American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 18

Production Slate

I

Hunting Down Hackers
By Michael Goldman

Directed by Michael Mann and with cinematography by
Stuart Dryburgh, ASC, NZCS, the cyber-crime thriller Blackhat tells
the story of a combined American-Chinese law-enforcement team's
pursuit of a mysterious group of hackers who have managed to
blow up a power plant and spike the stock market. Mann readily
asserts that the production's 66-day shoot, which involved 74 locations in four countries, was "absolutely right up there" among the
most complex projects of his career.
Mann and Dryburgh had previously collaborated on HBO's
horseracing drama Luck (AC Feb. '12), on which they used, along
with a bevy of other camera systems, the Arri Alexa. The two quickly
agreed that Blackhat would be primarily an Alexa show. "[The
Alexa's] low noise floor, clean blacks and color reproduction made it
great for this movie," Mann enthuses. "Especially with the many
colors [encountered] on the streets, particularly in Hong Kong, the
way the camera separates colors was very important to me."
However, to meet Mann's often run-and-gun approach, "we
also needed to add something more compact, what I call a 'throwaround camera,'" Dryburgh adds. "We tested a lot of systems, but
found there were [resolution] limitations when they were cut alongside the Alexa's [ArriRaw] footage at full resolution, so we eventually
brought in some Red Scarlets and used those for some work that
involved planting cameras or running around handheld." Ultimately,
to meet all of the applications Mann had in mind, the production
carried three Alexa XTs and three XT-Ms, three Red Scarlets, an array
of Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIs and 7Ds, and even some GoPro Hero3s.
18

February 2015

Two Vision Research Phantom Flexes were used for second-unit
footage.
Blackhat marks Mann's first anamorphic movie since 1995's
Heat (AC Jan. '96), and Dryburgh elected to shoot primarily with
Vantage Film's Hawk V-Lite 1.3x anamorphic lenses, which were
capable of squeezing the 2.40:1 image onto the 16x9 area of the
Alexa's 4:3 sensor. "By limiting ourselves to the 16x9 area [of the
sensor] and using the 1.3x anamorphics to extend to 2.40:1, we
were able to run up to 120 fps without any drop in image resolution or file size," Dryburgh explains. "[We also] gained more running
time per data card."
"In addition to a full set of primes, we had [Angenieux]
Optimo 12:1 [24-290mm T2.8] zooms that had been modified with
a 1.3x anamorphic element at the rear of the lens," says E.J. Misisco,
one of the film's three 1st ACs, along with Jimmy Jensen and Craig
Grossmueller. The crew also paired the Red and Canon cameras
with three spherical Canon zooms: the EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS,
the EF 24-70mm f2.8 L II USM, the EF 70-200mm f2.8 L IS II USM
and the EF 16-35mm f2.8 L II USM.
Dryburgh adds, "We wanted to release in 'Scope, and I
didn't feel we should crop the image. I also think it was interesting
to keep the depth of field short, particularly in Hong Kong. On early
scouts, it became apparent that if we had a close shot of someone's
face on a relatively long lens, the background would be out of focus
and there would be a wonderful bokeh effect, with all the neon
lights and wonderful colors of Hong Kong at night as an abstract
effect, rather than fully resolved. This is very much a film where you
want to direct the viewer's attention to particular elements, so a
narrower depth of field was useful."

American Cinematographer

Blackhat photos by Frank Connor and Eros Hoagland, courtesy of Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures.

FBI agent Carol
Barrett (Viola
Davis) agrees to
recruit convicted
felon Nicholas
Hathaway (Chris
Hemsworth) to
help pursue a
network of highend hackers in
the cyber-crime
thriller Blackhat.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - February 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 9
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 10
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 11
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 12
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 13
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 14
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 14a
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 14b
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 15
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 16
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 17
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 18
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 19
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 20
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 21
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 22
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 23
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 24
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 25
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 26
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 27
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 28
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 29
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 30
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 31
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American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 33
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 34
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 35
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 36
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 37
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 38
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American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 40
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American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 49
American Cinematographer - February 2015 - 50
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