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Cannes 2018: Here Are the Cameras Used To Shoot 32 of This Year’s Films

Cinematography Survey: The world's best cinematographers explain how they created looks for Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman," "Under the Silver Lake,” and more.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote Cinematographer Nicola Pecorini

Cinematographer Nicola Pecorini shooting “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”

Diego Lopez Calvin

Out of Competition

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

"The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" Adam Driver

“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”

© Alan Amato

Dir: Terry Gilliam
DP: Nicola Pecorini
Format: 3.4K ARRI RAW Open Gate and GoPro RAW 2.7K Linear
Camera: ARRI Alexa ST, 2 ARRI Alexa Mini, GoPro Session5
Lens: Technovision Anamorphic Lenses (25mm t 1.6, 35mm t 1.4, 40mm t 2.3, 50mm t 1.4, 75mm t 2.8, 85mm t 1.6, 100mm t 2.8, 135mm t 3, 180mm t 3.4, 250mm t 3.4, 12:1 48-580mm t4, 40mm light weight t 2.5) and occasionally a Master Prime 14mm spherical for “Toby’s movie.”

Pecorini: We always wanted to shoot ‘Quixote’ on film because we believe it’s still the best tool to capture images. Unfortunately, the lack of a film lab in Spain did not allow for it. (No European lab works weekends or nights.) Therefore, we had to shoot digital, and in my opinion the Alexa system is the best available. In order to compensate for the inevitable ‘digital’ look, I suggested to shoot it anamorphic and immediately chose the Technovision set of lenses. A wonderful set of one-of-a-kind handmade lenses specifically assembled in the late ‘70s for the needs of Vittorio Storaro on ‘Apocalypse Now.’ I know those lenses very well, having worked with Vittorio on lots of anamorphic projects and used them on some of the movies I photographed. I believed that their unique look could partially counterbalance the digital capture and provide us with a more mature cinematic look. I have to admit that I had to insist a bit with Terry; at first, he was not keen on the idea. He never shot anything with anamorphic lenses before — ‘Fear & Loathing’ was 2.35:1, but shot with spherical lenses. He probably says that I forced them on him, but I still think it was the right choice and certainly helped in providing that “epic look” we were looking for.

At the contrary, we shot most of ‘Toby’s Movie’ with a GoPro in wide/linear mode because we wanted a sharp contrast between Toby’s footage and ‘our movie.’ Occasionally, we shot some of Toby’s film scenes with the Alexa Mini on Steadicam with a 14mm Master Prime. The idea was that Toby shot a quite extraordinary short with such a visual character that it propelled him into the ‘wonderful world of advertising;’ therefore, we needed a strong visual language and I found inspiration in that extraordinary movie ‘I Am Cuba.’”

Special Screenings

“To the Four Winds”

To the Four Winds (LIbre)

“To the Four Winds”

courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival

Dir & DP: Michel Toesca
Format: DVCAM
Camera: Sony HVR -A1E
Lens: Zeiss

Toesca: When I started shooting, I had no production but an old DV CAM camera filming in a format that has not been used for a long time, 15 years. I didn’t have money to buy a new camera, and I really like this format. I find the image soft, less electric than HD formats. Thanks to this lightness of the camera, I could be there all the time. People get to know you, and above all, forget you. I actively participated as a filmmaker and an actor within the action.

“Arctic”

"Arctic" director Joe Penna

“Arctic” director Joe Penna

HELEN SLOAN SMPSP

Dir: Joe Penna
DP: Tómas Örn Tómasson
Format: ARRIRAW 4:3, 3.4K
Camera: ARRI Alexa Mini
Lens: Cookes Anamorphic

Tómasson: I wanted to use anamorphic lenses because of all the vista scenes in the script. Cookes are sharp lenses with nice character and easy to work with in difficult situations. I have always liked the look from ARRI and how robust it is. Also, being able to shoot raw and having internal ND’s was important for me; changing external filters in a snowstorm is not a fast operation.

“Pope Francis: A Man of His Word”

Wim Wenders and Pope Francis

Wim Wenders and Pope Francis

Dir: Wim Wenders
DP: Lisa Rinzler
Format: 3.2K Arri and 4K UHD Arri for our principal shoot of the interview sessions with the Pope. For the historical reenactments around Saint Francis, we shot on 35mm Kodak color negative that we then scanned in 2K. A lot of the archive material from Vatican TV was shot on Sony cameras, in 4K, in excellent quality. We also used a few other sources from all over the world, shot on different standards and formats, some good and some pretty rotten.

Camera: ARRI Alexa XT (our primary camera), Arri Alexa Mini, and for the reenactments we used a hand-cranked Debrie Parvo from the 1920s.

