American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 48

◗

Darkness Gains Dimension

Minimal hard light is used for a scene with the McGill brothers.

could express Chuck's horror at that
moment, and one was to use a handcranked camera for an organic jittery
effect," says Adams. "Dan took the idea
and ran with it.
"We got three rolls of film
[Kodak Vision3 500T 5219] because
we couldn't bring ourselves to order
less," Adams continues, "and Clairmont
sent us a hand-cranked Arri IIC. The
loader and utility were terrified -
they're so young they'd never handled
film! I think we shot 60 feet of film, and
we pushed in on Chuck 'like a heatseeking missile going for its target,' as
Dan described it. Paul Donachie was
operating, and [B-camera operator]
Matt Credle was cranking, which is the
trickiest part. To get the jitter effect we
wanted, Matt mostly cranked forward,
with the occasional back-crank and then
forward again to create a multiple exposure. Matt had to wait until he knew the
frame had changed enough or Paul had
panned before cranking backwards. It
turned out fantastic. It was a really good
use of the right tool - a one-shot
wonder.
"By that time, we'd been shooting
in that set for two days with the
VariCam at [ISO] 5,000, and I was just
blown away by how much more light I
needed for 500 ASA," Adams adds with
a laugh. "Fortunately, by that point in
the scene, we're very close on Chuck,
48

July 2017

and he has retreated into the kitchen,
where there's a fairly localized source, a
practical lantern. So, we didn't have to
relight the whole shot."
"We're always trying to use our
directors and cinematographers to
progress the storytelling, to change it up,
because we have a main character who is
himself changing," says Gould. "We
don't feel there's a standard way to shoot
a scene on this show - there isn't 'the
way we do it every time' - and pretty
much every director has, in collaboration with the cinematographer, taken a
slightly different approach to express
what being around electricity feels like
to Chuck. We're very happy about that."
In a night-exterior scene from
Episode 6, directed by Keith Gordon,
Chuck
walks
to
downtown
Albuquerque, looking for a payphone
after a devastating day in court. Gould
wanted a surreal level of brightness as
Chuck reaches a main street that is
ablaze with light, so Adams pushed the
VariCam to ISO 10,000 and used existing light. In the final color correction at
FotoKem's Keep Me Posted, Gould
took the look further with colorist Ted
Brady.
For a night-exterior face-off set in
a tow yard in the series finale, which
Gould directed, the VariCam's sensitivity required Adams' crew to spend more
time blocking light than creating it. The
American Cinematographer

cinematographer explains, "We had six
or seven pages there, and we were at the
location three nights in a row. The
owners of the lot next door had been
burned by a previous production and
wouldn't turn their lights off or even talk
to us. [Key grip] Aubrey Husar and his
crew spent a lot of time putting up and
moving large solids, three 20-by-20s -
something you'd never think you'd have
out on a night exterior. To light the
scene, we placed a 400-watt mercuryhalide practical on the front of the
garage for a side-backlight, and on the
other side of the lot we planted a telephone pole and put up a 1,000-watt
sodium-vapor light that we panned
around to shape the scene."
Perhaps the most extraordinary
use of the VariCam in the episode is a
flashback to a night in Chuck and
Jimmy's childhood in rural Illinois. In a
single shot, the camera, pitched over
with a periscope lens, moves across 150'
of ground in the boys' backyard, finds
them seated in a tent lit by a kerosene
lantern, and then pushes into the tent,
past the boys and directly into the
lantern, finishing with a blown-out
image.
"It was the most collaborative
shot I've ever done," says Adams. "The
location had to fit the crane, the set
design had to fit with our ability to
move the crane, the tent had to fit the
remote head with a periscope lens, the
lantern had to be bright but also
dimmable and safe - it was so
complex, almost every person on the
crew was involved in the preplanning.
We mounted a Techno 50 on 75 feet of
track, and that alone was unusual
because typically, if you put a Techno in
the right place, you don't have to build
track because it telescopes so well.
Aubrey Husar really came through; he
scouted the location with Peter, and he
went out three hours early to set the
crane. Michael Novotny, our production
designer, custom-designed a periodcorrect [1960s] tent so we could move
through it.
"Peter wanted the driving force of
the scene to be the lantern inside the



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