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Three Reasons to see Zodiac


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#1 Angeliki Makraki

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 01:26 AM

I read three good reasons to see this movie in the Village Voice.
http://www.villagevo...75891,20.html/1
It would even be better if they wrote about how they did these shots in American Cinematographer.
Camera movement is so much more interesting than all the other tech talk....
All of us Pisces out there have to watch out !
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 02:31 AM

San Francisco is so different now from those days that they had to recreate the entire city digitally...I look forward to see all the fly over stuff and that shot of the taxi as it meanders through my favorite city.

The description of the shots sounds like vintage Fincher, can't wait!
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#3 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 05:15 AM

It would even be better if they wrote about how they did these shots in American Cinematographer.


Zodiac will be featured in the April issue of AC
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#4 Angeliki Makraki

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 01:22 PM

Zodiac will be featured in the April issue of AC


Thanks, I'll run out and get it. March 1rst I guess.
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#5 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 01:28 PM

Thanks, I'll run out and get it. March 1rst I guess.


nope. April 1st.
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#6 Raffinator

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 04:41 AM

Saw Zodiac this evening. Fantastic film. Maybe Fincher's best work. Not your typical serial murder movie. Much more honest. I'm sure some people are going to be dissapointed by its anticlimactic approach. I, for one, found it refreshing.

I'm guessing this was shot in Hi def? I had no idea until I saw a few scenes that looked suspiciously like video. Personally, I would have preferred something perhaps a bit more hard edged, less soft, than what I saw. Still, it really worked. Wonderful cinematography. The man knows how to set up a shot.

Some of those scenes in the SF Chronicle offices looked like fincher was quoting "All the presidents men".

Edited by Raffi Kondy, 03 March 2007 - 04:42 AM.

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#7 Max Jacoby

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 05:00 AM

The film was shot on the Viper.

Actually those 3 shots mentioned in article are the exact reason why I don't like Fincher, his style much too show-offy. But since it also says there that the rest of the film is much more restrained, I will definitely give it a shot. I like what I've been hearing about the film so far, sounds like it has the potential to be the first Fincher film that I'll actually like.
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#8 Max Jacoby

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 05:26 AM

The ICG article on the film is already available on www.cameraguild.com
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#9 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 05:30 AM

The ICG article on the film is already available on www.cameraguild.com


thanks for the link, Max. Can't wait to see Zodiac, I have to wait two months before it opens here in Italy :angry:
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#10 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 10:10 AM

thanks for the link, Max. Can't wait to see Zodiac, I have to wait two months before it opens here in Italy :angry:



I saw both "Zodiac" and "Wild Tigers I have Known," last night. I'll let you guys watch them first, before I add how I felt about either of them.
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#11 Troy Warr

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 12:41 PM

Actually those 3 shots mentioned in article are the exact reason why I don't like Fincher, his style much too show-offy.

I've actually always appreciated Fincher because I feel that his style has a visual economy that I don't see too much lately. Films like "The Game" and "Seven" don't seem to waste a single shot, every one being justified in its contribution to the mood or story. Most of the blockbusters that I've seen in the last 5-10 years are way too liberal in their cutting, handheld camera, and unnecessary "slick shots." "Fight Club" and "Panic Room" had some show-off shots but I still think that they were better motivated than much of what we commonly see in theaters these days.
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#12 Angeliki Makraki

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 07:54 PM

Zodiac is really well done.
Not at all slick or commercial.
It could have easily gone to three hours.
It seemed like some things that were neccesary were cut out,
in the cinematography and characters relationships.

It's the best cinematography Harris Savides has ever done.
Congratulations, Harris.

Edited by Angeliki Makraki, 03 March 2007 - 07:57 PM.

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#13 Max Jacoby

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 03:35 AM

It's the best cinematography Harris Savides has ever done.

Better than 'Elephant' and 'The Yards' in your opinion?
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#14 Kim Vickers

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 07:00 PM

I'm kind of surprised a notorious "full-frame" director like Fincher deemed 2K, 10-bit digital robust enough for big screen work. IMO, it isn't, compared with a 4K scan of 35mm neg.

Anyhow, one very good reason to see the film is to see how the Viper does in the hands of a good cameraman, and make up your own mind about it.

Unfortunately, I can't think of two more reasons.
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#15 Frank DiBugnara

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 08:41 PM

The film was the absolute darkest I've seen in a long time. After hearing so many stories about how studios get uptight about not being able to see expensive actors well, it was interesting to see five-minute dialogue sequences where the main character's entire face is what looks like (in the film equivalent) 3.5 stops under key. There was something refreshing about the dark scenes, where we are actively straining to extract detail from a very dark image--and I think it fit the story well (although it really kept attracting my attention). I could not help but think that there was a certain amount of risk involved in that, as I?m sure there are a few old dim projectors in small towns where the little detail that I was seeing was just about gone.

