The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Return to Table of Contents February 2009 Return to Table of Contents
International Awardee
Just Not That Into You
Page 2
Short Takes
Post Focus
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up

Bailey: When we started production [in fall 2007], the 70-200mm prototype was still being built, and it wasn’t ready for our first week. There’s a scene in which Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson are wandering through the aisles in a drugstore, and Drew is checking out different sprays and talking about the hazards of dating. The camera dollies across the aisle and then does a slow push-in on her. That move — across and in to a close-up — was to be done in one shot. Ken Kwapis and I had been planning the day’s shoot to get that one shot, and we had to keep shooting around it because we were literally waiting for Phil to bring the prototype lens from Panavision. We had the dolly tracks laid, and I’d laid out the shot with my finder. As soon as Phil showed up, we slapped the lens on the camera and did the shot. That was a very specific shot I would not have been able to do with any other lens — I wasn’t able to move the camera in close enough on the dolly to get that shot. Subsequently, a lot of the moves from over-the-shoulder into a single, or from a three-shot into a tight over, were done with that lens.  

How would you have shot this film before these zooms existed?  

Bailey: We would have had to lay a lot more dolly track, make corrections on the track, or re-mark the actors a lot more. As actors work from take to take, their natural instincts tend to bring them in closer to each other, but it’s not so easy to make a correction if you’ve got dolly moves along a fixed path on rails and are on a fixed lens, so you tend to get sloppier, looser compositions. You don’t want to change the actors’ marks because they’ve got the rhythm of where they’re playing. With the short-range zoom lenses, I just ask the operator to tighten the composition by 5-10mm. That’s been very helpful in maintaining the intimacy and integrity of the compositions we originally set up.   

Also, the zooms are quicker. If you’re using fixed lenses, you have to take out the matte box, take out the lens, put on another lens, change the donut and the lens rods. It’s not that it takes so much time, but at times, it can break the actor’s flow. When I want to keep the dramatic focus together, having the ability to change focal lengths without changing lenses makes a big difference.  

How did you approach the night scenes?  

Bailey: On most night street locations, I was working at a T2.8 or T3 with the 40-80mm. When I got in close for coverage with the longer lenses, I’d add a bit of supplemental light and build it up to a T3.5. Or, if I were in a real problem, I would just force-develop a stop — there are four or five shots that were force-developed. My normal rating is very conservative; I overexpose by about half a stop, anyway.  

In the scene in the drugstore, we were shooting at a T4-4.2 using the 70-200mm, which is a T3.5 lens. Panavision originally hoped it would be a T3 or even T3.2, but it didn’t work out that fast. But it’s fine. The great thing about shooting full aperture, which you do with anamorphic, is your field of information is so large that even when you force-develop a stop, you’ve got very high-quality images.  

Did you keep the zoom lenses on the camera most of the time?  

Bailey: Our lenses included some Primos, a few E-Series and C-Series lenses and a 3:1 [270-840mm] zoom, but the two new zooms are so good I kept them on almost all the time. I switched back and forth from one to the other. Keeping the same lens on not only saves time, but also eliminates the question of having to match lenses. Your shot-to-shot color and density balance is perfect. I didn’t feel at all compromised in terms of the resolution of the lenses. In fact, I think the 70-200mm is sharper than most prime lenses. I almost always put some diffusion on it! If I were doing an action film, I’d probably shoot it straight, but for women, I always put slight diffusion on it — black nets or [Tiffen] White Pro-Mists or a combination of the two. If you use the right diffusion, you can cut the edge without making the lens seem soft.   

Have any other developments bolstered the viability of anamorphic in recent years?  

Bailey: Kodak’s Vision2 stocks have made a huge difference. You have that extra speed and finer grain and can force-develop without being compromised. Also, the advances made in intermediate stocks are absolutely fantastic. When I’m doing an A-B, trying to match quality between a print from the original negative and a fourth-generation release print, they’re very close. You don’t have the loss in quality from answer print to release print that you used to have.  

You did a digital intermediate on He’s Just Not That Into You, and you’ve written in these pages that you’re not a fan of the DI process. How was your experience?  

Bailey: New Line told us when we were in prep that we could finish photochemically, but they changed that right at the point where we would have been starting the process. Because the film is anamorphic and had a very highly resolved image, Ken and I argued that we should not be forced to do a DI — particularly a 2K DI — but New Line made us do it.  

The matter was further complicated by the fact that I was in New York on another film when the time came to do the DI. I had a great deal of support from Ken, from [colorist] Stefan Sonnenfeld at Company 3, and from our New Line executive, Rick Reynolds, but I was still 2,500 miles away. I flew to Santa Monica on the weekends to look at what had been done and give notes, but I ultimately had very little control. Stefan and Ken did a really good job, and I’m happy with their work, but the film still doesn’t look the way it would have if we’d finished it on film. For instance, I feel the gamma is a little flatter somehow; it should have had a more dramatic look. Company 3 has a wonderful process, but I feel that a negative [struck from] a DI doesn’t have the same luminosity or transparency that a film-to-film finish has — and it certainly doesn’t have the resolution! I’m looking at a print from a 2K video master, and I’d say the original 35mm anamorphic negative is equivalent to at least an 8K digital file. As far as I’m concerned, using a DI on an anamorphic film is like down-rezzing your image from 35mm to 16mm.  

Even though I’m not able to do the power windows and secondary color-control when I answer-print on film, there’s a satisfaction I have in maintaining the workflow on film all the way through. Every time I’ve done a DI, no matter how good the colorist is, I feel an increasing disconnect. When I shoot, answer-print and release on film, I feel a more immediate connection with my work, and for me, that’s very important.




Anamorphic 35mm

Panaflex Platinum, Gold II

Panavision lenses

Kodak Vision2 500T 5218, 250D 5205, 50D 5201

Digital Intermediate

Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

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