April 3, 2024

Dune: Part Two cinematographer Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC

Cinematographer Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC doesn’t see Dune: Part Two as a sequel, but as simply the second half of the Dune story. Shooting the second movie made Greig feel “emboldened, to make decisions that we may not have made in the first instance. We weren’t necessarily considering how to outdo ourselves. I think the fact that we were kind of riding a wave- no pun intended- but a wave of success for that last movie.”
Dune: Part Two was shot digitally on the ARRI ALEXA 35, the ALEXA 65 and the ALEXA Mini LF then printed to 70 mm film in post production for the final print. Greig prefers the look of film to that of raw digital, but he doesn’t feel like he has to shoot on film. He used a small set of spherical lenses that were easily transportable.

Lighting for the movie included plenty of hard light and open shade, since most of Dune: Part Two takes place in the harsh desert sands of Arrakis. Greig chose to uplight in order to illuminate faces, because harsh sunlight would naturally bounce off the ground and reflect upwards onto the characters. “I think that the most important thing in this movie is that everything feels honest. When you’re going to extremes in a story, if you’re running a thousand foot long sandworm in the middle of the movie, which is obviously fantasy, then you’ve got to also fill it with reality and honesty. You can tell Denis’ direction with the actors was absolutely honest. I needed to make sure that I had the same kind of approach for the lighting.”

The production featured a massive crew, shooting in four countries: Budapest, Italy, Jordan and Abu Dhabi. The second unit was essential for staying on schedule. Greig also relied on his DIT to help him match shots across different locations, sometimes months apart. He often had to choose whether to shoot on the sound stage or outside on location for the desert sequences. Though filming outside was best for daylight, the reality is that real sand is messy, uncontrolled, and harsh on equipment. The huge sandstorm sequence was shot on the soundstage, which was pumped full of atmospheric haze and color graded in post to be sand colored.

Greig enjoyed testing and using infrared black and white film for the gladiator-style fight scenes on Giedi Prime. He used a modified ARRI ALEXA 65 to shoot infrared. Since the people there have very pale white skin, he imagined that Giedi Prime has only infrared light from the sun, and no visible sunlight.

Greig partnered with actor Josh Brolin to create a beautiful art book of photography called Dune: Exposures. It features photos he took on the set of Dune and Dune: Part Two, with prose written by Josh Brolin. You can find it at Insight Editions or on Amazon.

Find Greig Fraser: Instagram: @greigfraser_dp

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by ARRI: www.arri.com/en

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

March 28, 2024

Dynamics of a Working Camera Department with Greg Irwin, SOC

Gregory Irwin is an extremely experienced A Camera First AC who first got into the business 44 years ago. He received a 2016 Society of Camera Operators Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions as Camera Technician. His most recent project is the Joker sequel Joker: Folie à Deux coming soon.

Greg frequently gives talks on the importance of character and credibility in the camera department. The camera department is in a leadership role on any production. There’s always going to be challenges on set, but it’s important to remember that if the camera department seems like they’re panicking, it affects the rest of the production. A good camera department is always helpful, no matter what department needs it. Never be rude or show panic, even when things aren’t going to plan. Greg says, “I want my team to know everything at all times, and I want them to be better than me. If I can develop a young camera person into a rock solid, good human being as well as a good camera technician then I’ve done my job.”

Greg discusses:

Character and credibility in the camera department-remembering you are in a leadership role
Taking a business approach to the camera department
Interacting with the director, cinematographer, producers and showrunners
How to hire others in the camera department- be sure to vet your camera crew before hiring them
Be a “one minute manager”- choose people you don’t have to micromanage
Handling the first phone calls with the filmmakers and producers: save talk about rates, money, deals until about the 4th phone call so you can get to know the person who you’re negotiating with
Generally talk rates/business aspects for your camera team as well
Prep for the camera prep day: prep should already be done ahead, including what you need for your camera package
Prep and budget: build everything you need for prep based on meetings with the filmmakers & DP, timestamp prep lists to keep track of everything. By draft 10, you should be clear on what’s needed and camera budget should be very clear at that point
Look the part- better to dress like a professional
Be organized and don’t have a sense of entitlement
How to get noticed and move up in the camera department

