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Indy 4: Anamorphic, Super 35, or HD?


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#1 Saul Pincus

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 11:21 PM

Now that Lucasfilm and Amblin have jointly confirmed they're moving forward with this project (this was confirmed an hour ago by the Hollywood Reporter), does anyone care to take bets on what the primary origination format will be? Will Lucas use the force to convert his friend Steven to the merits of HD?

For consistency's sake, I'd hope for true scope. Spielberg's and Slocombe's focus pulls for the first three films often heartily acknowledge the anamophic format's optical distortions ? but the filmmaker hasn't shot a true scope film in years.

Saul
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 11:30 PM

Unfortunately, Super-35 is more likely (or even HD, because of Lucas) rather than anamorphic, unless Spielberg really desires to match the whole series. I talked to some camera crew people who worked for Spielberg and they said Spielberg hated working in anamorphic and felt that his former DP's had (somewhat) forced it upon him. Not that Super-35 was an option in the 1970's when he started...
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 12:50 AM

Dave, you obviously love anamorphic, why would you guess Speilberg hated using them? Was it the lack of DOF relitive to the frame size or the restrictions of f-stops to the mid range for best results and difficulty of using them under low light conditions or the rack focus "breathing" problem OR maybe it's all those things and he doesn't feel the gain in picture quaility is worth the limitations imposed by using anamorphic lenses? I was also wondering if anamorphics lend themselves well to VFX? Speilberg does a lot of VFX movies and the first 3 "Indy" movies were no exception. If they don't lent themselves to VFX, it would of course, make sense that he hated using them. Just curious what you think. B)
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 01:14 AM

No, nothing to do with efx -- most of his anamorphic movies were shot before the all-digital effects era (I think "Hook" was his last) and the effects plates were shot in VistaVision or 65mm anyway in order to use a larger negative for the optical printing process (and use spherical lenses on miniatures.) Even if Super-35 was available back then, they still would have used VistaVision or 65mm for the efx work.

I don't really know what the issues are with Spielberg and anamorphic (and how much to separate that from Kaminski's camera crew's attitude toward anamorphic), but considering the extreme dolly moves that Spielberg likes to make from wide to very tight, I'm sure this was more difficult with anamorphic lenses, although he pulled it off.

I've always wondered how the anamorphic lens and focus-puller managed the shot in "Raiders" where Indy runs down an alleyway chasing Marion's basket and ends up running up into an ECU, which then pulls back, pans over, and cranes up into a wide shot as he runs into the marketplace full of similar baskets (a visual gag sort of stolen from Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" where the police run into the train terminal looking for Cary Grant with a red cap and see dozens of workers in red caps.)

Spielberg likes to work fast and he probably feels that anamorphic lenses and composing for 2.40 are both more time-consuming -- in fact, I read an interview where he said this was one reason he preferred 1.85 these days, because he felt that he had to work harder to compose a 2.40 frame well. Of course, that didn't stop him from composing "Minority Report" and "Munich" in 2.40.

Spielberg has also been on this "anti-slick" campaign, pretty much coinciding with his work with Kaminski -- this has meant embracing things like grain, for example. He probably feels that his anamorphic movies looked too slick and polished, although again, I wonder what he wants to do with the next Indy movie visually.
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 01:53 AM

"Minority Report" and "Munich" were 2 of his last big action movies, so maybe he'll stick with anamorphic for "Indy 4". What did he use for "War of the Worlds"?
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#6 Rod Otaviano

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 02:02 AM

I'm reading a book called "Steven Spielberg Interviews" from the series "Conversations with Filmmakers", and there's an interview where he was asked why he chose 1.85 for "Saving Private Ryan" instead of 2.35:1.

I'm gonna quote his answer: "To me, widescreen formats like CinemaScope were a Hollywood invention of the 1950's. I find widescreen to be an artificial aspect ratio, whereas 1.85 more closely approximates the way the human eye really sees, in the sense that we see as high to low as we do from side to side. If I had to make a choice, I'd rather see from high to low. I think the most human perspective is (the range) from 1.66:1 to 1.85:1. The slickest format for theater is 2.35:1. I've chosen 1.85:1 for my last four pictures because they were intended to be more lifelike."
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 02:40 AM

I think it's safe to say Spielberg will be shooting film. Lucas may push for it, but Spielberg's love affair with actual film is pretty strong.
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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 04:27 AM

