American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 32

More
Than

Human
Cinematographer Rob Hardy, BSC
details the making of Ex Machina, a
thriller about an A.I. coming of age.
By Iain Stasukevich
*|*

P

hotographed by Rob Hardy, BSC, writer/director Alex
Garland's Ex Machina tells the story of Caleb (Domhnall
Gleeson), a bright young programmer seemingly chosen
at random by his reclusive tech-mogul employer, Nathan
(Oscar Isaac), to be whisked away for a one-week stay at the
latter's wilderness redoubt. Once there, Caleb is enlisted to
conduct a series of Turing tests on Nathan's newly created
A.I., Ava (Alicia Vikander). These tests purport to determine
whether Ava truly bridges the "uncanny valley" by demonstrating intelligence indistinguishable from that of a human,
32

May 2015

but as the tests progress, Caleb begins to suspect other motives
are at play.
Ex Machina was captured with Sony's CineAlta F65
and F55 cameras, which Hardy paired with a mix of Cooke
Xtal Express, Kowa and Angenieux Optimo anamorphic
lenses. "I favor film for no other reason than I just really enjoy
shooting it," the cinematographer offers. In the case of Ex
Machina, though, "film wasn't even presented as an option by
production for economic reasons. But in a strange way, I felt
that the digital format was going to offer me something different, and if there ever was an appropriate time to [use the
format], it was now."
During preproduction, Hardy tested an Arri Alexa XT,
a Red Epic and a Sony F65 before opting to use the latter. "In
the U.K., the F65 was used a little bit on TV but rarely for
features, so even that decision was a bit of a fight at first,"
Hardy recalls. "The Alexa looked great, but it seemed to
negate all of my lens choices. The Red was also great, but it
didn't quite render the landscapes in the way I wanted. The
F65 was the first time a digital format felt different, closer to
the way my eye sees things. In my mind, film had finally found

American Cinematographer



American Cinematographer - May 2015

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

Contents
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 5
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American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover3
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