Find Greg Irwin: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0410389/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

October 11, 2023

The Creator cinematographers Greig Fraser ASC, ACS and Oren Soffer

Filmmaker Gareth Edwards and co-cinematographers Greig Fraser and Oren Soffer embraced the unconventional while making the new science fiction movie The Creator. From the camera used, to how it was shot, to the visual effects, the team brought together film techniques both new and old.

It’s rare to have two cinematographers working on the same film, but Greig Fraser had a set date to begin prepping for Dune and could not be on location in Thailand for shooting The Creator. Gareth was the co-writer, director and camera operator on the film, and Greig knew Gareth needed support prepping the camera and lighting each location. Greig enjoyed the close collaboration with another cinematographer while shooting the series The Mandalorian and he knew having a second DP would be the ideal situation for shooting The Creator. Cinematographer Oren Soffer was brought in, and Oren, Gareth and Greig all prepped the film together, discussing in detail how Gareth wanted to tell the story. Once shooting began, Greig was tasked with managing the LUT and screening the dailies in a Los Angeles theater, while Gareth and Oren managed the day to day on set. Oren and Greig would talk every day about lighting setups, and they both appreciated having another DP around for feedback and ideas. With a collaborator, they both felt like working on the film was less stressful and it led to better creativity.

As Greig told us in his interview with The Cinematography Podcast in 2022, The Creator was shot on a Sony FX3. The FX3 is a very affordable, small, lightweight camera that Gareth was familiar with. It was easier for him to move around handheld, explore his shots, and have the freedom to interact with his actors. Gareth’s approach to The Creator was documentary-style, much like his first film, Monsters, but it was important to him that it still looked composed like a film. The FX3 could deliver a quality image at the level they needed for color grading and for visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic to add VFX. Oren points out that if a camera can deliver an image quality that looks like what you want, and fits the technical specifications you need, then any camera the director or DP chooses is the right tool. The images shot on the FX3 did have a lot of digital noise at higher ISOs, but this was a look they embraced for its similarity to film grain. The tools a cinematographer uses will continue to evolve and unlock more creativity. With advances in post production and lighting technology, how the image is made matters a lot less. The most important thing to consider is how does the audience respond to the film? Is the cinematographer doing their job as the storyteller? For his part, Greig likes to know about all the tools available to tell the story, and he wants to have enough knowledge about what’s possible to pass on to a director when he’s asked.

While shooting The Creator, Gareth would let the crew know the general story beats they needed for the day, but he would not share the shot list- it was a reference he kept for himself, so that he could shoot on the fly in an improvisational manner. As the operator, he didn’t need to spend a lot of time explaining the shots he needed to get, or rely on storyboards. Since the visual effects were designed after the footage was shot, the storyboards only acted as a reference. Gareth wanted all of the pieces, including the action, to have the energy of spontaneity. Oren was able to “set up the sandbox for him and the actors to play in. It meant lighting more broadly, but we would know which direction he’d be shooting, and augmenting it on a shot by shot basis with small LED lights or a helios tube on a boom pole. It was like growing a film in a pot of dirt in your backyard.”

For the visual effects on The Creator, Gareth chose to be very sparing in his use of 3D special effects., spending the budget only when it was needed to render detailed objects like the robots. As a big visual effects nerd, Oren says a key component to creating a sci-fi world like this is having a director who knows what they want and having very talented VFX artists such as those at ILM who understand what is needed without wasting time on 3D images when a 2D matte painting would work just as well. The intricate 3D modeling was saved for what is seen in the foreground. An on-set visual effects supervisor gathered information, mainly about how things were lit, that could be used for 3D modeling later.

