splitting prism that is the camera’s soul. Award recipient Alex MacDonald of Cablecam told her. Arnauld Lamorlette. Gautham Krishnamurti.

com Compact capture direct to Compact. LT and Proxy) direct from any SDI or HDMI camera. An optional Ki Pro Mini mounting plate offers a wide variety of bolt patterns for mating to virtually any camera accessory or shoe adapter. From lens to post in a flash. Rapid transfer to Final Cut Pro The ProRes media is stored to Compact Flash. Ki Pro Mini simultaneously captures ProRes footage to Compact Flash media. While the camera is recording to its own tape or file-based memory.aja.aja. Designed as a miniature field recorder for creating ‘ready-to-edit’ professional digital video. Ki Pro Mini speeds your workflow from lens to post by recording Apple ProRes 422 (including HQ. instantly ready to edit when connected to a Mac. Its unique design and tiny form factor provide easy mounting to cameras or tripods. ready to edit as soon as you connect to your Mac with a standard card reader.com B e c a u s e i t m a t t e r s . . Ki Pro Mini records ProRes 422 direct from any SDI or HDMI camera.Ki Pro Mini. NEW www. Find out about our workflow enhancing solutions by visiting us at www. lightweight and ready for any shooting environment.

His work led to a method for transforming facial-motion capture data into an expression-based. This important step in the evolution of global illumination techniques. The NAC System allows fullsized cars.Terry. Alan Rogers. They all worked for the movie studios in various positions.for his early and continuing development of influential facialmotion retargeting solutions. Finally. “Our customers were. Tim Drnec. and he said the best way to learn was to get a . was shared with the industry in the duo’s technical paper. The system responds to the motion of the operator’s hand. “I loved anything with a motor in it. but we weren’t really rolling in cash. “We did pretty well. He taught us photography and the tools of the trade. took an early interest in cars.for the software design and continued development of CineSync.for his contributions to the system’s design and safety features.” recalls Clairmont.” was presented to ASC associate member Denny Clairmont. editable character-animated system that has been used in motion pictures with a high volume of digital characters. given for “outstandAmerican Cinematographer ing service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.I took auto shop and built my own hot-rod cars. permitting the recording and playback of all axes of motion simultaneously. Clairmont noted that he grew up doing everything he could to avoid working in the motion-picture business.Left: Sherak (top) and Edlund (bottom) greet the audience at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. the John A. Ben Britten Smith and Matt Davis . Mark N oel . “An Approximate Global Illumination System for Computer Generated Films. N eil Wilson and Rory McGregor. Easy to use. However. which may be edited and refined for playback in subsequent takes. engineering and development of the NAC Servo 24 May 2011 Winch System. In high school.” After high school. Scientific and Engineering Awards were presented for achievements that exhibit a high level of engineering and are important to the progress of the industry.for the development of the Cablecam 3-D volumetric suspended cable-camera technologies. His father was a commercial cinematographer. though. two Scientific and Engineering “upgrade” plaques were awarded to the following individuals. the Clairmont brothers started a shop and fixed up cars for fellow racers. In addition. and Clairmont strove to stay as far away from “Dad’s work” as possible. he and his younger brother.” Tony Clark. so Terry and I went to our father and asked him how we could get into the business. who previously earned Academy certificates for their work on cable-driven camera systems that have made it possible to move a camera safely and accurately anywhere through a threedimensional space: James Rodnunsky.” he recalls. Alex MacDonald and Mark Chapman. In a later interview with AC. first used on Shrek 2. practical at feature-film scale. and John Frazier .for the development of the Spydercam 3-D volumetric suspended cable-camera technologies. a tool for remote collaboration and review of visual effects. aircraft and other heavy props to be flown on wires with unprecedented freedom of motion and a high degree of safety onset and in real time. It became the go-to place for local San Fernando drag racers.for the design. Bonner Medal of Commendation. CineSync has become a widely accepted solution for remote-production collaboration. Above: ASC associate Clairmont accepts the John A. “I started making my own scooters when I was around 12 years old. This year they were awarded to: Mark Sagar. Bonner Medal of Commendation .

It Starts with the Glass tm www. fairness. Denny. we will be forever grateful to you and your brother Terry for pushing the limits and driving the bar of technology ever higher in the name of art. Bonner Award. resourcefulness and can-do without compromise. frankness. You truly deserve the 2010 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. John A.Clairmont Congratulations & Thank you! The very mention of the name brings to mind integrity.schneideroptics. perfection.com .

Tomei served as the evening’s hostess.

position in a camera-rental shop.” Denny found himself a position as a driver at Birns &Sawyer in Hollywood, while Terry kept the shop running. Birns & Sawyer’s lead repair technician, John Russell, took an immediate liking to Clairmont and promoted him to a position as his assistant. In 1969,when Russell left Birns to take another job, Clairmont was promoted to lead repair technician, a position he held until 1976. He quickly became known as a guy who could create specialty gear for cinematographers or camera assistants. With the support of a strong machine shop at Birns & Sawyer, Clairmont began crafting specialty equipment on a regular basis. When Birns goteven busier, Denny helped Terry, who had found work as a camera assistant, land a job at the facility as well. In 1971, Terry was working with future ASC member Michael Watkins,and the two joined forces to purchase a Cinema Products XR35 camera. They entered a contract with Birns & Sawyer to stock and maintain the camera in return for a share of the rental proceeds. The camera worked

consistently,and in 1973,Terry and Denny decided to purchase a new Arri 35BL and enter into the same contract with Birns. “At that time, you could buy a 35BL with five lenses and two 400-foot magazines for $19,000,” Clairmont recalls. “I managed to scrounge up $10,000 on my own and got a bank to loan me the other $9,000. About 90 days later, when that camera was constantly working, I went to the bank to get a loan for a second camera.” In 1976, Birns & Sawyer came under new management, and a dispute with that party cost Denny his job. He went home and told his brother that he was out of work,and asked if he could get a job on Terry’s crew. “Terry said no,” he recalls with a laugh. “He said,‘You’re the guy we go to when we want good camera equipment. Everyone knows you and trusts you, so we should open up our own rental house.’” Unfortunately, the three cameras the brothers owned were under firm contract with Birns &Sawyer. Because the Clairmonts had a proven track record, though, the bank agreed to loan them money to

26

purchase additional cameras, and Ed DiGiulio of Cinema Products helped them start their new company with a separate loan of camera equipment worth more than $300,000. Taking note of DiGiulio’s move, several other companies followed suit with loans of their own, including Arri, Harrison & Harrison and OConnor. Clairmont Camera was born. Today, Clairmont Camera occupies a 33,000-square-foot facility in Hollywood, with satellite offices in Albuquerque, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Denny maintains his status as the go-to man for custom equipment and was intrinsically involved in the design of the Angenieux Optimo zoom lenses. He has been a member of the Academy Sci-Tech Committee since 1993 and has served on the Steering Committee since 2000. He has been honored with two Emmy Awards, as well as a 1991 Scientific and Technical Academy Award for the opto-mechanical design and development of the Canon/Clairmont Camera Zoom Lens.

Sherak commends this year’s award recipients.

“When I got the letter informing me that I would be presented with the Bonner Award, I was incredibly proud, but I was a little worried, too,” he recalls. “So many people deserve the credit I’m getting, and one of them is my late brother, Terry. Over the years, many cinematographers and camera assistants have pushed me to

design things and come up with new tools. I certainly wasn’t alone in earning this honor.” ●

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Cinema Verite, shot by Affonso Beato, ASC, ABC, revisits the first reality-TV series.
By Jean Oppenheimer •|•

Living Out Loud
T
American Cinematographer

hey were supposed to be the perfect American family. They turned out to be anything but, and as their lives unraveled on national television, they incurred the wrath of millions of viewers who were scandalized by what they witnessed week after week. As a character in HBO’s Cinema Verite notes early in the film, “One must never let the public behind the scenes, for it is the illusion they love.” In an age when reality TV blankets the airwaves, it might be difficult to appreciate what it was like in 1973, when the first reality series, An American Family, aired on PBS. The 12-part series, produced by WNET in New York, chronicled the lives of Patricia and Bill Loud (portrayed by Diane Lane and Tim Robbins in the new film) and their children, an

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May 2011

Peter Iovino and Sam Urdank.” Beato ww. ABC (right) works through a scene with Lane and Cinema Verite co-directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman. he continues. “We used Super 35mm.theasc. When producer Craig Gilbert (James Gandolfini) chose the Louds. he didn’t know — but quickly ascertained — that the seemingly model marriage was coming apart at the seams.” An Arricam Studio and Lite captured “the movie POV” in 3-perf Super 35mm (1. or the documentary.Opposite: Bill Loud (Tim Robbins) and his wife. which was shot on 16mm. This page. ASC. courtesy of HBO. see their marriage and family disintegrate on national television after they agree to let a television producer film their lives. “We differentiated the formats by aligning them with certain points of view. and the optical universes are very different. Super 8mm. ASC. on the outdoor patio of a Mexican restaurant. Calif. top: The Louds meet with the producer. .” he says. upper-middle-class family living in Santa Barbara. Believing that “modern Super 16 stock is so good and so grainless that it looks like 35mm. which premiered April 23 and will play throughout May and June. tells the behind-the-scenes story of how the groundbreaking series was made. Bottom: Cinematographer Affonso Beato. Middle: A cameraman captures footage of the Louds in their Santa Barbara home. Pat (Diane Lane).com w May 2011 29 Unit photography by Doug Hyun. ABC was intrigued by the movie-within-a-movie concept and the visual possibilities it offered. and clips from the original PBS series. Craig Gilbert (James Gandolfini). In a sense. Director of photography Affonso Beato. high-definition video that was digitally manipulated to look like 16mm. this was the big picture. Next was the movie-within-the-movie. Cinema Verite. and that the couple’s eldest son was grappling with questions of sexual orientation.78:1).

◗ Living Out Loud Top: Gilbert ingratiates himself with Pat at a California resort hotel. Bottom right: Beato finds his angle. The Panasonic was referred to variously as “the documentary camera.” American Cinematographer The onscreen documentary crew carries an old Éclair. It was essential that the footage look substantially different so that viewers would immediately know which one they were watching. but the footage incorporated into the film was shot by documentary cinematographer Sandra Chandler. on the other hand. and the VariCam is set up .” says Beato. she used the same lighting setup. CinemaVerite jumps back and forth between what the movie camera sees and what the documentary camera 30 May 2011 sees. Anthony Arendt and Joseph Arena. is kind of a character in itself. for that material.” “the crew POV” and sometimes “the 16mm POV. We went handheld and did a lot of panning and zooming. or occasionally a crane.” says Pulcini. “Given that I would be shooting handheld. I needed a shoulder-mount camera. who walked onto the set after the main camera operators. were finished.” he says. in keeping with the style of the PBS series. Bottom left: The Louds and their friends attempt to stay “natural” on camera. well-behaved. and we always used a dolly. “The crew POV. “The movie POV is composed. decided to shoot this material with a Panasonic AJ-HPX3700 VariCam and use the digital grade to give it the look of 16mm stock from that era. “Affonso has a real gift for seeing shots on the spot and executing them quickly.

Top: The stress of living on camera causes tension to creep into the Louds’ relationship. however. “Affonso breaks down the entire [schedule] during prep and sends the charts to his crew.theasc. “He lists cameras and lenses. It turned out not to be.” She kept a standard Fujinon HD ENG zoom lens on the camera. two different formats appear side-by-side on screen. Archival footage of the real Louds plays on one side while the actors portraying them appear on the other.” says 1st AC Carlos Doerr. Bottom: Both Bill and Pat confide in Gilbert when the cameras aren’t rolling. Often.” says Chandler. ww. ergonomically for that. (Pro8mm in Burbank processed and transferred the negative. clips from the 1973 PBS documentary were added to the mix. the actors replicate the exact movements of their reallife counterparts. but Bill’s off-camera philandering pushes Pat to the point of no return. the stock we’ll need and exactly how much to order. and what each camera would need for a given shot. whether any May 2011 31 . which gave Affonso great latitude in post to create the 16mm look.com w Keeping track of which format was to be used when. could have been a nightmare. “The 3700 records to P2 cards and has the F-Rec gamma mode. any special equipment. using a Beaulieu 4008 ZM4 borrowed from loader Christian Kessler.) Finally. At times. thanks to the meticulously organized workflow charts Beato creates on every project. who had worked previously with Cinema Verite directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman. happier stages of their lives. Chandler also shot Super 8 “home movies” of the Loud family at earlier.

Then.” AC visited the Cinema Verite set on a cloudless. Beato can quickly alter his course. Tennis courts and a swimming pool are clearly visible in the background. we brought in a 6K Par with a Chimera. plan with the cinematographer. The scene comprised five pages of dialogue and had to be completed before the sun crept behind the building and threw the action into shadow.” But when things do change on set. he couldn’t just expose for the foreground and let the background go bright. Furthermore.” says Pulcini. and then the electricians would appear with their 32 May 2011 cables. “Affonso has a real gift for seeing shots on the spot and executing them quickly. “To raise the light level. It used to be that the director would come to the set. Pat. The actors were only 8'-10'away. Pulcini recalls. “We had to light the actors 3 stops over what we’d normally do. blistering-hot California morning. all while 50 or 100 people waited. a friend and Gilbert sit down at a patio table under an umbrella. to give some shape to the faces. Beato had his crew put a 20'x40' softener over the table. Those charts always keep us one step ahead. we used gold and silver lamé bounces. and both Arricams were backed up as far as they could go. effects work is involved. Beato wanted the tennis courts to retain strong definition. Though he and co-director Berman both interacted with Beato on the set. right against the sliding glass doors of the clubhouse. Pat arrives at a resort hotel to meet Gilbert for the first time. In the scene at hand. and so on. while HBO’s crew (bottom) captures the scene with modern technology. Tight shooting schedules mean “there’s no time to inspire yourself or change your mind on the set anymore. That doesn’t happen anymore.” says gaffer Justin Holdsworth. “I spent more time with him because I deal more with the camera and the look American Cinematographer of the film.” Beato notes that planning ahead is a necessity these days.◗ Living Out Loud The documentary show’s camera team (top) tracks the family’s movements with a vintage Éclair camera. while Shari concentrates on the actors. moving it closer .

