American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 66

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City of Stars

Above: Director Damien Chazelle (second from left, wearing black t-shirt) and crew ready a dinner scene.
Right: Chazelle, B-camera 1st AC Jack Ellingwood and B-camera operator Davon Slininger ready a scene
inside the Griffith Observatory's planetarium, which was re-created on stage and lit by 24 Chauvet
Colorado RGBA LED Pars behind Light Grid Cloth.

faces of the actors and dancers,"
Sandgren explains - so they employed
the old-school technique of panning
where they needed to cut.
The entire musical sequence is
composed of three segments seamlessly
edited together, the first two shot in the
morning and the last one in the afternoon. Aside from some negative fill
provided by key grip Anthony Cady to
take out the sun, the shots were
captured with natural light.
They initially planned to shoot
the whole scene on Steadicam, but
Robbins wouldn't have been able to
smoothly negotiate a 4'-high median in
the middle of the road. In the end, one
segment was shot with Steadicam -
which culminated in the operator stepping onto a crane - while two
segments were shot on a MovieBird 45
telescopic crane on an Allan Padelford
Biscuit Jr. drivable trailer - functioning
as a large dolly - positioned in the farleft lane of four lanes of cars stopped in
gridlocked traffic. Speakers were spread
out along the road, blasting a recording
of the song for the performers.
"It was a logistical nightmare, but
it was fun," Sandgren recalls with a
laugh. "Many times we had these huge
66

January 2017

challenges and had a hard time believing we could actually do it, but we struggled through." In the case of the freeway
scene, they got what they wanted after
many attempts. Indeed, 25 takes were
required for the Steadicam shot, leaving
everyone - especially Robbins -
exhausted.
Another challenge was capturing
a scene in which Sebastian and Mia,
after a movie-date viewing of Rebel
Without a Cause, drive up to Griffith
Observatory, which is featured in that
film. The crew had one day to shoot
exteriors and interiors at the location,
including a 360-degree Steadicam shot
inside by the Tesla coil as the lovebirds
begin a waltz.
"We were really restricted in
terms of what we could do in there,"
Sandgren recalls. "It was a very tricky
lighting situation." The art department
ended up adding some practical wall
pieces that matched what was already
there, attaching dimmable 75-watt
household bulbs to them. The crew had
two Joker-Bug 400-watt HMIs with 1⁄2
Plus Green hidden behind two small
walls and directed at the ceiling.
They were also able to hide some
lights on the ground, including 1K Par
American Cinematographer

cans with 1⁄2 CTB and an Arri 4K
HMI Par, the latter of which was placed
behind a wall the art department had
built that was put in front of an existing
kiosk. The production placed 1,200watt HMI Pars with 1⁄2 Plus Green at
either end of the corridors and daylight
Kino Flos with Full Plus Green wherever they could.
Inside the planetarium, the two
become airborne - in fact, pulled by
wires - and dance across the cosmos.
The location was re-created on stage
with a bluescreen illuminated by Kino
Flo Image 85s with super blue tubes.
The crew otherwise lit from above with
24 Chauvet Colorado RGBA LED
Pars behind Light Grid Cloth, onto
which they projected images of the stars
that would later be added by the visualeffects team. This provided lighting
programmer Christopher Ferguson a
guide for adjusting the color and brightness of the LEDs to match the shifting
light from the various eventual CG
celestial objects. Hazen notes, "I also
had 20 1K tungsten Pars with 1⁄2 CTB
gel for a cooler feel through the Light
Grid to give us more light level overall,
also controlled on dimmers."
For the back half of the waltz,



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - January 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 7
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American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48a
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 48b
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