American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 92

◗

Audacious Caper
nice to separate out the drama footage
and make it feel more real," says
Birkeland. They opted for Zeiss Super
Speed MKIII spherical primes for the
bulk of the material. Eighty percent was
shot on two lenses - the 25mm and
35mm - to suggest a subjective experience. Footage on those lenses was "all
shot wide open, at T1.3, without exception," Birkeland states. A 28-340mm
Angenieux Optimo zoom (T3.2) was
occasionally used to reference surveillance shots in movies like The
Conversation, such as when the boys
rendezvous with a criminal contact in
New York's Central Park.
At times, though, their film references cried out for anamorphic. Such
was the case with the imagined heist
that gives a nod to Ocean's 11, as well as
scenes that might have been invented by
our unreliable narrators, such as a meeting with a prospective buyer in an
Amsterdam bar. "You're encouraged to
go with the characters into their movie
fantasy," says the director.
Following
Wilson's
lead,
Birkeland used Cooke Anamorphic/i
lenses for those scenes, always wide
open at T2.3. "I tend to underexpose by
about two stops and push it up with a
LUT, then rate the camera at 160
ASA," Birkeland says. "When you rate
the Alexa at 160 or 200 ASA, it clips the
very end of the black to a hard black.
And you're at a very low noise level. But
at the same time, to protect the highlights, I underexposed. So I gain low
noise, approximately the same latitude,
and get a density in the blacks, which I
enjoy."
For the LUT, he continues, "I set
one look in advance. It's like a one-light
print, which in this case is a curve I
designed: a two-stop push curve with a
slightly more [filmic] tone than Rec
709. It doesn't matter what job I do - I
always set one look, then change everything with the lighting."
American Animals was shot
mostly on practical locations in North
Carolina, with Davidson College standing in for Transylvania University.
Birkeland had just over one week for

Top and above:
Birkeland and
crew shoot the
disguised Warren
and Spencer as
they head off to
their first heist
attempt. Right:
Birkeland captures
the young
conspirators from
the back of a
minivan.

92

June 2018

American Cinematographer



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - June 2018

Contents
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Intro
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 1
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 2
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Contents
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 4
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 5
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 6
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American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover4
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