The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
Return to Table of Contents
Return to Table of Contents July 2008 Return to Table of Contents
The Dark Knight
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
A Hybrid Finish
Get Smart
Short Takes
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up

The iconic Battersea Power Station was the setting for several scenes, including a giant explosion. Again, the vastness of the building meant that lighting the entire expanse was impossible, and 20Ks and ¼ Wendy lights were scattered about strategically to indicate the structure’s outlines and lend some depth. “We planned a really massive fireball, and Wally didn’t want to overexpose and lose the detail of the explosion,” says Evans. “So instead of shooting wide open or near, we were going to shoot with a T4.5 or T5.6. That meant instead of one full Wendy on a cherry-picker, we needed much more.  

“Also, because the scene is in Imax, you see so much area,” he continues. “We had to have a lot of light, and we needed to get it up to where the shadows would be at the proper angle. We ended up rigging four Wendy lights together and hoisting them 180 feet with a construction crane. A full Wendy is 192 650-watt medium-angle bulbs — it’s the same size bulb used in a Mini-Brute. So altogether, we had 768 bulbs. We anchored the rig with sailing line, which has no elasticity, tied off to two industrial forklifts. We could lock it steady by moving the forklifts.”  

Putting the production in perspective, Pfister notes that one important difference between The Dark Knight and Batman Begins was that the filmmakers had a very successful film behind them this time around. “We didn’t have to worry about pressure from the studio or pressure from the audience in terms of their expectations,” he says. “Also, there were a lot of details we sweated on the first film that we didn’t have to worry about this time — there was much we already knew how to do. That allowed us to really concentrate on the storytelling.”  

As for shooting Imax, he continues, “You face new technical and creative challenges on every film, and eventually, you find a way to overcome them. We were so determined to make this a success that we had to keep reminding ourselves no one had done this before on this scale. We’ve broken new cinematic ground in shooting a dramatic feature using the best-quality image-capture system there is. Chris had the vision and the guts to fight for it, and there were a lot of naysayers all along the way. I think the film proves them wrong, absolutely. I’m grateful to my crew and must also thank the people at Imax, beginning with Greg Foster, David Keighley, Lorne Orleans and Mike Hendricks, for their advice and assistance. I must also mention that a good friend and colleague lost his life during the filming of this movie, [special-effects technician] Comway Wickliffe; he was an exceptional artist whom we will miss dearly.”  

Although Pfister is inclined to add shooting Imax to the list of challenges any filmmaker might confront, Nolan observes, “I don’t know of anybody working on a large-scale film project who’s had to do something so radically different and do it with such efficiency. Wally put together a great team and really challenged them, and the results are truly astounding.”



2.40:1 Anamorphic 35mm and
15-perf 65mm

Anamorphic 35mm:
Panaflex Millennium XL, Platinum cameras
Panavision E-Series, C-Series,
Super High Speed lenses

15-perf 65mm: Imax MSM 9802, MKIII cameras
Hasselblad lenses

Kodak Vision2 500T 5218, 250D 5205

Digital Intermediate for Imax prints

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