Claudio Miranda on Shooting 'Oblivion' with the Sony F65 & How They Created a Gorgeous In-Camera Effect
Last month cinematographer Claudio Miranda, ASC, took home the Academy’s top prize for cinematography for his work on Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. His forthcoming feature, Oblivion, will be the first major motion picture shot with the Sony F65, and he recently talked with Jon Fauer of Film and Digital Times Magazine about his experiences with the camera, as well as some of the interesting techniques that the production used in place of shooting with a blue screen. Check out the trailer and a special behind-the-scenes video for Oblivion below:
According to Miranda, the decision to shoot with the F65 was born out of both a technical and an aesthetic need. It was known from the beginning that the film would be shot in 4k in order to create a more immersive experience, especially for the scenes shot on location in Iceland. Even though they were unable to completely finish in 4K due to the fact that it would have added significant costs and well over a month to post-production (especially since it was such an effect-intensive film), shooting in 4k and down-rezzing helped the team maintain the clinical level of detail in the final image that the project called for. When asked about his experiences with the F65 and how he would compare it to other digital cinema cameras, Miranda had this to say:
It’s a little cleaner. It’s very resolute and it has a huge color gamut. There’s a huge dynamic range. It holds well in the highlights. It gives you a great base for being malleable. For Oblivion, the look of this movie was F65.
The Oblivion team also used some incredibly unique techniques in regards to the production design. Check out this awesome behind-the-scenes video which explains the process:
Here again is Miranda to fill us in on the details of shooting with live projection:
For Oblivion, we had a 500 foot wide by 42 foot tall screen with 21 projectors. This gave us real-time 15K motion picture front projection. We sent a second unit to the top of a volcano in Hawaii for two or three weeks and they shot cloud formations from this high vantage point. We took all that footage and stitched the 3 cameras together and created this 15K image that would play live. Behind the actors was a real environment. The actors loved being in it.
What blows me away even more than the fact that these seemingly crazy special-effects shots were done entirely in-camera is the fact that nearly all of the lighting for these Sky Tower scenes came directly from the projection light bouncing off of the muslin projection surface. Maybe it’s just the cinematographer in me saying, “Wait a minute, you can’t do that with so little light,” but it’s fascinating to see the insane possibilities of these new, high sensitivity chips coupled with fast lenses (Miranda used Master Primes at a 1.4/2 split). Interestingly enough, the cloud background plates were shot on the RED EPIC, but Miranda felt that the mechanical shutter of the F65 actually helped sell the effect better than any electronic shutter camera, even at 180 degrees.
Also, be sure to check out the rest of Film and Digital Times interview with Miranda.
What do you guys think? Do you think the F65 will start gaining traction in Hollywood? What about using front-projection in place of traditional blue screen compositing? Is that something that will change the way these special-effects driven films are made, or is the technique only applicable to this film? Let us know in the comments.