I doubt the'll even be much of a discussion. Those guys have been friends and colleges for years and respect the Hell out of each other. They work increadibly well and if Speilberg is directing, there is no way Lucas would put pressure on him do anything he didn't want to do. Spielberg MAY however go with scope because of what he said in the interview, this is not a "lifelike" film, it's an action/adventure epic that's bigger than life, so he might be more inclined go with what worked before and embrace the "slickness" in this particular case. The only thing that makes me question it is "War of the Worlds" That was a a bigger than life movie as well but it was also a horror flick with a very human story so maybe if he used 1.85 on that one it was because he wanted to give the film as much of a natural feel as possible in order to help the audenice identify with the charatures in the story and to enhance the terror for the audience, make it easier for us to feel as though we were a part of the masses in the story OR maybe it's the height thing. The alien machines were suppose to be tall so the height of the frame played into making them more formitable looking, giving the audence the feeling of these things towering over them and the people on screen. It makes sence to use that aspect ratio for a picture where hieght is important. B)
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#9 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 11:22 AM

I talked to some camera crew people who worked for Spielberg and they said Spielberg hated working in anamorphic and felt that his former DP's had (somewhat) forced it upon him. Not that Super-35 was an option in the 1970's when he started...


The cinematographers guild web site features an interview with Allen Daviau (who shot "E.T.", Spielberg's first non-anamorphic theatrical film) in which he covers this subject:

Before E.T., Steven had never directed a film in anything but anamorphic format. Movies were anamorphic to him. And I'm saying, Steven, you've got so much of this film taking place in a closet, do you really want to have that anomorphic lenses? You're not going to be able to focus as close and we'll be able to work at a lower light level (with spherical lenses), which was really very important in this film.


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#10 Tony Brown

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 02:32 PM

I've always wondered how the anamorphic lens and focus-puller managed the shot in "Raiders" where Indy runs down an alleyway ................


That was a 55mm Macro C Series..... I think we only had two in London.... Robin Vidgeon was the focus puller on Raiders and Temple of Doom, on which we did a similar shot with Harrison Ford and the infamous macro..... We had a Vista Vision unit with us all the time shooting plates.

I hope they stay with Anamorphic...... If Spielberg ever saw the last Star Wars I'm sure he will.....
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#11 Troy Warr

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 04:13 PM

Since Spielberg is such a die-hard fan of film, it'll be interesting to see if Lucas will try to convince him to get his feet wet in HD. I would think that if Spielberg is ever going to shoot in HD, this would be the film that he would try it out on. Who better to show you the ropes in that arena than Lucas?

I can see them deciding to shoot anamorphic to keep consistency with the rest of the series, but since it's been almost 20 years since the last film, I can also see wanting to break off and approach the film with a fresh visual style. Obviously Harrison's not getting any younger, so I would assume the action would be a bit more subdued, which might lend itself to a different format.

Then again, since it's a pet project of sorts, I can see Spielberg potentially taking a conservative approach to the visual style. If Spielberg wanted to try shooting digital, I guess he might want to do it on a less personal project in case he ends up saying "I'll never do that again."

Tough to say, but an interesting question.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 06:02 PM

I wonder if they'll set the story in the 1960's... that could be an interesting twist.
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#13 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 08:52 PM

Obviously Harrison's not getting any younger, so I would assume the action would be a bit more subdued, which might lend itself to a different format.


All the more reason to shoot film. HD has a bad tendency to show every flaw in an actor's face and if you cut back on the action all the more reason to exploit the scenery and exotic locals to help hold the audences interest. B)
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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 10:05 PM

I wonder if they'll set the story in the 1960's... that could be an interesting twist.

I'll bet ya they put it in the 50's at the hight of the cold war, replace the Nazis with communists and have an artifact in the some eastern block country. That's what I would do. Although putting it into the termoil of the 60's could be interesting, maybe set in Cambodia wuth those Cambodian temples and pyramids during the war but that may be to controversal. B)
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#15 Adrian Correia

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 10:29 PM

Don't underestimate Spielberg's knowledge and respect for cinematic history. He will dealing with the legacy of three of his most loved films so I expect him to shoot film and possibly anamorphic...with the advent of the DI who knows. I for one hope he utilizes the visual template established in the previous films and maybe tries to craft something that complements the series.
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#16 Igor Trajkovski

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 12:11 AM

Is Janusz DP-ing?

I'll bet ya they put it in the 50's at the hight of the cold war, replace the Nazis with communists and have an artifact in the some eastern block country.B)


Somehow this reminds me more of a Bond scenario.
:)

I know what are they going to shoot with...

RED ONE @ 4K!

Just kidding.
:)


Regards

Igor


PS: I don't intend to start a new "cold" RED
and "open" film vs digital war.

Respect to Jim and his project.
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#17 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 04:49 AM

Somehow this reminds me more of a Bond scenario.
:)


Funny you should mention that, the reason Speilberg originally did the first "Indy" film was that he wanted to direct a James Bond picture and because is was an Engish only franchise, he wasn't allowed to so Lucas told him about this idea he had about making a movie like the old serials from the 30's that would have the same kind of action and adventure and that's how "Raiders of the Lost Ark" cane into being. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 03 January 2007 - 04:53 AM.

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