American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 62
Top: A Red Weapon camera with Dragon 6K sensor is framed up for a shot of Danny in
meditation. Bottom: Cast and crew at work on location.
with Image 80s and cyan gel to match
the color already present in the architectural elements."
Much of Iron Fist's second
episode concerns Danny's confinement
to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation.
"The hospital set was actually redressed from a similar set used for
Daredevil and Jessica Jones," Billeter
reveals. "The nature of a hospital is quite
restrictive and imposes a certain look,
with florescent overhead lighting in a
dropped ceiling. So we'd start with the
architectural lighting built into the set
and add to that.
"We used fluorescent four-bank
units with two or four bulbs lit at a time
going through dimmer circuits. We used
3,200K bulbs matched to the existing
light fixtures to stay a bit more neutral
and allow us to fine-tune the coloring
later. Then from the outside we'd bring
in a harder look with a 10K on a stand.
I like lighting from outside and not cluttering the set with too many technical
instruments on the floor, so the camera
can move around as freely as possible."
At key moments, Danny is
observed through the hospital's surveillance cameras. "We shot everything
ourselves for the surveillance-camera
footage," Billeter says. "We would use
GoPro Hero4s at the 4K Superview
setting. We would cover a scene from
the ground first with the Red cameras,
then we would pull out those cameras
and the crew and run the scene again for
the surveillance perspective, with the
GoPros mounted to walls and ceilings."
Throughout production, Billeter
looked at dailies whenever time allowed.
"Everybody looks at dailies on their
own," he says. "I'm seeing dailies as we're
shooting. I don't watch dailies on Pix
because I feel that streaming services
just don't do them justice visually.
"Dailies are done here at Deluxe
in New York with colorist Kevin Krout,"
the cinematographer continues. "I've
worked with Kevin on all the Marvel
shows. On Jessica Jones and Luke Cage I
would take frame grabs and colorcorrect them as a suggestion. At first on
Iron Fist I gave him some references, but
now we have a shorthand where I can
just communicate verbally and he gets
As Netflix's first Marvel series to
finish in HDR, Iron Fist presented new
challenges for the final grade. "Once
each episode is locked, it goes to Tony
D'Amore [at Deluxe's Encore in
Hollywood]," Billeter says. "Tony has
been coloring all of the Marvel shows
starting with Daredevil. The HDR
finishing is mostly on his shoulders
because it's a post process - I'm not
monitoring it on set. I'm using regular
25-inch Sony HD OLEDs, with the
color settings and gamma settings done
in camera. I just want to treat the camera
like it's a film stock and worry about
fine-tuning the color later. I think a lot
of color choices can be better made
when you have the final cut in front of
you." After D'Amore performs his first
pass in HDR, Billeter adds, "I get a drive
with a locked cut as a ProRes file, which
I watch at Deluxe in New York in HDR
with a calibrated 'Pulsar' Dolby Vision
monitor, and then I send more notes to
"There was a learning curve for
Tony and me for how to finish in