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Shadowboxer


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After an unusually long period of paid prep (two and a half months) -- well, for me that's long -- I'm about to start shooting an indie feature called "Shadowboxer" in Philadelphia, God willing. We got pushed for two weeks for various reasons.

 

I convinced the director to let me shoot in 35mm anamorphic. His previous two features which he produced (not directed) were Super-35 and then standard 1.85.

 

The line producer had a really tight budget for camera gear but Panavision came through and gave me what I needed -- one Millenium, one GII, a set of Primo anamorphics, two E-Series lenses, two C-Series lenses (for Steadicam), a Cooke zoom conversion to anamorphic, and a converted telephoto. All at an incredible price. Now I hear that there's a big demand for anamorphic this summer -- but I'm not giving up my lenses!

 

I tested 5285 cross-processed for a flashback, using it in combination with a 90mm anamorphic tilt-focus lens. I also tested 5217 and 5218.

 

The day I finished the test was the day I heard we were pushed for two weeks and needed to make a lot of budget cuts. So now it looks like I may be shooting Fuji film instead with no time to test it (but I have enough experience with it.)

 

Now it looks like I will be using Fuji F-64D, F-250D, and F-500T.

 

I'm still using 5285 for the flashback because the 90mm anamorphic is a T/4.5 lens and I'm already fighting with an 80 ASA for a night interior -- I don't want to drop down another stop in film speed and use Fuji Velvia.

 

I may convince them to let me shoot a little 5218 for when I need to push-process because my tests showed that the 5218 pushes amazingly well. I pushed it one stop, rated it at 800 ASA, and it looked just like normally-shot 5279 (and normal for me is 400 ASA for any 500 ASA stocks.)

 

In fact, I was surprised at how lower-con the Vision-2 stocks looked even when printed onto Vision Premier. Looked pretty, creamy skintones, neutral colors, fine-grain, sharp -- but you definitely should light it for more contrast because it can go flat if you're not careful. I'd probably even prefer the look of Vision-2 200T pushed one-stop over 5218 (not that I tested that approach.)

 

I liked my shots best when I used no fill light.

 

Boy, though, the cross-processed 5285 printed on Vision Premier -- THAT'S contrast for you!

 

It was weird during the camera prep because every camera assistant that was there or stopped by was asking "I don't understand why you want to shoot anamorphic!" I think I've discovered the least popular format for camera assistants...

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Why'd you get a Millinium instead of Platinum body (just curious)?

 

Did the story fit anamorphic better or are you concerned about grain

in the super 35 blow up?

 

How well does the Cooke zoom match the Primo primes?

 

Is it your preference to shoot so many film stocks?

 

From your tests will the Fuji/ Kodak stocks cut together

produce a jarring look? Or is that the point?

 

5285 printed on Primier, I'm sure you are exposing for the shadows. Will you have strong spectral highlights?

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I needed two cameras because I'm not in Los Angeles or New York and need a back-up at hand. I needed one camera that was light enough for Steadicam and one that could so high-speeds at crystal-sync. That sort of narrowed it down to the Millenium, which can do 50 fps crystal and is also convertable to Steadicam.

 

If I were shooting non-Panavision, I was looking into the Arri-535B and the Arricam-LT from CSC as my two cameras. CSC also has a Moviecam Compact but without any anamorphic viewfinder, so that got eliminated from consideration. And we would have been subrenting the anamorphic lenses, which then makes it more expensive.

 

At the last minute, Joe Dunton offered us a great deal on a camera and JDC anamorphic lens package but by then, we had already gotten the same deal from Panavision.

 

I don't have a problem with mixing Kodak and Fuji if they are for different scenes. This is a movie with a long visual arc that keeps changing, so I will be varying the filters used as well, along with the colors, so overall consistency is not as critical. We have something like 40 locations in this movie, some neon-lit bars, some dingy hotels, some are homes in the woods, etc. so there is a wide variety of looks anyway. If I shot a dark neon-lit bar on unflitered 5218 pushed one stop and then cut to a white suburban track home with tungsten practicals shot on overexposed Fuji F-500T with a 1/4 ProMist, the look is a big change even if I used Kodak for everything.

 

I used the Cooke anamorphic zoom on "Northfork" and it intercut fine if used on day shots stopped down, or for inserts. I don't plan on using it much anyway.

 

My preference is to never use more than three stocks for a movie. I'm sort of discounting the 5285 since it is for one day of shooting, a flashback. I would have preferred not to carry two 500 speed stocks, but again, using 5218 pushed one stop would be for one scene on one day. So in general for the bulk of the shoot, we're talking about three stocks to keep track of. But originally the plan was to use just 5217 and 5218, two stocks. But with Fuji, I wasn't as comfortable with the idea of using 250 ASA stock for all my day exterior work, although in anamorphic, I'm sure the grain would have been fine. But the F-64D stock is SO nice that I couldn't resist -- I was already tempted to throw in a few rolls of 5245 when it was going to be a Kodak shoot.

 

Hell, the way things are going, it still may end up being one! It's a bit confusing here...

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David

 

What C-Series and E-Series lenses are you using?

 

An educated guess would be a 50mm and 75mm C-Series (for steadicam), certainly the E-Series 180mm, and maybe the 135mm (since the Primos only go up to 100mm).

 

What lenses did Joe offer you? The Milleniums (adapted Cooke S3) or the Speedstars (adapted SuperSpeeds)? I noticed on his website that he has a new set, called 'Mini Crystal', but I don't know if that is a new set of lenses he developed or something that he just put together from existing anamorphics.

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Yes, you pretty much guessed it -- the Primos starting at 35mm up to 100mm. The 40mm and 75mm C-Series. The 180mm E-Series.

 

I asked for a 135mm E-Series but they were out of them so I ended up with a 150mm C-Series.

 

Also have a 200mm Macro.

 

The 400mm Canon (I think), the 90mm tilt-focus, and the 40-200mm Cooke zoom are all rear-anamorphic adaptions. In other words, they began life as a 200mm Canon, a 45mm tilt-focus, and a 20-100mm Cooke zoom.

 

I think JDC was offering me the Milleniums (Cooke S3's).

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Will you be able to pick among several lenses of the same focal lenght the one you like best?

 

As you well know, the quality of the C-Series various greatly from lens to lens. I once compared two 40mm C-Series on a projector and while one was really bad, the other was an absolute great lens, nearly as sharp as a Primo.

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