The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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PresidentsDesk
Entourage
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DawnofTechnicolor1915-1935
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The production lit with HMI and tungsten, and, Rao notes, the team used a complete line of Arri Pars “for their punch and reliability. We were particularly pleased with the M90 Par for its outstanding output-to-size ratio.”

Fierberg says he was striving for imagery that wouldn’t look glamorized. “I hope every scene in this movie looks like you think it would look if you were at that place or event,” he says. “My goal with lighting was to capture and heighten reality, not detach myself from it.” Toward that end, Fierberg avoided backlighting, just as he did on the series. “We also never did coverage or close-ups when we didn’t need them," he adds. "Although we carried two cameras, we set up the A camera as if it were the only camera. Then, if the B camera had an uncompromised shot, it would roll. I feel that when I’m shooting with one primary camera, I can light very quickly. It can be quicker to do a couple of shots one at a time than try to set up complicated — and compromised — positions for multiple cameras.”

Entourage, he observes, was “a sidelight show. By putting the light at a right angle, I didn’t feel the need to fill the shadow side very much. It’s a comedy, but the lighting isn’t like a comedy. We lit it like a drama because we were going for truth.”

Smallwood says it wasn’t uncommon for Fierberg to use a large wall of white on the key side of the actor and an 8'x8' negative on the fill side. “In order to facilitate that,” he says, “Steven and I worked together to devise a lighting system that was quite a time-saver.” For interior lighting in particular, Smallwood made Wag Flags with unbleached muslin that were 8' wide and unrolled to 12' tall. “I took the concept further and made more Wag Flag frames that had Full, Half and Quarter Grid Cloth,” he continues. “We used these 8-foot [wide] roll-ups to create a big bounce and put a diffusion in front of that to create very natural light — a sizable 'book light' — like standing next to a sliding glass door with sheer curtains. That turned out to be a light source that Steven really enjoyed.”

Using large, soft sources could be “difficult to achieve in the average living room,” says Rao. “Luckily, Steven was already aware of the potential of the K5600 Alpha units, so we made use of their amazingly wide spread. We’d fill a 12-by-12 Full Grid Cloth or bleached muslin with an Alpha 4K, and/or we’d cover half a room with bleached muslin and bounce an Alpha 1600 for fill.”

When a space was especially tight, or when the crew was limited to working with wall outlets or a 3,000-watt putt-putt, they opted for a Kino Flo VistaBeam 600 or 300.

A number of LED units were tested during prep — more than a year prior to this writing — “but generally,” Rao recalls, “Steven didn’t like the way they looked on skin tones for this project.” Nonetheless, they were occasionally rigged overhead in hallways where nothing else would fit. Fierberg notes that LED color has since improved, and he is using the fixtures extensively on current projects.

Another signature camera move from the series follows three or four actors during walk-and-talk sequences. To enhance such shots in the feature, Smallwood made 8'x8' lightweight frames on which, he says, “I could attach diffusion with Velcro. That way, one grip could follow the actors, diffusing the sun with one 8-by-8 frame.” Smallwood also made an 8'x8' frame with Ultrabounce material, white on one side and black on the other.

“A lot of scenes in this movie take place in busy areas, and there wasn’t time to put up a frame with stands,” Smallwood continues. “Our approach had to be more like cinema vérité, where we ran out into the street and shot a scene. Then the traffic light would change, and we’d go back to the sidewalk.” This strategy of shooting on the fly worked especially well for all of the film’s cameos. “The high-profile actors would be on set for one hour, so there was no time for an elaborate setup,” he says.

As further reference to the film’s visual departure from its television roots, Fierberg points to a scene in a therapist’s office, where Gold launches into one of his signature rants and the camera dollies into an extreme close-up. “That’s something we never would have done on the series because it’s a ‘dramatic movie’ move,” says Fierberg. “But I said, ‘It’s time we do this with Ari.’” In another scene, Gold is in the office of a financier (played by Billy Bob Thornton). “Doug asked, ‘Can we get a high angle looking down?’” recalls Fierberg. “We never would have done that on the show, and [we] eventually cut the shot to a few seconds, but it adds scale. Doug would always encourage me to do more, to capture any shot that would make the scene better. He was tremendously supportive.”

Fierberg also points to the contributions of Janace Tashjian, the film’s “expert post supervisor, who did the series before progressing to ‘small’ projects like Avatar,” he notes. “She set up a workflow where the negative was processed and then immediately scanned to 2K [DPX files]. Thus, from that point on, the workflow was no different than any digitally originated movie. [Colorist and ASC associate] Stefan Sonnenfeld did the exceptional final grade at Company 3 on DaVinci Resolve.” (The final resolution is 2K.)

The risks of deviating from the tried-and-true look of the series sometimes weighed heavily on Fierberg. “I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking I’d ruined the movie,” he recalls. “We found something that worked [on the series], and I felt I was personally responsible for doing something different.” Relief came, he says, when preview screenings generated very positive comments about the movie’s visual style.

Fierberg credits collaboration for making Entourage’s transition to the big screen the best it could be. “Doug and I had almost 10 years of shots and scenes together that we could refer to,” he says. “The actors were also tremendously helpful in making the shots work; they all know how to find the camera. We are all used to collaborating to make a scene work.”


TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

2.39:1

3-perf Super 35mm

Arricam Lite

Cooke S4, Fujinon Premier PL 4K+, Angenieux Optimo

Kodak Vision3 500T 5219, 200T 5213

Digital Intermediate


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