American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 46

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Darkness Gains Dimension

With Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) convinced he is allergic to electricity, practical lanterns and
candles are employed in-shot for interior scenes with the character.

continued with Red systems as the
primary cameras.
Adams explains, "Netflix is
driving this push to shoot 4K raw
because they want to protect the work
for future HDR and 4K broadcast, and
that's a big reason why Saul chose Red
in the first place. In order to record 4K
raw with the VariCam, you have to use
a Codex recorder, which doesn't
compress images, so the VariCam files
were six times larger than the Red files,
which are captured in 5.5K at 6:1
compression. That was a challenge for
the loader and a challenge in post.
[Producer] Diane Mercer keeps all the
46

July 2017

episodes loaded in the SAN [Storage
Area Network] so Peter and Vince can
access them and make changes on the
fly. They don't work on one episode at a
time; they work on a lot of them. If we'd
shot exclusively with the VariCam, the
files would've been too big [to facilitate
that].
"We always had two [camera
bodies] when we used the VariCam,
and we used them in every episode but
Episodes 3 and 4," the cinematographer
continues. "Switching camera systems
in the middle of the day was a challenge, but the assistants were great at
prepping them and making sure we had
American Cinematographer

all the builds we needed - we shot a lot
of handheld, a lot of studio, some
Steadicam and a couple of Technocrane
shots." As with the first two seasons, the
production also used a tiny Sony a7R II
mirrorless camera for some quirky angles
and extremely tight spaces - for
instance, a shot of Ehrmantraut removing the air filter from under the hood of
a car.
Working with Clairmont Camera
in Albuquerque, Adams switched from
Red's Epic Dragon to Weapon 6K
cameras after the first couple of episodes
"because I occasionally saw some flare
issues I didn't care for with the [Epic]
Dragon," he explains. The production
captured 5.5K-resolution files with the
Weapon.
The three Angenieux Optimo
zoom lenses favored in Saul's previous
seasons - 15-40mm (T2.6), 28-76mm
(T2.6) and 45-120mm (T2.8) - continued to be the favorites. "They're such
beautiful pieces of glass, and they allowed
us to make quick adjustments," says the
cinematographer. "We also carried an
Optimo 24-290mm [T2.8] and a
Clairmont variation of it, an Optimo 29351mm [T3.5]. Because we shot the Red
in 5.5K, we had to be careful about lens
coverage. When we needed a little extra
stop, typically for big night shots, I'd
occasionally use [Arri/Zeiss] Master
Primes and then bring the levels up when
we moved in. The only other lens we
used quite often was the Century Series
2000 Periscope [T4]."
As production commenced in
Albuquerque, the VariCam presented a
few different learning curves. Adams
recalls, "One that quickly became apparent was that we had to be very careful
about any extraneous light around us;
that bit us in a couple of sets. We also
realized that if we were seeing a lot of sky,
we had to start with some closer shots
while the sky darkened up because it took
another 60 to 90 minutes to get dark
enough that it didn't look like one of
those cheated 5 a.m. shots we've all done
a thousand times [laughs]. And the crew
had to figure out how to work in the
dark, because the set was almost pitch



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 - 41
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41A
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41B
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 42
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 46
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