For Oren, the whole experience was life-changing, shooting all over Thailand, in over 80 different locations throughout the country. He’s very proud of the movie, and felt very inspired to work with a director like Gareth, a maverick who’s constantly open to exploring new things. He was also inspired by Greig’s equal openness and creative collaboration.

The Creator is currently playing in theaters.

Find Oren Soffer: https://www.orensoffer.com/
Instagram: @orensofferdp

Find Greig Fraser: http://greigfraser.com/work/
Instagram: @greigfraser_dp

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by ARRI: www.https://www.arri.com/en

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

March 8, 2023

Jenelle Riley, Variety’s Deputy Awards and Features Editor, discusses the 2023 Academy Awards nominations

Long-time friend and colleague Jenelle Riley of Variety magazine chats with Ben and Illya for our fourth annual Oscar nominations special. With a focus on cinematography, they discuss what they liked, what will win, what should win, and their favorite movies of the year that may not have been recognized.

Here’s a rundown of some of the nominations discussed in this episode, as well as great films that were not nominated this awards season. Listen to our interviews with the nominated DPs as well as other films of note!

Tár, Florian Hoffmeister
Mandy Walker, nominated for Elvis, the first woman to win an ASC Award
All Quiet on the Western Front, James Friend, who won a BAFTA
Everything Everywhere All At Once, Larkin Seiple who was not nominated
Roger Deakins, Empire of Light
Darius Khondji, Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Greig Fraser, who won last year for Dune and also shot The Batman
Women nominated for best cinematography but have never won: Rachel Morrison, Ari Wegner
Banshees of Inisherin, Ben Davis
Babylon, Linus Sandgren
Hoyte Van Hoytema, Nope

Find Jenelle Riley on Instagram and Twitter: @jenelleriley

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

March 23, 2022

Jenelle Riley, Variety’s Deputy Awards and Features Editor, discusses the 2022 Academy Awards nominations

Long-time friend and colleague Jenelle Riley of Variety magazine chats with Ben and Illya for our third annual Oscar nominations special. They discuss what they liked, what will win, what should win, and their favorite movies of the year that may not have been recognized.

Here’s a rundown of some of the nominations discussed in this episode, as well as great films that were not nominated this awards season. Listen to our interviews with some of the nominated DPs and other noteable films of the year!

Annette
The Sparks Brothers
The Power of the Dog, Ari Wegner
Jane Campion
Zola
Dune, Greig Fraser
Denis Villeneuve
Nightmare Alley, Dan Laustsen
The Tragedy of Macbeth, Bruno Delbonnel
Westside Story, Janusz Kominski
Steven Spielberg
King Richard, Robert Elswit
Cyrano, Seamus McGarvey
Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson
Belfast, Haris Zambarloukos

Find Jenelle Riley on Instagram and Twitter: @jenelleriley and Variety: https://variety.com/

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/oscars2022/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

January 13, 2022

Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS on Dune, using digital technology, working with director Denis Villeneuve and director Kathryn Bigelow

Director of photography Greig Fraser says that cinematographers always strive to create images with dimension, so that audiences are able to experience almost feeling and touching what they are seeing. Film has always had the dimensional and realistic feel that filmmakers appreciate, such as grain and color. But with today’s advances in digital filmmaking technology, Greig understands and embraces using the tools that are appropriate to the project he’s working on, and the technology just keeps improving. For Greig, no matter what he’s shooting or how technical it can be, what draws him to every film project is the characters in the movie.

On Dune, Greig and director Denis Villeneuve tested on film and also on digital, but they didn’t like either look that much. They decided to take a hybrid approach: the film was shot on digital, then output to film, and then back out to digital, which gave it the look they wanted. Villeneuve was a huge fan of Dune the novel, and had a clear vision of what his version of the Dune story should be. He extensively storyboarded the film in pre-production, and they did not reference the previous Dune movie at all. During the shoot, Greig and the VFX supervisor Paul Lambert championed getting the lighting exactly correct with the blue or green screen background so that the shots and perspective would look the most realistic and there would be very little adjustments needed in post production.

