American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 20

Top: Duncan (Charles Dance) rides on horseback with the sunset behind him.
Bottom: Stunt coordinator Steve Dent provided the horses.

Cooke S4 lenses; I'm delighted with the
resulting visuals. Working with colorist Lee
Clappison and a FilmLight Baselight at
London's LipSync Post, we later added film
grain in the highlights to help achieve a
celluloid look.
We were fortunate to work in the
beautiful Hedingham Castle in Essex for our
two-day shoot. Although visually stunning,
it was somewhat headache-inducing in
terms of access, since most of our scenes
were shot on the second floor. We lost a lot
of shooting time just getting our equipment
up the stairs. "James assembled an impressive kit for us," says Vincent. "Dollies,
Steadicam, even a crane." Danny Bishop
was once again on hand to help with the
operating.
"We had no money, but had to
gather together some serious elements,"
Vincent adds. "We called in a great deal of
favors. [Stunt coordinator] Steve Dent
provided horses on our first day and stunts
on the second. [Armorer] Terry English
brought his armor up from Cornwall.
20

April 2015

"The day before our first shoot day, it
snowed," Vincent continues. "The castle
location looked fantastic, but as the snow
continued to fall, I realized the shoot was in
jeopardy, as my cast and crew had to travel
out from London the following morning.
Mercifully, the snow ceased at midnight, the
roads were passable, and everyone assembled."
Two feet came to rest on the ground,
but it passed; afterwards, for the remainder
of the shoot, we had beautiful sunshine. I
love these moments of alchemy, when a
potential production problem turns into
something visually stunning.
Inside the castle, we lit predominantly
with real flames, taking advantage of our
lenses' T2 aperture. A lot of the time we had
the actors hold their own torches, which we
used as their key light. Of course, there are
problems that arise with real flame, not least
the need for proper ventilation. Additionally,
flame bars can be quite noisy. Luckily, for
scenes that would play under Macbeth's
narration, we were able to shoot MOS at 48
American Cinematographer

fps, which gave us the opportunity to use as
much practical flame as possible. Gary
Dodkin, our production sound mixer, was
an invaluable asset to the overall film and,
indeed, to me, as the final mix betrays none
of the noise from these light sources.
To supplement the fire, I rigged 40
100-watt bulbs - dimmed right down for
a warm color - to an 8'x4' sheet of wood
and wired them to flicker generators. This
worked well for wider shots, but because
most of the cast wore reflective armor, we
could clearly see this static source in closer
shots.
We also used very small tungsten
and MSR heads, delicately mixing the
sources for our day scenes to emphasize the
fire, and candlelight to add a soft texture.
We further controlled the quality of light
with 4'x4' diffusion frames.
One particular moment stands out in
my memory of the shoot. We were losing
the light, and I made the huge gamble to
do a unit move to the far end of the estate
in order to get the sun setting in the back of
the shot. When you're working with horses
and armored costumes, everything moves
much slower. But we managed to have
Charles Dance (as Duncan) on horseback,
with a glorious sunset behind him. Looking
through the viewfinder, I knew we had
captured something very special. Indeed,
this was one of the most satisfying
moments of my career so far.
Both Vincent and I saw Instruments
of Darkness as a great opportunity to experiment with the look we would employ on
the feature film. Fortunately, it was an
experiment that paid off. The short showcased Vincent's intentions, and all funding
for the feature has now been met. As I'm
writing this, Vincent tells me, "We start
preproduction for the feature this month,
and I can wholeheartedly say that without
the promo, we wouldn't be in this situation.
It was an invaluable tool for attracting
investment, and it was beautifully shot by
James - who will, of course, be shooting
the feature." Good news for me!
‚óŹ



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - April 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 9
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 10
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 11
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 12
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 13
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 14
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 15
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 16
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 17
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 18
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 19
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 20
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 21
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 22
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 24
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 26
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 27
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 28
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 29
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 30
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 31
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 33
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 34
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 36
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 37
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 38
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 41
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 42
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 43
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 45
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 46
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 47
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 49
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 50
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 60
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 62
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 63
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 64
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I4
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I5
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I6
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I7
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I8
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 65
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 66
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 67
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 68
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 69
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 70
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 71
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 81
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 120
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover4
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