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The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 01:45 AM

I watched the blu-ray of this last night -- it's beautifully shot in 65mm Todd-AO by Leon Shamroy and is a good companion piece to his work on "Cleopatra".

 

There is an early "effects" shot that I believe is a great piece of in-camera stagecraft instead of being done in post.

 

It begins on a wide shot of historical Rome, clearly a painting, but an extra crosses the painting and two others are working in front of it, in sunlight, and the shot is first generation (no grain), and the actor's fuzzy hair crosses the painting with no matte lines, which was impossible back then for composite work -- the shot pans with the actor and pauses at Harry Andrews, playing Bramante, with the painted background still in half the frame, and then the two of them cross over to look down at the city square, and everything is shot outside in real sunlight.  So I believe that the painting that begins the shot was in front of the camera, a huge backdrop painting, and the camera pans from the painted background to a real background.

 

agony2.jpg

 

agony3.jpg

 

agony4.jpg

 

agony5.jpg

 

I did a composite of the pan to show the entire length of the shot -- it moves from right to left.

 

agony1.jpg


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#2 Doug Palmer

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 04:49 AM

Yes the colour match between the painting and the real background is very good.  It must have been painted on a similar kind of day as the filming. However it looks to me that the shadows are completely wrong. The painting has the "sun" coming from the right but the end of the pan has it contrejour from directly ahead.  Although it may have worked OK  for lighting the painting from the left side if it wasn't lit artificially.


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#3 Doug Palmer

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 02:42 PM

Or is it meant to be a pan of say 300 degrees ? In which case the shadows in the painting are correct.  I must see the film. Would be nice in 70mm :rolleyes:

 

What I like about these 1960s large format productions is the way that many of the effects were meticulously achieved in the camera, and without sacrificing image quality that may have happened otherwise.

 

 


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#4 Doug Palmer

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 03:20 PM

This is becoming a teaser :unsure: I had assumed the painting was lit by the actual sunlight from the left as it is so evenly lit.  But if the pan is 300 degrees it would be positioned more to the right, making sunlighting  impossible because the scenery would get in the way.  I'm also assuming it's not backlit.  So how did he light so evenly that huge painting...


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#5 KH Martin

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 09:02 PM

I went to the one site that I was sure would 'know' ... and even there they are only guessing! (it is a terrific resource!)

 

http://nzpetesmattes...q=agony ecstacy


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#6 Mitch Gross

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Posted 02 August 2016 - 12:19 PM

Sometimes these shots were done with a large sheet of glass in between the actors and the camera, so that the sets could be built to a certain size for the actors to walk through and then the painting extending for the rest.  Amazing what they could high and everything was lined up perfectly with a nodal head.  But this false background appears physically behind the talent, so I would agree that it's a massive painted backdrop.  Forced perspective could allow the canvas to be closer than it appears, but not by much.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 August 2016 - 01:52 PM

The fact that the foreground actor's head crosses everything would pretty much limit only the highest part of the frame to being a foreground glass painting, which is possible... but that makes it harder to blend that painting into the large backdrop painting that must be behind the actors and extras.


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#8 Doug Palmer

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 03:47 AM

The fact that the foreground actor's head crosses everything would pretty much limit only the highest part of the frame to being a foreground glass painting, which is possible... but that makes it harder to blend that painting into the large backdrop painting that must be behind the actors and extras.

Especially as it's a pan shot.  There would be some discrepancy between the two unless he used a perfect nodal head.  I wouldn't have thought they would have done this considering the 70mm screen picking out any errors.


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#9 George Ebersole

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 05:07 AM

It appears to be done with an open stage, where the first half is done as an interior for an exterior, then as the camera pans (or dollies) we come to the exterior built outside the studio in use.  


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