Frequent use of multiple lighting cues is nothing unusual for Sigel and Nakonechnyj. "We had everything on dimmers for the whole show," the gaffer confirms. "That’s how Tom and I work most of the time. We set up cross-fades in every other shot. We always like to be able to change the lighting and the relationships of the lights within a shot. It’s not to be theatrical or call attention to the lighting; it’s usually something very subtle that helps tell the story. In that way, this shot wasn’t unusual for us."

Nakonechnyj made use of a SparkTop dimmer board manufactured by the Israeli company Compulite. "It’s a self-contained computer board with 1,500 channels," he details. "It’s used primarily for rock ’n’ roll events, but I find it very useful, compact and easy to move around. It looks a lot like those old-fashioned laptop computers. It’s about that size, it has a screen and you can fold the whole thing up. I carried two of the boards on this show."

Sigel was able to enhance the lighting effect during the digital color correction at Technique. He and colorist Stephan Nakamura were able to smooth out the lighting transitions and give the scene an even more seamless look. "By digitally timing the movie, I was able to massage the difference in color between the two setups in ways I couldn’t have done traditionally," Sigel maintains. "We had a yellow-orange early-morning look in the first part of the scene, and we went to the more neutral, colder highlights in the second part. The end of the shot is grittier, more contrasty and harsh. During the tight close-up in between, we subtly changed the relationships of the lights on Sam within the set. We could have done a shot like this and finished on film, but it wouldn’t have been the same – the changes in lighting wouldn’t have been as smooth. With digital timing, we could do two different color corrections for the two sets and have a long color-correction dissolve in the middle of the scene during the close-up."

Sigel believes that the kind of in-camera effect used for this transition can create a feeling in the viewer that cannot be duplicated with postproduction trickery. "With some shots, an audience will basically never know how they were done," he says. "But there are also many shots where you do this kind of choreography to give the scene an organic feel, and I think it gives the whole effect a kind of integrity. Conceptually, it’s the same idea as doing a Steadicam shot where you’re following a person from one place to another, only in this case, you’re following an idea. It’s like you have a whole train of thought from Penny’s story to what will, for better or worse, become an American icon, The Dating Game. And that part of the story is revealed in a single shot."



Super 35mm 2.35:1

Panaflex Millennium, XL; Aaton 35-III

Primo and Frazier lenses

Kodak Vision 500T 5279, Ektachrome 100D 5285, infrared and black-and-white

Digital Intermediate by Technique

Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

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© 2003 American Cinematographer.