ASC Robert Richardson.. ASC “The depth and quality of image far exceeded my expectations . ALEXA level capture.” ARRI is proud to acknowledge innovative filmmakers worldwide proud to acknowledge innovative filmmakers who have positioned ALEXA at the highest level of cinematic capture..” Michael Ballhaus.” Darius Khondji. ASC “ALEXA simplifies digital cinematography at the highest level. ASC “I like the ALEXA very much. ASC “The ALEXA has some special gifts that other cameras don’t have. I can say that the camera is a revelation!“ Rob Legato “Not only is it the best digital camera on the market. BSC. ASC “Having worked with the ALEXA for the past four months. especially when you shoot under very low light conditions.“ “I love this camera” . BVK.Truly cinematic Truly cinematic Roger Deakins.and our best is yet to come yet to come www. Claudio Miranda. AFC.com w w w. dependable and it saves time in postproduction. I feel closer to this camera than I have to any other digital camera.“ Vilmos Zsigmond. It‘s light.. c o m .shooting Life of Pi in 3D now... a r r i d i g i t a l .arridigital.. fast.an invaluable tool in the arsenal of filmmaking. . it is now the best motion picture camera in the world.

” Beato kept an eye on the sun. a heavier. than I normally would. bright and sunny. “We had one shot left when the directors decided that another problem took precedence. By the time we went back to the patio to get the final shot. Beato planned to create the look in the DI. Beato describes it as “a Kodachrome dream: colorful. the California look takes on a severe tone.” This typically translated into tungsten lamps gelled with ¼ Straw or CTO.” The blue skies and hard light of California serve as Cinema Verite ’s predominant look. instead of using lens filtration to achieve this. The living room offered a deep background thanks to the pool area beyond the sliding-glass doors. The Louds’ home figured prominently in the series. and the Cinema Verite team managed to find a house in 34 May 2011 American Cinematographer . There was also a much cooler “New York look” (HMIs with a bit of CTB) that was used for scenes showing Pat visiting her eldest son. there was no way to match the light levels.◗ Living Out Loud Scenes set inside the Louds’ home were shot at a house in Sherman Oaks that provided a nearly perfect match for the real residence. (The interior of the hotel was created onstage. The last shot we got wasn’t used.” he admits. Lance (Thomas Dekker). after An American Family has aired and the Louds find themselves the target of intense ridicule and scorn. bluish-green hue. “I was getting nervous. at the famed Chelsea Hotel.) At the end of the movie. but the setting required Beato to carefully balance his interior and exterior exposures.

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Unbleached muslin was the diffusion of choice. The camera is stationary behind him. To create soft ambient light. shows Gilbert and all seven members of the Loud family sitting around the living room. a swimming pool and the back yard. sheets of muslin were spread across the patio outside and on the living-room floor. “That meant balancing exposure inside for the exterior. it wasn’t always possible to hang lights. Pat stands at the bathroom sink. I had a huge tripod with a menace arm to position a Chinese lantern above the actor. Beato bounced sunlight (and occasionally an 18K) into the room off 8'x8' frames of unbleached muslin. “When we couldn’t hang lights. All of the lights were on dimmers. To light a scene in which Pat and Bill talk. 30"“Mus Balls” containing 1. Middle: The crew captures a New York street scene outside the Chelsea Hotel. “This was a very tricky scene to shoot.” notes Holdsworth. Arri T12s and 5Ks with Chimeras. discussing what the documentary crew will be doing. “Affonso didn’t want to lose the depth of having the pool in the background while looking out from [the living room]. “If it was a moving shot. where Beato strove to capture the more idyllic aspects of California living. early in the film. we might hang the menace arm from the dolly. so we see both his back and American Cinematographer Top: A truckmounted platform facilitates a view from the road. He steps into frame. Calif. Additionally. Because the ceilings were low. “The scene opens on Bill’s reflection in the standalone mirror.◗ Living Out Loud Sherman Oaks. all of which are visible through a wall of sliding glass doors..” A few Lowel Rifa 44 lights were also used for the actors’ faces. 36 May 2011 .) The family tended to hang out in the living room. and Bill is a few feet away in the bedroom. standing at a fulllength mirror.” One such scene.” notes Beato. which looks out onto a patio. Bottom: AC visited the production while scenes were being shot at the Altadena Town & Country Club (doubling as the Santa Barbara Biltmore). all bouncing off muslin.000-watt bulbs were strewn across the bedroom floor. Gilbert is sitting in a chair. looking into the mirror. admires himself in the mirror and starts talking to Pat. (Another location provided the front exterior.” recalls Beato. his back to the sliding doors. whose interior was almost a mirror image of the real residence. were used inside.

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the operator and I were snuggled into a narrow hallway.” Beato used several pieces of equipment on Cinema Verite that he’d 38 . “Up until now. The camera is to the left and slightly behind Pat as she stands in front of the mirror. catching a different reflection. a thin. Doerr picks up the story: “Affonso. and the sun going around would have totally destroyed the light continuity. The matte box was just barely off-camera. it acts like a huge silk. and the place was packed with people. drinking with friends. really tight.” says Bill tends to business as his home life begins to spiral downward. Another item Beato had never used before was the Airstar Cloud. I think we did a 135mm shot on that. Another mirror hangs on a closet door behind Pat. video taps have been standard definition. HD IVS. following her hand and going up to her face and racking to the mirror. It comes with a 6" trans-video cine monitor. Beato notes that it’s an expensive item to rent. his reflection in the mirror. and he was grateful to Sean Jenkins at Clairmont Camera in Hollywood for fitting it into the production’s budget.” asserts the cinematographer. The most difficult part of this was when Pat reached down to grab Bill’s hairbrush.” The scene cuts to the bathroom.◗ Living Out Loud never tried before. “We spent two days at that location. flat balloon that is used as diffusion. The scene was the outdoor patio of a Mexican restaurant.He had heard good things about a new HD video-tap system. that attaches to the Arricam cameras. when Pat and Gilbert arrive. Bill is sitting at a table. Made of Lunix fabric. so we see her reflection. which just isn’t good enough.

Beato’s team created one that was 40'x40'.” Even with four formats to contend with. “It turned out to be less expensive to rent the Cloud than to pump [up the] light to balance the restaurant’s interior and exterior. Beaulieu 4008 ZM4 Cooke S4. 500 8547 Digital Intermediate . “I was the only person on the [ Cinema Verite] set who knew how to hold the Nagra. “It was the first portable camera that really gave you the opportunity to be mobile and shoot sound at the same time with a Nagra.) When darkness started to fall. he adds.” It also brought back some unique memories. 50D 5201.” ● TECHNICAL SPECS 1. “For example.” says Bogdanowicz. It was absolutely fantastic.” With a laugh. the camera used by Alan Raymond and Joan Churchill [ASC] to shoot An American Family. which makes it really saturated.” The Cloud is 20'x20'but can be expanded by zipping two or more together. “I was the first person in Brazil to use the Éclair. Vision2 250D 5207. Lite. Beato used three Kodak stocks for most of the project — Vision3 500T 5219 and Vision2 250D 5207 and 50D 5201 — and he also mixed in two Fuji Eterna Vivid stocks. (It was provided by Airstar Space Lighting USA. Nikkor and Arri Macro Kodak Vision3 500T 5219. Beato maintains that the shoot was never confusing. All of the 35mm material was processed at Technicolor Hollywood. I have [primary color] chroma keys working on the California look. I had lived it. where AC caught upwith Beato again as he started the digital grade with colorist Jill Bogdanowicz. Panasonic AJ-HPX3700. 160 8543 and 500 8547. the crew set up three 18Ks to replicate sunlight. like the look of early ’70s film stocks. Super 8mm Arricam Studio. for the Super 8 material to help differentiate its look. That’s the vibe we’re going for. and I’m popping these colors separately.” he observes. Fuji Eterna Vivid 160 8543. Digital Capture.Beato.Angenieux Optimo. “We’ve got some intricate keys going through the movie to give it a 1970s look.78:1 3-perf Super 35mm. though he readily admits “it was very complex.

Beristain was born in Mexico. where American Cinematographer . the Spanish Civil War era. betrayal. Joffé has said that the movie. discovers that the older man was a close childhood friend of Josemaría Escrivá (played by Charlie Cox). Manolo. which serve as the story’s present day.” The movie’s cast includes Dougray Scott as the journalist and Wes Bentley as his father. By David Heuring •|• Sinner 40 May 2011 R A Saint and a oland Joffé’s There Be Dragons tells the story of a Spanish journalist who. which was partially funded by Opus Dei. which tore the country apart in the late 1930s. in the course of reconciling with his elderly father. nearly 75 years after founding the devout Catholic organization Opus Dei. Their story unfolds in four segments: the boyhood years of Manolo and Josemaría in Spain during the early 20th century. war. the duo’s early manhood in the 1920s. divine love. Joffé chose Gabriel Beristain. and the 1980s.Gabriel Beristain. ASC. BSC goes on location in Spain and Argentina for the atmospheric religious drama There Be Dragons. mistakes — everything it is to be a human being. BSC to photograph There Be Dragons. is “about love. ASC. a real historical figure who was named a saint in 2002. human love. hate.

Blood Out. I knew we ww.” says Beristain. among them Caravaggio.theasc. his parents were successful actors. Beristain took the advice of Allen Daviau. His résumé has since grown to include 40 films. seated) and Josemaría Escrivá (Charlie Cox) find themselves on conflicting spiritual paths as adults. “The war period. of course. After spending 15 years working in the British film and television industries. atmosphere and décor. he saw two ways to think about the visuals: through the four main time periods. “Also. who persuaded Taylor Hackford to consider me for Blood In. my agent at that time. with all the famous visual references. by Eugenio Zanetti. K2.” he notes. took place around the time that color photography was becoming more common. was a visual feast because of all the period details and textures. When Beristain first read the script for There Be Dragons. Dolores Claiborne and The Spanish Prisoner. . and by tracing the distinct emotional paths followed by Manolo and Josemaría. Added to that is the rich iconography and symbolism of the Catholic Church. The story concerns one person who found a religious mission in life and another who developed a hatred of religion. and how to create chiaroscuro without losing sight of delicate details. and eventually studied at the National Film and Television School in England. This page: Manolo takes up arms (top) while future saint Josemaría chooses the priesthood. ASC and moved to the United States. our production design.com w could make a great film from these elements.” Early conversations between Beristain and Joffé focused on texture. like the lace of a dress. “I was also aided by Sandra Marsh. He recently wrapped the pilot for Exit Strategy. and that was.Opposite: Childhood friends Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley. fascinating to me. Two fundamenMay 2011 41 Photos courtesy of Mount Santa Fe. All this would need to be done on a modest budget at locations in Spain and Argentina. He shot documentaries and commercials before moving to Europe.

which is something I trained extensively for during my years in Europe. Bottom right: The boys enjoy the comforts of an opulent upbringing. but it gives me very precise control over what part of the scene to emphasize or intensify. Manolo and Josemaría make frequent visits to a chocolate factory where they receive tasty treats — and bits of wisdom — from Honorio (Derek Jacobi). undiffused light (except for the 1980s scenes). the camera was usually on a jib arm. in a way. we usually used the Technocrane.” American Cinematographer The producers raised the possibility of shooting digitally. The Scorpio head was often used in conjunction with a Technocrane to facilitate dramatic. for interiors. We planned to film our exterior battle scenes with half a dozen cameras and two Technocranes. we decided to shoot on film. as opposed to applying an overall style to 42 May 2011 the entire film. Beristain describes his approach to light as “emotional lighting” — letting the emotional content of individual scenes dictate his approach. sweeping movement. “We were going to have many different cameras. “Considerable engineering and ingenuity went into creating the lyrical camera moves Roland sought for this film. and the decision to keep the A camera almost always mounted on a three-axis Scorpio head operated by Beristain. sometimes attached to the Scorpio. and there were unknowns about the dependability of postproduction in Argentina. I was almost always operating. “After we considered all the options and weighed all the practical and artistic factors.” he says. tal technical choices that grew out of their conversations were the decision to light primarily with direct.” says the cinematographer. In exterior situations. “Direct light is oldfashioned. which made using a digital format less attractive.◗ A Saint and a Sinner Top and bottom left: As children. but Beristain says Joffé left the decision to him. which became my dependable steed. which would limit .

Ours wasn’t a ‘heavy’ set. Manolo’s journalist son.” Beristain attests.our lighting options. these kinds of techniques can be accomplished anywhere. but we were invited to recognize the dramatic value of the scene and the need to execute the shots in a way that was harmonious with that mood. Buenos Aires has many In the film’s present day.” The boyhood scenes were filmed in a tiny. Wide shots sometimes required extensive bluescreen and greenscreen construction to cover period-inaccurate elements. With film. “The mood of the scene was something Roland wanted to bring to everyone on the set. Joffé was keen to spread the right mood throughout the set. ww. Roland got excellent performances that way.” says Beristain. where the skies are very powerful and very clean. Cinematographers have to recognize how a director works and then adapt to that method.” says Beristain. “It’s a medieval stone town. but his quest for understanding leads him to do some research at the Vatican (bottom). 200T 5217 and 250D 5205. top). picturesque village in Castile called Sepulveda.com w 43 May 2011 . “In a place like Argentina.” Beristain mainly used available light. Film would give us the maximum latitude and dynamic range. although he was occasionally able to augment the location’s existing ambience with HMIs. there’s no problem with strong highlights. these challenges are solved in an artisanal way. and Vision3 500T 5219. and we mostly filmed exteriors there for about three weeks. “That’s as Spanish as it gets.theasc. has trouble connecting with his emotionally distant father (Bentley. “I could see from the beginning that I was working with a method director. Robert (Dougray Scott.” Beristain ultimately decided to use four Kodak stocks: Vision2 100T 5212. sometimes in the mountains. but today. production became more complicated. thereby leading each department to the right contribution. a harsh place. We also knew we would be shooting during the summer in Argentina. as well as the flexibility to make everything match in post. middle. Once the company moved to Argentina. in old-age makeup). “The crews may not have all the resources and be as well prepared for these situations as they are in Hollywood.

