ARRI sat down with Skyfall and Sicario DP Roger Deakins to discuss the ALEXA Mini LF, Signature Primes, and Trinity stabilizer used on his latest film, 1917.
There are very few people in Hollywood that command the level of respect from directors and fellow cinematographers that Roger Deakins gets. The Oscar-winning DP, who won (finally) for 2017's Blade Runner 2049, has inspired countless DPs throughout his nearly 30-year career. So when Deakins sings the praises of ARRI's equipment, filmmakers listen.
ARRI recently posted a video of Deakins sharing his thoughts on its latest offering, the ALEXA Mini LF, as well as the company’s Signature Prime lenses and the TRINITY stabilizer, which he and director Sam Mendes used on their latest film, 1917.
Compared to older camera models, the Mini LF is impressively (and welcomingly) compact. The Mini LF boasts even better sensitivity than its predecessors, thanks to the Mini LF's larger sensor size. This increase in size results in less aggressive noise, which Deakins notes makes the visuals both more pleasing and film-like.
One of the biggest draws of utilizing larger formats, like the 36.7mm x 25.54mm sensor found in the Mini LF, is the ability to shoot close-ups with less distortion on wider lenses than typically found in Super35 formats. This combines the ability to shoot both wide and intimate close-ups, allowing filmmakers to better balance depth-of-field with the overall "feeling" of the shot. Deakins even says he would be tempted to shoot exclusively on the Mini LF, which is a huge statement from such a prolific artist.
Pivoting to the Signature Primes, Deakins notes that, when looking at lenses, he wants the sharpest, cleanest ones available. He wants one that lacks both distortion and vignette, “a lens that shows the world, or records the world, the way I see it.” He has always used primes, from brands like ZEISS to Cooke. After rigorous testing, he has come to the conclusion that the Signature Primes are the cleanest available. Because Deakins so often shoots using natural light and practical sources, the minimal amount of flare produced by these lenses are part of what make them so attractive for the Oscar-winner. Despite their larger size, Deakins quickly notes they are both lightweight and very fast.
“I don’t want the technology and the presence of the film crew to kind of overwhelm the scene.”
In regards to the TRINITY, Deakins remarks that the stabilizing system has a little less camera float to its image than the traditional Steadicam look, noting that it has a more controlled and rock solid look. The flexibility of the TRINITY allows more complex shots, not typically available in such an easy to set-up and compact solution. It combines the speed of a Steadicam with the type of shots typically handled by a crane using a remote head, and it does all this without the need to lay any track at all.
Definitely do yourself a favor, and watch the legend himself talk more about how ARRI is making both yours and his productions better.