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Darius Khondji (Seven)


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#1 M Joel W

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 01:09 AM

He's used this style elsewhere, I think, but I am a pretty big fan of Darius Khondji's technique in Seven...

From what I can tell his technique for day exteriors is throwing up a lot off diff (more likely solids) over as much of the onscreen area as possible and using rain machines. I think the movie had a bleach bypass process.

I'm more interested in how the interiors were art directed, lit, filmed, and processed. A few grabs (courtesy Brangelina forums):

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These are kind of shitty. The sickly green hue and rich blacks aren't apparent here.

The movie has kind of a teal/warm look that I love (in this case) but I can't figure out how it was achieved.

It seems Khondji dimmed the practicals so that they just barely blew out, then lit the talent with warn semi-soft offside keys and slightly cooler kickers. Looks great. Rooms seem to be fogged? Or did he use hazers?

And how, then, does he keep the green tint on the rear walls while lighten the talents' skin naturalistically? Did he bounce a teal gelled light off the ceiling? And wouldn't this result in really flat lighting on the white walls, or did art design paint them sickly hues from the get go.

The other rumor is that Khondji only uses bounced light. Which would make these set ups seem insane...

HelP!
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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 04:58 AM

I love the cinematography of this movie. Khondji stated at the time that he was very influenced by Gordon Willis' work, particularly 'Klute'. Seven went through the ENR bleach bypass process which allows you to vary the strength of the effect. He also used an Arri Varicon throughout.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:43 AM

I love the cinematography of this movie. Khondji stated at the time that he was very influenced by Gordon Willis' work, particularly 'Klute'. Seven went through the ENR bleach bypass process which allows you to vary the strength of the effect. He also used an Arri Varicon throughout.


I think it was a Panaflasher in this case, but at the time, Khondji was mainly flashing higher contrast scenes. Yes, smoke on a lot of scenes.

The lighting used a lot of Kinoflos apparently. A lot of this is just good lighting, nothing complicated technically, just putting the light in the best spot for mood and contrast, letting things fall off. The frame grabs show some use of soft kickers, probably from a vertical Kinoflo. You see this a lot in "Crimson Tide" shot by Darius Wolski.
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#4 M Joel W

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 04:16 PM

Thanks! Sorry for the horrible incoherent writing, btw; don't drink and post, I guess...

The cinematography in this movie is really awesome. It looks a lot like the Classical "three point light" offside key look but what they did with it is great and motivated.

Panaflasher and smoke to reduce contrast and then ENR to increase it? Amazing that they got this look before DIs. What kind of key:fill ratios are we talking here? Are these set ups actually fairly low contrast then boosted by the ENR?

Two things really elude me, how did they achieve this level of contrast, get blue/green tints on the walls, and keep skin tones natural?

Did they fill with green gelled lights, is it an art direction thing, a byproduct of ENR, the color of the smoke? And what kind of key lights could you use to get that much contrast while maintaining a soft shape in a bright room? The third frame grab down appears to be lit with a skirted soft source from above (mild raccoon eyes), but the skin tones are correct and the ambience of the room green. Surely these aren't white walls--they were painted off blue? Otherwise, how?

Four shots down, is the practical also they key?

The vertical kinoflo as a kicker seems like a great idea, but wouldn't it spill? And wouldn't the key spill, too? Most rooms seem to have pretty bright walls and none of the spaces look that big.

Edited by M Joel Wauhkonen, 12 February 2012 - 04:17 PM.

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#5 Prashantt Rai

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:04 PM

Whatever little I know and read is that Khondji, at that time, was more of a fan of Arri Varicon than panaflasher because in Varicon you can see the light as it is flashes the negative during shoot. I think he flashed it to range of 5%-7% if I am not wrong. Bleach by pass to around 35-40%.

I dont know whether prints were also treated to some diff chemical process.

 

But  what a superb look of the movie, Khondji created. 

With on set of digital and high end colour grading machines and systems, people say - 'oh we can all do these stuff in the post' but I have yet to see cinematography similar to SEVEN.

 

Cheers


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 05:02 PM

Yes it's true that he used the ARRI Varicon device a lot... But "Seven" was shot with Panavision cameras and he used the Panaflasher for some shots. I'd have to dig up my old AC issue to check again. The prints used ENR but the negative was not skip-bleached.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 05:54 PM

As for the walls, the most logical and simplest solution would be to pain them an off white-greenish color, btw. Whether that's what they did or not I have no idea, but often with these "Green movies," matrix ect, strong control of production design was essential and the it as further borne out through the cinematography.
If I was going to try to do it with lighting I would very dimly and softly light the walls alone with green, use the smoke in the scenes to wash that out a little bit, then simply overpower that lighting on the actors as they moved through it-- though specific testing would be required for me to really get a feel on how much to do, especially if you're flashing and ENRing and the like. The pre pro tests you make will help you nail down what the best way to go about it is and I personally feel get much more important as you want to get more stylized.

Then again, I've personally never done anything like that, and prefer to just have the walls painted the color which works best for the scene whenever possible.


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:43 PM

It was the October 1995 issue of American Cinematographer that had the article on "Seven" -- yes, Panavision Primo lenses, mostly shot at T/2.5 to T/2.8, some shots were flashed with a Panaflasher, Deluxe used a silver retention process for the prints.  Green gels were used on the lights for the scene where they find the emaciated man in the hotel room.  

 

Though in the book "New Cinematographers" he claims he didn't flash any shots because he didn't like the way that the Panaflasher worked in terms of not showing the effect through the lens.  And in the book he says he used the CCE process at Deluxe, not ACE -- CCE is not variable but it's slightly less strong than a full skip bleach. I think full skip-bleach to a print had an IR measurement of 240, the heaviest ENR or ACE level was 100 IR (ENR or ACE levels are sometimes mistakenly referred to as percentages, as in "100% ENR", but it actually refers to an IR measurement due to the density of the silver in the print.)  So I think CCE was somewhere between 100 IR and 240 IR at around 180 to 190 IR.

 

See:

http://www.theasc.co...pdujour/pg2.htm

 

 

Khondji in interviews is often unclear about whether he is applying the silver retention to the negative and/or the prints, but generally he means the prints since he is referring to print-only processes like ENR, CCE, ACE, etc.  Applying silver retention to the negative often increases the contrast in the highlights, not the shadows, giving you hotter whites instead of blacker blacks.  Khondji is usually using the silver process to the positive step to make the blacks deeper, and this is why he adjusts shadow detail with flashing to compensate.


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#9 Prashantt Rai

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:41 PM

Yes it's true that he used the ARRI Varicon device a lot... But "Seven" was shot with Panavision cameras and he used the Panaflasher for some shots. I'd have to dig up my old AC issue to check again. The prints used ENR but the negative was not skip-bleached.

Thanks Mr Mullen for the heads up! 

details are clear now. And also thanks for the link.

 

regards


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#10 Prashantt Rai

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:54 PM

Khondji in interviews is often unclear about whether he is applying the silver retention to the negative and/or the prints, but generally he means the prints since he is referring to print-only processes like ENR, CCE, ACE, etc.  

 

I think bleach was on the prints  as you mention because what I'd read somewhere was that internegatives were sent for overseas distribution where distributors didnt bother to bleach all the prints. And I guess in some theatres the movie did play with a flashed negative low contrast look. I don't know how much of it is true.


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#11 Charles Zuzak

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 01:48 PM

There are some great shots from the Blu-ray over at CInema Squid.  The rich blacks are really on display here.


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