Lens: On the Alexas, we had a set of Zeiss T 2.1 primes, as well an Angénieux Optimo 24-290 and a Cooke 20-100. And the old hand-cranker came with a set of period Zeiss lenses from the ’60s.

Wenders: “Apart from the cameras, our main tool was the Interrotron. It works similar to a teleprompter, but Pope Francis didn’t see a text, of course, but me, and while we were face to face, for the camera he seemed to be looking into the lens, eye to eye with every viewer. That allowed me to ‘disappear’ as the interviewer, and it made for a much closer contact between the pope and the audience.

As for the cameras, I am familiar with the Alexa series, having shot several films in a row with them. And together with Lisa Rinzler, my DP, we agreed that the Alexa has a sensual, almost tactile feel and doesn’t produce “electronic” or HD-looking images. It just so happened that the two of us had worked with a hand-cranked camera before, on “Soul of a Man,” my blues film from the series that Martin Scorsese executive produced.

Our budget on “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” was minimal, and we had no art department to speak of for the historical shoot around Saint Francis, so that old camera saved us. Whatever you crank out on it has an built-in period look. Most people think we somehow found this amazing footage on Saint Francis in some old and forgotten film. Well, it’s not. And if you look closely, you might find some traces of contemporary reality in the background. The operator of the silent-era camera, Andreas Giesecke, cranked the shots at about 16 frames on the old mechanical frame counter, and we then doubled every second frame in the transfer to be back at around 24 frames, both to avoid the unwanted fast-forward effect and to be as close as possible to the look of these old spring-wound cameras.

We shot on color negative because some of these hand-cranked scenes appear out of renaissance frescoes by Giotto, and we thought we might leave some color in our scenes. In the end, we dropped that idea and scanned the negative in black-and-white. One interesting technical detail, quite unique I’m sure: At some point, we had to match frames precisely between a live-action shot on the old 35mm hand-cranker and footage of those Giotto frescoes captured previously on the Alexa Mini. Of course, the old Debrie didn’t have any video output. After some trial and error, our camera department came up with a solution. Using a Zeiss 135mm prime lens on the Alexa Mini, and diopters stacked onto the viewing port of the 35mm film camera, focus puller Laura Nespola and Giesecke were able to position the Alexa Mini in a way that it could “see through” the 35mm camera and capture the image off the focusing screen, albeit upside down and at a much smaller scale. The whole thing only worked when both cameras were perfectly aligned, and then you couldn’t move the frame a millimeter more. Using the Alexa Mini’s output, the signal was sent to the DIT who flipped the image, scaled it to match the footage already captured, and overlaid the two. In essence, they created a video tap for the century-old camera with the help of the Alexa Mini. This gave us the freedom to work with two different (if not to say, opposite) formats live on set. All in the name of turning frescoes into live action and bringing Saint Francis back to life.

Critics’ Week

“Diamantino”

"Diamantino"

“Diamantino”

Dir: Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt
DP: Charles Ackley Anderson
Format: Super 16mm
Lens: Zeiss Ultra Primes

Anderson: We decided to shoot on super 16 because it is a beautiful and familiar format for the three of us. The directors and I found 16 also gives the film good baseline connectivity through a range of formats (SR3 16mm, Red Helium), prosthetics, and post heavy effects. Along with 16mm we chose to shoot predominantly on Zeiss Ultra Primes. On “The Unity of All Things,” Daniel and I had used the Arri SR3 and Super Speed Combo and liked the effect. The Hawk V-Lite 16 anamorphics also seemed interesting, but in the end we chose Ultra Primes for a bit more color and structural uniformity. I knew the more robust housing would stand up to the abuse of clip on matte box and wireless follow focus we would be using for handheld, which was everywhere in the project. Ultra Primes were also appealing knowing that we would be using digital to shoot our green screen and plate work, and wanting to have the option to use the same set of glass on the two formats.

“Wildlife”

On the set of "Wildlife"

On the set of “Wildlife”

IFC FIlms

Dir: Paul Dano
DP: Diego García
Format: Arriraw 3.4 K
Camera: Arri Alexa XT
Lens: Panavison Primos

García: “‘Wildlife’ is a period film set in the late ’50s, but visually we wanted to make it feel like a contemporary piece. We chose the Alexa sensor because we knew that it would give us a full range in latitude and true color. Also, one of our ideas in making this film was to create images in the most pure and natural way possible in both lighting and composition. We did some research about vintage lenses, and ended up using the spherical Panavison primes from the ’90s that are very clean, precise and correct, but have very nice subtleties in texture and detail without being too sharp. I guess the ’90’s are considered vintage now. I thought I needed fast lenses because we wanted to work with a lot of available light at different times of the day, and these lenses allowed us to feel free to shoot wide open and still get a clean image. We had our special 50mm T1 for particular dramatic moments. We used it just for emotional close portraits.

