American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 60
A Steadicam (top) and two handheld cameras (bottom) capture the action as Danny gets
entangled in more martial-arts mayhem.
jet crash in the Himalayas and then
discovered the mystical city of K'un
L'un, where he would receive his
martial-arts training. K'un L'un was
built on stage as a snow-blanketed set
piece surrounded by greenscreen.
"Depending on the scene," Billeter says,
"we had practical special-effects snow
on set. But whenever we had a lot of
greenscreen in the frame, we shied away
from too many billowing atmospheric
effects and snow particles. I would often
set the Red to 5K resolution to provide
a bit more information for the visual60
effects artists to work with.
"We had four 20-by-20s overhead to act as our sky," he continues.
"We'd shoot 18K and 6K HMIs into
those for an even, soft toplight. It spilled
everywhere, and intentionally so; that
took care of quite a bit of the greenscreen illumination. We would add to
that from the ground with banks of
daylight Kinos, which we'd hide around
For the jet crash, the doomed
plane's interior was built onto a motion
gimbal 8' above the stage floor. That set,
Billeter explains, "could bank left and
right, and pitch and drop to some pretty
steep angles, about 30 degrees each way.
It could also shake violently and go from
one extreme position to the next very
quickly. I thought it would be important
to not have the cameras doing the frantic moves; instead, the plane itself is
shaking, rattling, causing objects to drop
and bodies to twist, with gravity pulling
on everything realistically.
"Once the turbulence really hits,
we didn't want to have any operators in
the fuselage, as it looked quite treacherous," he adds. "We had one camera on a
crane nosed in as far as we could. We'd
keep it right at the edge of the set so the
arm wouldn't snap off as the gimbal
moved. Other cameras were drilled into
the interior floor of the plane and locked
off - we felt it would look more
visceral and realistic that way."
Once back in New York, Danny
encounters his father's former business
partner, Harold Meachum (David
Wenham). Believed by his daughter Joy
and the public at large to be long-dead,
Harold in fact has hidden himself away
in a secret lair-like penthouse, from
which he surreptitiously guides Rand
Enterprises' corporate machinations.
"Harold is one of the puppet masters,
living in the shadows high above the
city, and the set didn't have many
windows," notes Billeter. "He can see
everything, but no one can see him.
Most of it was lit from inside, and from
an aquarium and terrarium. The set
walls were painted in dark blues, with
dark stone accents to be more mysterious and not too celestial.
"The penthouse set had ceilings
everywhere so I couldn't light from
above, except from a little opening in
the dome, like the Pantheon in Rome,"
Billeter continues. "For daytime scenes,
we created shafts of light through the
windows and supplemented from inside
with 12-by and 8-by frames. We'd either
make book lights or push through the
frames with the Cineo Quantum120
LEDs. Whenever the lighting was
emanating from the terrarium or the
aquarium, I would supplement that