I’ll note that any screen larger than 20-by-20 feet has to be put together skillfully in order to avoid seams and folds. My point is.” he continues. we discovered we needed an extra 20-by to cover a last-minute change of composition. so we needed to isolate those locations by using large greenscreens. If you have the will. turn-of-the-century colonial buildings.◗ A Saint and a Sinner beautiful. but some of them are right smack in the middle of ghastly modern architecture. if you are working with film crews far from Hollywood. but the Argentinian crew built the greenscreens using whatever was at hand. Manolo aligns himself with the rebels but turns on them and serves as a Fascist spy. “By way of example. “Just before the shot. it’s neither expensive nor difficult. The scale was nowhere near what I experienced when I was shooting additional photography on Iron Man.” Another visually arresting scene During the Spanish Civil War. 44 May 2011 American Cinematographer . and our crew put together an 80-by-80-foot screen using several 20-bys carefully suspended from a giant construction crane. and those shots made a significant contribution to the look of the film. don’t assume something is impossible.

ww. and has served as gaffer on many commercials and about 30 features. “We couldn’t access the roofs. and we needed an 82-foot boom. Close collaboration with key grip Anibal Cattaneo was crucial.com w May 2011 45 . We assembled a truss structure that would absorb vibrations and wind. and mounted After joining the rebels. It lends the scene an ominous quality.” Like the majority of Beristain’s crew on the film.shows Manolo. so we rented a 131-foot telescopic mobile crane that is normally used on construction sites. with one crew pre-lighting the subsequent scene. I knew that once we got to the digital intermediate. Hermo studied photography at National School of Cinematographic Production and Experimentation. Manolo becomes a jealous rival of the faction’s charismatic leader. “I found a factory warehouse with a glass roof. top). making his first attempt to kill a rebellious worker.” says Beristain. including a church sequence.theasc. and everything else was available light. Hermo explains. “For several scenes. I put three 10Ks inside the office. I could pick out the windows and bring them down further. Beristain’s direct-light approach meant larger sources and more rigging. Oriol (Rodrigo Santoro. “I shot it during the daytime but underexposed by 6 or 7 stops. Most of the sets were so large and complex that we had two teams working simultaneously. We used HMI mixtures in daylight situations. “To achieve the aesthetic Gabriel described. and we shot it day-fornight.” Hermo continues. including the Oscarwinning The Secret in Their Eyes. but they are not available in Argentina. That shot was all in knowing how to manipulate the exposure and knowing what can be achieved in the DI. now a soldier. we used tungsten Fresnel lamps ranging from 650-watt units to 20Ks. Gabriel asked me for Musco or Bebee [Night] lights. gaffer Daniel Hermo is Argentinean.

was a vast battle scene in which the square and cathedral in Luján. squibs everywhere. The opening shot was done in overcast conditions.” ➣ 46 May 2011 American Cinematographer . the crane rig was augmented with an Arri MaxMover to facilitate remote aiming and focus of the lights. the smoke saved my life. sometimes the sun would break through the smoke and create fantastic shots. We used this rig to bring light into high windows. but once the sun came out. We need to sharpen our wits and find a way. The project’s “pièce de résistance. I had the element of smoke to work with.’ That’s a reality for most cinematographers. The size of the square meant Beristain had to work with Cinematographer Gabriel Beristain.”In some situations. ASC. ‘Sorry. explosions. BSC says he tailored his lighting to the emotional content of individual scenes rather than fashioning an overall style. it was backlit in the morning and front-lit in the afternoon. You can’t stop everyone and say.◗ A Saint and a Sinner three Arri 18K HMIs on the truss. I justified it as though smoke were covering that area. and careful choreography.” available light. “Our primary concern was the dramatic mood of the scene. stand in for Madrid. large numbers of actors and extras.” says Beristain. and the adrenaline was pumping. “Luckily. and because the cathedral was oriented east-west. When it was sunny. Argentina. “Whenever I had shadow areas. the light isn’t right. There are many actors running through the scene.” according to Beristain. shots being fired — it’s chaotic. casting beams through the smoke we had laid in the church interior. the scene required extensive special effects. In addition to the numerous greenscreens.

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48 May 2011 American Cinematographer . where The movie’s main battle sequence was shot on a square in Luján. A Steadicam rig combined with a Segway twowheeled vehicle (middle right) allowed the filmmakers to traverse rough terrain at high speeds. and it added very much to the sense of advancement we needed to create. “Roland is not generally very keen on the Steadicam. To render a documentary feel for certain scenes. “but we used it with the Segway in the battle situations. which stood in for Madrid. the production combined a Steadicam rig with a Segway two-wheeled vehicle. which camera operator Matías Mesa used to cover rough terrain at high speeds. It’s more than just following the characters. “One of our most dramatic locations was the town of Epecuen.” Beristain says. Argentina.◗ A Saint and a Sinner Filming battle sequences with kinetic intensity also required ingenious solutions.

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have that [fully integrated] quality. like moving forward stands this. There Be Dragons was a fasci- 50 . and Matty achieved cinematic language. ruins.” he continues. choreographed moves with the Scorpio head. Ideally the cuts and the movement work in harmony to become something very special. and that even the cuts would be made special by that movement. In that with enemy infantry as they charged respect. we were giving the film a different look. barren soil and abandoned our heroes. so I trusted him.” Beristain knew that many long.” he says. and the other half is dead trees. “It became a ghost town two decades ago. and I think it’s a vital part of the over anything. we shot a big battle scene. The soggy soil made it impossible “I think it’s important for films to for us to bring in any heavy equipment. “People don’t talk about that any question. Technocrane. The Segway would just glide longer. and “Roland and I felt we should not be saddened or discouraged by this fact. Half the town comprises water avenues and submerged rooftops. narrative-based cuts. when the nearby lake flooded half the villa.” he so cranes and dollies were out of the says. moving shots might not make the final cut intact. Roland underphenomenal shots. but rather based on the whole poetry.◗ A Saint and a Sinner An ailing Manolo experiences a vision from his youth while lying on his hospital deathbed. The cuts are not simple. an integral part of the mise-en-scène. jib arm and Steadicam. “We believed that by creating these dynamic.

” ● TECHNICAL SPECS 2. we’d crank those blacks.’ but after she read the script and we had a few conversations. Angenieux Optimo Kodak Vision2 100T 5212. if it called for strong contrast. the integrity and artistic value of the images cinematographers produce depends very much on this communication. and our capacity to involve him or her in the project. this is going to be painful. some other scanning work was done at Technicolor in Madrid.40:1 3-perf Super 35mm Arricam Studio.” The production’s front-end lab work was done at Cinecolor Argentina in Buenos Aires. 250D 5205.” he notes. like a storyteller within the film. “Of course. We didn’t care about the period or have any preconceived notions about certain colors for certain characters. ‘Oh. “When I met Noémie and told her about my ‘emotional lighting’ concept. she looked at me with an expression that said. “Nowadays I’m involved in many conversations. The [Autodesk] Lustre helped us make the lighting a great character. she understood that our primary concern was going to be the dramatic mood of the scene. 200T 5217. Vision3 500T 5219 Digital Intermediate 51 . where Beristain worked on the digital grade with colorist Noémie Dulau. panels and interviews regarding how new technologies can optimize the way a cinematographer communicates with the dailies and final colorists. Lite Arri Master Prime. If the mood called for cool light. we made it cool.nating experiment. That lab also handled the majority of the 2K scanning. no. but I think equally important is our close contact with the person who will sit behind the machine.

” says Shah. the goal was a look “that felt real.a coming-of-age story about an ensemble of teens getting ready for the biggest night of their young lives.” American Cinematographer . according to Arri.” “We created a digital look-book made up of stills from other movies. “There was no studio mandate to shoot digitally. shot by Anna Foerster. marks the U. and the look had to match the whirlwind intensity of teen love.S. the filmmakers tested the Alexa side-by-side with a Red One MX and a Sony F35. raw and a little out of control.”notes Nussbaum. (The European film Anonymous. We just switched out the camera bodies. all of which had been shot on film. shot by Byron Shah. but Joe and I both were open to the idea provided we could find a format that worked for the project. We set up an apples-to-apples test: same lens. “We didn’t test film because we knew what film looks like. feature debut on Prom. same lighting. By Noah Kadner •|• T 52 he new Disney movie Prom.-featuredebut of Arri’s Alexadigital motion-picture camera. Before production commenced. there were no references for a digitally shot movie that had the look we wanted.First Dance Arri’s Alexa makes its U.) For director Joe Nussbaum and cinematographer Byron May 2011 Shah.” says Shah. was the camera’s first feature outing. same setup. same settings and so on. and we wanted to judge the digital formats on their own terms.S. “The movie weaves together multiple love stories. same filters. same stop.

” he continues. Sean Bailey. top: Justin (Jared Kusnitz) asks Mei (Yin Chang) to the big dance in creative fashion. on down. “We found the camera to be very user-friendly. “When I’ve shot with other digital cameras — Red.Footage from representative scenes was taken through to a 35mm print and screened blind at FotoKem. and you could never get away with such extremes of contrast on any other digital camera without it looking electronic. we found a format that could capture the extremes of brightness and darkness necessary for a story about the extremes of the teen heart. the Alexa features a 3.5K CMOS sensor and a PL mount. Of course. “It was really unanimous. Inc. Bottom: Shah confers with director Joe Nussbaum as camera operator Paul Sanchez (far right) frames a shot. With the Alexa. We lit a scene at the main location. Nova (Aimee Teegarden) and Jesse (Thomas McDonell) grow close in Prom. as your eye would perceive the scene.theasc.Middle: Cinematographer Byron Shah (far right) and company prepare a close-up of Chang. from Disney’s head of production. that still has to be evaluated on a big reference monitor. Photos by Richard Foreman Jr. It wasn’t quite sharp enough to judge critical focus. courtesy of Disney Enterprises. This page. “It has great ergonomics and very clear onboard menus. The camera also outputs an uncompressed 1080PsF 4:4:4 RGB stream. Arri offered the production support that included access to Stephan Ukas-Bradley. it’s not the same as an optical viewfinder. Everyone agreed that the Alexa most closely represented the look they wanted. the F35. the company’s U. suitable for uncompressed capture using external recorders. It was 8 stops over key. “Blown highlights are one of the real tells of a digital format. SMPSP. a [Panavision] Genesis or [Thomson] Viper — I’ve always had to protect those highlights like a fanatic. ww. a school. “The dynamic range was what sold us on the Alexa.S. the Alexa rolled off more naturally. that featured an actress walking through a hot splash of sunlight. Its viewfinder is the nicest electronic one I’ve seen yet. May 2011 53 ..” Introduced in April 2010. and records up to 60 fps at 1920x1080 high-definition internally to ProRes 422 or externally to Arri’s proprietary ArriRaw format.com w Opposite: Despite an early antagonism.” Eager to see its new camera put through its paces in a feature-film workflow.” says Shah. but instead of clipping.” says Shah.

lending the characters a subtle separation from their backgrounds to heighten the intense emotions of the moment. The complete package — camera. not at all the way they look on film. “Sometimes we combined them with ND/IR Top: Nova leads a meeting outside the shed that houses the school’s prom decorations. delivering open blacks with a lot of detail. camera operator Paul Sanchez and key grip Patrick Heffernan. Middle: After the shed burns down.” notes McDonald. but the production shot the movie exclusively in Los Angeles. Shah’s key crew included 1st AC Ethan McDonald. and the Codex recorder helped to act as a physical counterbalance. Otto Nemenz supplied the filmmakers with two Alexas. Principal Dunnan (Jere Burns. Shah notes. “We used an EasyRig backpack harness to make things easier. “The Codex files were transcoded by FotoKem to DPX and laid off to LTO tape. “It was a bit of a challenge because I calibrated my monitor to the Alexa’s Rec 709 color space LUT. But the S4s looked fantastic on the Alexa. the Alexa is a little front-heavy.” Prom is set in Michigan. often a mix of Tiffen Low Con and Smoque filters.8.◗ First Dance manager of technical services. center) tasks Jesse with helping to remake the decorations.” explains Shah. adding weight to the back of the rig. recorder and lens — was small enough and light enough to handhold comfortably. But I knew what we were truly getting. Footage was fed at 1920x1080 24p from the Alexa’s HD-SDI port to an outboard Codex Digital recorder capturing to the Codex’s native RAW format. “I’d tested Cooke Speed Panchros.” “With a lens on. 54 May 2011 American Cinematographer . thinking they’d give us their lovely lowcon look. gaffer Jack English. but on the Alexa they looked muddy. and smooth skin texture.” Shah used varying degrees of lens filtration. grip and lighting gear was provided by Paskal Lighting. Bottom: Jesse and Nova restore a water fountain in the school’s art room. Of the S4 primes. a set of Cooke S4 prime lenses and an Angenieux Optimo24290mmzoom lens. and I could also monitor raw to confirm if needed. We shot most of the movie between T2 and T2. so I was seeing a lot less latitude than what the Codex was actually picking up.

