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The cinematographer jokes that experience played a large part in his approach to the freeway sequence. "As I get older, I find that every kind of light has its charm. Especially when I have no control over it, I learn to love it." Pope eschewed the use of filters on the exterior scenes "because there was too much light bouncing around, which tends erode the image. I wanted a sharp image, especially working in Super 35 [and going to anamorphic]. I also wanted bald skies, which is a nightmare with a piece of glass in front of the lens."

Paterson sums up the experience of shooting on the freeway: "You'd get into this strange habit of driving down the freeway and forgetting that it was a set. Eventually though, you'd suddenly run out of road and say, 'Where's it gone?' It was an amazing piece of coordination to control the look and dynamism with all the departments involved: photography, transport, grips, gaffers, art department, construction team and painters, not to mention the stunt guys. It was extremely exciting to watch, and the result is a fantastic sequence."

The freeway scene was the only one Pope photographed using Kodak Vision 200T 5274; the rest of Reloaded was shot on Vision 500T 5279. The cinematographer initially used another Vision stock, 320T 5277, for the freeway scene, but he wasn't happy with the detail levels on the fill side of the actors' faces. "I tend to make the world quite dark, even outside, so the degree of latitude on the shadow side is very important to me, and I don't think 77 had enough. I like a printer light of around 40 so I can move up or down and retain decent blacks. Blacks are extremely important to this trilogy. I tended to rate 74 at 160 ISO, with no 85 filter, and 79 at 250 ISO."

Composing the Computer World
One of the striking features of Pope's cinematography in The Matrix was the dynamism and strength in the framing. Indeed, his use of darkness as a compositional element was what initially attracted the Wachowskis to the cinematographer's work. "Bound was an unabashed film noir in which black and the caging of people in the frame featured strongly - all of those John Alton traditions were there," says Pope. "So when we moved to the Matrix films, it was natural to continue those noir inspirations. In The Matrix and Reloaded, the forces of darkness are literally at play all the time. These people are fighting against slim hope for the survival of the earth and the human race, so darkness is always present. I tend to make things as dark as I can, while using the darkness to focus the eye on what it should see.

"Larry and Andy wrote a script with a lot of terrific ideas, and to explain those ideas they wanted the best frame for telling the story," he continues. "Each shot they do is very important in itself, and they're also concerned about the way it is cut into and the way in which it cuts to the next shot. The brothers like to control that image down to the smallest degree, meticulously lining up every shot. On The Matrix, Larry and Andy were in love with the 21mm lens. For the real-world sequences, such as on the Nebuchadnezzar, we used tighter lenses for more intimacy with the characters, and as we became accustomed to the longer lenses, the brothers got more interested in them. So when we showed up to do Reloaded, they immediately started calling for the 27mm and 35mm lenses for the wider shots; without speaking about it, they simply went tighter and longer. The 50mm was still the main lens for close-ups, but sometimes we'd use a 75mm. It became a different feel. We've never discussed this, but I feel that by choosing the middle-length lenses this time around, we've created more intimacy with the characters. In Reloaded, you get to know the characters from the first movie much more, so it's an appropriate choice."

The filmmakers also utilize framing and camera movement to establish the differences between the Matrix and the real world. "The moves in the Matrix are straight-line moves," Pope explains. "The Matrix is very inorganic, so it's presented in a very mechanical manner. We'll dolly straight in at the actor's eye level, so there's no panning and tilting involved. The compositions in Zion are a little less machine-like. That world is more intimate, and the fact that it's an organic culture is reflected in the composition. To show that, we might do a curved move instead of a straight one or an organic move following an actor's motions rather than a mechanical move that lets the actor move in and out of frame. Of course, you still have to fill up the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and you still want dynamic compositions for reasons of drama.

"The brothers have a weakness for overhead and long tracking moves, so we often used a Techno-crane with a Libra mount, which are invaluable tools for that," continues Pope. "With the Libra, you can shove the dolly into places where you can't even get an operator. We also used the Steadicam when time and space didn't allow for a dolly; it was very helpful in the kung-fu fights. Andrew Rollins was the B-camera and Steadicam operator for both the U.S. and Australian shoots."

Pope filmed Reloaded with Panaflex Platinums and Millennium XLs, as well as a PanArri 435ES for high-speed photography. As he did on The Matrix, he employed Primo lenses to ensure that the release prints would be as sharp as possible. "I wasn't into diffusion on the first film, and I'm not now. The Primos have a contrast that I know and can work with. I don't like too much variation; I prefer a smaller palette and a smaller number of tools. I like to work instinctively and feel my way through. Once you have an established set of tools, a lot of your work is based on intuition and a sense of touch, so I don't really like to change those tools."

Working With the Wachowskis
Pope describes Larry and Andy Wachowski as "two distinct people, but one director. So you get to hear the thoughts bouncing around inside the director's head, which is a remarkably good experience because you don't have to pull everything out of the director.

"When I work with a director, there are certain things that they feel and dream that I don't like to interfere with," he adds. "If their intuition says move in a certain direction, I want to let them go that way and not discuss it. Things made conscious become stale and self-imitating pretty quickly. When you're working intuitively, the ideas tend to stay fresh all the time, and the directors will be able to move in and out of those ideas more freely than if they view them as 'rules.'"

Summing up his experience on Reloaded - while looking ahead to the third film in the trilogy, which will be released this fall - Pope declares that he's "superstitious enough not to think about how well this film may be received. When we did The Matrix, we were flying below the radar in many ways. No one really knew who we were. Partly because of that, I believe, we all made the movie we wanted to make, and people responded to that lack of compromise. The audience appreciated that the brothers would go to such lengths to construct the world of the Matrix in such striking detail. I'm somewhat nervous now, given the expectations for this film. The brothers are as out there as they were on the first one, though - they kept their foot on the pedal and went forward at full blast I was glad to be part of it. I wouldn't have passed it up for anything."

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