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  1. I'm just in the final days of prep for my next feature "90 Minutes in Heaven" with director Michael Polish. This is sort of our "8 1/2" in the sense that we did seven features and one short film together before this. We start shooting on Tuesday here in Atlanta, GA. This movie is being made for the faith-based market and is an adaptation of a book of the same title, written by a minister who was in a major car accident; he was pronounced dead at the scene for 90 minutes before someone realized that he was still alive. He spent over a year in physical rehabilitation due to his severe injuries. During the time his body was trapped in the wreck of the car and he was left for dead, he says that he visited Heaven. So the story mainly covers his experiences starting with the car accident and his long recovery, and the effects it had on his family, plus the recounting of his trip to Heaven. (Four years ago I did another faith-based feature, "Seven Days in Utopia", which was also the last time I shot on film...) We are shooting on the Alexa, in 2K ProRes 4444 16x9 composed for cropping to 2.40. Recording ARRIRAW is out of our budget range, but lately I've seen some movies shot in ProRes on the Alexa that look quite good, such as "The Theory of Everything", so I'm not too concerned. I pitched either shooting on the Red Dragon, the Sony F55, or the Alexa to the director because the costs were similar and some cameras had certain advantages over others (particularly, the smaller cameras would make our car work easier to shoot). But Michael's last feature was a small film shot by Cinematography.Com contributor Jayson Crothers (based on my recommendation), who I think owns an Alexa -- anyway, that film looked great and Michael was very happy with the image from the Alexa. So am I, actually, I've spent the last three years shooting on the Alexa, but I also like to try new things and I hadn't gotten a chance to put the Dragon or F55 through its paces. Some other time... 2.40 was sort of a given, we've used it for all of our films except for the first one. But I don't think Michael is as in love with anamorphic lenses as I am, and with our tight budget and short schedule, it just seemed prudent to keep it simple and stick to spherical lenses and crop for 2.40. I'm having the viewfinder / monitor set-up for near common-top 2.40 / 1.78 frame lines, or what is also called "1/4 Off-Set 2.40". I prefer this to center crop because with similar headrooms between 2.40 and 1.78, your non-letterboxed 16x9 HDTV broadcast version is easier to make and even more important, I don't get into arguments with the sound recordist about having to protect the top of the frame for both 2.40 and 1.78. The only downside to not going with center-crop, other than having to explain near common-top to a lot of people, is that you're not optically centered so zooming straight in requires some tilting to compensate. I used this same 2.40 off-set format in a couple of my 3-perf 35mm features using what was called the "Fincher GroundGlass" at Panavision, made for "The Panic Room". I'm getting a set of Zeiss Master Primes, plus one 24-290mm Ang. Optimo zoom. Alternative Rental is providing the gear. Though I normally shy away from shallow-focus photography, it seems like a good idea to try that look out for this movie because so much of the story involves the main character stuck in a bed, suffering, and the shallow focus will visually isolate him from others, disconnecting him. Hence the Master Primes, which I hope to use around T/2 mostly. I've also got my own LensBaby with me, plus a 45mm tilt-focus lens. The story is set in 1988 and I'll be using very light diffusion, either a 1/8 Tiffen Pearlescent or a 1/8 Schneider Black Frost, just to take the edge off and to get a bit of halation around bright lights, I think this will help for those moments when I want the hot light to suggest a spiritual dimension. I'm planning on creating two LUT's for the image, one that is not far from the normal Rec.709 look (just less yellow-green than ARRI's version of Rec.709) and one that is slightly less saturated with deeper blacks. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to discuss during the production other than the basic technical details of the shoot. These days you sign a lot of confidentiality agreements.
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