The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Presidents Desk
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ASC Close-Up

Libatique: We call that part of the story ‘100 Days,’ and at that point, direct sunlight is still nonexistent, so we had a lot of freedom to bounce light. If we wanted to augment the ambience with something directional, we’d bounce Source Fours [Lekos] into a card or some muslin. There were walkways on top of the ark where we could put up a Baby or a fluorescent source, but the light still had to be soft. There is also a shift from a warm-source feel, about 2,000K in ‘40 Days and 40 Nights,’ to a cool one, 3,200K-4,000K. We didn’t necessarily change the light; it’s just that the 3,200K 20K toplight is white light. In the DI, I’m timing ‘100 Days’ a little cooler and more neutral.

Is there an overarching narrative in terms of color and quality of light?

Libatique: For me, the visual language of the film was built around the fact that I knew an entire reel of the movie, ‘40 Days and 40 Nights,’ would be in dark, warm light. ‘100 Days’ would be a reprieve from that, and then, finally, we’d be in bright sunlight when the ark finds land. But we didn’t get sun at the end of the shoot! We didn’t get any consistent weather at the beginning of the shoot; we didn’t get consistent weather in the forest; and we didn’t get cloudy weather for the battle. So, we reacted accordingly and did what we could on the 85-day schedule that was given to us.

You had to plan on almost all the animals and Watchers being CGI. How did you suggest their presence on set?

Libatique: Ninety-nine percent of the animals were CGI created by Industrial Light & Magic. Our special-effects-makeup artist, Adrien Morot, made some prop creatures that we used to create shapes and shadows in the ark. Sometimes we used gags to move the props, and sometimes we put smoke behind them to make it look like they were breathing. For the Watchers, we used physical proxies for composition, and we brought flags in to change the light source, even in ambience. The actors playing Samyaza and Og during production [Mark Margolis and Kevin Durand] wore backpacks with tall sticks on them for height reference. Their performances were the performances of actors, but Russell had to look at a giant disk above their heads instead of at their faces. We shot all the scenes involving visual effects in 4-perf [Super 35mm] and everything else in 3-perf. I was lucky to have a good relationship with [visual-effects supervisors] Ben Snow [of Industrial Light & Magic] and Dan Shrecker [of Look Effects], and even now, in post, they are doing a great job of keeping me informed.

Did you use any digital cameras?

Libatique: We used an Arri Alexa Plus for helicopter plates in Iceland and for wide plate shots during the battle sequence. I liked its clean capture of low ambient light at the end or beginning of a day. For the Creation sequence, we used a Canon [EOS] 5D Mark II to shoot a series of stills that were later animated in a stop-motion style to suggest the passing of centuries.

Is there anything different about your DI process on this project?

Libatique: Yes. Whenever I’ve done 2K dailies and used that scan for the final DI, I’ve always regretted it, because even though that gave us better dailies, it gave us a worse finish. So, on Noah, we used HD dailies and scanned the negative at 3K for the DI, which we’re doing at 2K. That gave us a higher-resolution scan with better detail, tonality and color. I don’t want to just acquire images and say I’ll worry about the quality later. It’s important to attend to every choice in the moment.


Super 1.85:1

Super 35mm (3-perf and 4-perf) and Digital Capture

Arricam Lite, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Arri Alexa Plus

Kodak Vision3 500T 5219, 250D 5207; Vision2 100T 5212

Zeiss Ultra Prime, Angenieux Optimo

Digital Intermediate

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