The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Transcendence
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Presidents Desk
ASC Close-Up

For the visual effects, Pfister says he asked for “a very photographic aesthetic” from visual-effects supervisor Nathan McGuinness and his team at Double Negative, which employed an all-4K workflow. Finished effects shots were recorded back to 35mm film with an Arrilaser and merged with the film workflow. “Nathan’s approach was to interrupt the natural freedom of the photography as little as possible,” says Hall. “We tried to keep the lighting integrated, to avoid the use of greenscreen, and to not restrict the use of camera moves. Nathan did a great job of making sure that the shots came out of the digital platform with the right kind of contrast and color so that they would integrate smoothly with the rest of the picture.”

McGuinness emphasizes the importance of designing the right workflow. “Of course, design and conception are important, but before our artists could do their work, we had to create a pipeline in our facility that would preserve the integrity of the piece of film itself, from its origin all the way to print. We had to make sure that what we saw in that film was what we gave back once we were finished with it. When you’re doing a full film finish, the color timing doesn’t have the same flexibility of a digital grading system, so I had to be very careful about the color management. One very important consideration was the organic molding of that digital creation as it is transposed to film — that amazing little bit of magic that occurs when you go back to negative.”

Hall says he relished the chance to do a traditional photochemical finish. “I am increasingly aware of the subtle shifts that occur in the image within the DI process, and I have been dissatisfied with some results, so I grabbed this opportunity when Wally suggested it. I just thought it was a great chance to do something very pure.”

The picture workflow chiefly involved FotoKem in Burbank and Technicolor in Hollywood. FotoKem processed the production’s negative and created print dailies (timed by Don Capoferri), and Technicolor then scanned those to create HD dailies, which were graded by colorist Stephen P. Arkle, one of Pfister’s longtime collaborators. FotoKem colorist (and ASC associate member) Mato Der Avanessian supervised the photochemical timing of the IP and 35mm release prints. The IP was then scanned at 4K at Technicolor for the final digital outputs and for a stereoscopic conversion by Stereo D. Technicolor created a 4K DCP for standard exhibition and a 4K DCP (timed at 22-footlamberts) for Imax exhibition, and Arkle did the 3-D color mapping on the 4K DCP for stereoscopic exhibition. Show prints were made from the original cut negative, and about 200 release prints were made from an IN, all on Kodak Vision 2383, according to Pfister.

Looking back on the experience of making Transcendence, Geryak says that Pfister’s wealth of experience as a cinematographer made for a very efficient shoot and a great-looking picture. “Often, directors are so focused on performance or coverage that time-of-day becomes secondary, but Wally knew how to schedule our days around the light, even as he was concentrating on directing,” says Geryak. “When the look of the movie is important to the director, it shows.”

“Cinematographers never stop thinking in images,” Pfister says. “Even when I’m directing, I will always think about what the camera is doing — it’s instinctual by now. But certainly, having Jess lead this terrific crew enabled me to spend more time focused on the actors and all the other concerns of a director. I did feel the need to put the camera on my shoulder every now and again just for the fun of it, because shooting action is so much damn fun! Aside from that, it was Jess’ baby, and I just helped out where I could.”


TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

2.40:1

35mm Anamorphic and Digital Capture

Panaflex Millennium XL; Arri 235, 435; Vision Research Phantom Flex

Panavision C Series, E Series, High Speed, Close Focus


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