Un Certain Regard

“El Angel”

Julian Apezteguia on the set of "El Angel"

Julian Apezteguia on the set of “El Angel”

Marcos Ludevid

Dir: Luis Ortega
DP: Julian Apezteguia
Format: Alexa Prores XQ 3.2k
Camera: Alexa Mini & Alexa XT
Lens: Carl Zeiss 1.3 set

Apezteguia: When I read the script and had the first talks with director Luis Ortega, I realized his intention was not to make a dark, morbid film about a ruthless killer, but to tell the story from the point of view of this teenager who sees these thefts and murders as a game, or a part of a life of adventures, feeling no remorse and careless about the consequences. Our images should transmit this view of life, so we decided to go for bright and colorful images. We found a good reference for this in still pictures shot on reversal film like Kodachrome and Ektachrome. High contrast and saturation, with a slight deviation on the color rendering bringing up reds and cyans. Alexa gave us a good color reproduction and a great latitude to work in post, but in order to have some distinctive signature we decided to shot with an old set of Carl Zeiss T1.3, which I love for the shallow depth of field and the soft look that old lenses provide. Additionally, we used two filters to alter the color: a yellow/blue Varipola filter for the exterior shots, and an enhancing filter to get more saturated reds and deep greens when using fluorescent fixtures. Lighting was also a tool to create this mood, particularly in the night scenes, mixing sodium with fluorescents and using color gels to increase the color contrast.

“The Dead and the Others”

"The Dead and the Others"

“The Dead and the Others”

Dir: João Salaviza, Renée Nader Messora
DP: Messora
Format: S16mm
Camera: Aaton XTR PROD
Lens: 16mm Zeiss Distagon, 12mm Zeiss Distagon, Canon 8-64mm

Messora: We instinctively felt that this film had to be shot on film. When you live in the Cerrado (Brazilian Savannah), with an infinite amount of greenish tones in the foliage, with all the reddish tones of the land, the dryness of the landscape that totally changes when the rainy season comes — I really wanted to share that. I think the film was the ideal format to capture all this reality.

The limited amount of negative compelled us to be disciplined, and in a way, did not let us fall into the temptation of filming everything, which would certainly lead us onto a fetishistic and dangerous path. What’s more, filming miles away from everything, in high temperatures, without a film crew and without electricity, we definitely needed robust, reliable equipment. When filming with so little, you end up having to be a lot more creative, and I think we’ve come up with solutions to some technical issues that ended up being the right choices, which brought even more consistency to the mise-en-scene.

“Girl”

"Girl"

“Girl”

courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival

Dir: Lukas Dhont
DP: Frank van den Eeden
Format: 3.2K with the 1.66 aspect that refers to the old-school 16mm look.
Camera: ARRI Alexa Mini
Lens: Leika Summilux Primes (T1.4), Alura 45-250mm zoom

Eeden: “Girl” is an intimate portrait of Lara, played by Viktor Polster, who has never been in front of a camera before. We aimed for a level of realism in our visual approach and choose to mainly have a perspective from within his ‘comfort zone’. We opted to have a compact and lightweight camera body and shot mainly handheld on locations that were often very small. The lighting approach was colorful but “reality based,” with mostly natural light that we augmented with practicals. The Leica Summilux set allowed us to shoot under any condition, and we had the 35mm and 40mm as our ‘workhorse’ lenses because of their neutral look. The occasional Alura zoom was used to underline dramatic moments, to have a visual contrast between the “body” of the film and the moments of Lara’s self reflection.

“Murder Me, Monster”

Murder Me, Monster

“Murder Me, Monster”

Courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival

Dir: Alejandro Fadel
DP: Manuel Rebella, Julian Apezeguia
Format: Prores 2.8k Anamorphic and Raw (for VFX Shots)
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Hawk C Prime Anamorphic set and Angenieux Anamorphic Zoom 50-500mm

Apezeguia: After discussing the look of the film with director Alejandro Fadel and co-cinematographer Manuel Rebella, we decided to shoot with an old set of Hawk Anamorphic lenses. We felt it was the best way to get a sense of this hypnotic tale with fantastic elements mixed with our characters’ everyday life. The lenses we used forced the limits of their performance and took advantage of their artifacts and aberrations. The use of zooms to approach a character, relating them with their surroundings, and the theatrical composition were also key elements in developing the visual storytelling. The use of natural light and a muted color palette also helped us feel the cold and rough environment where the story takes place. In the final night scenes, the fire and the police flares increased the dramatic and rarified ambient giving us enough smoke to generate mystery and, at the same time, brightness to reveal the horror.

Next Page: Directors Fortnight – New Films from Ciro Guerra, Debra Granik and more.

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