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Larry Fong

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About Larry Fong

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  1. Sorry for the confusion Manu; it is indeed me. My friend Mr. Mullen is correct in saying my 'humor' is often misunderstood--but those who know me get it. It's true I hadn't been to the forum in a long time, and when I did I was confronted by a rather insulting post regarding a project I poured my heart and soul into, which reminded why I don't sign in more often. All cinematographers work extremely hard to do their best and it's unfortunate when our community is disparaging rather than a source of encouragement and support.
  2. Many want the 70mm print screened again (myself included) but, as Tyler made abundantly clear, the movie is horrible.
  3. Again, my apologies for bringing the subject back to cinematography. 1. I remember doing in-camera speed ramps maybe 15 years ago using a Preston speed-aperture computer. It controlled the frame rate via a cable, and the aperture via a geared motor. Very primitive but it got the job done. Then the Arri 535 came out which could do ramps automatically with a Remote Control Unit--the difference being, exposure was controlled via the shutter angle rather than the iris. Because of the 'strobey' effect that appeared sometimes, I didn't like it as much but it was certainly quicker and easier. But it seems the trend over the past years has been speed ramps in post. I can't remember the last time I did it in-camera. Obviously the disadvantage is that you don't know if you hit the button at the right time. The director has complete control over timing, choice of take, etc. if you do it in post. 2. We chose film neither for reasons of resolution nor because it was a 'natural' choice. The reasons were 1) a lot of high frame rate work, and 2) more so, for the aesthetics. Many would argue the logic but like Mr. Whitman said, it's all about choices, and that was ours. 3. Mr. Mullen gives so much of his time and thoughts in these forums that I can't be compared to him. One could learn more from his posts than from film school! 4. I appreciate fetishes of all kinds but may I suggest historicalaccuracy.com for a more appropriate soapbox. I've posted detailed lighting diagrams from '300' there. Seriously though, as a DP, not a historian, I feel my responsibility for accuracy was the graphic novel. Here are MY Xerxes references:
  4. Ricardo, in the shot you wrote about, yes, the rain is real. It was simply a hose with a large fan to provide some wind! A little backlight and a high-contrast treatment went a long way as well. The shot is inspired by a frame in the graphic novel and I did shoot some tests with my digital still camera during prep. All the ramping was done in post (pulling frames). It might've been cooler to do in real-time but the director wanted to be able to choose the best moments later in editorial, which makes a lot of sense. I had to think for a bit about lighting the closeups. Obviously it's never the same twice but because of the large groups of Spartans 'outdoors', I didn't use the usual soft sources close to the subject. Instead I used much larger sources, further away, to cover a larger area, as if you really were outdoors. We often used maxi-brutes bounced into a 12x20 ultrabounce. It worked so well that often all I needed was a little eyelight for the closeups...either from a handheld bounce card or a Kinoflo. David: does nothing get by you? Here's the deal: there was just not enough money to light all the stages for shooting 150 fps all the time. So I had to live with a stop of about a T4 at 24 fps from the top light. This pretty much cut the lighting budget in half. But I also ended up being a bit 'under' using Primos, and even a bit more on the Primo zooms. We tried to pump a little more light in 'from the floor' when we could but it wasn't always possible because of logistics or time. So quite often I worked the film stock to its limits (biting my nails much of the time). I do not recommend this approach to anyone, but there's never unlimited resources so it's just one of those things ya gotta do sometimes to make production possible. Pretty boring stuff I know but it's all part of being a responsible DP. Krystian, I can completely relate to your story. I drew and painted and sculpted from a young age as well and always hoped to be an artist of some kind someday. We are all inspired by the experiences and work of others and I am *extremely* humbled that I could in turn provide some inspiration to you.
  5. So glad to be of help and hopefully inspiration, Krystian...although I am actually only a member of the ASCNOT, which is a huge brotherhood comprised of thousands of members the world over.
  6. David, as I recall, some grain was enhanced on a few shots (and maybe reduced on others) to help with matching. But for the most part the grain was 'real', on the negative. The VFX guys didn't want me to use any lens diffusion. But I believe there was some post 'smoothing' on a few of the Queen shots.
  7. Hey guys, thanks for the comments both positive and negative. And again, my apologies for bringing the subject back to cinematography. All of my decisions were made with the close collaboration of the VFX Supervisor. We viewed film tests together and he approved the 5229 stock, which was suggested to us by Technicolor, who also did the lab work on 'The Fountain'. We liked the latitude, the ability to pull mattes, and we processed normal...although I did not expose for as thick a negative as usual, and that helped get the grain, which we quite liked. Unfortunately, the amount of graininess was not 100% consistent (nature of the beast, not anyone's fault but my own) and VFX helped as best they could. But it's not easy, especially with 1500 VFX shots and ten different companies. Krystian, I appreciate your in-depth analysis. You're right, the director and I absolutely were attempting to evoke theatrical and classical elements in the film (among other things). Every cinematographer has a different way of communicating with his director; in my case, knowing Mr. Snyder for twenty-odd years (starting in art school, as I've mentioned before) has helped me to get into his brain easily and to develop our own verbal shorthand, and I try to get rid of the harder questions during prep so everything is pretty streamlined once we're on set. Zack and I started doing music videos and commercials way back when, which are a great playground to experiment and emulate different styles, as well as play with a lot of different tools, including using three cameras that you mentioned, which has been explained so many times that I won't repeat it again here. I agree with David that the most memorable shots are those that seem like you didn't do anything. Personally I love films shot with elegant simplicity. Two years ago I never would have imagined I could have shot a film with such an extreme look. Neither Zack nor I had any visual precedent. But here's the thing: we're not likely going to do anything like it again. It was right for the that story; it probably won't be for the next one.
  8. Sorry to check into this thread so late guys, but I've really enjoyed all your thoughts! Very insightful. Hopefully I can clear up some things (but this is a cinematography board so forgive me if I stick to the point). Although there was obviously a ton of CGI, the sets were still gigantic. They were the biggest I'd ever lit and it was pretty intimidating! There was months of prelighting. The Sparta set alone barely fit into the stage and it almost touched the ceiling in some places! So make no mistake, this was no 'standing on a green box in front of a greenscreen'. Far from it. About the 'art school' comment...well Zack and I did go to art school together actually. In addition to film, previously I studied photography and he studied painting in London. For the record, my favorite cinematographers are the likes of Conrad Hall, Lubezki, Storaro...but that doesn't mean my work emulates theirs. I'm just not that good. But I do try to carry out the director's vision, and in the case of '300', if you saw the early conceptual art, or the graphic novel, or Zack's storyboards, I think I did a pretty good job (and a daunting one at that), and at the end of the day that's what matters to me. David: as usual, thanks for putting things in perspective. You make a great point that 'Lost' is worlds apart from '300'. Again, it's the nature of the project. Who would even think those two things were shot by the same guy!? Neither are 'my style'...it's what's appropriate. "300 is more like cel animation than cinematograpy"...ouch. Last time I checked, Bambi wasn't filmed with Panavision on stage! Seriously though, I never worked harder or had to pay more attention on a shoot...and had to develop a whole digital work flow to keep me confident things would work out down the line. But that's another topic. Keep up the comments guys, it's very thought provoking. Larry Fong
  9. ...and Greg Lundsgaard did 65mm Steadicam on "Far and Away"...
  10. Thanks for setting the record straight Stephen! That's one of the great things about this forum! BTW I recently worked in Montreal with some crew that shot with you in the past and they had nothing but great things to say about you...
  11. Interesting thread. I can think of many analogies in other fields...CEO's of corporations, general contractors, restaurant owners, race car drivers, the president... My neighbor is a fashion designer, but can also make a pattern AND sew the outfit...I doubt Hilfiger or Calvin Klein can do the same. We all know there are those that got their break through family or friends or money or social position. I'm not in a position to judge but I tend to respect those in any field who have been in the trenches and paid their dues and have real talent. Having said that, I can work a C-stand, know where the latch is on an HMI, and can load a mag...but in fifteen years, have only shot two features--both low budget indies that went straight to video!
  12. Larry Fong


