The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Return to Table of Contents November 2012 Return to Table of Contents
The Master
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The Master Sidebar
Presidents Desk
Short Takes
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up

In a later scene at the house, Dodd’s wife, Peggy (Amy Adams), awakens Quell in the middle of the night and orders him to stop drinking. As she sits next to his prone figure on the chaise lounge, a single, sharp sidelight comes from frame left, carving the figures out of the background as the camera slowly pushes in. “That scene was in [the shooting plan], and then it was taken out, and then Paul decided to shoot it after all,” recalls Bauman. “We had to light it really quickly at the end of a very long day. We set up a 2K Blonde outside the window and put a 100-watt Dedo down by Joaquin to bring him up a little bit. Amy’s pajamas were very reflective — we got a lot of bounce off them.”   

“That was an instance when I indulged my tendency to be more stylized, and for that particular scene, I think it works,” observes Malaimare. “It’s interesting how you can jump back and forth, lighting one scene with only two lights and making it very stylized, and then lighting a scene with 20 lights while trying to make it look natural!   

“Making a movie is like solving a puzzle, and every new challenge is like finding a new puzzle piece,” he continues. “For instance, if it worked better for the story to keep the camera more stationary, we’d shoot with 65mm, but if we wanted to run with it, we used 35mm. We weren’t thinking a lot about the process or the limitations [of 65mm], especially when the dailies were paying off. We were getting new ideas and finding new puzzle pieces every day.”   

When possible, the filmmakers used the disparity between the Panaflex System 65’s controlled movement and the Millennium’s handheld capability to heighten dramatic tension. An example of this is the scene in which Dodd and Quell are arrested outside Sullivan’s home. When police accuse Dodd of fraud and place him under arrest, Quell attempts to defend him by lashing out at the officers. Colin Anderson recalls, “I was on the porch with the 65mm camera with Erik and [dolly grip] Jeff Kunkel, and Mihai was shooting handheld with the Millennium. When the time came, Joaquin went berserk, flinging himself around and falling to the ground. Mihai had to adapt to his movements.” Malaimare adds, “Cutting from 35mm to 65mm felt smoother because of the sharp Jena glass, which yields a look similar to [that of] the 65mm lenses. There is a sense that something is different, but it’s a small difference. I think it’s mainly in the camerawork.”   

The relationship between Dodd and Quell takes a new turn when they take a motorcycle out to a salt flat to play a game called “Pick a Point.” The object is to select a point on the horizon and then ride out to that spot and back. The scene was shot outside Apple Valley, Calif., near Barstow. “That was a great location,” Malaimare enthuses. “The ground was incredibly reflective. We didn’t use any lights at all.”   

After Dodd explains the game, Quell mounts the bike and speeds off into the desert, gradually becoming a diminishing speck amid undulating heat waves. To capture the action, “we first tried towing the motorcycle on a trailer, but that created a lot more dust than one guy on a bike would have created,” recalls Colin Anderson. Next, the crew tried mounting the 65HSSM to a Chapman G3 head and Hydroscope arm hanging off the back of an insert car. The rig allowed them to travel right beside the bike, a strategy that “worked tremendously,” he says.   

The production tapped two different labs throughout the shoot: Deluxe Hollywood processed the 35mm negative, and FotoKem processed the 65mm negative and generated 35mm reductions. Both formats were viewed as film dailies on location. For Malaimare, the process of photochemically timing the dailies took him back to his film-school days at the National University of Theatre and Film in Romania. “I remember measuring my work with a densitometer and drawing curves,” he says. “Then we had to deal with printing the negative.”   

The filmmakers had the 35mm dailies timed to the optical-reduction print, but because the negatives came from different labs, “it took a little tweaking to make those processes match,” says Malaimare. “We wanted to get it right even if it was a difference of just one point. Sometimes we sent prints from one lab to the other, and sometimes it was a digital still reference from the set. Having all of our dailies on 35mm allowed us to come up with many notes for the final photochemical timing.” The director supervised the final timing with colorist and ASC associate member Dan Muscarella at FotoKem because Malaimare had to depart for another project.   

Muscarella viewed the timed prints over a light box through special RGB gel filters in point increments between 1 and 20. Using the RGB point adjustments from the dailies print as a starting point, he used the gels to discern the number of color points needed to fine-tune a given scene. The new point adjustments were entered into a computer-controlled optical printer to create the final timed interpositive. “Paul and I were smoothing out and balancing the color cut for cut, scene for scene,” says Muscarella.   

Andrew Oran, FotoKem’s vice president of large-format operations, worked with the filmmakers to develop a photochemical workflow that would preserve the resolution and color of the original 65mm negative while seamlessly incorporating the 35mm elements. FotoKem also handled the 65mm processing, HD transfer of the 35mm reduction prints for editorial, 70mm and 35mm show prints, and 65mm and 35mm scanning for the DI to create general-release prints and a 4K DCP. (For the latter step, the 65mm was scanned at 8K, the 35mm was scanned at 6K, and all material was downconverted to 4K for the rest of the process.) “We had to figure out how to construct a post pipeline with four finishes,” says Oran. “Our starting point was the 65mm negative and 70mm show prints. Once we established that, everything else fell into place.”   

In order to complete a 70mm “hero print,” Oran needed to take all the footage that originated in 35mm and scale it up to 65mm. Vince Roth, the show’s 65mm technical director, made IPs of the 35mm original-negative selects and then had them blown up into a 65mm duplicate negative. “After that, the 35mm negative and IP was just set on the shelf,” Oran continues. “We went through a photochemical answer-print process, a negative cut on the 65mm material, and then a 70mm IP and answer print.”   

Anderson also wanted some show prints struck from a 35mm cut negative, so FotoKem used a modified Imagica optical printer to reduce the complete 65mm IP to a 35mm duplicate neg. The facility’s team extracted all of the 35mm dupe-neg material that originated in 35mm — now two generations removed — and replaced it with the corresponding 35mm camera neg.   

Oran acknowledges that it would have been simpler to grade The Master digitally and then film out to 70mm and 35mm, “but it’s very important to Paul that the film does not look like it has gone through a digital post process, and that he can present it to as many people as possible on prints from the original negative.”


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