The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Hirschfeld, ASC
Post Focus
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up

Nakamura, who several months earlier had graded the Genesis HD feature Superman Returns with Newton Thomas Sigel, ASC (AC July ’06), notes, “The Viper and Genesis are different cameras, but there are similarities that came out in the tests we did in prep. Probably the most important thing was for Harris to understand where you lose detail in the highlights and the blacks, because once you go over the edge in either direction, there’s no way to come back. But because Harris shot everything with such care, that was never an issue. There’s a tremendous amount of range at our disposal in the DI suite when you shoot on film, but having a good, thick negative, a solid image, is important. You have to do the same thing with digital formats. Although the Viper captures uncompressed data, that’s not going to save you in the DI suite if your exposure is off. I’ve seen footage shot with other systems with far less resolution that has much more dynamic range simply because of the cinematographer’s skill.  

“In the DI, David’s desire was to maintain the level of naturalism that Harris captured on the set,” continues Nakamura, who also worked with Fincher on The Game, Fight Club (AC Nov. ’99) and Panic Room (AC March ’02). “David likes darkness, he likes the toe of the film, so we went further in that direction than other directors might. That makes the daylight scenes seem much brighter than they actually are, though in this case the highlights are hotter than they might otherwise be because the Viper doesn’t handle them the way film does. Zodiac really required basic color correction, very few Windows, and probably the least amount of work I’ve done on any of David’s films, and the credit for that goes to Harris.” Savides notes that Technicolor timer David Orr was instrumental in translating the picture’s look to 35mm. “David understands film and has worked with [Fincher] on several projects, including The Game, so he’s attuned to David’s eye for detail. He did a demo for us with some of our test footage, projecting on film and digitally at 4K, and there was absolutely no difference.”  

For Savides, Zodiac’s inconclusive ending is almost a breath of fresh air. “I like the fact that audience will walk away from this movie thinking about what happened to these people. It’s not a happy ending, but there couldn’t be one if we stayed true to our story.” Fincher adds wryly, “The studio certainly would have preferred it if the police had caught the Zodiac. But you can’t change things on a story like this [arbitrarily]. You just have to hope the audience is involved in the characters and the story and willing to go down the rabbit hole with you.”


2.37:1 High-Definition Video

Thomson/Grass Valley Viper

Zeiss DigiPrime lenses

Digital Intermediate

Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

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