American Cinematographer - September 2010 - 86
Top (left to right): Benny (Brandon T. Jackson), Stacie (Naturi Naughton) and Kevin (Bow Wow) take the air on a fateful Fourth of July weekend in Lottery Ticket. Cinematographer Patrick Cady worked with Company 3 colorist Dave Hussey to fine-tune the film’s summertime ambience in the DI. Bottom: Stacie and Kevin get out of the heat.
Creating Summer Sizzle for Lottery Ticket By Iain Stasukevich
Lottery Ticket tells the story of Kevin Carson (Bow Wow), a kid from the projects who tries to keep the lid on his $370 million lottery ticket over a long, sweltering Fourth of July weekend. Word gets out, and soon Kevin is being chased by thugs, con men and beautiful women who are all interested in just one thing: taking his money. On paper, the film seemed simple. In reality, the autumn shoot in Atlanta, Ga., was anything but. Three inches of rain fell on the first day of principal photography, a weather pattern that seldom varied during the rest of the shoot. “We were always getting socked in by the rain, but we couldn’t add days because our main location, the housing project, had a wrecking ball waiting for it,” recalls cinematographer Patrick Cady. “So in the middle of all that, we had to figure out how to make it look like a hot and humid summer.” Consistency was particularly important given that the story unfolds over three days. Principal photography had its share of cloudless days, and Cady knew that no matter how many lights were dragged to the set, he’d never be able to seamlessly match that material with scenes shot in rainy or overcast weather. Technicolor New York, which handled the processing and dailies, balanced the images for contrast and color, but according to Cady, the look of the film finally came together during the digital grade at Company 3. Cady did this work with colorist Dave Hussey, working on a DaVinci Resolve at 2K resolution. “One of the things Patrick and I decided to do was use a lot of power windows to create artificial shafts of light in the background, so it would look like sunlight was hitting a building,” recalls Hussey, who also raised the overall contrast and exposure levels in these shots. “All of those warm highlights make it seem like it was sunnier than it actually was.”
86 September 2010
Then there was the matter of keying blue into shots with blown-out, gray skies. With more than 100 exterior shots, each with multiple windows and color keys, this was easier said than done. A lot of those shots are moving shots, requiring Hussey to track each one. When Cady learned he’d be shooting Lottery Ticket on film (Kodak Vision3 500T 5219) instead of a digital format, he was relieved. “Shooting on film ended up being the number-one thing that saved our bacon,” he says. “Film has the latitude we needed in post to retain highlight detail, allowing us to balance out the overcast and sunny days. HD’s more limited latitude would have given us less to work with later; on sunny days, we would have lost the highlight detail we needed.” On set, dark day exteriors called for Maxi-Brutes and 6K, 12K and 18K HMIs to throw more light on the actors, or to create hard shadows and contrast in the backgrounds. Cady used cookies to break up direct artificial light and 81 and 85 filters to add warmth to the image. “I used CTS gels on the lights rather than CTO, because CTS has a bit more yellow in it and feels sunnier,” notes the cine-
Photo by David Lee. Photo and frame grabs courtesy of Warner Bros. and Sweepstake Productions, LLC.