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Interesting to hear, as Greg said, that they were set on shooting 65mm film at first, Sher said it was too expensive among other things (the film has a 55 million budget though, is it THAT expensive?) and that they were on 35mm film for a while until some requirements of the film (the way the film is shot, Joaquin needing that freedom, very low light levels, focus pulling, not having to wait for dailies) pushed them towards the Alexa 65. I remember Phillips saying after War Dogs (that was shot on the Alexa, he'd only shot film with Sher before) that he'd never shot digitally again and didn't like it, so this is a surprise. 

He apparently warmed up to the idea in tests. 

The film, from trailers, is gorgeously shot, and they added a ton of grain in post but I still feel it would have looked better on 35mm, no doubt, although it probably wouldn't be the way it is obviously in terms of design, and for what the film required. It's interesting to see because Ben Affleck was also kinda coaxed into shooting on the Alexa 65 on Live By Night when he's a die hard celluloid fan, I wonder why. 

Edited by Manu Delpech

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Well it seems the problem in the case of Joker was simply low-light, real locations and one-off adlib performances captured sometimes with one camera, that if were out of focus, may not be able to be duplicated. So both picture AND audio had to be "one take" perfect. He also mentioned in the podcast, no rehearsal. This is a huge no-no with film because in low light especially, it's impossible to get focus perfect on film cameras through the viewfinder. There are just too many variables. So when you look at all of it, you then realize, hey... there is a good reason to shoot digitally.

Now, many filmmakers have mixed Alexa with film before, sometimes one shot after another. So they COULD have shot those critical low-light and performance moments on digital and than moved to 65mm for the bulk of the story. However, the cost of doing that is tremendous when you're working on a big hollywood movie. So 35mm would have been the cut off and honestly, even with 35mm the Alexa 65 is a noise-free image comparison. 

I understand the reason to use digital in specialized cases like this and I applaud their attempt to use 65mm, which is not easy in any way. 

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The reality is that Larry Sher always wants to shoot large format, digital. He likes the workflow and the immediate feedback of what you see is what you get. That’s been our method for several pictures now. GODZILLA is the perfect example of Larry’s preference for digital since we shot Alexa 65, anamorphic. Todd, on the other hand, was more comfortable shooting film and preferred to shoot on 65mm celluloid. In the end, between Larry pushing for digital and the studio, Warner Bros,  to say that film would be too expensive to shoot since the studios are already set up for the digital workflow, especially for post. That’s it. I for one was very grateful to shoot digitally since we could see exactly what we were doing. It was very complicated photography (6K at a T1.3 to a T2) and we were much more successful at it than we would have been had we shot on film. 

G

Edited by Gregory Irwin
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1 hour ago, Gregory Irwin said:

 It was very complicated photography (6K at a T1.3 to a T2) and we were much more successful at it than we would have been had we shot on film. 

I mean, people have done exactly what they wanted to do on 16mm and 35mm before. Since we have options today, people are more willing to use them, rather than force an "ideal" onto the DP. I think the Alexa 65 looks good and the film prints should be pretty nice. I'll be seeing it this weekend and am looking forward to it on 70mm. 🙂

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5 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

 Since we have options today, people are more willing to use them, rather than force an "ideal" onto the DP. I think the Alexa 65 looks good and the film prints should be pretty nice. I'll be seeing it this weekend and am looking forward to it on 70mm. 🙂

It was the DP’s ideal to shoot Alexa 65. 

G

 

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2 minutes ago, Gregory Irwin said:

It was the DP’s ideal to shoot Alexa 65. 

I meant the directors "ideal" was shooting film of some kind and he was trying to force film onto the DP who basically turned around and said no. 

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12 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I meant the directors "ideal" was shooting film of some kind and he was trying to force film onto the DP who basically turned around and said no. 

Ah. Understood. I hope you enjoy it  

G

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Good explanations yeah, it makes sense from what Larry says in the podcast of course. Doesn't sound at all like Todd forced Larry to go film though. Greg explained it to me before and the film wouldn't be the way it is on film obviously.

 But isn't the Alexa 65 rental rate + the workflow pipeline kind of equally as expensive as 65mm film would be? That's the kind of thing I wonder about, other films shot on Alexa 65 and it's gotta end up being more expensive than 35mm, unless it's a necessity too, although I don't think so for certain of those films. 

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On 10/5/2019 at 7:57 AM, Gregory Irwin said:

It was very complicated photography (6K at a T1.3 to a T2) and we were much more successful at it than we would have been had we shot on film. 

G

Ouch!

How the hell did you manage it Greg? I imagine that would be a nightmare without something like the Lightranger 2 onboard.

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The film itself was really good. Cinematography was excellent, acting was excellent, I even liked the pretty basic story. It's just an over-all great movie, met all of my expectations and I think will do very well in the box office. The 70mm print was excellent, very consistent color wise and literally no noise. Only reason anyone would know it was shot digitally was from motion blur and some of the over-exposed sections were very digital looking. Still, nothing bothered me, it was just super fine filmmaking. I hope it does really well in the box office. 

