American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 46

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High Stakes

Cajun jockey Leon Micheaux (Tom Payne) struggles with his weight and other issues while trying to make his name on the track.

the production with the Alexas; the Arri 435; a full set of Cooke S4 primes; Angenieux Optimo 15-40mm, 1780mm, 28-76mm and 24-290mm zoom lenses; and an Isco 120-420mm zoom. “About 90 percent of the series was shot on the Optimos, and the 15-40mm and 28-76mm were the workhorses,” Grillo reports. “That worked really well with our time constraints and three cameras; they’re fast, and we could adjust the frame without changing lenses.” In addition, everyone carried a P+S Technik Skater Scope, a snorkellens system that combines macro and periscope capabilities — something of a Mann trademark. “I’ve always had a desire for being in that close,” says Mann, who has used various versions of the system since his first feature, Thief (1980). On that film, he says, “I wanted to be the drill that penetrated the wall of the safe.” “With the Skater Scope, you can get the lens into places that you couldn’t otherwise,” says Dryburgh. “You can change the angle and literally see around corners. As crazy as that may seem, it’s sometimes very useful.”This was
46 February 2012

particularly true in tight quarters such as car interiors. The macro extender provided extreme close-ups of card games, horses at the starting gate, and telling details like the religious statuette tucked inside a jockey’s locker. “We’d often use it handheld or on the Steadicam, then open out into a wider shot,” says Dryburgh. Luck’s stationary handheld shots were often executed with another of Mann’s favorite tools: shot bags. “You take a very long lens and put it on a sandbag instead of a regular camera mount, then try to hold it as steady as you can,” says Dryburgh. “The idea is not to create movement, but to create a shiftiness in the frame. The camera operator tries to keep the frame still, but he’s fighting the equipment to do it.” Grillo recalls doing this for the first time on Ali (AC Nov. ’01), where shot bags were sandwiched between the camera and fluid head. “You just let it balance, so you’re keeping that frame but it’s not as bumpy as it would be on your shoulder,” he says. “It’s from Michael’s love of cinema vérité.” On Luck, this technique was well
American Cinematographer

suited for scenes involving the “degenerates,” four low-life gamblers who buy a horse together after winning a big bet. As Dryburgh notes, “They’re a very offbalance bunch.” By contrast, only smooth camerawork is used for the main character, Ace (Dustin Hoffman). In the pilot, Ace is released from prison after serving three years for taking the fall for some former partners-in-crime. He plots his revenge with the patience of a spider, and in his orderly domain, the camera moves on a dolly or Steadicam. The Skater Scope came into play as well, providing macro shots that suggest Ace’s calculating, observational behavior. “In the scene between him and his parole officer, you can see him clocking all the things in this guy’s office — the photographs, the sports memorabilia,” says Dryburgh. “He’s analyzing this guy, building a profile.” Camerawork of a whole different order had to be developed for the horseracing sequences. Restrictions were stipulated by two parties: the Humane Society and Mann. To avoid spooking the thoroughbreds, movie



American Cinematographer - February 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - February 2012

American Cinematographer - February 2012
Contents
Editor’s Note
President’s Desk
Short Takes: NASA time-lapse footage of Earth
Production Slate: Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseAct of Valor
Saving the Whales
High Stakes
A Very Bad Cop
Cinema, Italian Style
Filmmakers’ Forum: Hiro Narita, ASC
New Products & Services
International Marketplace
Classified Ads
Ad Index
Clubhouse News
ASC Close-Up: Roberto Schaefer
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - American Cinematographer - February 2012
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 1
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 2
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Contents
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 4
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 5
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 6
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 7
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Editor’s Note
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 9
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - President’s Desk
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 11
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Short Takes: NASA time-lapse footage of Earth
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 13
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 14
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 15
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 16
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 17
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Production Slate: Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseAct of Valor
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 19
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 20
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 21
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 22
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 23
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 24
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 25
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 26
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 27
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 28
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 29
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Saving the Whales
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 31
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 32
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 33
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 34
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 35
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 36
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 37
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 38
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 39
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 40
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 41
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - High Stakes
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 43
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 44
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 45
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 46
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 47
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 48
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 49
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 50
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 51
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 52
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 53
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - A Very Bad Cop
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 55
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 56
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 57
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 58
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 59
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 60
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 61
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cinema, Italian Style
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 63
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 64
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 65
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 66
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 67
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 68
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 69
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 70
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 71
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Filmmakers’ Forum: Hiro Narita, ASC
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 73
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 74
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 75
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - New Products & Services
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 77
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 78
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 79
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 80
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 81
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - International Marketplace
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Classified Ads
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Ad Index
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 85
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Clubhouse News
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 87
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - ASC Close-Up: Roberto Schaefer
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover4
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