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Bazelli's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"


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#1 Mike Williamson

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 10:35 AM

I was reading the recent AC article on "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" (July 2005) and I was curious about the vintage of the lenses they used. Bojan Bazelli talks about shooting largely with Cooke S4's, but switching over to Cooke Panchro lenses for close-ups to get softer, more flattering images. Does anyone have an idea of when the Panchro lenses used on this film date back to?

I remember a thread from a few months ago laying out the history of Cooke lenses, I believe Stephen Williams talked about the Panchro lenses dating back to the 40's and 50's, while the S4's were produced starting in '98? Were there different series of Cooke lenses made in the interim, or did Cooke stop manufacturing lenses between the 50's and late 90's? Here's a link to the previous thread: Cooke lenses

As for "Mr. & Mrs. Smith", I liked the photography in the film, especially the flashback to when Pitt and Jolie first meet. There are a few places where it gets a little flat, but I liked the overall feel of it, nice modelling on the close-ups. I'm on a bit of a Bazelli kick lately, I've been watching "King of New York" and "The Ring", both look great, also "Sugar Hill" and "Deep Cover". Next on my list are "Body Snatchers" and "Kalifornia"...
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#2 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 11:48 AM

Haven't seen Mr. and Ms. Smith - don't think I will, either. The trailer left me ice cold.

But I must agree that Bazelli is a real under-the-radar talent. A bit like Amir Mokri - they've been around for quite some time and they always delivered good images, yet somehow never get talked about or really recognised. I was blown away by the look of The Ring - I think that is one of the best shot films in the last couple of years.

He even looks like a film baddie!
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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 01:18 PM

It is more than likely that he meant the Cooke S2 and S3 lenses. Since Stephen said that the only S3s ever made where an 18mm and 25mm, he probably used the S2s. They come in some funky focal lenghts too: 152mm, 317mm and 512mm
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#4 Mike Williamson

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 02:15 PM

Thanks, Max. So you think they were probably using lenses from the 1940's? I'm sure the glass is great, but what kind of coatings would they have? Do you think they would be refurbished somehow from the old glass but with new coatings/housings?

As far as the film goes, Adam, it's certainly ain't Tarkovsky but it's fun for a popcorn flick. I should probably be watching Amir Mokri's films too, now that you mention it...
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#5 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 07:33 PM

Hey Mike.

When you get to AFI this summer, go check with Stephen Lighthill about lens tests we shot last year - there should be prints of tests we shot comparing Ultra Primes, Cooke S4's, Panchro's, Zeiss Standard Speeds, & Zeiss Super Speeds. There's also a series of tests comparing anamorphics (Hawks, Todd AO's, Clairmonts, and Arriscopes if I recall) that are REALLY interesting; matching focal lengths, stops, focus pulls, flares, etc - very informative. He's moving his office around, so don't be surprised if he tells you it'll have to wait until later in the summer / earlier in the year.

If you're in no hurry, when I get back to LA at the end of August I'll be arranging to transfer those tests; obviously you'll lose the full effect of the different characteristics of each lens by going to tape, but it's better than nothing...................
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 07:39 PM

Cooke Panchros were introduced in the 1940's but that doesn't mean they made some back then and stopped making lenses -- they made these lenses over many decades. For all I know, they may still be making S2 & S3 elements for customers -- Joe Dunton has been building a new set of compact anamorphics using Cooke Panchro optics.
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#7 Mike Williamson

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 12:24 AM

Right, David, it makes sense that they would continue to produce them, I was misunderstanding those as the dates of the production runs rather the design dates. But would this imply that they were using the same lens coatings as when the designs were initially introduced? I suppose changing coatings would not change the name of the design or lens series? The reason I ask is because it's my understanding that lens coatings have dramatically improved over the years, whereas the basic construction of lenses has remained more consistent. Learning as we go here, so please bare with me.

Jason, I'm VERY INTERESTED in seeing the lens tests, both the prints and any video transfers. I'll mention it to Stephen when I get a chance, curious about the scope lenses too...

Tim, I'm looking forwards to "Kalifornia", I'll post a reaction once I get a chance to see it, we can always use another Bazelli thread. I'm curious why you think his shooting history would lead you to believe he's using older Cooke lenses, I'd think most commercial guys would generally be using the newest and sharpest glass available.
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#8 Stephen Williams

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 02:43 AM

I was reading the recent AC article on "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" (July 2005) and I was curious about the vintage of the lenses they used.  Bojan Bazelli talks about shooting largely with Cooke S4's, but switching over to Cooke Panchro lenses for close-ups to get softer, more flattering images.  Does anyone have an idea of when the Panchro lenses used on this film date back to?


<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

I saw that film and was sure that the Cooke S4's were used! they are so distinctive.
Geoff Boyle often uses his rebuilt Cooke Speed Pancros for close ups too! I guess the lenses were over 30 years Old. Cooke put their efforts into Zoom lenses in the 70's & 80's.

I have a 1999 price list from Van Diemen who rebuilt Cooke S2/3 lenses. They were charging £2600 -£4340 per Lens, I am sure modern coatings were applied. Same sort of prices as Zeiss Superspeeds!

Stephen Williams DoP
Zurich

www.stephenw.com
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#9 Max Jacoby

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 09:34 AM

tests we shot comparing Ultra Primes, Cooke S4's, Panchro's, Zeiss Standard Speeds, & Zeiss Super Speeds.  There's also a series of tests comparing anamorphics (Hawks, Todd AO's, Clairmonts, and Arriscopes if I recall)


How did these lenses look compared to each other?
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 11:01 AM

If you're shooting close-ups, an older Cooke Panchro may be more subtle for softening detail than the lightest diffusion filter made, so it makes sense. Some people might even switch to their zoom lens as a way of being less clinically sharp for a close-up (although I don't think of Cooke S4's as being clinical-looking either.)

Bozelli used the older 5277 (Vision 320T) stock as well instead of the sharper, finer-grained Vision-2 stocks, so clearly he was going for a less crisp look. Also using older lenses for close-ups fits into the approach.
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#11 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 10:13 PM

MM Smith camera equipment came out of Clairmont Camera.
We have several sets of the cooke panchros. A combination of series 2 and series 3 lenses which were rehoused by century optics to make them more user friendly. (Larger barrels, easier to read footage marks, ect) Some of them were modified to reach more close focus.
Eventhough the lenses are old and the coatings are starting to deteriorate, they go out all the time. When compared to the S4's, the panchros show noticiable softening, specially around the edges, more flare and less contrast. I can see how they could be good for certain close up work but definitely would be concerned with wide shots.

David, isn't true Storaro also owns one set? Which films did he use those lenses for?

Francisco
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 11:00 PM

I've heard Storaro talk about switching between Cookes and Zeiss for some anamorphic film (meaning these were lenses adapted by Technovision) for some movie, maybe "The Last Emperor" or something. I didn't know he owned any of his own gear. He likes to use a Technovision zoom (spherical) most of the time.
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#13 Max Jacoby

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 02:46 PM

He shot most of his older films on Cookes (both spherical and anamorphic). He always uses Technovision equipment, since they have several sets of lenses that they only rent out to him. Since the quality of these older Cookes varies a lot from lens to lens, that way he is assured to always get the best lenses. And if you hire Storaro, you also have to hire his whole crew, including personal cook. I kid you not.
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