American Cinematographer - August 2014 - 56

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Bad Blood

September and required 22 shooting
days, plus five additional days of
reshoots that lasted into early
November. (New York exteriors were
shot by a New York-based unit on the
weekends.) Del Toro co-wrote and
directed the pilot, then kept tabs on the
rest of the season as executive producer
while directing the horror feature
Crimson Peak. Varese stresses that Del
Toro's influence was felt in all departments throughout production. "He
designs everything down to perfection,"
the cinematographer says.
Describing the series' visual style,
Varese offers, "This is a world that's
about to end. The vampires are taking
over, so nothing is pretty; everything is a
bit gritty, sordid and disturbing." The
series is dark, but each scene has a signature color or two: The Master, a merciless creature with grandly sinister
ambitions, brings cyan into his environments; the basement of the pawnshop
owned by vampire hunter Abraham
Setrakian (David Bradley) is heavy on
green and warm tones; and the office of
Goodweather's marriage counselor is
amber.
Working with production
designer Tamara Deverell, Varese says
he and Del Toro gave each set "a specific
look based on the story and what we
56

August 2014

wanted the audience to feel. Once we
established our bases, the shorthand was
simple. For skin tones, [non-vampires]
are usually lit with 'regular' light so you
can recognize that they're human. But
everything else has a twist."
Varese gathered his lighting notes
in a "look book" that provided easy
aesthetic reference for the other cinematographers and the crew. For example, scenes involving The Master
required Rosco Storaro VS Amber and
VS Cyan lighting gels. Indeed, Varese
and Phillips spent a lot of time testing
gels, which were used throughout the
series. "We used many different saturations of cyan," Phillips notes. "If you
start getting into saturation that's too
heavy on the faces, you lose the skin
tone and facial structure."
Early on, the decision was made
to shoot with Red Epic MX cameras,
recording Redcode Raw in 4K with a
5:1 compression ratio to 128GB or
256GB Redmag SSD cards; the Epics'
ASA setting was kept at 800. Varese
explains, "This project lent itself to the
Epic. Guillermo was very comfortable
using that camera on Pacific Rim, and
the Epic is well suited to the saturated
colors we employ in the series."
The pilot was shot predominantly
with the camera mounted on a
American Cinematographer

Steadicam operated by Gilles Corbeil,
another veteran of Pacific Rim. (Later in
the series, when Corbeil left to work on
Crimson Peak, he was succeeded by Rudy
Katkic.) "Guillermo wanted to establish a
very fluid camera," says Varese. "It's
moving constantly. And the CDC guys
are always on the move. Whether they're
chasing something mysterious or
running from it, they're never static."
Sim Digital provided the show's
camera and lens package, which also
consisted of four Angenieux Optimo
zooms - 24-290mm T2.8, 15-40mm
T2.6, 17-80mm T2.2 and 28-76mm
T2.6 - and two sets of Arri/Zeiss Ultra
Primes. The crew worked mostly in the
20-50mm range. "For Guillermo, a closeup is 50mm," Varese notes. "That's how
he sees the world. In his coverage, nothing is too close or too tight." Per Varese's
look book, close-ups of the vampires
would also incorporate a Chocolate 1 or
½ filter to "enhance the leathery quality
of their skin, and to produce a more vivid
effect on the decay of their skin tones and
the violet of their veins."
True to the tradition of vampire
lore, the creatures are susceptible to
sunlight. To help set the appropriate
tone, the entire 72-minute pilot takes
place at night. The action begins as a
Boeing 767 prepares to land at John F.

LRX photo by Doug Black, courtesy of Scotti Phillips.

Left: The pilot episode's airport tarmac set was staged at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Right: One of the LRX Mobile Robotic Lighting Systems used on the tarmac. Opposite: This lighting
diagram illustrates how Varese and Phillips approached the airport set.



American Cinematographer - August 2014

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American Cinematographer - August 2014 - 1
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