The American Society of Cinematographers

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Cinema Verite
Page 2
Short Takes
Presidents Desk
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up

One such scene, early in the film, shows Gilbert and all seven members of the Loud family sitting around the living room, discussing what the documentary crew will be doing. Gilbert is sitting in a chair, his back to the sliding doors. To create soft ambient light, Beato bounced sunlight (and occasionally an 18K) into the room off 8'x8' frames of unbleached muslin. Additionally, sheets of muslin were spread across the patio outside and on the living-room floor.

Arri T12s and 5Ks with Chimeras, all bouncing off muslin, were used inside. Because the ceilings were low, it wasn’t always possible to hang lights. “When we couldn’t hang lights, I had a huge tripod with a menace arm to position a Chinese lantern above the actor,” recalls Beato. “If it was a moving shot, we might hang the menace arm from the dolly. All of the lights were on dimmers.” A few Lowel Rifa 44 lights were also used for the actors’ faces.

Unbleached muslin was the diffusion of choice. To light a scene in which Pat and Bill talk, 30" “Mus Balls” containing 1,000-watt bulbs were strewn across the bedroom floor. Pat stands at the bathroom sink, looking into the mirror, and Bill is a few feet away in the bedroom, standing at a full-length mirror. “This was a very tricky scene to shoot,” notes Beato. “The scene opens on Bill’s reflection in the standalone mirror. He steps into frame, admires himself in the mirror and starts talking to Pat. The camera is stationary behind him, so we see both his back and his reflection in the mirror.”

The scene cuts to the bathroom. The camera is to the left and slightly behind Pat as she stands in front of the mirror, so we see her reflection. Another mirror hangs on a closet door behind Pat, catching a different reflection. Doerr picks up the story: “Affonso, the operator and I were snuggled into a narrow hallway. The matte box was just barely off-camera. The most difficult part of this was when Pat reached down to grab Bill’s hairbrush. I think we did a 135mm shot on that, really tight, following her hand and going up to her face and racking to the mirror.”

Beato used several pieces of equipment on Cinema Verite that he’d never tried before. He had heard good things about a new HD video-tap system, HD IVS, that attaches to the Arricam cameras. It comes with a 6" trans-video cine monitor. Beato notes that it’s an expensive item to rent, and he was grateful to Sean Jenkins at Clairmont Camera in Hollywood for fitting it into the production’s budget. “Up until now, video taps have been standard definition, which just isn’t good enough,” asserts the cinematographer.

Another item Beato had never used before was the Airstar Cloud, a thin, flat balloon that is used as diffusion. Made of Lunix fabric, it acts like a huge silk. The scene was the outdoor patio of a Mexican restaurant, and the place was packed with people. Bill is sitting at a table, drinking with friends, when Pat and Gilbert arrive. “We spent two days at that location, and the sun going around would have totally destroyed the light continuity,” says Beato.  “It turned out to be less expensive to rent the Cloud than to pump [up the] light to balance the restaurant’s interior and exterior. It was absolutely fantastic.”

The Cloud is 20'x20' but can be expanded by zipping two or more together.  Beato’s team created one that was 40'x40'. (It was provided by Airstar Space Lighting USA.) When darkness started to fall, the crew set up three 18Ks to replicate sunlight.

Beato used three Kodak stocks for most of the project — Vision3 500T 5219 and Vision2 250D 5207 and 50D 5201 — and he also mixed in two Fuji Eterna Vivid stocks, 160 8543 and 500 8547, for the Super 8 material to help differentiate its look.

All of the 35mm material was processed at Technicolor Hollywood, where AC caught up with Beato again as he started the digital grade with colorist Jill Bogdanowicz. “We’ve got some intricate keys going through the movie to give it a 1970s look,” says Bogdanowicz. “For example, I have [primary color] chroma keys working on the California look, and I’m popping these colors separately, which makes it really saturated, like the look of early ’70s film stocks. That’s the vibe we’re going for.”

Even with four formats to contend with, Beato maintains that the shoot was never confusing, though he readily admits “it was very complex.” It also brought back some unique memories. “I was the first person in Brazil to use the Éclair, the camera used by Alan Raymond and Joan Churchill [ASC] to shoot An American Family,” he observes. “It was the first portable camera that really gave you the opportunity to be mobile and shoot sound at the same time with a Nagra.”

With a laugh, he adds, “I was the only person on the [Cinema Verite] set who knew how to hold the Nagra. I had lived it.”   



3-perf Super 35mm, Digital Capture, Super 8mm

Arricam Studio Lite; Panasonic AJ-HPX3700; Beaulieu 4008 ZM4

Cooke S4, Angenieux Optimo, Nikkor and Arri Macro

Kodak Vision3 500T 5219; Vision2 250D 5207, 50D 5201; Fuji Eterna Vivid 160 8543, 500 8547

Digital Intermediate

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