American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 54

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Body Language

Top: Hank attempts to get a cell-phone signal. Bottom, from left: Dano, co-directors Daniel Kwan and
Daniel Scheinert, and Radcliffe prep a scene in which Hank and Manny have tumbled down a hill. Dayexterior forest scenes throughout the production were lit almost entirely with natural light.

it believable? How would we make this
relationship work between a man and a
corpse? My first inclination was to fight
against the absurdity of the film by
grounding it in a stark environment,
using hard sunlight and desaturating
most of the colors so it wouldn't lean
toward fantasy. But as the project
evolved, we instead focused on supporting the absurdity of the visuals and structuring them around the emotional
journey of the film. We started bleak and
54

August 2016

minimalist, with flat and locked-off
camera angles and very blunt framing
- and then, as the story unfolds and
Manny comes to life, we introduced
more dramatic dolly pushes, whip-pans
and handheld. The scenes soon become
lit with rich amber fires, moonlight and
flares.
"Ultimately, the approach to avoid
the feeling of a slapstick comedy was to
let it be raw and underexpose it," Seiple
continues, "and to shoot anamorphic to
American Cinematographer

break it up and give it a texture. We love
the work [cinematographer] Tim Orr did
on All the Real Girls [AC April '03]; there's
a beautiful naturalism with anamorphic
lenses. For the more fantastical sequences,
we referenced the vibrant colors and
dynamic camera movement of Dean
Cundey [ASC] on earlier Spielberg films
like Hook or Jurassic Park."
Swiss Army Man was shot primarily
with an Arri Alexa XT, which was set to
4:3 sensor mode and recorded ArriRaw to
Codex XR Capture Drives for a 2.39:1
aspect ratio. The XT was most often fitted
with Cooke Anamorphic/i prime lenses;
Seiple preferred a 50mm focal length, and
75mm for close-ups. "On anamorphic,
50mm is great because it's intimate but
wide at the same time. Especially shooting
in the forest, you want to be able to see the
environment and really take in where you
are. Even on the close-up work, we
wanted the backgrounds to be visible, as
opposed to a longer-lens, dramatic 'doc'
vibe. We tried to stay around T2.8. It
helped with edge sharpness on the Cooke
anamorphics, but still kept some of the
beautiful aberrations. That didn't make it
easy on first AC Matthew Sanderson, as
2.8 on anamorphic is quite shallow."
Cameras were provided by Eastside
Camera Services.
The production limited lens filtration to Mitomo True NDs, which are
Seiple's "preferred choice," he says. "When
you stack most ND [filters], they tend to
shift magenta or green, but True NDs
shift the color cooler or warmer if you
stack them, which is much easier to
correct."
Shooting on a tight schedule
predominantly on practical forest locations, the filmmakers had little time for
lighting. "The plan was to try to control it
to a degree," Seiple says. "The entire scout
was overcast, which was completely workable, but by the time we started shooting,
we had beautiful, vibrant sun every day.
Trying to control that would have slowed
us down too much, so we just picked our
angles and went for it. We had several
[Arri] M90s, but by the end of week one
we decided to dispense with them for the
most part and try to time it out so every-



American Cinematographer - August 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - August 2016

Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - Intro
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 1
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 2
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 4
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 5
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 6
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 7
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 8
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 9
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 10
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 11
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 12
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 13
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 14
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 15
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 16
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 17
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 18
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 19
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 20
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 21
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 22
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 24
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 25
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 26
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 27
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 28
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 29
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 30
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 31
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 32
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 33
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 34
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 35
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 36
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 37
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 38
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 39
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 40
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 41
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 42
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 43
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 45
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 47
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 48
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 49
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 50
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 51
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 52
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 53
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 54
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 55
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 56
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 58
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 60
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 88
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