The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Return to Table of Contents March 2010 Return to Table of Contents
Shutter Island
Page 2
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John C. Flinn III, ASC
Sol Negrin, ASC
Presidents Desk
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up

To boost the illumination provided by Teddy’s match, the crew used handheld butane cans that generated small flames. “There were usually two [special-effects artists] moving in sync with the camera as it tracked with Leo,” explains Richardson. “When the match went out, the flames went out. When the match was re-struck, the flames came back up. The butane flames were the key. When we shot Teddy’s point of view, the flame bars were enhanced with a larger bar placed near the camera to light the cell bars in the foreground and send light into the cells. Flame bars give me the color of a match flame, and I prefer the effect to electrical fluctuations through a dimmer board because the flame is in motion, and beyond that, it varies — there are inconsistencies that are often mysterious and unexpected. In the DI, Yvan worked on the walls, sometimes darkening them to help reduce the excess light that came from the butane lighters.

“In general,” he adds, “I don’t look to motivation as a guide in how to light a sequence. It’s not that I don’t utilize motivation, but I’d say my philosophy is more emotionally or psychologically driven.”

Another striking lighting setup is Teddy’s first vision of Dolores in their apartment, and Richardson notes that the scene also illustrates how he and his collaborators, including production designer Dante Ferretti and costume designer Sandy Powell, tailored their work to make the most of the Kodachrome LUT. “As Teddy moves down the hallway of his Boston apartment toward his wife, the walls vibrate with a vivid green, the actors’ faces glow with deep saturation, and Michelle’s red lipstick is intensely vivid,” says Richardson. “To enhance the Kodachrome look, we took a highly unnatural approach to the lighting, using 20Ks and Dinos for backlight and making all frontal light the result of passive bounce. The extremely hot backlights — which were more than 8 stops over — created a visual dynamic that catapulted the LUT onto another level.”

In post, Richardson cut light from the walls, creating a soft pinhole effect that slowly widens as DiCaprio approaches Williams. When the actors embrace in the living room, the camera moves toward DiCaprio’s face, then pivots 180 degrees toward Williams. During this move, Richardson subtly finessed the backlight. “I had two keys that were dimmed during the move, so the first served as a backlight as I approached Leo. Then, as I moved from his face to hers, a backlight on the opposite side was brought up to become a backlight on her. Again, no light was added to their faces beyond the passive bounce reflecting off each of them.”

Dream logic takes over as the apartment catches fire. Water begins oozing from Williams’ belly, and the fluid soon turns to blood; she then turns to ash and disintegrates, leaving DiCaprio empty-armed. “About half of that shot was done practically, and the rest was CGI,” says Legato. “That’s my style. If there’s any way to shoot something practically, even if it’s a separate element, I do that before I resort to CGI. The mix can fool your eye into thinking what it sees is real.” In this case, the filmmakers first shot Williams in DiCaprio’s arms, and then she slipped out so they could film DiCaprio completing his action. The two shots of DiCaprio were then stitched together. Meanwhile, “Legacy Effects artists created an ashen figure that was pre-rigged to fall apart,” says Legato. “When we pulled it, it disintegrated. You add some CGI to that, stitch it all together, do some paint fixes and, little by little, you create the illusion.”

Working with a cinematographer as gifted as Richardson makes such work more demanding than it sounds, Legato adds. “Bob has an innate sense of cinema, and his brain just clicks in exactly where the camera needs to go, how it moves and where the light should be. It’s a bit like Mozart and music: it seems effortless, but when you try to re-create it, only then do you appreciate how much skill and art were involved.”    



3-perf Super 35mm, 65mm and High-Definition Video

Panavision Panaflex Millenium, PFX System 65 Studio; Arri 765, D-21

Panavision Primo and System 65 lenses

Kodak Vision3 500T 5219; Vision2 200T 5217, 100T 5212

Digital Intermediate

Printed on Kodak Vision Premier 2393 and Vision 2383


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