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info on "Tucker" and "Kalifornia"


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#1 Mike Williamson

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 08:56 PM

I'm trying to find articles or information on two films: "Tucker", directed by Coppola and shot by Storaro, and "Kalifornia", directred by Dominic Sena and shot by Bojan Bazelli.

Does anyone know if American Cinematographer covered either of these films? Any other articles or interviews would be of interest as well. I've got the "Writer of Light" book on Storaro that mentions "Tucker" briefly in a few places, but that's about all I've got right now. All help is appreciated, thanks!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 09:38 PM

I don't recall either film being covered in "American Cinematographer". I have a xerox of an old "Lighting Dimensions" article on "Tucker" -- not too detailed, since Storaro is always loathe to discuss technical information. He mentions being influenced by Norman Rockwell and Italian Futurist paintings. He mentions that colors & shadows become more exaggerated and the lighting & movement more dynamic yet confining as the film goes on.

The article says that the movie was shot on Arri BL's with Technovision anamorphic lenses.

As far as the choice of film stock, Storaro these days favors mostly using 200T stock for interiors when possible, but back in 1987 when "Tucker" was shot, there was no 200T option. At the time, Kodak had two high-speed 400T stocks, one was 5294 and the other was 5295.

5295 came out in 1985, after than 5294, and was designed for shooting bluescreen shots when slow-speed 5247 (125T) stock was not practical. It might have had T-grains in the fast magenta layer and the slow blue layer like 7292 did (the first MP stock to use T-grains), also released in that year, but I'm not sure.

Both 5294 and 5295 were replaced by the first EXR 500T stock, 5296. But before that happened, it does create some confusion historically as to which of the two 400T stocks were used on many Hollywood features. 5295 was a little more contrasty and slightly less grainy, but it was also more expensive. Many DP's preferred the softer contrast of 5294, overexposing it to reduce the graininess. One of the first uses of 5295 was to shoot some bluescreen shots for "Star Trek 4".

Anyway, since much of "Dick Tracy" was shot on 5295 (5296 must have come out just after they finished production), I suspect that 5295 was also used for "Tucker" (as well as 125T 5247). The first 250D stock (5297) was also released in the same year as 5295 but I never found out if Storaro ever used that stock.

At the time, Storaro would have also used Technicolor Lab's ENR process for the prints of "Tucker".

Edited by David Mullen, 18 December 2005 - 09:42 PM.

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#3 Mike Williamson

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 10:24 PM

Thanks for the help, David, great info as always. It's interesting to hear what Storaro was drawing on, it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. I haven't seen much in the way of Futurist painting, but the techno-worship aspect of Futurism seems pretty on target for a movie about a guy building cars.

Anyone have info on "Kalifornia"? Besides looking for articles, I haven't seen the two disc DVD and I'm wondering if the special features are worth tracking down or if the stuff is basically fluff.

I've been looking at both films, and I'm getting the impression that both use multi-bank tungsten units on day exteriors. After seeing some examples from "Tucker" that David pointed out in an old thread, there are a few points where you see the telltale wacky multiple shadow thing happening in both films. Besides the shadows, I'm interested in figuring out how these lights look different from large single sources in terms of sculptiing faces. I've read Storaro talk about how these units allow the light to seep around window frames without casting shadows, but what about in day exterior where you're not trying to light around stuff in the foreground? Do they still have a unique quality?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 11:37 PM

You can see the use of the multi-bank tungsten "Jumbos" (banks of punchy ACL's -- aircraft landing lights) here in these frames, as a late afternoon sunlight effect:

Posted Image

Posted Image

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Storaro's main reason for using these instead of HMI's is that they are dimmable.

While the fringey pattern is technically a "mistake" you could justify it as some sort of broken pattern from the sun shining through leaves or something.
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#5 Mike Williamson

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Posted 19 December 2005 - 03:59 AM

Thanks David, those were the frames I was thinking of, specifically the close-up of the drawing.
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#6 Josh Silfen

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Posted 19 December 2005 - 10:56 AM

Those frames bring up a question that I have from time to time on set. In particular, I'm referring to the middle frame, the close-up of Jeff Bridges, which I think is a beautiful image by the way. I know that the term "three-point lighting" is more of a general idea than an actual way of working which is always or even usually adhered to in practice, but in my experience it seems like it's generally agreed upon that there is always a key light. When I see that close-up, I only see back light and fill. I'm guessing that in this case most people would call the back light the key light, but to me, it doesn't seem to fit with the only definition of key light that I am aware of: the predominant light on a subject or scene. To me it seems like the fill light is the key light, and in that case, does it mean that there is no fill? Or does there not always have to be a key light?

I know it's really just a question of semantics, and it doesn't really matter as long as everyone's on the same page, but lately I've shot some stuff in a similar vein -- with fill and back light and nothing that really strikes me as being a key -- and then the gaffer starts talking about the key light and I'm not exactly sure what he's referring to.

So, in an effort to avoid confusion, my question is: is there a general consensus on what these two light sources should be called? Thanks for any opinions.
-Josh Silfen

Edited by Josh Silfen, 19 December 2005 - 10:57 AM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 December 2005 - 11:37 AM

No, there's no general consensus.

You could call that frontal light on Jeff Bridge's face a soft frontal "key", slightly underexposed, or you could say that you're just "filling him in" with a little bounce but not call it a key, etc.

Sometimes the best lighting is the hardest to find neat labels for.
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