Tynes notes that Stage 12
is one of the largest and highest spaces in Los Angeles, "but
when you break it down, lighting a massive room is still just basic
mathematics. We needed to get a certain stop, so if space lights
on 8-foot centers aren't getting you there, you go to 4-foot centers.
It's all just photometrics, and you can't be intimidated by the size of
While entrusting much of the broad-stroke work to
his veteran crew, Elmes added a few of
his own unique twists to studio lighting. "I found that we could
make interesting patterns of light on set by placing strong, focused
lights - usually narrow Pars - above the permanents and crashing
them down through the beams and stage rigging," he relates. "The
effect is like what you get when the house lights are on; there's
a random, haphazard quality to the shadows on set. That became
part of our look. Jim designed that into the light plan for Stage
some of our other lab sets. The Par bars up high often threw the
shadows of Fresnels and greenbeds below, adding
another layer of interest to the lighting."
Tynes adds that the lab's nighttime look
was primarily achieved using Image 80 Kino Flos.
The softness of these units offered a distinct counterpoint to the
set's punchier daytime look created with the Par/Fresnel combination.
While Tynes also supplied Muren and his team with information regarding their use of
gels or specific lamps, the ILM crew handled most of the documentation
themselves. He explains, "They took their notes, and then for
reference they'd shoot a gray sphere and a mirrored ball, as well
as a big piece of green latex that helped show the effect of the
lighting on the Hulk's skin. After that, they'd bring in what our
AD called the '3-D sphingulator,' a
nonsense term for what was basically a camera lens on a tripod
feeding a 360-degree image into a laptop. If you printed up that
image, you'd end up with a spherical map of the stage, which they
could use to pinpoint every item and lamp on the set. With all of
that info, they didn't need much more from me."
Having solved the logistical issues behind the enormous lighting
setups on The Hulk ahead of time, Elmes concerned
himself with the details that helped define character and story.
One lighting technique Elmes employed to
reflect Banner's inner turmoil involved blending colored sources
to create a synthetic "white" light with its own unique
properties. "We used that technique a few times, particularly
in the house in Berkeley where Banner lives," says Tynes. "To
achieve it, Fred would use Rosco Calcolor gels,
which come in calibrations of 15, 30, 60 and 90 for cyan, magenta, green, yellow, blue and a few more colors. I've always used Rosco color as a straight gel - as a theatrical treatment
- but Fred's theory was to take opposing colors of the same calibration,
like 15 cyan and 15 red, put them into 4-by-4 frames on two separate
20K lamps and bounce them into muslin and onto the subject. The resulting
light was white or very close to it, but the shadow side of the face
would be predominantly affected by one of the lamps while the other
filled the shadows in. So Fred would end up with this subtle, colored
tinge in the shadow. He didn't go overboard with it, though; it's
not like people are in a disco!"
Tynes says that while this color-temp
mixing could be roughly gauged by eye, Elmes used
a color-temperature meter to carefully calibrate the effect. "Fred
is very meticulous," the gaffer observes. "He uses a footcandle meter,
and on any given setup he'll measure out the entire subject area
and really get a feel for what's going on. His final exposure choice
is very thoughtfully selected. He doesn't work on whims."
The streets of San Francisco, which serve as the setting for a showdown
between the Hulk and his military antagonists, offered Elmes an
epic backdrop for the film's climax. True to form, however, the cinematographer
seems far more interested in the metaphorical subtext of the hilly
urban terrain. "During the location scout, we found a spot near
the Transamerica building that looked all the way downtown and opened
up on a vista of the Bay Bridge," he recounts. "We decided
that if we staged the action at one particular intersection, we could
have soldiers moving in on the Hulk not only from all directions,
but from each axis as they are coming uphill, moving downhill and
hovering above him in helicopters. He is very much surrounded from
all sides, which played well with the sense of entrapment we wanted."
For this type of day-exterior situation, Tynes employed "a
standard HMI package for fill. We did a lot of daylight work in San
Francisco, especially during this climactic scene between Eric Bana and
Jennifer Connelly. They're surrounded by tanks and troops that have
been chasing the Hulk, so it's not exactly a romantic scene, but
we needed to do a lot of character lighting for Jennifer as she watches
the Hulk shrink down to normal size and return to being Banner."
At press time, Elmes was color-timing The
Hulk at Technicolor. He and Lee considered using a digital-intermediate
process on the effects-laden film, but they opted to complete the
film photochemically. "Ang and
I like the pristine quality of film, and we decided that because
there are whole scenes with no visual effects, we would keep them
pristine," Elmes says. "Our
tests told us that the digital-intermediate process isn't completely
transparent yet. The work ILM has done is very good and I have
complete confidence in them, but we didn't want to add this additional
layer over the rest of the film as well."
Looking back on his biggest production to date, Elmes offers, "This was a great opportunity to explore,
to go out on a limb during prep and then find the right balance during
production. It was a creative journey - and a lot to keep in your
head all at once! But by focusing on the initial artistic concepts,
we kept mental pictures that helped us stay true to those ideas in
the thick of production. It was the most challenging and satisfying
experience of my career."