American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 74

Filmmakers' Forum
A behind-thescenes shot from
the making of
Life, on which
cinematographer
David Stump,
ASC put the
pioneering lightfield capture
system Lytro
Cinema through
its paces.

Seeing the Light in Life
By David Stump, ASC

Light-field capture, or computational imaging, has been
hailed by many as the future of filmmaking. While we are admittedly
still in the early stages, the technology itself promises to deliver new
opportunities in the way we capture images. I recently had the
opportunity to serve as director of photography on Life, the first short
film captured with Lytro Cinema - a pioneering light-field capture
system that was introduced at NAB this year. This article relays my
experience on the project, shot for director Robert Stromberg, and
serves as an introduction to light-field cinematography for readers
who may not be familiar with the concept.
Preparing for Life
As the chair of the Camera subcommittee for the ASC, and
as a matter of personal interest, I'm often asked to evaluate new
prototype technologies. When Lytro reached out to Robert and the
Virtual Reality Company production studio to assemble Life, I was
asked to be the cinematographer, both through my ASC affiliations
and as the chief imaging scientist at VRC.
The concept for Life was developed and designed by Robert,
and the shots were defined in collaboration with Jeff Barnes, Lytro's
executive director of studio productions, to showcase the capabilities
of the technology. The short is a visual poem that tells the story of a
74

August 2016

boy and girl as they traverse from youth to old age. It was the first
use of the system on a production set - and that along with a tight
deadline for our NAB premiere contributed to making Life a brave
and exciting endeavor.
We knew going in that we needed to present Lytro Cinema
as a practical, production-friendly solution, with images that could
intercut seamlessly with conventional footage, so we decided to
capture half of the shots on the Arri Alexa SXT. I want to relay a big
thank-you to Arri for supporting the project and providing us with
production gear.
Though it will get there very soon, the Lytro camera is not yet
optimal for shooting an entire show or feature, due to the amount
of data and the current size of the camera in its first-generation
state. In its present incarnation the camera is best used for shots that
are visual-effects oriented or otherwise impossible to capture traditionally.
Light Field
I have been following the development of light-field capture
and plenoptics since the first research papers on the topic came out
of Stanford University. There are different approaches to light-field
capture, but the fundamental principles are generally the same. A
light field is a collection of rays of light that reflect off of objects,
generally defined by whatever is in one's view. We interpret these
rays from the points of view of our eyes, which help our brain

American Cinematographer

Images courtesy of Lytro.

I



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
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 23
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
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 44
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 45
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 46
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
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 57
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 58
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 60
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 61
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 62
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 63
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 65
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 66
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - 67
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American Cinematographer - August 2016 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - August 2016 - Cover4
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