American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 81

smaller than an Arricam LT, and at ASA 200, with less dynamic range than film, it was actually far less suited for street filming. But it was too late now! How did I know the Red was really only 200 ISO rather than the “official” 320 ISO? In my careful preproduction testing, I lit three stand-ins — an Asian, an AfricanAmerican and a Caucasian blonde — with direct frontlight at ASA 160 at f2.8. I then opened up the lens 2 stops, to f1.4, to see the result at 2 stops overexposed, and then stopped down to f5.6 to see how they looked 2 stops down. I wasn’t planning to light everyone to key, and wanted to see how people would look if they walked into shadow areas or, say, close to a bright window. (In my mind, the true ISO of a camera or film stock is in the middle of the linear part of the gamma curve.) I then set the camera and lighting to ASA 200 and repeated the sequence, and so on up to ASA 500. Then I reviewed the results. One thing to be careful of with the Red is that most experts, including DITs, only see tests or dailies projected at HD resolution, and they make conclusions about the camera’s capabilities based on that limited evidence. If you are going out to film, it is essential to do a filmout test or see the tests/dailies in a tested DI suite, in a DPX file, at 2K resolution or higher. When I viewed my test footage projected at 1080p HD, the camera appeared to have excellent speed, perhaps even exceeding 320 ISO, and if I were aiming for an HD finish, I could rate it at that speed. But when I saw the results at full film resolution, all kinds of noise showed up in the shadows where there had previously been detail. At 400 ISO, the Asian and African-American stand-ins virtually disappeared when they were 2 stops underexposed. A professional-looking result at 320 ISO would have required crushing the shadows, thereby adding contrast. But Twelve wasn’t the stark world of District 9 — I wanted our film to have a smooth, lush look. Thus, I settled on 200 as the fastest usable speed. To get a fighting chance for decent exposure, we took advantage of a feature that film cameras don’t have, opening the shutter to 270 or even 360 degrees. I had to carefully evaluate when the motion in

the shot would allow this without blurring people’s heads into a creepy zombie effect, but the technique came in handy again and again. By using the shutter, working with Superspeeds (and my excellent 1st AC, Rob Koch), picking locations with enough available light, and occasionally ganging up 4x4 Kino Flos, I achieved very satisfying results in the answer print, check print, video master and DCP. On Julian Farino’s The Oranges, I used the Red One with the new Mysterium-X chip, which lived up to its name — even now, after finishing the film, I don’t know what the chip’s speed is. I played it safe by exposing at 320 for day scenes, 400 for night interiors, and 500 for night exteriors. It’s possible the chip is much faster than that, but I couldn’t be sure, and I didn’t want to come up short six months down the line when finishing the film. Why don’t I know? Because in the post workflow recommended by Red, you color-correct the native Red files using either Scratch or Red Cine, and after you’ve set the look, you convert the file to DPX for output to an Arrilaser for film printing. Thus, the entire color space, resolution and film format are changed after you’ve timed it. When correcting my tests in a Red DI suite, it seemed the camera had enormous latitude and speed — even 2,000 ISO looked okay — but when we looked at a filmout at 800 ISO, the print was unusable: no contrast, milky blacks, and so on. This problem might have been “teething issues” in the new DI suite, and it might not have arisen if we weren’t making film prints, but we were, and I couldn’t trust what I was seeing in the digital projection. I went back to Tim Stipan, my excellent colorist at Technicolor New York, to use the traditional DI workflow: first converting the file to DPX and then timing it, so that the file sent to the Arrilaser was the same one we’d been color correcting. This is the workflow we used on Twelve, and there had been no significant difference between the digital file and the answer print. (That’s a tribute to both the state of the art and the fine workmanship at Technicolor.) However, The Oranges was one of the first projects to shoot with the Mysterium-X, and the software to convert the Red file to DPX wasn’t even Beta softwww.theasc.com

ware, but Alpha, and it was changing every week. So I played it safe with the speeds I chose. However, I’m certain the Mysterium-X is significantly faster and has more latitude than the old chip. Its greater sharpness requires less contrast, and this led me to choose Cooke S4s for The Oranges, because we wanted a silky and flattering look. I wanted a similar look for the romantic comedy I shot just prior to The Oranges, Ed Zwick’s Love and Other Drugs. Ed and I chose to shoot on film, and having just finished the DI, I can say that Kodak Vision3 200T 5217 put a lot of rich color in Anne Hathaway’s skin that I doubt would be there in a Red file. The Red, especially with the original chip, tends toward more contrast and less differentiated skin tones that look yellower in tungsten light. (I don’t believe an in-camera filter changes this, and besides, who can afford the stop loss?) Of course, that can be exactly what you want for certain films. Is the Red “better” than film? Of course not. Is acrylic “better” than oil paint? No, it’s just different. On a film project, we typically spend time testing emulsions, filters, processing, contrast ratios and so on, so how can we say that a digital camera looks “like film”? Which film stock? With what lenses? For that matter, why try to make it look like film? If you want the taste of an apple, don’t try to make an orange taste like one. Just eat the apple. You may find that the Red image has a lot of what you like about film, and maybe something of its own, too. And the Red Epic may well be a leap forward. If you choose the Red, I hope it’s for the same reason that Hockney and countless other painters have chosen acrylic or house paint rather than oil: because it helps you achieve the look you want for your particular project. Think of the Red as another “paint” in your palette. Just don’t pretend it looks the same as the one next to it. ●

August 2010

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American Cinematographer - August 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - August 2010

The International Journal of Motion Imaging - August 2010 Vol. 91 No. 8
Features
Cat and Mouse (Salt)
Girl Trouble (Pilgrim vs. the World)
A Magical Manhattan (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
True Colors (Get Low)
Departments
Editor’s Note
President’s Desk
Short Takes: Quiksilver ad campaign
Production Slate: Best-Shot Films of 1998-2008 • The Kids Are All Right
Post Focus: True Blood Workflow
Filmmakers’ Forum: Steven Fierberg, ASC
New Products & Services
International Marketplace
Classified Ads
Ad Index
Clubhouse News
ASC Close-Up: Charles Minsky
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - The International Journal of Motion Imaging - August 2010 Vol. 91 No. 8
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 1
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 2
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 3
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 4
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 5
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 6
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 7
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Editor’s Note
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 9
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - President’s Desk
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 11
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Short Takes: Quiksilver ad campaign
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 13
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 14
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 15
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Production Slate: Best-Shot Films of 1998-2008 • The Kids Are All Right
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 17
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 18
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 19
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 20
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 21
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 22
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 23
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 24
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 25
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 26
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 27
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Cat and Mouse (Salt)
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 29
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 30
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 31
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 32
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 33
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 34
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 35
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 36
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 37
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 38
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 39
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 40
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 41
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Girl Trouble (Pilgrim vs. the World)
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 43
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 44
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 45
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 46
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 47
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 48
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 49
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 50
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 51
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 52
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 53
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 54
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 55
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - A Magical Manhattan (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 57
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 58
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 59
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 60
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 61
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 62
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 63
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 64
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 65
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 66
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 67
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - True Colors (Get Low)
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 69
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 70
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 71
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 72
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 73
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 74
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 75
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Post Focus: True Blood Workflow
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 77
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 78
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 79
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Filmmakers’ Forum: Steven Fierberg, ASC
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 81
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - New Products & Services
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 83
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 84
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 85
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 86
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 87
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 88
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 89
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - International Marketplace
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Classified Ads
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Ad Index
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 93
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Clubhouse News
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - 95
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - ASC Close-Up: Charles Minsky
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - August 2010 - Cover4
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