Richardson: Our two-color look mimicked Technicolor’s subtractive-dye system rather than the additive system the company first developed. And this LUT was designed to work off of the three-color LUT rather than the original Cineon files. We could have worked the two-color LUT on top of the old scan, but that’s not what Marty wanted — it was a touch too subtle. He liked a slightly richer, more enhanced two-color look, a little bit more in the blue-green layer, a little bit more in the red. So we applied our two-color look to images that had already been translated through the richer, three-color LUT.

Was Scorsese at all leery of using so many digital techniques?

Richardson: I think he just wanted me to show him what their true advantages were. The most obvious one was that the visual effects could be shown to him in a format that was a lot closer to the finished work, because he didn’t have to render it out to film. And regarding the two-color and three-strip looks, he’d be able to choose them and apply them, and if they weren’t exactly correct in the dailies, we could have them corrected and it wouldn’t have to be a large optical. With that idea in mind, and when he saw the quality of projection we could get, he was happy to try it. Marty is a very respectful director. My work is his work, and he already has a great sense of what the work is because the dailies weren’t that far off. Of course, there are always reservations. I can tell you that [editor] Thelma Schoonmaker does not like the process; she doesn’t like anything digital.

But the DI isn’t only about ease and advantages. It’s also about the process by which we, as directors of photography, shoot the film. Knowing the powerful tools we now have in post, we’re able to do things that ordinarily aren’t allowed in order to save time on set. For example, if you knew you wanted to darken a wall, it might take 20 minutes to put in the blacks, especially on a larger set — and we had plenty on this show. But if you’re going to do a DI, you can let that slide on the day because you know you’ll just drop in a digital window to darken that wall. Sometimes I don’t even gel windows if I know I will be able to correct them in the DI.

On The Aviator, there are a couple of shots where I had two people flying in a plane but no physical cockpit frame in front of them. The cockpit would ordinarily have created a shadow area on the bottom part of the image. So I said, ‘No problem, in the DI I’ll just lay a small window at the bottom and bring it slightly down.’ It would have taken 45 minutes to an hour to create that shadow [practically] with the lights we were using. It took two minutes to add that window in post.

What’s unfortunate is that these savings are so seldom factored into the cost of a production. At roughly $250,000 per 10-hour day, one hour saved is worth $25,000. If you save only one hour every six shooting days, you’ve already paid for the DI process, but who figures that number in beforehand? Harvey [Weinstein] is just sitting at Miramax saying, ‘It costs too much money,’ whereas I say, ‘Wait a minute, you’re not accounting for the added speed with which I am able to shoot.’ You still have to make a case for the process.



Super 35mm 2.35:1 (3-perf)

Panaflex Platinum Primo lenses

Eastman EXR 100T 5248,
EXR 200T 5293,
KodakVision 200T 5274,
Vision 320T 5277,
Vision 500T 5279,
Vision2 500T 5218

Digital Intermediate by
Technicolor Digital Intermediates

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© 2005 American Cinematographer.