The darkness in the film made me ponder the difference between a low-budget/available light film and one that's got the money to be brighter and chooses to be darker. Among all the super-dark stuff, there were not any shots that had that the typical low-end available light feel... Probably a tribute to the DP.

The film looked very soft to me, though I did happen to see it on a very big screen. Something about the softness too seemed to fit the era--perhaps better suited for 1970 than a razor-sharp print.
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#16 Frank DiBugnara

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 08:54 PM

I just noticed a few interesting comments from the ICG article:

One example was a scene where Toschi and Armstrong go to interview famed personal injury attorney, Melvin Belli, who had received a hand-written Christmas card from the Zodiac in late December, 1969. Savides used separate close-ups on each investigator that were, in his words, ?extremely dark.? He says because the location was crammed tight with equipment, he had to use bounced light off the dark-wood ceiling. ?I was concerned we?d gone too far for the Viper and needed to see the scene projected,? he recalls. ?I recently saw a finished digital screening, and I was happy with it. It?s hard to put into words, but the imagery is evocative, and makes you feel something.?

Another interesting excerpt:

Savides says the rewards about working with the Viper have to be put into perspective. ?The benchmark for me has always been film, and this was a more challenging way to make a movie,? Savides concludes. ?I feel like we?re still experiencing digital cinematography in its infancy, and there are a lot of growing pains. We?re basically replacing large, cumbersome film cameras and crews with even more complex and cumbersome digital technology, with results that are roughly equal to, or in some cases, not as good as film. If this technology leads to the creation of a more flexible and streamlined shooting process, then that would be great. If I was part of that change with Zodiac then that would be great.?
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#17 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 08:55 PM

I didn't think Zodiac was a bad film, but it was rather lackluster and underwhelming, for what I came into the theatre expecting to see. In the instances where that grizzly, "Fincheresque" suspense was required, it was absent, and that killed a lot of scenes that should have worked for me. The characters (aside from gyllenhaal's), had these strange, almost nonchalant responses to some very grim and serious situations....it detracted immensely from the believability and dramatic pull of many scenes and ultimately watered down the movie to an occasionally interesting, but predominantly boring analytical account. I also, while understanding why Fincher had to reconstruct the city landscape, didn't enjoy a lot of the shots that were interspliced with computerized backgrounds. It didn't work for the content of this film and gave it this static, synthetic quality that was rather distracting to me throughout. Okay movie, but I wish I would have seen something else in its place. I expected a lot going in, as this story haunted my childhood after seeing a court tv account of it when I was about 8 years old (which I hate to say was much more effective and brooding and creepy and had better reinactments--though they were subtle--and only took 1/2 of the time of Fincher's film)....but I was ultimately underwhelmed. Also, consider the cast he had.... What was the point of hiring such power actors if they were going to play such sterile roles? For all the time it took to watch this film, the character interactions, revelations, and development were pretty lacking and uninvolving. The film may have even been more effective and authentic with lesser known actors.

It was almost like watching the serial killer version of JFK, but without the intensity and true obsession stone put into his film....this resulted in my being just as passively interested in the outcome of the case as many of the characters seemed to be (though they said differently in thier dialogue, that is how many of the actors projected themselves). The only scene that really creeped me out was in the basement of one of the suspects, but by then I was already removed from my initially deep involvement (2 hrs removed). That's just my take though.

Once again, I don't feel this was a bad film by any means....just rather underwhelming and overlong (they say a great film can't be too long and a bad film cant be too short; this one was okay).

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 04 March 2007 - 08:59 PM.

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#18 Robert Skates

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 09:33 PM

The problem I have with Zodiak is the same one I had with Miami Vice and Collateral. There were several shots in these films where the choice of lens seemed inappropriately wide. Medium wide shots with a character in the foreground and someone or something in the background. The actor(s) in the foreground seemed a little close to the lens for my taste.

Perhaps the lenses were not too wide so much as it is an odd combination of typical compression of space between foreground/background common to a longer lens and the increased DOF from the 2/3 inch chip. I can't put my finger on it. Has anyone else noticed this?
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#19 Dan Goulder

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 10:09 PM

The problem I have with Zodiak is the same one I had with Miami Vice and Collateral. There were several shots in these films where the choice of lens seemed inappropriately wide.

The Viper does seem to exaggerate wide angle lens distortion, as compared with 35mm film.
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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 11:27 PM

The Viper does seem to exaggerate wide angle lens distortion, as compared with 35mm film.


There's no reason for the camera design itself to introduce lens distortion; however, with smaller target areas like 2/3" CCD video or Super-16, wide-angle lenses have shorter focal lengths than they do for 35mm, and it's harder to make a short lens with minimal distortion. I suspect that a 7mm prime for HD, or 8mm for Super-16, would tend to have more distortion than the (roughly) equivalent 17mm lens in 35mm. Couple that with the extra depth of field that these shorter focal lengths allow, and you'll probably be noticing the wide-angle effect more.
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