The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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ASC Close-Up

“The real light on Everest is very strong,” he continues. “The biggest challenge was to make the stage lighting feel real, to make it feel like we were actually on the mountain. The audience should be asking, ‘How the hell did they get up there?’”

The Hillary Step is a famous feature of the Everest ascent, and it was there that Rob Hall died in 1996. To re-create his last moments, the production surrounded the set in thick, clear, insulating plastic and brought in refrigeration units to cool the enclosure down to 20°F. This allowed them to use actual ice and snow on the set. Totino lit through the transparent enclosure with the FloLight banks and SoftSun fixtures.

Digital-imaging technician Jody Neckles assisted Totino on the mountain, setting looks and LUTs. Dailies were delivered via Pix, but production would download dailies to an iPad for Totino, who used Apple TV to stream them to a large television in his hotel room. “It’s nothing like looking at film-projected dailies, but it’s the way of the modern production,” he observes.

“I like having the files downloaded on the iPad, because we could have production download specific sequences and I could carry that with me during the day,” Totino continues. “If we had to go back to a scene or match a scene, I had the footage right there with me. In the past, I would have had the lab print a small strip from a sequence, and I’d be looking at those frames on set and matching to that look. Now it’s a lot easier.” Colorist Greg Fisher performed the final grade at Company 3 in London, using DaVinci Resolve 11 for a 2048x858 final deliverable.

“We shot five weeks on location and another five weeks on stage, and none of it was easy," Totino concludes. "They say Everest is the most popular climb for experienced climbers, but it’s sobering how many people have died up there. And more often, it's been because they didn't take care of their bodies and realize their limitations in the environment; they get exhausted and dehydrated, and there’s no quick access to help.

"This was an incredibly challenging film to make, but it was a phenomenal experience, and I'm glad I had an opportunity to tell this story.”



Digital Capture

Arri Alexa XT

Cooke S4, Angenieux Optimo

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