and we got it all in one take. intense flares.” A confrontational scene between bad boy Jesse (Thomas McDonell) and the father of his would-be date takes place on a grocery-store loading dock at night. We lit the letters with Source Four [Lekos] on irises that we hung amongst the theatrical lights already at the location. Shah reports that gaffer Jack English “created a special ‘pumpkin light. vintage. we put a 400-watt Joker light with a Jem Ball on a boom pole that we’d dance around with. we found that the Alexa has some built-in IR protection. amber glass stipple filters that we augmented with 250 diffusion. “In those spaces.” adds Shah.” Another night scene that tested the Alexa shows the shed holding the ww. where Justin has lit up the word ‘Prom?’ in giant letters. Frank (Dean Norris.” One of Prom’s big sequences is a quintessential rite of passage. an elaborate “ask” to the prom.” Source Fours for ceiling bounce and Kino Flo Vista Beams. “Since this was a digital show. on the school’s auditorium stage. whereas most digital cameras don’t have as much. projected through clerestory windows playing as May 2011 55 . and that was about it in terms of lighting. “We shot that scene. “We had one 18K HMI gelled with Lee Steel Blue on a Condor hitting the grass in front of the shed. To boost the practicals on location. and a 27mm Cooke S4 and a Tiffen Smoque 1. “When there weren’t sufficient ceiling fixtures. “When we started seeing how those shots looked on the Alexa.” says Shah.” says Shah. we initially did a fair amount of ND’ing on windows. We found that NDs alone weren’t keeping skin tones neutral. but they were totally stoked. on our first day of principal photography. “We set the camera ISO to 200 and exposed at a T8. so I had to guess the exposure.” he continues.” says Shah. and we ended up using less and less ND gel in general as the shoot continued. but the Alexa held the exposure.theasc. between Justin [Jared Kusnitz] and Mei [Yin Chang]. We also used a Smoque filter. we swapped out the overhead fluorescents for daylightbalanced Kino tubes. We backlit the auditorium chairs using two Blondes with doubles on them. “We built the shed on a football field at a middle school in Northridge. it’s a theatrical moment set. Jesse and Nova (Aimee Teegarden) find themselves relegated to the school’s art room to design new decorations. one was a wide shot that dollied in.” says Shah.com w prom’s decorations catching fire and burning to the ground. we used a 2K Xenon Super Trooper theatrical follow spot on the balcony and shined it just into the matte box. “In testing.’ which was basically a bare 400-watt industrial sodium-vapor lamp. hoping that everything else would be balanced with the fire. In this case. The special-effects team estimated that the flames would only go up about 4 feet off the roof. “With a Steadicam. and it turned out we were a little overzealous. I was a little nervous about giving the studio dailies like that on day one because we’d pushed the look so far. right). “It gave us some marvelously out-of-control but very spontaneous-looking flares. We set up two Alexas. appropriately. we’d augment with Joker Nova’s father.” In the aftermath of the fire. which was perfect for the hard emotions of the scene. Once the burn started. we decided to not waste the gel. The Alexa holds hot windows really well. confronts Jesse at a grocery-store loading dock. and the other was on the 12:1 Optimo to grab pieces. “The theatrical lights had beautiful.” Befitting a story about highschool students. which can give you some crazy. so we moved up to IR filters. As our key. “Jack [English] followed alongside the Steadicam rig with a 500-watt ECT globe in a Chinese lantern on a boom pole. The slightly desaturated lamp gave a rough look. the flames leapt as high as 25 feet off the roof. and we were off.filters. “To create those flares. “It was a ground-floor location that was meant to play as a basement.” continues the cinematographer. we follow Mei running up to the stage. “Jack created a special ‘pumpkin light. “So we started with four 4K Xenons bounced off mirrors.” says Shah.” says McDonald. many scenes in Prom take place in hallways and classrooms. “We rated the Alexa at 640 ISO and shot handheld.’ which was basically a bare 400-watt industrial sodium-vapor lamp that matched the practical on the wall of that location.

the film transitions to the night Kino tubes.” two 12Ks] into a row of 12-by-12 held takes to emphasize their changing FotoKem’s involvement in Prom Ultrabounce frames for skylight emotions.” says McDonald. bounced four HMIs [two 18Ks and romance. “We’ve had a 56 May 2011 American Cinematographer .” he says. Tom Vice. we had Internet dailies via the Pix network.” Source Four attachments for extra with a 500-watt ECT. and then Nova and Jesse create a giant. which seemed to give us the best-looking skin tones. At the beginning of the shoot.” Bottom: Lloyd (Nicholas Braun) talks with Besty (Allie Trimm) in the library. but it was a pleasing. manager and vice president used a tungsten key light inside with functional fountain for the prom’s of FotoKem’s NextLab.◗ First Dance centerpiece. the filmmakers also made judicious use of a 25' Technocrane and a Steadicam. That was from a bright day to a bluish twilight. “We lit the prom scene with Arri’s Alexa digital camera. “We didn’t film out any dailies. “We dressed practical table lamps with 216 diffusion gel in glass cylinders and put two Jokers and Source Fours gelled with 1⁄4 CTB on a mirror ball over the dance floor. Fours rigged over the tables. we kept the camera at 320 ISO. Shah never shied away from extreme highlights. we went to 800 to make a shot. that added some image noise. “Like a lot of digital cameras. we rated the Alexa at 500 ISO for more shadow detail. because we would have continues the cinematographer. Shooting of the prom. I was surprised to see a big difference in resolution hard sun. with the help of through the high windows. “we swapped out the overhead fluorescents for daylight-balanced work. “and we also brought in a bunch of 150-watt waterproof garden lights that we gelled with Full Straw and ND. For day scenes. and we bounced two 300-watt Arri Fresnels and two Peppers with 200-watt FEV bulbs off it to produce shimmering light on the kids’ faces.” began early in prep. “We bounced Dedolights into the fountain. We also dressed he says. film-grain sort of noise. “The Alexa holds with 56 Pars and 19-degree Source hot windows really well.” As Jesse and Nova complete their Top: Nussbaum directs Cameron Monaghan (left) and Nolan Sotillo (center). handanyway. Shah and Nussbaum screened a selection of dailies at 2K resolution on a big screen in a Pablo suite at FotoKem. Shah says. and used a few Jokers with our ubiquitous Chinese lantern fitted between our prime and zoom lenses.” says English. The fountain had a copper-tile surface.” During the dance. “In a couple of instances. For scenes set in hallways and classrooms. We did a lot of long. “We between the two characters gives way to used primes for almost the whole show.” notes Shah. the art room with lots of practical lamps the Alexa still needs that extra snap that “Scenes progress in this room on hand-squeeze dimmers to play as primes give on the big screen.” “In the dailies.” says English.” “For a lot of the night scenes.” warm and inviting as antagonism fine with me. using a custom-designed film-emulation LUT. splashes of sunlight. “Once we got going.

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confirming workflows and frame-rate combinations.” Looking back on the experience. “We shot into hot windows whenever we could. They encouraged me to take some chances on my first studio movie. “The studio gave us the support we needed. supple and natural. which gave us enough time for our dailies turnaround. load it into the Pablo.” he continues. “But after that. So I was delighted to see that for the first time in my experience with a digital format.” long relationship with Arri. and all those chances paid off. the close-ups look gorgeous. but the only blown highlights were in the flames of the burning shed! “Going in. “The Codex RAW format uses a proprietary 3:1 wavelet compression. “I knew the Alexa’s latitude was profound. “Arri was heavily involved and helped us in the early stages. which we’d immediately decode for PIX and compress for Avid with Byron’s desired LUT already applied. The digital-imaging technician on set had already input some scene slates and metadata. Angenieux Optimo Digital Intermediate . Looking back over his first dance with the Alexa.” continues Vice. “Then we’d run off DPX frames onto LTO tape for safekeeping.” says Shah. and Byron just nailed the look.” “Everyone was making the same movie. 58 May 2011 and then go right out to film. and this was an important project for them and for Disney. my chief concern was that the texture of close-ups on the big screen would feel electronic and unappealing.◗ First Dance Jesse and Nova survey their handiwork. conform from Codex to DPX.” notes Vice. both Shah and Nussbaum are pleased with the Alexa’s performance. and the results are a tribute to Joe and our producer. which helped a lot. we’d load the Codex RAW files onto the network from our in-house transfer station.” recalls Nussbaum. We can take the editor’s pull list. it was unbelievable how few problems we had during production and American Cinematographer post. “It was initially a race against time just to get our camera bodies right off the assembly line. Shah notes. “We set Byron up with enough Codex magazines to shoot for two full days. “Diffusion wasn’t an option. Justin Spring.85:1 Digital Capture Arri Alexa Cooke S4. We had all the range we needed in the DI. The beauty of our system is that those Codex files stay on our network and can be called up directly in the Pablo DI suite for the conform stage.” notes Shah.” he continues.” Shah worked with colorist John Daro to create the film’s final output. but it was a little crazy how much room we had to play with and how easily we could adjust files. “As each drive arrived. “we found a format that could capture the extremes of brightness and darkness necessary for a story about the extremes of the teen heart. because I didn’t like how even light amounts of [Schneider] Classic Soft look on this format — totally phony.” ● TECHNICAL SPECS 1.

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differentiate between CCD and CMOS imagers. The first installment of this two-part series will discuss how digital imagers developed and evolved. Simultaneously. design characteristics and functions of today’s digital-imaging sensors. who authored the article “Operation of p-n Junction Photodetectors in a Photon Flux Integrating Mode” in the Sept. Peter J. To begin our dissection of this topic. May 2011 A History of Digital Imagers The invention of the first passive Metal-Oxide Semiconductor imager is credited to Gene P. a primer on how these various digital imagers function is perhaps overdue. Weckler’s early work in MOS imagers was also detailed in his influential follow-up paper. 1967 issue of the IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits .The first of a two-part look at the origins. and touch upon the concepts of resolution. Part 2 will delve further into the function of CCD and CMOS imagers and their application in various camera systems.W. perceived picture sharpness and Nyquist Sampling Theorem. Noble documented his active pixel concepts in the article “Self-Scanned Silicon Image Detector Arrays.” co-written with Rudolph H. By Christopher Probst •|• Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1 G iven the proliferation of digital motion-picture camera systems available to cinematographers today. let’s look at how digital imagers developed. Modulation Transfer Function. “Integrated Arrays of Silicon Photodetectors for Image Sensing. digital output specs and recording mechanisms. image processing. Weckler of Fairchild Semiconductor.” which was also printed in the April 1968 edition of IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices. in the United Kingdom. Dyck for the April 1968 edition of the IEEE Journal of Transactions on Electron Devices. An invention that is more directly related to today’s 60 American Cinematographer . Next month. color-filter arrays. a clear understanding of the factors that influence a sensor’s function and integration into a camera’s design can help you make better decisions about which system best suits your needs. If you are a cinematographer.

Defining the Pixel In order to better understand how digital imagers such as CCDs work. The CCD imager quickly established itself as a more easily produced technology for the state of semiconductor fabrication capabilities in the 1970s and on through the 1980s. “However. Smith and Willard S.” says Larry Thorpe. By July 1976. who collaborated at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. RCA and Bell Labs.000-pixel Interline Transfer CCD sensors. Research Center actively developed CCD technology in the early 1970s. with fixed-pixel displays. (Reprinted with permission of Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. There are imaging pixels in the sensor of a camera. with George E. In fact. And today. CCDs dominated early on partly because of strong R&D by corporations such as Sony. the Sony Corp.com w May 2011 61 . Sony had created its first single-chip color camera prototype.theasc. denoting several different types of things. top: At Bell Labs in 1974. occurred in 1969 at Bell Labs. there are several different types of pixels. we will focus primarily on imaging pixels and their derived digital pixels used in the Opposite page: Arri's ALEV-III Super 35mm CMOS sensor used in the Alexa camera. and in March 1978. The first known use of the word was in a 1965 paper by Fred C. Smith and Boyle were presented with a 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for their contribution to the birth of digital imaging.” For this discussion. or CCD. which makes the output signal digital. however.) Below: The principle behind the charge-transfer and readout of a CCD chip. There are digital pixels associated with the camera digitization processing and interfacing. we should first define an oft-misunderstood term: the pixel. One row at a time is then shifted through an A/D Converter.digital-imager environment. Billingsley and George Peterson. Willard Boyle (left) and George Smith demonstrate an experimental camera featuring an early CCD imager. ww. This page. it unveiled its first three-chip CCD camera design that utilized three 110. and by 1972 displayed a 96-pixel linear CCD sensor at its annual exhibition. Boyle’s creation of the Charge-Coupled Device. “The term ‘pixel’ comes from two words: Picture and Element. national marketing executive of Canon’s Broadcast and Communication Division and formerly a veteran of more than 20 years in Sony’s HD division. there are also display pixels.

It does this by arranging the photosites in a checkerboard of readout busses that contain not only the photosite. “Functionally. we will use the term “photosite” to refer to imaging pixels and “pixel” when referring to digital pixels.” Jeffrey Zarnowski. and every third electrode is connected to a common conductor. there are only a few manufacturers of CCDs in the world. CCD Imagers The CCD. leaving only a fraction of the area for actual photo-electric sensing. a potential “well” forms in the semiconductor beneath it. senior vice president of Panavision’s Advanced Digital Imaging Group. When voltage is applied to an electrode. A pattern of metal electrodes is positioned on the insulator.” CMOS Imagers Many of today’s digital-stills cameras and digital-cinema camera systems use a different type of digitalimaging architecture: Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. This circuitry allows CMOS photosites to perform their own charge-to-voltage conversion. “but to manufacture them with today’s specs requires an amazingly complex process. is designed to store and transfer information in the form of an electrical charge. potential wells form under them. “CCDs have dominated the solid-state-imager market over MOS or CMOS photodiodes for the past 30-plus years because CCDs have the lowest noise and highest sensitivity. A certain percentage of the “real estate” is occupied by processing circuitry. In cross-section. In fact. the amount of charge that fills a well depends on the amount of light striking that area of the CCD. To help avoid confusion. These are fabricated with many of the same processes as today’s highly complex integrated circuits for microprocessors and memory. imager photosites are the tiny receptors in a CCD or CMOS sensor that transform the two-dimensional optical image projected by the lens onto the sensor into an analog electronic signal. CCDs continued to evolve in resolution and American Cinematographer quality. sensors. or CMOS. By applying voltage to the next electrodes. it consists of a substrate of semiconductor material covered with an insulator. Sony had the lion’s share of the CCD market thanks to its Hole Accumulation Diode pixel technology.) Potential Well construction of a SMPTE-prescribed delivery format. sensor-design engineer and chief technology officerof Panavision Imaging. CCDs are the simplest of imagers. By definition. adds. which allowed for improved blue response over standard photogate pixels. CMOS sensors differ from CCDs in that they incorporate on-chip much of the amplification and digitization circuitry necessary to capture a photosite’s analog electronic signal. In the case of an imaging sensor. and 62 May 2011 part of the stored charge shifts over to the new well areas. at its most basic. but also as many as eight . instead of requiring the charge to be transferred to an output node for subsequent conversion into an electronic signal. and in the year 2000. the charge in their wells likewise spills over into the new wells.◗ Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1 Typical CMOS Photosite Structure Microlens Red Color Filter Amplifier Transistor Column Bus Transistor Silicon Substrate Reset Transistor Row Select Bus Photodiode Left: The structure of a typical CMOS photosite with a microlens and a single color of a color-filter array. Panavision and Sony introduced the F900 as the first 3-CCD 24-fps progressive HD video camera. (Reprinted with permission of Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Right: One of the first CCD sensors produced. When voltage is removed from the original energized electrodes. This process continues down the line of electrodes to a detector in a sort of “bucketbrigade” fashion.” states John Galt.

