The American Society of Cinematographers

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Die Hard 4
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DVD Playback
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The use of soft fluorescent light paid off for the film’s female stars as well. “There’s not much you have to do for Maggie Q and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but fluorescents are a reflective light source that fills out imperfections in the skin,” says Duggan. “Using them as my key lights meant I didn’t need to use any softening filters throughout the film.”  

At the other end of the spectrum, the BeBee Night Light proved to be a favorite for lighting large exteriors and interiors. “The BeBee saved us in many situations where we quite simply ran out of daylight, which is what a BeBee should be used for,” says the cinematographer. “For the last confrontation between McClane and Gabriel, which takes place in a warehouse as Gabriel is getting ready to leave, I used two 15-6K HMI BeBees outside the windows, which were frosted glass. This extended our shooting day by three hours, which saved production time and money.”  

In the movie’s biggest action setpiece, McClane, having stolen Gabriel’s mobile command center, is pursued by a jet fighter that has been sent a false order by the terrorists. The fighter pursues McClane over multiple intersecting freeways, and in the process, the pair wreak havoc. “It was great fun to shoot that,” recalls Duggan. In keeping with the filmmakers’ desire for realism, shots that included Willis were filmed outdoors in front of semicircular 45'x200' bluescreen. The production built a large section of destroyed freeway, the fighter plane, and the trailer section of the truck in real scale. The plane was mounted on a hydraulic motion base that provided 360-degree movement, and the trailer was hung from a 35-ton industrial crane. Willis was thereby able to do many of his own stunts with a safety cable, such as being on the tailfin of the jet, or hanging from the back of the truck.  

To facilitate the digital effects that would tie this sequence together, Duggan and visual-effects supervisor Patrick McClung opted to shoot in the open sun. The cinematographer notes, “By having the jet mounted on the turntable, we could keep it orientated to the sun for shooting, but more significantly, as it ‘banked’ and ‘turned’ on the mount, the visual-effects guys were getting the movement of the actual light and shadows, enabling a much more realistic effect.”  

Deluxe Laboratories in Hollywood processed the production’s footage, and the filmmakers viewed the first two weeks of dailies on 35mm and high-definition DVD. The rest of the time, Duggan had to be content with DVD dailies. “I’d like to see more projected dailies, because things like focus can only be properly judged on the big screen. It’s a matter of being confident that what you’re seeing on the DVD means the negative is the way you want it to be. After two weeks of film dailies, I knew what I was getting. Every couple of weeks, Deluxe would supply me with ‘virtual printing lights’ from the neg without a print.”  

Duggan sums up his experience on Live Free or Die Hard by stating, “On a film like this, you need a crew that is not just enthusiastic and hard-working, but also able to
maintain a sense of humor over a long period of time. A-camera operator Mitch Dubin and B-camera/Steadicam operator Colin Hudson were always looking for creative angles and movement. Jeff Murrell and [key grip] Michael Anderson were incredibly resourceful and backed by great support teams. Throughout the making of the film, even when things got really tough, the whole crew was terrific.”


2.40:1 Super 35mm

Arricam Lite; Arri 435, 235

Cooke, Angenieux and Revolution lenses

Kodak Vision2 250D 5205, 500T 5218

Digital Intermediate

Printed on Kodak Vision 2383 

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