The January 2013 issue of American Cinematographer magazine, which has a special focus on awards-season releases.
Django Unchained (Weinstein Co.)
Robert Richardson, ASC and director Quentin Tarantino reteamed for their fourth feature collaboration, following Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and Inglourious Basterds. This time, the focus is on the eponymous Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who's freed by the bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz); together, they set off in search of Django's wife (Kerry Washington) and the notorious masked gang that sold her into slavery on the plantation of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). With locations in California, Louisiana and Wyoming, Richardson opted to shoot the epic tale of revenge in anamorphic 35mm.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Warner Bros.)
Andrew Lesnie, ASC, ACS and director Peter Jackson returned to Middle-earth for the first of a three-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved novel, The Hobbit. Set prior to the events of the trilogy of films that comprise The Lord of the Rings, An Unexpected Journey finds the titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), answering the call to adventure and setting off with a band of dwarves who mean to reclaim a treasure stolen from them that's now guarded by the fearsome dragon, Smaug. The filmmakers captured the epic story in native 3-D with Red Epic cameras that recorded at 48 fps.
Hitchcock (Fox Searchlight)
Jeff Cronenweth, ASC and director Sacha Gervasi invited AC to visit the set of their feature-film dramatization of the making of Alfred Hitchcock's classic film, Psycho. Based on Stephen Rebello's book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the film charts the famous director's (Anthony Hopkins) personal and professional trajectory as he fought with the studio and on the home front to bring his vision to the screen. Cronenweth describes his approach to the period picture, which was shot in and around Los Angeles with Red digital cameras.
Les MisÚrables (Universal)
Danny Cohen, BSC reteamed with director Tom Hooper to bring the acclaimed stage musical, based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, to the big screen. Set in 19th-century France, the story centers around escaped parolee Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman); his pursuer, Javert (Russell Crowe); and the disgraced Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her daughter, Cosette (played as a young girl by Isabelle Allen, and as an adult by Amanda Seyfried). Cohen details the U.K.-based shoot, during which the filmmakers opted to eschew traditional playback and embrace an approach in which the actors sang live as they performed before the 35mm film cameras.
The January issue's departments also offer illuminating insights:
- Short Takes details director/cinematographer Andrew Wonder's work on the "Juice Train" spot for the G.E. Works ad campaign; among the techniques employed, Wonder rigged two Sony F3 cameras to the front of a freight train that traveled from Florida to New Jersey, and recorded the length of the journey with Cinedeck RX units.
- Production Slate spotlights cinematographer Linus Sandgren's work on Gus Van Sant's Promised Land, which was shot in 4-perf 35mm with Vantage Film's Hawk 1.3x anamorphic lenses for a final aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
- Post Focus details Technicolor's recent restoration of Sunset Boulevard, and also offers a wrap-up of the 2012 Hollywood Post Alliance Awards.
- ASC Close-Up spotlights Society member Newton Thomas Sigel, whose credits include the features The Usual Suspects, Three Kings, X-Men, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Brothers Grimm, Superman Returns, Towelhead, Leatherheads, Drive and the upcoming Jack the Giant Slayer.