it has reached a kind of plateau. or the feature-sizes half. and as a result CMOS imagers had objectionable patterns that could be seen by the viewer and didn’t quite have the same sensitivity as CCDs. Inc.” Moore’s Law refers to Gordon Moore. dynamic range and frame-rate capabilities. the number of photosites. diodes and capacitors — a miniature circuit — that occupies the same [substrate]. “With CMOS manufacturing.” “CCD technology was the superior technology in the ’80s and probably through the ’90s.com w In fact. who stated. In the imaging section. With the recent architecture changes made to eliminate FPN and the creation of overall lowernoise pixels — through the addition of pinned photodiodes — CMOS imagers are now living up to their potential. This remaining percentageis the actual photosensitive area and mostly determines the actual sensitivity and dynamic range of the sensor. this digital circuitry must reset the photodiode to begin the next integration cycle. A benefit of this grid structure of buses is that it allows each of the photosites in the array to be read as simple x and y coordinates. the density doubles.” General Components of a Digital Camera For simplicity’s sake.” agrees Glenn Kennel. it has been proven that the size of the features on any semiconductor have been following Moore’s Law. ww. CCD is still a viable technology. getting smaller and smaller. we can say the digital camera has two discrete sections: the front-end imaging section and the back end for digital processing and output digital interfaces.” May 2011 63 . president and CEO of Arri.1 microns wide.” Zarnowski expands. “With a CMOS imaging device. On edge. and before transferring the photosite’s analog electrical signal to a vertical column bus.” as well as the color filter photo-lithographically printed beneath the lens. It is at this step when the resolution for the entire system is greatly determined and/or influenced by the number of samples on the sensor — in this case. “Every 18 months. CMOS imagers continue to improve and have now passed CCDs in sensitivity.transistors that convert the accumulated electron charge into a measurable voltage. This was due to both Fixed Pattern Noise and Temporal Noise.” This rapid pace of increasing technological complexity has allowed CMOS imagers to make significant qualitative steps. a dollar bill is pretty consistently 100 microns thick. and it isn’t improving at the same rate. “The initial promise of CMOS imagers was hindered by the fact that they were noisy [compared] to CCDs. The bus’s function is to also supply necessary timing signals to the photodiodes and send their readout information to the analog decoding and processing circuitry. As Galt notes. an image enters a lens and is projected onto a sensor. but CMOS was on a real growth curve because it’s a technology that is used in all of the other semiconductor manufacturing operations. the co-founder of Intel Corp. “Unfortunately. “I use an analogy to help people get a sense of how small the elements of these devices can get. This analog sampling of the image is then “handed” to the digital section and subsequently subjected to separate digital sampling.. The sensor then samples this image opto-electrically with its photosites and generates an analog electrical signal. we have to grab that analog information and digitize it — it’s a second sampling step. “They have gone from having circuit features that you could see with the human eye to having features that you can only see with an electron microscope! “To grasp the manufacturing challenges this presents. “In the digital section. These additional electronic components reside alongside the light-sensitive photodiode and occupy a certain percentage of the area of the photosite. all of the Moore’s Law’s improvements no longer apply to CCD because there just aren’t enough products being developed for them.” he continues. each photosite has an amplifier with a number of transistors. Visible are the microlens above each photosite “well.) 4. but it’s more expensive to make. (Image courtesy of Panavision. a photosite is only A photomicrograph image of a cross-section of a pixel.” explains Galt. On the sensor we use for the [Panavision] Genesis. After converting the photosite’s stored charge into an electrical voltage.theasc.

“The resolution. Thorpe recalls. With some sensors.” Resolution Clearly. but. pixels and resolution. From that digital sampling structure.” he notes. in the early ’90s.” Looking at the specs of various camera systems on the market today. all of the really important imaging attributes. they started to oversample. To my knowledge. in both the single-chip and tri-imager systems. but that is inaccurate.’ as we call it. manufacturers learned how to build more sophisticated CCDs. surprisingly.” states Thorpe. and by the late ’80s. “In 1981. Indeed. when the world created the first digital standards for standard-definition video. The CCD cameras invented at that time were all horizontally sub-sampled [with imager photosites numbering less than the horizontal output standard]. the creators decided to go as high as they possibly could [in terms of definition]. “is there a link between the total number of imaging photosites and their resultant digital pixels? There can be. but there might not be!” In fact. but it’s still a two-step process: analog transformation followed by digitization. it is true that the topic of resolution and the specifications for it are bound up in discussions of pixels. or super-sample. there is some room for interpretation in talking about photosites. you will find a lot of linkage between the photosites and the digital pixels.” Thorpe continues. 2K and even 4K camera systems. there are several Ultra High Definition camera systems emerging on the market that are now super-sampling. “There are a lot of differences to be seen in each of these specs. however. or to be sent to a recorder or other various systems. That was all they could build! But as the ’80s progressed. you see a range of different photosite dimensions utilized in various HD. however. even today there is no professional standard-def camera that has [a 1:1 ratio of] optical photosites and [output] digital pixels. SMPTE defined the North American 64 May 2011 American Cinematographer . “Now. it is not mandatory to have a direct 1:1 relationship between the number of photosites on a sensor and the digital-pixel dimensions derived from that photosite array. Even today we still see lots of HD cameras whose optical sites match their digital pixels. Additionally.” notes says Thorpe. we also see lots of sub-sampling in HD camera systems. “In HD. have to faithfully be represented digitally. such as CMOS imagers. One reason for that is that when the first 3-chip CCD HD cameras came out. “The resolution of a digital camera is often defined as the number of pixels in the signal that’s being delivered. “However. the concept of an imager’s photosites directly corresponding to its digitalpixel output specs is fraught with confusion. in the horizontal direction. the dynamic range and the tonal reproduction.◗ Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1 standard as: 720 (H) x 480 (V). you then do a lot of processing and formulate interface signals that can go to the outside world in the form of a video-output signal to be viewed. “Super-sampling facilitates subsequent digital filtering and helps produce a very nice ‘aperture. that analogto-digital conversion is done inside the sensor.

theasc. electrically or digitally — you are stuck with a fundamental rule: If you have N samples [across a line] or N-samples vertically. Plainly stated. but that creates a problem: As the number of photosites goes up on a sensor. the transfer function is how your contrast behaves as you raise the fineness of the detail. This applies to the sensor that’s doing optical sampling. And if some information coming in from the lens has a frequency that is higher than 960. rears its confounding head. it will generate spurious signal interference at a correspondingly low spatial frequency intermixed into the signal: aliasing. or by 9/16. which means increasing the fineness of the detail in the black-and-white bars [like a test chart]. it is going to generate a problem. like a video signal. and what are we transferring?’” says Thorpe. ‘What are we modulating. And it’s the variations in transferred-detail contrast that constitute this transfer function. you will then have to reconstruct all of those samples in order to get something useful. or modulation.” MTF occurs at multiple steps in the image-capture. “in the reconstruction of an image. “Let’s postulate a lens looking at a scene. or lp/ph. so we cannot get the same 600:1 contrast ratio through the lens. With that information. you see increased noise and reduced dynamic range. if you have an HD imager with 1. you’re going to get interference. In fact. or MTF.” he continues. you can unambiguously resolve only 960 line-pairs per picture width. MTF. if that information is of very high frequency detail. your sampling of those photosites must be at least twice the highest detail that is of interest to you. “That sensor is photosampling that image with its photosites. But what exactly are the parameters of resolving line-pairs? Here is where Modulation Transfer Function. Otherwise. “Let’s say I have a CCD that’s looking at an image projected onto it by a lens. Hence. He concluded that if you sample — optically. “In other words. which we call aliasing or moiré. However. and it also applies to the digitization process that’s doing digital sampling. you can only resolve N/2without experiencing an interference. the delivered image will come through at an even lower contrast than the lower-frequency scene. resulting in a calculation for the 1. Harry hits you twice in any digital camera!” To break it down mathematically. but there is no such thing as a perfect lens.” says Thorpe. But let’s suppose that we have a very good lens that delivers a contrast ratio of 595:1. we transform that by the inverse of the aspect ratio. of the transfer of contrast. each manufacturer decides on a certain number of photosites and then does some clever processing — especially if they sub-sample — to try to recover some of the resolution.920 samples in the sensor example being able to accurately resolve 540 line-pairs per picture height across the picture. If you put enough of these frequencies in. digitization and output chain. you need to transform the line-pairs-perpicture-width value by the inverse of the aspect ratio (16:9 in most digital imagers). and has a cumulative effect May 2011 65 . That is true of every lens on the planet.” Sampling Theory and MTF To describe the performance of an imager. “Why? Because every manufacturer wants lots of photosites on the sensor to get more resolution. which in our test case is low-frequency black-and-white bars that have a nice. Harry Nyquist wrote a famous mathematical paper that haunts us to this day. So with our example of 960 lp/pw.920 horizontal samples. measure their output and plot them on a graph. even at the lowest frequencies of a black-and-white highcontrast input. To derive this number. “But here’s the bad part: If we increase the frequency of that scene. The sampling capabilities of a digital sensor are more commonly denoted as line-pairs per picture height. So there’s a tradeoff between resolution and management of dynamic range and noise. “MTF begs the questions. We hope that object-image will be exactly the ww. high contrast of 600:1. and when the photosites get smaller. The lens’s job is to transfer that scene from the real world into an object-image. [An image projected through a lens] will lose contrast increasingly as you raise the detail fineness. the transferred contrast is being altered as we move up in higher and higher frequencies. in 1928.com w same as the scene in front of the lens. it is also necessary to define the concept of sampling.Thorpe. the photosites get smaller. We’ll lose a little contrast. you get a profile.

Additionally. During the 1950s.◗ Decoding Digital Imagers: Part 1 actually lifts.” A microlens is essentially a single-element lens formed on the sensor above each individual photosite. that new curve.” photosites. that range is almost meaningless to us because we can’t see frequencies that high from a normal viewing distance. other very important factors of imager “In designing CMOS-sensor quality. “and most photosites that are 6 microns or smaller will have a microlens.” “Typically. “If you have a large gap light that can distort color. On larger photosites that don’t use a microlens. For The fewer transistors per pixel. and your very own eyes. he determined that the human-perceived impression of sharpness was proportional to the square of the area under the MTF curve. is what your eyes and brain see as perceived sharpness. Thorpe explains. but it’s also bad because [increased resolution] gives us more energy to generate aliasing. less cross-talk between them can occur. and it’s why a microlens over each pixel is formed to focus the light directly onto the photodiode.000 or 2.” However. the concept is also entangled with our own human perceptionof sharpness.000 lines of resolution. the perceived sharpness that you see with your eyes and your brain is weighted much more toward the lower-band and mid-band spatial frequencies. pixels are usually a different color.” expands another. Higher frequencies do almost nothing to your perception of sharpness.” says Zarnowski. From this research. It’s not about having 1. the lens of a projector showing the image. photosites using microlenses will have a fill factor of approximately 70 percent. so does the sensor’s neighboring ‘pixels. The microlens is typically circular in Fill Factor shape but covers a square photosite. discussed as a percentage of the area. as the photodiodes are effectively isolated from one another. The remaining 40 photodiode and full well [capacity] can percent would denote the area occupied have a direct impact on the sensitivity by the additional digital components on and dynamic range of the pixel — two the chip. a larger incident light.” In other words. When you square an MTF curve. “That’s great because it gives us a potential for more resolution. The smaller the percentage. RCA engineer Otto Schade did extensive testing of the subjective human response to resolution and perceived picture sharpness. the MTF curve Perceived Picture Sharpness and Optical Low-Pass Filtering Resolution is often thought of as synonymous with “sharp” and “in focus. usually there’s a factor would have 60 percent of a direct increase of the photosite’s full photosite’s area devoted to capturing the well capacity. An additional consideration with How well a microlens is positioned and both CCD and CMOS imagers is that shaped has great affect on MTF and because part of the sensor’s surface area the fill factor of a photosite. “These metal increases due to these additional elecwires both block and reflect light to tronic components. good contrast reproduction in the overalllow-band and mid-band frequencies in an image is what stimulates us to perceive an image as 66 May 2011 American Cinematographer .33 transistors per pixel sites — the fill factor — is often or as many as 5 transistors per pixel.” says Zarnowski. a sensor with a 60-percent fill higher the fill factor. the example. “Schade found that when you look at a screen some distance away. the photosensitive ous tradeoffs that have to be made in areas of the pixel do not abut one the design of the pixel. This “gap” between the Zarnowski. the MTF is directly related to the percentage of the pixel that the photodiode occupies. features additional circuitry components “MTF is only one aspect of necessary to capture and digitize each image quality that goes into the numerphotosite’s charge. there are metal wires that An ironic aspect of fill factor is run vertically and horizontally in a grid that as the space between the photosites pattern. as do the sensor sampling the image. “Different pixel designs can photosensitive portions of the photohave as few as 1. The lens fitted to the front of the camera has its own MTF characteristics.’ It is this scattered MTF response. and specifically the shape and area underneath it.” on the “total system” resolution possible in a digital camera. the lower the fill factor and the higher the MTF. as adjacent between photosites.” notes Thorpe.

