During the shoot, ArriRaw files were recorded to Codex recorders via T-link connection. Concurrently, ProRes 4:4:4:4 files were recorded in Log C format to in-camera SxS Pro cards (purely for backup in case of emergency). Then Avid Media files were derived from the original ArriRaw material — along with all metadata — for dailies and editorial work. After the film's editing was completed, the ArriRaw files (with the metadata) would be conformed in sequence for the final digital grade.
This all formed part of a workflow provided by EC3, a collaborative entity that allows Deluxe facilities EFilm and Company 3 to combine resources and offer services to productions on location as well as in post. For Skyfall’s final grade, Deakins worked with two colorists, Mitch Paulson of EFilm in Hollywood and Adam Glasman of Company 3 in London.
From a photographic standpoint, some of the most complicated scenes in Skyfall appear in the major action sequence that serves as the movie’s climax, which takes place on the Scottish moors. Deakins explains, “It involves interior and exterior scenes of a mansion and, later, a chapel, and it goes from daytime to dusk to night. The night work involves explosions, a spotlight from a helicopter and a firelit chase across the moors. It’s an extended sequence of light change, and we were shooting the various elements on very different days. Take that dawn scene in No Country for Old Men [AC Oct. ’07] and multiply it by 50 — that’s how difficult it was!
“The hardest thing was the interior of the mansion, which we built onstage at Pinewood, because of the changes to the light coming in from outside,” he continues. “On that set, I used bounced HMIs outside the windows and almost nothing inside. We started off with white bounce and then went to a blue bounce material, and then we took the blue away and just used black drapes around the set to build up the feeling of the light dying. We even started filtering the HMIs, and eventually, we got up to Full plus Half CTB to get that deep twilight before we went into complete darkness.”
Once darkness fell, Deakins had to create the effect of a helicopter searchlight shining through the windows and following Bond around the space inside. He notes, “We created a big trackway on the ceiling outside the set, a computer-controlled lighting rig that would zip a 6K Par around the house.” The movement of this searchlight had to match between the interior on stage and the exterior on location. “On our location ‘set,’ we shot some of the scene with a real helicopter mounted with a Midnight Sun,” says Deakins. “We did some closer work with a 6K Par that was mounted to a camera remote head on a tower crane, and which was controlled by a camera operator with the help of a witness camera.”
The chase across the moors was filmed inside the largest stage at Longcross Studios, just west of London. At this point in the story, the mansion has caught fire, and the action had to look as if it was being lit by the flames in the deep background. Higgins explains, “We built a tapered rig of 32 Dinos gelled with ¾ and ½ CTO, using each Dino bulb like a pixel on an LED screen, so we could program in images of fire and the lamps would mimic it. Roger had us make this rig very hot in the middle and then fading out toward the edge. We started running the Dinos at up to 80 percent, with the flicker, and then as the fire goes out, we dropped that off. We also filled the set with smoke because the weather was meant to be foggy. The effect was very eerie.”
“The idea was to use the Dinos to make the smoke filling the stage look like it was lit quite naturalistically by fire sources, and then replace the Dinos with CG fire in post,” adds Deakins. “We did much the same thing for the oil fires in Jarhead.”
Summing up his latest collaboration with Deakins, Mendes observes, “I think we probably had more fun on this movie than on any we have done together in the past, even though it’s been the hardest work and the largest scale. I think we were able to use the resources of a Bond movie to achieve things that are simply not possible on a smaller budget.
“Shooting digitally is a different rhythm of work, but in the end, it’s just a choice,” he continues. “Can I imagine shooting a movie on film again with Roger? Yes. Would there be moments where I thought, ‘This wouldn’t have happened with digital’? Yes, there would be. I will certainly shoot movies on film again, but perhaps not a movie of this scale.”