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I do really wonder if AF will start to be introduced into cine camera,s.. everything is going to go FF for sure.. The  FF 6K sensor Fx9 is coming out with optional A7 type AF and face detect ..with customized speed and sensitivity..  obviously not for all situations ..  and I really thought I would never be saying this.. but the face /eye detect on the A7,s is pretty impressive and nothing like the contrast based AF of a few years back .. used wisely definitely a valuable tool..

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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10 hours ago, Mark Kenfield said:

Ouch!

How the hell did you manage it Greg? I imagine that would be a nightmare without something like the Lightranger 2 onboard.

Hi Mark,

I’m actually not a fan of the Lightranger. For me, it reduces focus pulling to the same as playing a video game when you have to keep the overlay bars over the subject. It takes all of the story telling intuition out of play.  I keep it pretty simple. I use a Preston FIZ, a Small HD 1303 monitor and for Joker, a cinetape. Now I use the CRT Focus Bug system. It’s much better than the cinetape and simple. 

G

121D7379-163B-494A-AE07-D8860CCF6866.jpeg

Edited by Gregory Irwin
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43 minutes ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Shooting with Venice sir.. ?   

Ha! You’re right! The image is from my last picture, HILLBILLY ELEGY. Netflix directed by Ron Howard. Good eye Robin!!

G

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Just saw JOKER. I couldn’t be prouder of our work and of the movie. $234M worldwide opening weekend. Not too shabby!

G

Edited by Gregory Irwin
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7 minutes ago, Gregory Irwin said:

Just saw JOKER. I couldn’t be prouder of our work and of the movie. $234M worldwide opening weekend. Not too shabby!

It's nice to be proud of a GOOD movie you were involved with. It's happened a few times to me and it's so rewarding. 🙂

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Phew, just magnificent. Did not disappoint, I feel a lot of the controversy is clearly, as expected, overblown. This FEELS like a film straight from the 70s, 80s, just feels right. It looked gorgeous on the giant laser IMAX screen, there's really something to seeing a 1.85 image blown up this big combined with the super shallow DOF and the resolution of the Alexa 65. It felt also more "filmic" on such a giant surface than it does in the trailers obviously. I find that the Alexa 65 takes on an even more interesting dimension on a giant canvas, I'm still team film of course but the added grain here made it feel right and had it been shot on film, it wouldn't be the same philosophy. I would have gone even heavier on the grain though but that's just me ^^

The focus pulling is impeccable Greg ^^ must have been challenging but the free flow nature of it with Joaquin (did he have marks?) going where the inspiration takes him is really special. There's just something about the way the film is shot in addition to the look that makes it even more mesmerizing. He's superb, and I'd say the only film where he's even "better" (if there's such a thing at this level) is Her. It's a provocative, mesmerizing (once again), hypnotic film, the violence is so visceral and real, it's probably what causes this wave of hysteria among the media (and it's crazy to see so many of them manufacturing fake drama on the film these days). I just felt for Arthur all the way, and that's where you know that Phillips and Phoenix (and everyone else) did such a great job, having the nervous laughter be a condition is a stroke of genius, he's in so much pain when trying to contain it, and seeing what happens next and where the film goes, it's virtuoso filmmaking. 

Edited by Manu Delpech
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2 hours ago, Manu Delpech said:

 

The focus pulling is impeccable Greg ^^ must have been challenging but the free flow nature of it with Joaquin (did he have marks?) going where the inspiration takes him is really special. There's just something about the way the film is shot in addition to the look that makes it even more mesmerizing. 

Thank you for the kind words.  The focus pulling was challenging but also very rewarding.  When all involved understood the the burden that I was placed under to keep shots sharp on an A65 at a T1.3, I felt very liberated and free to improvise as much as Joaquin was.  Every take in the movie was improvisational and Geoff Haley ("A" camera operator) and myself simply went where the story took us.  It was better that we had no rehearsals or marks.  We didn't know what was going to happen till it had already happened.  That is our favorite way of working.  All of the David O. Russell pictures we have done together in the past, really got us into this mental state of accepting the cinematically unknown and welcome the challenge as opposed to dreading it.  This helps elevate the story telling aspect of our contributions to the picture. I'm very pleased with the results.

G

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Oh man, this is really cool to read, I'm a huge David O.Russell nut too (I sure hope he officially announces his next one soon, he mentioned he was writing something for Jennifer Lawrence earlier this year, I'm bummed his Amazon series was scrapped) and LOVE the style and energy. 

Phenomenal job from everyone involved, the look and feel stand out.

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Saw it today. Noticed that it does actually look like a film, and I mean that in the best possible sense of the word, rather like a film from the period in which it is set. There's actual contrast, a bit of bite. Frankly, it reminded me how gutless a lot of movies look these days. There's darkness without suffering mush and muddiness.

Many technical things I could obsess over, but in general hats off to all involved.

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