as you did with the imaging section. As Nyquist’s theory suggests. Frequencies above the cutoff are effectively blocked by a process that blurs the high-frequency details. contrast and resolution are inextricably intertwined. but they rarely publish what those criteria are. There is no perfect way of doing that. You want inherent sharpness coming from a good MTF. “So it has a sampling frequency and a corresponding optical Nyquist value. “Finally. You don’t want to go into the camera and turn up the digital edgeenhancement to get edges reproduced with clarity and no softness. and if these photosites are large and abut one another. these parameters of sharpness. If its very-high-frequency detail is higher than the carrier [or maximum resolution capability of the sensor]. That’s aliasing. All camera manufacturers have their own criteria for their Optical Low-Pass Filters. “Then that analog signal must be digitized. which allows you to keep most of the [low-band and mid-band] resolution.theasc.” confirms Thorpe. and shape that filter to try to keep the in-band resolution up and the aliasing down as far as possible. “How do you avoid that? You use an Optical Low-Pass Filterin front of the sensor. you must filter the digital section. That is built into the production standard and is deliberately below the camera Nyquist limit for HD.” Ed. This means pre-filteringout any higher frequencies that might generate aliasing. the filtering must be done at any and all sampling steps — in the camera’s imaging section (in front of the sensor for the photosite’s sampling of the image) and then again in the digital section (for the digital sampling that occurs electronically). and the digital section has a digital sampling frequency that also has a digital Nyquist value. all camera manufacturers will put a third filter near the output of the camera that’s intended to apply a finite limit that protects against downstream digital processing [in the recording system. However. The bottom graph shows all of the necessary digital filtering for Nyquist and SMPTE output requirements. the fattest belly in terms of shape. Note: See next month’s issue for Part 2. an Optical Low-Pass Filter optically passes only the lower frequencies at a manufacturerspecified range. let’s say the lens projects onto this sensor a very high-detail scene. resulting in the green curve below it. “So.” As its name suggests. In fact. will be perceived as the sharpest. as Nyquist explained. we need as much high-frequency performance as possible. so you end up with a tradeoff. but the bottom line is that you want the lens and camera to deliver a curve with as high of a ‘belly’ as possible at the lower-band and mid-band spatial frequencies. it will then generate a spurious interference at a very low frequency in the signal. ww. However. then you get a curve like the one [on page 66]. Put more directly.920 (H) imager that can unambiguously resolve 540 linepairs per picture height horizontally.” says Thorpe. With HD cameras. in post and in subsequent digital distribution]. aliasing cannot be removed — it’s indelible. And once created. thereby preventing them from generating interference. “We can measure the MTF of a lens/camera in line-pairs or with burst charts [a chart that has some contrast in it]. Thorpe describes this filtering solution: “If we have a 1. “Contrast and sharpness areinextricably linked.” continues Thorpe.” Just how you get “a good MTF” is determined from the start by the number of photosites sampling the image at the sensor and the quality of the lens. ● May 2011 67 .sharp. The top graph shows the sensor's MTF response to an incoming image in blue and the subsequent Optical Low Pass Filtering at the Nyquist limit. the shape of that final filter is prescribed by the SMPTE to be 30 Mhz.com w “The sensor is looking at the image from the lens and is therefore sampling it. in order to produce the high-resolution performance necessary to produce a “big belly” MTF response curve in the low-band and mid-band frequency ranges. we must deal first with Nyquist’s sampling theorem to avoid interference. but there is still a tradeoff in order to keep the aliasing way down. in order to get good MTF performance at low-band and mid-band frequencies. as most concepts in the science of cinematography go. A lens and camera with the highest curve. a sensor’s high-resolution capability does impact its reproduction of the lowband and mid-band frequencies. which may or may not be the same frequency. even though we won’t ultimately see that fine detail with our eyes. “Now. Every step thereafter serves only to reduce the image’s resolution. The camera manufacturer has to then put in an Optical Low-Pass Filter.

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BSC. Wally Pfister. with the winners highlighted in boldface type: Regular Series/Pilot: Eagle Egilsson.” Theatrical Release: Danny Cohen. the Clubhouse also provided the setting for the ASC's annual Open House. C elebrating cinematographers’ 2010 accomplishments for screens both big and small. CSC. ASC. ASC.Inception. The King’s Speech . ACS. “Shell Game”. Alice. the Society presented the 25th annual ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography on Feb. and Matt Turve. Mad Men . ASC. Jeff Cronenweth. ASC.Nikita. 13. Georgia Packard. ASC.com w May 2011 69 . Logan Schneider. ASC. A Hollywood Affair Photography by Alex Lopez. Jonathan Freeman. They are presented in alphabetical order. Black Swan . The gala awards banquet was held at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom. In the days leading up to the Awards.theasc. Smallville. Jason Redman. Windon. These were the nominees for ASC Awards in competitive categories. Glen Winter. David Stockton. Jesse Stone: No Remorse . BSC. Kramer Morgenthau. “Family Limitation”. True Grit . just around the corner from the ASC Clubhouse. “Shield”. Dark Blue.Roger Deakins. Jon Joffin. “Home” . where the Society hosted a lively afterparty. Michael Wale. Boardwalk Empire. The Social Network . ASC. “Abandoned. Matthew Libatique. “even if it is a bit premature. BSC graciously accepts his Lifetime Achievement Award. Smallville. ASC. Isidore Mankofsky.“ he quips.The Pacific. “Blowing Smoke”. Chris Mankofsky. “Okinawa. ww. “Episode 2”. ASC. SOC. the Nominees Dinner and the inaugural Friends of the ASC event. Stephen F. Roger Deakins. ASC.” Motion Picture/Miniseries Television: David Gribble. ASC. CSC. Christopher Manley. Boardwalk Empire . ACS. “Pilot”. Dan Steinberg.

actress Allison Janney. 11. 2. 10. Burum. Woody Omens. Michael Watkins. ASC. 8. student filmmakers Dagmar Weaver-Madsen of UCLA and Boyd Hobbs of Full Sail University. who received the Presidents Award in recognition of his remarkable career as a stills photographer. Vilmos Zsigmond. ASC. ASC. an exuberant Douglas Kirkland. ASC. and Richard Kline. Owen Roizman. ASC. ASC. Fraker Heritage Awards. ASC and Janney. 4. 70 May 2011 12 11 American Cinematographer . who presented the Regular Series category. Ellen Kuras. ASC. 6. Awards Chairman Richard Crudo. Kemper. 5. Victor J. who earned ASC William A. 9. Kirkland and Kuras. ASC.4 1 2 3 7 5 6 10 9 8 Enjoying a moment in the spotlight at the ASC Awards ceremony are: 1. 12. 3. 7. who introduced the Presidents Award. Stephen H.

who presented the Motion Picture/Miniseries category. John C. ASC. “Okinawa”). Bill Butler. Stephen Windon. ASC. ASC President Michael Goi. Flinn III. 2. ACS. 5. 7.com w May 2011 71 . ASC members Robert Liu. who introduced the Career Achievement in Television Award. O’Shea.theasc. Morgan. director Michael Apted. ASC. International Award recipient John Seale. ASC. 3. who accepted the award on behalf of his brother. actress Gillian Jacobs. 11 ww. ACS (The Pacific. 6. 9. George Spiro Dibie and Donald M. longtime friends O’Shea and Flinn. 4. 10. who received the award. Michael D. 8.1 2 3 5 4 6 7 9 8 10 Others who stepped to the podium: 1. Seale and Apted. cinematographer Marc Windon. who introduced the International Award. 11.

who received the Board of Governors Award. ASC. ASC. 4. actress Diane Lane introducing the Theatrical Release category. Tom Hanks introducing his friend Julia Roberts. 8. Roberts hefting her trophy. Roizman reading a note from winner Wally Pfister. ASC (Inception). 6. 2. 9. Jack Green. Joel Coen introducing Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Roger Deakins.1 2 3 5 4 6 7 8 9 10 The cavalcade continues with: 1. Deakins applauding his peers. Haskell Wexler. BSC. 11 72 May 2011 American Cinematographer . Goi and Crudo closing the show. 3. ASC. Michael Chapman. Hanks and Roberts doubling their star wattage as they stroll offstage. ASC. 5. 7. 10.

theasc. CSC (Smallville. ASC. and ASC president’s assistant Delphine Figueras. 3. ASC. with Dan Kaslow and Nancy Schreiber. 5. 8. ASC members Stephen H. 7. the schmoozing throng. nominee Kramer Morgenthau. 2. nominee Michael Wale. 6. Claire. Janice. Jim. Kodak execs Kim Snyder and Bruce Berke with Snyder’s husband. May 2011 73 11 ww. 9. ASC. ACS with Owen and Mona Roizman (Seale's wife. “Family Limitation”) and Tracy Fleischman. ASC. Burum and Robert Primes. Stephen Lighthill. American Cinematographer circulation director Saul Molina. Technicolor’s Bob Hoffman and his wife. Louise. Isidore Mankofsky.com w .1 2 3 4 5 6 9 7 8 10 Guests and honorees making the rounds at the pre-Awards cocktail hour included: 1. Carmen Cabana and her beau. John Seale. “Shield”) and his wife. 10. ASC events coordinator Patty Armacost. Gina and Michael Goi. 4. ASC ( Boardwalk Empire. chats in foreground). 11. Veronica Lighthill and her husband.

Barbara Bass and Alan Gitlin. ASC general manager Brett Grauman and his wife. Sara. Françoise and Douglas Kirkland. Frank Kay. Frank Balkin. Benita. American Cinematographer circulation manager Alex Lopez and his wife. Claire. Lynn. ASC and his daughter. ASC. 12. ASC and his wife. Julio Macat. Jim Fisher. ASC and Joe Dunton. 9. Kemper. ASC and his daughter. BSC. 10. ASC and his wife. Rija. 6. Denis Lenoir. with Richard Crudo.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 10 1. 7. ASC and “Miss ASC. 5: honorary ASC members Bob Fisher and Larry Mole Parker with Victor J. 4. ASC. Noemi. 12 74 May 2011 American Cinematographer . 8: Richard Kline. 2. Kay Baker and Shari Belafonte. Joy. 11. 3. Macat with his agent.” Elizabeth Barndt. AFC and his wife. and Crescenzo Notarile. Gordon Lonsdale. Kees Van Oostrum.

4. 10. John C. with friends. Fujifilm’s Curtis Jones. ASC. Julie Phillips. associate member Denny Clairmont. ASC. ASC. ASC. Tisha.theasc. 2. 12. 8. ww.com w May 2011 75 . 7. Chris Manley. 5. ASC. 6. Dion Beebe. CSC and Kish Sadhvani of Kish Optics. Joel Coen. honorary ASC member Brian Spruill. 13. ASC and his fiancée. Flinn III.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 9 12 13 14 Circulating at the Awards afterparty held at the newly renovated ASC Clubhouse: 1. ASC and his wife. ACS. a dedicated Friend of the ASC. 11. Walt Lloyd. 9. Daniel Pearl. AFI students Mihal Dabal and Wesley Cardino (who earned honorable mentions in the student category) flank cinematographer Polly Morgan. Canon’s Tim Smith with Rodney Charters. 14. Dean Cundey. Fujifilm’s Sandy Kurotobi. Logan Schneider. 3.

Carol Peterson and Florence Omens. Matt Leonetti. 9. BSC. 8. ASC President Michael Goi. 4. Glen Winter. ASC. 3. Ralph Woolsey.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Snaps from the Nominees Dinner: 1. Mary Jane. ASC and his wife. 13. Owen and Mona Roizman with Kodak’s Michael Zakula. Douglas Kirkland with Milt and Joy Shefter. Vilmos Zsigmond. CSC. 14. ASC. CSC. ASC. the more spacious Great Room. flank American Cinematographer executive editor Stephen Pizzello. 7. Don McCuaig. nominee Michael Wale. 10. ASC and Justina Mintz. ASC and Richard Crudo. Kramer Morgenthau. 11. 6. Susan. 12. Roger Deakins. ASC. Eagle Egilsson. 76 May 2011 American Cinematographer . 2. ASC and his wife. 5.

6. ASC and his wife. Kodak president and general manager Kim Snyder. Sharon and Michael O’Shea with Betty Negrin. Roger and James Deakins with John and Louise Seale. ASC and nominee David Stockton. 12 ww.com w May 2011 77 . 3. ASC and his wife. 2. Boston Red Sox fan Stephen Pizzello plays hardball with New York Yankees apologist Owen Roizman. 11. which will mark his space on the ASC lot to salute his years of hard work as chairman of the Building Committee. 5. CSC and Julie Marr.1 2 3 4 5 6 8 7 9 10 11 1. ASC ( Nikita pilot). 12. Frank Kay and his wife. Glen Winter. Janice Simpson and associate member Grover Crisp. 4.theasc. 8. Roizman poses proudly with his own Reserved Parking sign. ASC with Kodak’s Judy Doherty. 9. ASC as nominee David Gribble. ASC with Victor J. ACS (Jesse Stone: No Remorse) mediates. Robert Liu. Claire. John Bailey. 10. Kemper. 7. Michael Goi. Ivy. Sharlene. Janet Parks and Michael Margulies.

nominee Jon Joffin (Alice. ACS and Goi. 3. Stephen H. ASC. nominee Michael Wale. 8. a roomful of cinematography fans. Burum. Kemper. 4. 11. ASC pals Michael Goi and George Spiro Dibie. ASC. 7.1 2 3 4 6 5 7 Enjoying the first Friends of the ASC event are: 1. nominee David Gribble. ASC compatriots Dibie and Victor J. John Simmons. John Seale. 12. ASC chats in backgound. 9. CSC. Burum. a Friend of the ASC poses for a photo with Haskell Wexler. ASC and Polly Morgan. ASC and some Friends of the ASC. ACS (middle). a Friend of the ASC with Roger and James Deakins. ASC (at right) flank Fujifilm’s Curtis Jones as Kees Van Oostrum. ASC and Mark Bender. Frank Kay and Larry Mole Parker welcome a guest. 10. 13. 2. 6. 5. Nancy Schreiber. 9 8 10 11 12 13 78 May 2011 American Cinematographer . “Episode 2”).

ASC. ASC with fellow members Ellen Kuras and Eagle Egilsson. nominee David Stockton. a Friend of the ASC with David Darby. ASC and Douglas Kirkland with attendees. 7. ASC. an Open House attendee chats with Michael Negrin. 6. George Spiro Dibie. Haskell Wexler. ASC and nominee Kramer Morgenthau. Bob Yeoman. 5. two Friends flank Steven Fierberg. 8.theasc.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1. ASC takes to the microphone like a duck to water. 3. 9. Dibie anoints someone as “sexy”. 4.com w May 2011 79 . ASC and two guests. ww. 2. ASC. ASC. Vilmos Zsigmond.

ASC. 6. Ellen Kuras. Jon Joffin (hydrating in the hot sun) and David Gribble. Christian La Fountaine. ASC. ASC and a group of cinematography buffs. ACS and a circle of admirers. ASC (right). Gil Hubbs. a throng of visitors. nominees Glen Winter.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Soaking up both the sun and interior ambience at the ASC Open House are: 1. George La Fountaine. ACS (brown leather jacket). 5. 4. 9. John Seale. Logan Hall and Conrad Hall. Haskell Wexler. 3. 8. Michael Negrin. ASC (third from left) and students. 2. the first Friend of the ASC. with his father. Jr. 7. Sol Negrin. ASC (second from left) and his father.. CSC (left). 8 9 80 May 2011 American Cinematographer . ASC (far right) mingle with guests.

