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Bee Season - Giles Nuttgens


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#1 Jason Debus

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 03:43 AM

I just saw Bee Season this past weekend, and was very impressed with the images by Giles Nuttgens. I have a soft spot for anamorphic anyways. He seemed to capture the story so elegantly with his choice of tones and colors, using shallow focus for much of the film. I guess you would call it 'realistic' style lighting. The images did have some magic, and I'm sure a great cast and art direction had a lot to do with it. If anyone knows what kind of lenses & stock were used, please post. There was a Kodak logo at the end so at the very least I guess it was printed on Kodak stock. There were credits for color timers so it appears to not have undergone a DI.

The theatre I saw it at appeared to be not as wide as the trailer (which is 2.35 or 2.40), is it possible anamorphic films get clipped at some theatres? Perhaps because of the screen size or something? The screen was curved, so perhaps it was just my perception. There were only six other people in the theatre which is a shame, this is a great film. (boxofficemojo.com has it at only $440,270 domestic US as of this posting). Any film that attempts to define our relationship with the divine has my attention, and Bee Season does this admirably.

My favorite parts of the movie (and I'll try not to spoil too much) were the shots of Juliette Binoche's character and her husband during flashbacks, and where Richard Gere's character sees what his wife has been up to (Shot-59.jpg). Also Nuttgens use of reflections (Shot-40.jpg / Shot-50.jpg) were pretty nice, a great balance of reflection vs subject, which makes things more interesting especially when there's a lot of scenes of people driving in cars.

I've also posted a plethora of screen caps from the 1080p trailer below. If you haven't seen what 1080p H.264 looks like, check them out. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the quality that we'll see from HD-DVD & Blu-Ray? It's definitely a step way above DVD, but I'm somewhat disappointed of the still noticeable compression. Perhaps with the higher storage on the new HD-DVD & Blu-Ray disks that they can get away with less compression?

I've yet to see the trilogy of films from Deepa Mehta; Fire, Earth, and Water. I've moved Fire and Earth to the top of my NetFlix queue, but still haven't found a theatre that is running Water (it was supposedly released sometime this year?). If anyone knows where Water is playing in the LA area, let me know! After Bee Season I think I'm a Giles Nuttgens fan for life. I think I may even revisit Swimfan and Battlefield Earth, which I think I erased from my memory after seeing them. :D

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 12:05 PM

All scope prints have a 2X compression and the anamorphic projector lens doubles that back out to look normal, but there are some variations on masks in the gate (old 2.35 versus modern 2.39) and on top of that, the screen itself often crops part of the image. I've seen it as bad as cropped to 2:1.

It's funny because I shot a spelling bee movie called "Akeelah and the Bee" which will be coming out in April and we also shot it in anamorphic. Looking at the trailer, I see that Nuttgens faced some of the issues I had, which is how these spellling bee events should be lit. He sort of went for a soft-light approach, whereas I (partly to save time but also for realism's sake) mixed both hard stage lighting -- which is often what these events use -- occasionally cheated with a softer key light for the person at the mic. But seeing how pretty his shots look, I sometimes wonder if I should have just cheated more and used more soft light! I had to cover these events a little more like a documentary at times.

I'd say that my film has a little more of a Los Angeles feeling, whatever that means, more urban. This film looks very "East Coast" to me. Also, this movie is more of a family drama with a lower-key moodier feeling; "Akeelah" has moments of that but it's also something of a sport movie trying to make these events as dynamic as possible. And it has a lighter tone in general.

Edited by David Mullen, 28 November 2005 - 12:06 PM.

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#3 Mike Williamson

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 01:28 PM

I was very disappointed in "Bee Season" and thought it was apallingly bad on a number of levels. The photography was easily the best thing it had going for it, it had some nice shots when you could see through the terrible CGI plastered on top of it. I'm not sure if anyone has technical specs on it, but my guess would be that it was shot largely on 5229.
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#4 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:06 PM

The theatre I saw it at appeared to be not as wide as the trailer (which is 2.35 or 2.40), is it possible anamorphic films get clipped at some theatres? Perhaps because of the screen size or something? The screen was curved, so perhaps it was just my perception.


---Sure some theaters crop them in projection.
One of the main down town theaters here, when there were theaters down town, showed scope and 70mm movies at 2:1 and flat movies at 1.66:1.
When they opened a mini annex, everything in there was shown 1.85:1.

At some point the Cinerama theatre, now a shopping arcade, began showing everything on the Cinerama screen. Scope movies had unsharp edges with a lot of light fall off, but the flat movies looked okay at 1.66:1. They fit the flater center of the screen okay.

The older theaters tended to show all flat movies at 1.66:1. Which is how I found out most flat Italian movies were shot with 1.85:1 hardmattes.

---LV
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#5 Jason Debus

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 10:40 PM

Thanks for the info on theatre projection, now I feel ripped off. My local theatres do have a few screens where they show the full scope print, but unfortunately it's usually crap movies playing on them.

I was very disappointed in "Bee Season" and thought it was apallingly bad on a number of levels. The photography was easily the best thing it had going for it, it had some nice shots when you could see through the terrible CGI plastered on top of it.


On the CGI, I agree it wasn't that great. But it didn't take me out of the story so I would call it 'good enough', not going to win any awards for special effects though.

It's funny because I shot a spelling bee movie called "Akeelah and the Bee" which will be coming out in April and we also shot it in anamorphic. Looking at the trailer, I see that Nuttgens faced some of the issues I had, which is how these spellling bee events should be lit. He sort of went for a soft-light approach, whereas I (partly to save time but also for realism's sake) mixed both hard stage lighting -- which is often what these events use -- occasionally cheated with a softer key light for the person at the mic. But seeing how pretty his shots look, I sometimes wonder if I should have just cheated more and used more soft light! I had to cover these events a little more like a documentary at times.

I'd say that my film has a little more of a Los Angeles feeling, whatever that means, more urban. This film looks very "East Coast" to me. Also, this movie is more of a family drama with a lower-key moodier feeling; "Akeelah" has moments of that but it's also something of a sport movie trying to make these events as dynamic as possible. And it has a lighter tone in general.


I'm definitely looking forward to "Akeelah and the Bee", and really appreciate the set reports you gave us on it. The trailer has been up forever (which looks great by the way), Lions Gate is sure taking their time releasing it!

ICG has a nice write up on Bee Season and Giles Nuttgens in their November 2005 issue:

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Shot on a Panavision Platinum with a set of E-Series anamorphic lenses ranging from 60mm to 180mm, with a 1.4 Primo adapter.

Interiors: 5218 (500T) and 5279 (Vision 500T), using the 79 when pushing the film a stop.
Night Exteriors: 5279 (Vision 500T)
Daytime Exteriors: 5277 (320T) rated at 120

Regarding the film Water (shot by Nuttgens with Deepa Mehta), I noticed Apple has a trailer up of it here:

Water Trailer

Let me know if anyone knows if this will be playing in the LA area!
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#6 Jason Debus

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 12:00 PM

Apple has a new trailer up for Water, looks like it opens April 28, 2006 in the US.

Water Trailer A
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