Tim Tyler Posted September 6, 2022 Share Posted September 6, 2022 Source: KODAK https://www.kodak.com/en/motion/blog-post/nope Hoyte van Hoytema FSF NSC ASC "One of the major challenges on Nope was how we were going to shoot the night-time sequences, which were mainly all big set pieces. When Jordan and I went on the night scouts around Agua Dulce, we saw that there was no available light whatsoever, and realized there was no way we were ever going to be able to light and photograph these large expanses convincingly. "But nature at night is very special and interesting. As we stood there, and our pupils dilated, we started to notice very fine details in the mountain ridges and the expansive presence of the space around us and thought it would be great to capture that essence in the film. "Of course, we could have shot traditional day-for-night, but that has its limitations because you must have the sun exactly in the right place, or we could have tried greenscreen and CGI, but even then, the results can look kind of fakey." Accordingly, Van Hoytema casted his mind back to some of his previous challenges and, with an inspired twist of creative thought, came up with a ground-breaking solution to shoot the night scenes and a pioneering new way of shooting day-for-night using a hybrid of film and digital. As he explains, "When I worked on Ad Astra, we encountered a similar problem when it came to shooting the lunar battle/chase/action sequence with Moon Rovers in Death Valley, and our inability to light up a big area with a single light source. We needed to cover enough distance to be able to shoot the chase, but soft light or double shadows from any sources would have been an awful giveaway. "So with the help of my friend, Kavon Elhami, who runs a camera house, we purchased two decommissioned 3D-stereo camera rigs on which we could mount two cameras. One was an ARRI Alexa, specially customized to capture infrared, the other a regular 35mm film camera. Instead of lining-up the cameras for 3D parallax, we found a new way to align them so that both cameras were shooting the exact same image – one infrared, the other on film – so that every frame would overlay perfectly later in postproduction. “The infrared camera is only sensitive to a very specific wavelengths of light and the images are monochromatic. When you shoot in natural sunlight, with a slight contrast boost, it results in images that are brightly lit, however, the skies are dark. The 35mm camera contains all of the vital color and texture information. In the perfect composite of the two images in post-production, the desert resembled the lunar surface. That meant we got close to the lighting character on the real moon. “So for Nope, I had the idea of scaling up that same kind of rig and using it to shoot our day-for-night scenes in broad daylight – but this time using an ARRI Alexa 65, pointing upwards vertically and shooting in infrared mode, in perfect alignment with a Panavision System 65mm film camera, which was on the horizontal axis. “However, it’s vitally important that the different gates and lenses are identical, that you have exactly the same depths-of-field, that your focus pulls translate in exactly the same way, and that the two images are completely in-sync.” As part of his quest in creating the new day-for-night rig, Van Hoytema necessarily visited Panavison in LA, as the company owns and maintains the small number of existing 65mm cameras. "During the development and test phase we worked with Dan Sasaki, the magician at Panavision, who can build whatever you want, based on his understanding of physics and what is needed artistically," says Van Hoytema. "He made sure the twin sets of Panavision Sphero lenses we used were tuned to be identical in their performance." Development of the specialist rig required a close cooperation between ARRI, Panavision, Van Hoytema and his own development company, Honeycomb Modular, in what he describes as "a beautiful collaboration between amazing people at amazing companies, to solve one person's obsession to do something a little weird and nerdy." "In the early stages, we took a rather shabby-looking prototype rig, held together with screws, cable ties and gaffer tape, out into the desert to shoot tests. My DIT, Elhanan Matos, is not your standard DIT, and when we do new technology like this, he's all over it. He helped in getting the two-camera synched up, and although the video taps on the 65mm camera remain poor, he gave us a good on-set approximation of what the final image would look like. "We then liaised with my DI colorist Greig Fisher at Company3 in LA, mixing those two sets of images together, and the result looked to me like an entirely plausible-looking night. In fact, using this technique you can peer much deeper into the dark expanse than we had done before on Ad Astra. And, after additional lighting effects were added in VFX, our night scenes really came alive. When you sit in the cinema, especially in an IMAX theatre, and you look around the image it’s a very, very special immersive experience." The production-ready day-for-night camera rig proved to be a sizeable, weighty and somewhat unbalanced lump, and it still needed to be motivated for visual storytelling purposes. "We didn't want to be limited in terms of how we would move the rig around," says Van Hoytema. "So I worked with Dean Bailey and his team at Performance Filmworks, to work out how it could be adapted to fit on their various gyro-stabilized Edge cranes vehicles. I’ve worked with them before on Tenet and Dunkirk, where their vehicles had to drive over extremely rough terrain, and I had the same ambition to put this rig through equally rough stuff. "They worked really hard to adapt their stabilized head for the rig, and all-of-a-sudden, we had the ability to drive everywhere – we could follow running horses and shoot other dramatic action scenes. It became a wonderful, crazy tool that was capable of giving us shot after shot that you might have thought were impossible and probably have never seen before." As for the ramifications for other filmmakers, Van Hoytema says, "I think it's something that can, and probably will, be used more and more. Right now, through Honeycombe Modular, I am developing a new device that will enable you to use just one lens for two cameras, meaning that the rig can be much smaller, and any lens artefacts translate into both formats making post easier." 6 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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