The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Boardwalk Empire
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Presidents Desk
DVD Playback
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One such shot, executed by pilot Steadicam operator David Thompson, follows Buscemi into a Victorian funeral parlor. “Then we go down an elevator to the basement, where there’s an embalming room with a body on the table,” says Dryburgh. “There’s a secret panel, and behind this is a full-on whiskey distillery, complete with big vats and lots of steam. It’s a labyrinthine space, and we follow Nucky through all those subterranean corridors.”  

The production’s practical locations offered many opportunities for interesting camera moves. This was the case in the John Wesley United Methodist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, whose meeting room served as the interior of Babette’s Supper Club, where Thompson conducts his backroom deals. With a horseshoe-shaped balcony ending in matching staircases and smaller rooms radiating off the main hall, the location provided wonderful options. As Shaw recalls, “We were scouting for the Women’s Temperance League, and I said, ‘Am I crazy, or could this be a nightclub?’” Freeman found the balcony useful for solving a problem inherent in the location. He explains, “Babette’s is a wide-open space that needed to be filled with people, but dressing 200 extras in period attire and period-correct hair and makeup is an extremely expensive proposition. By selecting the right angles, we could use the balcony to block off part of the set and give the impression the place was full; we could also have people in the foreground and see people on the other side of the balcony, then fill the hole on the main floor with extras, but in truth, there were none beyond that point.” 

Lighting at Babette’s was motivated by the blaze of lights rimming the riverboat stage and bar, plus the small practical lamps on each table. Two 8K tungsten balloons evened out ambient lighting, while other units came and went, including 10K booklights on either side of the hall, Source 4 Lekos and Baby Juniors highlighting specific tables, a 5K backlighting the crowd, a spotlight aimed at the stage, and Kino Flos to edge and lift the deep background. 

While shooting the pilot, Dryburgh and Scorsese screened film dailies. “That’s something people don’t do much any more, and it was great,” says Dryburgh. After the pilot, the production switched to DVD dailies. Dailies and the final color correction were handled by Technicolor New York. For his episodes, Morgenthau used a Canon EOS 40D and Adobe Lightroom to color correct digital stills at wrap and send them to the lab. By morning, the series’ dailies colorist, Josh Olive, would send corrected frame grabs. “In general, we desaturated the image quite a bit, probably more than Stuart did,” says Morgenthau. “It’s printed very dense, the opposite of the flat, bright look you usually see in a lot of television shows. It’s got a really strong, cinematic look that was dialed right into the dailies.”  



3-perf Super35

Panaflex Platinum, MIllenium, Millenium XL

Panavision and Angenieux

Kodak Vision2 50D5201; Vision3 250D 5207, 500T 5219

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