Larry Mole Parker and Amy Vincent. 5.1 2 3 4 5 6 Back in the open air: 1. 3. ww. 6. Haskell Wexler. Nancy Schreiber. ASC holds court.com w May 2011 81 . ASC. 2. ASC. ASC and Beverly Wood of Deluxe. Tom Houghton. associate member Andy Romanoff. 4.theasc. ASC signs an autograph. an Izzy’s-eye view captured from the Clubhouse roof by Isidore Mankofsky.

and transmit that data to editorial back in the United States via the Internet. This allowed Stanley to manage and color correct NanoFlash media on his own system near the set. Sony’s F35. Sokolsky had just finished shooting a pilot. and synchronize all 8-bit image data quickly. Nomads. FotoKem’s N extLab mobile data system was a key part of Sokolsky and Stanley’s process on Nomads. As digital acquisition proliferates.” They decided to use Convergent Design NanoFlash HD-SD data recorders to capture proxy 8-bit images (as 4:2:2 Long GOP 100Mbps QuickTime files in S-Log color space) of everything Sokolsky shot. while simultaneously recording 10-bit raw images to Sony SRW-1 decks (as 4:2:2 PSF Sony S-Log files). one that would be too large for us to move data and color-correct dailies on set. it enabled them to sync. there is no such thing as a standard workflow. the production could provide Keep Me Posted colorist Tom Overton with synchronized. . but it didn’t support large files from Codex or Panavision DSSR [Solid State] mags. “There are ways. all files were sent via shuttle drive to post facility Keep Me Posted. while simultaneously recording and using data on set and beyond. The team was able to shoot with both of those recorders onboard their F35s. which used its own NextLab system to render out data. apply color metadata and sound. so they’re duplicates. at least for Bing Sokolsky. in Thailand. “We had good success using Reds and a file-based workflow 82 May 2011 on Nomads. When they began prepping Criminal Minds . a wide range of innovative solutions are popping up to meet network and producer demands. “Both versions have embedded time code. Simultaneously. and he’d enjoyed the benefits of that workflow. using cameras capable of alldata acquisition but continuing to record to HDCam-SR tape. encode and color-correct data at the production’s headquarters. Last year. at head of table) works with his colleagues in a scene from Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. he shot the first 13 episodes of the CBS series Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior with a tape-based camera.Post Focus Special Agent Sam Cooper (Forest Whitaker. Sokolsky and Stanley decided to use NextLab again. courtesy of ABC Studios. But the reverse is also true. but for Criminal Minds we were using the F35. After being recorded. So Kevin and I explored how we could record data with the F35 that could be ingested by NextLab. budget parameters. to record files with those cameras using hard drives and other systems. Some shows have abandoned tape altogether. which typically records to HDCam-SR tape. making it fairly straightforward to conform the show after American Cinematographer Photo by Eric McCandless. of course. for which the studio mandated a tape-based camera. 10-bit 4:2:2 HD images from the tapes. and gave dailies to post about a day ahead of a normal workflow.” says Sokolsky. creative requirements. raw. Others remain in an in-between place. but those record a large digital file. using an all-data pipeline with the Red One in collaboration with digital-imaging technician Kevin Stanley. Using NextLab gave me more control over the look of dailies. Stanley Detail “KB Workflow” By Michael Goldman In digital television production. I Sokolsky. and logistical limitations. ASC.

Cast and crew work in one of the show’s main sets. and he copied and downloaded them to a protected RAID storage array and verified everything with his NextLab software. learning the new camera sensors just like I would learn any new film emulsion. he sent master tapes to Keep Me Posted for the eventual conform. “I can work untethered with any digital system and light by eye.” he says. Sokolsky (visible at far right in r ight-hand photo) and digital-imaging technician Kevin Stanley integrated the tape-based Sony F35 with FotoKem’s NextLab mobile data system. The producers’ wariness illustrates the state of the industry right now. all 13 initial episodes of the show were made this way. “With N anoFlash. so we won’t need N anoFlash drives or tape. courtesy of ABC Studios. to media manage and color on location. Executives saw us shoot. says Sokolsky. applied looks to the log files and discussed exposure and camera-related issues with Bing.” he adds. The big ticket is to save money on files up front. loaded a hard drive with transcoded files in the DN X36 [Avid] format and carried that over to editorial. managed media. “It didn’t change my job much in the sense that I still checked for signal/file corruption. and they then used NextLab to sync up sound files in just a matter of minutes.” continues the cinematographer. After reloads. working untethered let us do about 50-plus setups a day most of the time.com w Photos by Matt Kennedy. we took the NanoFlash CF cards to the ww.” says Stanley. “I had to prove to the studio and the network that this would work. That makes time code essential on both. all within an hour. and we’ll still use NextLab.” ● May 2011 83 . with file names designed to match the corresponding recorder. we’re using a proxy editing or dailies format. “We shot screen tests onstage with actors. creating corrected dailies with synced audio that could rapidly move by physical media or the Internet to various parties. Then. and I just didn’t want to push them too fast.theasc. only I did it in a truck on location. the studio was not ready to accept a file-based camera only. For the first 13 episodes of the series. DIT cart. however. the way he’s always done with film. He also performed a best-light color grade using Sokolsky’s guidelines on the N anoFlash QuickTime clips. and then to let NextLab sync and render everything on the back end. “And we’re not burning in any look we can’t change later. we’ll use SxS [Solid State] cards in the ProRes 4:4:4:4 format. and while executives were watching. with that time code then looped from the SRW-1 recorder to the N anoFlash recorder via a 10-bit HD-SDI stream with embedded time code.” he notes. This ensures that the conform process can be straightforward. Steve Lucas designed the switch to the filmmakers’ specs. a pilot called Partners. had Kevin color the images and hand them off to Keep Me Posted. and this workflow is perfect for them. which was really nice. will be shot on the [Arri] Alexa. but the biggest engineering hurdle involved the creation of a custom toggle switch to use as a trigger to start and stop both the SRW-1 and N anoFlash recorders at exactly the same time. we’ve provided proxies for dailies and editorial. “Many other TV shows will continue to want tape involved. Sokolsky had to sell producers on the concept. Before any of this could be implemented on Criminal Minds. Plus. Eventually. where they were loaded into the Avid.” Sokolsky and Stanley have dubbed this the “KB Workflow.” The cinematographer estimates that the KB Workflow “put post a day ahead of schedule and saved $15. tapes and cards were labeled and brought back to Stanley’s DIT station. Sokolsky and Stanley chose a tape stock and Compact Flash card size for the two recorders that allowed both to record for approximately 30 minutes at a time.000 an episode in dailies. Both recorders are powered by a common power supply. which he did with a series of tests. Their method of syncing the two recordings relies on Ambient Recording Clockit time-code sync boxes to feed master time code from the sound department. They transcoded them and backed them up to LTO4 [tape]. without that central hub of cables and monitors running through the DIT system on set. “My next project. sync and edit.” after the initials in their first names. That freed Bing to work faster and light by eye. Instead. “When we started the show. color correct.

999. For easy connection to both Canon and third-party wired remote controllers. The XA10 provides users with complete manual control of various functions including frame rates. ideal for situations that demand mobility. PF30. For more information. and a focus ring on the lens allows for manual focus as well. Inc. Its Super 35mm CMOS imager delivers shallow depth of field with high sensitivity.5" high-resolution (922.S. The Canon XA10 Professional camcorder is available for a suggested price of$1. white balance and gain control. PF24 and native 24p. visit www.. the XA10’s functionality is further enhanced with the addition of XLR inputs and an external microphone holder.the entire camcorder weighs only 1.7"x8.99. the XA10 provides nine customizable cinema filters. Auto-focus speed can be adjusted for smooth auto-focus transitions. The F3 camcorder is based on Sony’s XDCam EX workflow and uses Sony’s SxS ExpressCard-based recording media format. one-touch access to various functions such as focus or exposure. zoom and record switches. 1⁄ 3" native Canon DIGIC DV III Image Processor and a Canon 1920x1080 CMOS image sensor. For in-camera cinematic effects. The 3. The camcorder’s overall design is intended for comfortable operation whether gripped in the operator’s palm or by the handle for low-angle shooting. Soft Filter and Key adjustments.which delivers outstanding resolution and quality. The camcorder’s white balance is 84 May 2011 • SUBMISSION INFORMATION • Please e-mail New Products/Services releases to: newproducts@ascmag. A custom key and dial allow for more convenient.com and include full contact information and product images.97PsF as an option). low noise levels and wide dynamic range. Contrast. removable microphone holder. Checking critical focus is also extremely easy with the high-resolution LCD screen and peaking. Medium and High. footage shot with the F3 can be seamlessly intercut with American Cinematographer . The camcorder also includes an electronic viewfinder for use in bright conditions where it would be difficult to use the LCD panel. focus. and measures only 3. has introduced the ultra-compact XA10 Professional Camcorder.New Products & Services Canon Introduces Ultra-Compact XA10 Canon U. Various frame rates can be selected to match the user’s preference — 60i. its first professional handheld digital-production camera with a Super 35mm imager. Embedded in the detachable handle are the camcorder’s XLR terminal inputs. tally lamp. The XA10 records Full HD 1080p video using an AVCHD codec.magnify and Canon’s Edge Monitor Focus Assist system. with the handle attached. users can adjust zoom-speed settingsfor High. The focus ring on the lens can be customized for manual focus control and users can set the direction of rotation. The XA10 features dual XLR inputs for external audio sources as well as a built-in stereo microphone. Dynamic and Powered IS modes for steady video in almost any shooting situation. smooth background blur with reduced lens diffraction.and a “cold” shoe. vibrant display and can be flipped for solo shooting with the LCD screen facing the subject. The XA10 features a Genuine Canon 10x HD Zoom lens.4mm–304mm withan eight-blade iris capable of rendering natural. as well as three levels of response control.A. The camcorder supports Dolby Digital 2ch (AC-3 2ch) with automatic and manual audio-level adjustment.com. The camcorder also boasts infrared video capture. zooming speed. Medium and Normal to match the shooter’s preference.canon. the XA10 has a built-in remote-control terminal (compatible with LAN C protocol). Through internal menus. Through the use of an HD-SDI dual-link output for external recording (4:2:2 1080 50/59. and a Face-Only AF mode allows for a blurred image as a person walks offscreen. Autofocus speeds can be selected from Instant. infrared light.0". Additionally. Middle and Low in 16 one-step increments for both the body lever as well as the handle control. Photos must be TIFF or JPEG files of at least 300dpi. which can be adjusted in three levels — Low. The lens also features Canon’s SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) system with standard.1"x7. For extreme low-light shooting the XA10 includes an infrared feature. as well as the option of recording to a 64GB internal flash drive or two SDXC-compatible card slots. including the lens hood and handle. The XA10 camcorder also incorporates a waveform monitor into the camera body for accurate exposure and detailed analysis of image brightness.the Standard Cinema Filter function is further customizable through Color Depth.000°K to 15. as well as Relay Recording and the ability to record simultaneously to two cards for instant backup. Compact and lightweight.usa.7 lbs.98/25/29. adjustable from 2.94P as standard and RGB 1080 23.000 dot) touch-panel LCD screen provides a large. audio switches. The compact XA10 includes a detachable handle for lowangle shooting and portability. The zoom boasts a 35mm equivalent range of 30.000°K in 100°K increments. Sony’s PMW-F3 Takes Pro Line Handheld Sony has unveiled the PMW-F3. shutter speed. The camcorder also includes an infrared emitter with a diffuser as well as a Green or White color option to shoot pleasing high-definition infrared imagery even in complete darkness.

Users can select S-Log and Hyper Gamma to increase the F3’s dynamic-range performance. will give users the ability to record directly to the industry-standard HDCam SR codec using the SR Memory Portable Recorder connected to the F3’s single-link and duallink output.97PsF and 50/59. The camera is also . lets user take advantage of already well-established XDCam EX and HDCam SR workflows.000 without lenses. Up to four LUTs can be stored in the camera and stamped onto the footage on the SxS card. from 1 to 30 fps at 1920x1080 (17 to 30 fps in dual-link mode) and 1 to 60 fps at 1280x720 (17 to 60 fps in dual-link mode). The F3’s PL-mount adapter can accommodate both PL and upcoming Sony zoom lenses. The PMW-F3 has a basic list price of $16. SR Memory.94i. 1440x1080 and 1280x720 at 23.94i and.97p.content shot on Sony’s F35 or SRW-9000PL cameras. S-Log represents Sony’s approach to the raw “digital negative. Recording formats include 1920x1080. The F3 supports look-up tables for dailies and on-set color management. in DVCam mode. 25/29. Sony’s high-speed. Sony is also planning to introduce a compatible SR Memory Portable Recorder for the F3 camcorder. Users can also take advantage of “slow” and “quick” recording. and offers compatibility with a variety of cine lenses such as Cooke. 50/59. Fujinon and Zeiss. high-capacity card format.” allowing access to the full dynamic range of the Super 35mm imager for maximum flexibility in image manipulation during postproduction. simultaneously using the camera’s dual-link output with S-Log for the unprocessed image.98/25/29. This capability. combined with the widely used SxS format.

