The American Society of Cinematographers

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Return to Table of Contents November 2007 Return to Table of Contents
Im Not There
The Kite Runner
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ASC Close-Up
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For the shot of the tanks rolling in, they created a composite. “We shot a reference street plate in Kashgar at night by existing light, then we shot one Russian tank rolling past us on an abandoned airstrip outside San Francisco. I lit that with two rows of Blondes, about 30 total, on Avenger or Mambo Combo stands to simulate the street lighting from the plate. Then the visual-effects team re-created much of the street and replicated the tank from our single pass to make it look like a row of tanks rumbling down a Kabul street. We also picked off some close-ups of the tank and soldiers on that pass to use as separate shots. Jim McConkey and Simon Jayes, the B-camera operator in San Francisco, got some really good shots of boots in puddles, reflections and tank treads, as well as silhouettes of soldiers.” 

That scene was one instance where the T1.3 Arri Master Primes proved their worth. “I fell in love with them,” says Schaefer. “They’re not as cold, clinical and flat-sharp as Zeiss Ultra Primes; they have more of a curved focal plane, more like the Cooke S4s. If I’d shot with Cookes, which I was originally going to do, I would’ve had to carry a set of Superspeeds for those times when I needed the extra stop. But the Master Primes open to a T1.3 and stay sharp even wide open. Plus, it’s easy to change lenses because they’re all basically the same size. And they’re not heavy, so they’re good on a Steadicam.” 

Schaefer only occasionally used diffusion on the lens, a Tiffen Classic Soft filter, “but we did use a lot of atmosphere. In China there are no restrictions on what you can pump into a room. In fact, we used diesel fuel for a scene featuring a burning village. The special-effects guy wanted to fill the whole place with tires and set them on fire, but we talked him out of it!” 

Looking back on the production, Schaefer notes that adapting a popular book is “always a crapshoot, and it’s almost impossible to come out on the plus side. But The Kite Runner is such a wonderful story. When I read the script, it really got me.”


2.40:1 Super 35mm (3-perf)

Arricam Studio, Lite; Arri 235
Arri and Angenieux lenses

Kodak Vision2
100T 5212, 200T 5217, 500T 5218

Digital Intermediate

Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

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