The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
Return to Table of Contents
Return to Table of Contents April 2013 Return to Table of Contents
Oz the Great and Powerful
Page 2
Page 3
To the Wonder
Presidents Desk
ASC Close-Up

Much of Oz’s topography comprises forests, the first of which Diggs encounters when his balloon comes to rest on the banks of the Whimsy Woods. There, he encounters the good witch Theodora. Naturally, the density of a given forest dictated the crew’s approach to lighting effects, and for Whimsy Woods, Deming created a fanciful, dappled look, hanging four 30'x30' translucent Visqueen cucolori below the Par bars’ Light Grid diffusion. Grips painted the Visqueen with large, dark gobos and cut holes in it so light could pass through. Weighted plastic strips were hung from the bottom of the cucolori to add subtle motion to the shadows. Between the cucolori and the Par bars, Deming used up to six 20Ks and four 20K beam projectors to create highlights around the set.

“For the more virtual stuff, we’d determine where the trees were and make tape marks, knowing that the tree would throw a shadow,” he says. Laviolette adds, “After we marked out our tree or forest, we’d make our shadow play with whatever plants the greensmen brought for us.” A 40'-wide branchaloris pinwheel was often used to create shadows across the set to simulate motion.

Deming opened up the throttle on his application of color to add to Oz’s sense of otherworldliness. “Sam, Rob [Stromberg], Scott [Stokdyk] and I all needed to be comfortable with the level of saturation,” he notes. “The Big and Mini suns were gelled with heavy color. Lee Deep Straw and Golden Amber were a couple of the choices.” Lee 1⁄4 Minus Green was used to take out a small green spike in the Deep Straw. In order to fit the 20'x20' frame for the Big Sun, four complete rolls of a single color were taped together with J-Lar transparent tape.

At night, Oz is dark and contrasty, filled with mysterious fog and ominous shadows, but “we wanted to see our great sets even at night,” says Deming. “That’s very much Sam’s sensibility: moody and dark, but not pitch black. It’s sort of an everlasting dusk.” Deming used Rosco Tipton Blue for most of his night ambience, with 1⁄2 CTB on his fill.

When they spoke to AC, the filmmakers were contractually obligated to stay mum about the look of Emerald City. However, Deming offered this: “It’s a place where evil powers live. They’re not the best landlords, so it’s initially a little rundown, but it’s still a pretty spectacular place.” Laviolette adds, “The brief I was given was that it’s a metropolis, so we designed our approach to not rely much on direct sunlight. It’s a little bit of a New York look: toplight and building bounces.”

Deming captured Diggs’ arrival in Emerald City via long tracking shots down the main thoroughfare. “Diffused toplight was our primary source,” says Sloan, “but then we lined several 12-by-12-foot bounces up along the full length of the stage, capped them off so they wouldn’t fill back, and used 12-by-12 solid siders to keep the bounce going one direction.”

In Emerald City, the witch Evanora reveals that all of Oz has been waiting for a powerful wizard to deliver them from the Wicked Witch, and she speculates that Diggs is that wizard. But the question is, which witch is the wicked one? When Diggs sets off on a quest to find her, he meets Glinda, a witch of the North.

Deming describes the Wicked Witch’s dramatic arrival at Glinda’s courtyard, which was built on one of the production’s larger stages: “The sky clouds over with dark smoke, and there’s a huge lighting change; we go from full sun to overcast in the middle of a shot. We came up with a pretty old-school approach, dousing the Big Sun with heavy diffusion and rigging 20-by-40-foot and 30-by-40-foot black sail cloth on cables that we could slide over the ambient [light] to darken the whole set on cue. We did this several different times for different angles. We were left with a soft overhead that was 11⁄2 to 2 stops down from what we’d been shooting under.”

The Big Sun was dimmed with Full Grid, and the fixtures were then dimmed to avoid burning the rag. On the ground, Deming continued to key with Maxi-Brutes and Mini-Brutes bouncing into 12'x12' frames of white Duvetyn so the actors’ faces wouldn’t go too dark or get shadows in the eye sockets. “About 75 percent of the lights were covered where the action was taking place,” says Sloan. “It was about a four-second transition between raising the Full Grid up over the sun and pulling the solids in under the toplight. It’s subtle; you feel it more than you see it.”

The DI for Oz the Great and Powerful was carried out at Company 3, where Deming worked with colorist Stephen Nakamura. “I did a lot of my color correction on set,” says the cinematographer, “but we gave things a little more mood in the final grade, mainly with foreground shading and vignetting. We did the 2-D grade first, and then we did the 3-D color and convergence pass, followed by Imax 3-D and 2K and 4K filmouts.”

Noting that about 400 35mm prints would be struck for the theatrical release, Deming says he was careful to take that format into consideration before starting the DI. “In prep, we created a look-up table for the visual-effects artists and Stephen that put constraints on the color to achieve our film-emulation color space. Otherwise, we knew there would be issues taking color from a linear space to a film output. It hemmed us in a little bit, but we were fine. This picture has plenty of color!”


2.40:1and 1.33:1

3-D Digital Capture

Red Epic

Panavision Primo

<< previous || next >>