The American Society of Cinematographers

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Return to Table of Contents September 2007 Return to Table of Contents
The Bourne Ultimatum
Page 2
Page 3
DVD Playback
Points East
Post Focus

Meglic used Arri 235s and 435s for most of his work, occasionally supplementing them with Eyemos. “We would slightly undercrank to about 22 fps — any slower would have been obvious,” he says. “But the Go-Mobile really helps make the audience feel like they’re right there. The objective was to make it look like we were catching the action by mistake, and that’s actually really hard to do. You’ve got to have the camera in the right position at the right time yet make it look like you weren’t expecting anything to happen!” 

Deluxe Laboratories in London processed most of the production’s footage, and although hi-def dailies were generated, Wood seldom viewed them. “When I watch dailies, I start to correct things that don’t need to be corrected,” he says. “In my younger days, I’d see dailies and lose my nerve and think, ‘That’s too dark,’ and then when I saw the print I’d kick myself for going brighter. I was lighting out of fear, and the only way to avoid that is by going with your gut feelings.” He did study negative reports to ensure the lenses were working fine and to check up on focus, and he also had Deluxe put his negative up on an analyzer to generate a set of timing lights. “I’ll usually watch dailies at the start just to see how the skin tones look, but once I know how an actor’s face works, I don’t want to see dailies again for the rest of the shoot.” 

The cinematographer says he enjoys the new freedom created by the digital-intermediate (DI) process. “I hated the old lab days. When I came into the business in the early ’70s, I wanted to shoot video because of the control you have with it in post. I was banging the video drum, but it wasn’t good enough. I still think film is the best recording medium, and with a DI I can pull out more information and better information than I could with any of the digital formats I’ve tested. But I shoot film differently than I used to. I don’t use filters at all. The less glass you can put in front of the lens, the better, and I can do that kind of image correction in the DI.” 

He also makes a lot of lighting adjustments in post. “There’s a scene in this movie where Matt is sitting in an interrogation room with his head down, and you can’t see his eyes,” he says. “When we shot it, I tried to put an eyelight in, but I hated the way it made him look ‘lit.’ So I took it away, and in the DI we drew two windows around his eyes and created an eyelight. It worked very effectively and looked far less artificial than the real eyelight did.” 

On Bourne Ultimatum, there were occasionally frustrating moments in the DI because a lot of that work had to be done before material from reshoots and visual-effects houses became available. Working with colorist Stephen Nakamura at Technicolor Digital Intermediates in Burbank, Wood had to contend with the fact that “every other scene had a big black card that said, ‘Missing.’ So much of timing a movie is about blending. I’ve shot sequences that were done half in a blizzard and half in full sunshine, and then I’d work with the timer to make it look consistent. That’s what timing is about. So when you’re missing a lot of shots, you’re limited in how much you can accomplish.” Nakamura adds, “If there are a lot of shots missing we can’t finalize a scene. Effects artists sometimes think their shots can just be cut in, but they still need to be color-corrected. It’s not enough for the shots to look good by themselves; the contrast and color have to work in the context of the surrounding shots.” 

Having said that, Nakamura adds, “I’ve used fewer windows and less video color correction for this film than for any movie I’ve graded in the past three years. It’s the look of the franchise — if there’s a flare or if something is a little soft, that’s okay.” 

“I think that in the end, as long as it’s cool the audience will go for it,” says Wood.


2.40:1 Super 35mm

Arricam Lite; Arri 235, 435; Eyemo

Nikon, Cooke and Arri lenses

Kodak Vision2 250D 5205, 500T 5218

Digital Intermediate

Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

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