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Christophe Collette

300 the Movie

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i thought this was a great film, but I didn't like how the blood looked. It looked very cgi-ish and was always little blobs and didn't vary in shape enough to me, anyone else notice that?

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The Cinefex article mentions that they spent a lot of time making the blood look the way it did in the original graphic novel, deliberately not realistic. But they also tried to make it less "high tech" CGI-looking; they wanted it to look like the splashes of ink that the illustrations used.

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Beautiful film!

 

Minor quibbles...

 

An arrow bolt in the hero's leg on the final overhead shot moves from just above his right knee to just below his crotch in the final dolly out - I spend too much time working in SFX :-)

The God character size was not consistent - he went from about 15ft to 12ft and back again but maybe this was intentional

The "gladiator" references really bugged me- why put the girl in a field of wheat (when the messanger comes) - put her on the rock (infertility) or in an orchid (growth) - the same with the dodgy politicians.

The bad guys could have been more dimensional

 

but otherwise fantastic movie

 

thanks

 

Rolfe

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I was pleasantly surprised by the many errect nipples in this film, didn't know that was allowed in a Hollywood. ;)

 

I thought the look absolutely worked, loved the texture that the grain added. The story is another matter though, I think it fell completely flat.

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saw it yesterday and enjoyed it very very much. The movie got bad reviews from the two biggest Italian newspapers, clearly showing how seriously a movie critic can take himself and completely miss the point about pretty much everything.

 

The story was quite flat, but I already knew that (I read the comic book..ehmm...the graphic novel, long ago), so I was interested in the visual style of the film more than everything else, and it kicked ass. Great acting, it's the first time I see a 100% blue screen movie where the actors deliver strong performances and don't look "lost" most of the time.

 

Congratulations to the crew and cast for creating such a good movie!

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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.

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Larry, was there any grain added in post after the compositing work? Or is all the grain from the original camera negative?

 

Did you ever use lens diffusion? I recall some shot of Queen Gorgo that looked like a net was used, or maybe it was of Xerxes.

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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.

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Once again, we have the opportunity to receive feedback from active and innovative cinematographers, who just happen to be ASC members, man this is so great! My humble thanks to you both Mr. Fong, and Mr. Mullen for sharing your experience and expertise.

 

I sense the winds of change are a blowin'

 

K.

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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.

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Either way Mr. Fong, I cant agree more with Krystian. We are really spoiled and blessed to have such talented artists like you and Mr. Mullen who are so open and willing to share you experience and knowledge. BTW have seen 300 three times and I am still in awe of the visuals. I am not sure if this has been asked, but did you photograph the rain/water live or (for instance the shot of Gerad standing on the cliff holding his shield to block the water) was that done in post. I have never seen rain look so good. Also did you use alot of speed ramps for those amazing action sequences or was that also post? Finally, what lamp did you find yourself using the most on this film when it came down to shooting closeups and in what configuration (i.e. 2k bounced off a card through 250)?

 

Thanks

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Larry, since you shot a lot of the movie at 150 fps, which is nearly a 3-stop loss, did you light the sets in general to, let's say, f/5.6 at 24 fps so that you'd be at f/2 for the 150 fps shots? Did you speed ramp or just pull frames from the 150 fps footage in post for a ramping effect? Or both?

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300 has definitely inspired me; in so many different ways...I won't bore you guys with the details but my creative life started with me wanting to be an artist using pencils, charcoal and paint (acrylics) and I was pretty good, even had a scholarship offer at one point, but literature, poetry and film drew me away.

 

I find myself re-entering, if I may describe the experience as such, that older frame of mind and wanting to connect my desire to create good cinema with the original drive I had to just create, which for a while now have been at odds with one another...300 has shown me a way to accomplish a fuller, more honest, realization of my internal desires.

 

I used to think of myself as an artist, and then stopped because I didn't draw or paint anymore and thought of myself as a filmmaker - even though I did use that word art or artistic when I spoke about film. Now, its like a door I had shut just opened and all these ideas are pouring out of it as I realize there is no difference, it was simply a state of mind I had imposed on myself.

 

Well, to cut a long story short, lol, yes I have been inspired. Both by 300 and as I mentioned before, by Mr. Mullen's work and creative genius. As Ricardo has said, we are all spoiled by your sharing but in this case, we are the better for it.

 

I'm also curious about the questions both Ricardo and Mr. Mullen posed to you, and I find myself learning by the questions asked as much as the answers you provide.

 

My humble thanks once again.

 

K.

 

PS: ASCNOT, wow I actually belong to that group, lol :-)

Edited by Krystian Ramlogan

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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.

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I've always been curious as to how you would handle exposure on a real time speed ramp? I guess doing it in post eliminates that challenge.

You can set up the camera to compensate with either the shutter or the stop or both.

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You can set up the camera to compensate with either the shutter or the stop or both.

As in a camera feature? never heard of something like that. I love the effect, but the only way i could pull it off on my equipment is to ride the apeture and frame rate in perfect harmony... and i don't think it would work out well unless i got lucky.

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The camera needs to have an electronic shutter, but even if it doesn't you can still compensate with the stop alone. Both Arri (WCU I think) and Panavision have equipment which handles this stuff. It's quite a simple operation actually.

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But for the most part the grain was 'real', on the negative.

 

I loved the texture of the grain. Especially in these days when flat clean look is so popular. I'm also really happy to see it was on the negative and not strictly digital grain.

 

I'm sure it was really difficult to keep consistent across so many lighting setups and speed ramps, but you did an excellent job.

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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.

I was somewhat surprised to hear that 300 was shot on film. From what I have read, the DI was only 2K, and I would have thought a movie that was virtually all CGI would be a natural project for the Genesis or similar., which work better with less light.

 

What was the reason they decided to use film? Was it just because so much of it was overcranked?

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What was the reason they decided to use film? Was it just because so much of it was overcranked?

 

I think that was the main reason, to be able to shoot at 150 fps. That and the rougher texture of film -- maybe it looks more "manly"... ;)

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I just want to add my thanks to Mr. Mullen and Mr. Fong for their amazing insights into this art form. They are doing a great service for the up & coming generation of young cinematographers. Much appreciated gentleman.

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