American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 62

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Savage Sea

Top: The crew preps a scene while shooting in open water on location in the Canary Islands.
Bottom: Underwater cinematographer Peter Zuccarini and his underwater assistant, Peter
Manno, frame a whaleboat from below.

images captured with tiny cameras."
Howard adds, "We also
watched a lot of Greenpeace documentary footage, sailing footage on
YouTube, Ridley Scott's White
Squall, and episodes of Deadliest
Catch. There were a lot of influences
on how we could remain real, but be
creative."
The production began filming
in September 2013 outside London
at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden
in Hertfordshire, where the
Nantucket scenes and ship interiors
62

January 2016

could be captured on stage, while
whaleboat action, the storm sequence
and the sinking of the Essex would
be photographed in the facility's
outdoor D Stage water tank. Due to
the short daylight hours and unpredictable English weather, Dod
Mantle chose to shoot major scenes
aboard the Essex night-for-day.
"It was two weeks of nights,
shooting from dusk until the sun was
coming up over Heathrow Airport,"
the cinematographer says. "Our base
'daylight' mainly comprised three sets
American Cinematographer

of balloon lights with 24K in each
set, rigged in scaffolding cages
suspended from cranes above the
tank. Then, for directional sunlight,
we had 20Ks and 12-lights on cherry
pickers behind the bluescreen that
encircled the tank. We were outside,
still subject to wind, rain or snow, but
we could absolutely control the
[color] temperature, contrast and
angle of the light, which gave us an
advantage. When you're dealing with
things like woodwork and white sails,
changes in the color temperature and
intensity of the light can make a huge
difference as the day goes on."
As the production would
require extensive wet camerawork
both in the studio and on location,
Dod Mantle turned to underwater
specialist Peter Zuccarini (see sidebar
on page 64), whom he had first
worked with on Boyle's harrowing
drama 127 Hours (AC Dec. '10). For
In the Heart of the Sea, Zuccarini
explains, "With the main unit in the
tanks at Leavesden, I was doing bluescreen shots with the Essex crew in
boats, chasing the whales and then
being tossed from the boats into the
air - a lot of stunt work. And on the
days I wasn't with the main unit, I
was with second unit getting
elements, like harpoons plunging
into the water or ship debris hitting
the sea or boats being destroyed, and
finally the sinking of the Essex after
[the whale stoves the boat]."
Like Dod Mantle, Zuccarini
also employed a blend of Alexa and
Canon cameras. "The main advantage of the EOS-1D C was the small
form factor," Zuccarini opines. "It's a
4K camera, but compact. The Alexa
is pretty big, and it's really big once
you get it into a watertight housing.
But with the EOS-1D C, I could
spin it around fast to come across the
bow of a small boat, or jump off the
gunwale with it in my hands while
still operating - it's just a great size.
"We were primarily using
Primo lenses, but with the Canon
EOS cameras, we were also using



American Cinematographer - January 2016

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
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American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64a
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