especially for projects with a large amount of content. visit www. in HD in AVC-Intra and in DVCPro HD at 1080 in 24p. To lower total ownership costs. significantly enhancing and stabilizing blacks and low-light areas. Arri Updates Alexa Software Arri has released Software Update Packet 3.200. The HPX3100 supports full 48kHz/24-bit audio recording on all four channels (in AVC-Intra 100/50). IEEE 1394A in/out. The AJ-HPX3100 is available at a suggested price of $19. reduced readout noise. The three presets currently available are Commercial. The Studio Mode Module allows for the integration of the Weisscam HS-2 MKII directly into studio environments. For additional information. especially at lower frame rates. providing higher color saturation in highlights as well as improved skin tones under tungsten light. USB 2. Customers can choose from three different presets tailored for different applications. and a One-clip REC function that records up to 99 consecutive cuts as a single clip. It provides RAW support for external IT recording devices via GigE. EI 200.de. 50mm and 85mm T2.000 lux in 1080i. The Studio Mode also enables easy setup and control of the camera via a Hand Unit. This mode optimizes the camera settings. the new lineup of exposure indices is EI 160. EI 800. P+S Technik Develops Weisscam Upgrade Modules P+S Technik has developed three software-based Application Upgrade Modules for the multi-purpose Weisscam HS-2 MKII high-speed camera system.The HPX3100 has dual optical American Cinematographer filter wheels for separate control of ND and CC. The HPX3100 has a high sensitivity of F11 at 2. and DCI P3 is the color space used for digital cinema projectors. 30p. and an S/N ratio of 59 dB (with Digital Noise Reduction turned on). EI 400. 50i and 60i. and increased dynamic range. and all feature sets can be changed and unlocked on set by entering a PIN code.35:1 image. The Film Mode Module provides enhanced image quality for recording at any frame rate. visit www. SUP 3. Offering a new slim-line size for added mobility. For low-light situations. 3. There is an option for a color or black-and-white type viewfinder. Panasonic Expands P2 Camcorder Line Panasonic Solutions Company has introduced the AJ-HPX3100 master-quality 1080p P2 HD camcorder. Fiction and TV Drama. 25p. For additional information. The proxy board also provides uncompressed audio.200.5" color LCD monitor for easy viewing. and a three-level Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS) function that reduces blocked shadows and blown highlights in scenes where bright and dark objects coexist. genlock in with HD Tri-Level Sync or VBS in.com/cinealta. Two new gamma options have also been added: Log C delivers a signal similar to negative film scanned on an Arriscan.000. wireless metadata input capability via wireless LAN and high-quality proxy recording. SUP 3.pstechnik. greatly facilitating editing. Panasonic offers a five-year limited warranty (the company’s normal 1year basic warranty plus an extended warranty for years two through five upon registration). Featuring three 2⁄3" high-density 2.com/broadcast.950. the HPX3100 captures full-raster 1920x1080-resolution imaging with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling using the advanced AVC-Intra codec.available with a lens kit (comprising 35mm. and supports the optional AJ-RC10G and AJ-EC4 remote control units for image and control adjustment. Standard interfaces include an HD-SDI input for external line recording.6 pounds.600 and EI 3. 86 May 2011 . and SMPTE time code in/out. which can enhance editing. DVCPro and DV.sony. and in SD (480i/586i) in DVCPro50.0 in/out.0 prime lenses) for a suggested price of $23.2million-pixel CCDs. Power consumption is about 34 watts.000 fps.and a flip-out.0 extends Alexa’s sensitivity to EI 3. Additional highend features include a Chromatic Aberration Compensation (CAC) function that corrects for lateral chromatic aberration in lenses. Other features include Digital Zoom and Digital Super Gain.panasonic. and RAM HD-SDI preview is available from the camera during recording and playback. which can capture from 1 to 70. like reality TV and long-form projects.0 for its Alexa digital camera system.0 enables a host of new and updated features. Alexa’s color-processing engine has also been significantly enhanced. The Rental Mode Module offers the possibility to modify the Weisscam HS-2 MKII to the needs of rental customers. N ew features in the HPX3100 include 24-bit audio in AVC-Intra 100/50. EI 1. the HPX3100 sports a low center of gravity and weighs only 8. including Film-Rec 600-percent mode (made popular by the VariCam) for capturing increased dynamic range. The P2 HD camcorder’s superb performance is enhanced with advanced 14-bit A/D conversion and a 12-pole matrix color-correction function. The camcorder records on high data transfer speed E-Series P2 cards (capacity up to 64GB). The camcorder records in multiple worldwide formats. It also features a built-in reverse scan that allows unique setups such as mounting the camera upside down or the use of a prime lens or an anamorphic lens adapter to create a 2. The result is 30-percent better performance on the signal. The camcorder is equipped with seven advanced gamma settings. For additional information. visit www. its most compact and lowest-price 2⁄ 3" 1080p 3-CCD camcorder.

The optional smooth mode. TIFF or DPX files. Additionally. allowing for an instant image check. and uses color to indicate specific signal levels such as clipping. an HD-SDI 3G Single Link allows a 4:2:2 signal at 48. frame lines as well as information about each clip can optionally be seen in the viewfinder or superimposed on the image output. lighting or grading references to be grabbed and stored on the camera’s SD card at any time during standby. all at the same time. SUP 3.0 also introduces the ability to include a Variflag signal All new ALEXAs will have SUP 3. SUP 3. recording or playback. eliminates shuttering in the viewfinder image. so takes can be played back on the camera viewfinder or via different camera outputs.0. a center mark and a surround view mask over the viewfinder and output images. ● . SUP 3.0 installed. 50. For more information or to download Software Update Packet 3.0 enables in-camera playback of QuickTime clips from on-board SxS Pro cards. for any frame rate up to 30 fps and any shutter angle up to 180 degrees. and all existing cameras can be upgraded to SUP 3.arri.The false color exposure check changes the image to black-and-white. skin tones and 18-percent medium grey.0 allows still images for continuity.0 also introduces the ability to superimpose two frame lines. 59.Audio can now be recorded at various frame rates and embedded into the image output. making camera operating easier for shots involving fast pans or fast action within the frame. which is especially useful for productions with deliverables of different aspect ratios. providing a useful guide track that significantly streamlines the audio workflow. SUP 3.com. two user rectangles. visitwww.94 or 60 fps to be sent over just one BNC cable. images can be stored as JPEG.0.

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“There’s a certain mindset you have to have on an effects film … in order to piece everything together and have a complete image of the film in your head while you’re shooting. though. and he eventually photographed more than 200 national-television spots.” he told AC in 1983.” Peterman is survived by his wife of 54 years. in Los Angeles. before long. Mighty Joe Young (1998). 1932. Gene Polito and Howard Schwartz. Army. Witmer ● . sons Keith. Jay and Brad. Diane. and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. and in 1984 he earned his first Oscar nomination. Peterman was recommended for ASC membership by Society fellows Wheeler. ’86). and they could never use long lenses because it’s impossible to get back far enough. Get Shorty. After graduating from Redondo Beach Union High School. There is tone.S. Trains & Automobiles .” said Nimoy.” The scale of his projects quickly grew. it’s not just.‘Light it and get an image.In Memoriam Oscar-nominated cinematographer Donald William Peterman. ASC)and two seasons of Lassie (for Robert Sparks). and 10 grandchildren. He began his civilian career as a film loader at Hal Roach Studios. Peterman began finding steady work shooting commercials. Wheeler. His credits also include Splash. In the 1970s.” In 1987. a story that allowed Peterman to take advantage of location filming to expand the franchise’s visual palette. “I shot that one with nothing — strictly Sun Guns and bounce cards at T1.” Lyne told AC. he served in the U.and he pushed me to the limit.” “Don Peterman shoots from an idea. 5 at the age of 79. “I saw stuff that he did that tells me somebody has been paying attention. and then spent five years as an optical-lineup man and optical-printer operator at effects company Cascade Studios. as an operator. Peterman garnered a second Oscar nomination and an ASC nomination for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (AC Dec. 1932-2011 limit. Point Break . Cocoon. Addams Family Values . “I think it’s good if you do a different style in every picture. His operating credits include the feature The Bubble (for Charles F. Jack Cooperman. ASC died on Feb. a daughter.” he told AC. Directed by Leonard N imoy. the film found the intrepid crew of the starship Enterprise transported back to mid-1980s San Francisco.“I pushed him to the 92 Don Peterman. He later told AC. 3.4. “Don is a guy who won’t accept second best. but I understand the concept of compositing layers of images. “Star Trek was filmed mostly on a stage before. Planes. Calif. for Adrian Lyne’s Flashdance (AC May ’83). “I don’t think you have to have a style.’” In 1984.“All of that [opticaleffects] experience is out the window because of computers. he notched his first featurecredit as a director of photography on When a Stranger Calls . ASC.” he told AC while discussing his work on Men in Black (June ’97). “We tried to make it a little different by using really long lenses as much as we could. where he was assigned to travel the country filming adocumentary. Sally. In 1979. Peterman was born on Jan.” Peterman eventually began finding work as a camera assistant and. — Jon D.

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ASC snapped this 360-degree panorama using his iPhone. ASC.studentfilmmakers. moderated by AC contributor Jim Hemphill). lighting by Donald M. 94 May 2011 American Cinematographer Photo of Clubhouse by Isidore Mankofsky. ASC. flags and nets. Stein Teaches for StudentFilmmakers. Members at the Movies Haskell Wexler.com. Marking the latest in the joint Createasphere-AC series of “Legendary Conversations. courtesy of Capture Imaging. and Sons of Anarchy (featuring cinematographer Paul Maibaum and camera operators/SOC members Steve Fracol and David Frederick. Middle (left to right): ASC associate member Rob Hummel with Andrea Kalas. BSC. Present and Future. Glee (featuring cinematographer Christopher Baffa. Stein is scheduled to lead a series of workshops with StudentFilmmakers throughout this year. moderated by Stasukevich). touching on his early work shooting documentaries. ASC and editors Tim Streeto and Kate Sanford. Vilmos Zsigmond.3 seconds. offering a behind-the-scenes look at a number of television shows. Steve Kochak of Deluxe Media Services and Michael Friend of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Wexler joined the film’s star. Following the screening. Baffa Discuss “Best of TV” Createasphere recently launched the “Best of TV” webcast series.com. Bill Bennett. presenting the seminar “About Digital Cinema: Our Past. ASC recently attended a screening of Scarecrow at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. which Zsigmond photographed in 1973 for director Jerry Schatzberg. ASC associate member Michael Bravin also participated in the Expo. Bottom: During a recent event at the Clubhouse. which Wexler shot and directed.” the discussion offered a survey of Deakins’ storied career. The webinars have so far examined Boardwalk Empire (featuring Kramer Morgenthau. Robert Forster. for a Q&A. ACE. Witmer). Witmer (left) and Roger Deakins. ASCrecently visited the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre in Santa Monica for a screening of Medium Cool (1969). moderated by AC associate editor Jon D. Stein demonstrated uses for Fresnel fixtures as well as open-face units.” Meanwhile. moderated by AC contributor Iain Stasukevich). ASC recently led the workshop “Lighting to Create a Mood” for StudentFilmmakers. was screened as part of the series “True Grit: The Golden Age of Road Movies.” said Stein. Witmer at the Entertainment Technology Exposition in Burbank. The other panelists were Andrea Kalas of Paramount Pictures.com Peter Stein. his recent forays into consulting on animated features. Morgan. his pioneering work with digital intermediates. The lesson began with a discussion of three-point lighting and then moved into an exploration of hard and soft light. “With the new technologies at hand. . current film students have the chance to be the innovators creating the newest and most daring styles in future filmmaking. and he showed the attendees how to shape light with barn doors.” ● Top: AC associate editor Jon D. ASC and producer/editor Bradley Buecker. ASC. Dexter (featuring director/cinematographer Romeo Tirone and editor Louis Cioffi. Createasphere photos by Ryan Miller. ASC Associates Visit Createasphere Createasphere recently hosted Roger Deakins. The film.Clubhouse News Deakins. Createasphere’s Digital Asset Management Conference opened with a panel moderated by ASC associate member Rob Hummel that focused on how to best manage digital assets as legacy systems become obsolete. Morgenthau. Michael Friend and Steve Kochak. Other points of discussion included key-to-fill ratios and background lighting techniques. ASC.and his use of Arri’s Alexa digital camera on the upcoming feature Now. BSC in conversation with AC associate editor Jon D. the exposure took 42. visit www. For more information.

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Karl Walter Lindenlaub and Peter Collister. I referenced a lot of William Eggleston’s work for the movie Friday Night Lights. I was always fascinated by American film culture. Germany. Each of them is an incredible visual artist. I loved the spreads showing the huge movie sets with all the lights and cameras. films or artworks have inspired you? The Secret in Their Eyes was one my favorite films of last year. Where did you train and/or study? In my twenties. or genres you would like to try? I’d love to shoot a dark social/family drama like The Ice Storm or American Beauty. do you most admire? [ASC members] Vittorio Storaro. I used to read my father’s Kameraman magazines. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received? ‘Don’t shoot your demo reel. 96 May 2011 American Cinematographer Photo by Thomas Scott Stanton. It represented another world. Tobias Schliessler. All I know is that every director and producer who has ever hired me has given me a break. I loved Steve McQueen and Paul N ewman. had all of Germany glued to the television and got me hooked on German filmmaking. Owen Roizman. I’ve always learned the most from my gaffers and key grips. Emmanuel Lubezki and Harris Savides. I moved to Vancouver. If you weren’t a cinematographer. and their cinematography always serves the story. They push the boundaries without ever sacrificing technical perfection. Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for membership? Daryn Okada. My father. past or present. was his editor. Early on. ● When you were a child. mother. I figured out that cinematography was my passion. and the list goes on. the German TV miniseriesEight Hours Are Not a Day (1972). my grandmother. what might you be doing instead? I can’t think of a better job. It was such a powerful story. but I’m most influenced by the work of my peers and by contemporary photography. I flashed an exposed roll of film while working for my father — a classic mistake that you only make once. Be true to the story. What sparked your interest in photography? I grew up in a filmmaking family. Right now I’m inspired by the lighting in the work of Australian photographer Bill Henson. How has ASC membership impacted your life and career? I think of being invited into the ASC by my peers as the ultimate professional honor. except maybe a Formula One driver. Do you have any favorite genres. Conrad Hall. Have you made any memorable blunders? At the age of 13. and I wanted to be part of that world. what film made the strongest impression on you? Growing up in Baden-Baden. and my mother. Bullitt (1968). Gordon Willis. so well told. I’m grateful for the support and camaraderie of other ASC members. a foot away from Beyoncé during one of her incredible musical performances. made adventure documentaries. which were basically the equivalent of American Cinematographer in Germany.Close-up Which cinematographers. Anemone. Who were your early teachers or mentors? In terms of life. Le Mans (1971). I felt like I was at the center of the moviemaking world I had always dreamed of. and studied film at Simon Fraser University. Cool Hand Luke (1967) and The Sting (1973) all made a huge impression. For instance. ASC How did you get your first break in the business? I find it almost impossible to pinpoint my first break. Canada. brother. Martin. sisters and daughter have taught me all the important things. What has been your most satisfying moment on a project? I remember standing on the set of Dreamgirls. As for work. At the same time. I was loading magazines and rewinding film on a Steenbeck from an early age. I was giving her an eyelight with a Kino Flo in my hand while the theatrical lighting designed by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer surrounded her. and I shot as many student films as I could.’ What recent books. Roger Deakins. What are some of your key artistic influences? I love to collect and surround myself with paintings and sculpture. . directed by Fassbinder.

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