American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 65

day-to-day due to the chemistry or
particulate matter. On the open
ocean, there is no control. But having
that range adjustment can help you
get close to matching day-to-day and
shot-to-shot even with variations in
the water's color. So I feel confident
with the Alexa in that regard, and also
in that the camera itself has been
incredibly reliable, which is vital for
underwater work. If a camera goes
down and you have to pull the housing out of the water to put in a
replacement, that's a lot of lost time."
The cinematographer relies on
custom watertight camera housings
supplied by Zuccarini Watershot, a
partnership with Steve Ogles, whose
San Diego-based company Watershot
also offers an array of support for
"custom and production waterproof
enclosures, including tablets and
smartphones," Zuccarini says. "Our
professional motion-picture housings
are made of aluminum, carbon fiber
and other composites, and we support
all the major film and digital systems."
As he notes, variations in the Alexa
line alone - from the XT to the Mini
to the Alexa 65 - can require new
custom housings or modifications for
each iteration, as they often have
slightly different controls or add-on
modules. "One nice thing about
having a partner company that can
support me is that even with new
cameras being introduced every year,
we can stay ahead of our needs.
Zuccarini most recently
wrapped work on the upcoming
feature Deepwater Horizon, shot by
Enrique Chediak, ASC. "I remember
the first time I got paid to shoot. I was
working with a biologist doing a study
on sharks, thinking it was my big
breakthrough. I got that job in part
because I could do the job, but also in
part because I would swim with the
sharks. Finding that balance, between
minimizing risk and maximizing
reward, is always a big part of this
work."
- David E. Williams

some PL-mount, super-wide Zeiss
Ultra Primes for certain shots, especially to get the whole ship in frame
when the Essex was going down.
Ultra Primes tend to look very sharp
- but underwater, the inherent
diffusion softens the lenses in a very
complimentary way.
"Anthony put me on a dry
camera for the first week I was there
[at Leavesden] - I think he wanted
to infuse me with his coverage
approach," Zuccarini continues. "One
of the things I observed was that for
almost every scene - after the master
and all this incredible coverage -
Anthony would use a handheldcamera setup with a 21mm or 27mm
lens, wide open, and shoot several
more passes through the whole scene
right up in [Hemsworth's] face. It was
like a moving master. So, once I
started doing underwater work, I
made a point of trying to get right up
into Chris' face. In doing that, you
force yourself into the action a bit to
get those gritty, personal moments.
That coverage breaks the more traditional feeling that a film like this
might otherwise have, making the
story and characters feel more immediate and contemporary."
A primary challenge was recreating deep-water oceanic conditions in a studio tank. "I wish we
could have done the location portion
of the shoot first; we would have had
a better reference for the swells and
waves and wind and spray," says Dod
Mantle. "But that wasn't possible, so
we had to rely more on instinct. I was
always calling for it to be rougher, and
Ron was supportive of that.
"The sinking of the Essex came
to look quite apocalyptic once we got
through the DI," the cinematographer adds. "It's not bad enough that
the whale has ripped open the ship
and that it starts sinking, but it also
catches fire. And then these men are
literally in the middle of nowhere on
these three little boats. I get goosebumps thinking about it."
In this sequence, Chris
www.theasc.com

Hemsworth's character dives back
down into the already submerged
vessel. "To simulate the ship rocking
back and forth, sinking while he's
going through it, we had these
powerful water jets working on the
boat, some blowing just water and
some water and air," Zuccarini
describes. "Chris was swimming
through the hull of the Essex and
getting pushed and slammed into
parts of the set - while I was in front
of him, being pulled backwards while
trying to control my movement and
speed with my fins. It was a dynamic
situation, and took a lot of cooperation between the special-effects
[crew], grips and camera team to
make sure it was safe."
As the scene continues, the
Essex explodes, littering the sea with
burning whale oil and debris. "The
thing about fire on water is that just
below the surface, you're safe," says
Zuccarini. "But if you break the
surface, you're fried. Because we only
had a few possible takes, preparation
was important, but it came down to
applying past experience in dealing
with fire effects - how to expose
properly - because you can't do
complete tests. But we were able to
roll during rehearsal and make some
adjustments with the light underwater, and the Alexa has the latitude to
help deal with it."
Location shooting largely took
place on- and offshore of the islands
of La Gomera and Lanzarote in the
Canary Islands chain off the coast of
Spain - not far from where Huston
and Morris shot portions of their
version of Moby Dick some 50 years
prior. Shooting with the full-size,
seaworthy replica of the Essex in
open water, Dod Mantle relied on
everything from aerial photography
and jib arms to a telescoping crane
with gyro-stabilized three-axis
remote head, but simpler approaches
and techniques also added an unusual
power to these sequences.
"To emphasize the size of these
whaling ships, we did some shooting
January 2016

65


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - January 2016

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 1
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 2
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 4
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 5
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 6
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 7
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 8
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 9
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American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 11
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American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 13
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 14
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American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 17
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 18
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 19
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 20
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 21
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 22
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 23
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 24
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 25
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 26
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 27
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 28
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 29
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 30
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 31
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 32
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 33
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 34
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 35
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 36
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 37
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 38
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 39
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 40
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 41
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 42
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 43
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 44
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 45
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 46
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 47
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 48
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 49
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 50
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 51
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 52
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 53
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 54
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 55
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 56
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 57
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 58
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American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 60
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 61
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 62
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 63
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64a
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64b
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64c
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64d
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64e
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64f
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64g
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64h
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 65
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 66
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 67
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American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 79
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American Cinematographer - January 2016 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - Cover4
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