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Stalker - tunnel scene


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#1 Mate Widamon

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 06:23 AM

Hi everybody,

 

I recently watched again Tarkovsky's masterpiece Stalker. The cinematography is simply amazing and way ahead its time.

I was just wondering how the famous tunnel scene was shot... The camera is slowly moving forward in the tunnel with a wide angle lens, but no sign of tracks. Since it was shot in 1978 I doubt the use of steadicam. 

Anybody knows the story behind that scene?

 

Thanks!


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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 09:00 AM

Steadicam was introduced in 1975.

A camera Dolly doesn't have to have tracks if the floor is smooth enough. (it's not in that tunnel)


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 11:33 AM

 

Looking at the clip, the dolly moves aren't too long, so my guess is that they had a short crane / jib arm on a dolly on track or a wooden platform and basically started backed-up to the point that the track / platform was just out of the frame and pushed forward (bending around the tunnel) until the end of their move.

 

The longest tracking shot is the close-up so it is possible that they built a track or wooden platform (painted black perhaps) and you just can't see the receding track or platform behind the actor's body in the darkness.


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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 12:38 PM

Maybe there is track on the roof of some kind?

However given that it is a soviet movie I'm guessing it involved fantastically skilled camera operators and a length of old rope somehow.


Edited by Freya Black, 23 January 2016 - 12:38 PM.

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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 12:56 PM

Before I watched the clip, I thought about an overhead track but when you look at it, there is too much stuff hanging down from the ceiling that the camera and track would destroy.  The only real "clean" area for a track would practically be in the middle of the wall but I don't see any kind of grove running along there.  And I don't think a hanging camera would be involved, the shots are too solid in their movement.  I think the fact that the tracking shots don't go very far suggest a crane arm of some sort.


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#6 Mate Widamon

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Posted 24 January 2016 - 10:48 AM

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on this amazing scene!


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#7 Kyryll Sobolev

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Posted 24 January 2016 - 05:09 PM

the dolly grip, sergej bessmertnyj, actually published a long post in livejournal about his work on "stalker"

the post is in russian, but has incredible behind the scenes photos, including a very early version of steadicam http://ic.pics.livej...34_original.jpg

 

it seems that their basic dolly set up was on rails using metal wheels http://ic.pics.livej...10_original.jpg

 

sergej actually has a paragraph at the end of his post where he talks about the tunnel shot,

i'm going to translate it

 

"Another set-up showed a bending tunnel, where the heroes would be walking. To move the camera we built a special dolly, which moved on rails that were fastened on each side of the tunnel, and covered with long strips of decorated (painted, greeked, camouflaged, etc) canvas that could be lifted to allow the dolly to roll through"


Edited by Kyryll Sobolev, 24 January 2016 - 05:12 PM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 January 2016 - 05:16 PM

Thanks, so they did run tracks along the sides where it was clear of art direction clutter but I didn't see a grove in the wall because of a flap of canvas.  Great to have that sort of art department support for a camera move.


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#9 Kyryll Sobolev

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Posted 24 January 2016 - 05:37 PM

forgot to add a link to sergej's LJ post

http://immos.livejou....com/67613.html

 

yes david, sergej mentions that

 

"He (Tarkosvky) worked closely with set designers, paying attention to the smallest detail in the frame"

and

"Tarkosvky's tireless assistant in preparation of each frame was art-director from Kazan Rashit Safiullin"

 

sounds similar to james cameron :)

he's always very involved in each shot, from what i have seen in the bts footage


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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 25 January 2016 - 10:57 AM

Thanks, so they did run tracks along the sides where it was clear of art direction clutter but I didn't see a grove in the wall because of a flap of canvas.  Great to have that sort of art department support for a camera move.

 

See I knew it. "No don't be silly comrade! We just used a flap of old canvas to hide the track"...

You can spend ages trying to work out convoluted and overly technological solutions to how they have done it and every time it's always like "of course not, we just used a bit of old rag for that!" :)

 

Freya


Edited by Freya Black, 25 January 2016 - 10:58 AM.

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#11 Freya Black

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Posted 25 January 2016 - 11:06 AM

Kyryll, thanks so much for posting this! I can't read Russian but it will be great to see the pictures and it's really awesome to have the answer to the mystery which I really wasn't expecting.

 

A big Thankyou!

 

Freya


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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 25 January 2016 - 11:33 AM

I just went and looked at the page and it was beyond my expectations. I could hardly read a word but the pictures tell and amazing story and there is even a video that shows them hiding some track, something they seemed to be experts at.

 

I was having trouble identifying the camera. I thought maybe it was a Temp SK1 but the mags aren't mounted like that on the SK1. A real mystery, i thought it looked kind of Mitchelly and then I saw in the text at the start that it actually is a Mitchell and it also answered what would have been my next question, had they replaced the lens mounts. The answer would appear to be no as they had a Cooke Varotal on there!

 

Kyrill do you know if the whole movie was shot on the Cooke? I note there was an Arri camera used for steadicam too so maybe that had other lenses.

 

It's a bit of a shock as I've always assumed Lomo's!

 

Freya


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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 25 January 2016 - 12:11 PM

Okay, I managed to translate the page.

 

They used an actual real Mitchell camera to start with and zeiss disatagon lenses of T1.4 (non Jena I assume) but then switched to a soviet clone of the mitchell called an IOS camera. This had the afore mentioned Cooke Zoom on it which is what most of the movie was shot on.

 

The filmstock was Kodak 5247.

 

The youtube video for the scene where they hide the track in the moss is also about a hidden mirror.

 

Freya


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#14 JD Hartman

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Posted 25 January 2016 - 01:08 PM

My first thoughts were, what an interesting location to shoot in, cool places to explore, interesting stuff to look at and touch.  My second thought was, I wonder how much toxic crap the crew was exposed to?  Reminded me of shooting in an old boiler room underground at Columbia U.    Tons of Asbestos, perfectly safe as long as you didn't touch any of it.


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#15 Kyryll Sobolev

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Posted 25 January 2016 - 02:06 PM

Kyryll, thanks so much for posting this! I can't read Russian but it will be great to see the pictures and it's really awesome to have the answer to the mystery which I really wasn't expecting.

 

A big Thankyou!

 

Freya

i could translate the entire post... but it's a lot of text

he's not a writer, so it's just a flow of memories

it was friends and others who convinced him to write a post about his experiences on the shoot

 

in terms of cameras, judging from sergej's post

they started with Mitchell NC camera, but in 1978 went to what he called a soviet copy of the Mitchell.

after some googling it seems that they used an early version of Kinor 35 C KSN (Кинор-35С КСН) https://ru.wikipedia...Кинор-35С

 

sergej says that "most of the film, except the wide shots of characters entering the zone, was shot on Cooke Varotal 20-100mm T3.1"

though earlier in the post he does mention that they received the Distagons in 1977

 

also in the steadicam photo you can see they used an Arriflex camera...but i am too young to tell what model :)


Edited by Kyryll Sobolev, 25 January 2016 - 02:20 PM.

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#16 Mate Widamon

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 04:09 AM

Wow, this is absolutely fantastic! Thanks Kyryll for all this! Great to know that those shots were made by running tracks along the two sides of the tunnel. Brilliant art department too hiding the tracks perfectly! The rest of the info with regards camera gear and lenses also very useful. And the photos on that site you posted are truly fascinating.

I was shocked to read though that several people who worked on the movie got very ill from the fumes of the chemical plant at the location... :(


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