American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 26

Soffer frames up inside the Custom House location.

ing setup that we could leave up all night,
yet would allow us to adapt and light very
quickly with control over contrast ratio,"
Soffer notes. "The Jem Balls were
augmented with two 1K open-face Arrilites
bounced off of 12-by-12 frames of
bleached muslin on the ground, that could
be dimmed up or down and moved around
depending on which way the camera was
facing, to add additional shape to the lighting for close-ups."
This setup - along with the Alexa at
800 ISO, or occasionally 1,250, and the
Primo Primes wide open at T1.9 - provided
Soffer with more than enough light to get
the exposure he wanted.
Due to the limitations of time and
location, however, this particular rigging
remained in the rotunda area of the
Custom House. To light in other areas,
Soffer reports that he made use of practicals
augmented with "4-foot 4Bank Kino Flo
units with tungsten tubes through 6-by-6 or
8-by-8 frames of muslin, as well as a
Litepanels Astra Bi-Color 1x1 LED." He
controlled spill using flags. To create a spotlight effect when necessary, he opted for a
750-watt Source Four on the end of a
Menace Arm.
On their last day at the Custom
House location, a final complication arose
when the production was forced to stop
26

July 2017

shooting three hours early - leaving the
filmmakers without their final scene. Soffer
was thus tasked with re-creating the lighting from the Custom House a week later
on-stage at Kaufman Astoria Studios,
shooting against greenscreen with backgrounds from the Custom House composited via Foundry's Nuke software. In the final
cut, the transition from the real location to
its on-stage re-creation is seamless, "unless
you're really looking for it," Soffer says.
For the remainder of the shoot,
Soffer and his team employed a large
duvetyn-skirted softbox over the Kaufman
set. The lighting arrangement comprised
five 1K open-face Arrilites rigged to the ceiling and pointed straight down through
12'x12' unbleached muslin. Soffer supplemented this with additional Arrilites when
necessary, and 2' and 4' 4Bank fixtures
pushed through bleached muslin for tighter
shots and eye lights. The 4Banks were also
brought in for the extreme close-ups that
appear at several points in the short, which
Soffer shot with either +1⁄2 or +1 Tiffen
diopters on the Primo 100mm lens. For the
fast-paced dance sequence in the project's
climax, Soffer overcranked to 60 and even
120 fps to allow for speed ramps in postproduction.
During this sequence, Soffer also
matched the shift from reality to fantasy by
American Cinematographer

switching from the precision of the dolly to
the roughness of handheld, as he "wanted
the camera to be a more intimate part of
the dance, and capture the dynamics of the
choreography," the cinematographer notes.
Intercut with this sequence are haunting
shots of the two lead characters bathed in a
beam of red light, provided entirely by a
single red-gelled Source Four rigged to the
ceiling and pointing down through haze.
To maximize image quality in a
ready-to-edit format, Soffer shot to 64GB
SxS cards in ProRes 4:4:4:4 Log C and
framed for a 2.39:1 extraction. Since white
balance would be baked-in, and Soffer
wanted to avoid a pronounced color cast
from the tungsten lighting, he opted to
shoot at a color temperature of 3,200K in
the Custom House and 2,600K on the Kaufman stage.
Color grading was performed by Erik
Choquette at Harbor Picture Co. using
Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve and a
custom LUT that was based on reference
images. The final deliverable for festivals
was a 2K DCP.
Opera of Cruelty won numerous
accolades at the 2017 Wasserman Awards
- the culmination of NYU Tisch School of
the Arts' First Run Film Festival, the longest
continuously running film festival in New
York City - including the King Award 1st
Prize, the Wasserman Award in Directing,
and the Undergraduate Craft Award for
Best Cinematography.
Being both the lead character and
director of the piece, Fedore put extra trust
in Soffer. "It was a blessing to work with
Oren because he understood my vision as
well as I did," he says. "Due to the immense
trust I had in Oren, I knew I could remain in
character during my scenes and really live in
the moment. I cannot wait for our next
●
collaboration."



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - July 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 5
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 40
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41A
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41B
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 42
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 43
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover4
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