    Sorry for the late response Jake. I'd be glad to answer any questions, although I'm not working on the show anymore (in Montreal shooting a film). Also, if you like I could give Mr. Bonvillain and Mr. Bartley a heads up to get on this forum although I know first hand that the show leaves precious little free time for its DP's! Larry
  13. Larry Fong


    Michael, You're quite right. I never would've signed onto the episodic portion of "Lost" without the rotating DP situation. When I found out Michael Bonvillian, who I'm a big fan of, was available, I was thrilled with the possibilities. Obviously we built on the foundation I laid down during the making of the pilot, but Michael had his own talents, ideas, and logistic contributions that helped the series evolve as well. It was a great mental exercise figuring out how to both keep the show consistent PLUS allow for our individual aesthetics...something the average DP will never get to do, so I count myself lucky. And yes, at least for more and more productions, the rotating DP scenario IS a viable way to keep up the quality in a very short time-frame. For those who may not know, the single-DP scenario means the DP cannot scout any locations before the shooting, or spend much quality prep time with the director. Although it's been done this way forever it sounds pretty crazy and I would feel uncomfortable with it. But I suppose that should make us appreciate all the more, the hardworking, psychic DP's that can, and have, pulled it off in the past as well as the present! Larry Fong
  14. Jon, Yes, I think you have it exactly right. I don't think it's a problem to write something like "We follow John down a dark hallway" but when shots are described in too much visual detail (especially when a location isn't even chosen yet), I think the DP gets kinda bummed out. It's not even that he wouldn't do it your way; it's just that it's kind of insulting. Imagine writing "Then DeNiro is upset. He leans to his right, and a tear comes out of his left eye, and he looks up, then sits down, then sighs. His brow trembles a second later." Give the broad strokes, then let the specialists make you look even better. Larry
  15. Larry Fong


    Hey folks...just found out about this forum...very cool! Actually both the pilot and series of Lost have been shot in 35mm Panavision, thank you very much! 3-Perf letterbox as well, that only HD viewers and/or eventual DVD buyers will be able to enjoy...just think, with the originally intended composition! Maybe one day ABC will join the real world and broadcast in 1:1.78... I heard somewhere else about the Super-16 rumor...anyone know where/why that got started? Larry Fong
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