Greig also talks about using the iPhone 13 ProMax to shoot a demo film with director Kathryn Bigelow. The phone has several camera options that make it cinematic, and he finds that phones are getting better and better to shoot with.

Greig’s next film is The Batman which will be released in March.

Find Greig Fraser: Instagram @greigfraser_dp
Twitter: @GreigFraser_dp

You can see Dune in theaters now, on Blu-ray, or soon returning to HBOMax.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep154/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Sponsored by Assemble: Assemble has amazing production management software. Use the code cinepod to try a month for free! https://www.assemble.tv/
Be sure to watch our YouTube video of Nate Watkin showing how Assemble works! https://youtu.be/IlpismVjab8

Sponsored by Arri: https://www.arri.com/en

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

October 27, 2021

Ruth Platt, director of Martyrs Lane on writing and directing the horror thriller

When director Ruth Platt first wrote and developed Martyrs Lane, it started off as much more of a horror film rather than a psychological thriller. She had the opportunity to develop the film into a feature from a short through BFI, the British Film Institute. In its feature form, Ruth pulled Martyrs Lane into a more unsettling ghost story that’s told from the point of view of Leah, a 10 year old girl, who lives in a large old house with her family. Her mother always seems very sad and distant, and Leah doesn’t know why, until a strange nightly visitor gives her a new clue to unlock every night.

The visual palette of Martyrs Lane has a timeless and impressionistic feel, creating an atmosphere of hovering between the conscious and unconscious world. The house Leah and her family lives in is a reflection of the interior and exterior world of the family. Ruth knew that finding the perfect “haunted house” was key, and they were lucky to have found the perfect location. With two inexperienced child actors as the leads in the movie, Ruth focused on trying to keep the lines sounding natural instead of scripted, and kept the kids energy up in between takes and setups. Because she and the crew only had a short amount of prep time for the movie, they had to creatively problem solve for a few issues and were able to do almost all the special effects in camera.

You can see Martyrs Lane on Shudder.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com//ep145/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com

Sponsored by Assemble: Assemble has amazing production management software. Use the code cinepod to try a month for free! https://www.assemble.tv/
Be sure to watch our YouTube video of Nate Watkin showing how Assemble works! https://youtu.be/IlpismVjab8

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

September 1, 2021

Director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino and DP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom discuss the Netflix film, Beckett and their close collaboration

Director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino and cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom have worked together on Call Me By Your Name and Suspira. Ferdinando served as the second unit director on both films. Beckett is the second feature Ferdinando has written and directed. Sayombhu also shot Ferdinando’s first feature, Antonia, and was Oscar-nominated for his cinematography on Call Me By Your Name. Prior to his experience working with Ferdinando and director Luca Guadagnino, Sayombhu built his cinematography career in Thailand, shooting films such as the Cannes festival winner, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Beckett is a thriller, reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock films, starring John David Washington as an American vacationing in Greece with his girlfriend, played by Alicia Vikander. After a tragic accident, Beckett is pursued by the police and drawn into a political conspiracy while being chased across the country. Ferdinando intended to have the film nod at Hitchcock, but he wanted to stay away from the heightened, perfectly choreographed elements of Hitchcock movies such as North By Northwest, where every scene is a spectacle, with amazing set pieces following one after the other. For Beckett, Ferdinando liked the idea of shooting everything with very natural light, keeping the movie grounded and not quite so heightened. As a hero, Beckett is relatable and believable- when he fights or runs, he sweats, gets out of breath and becomes seriously injured, and all of the action sequences are grounded in reality.

Sayombhu enjoys shooting films using natural light, preferring to reshape or bounce sunlight. If he has to use lights, he uses as few as possible, and in a way that’s almost invisible. He also prefers to light the environment rather than the actor, to give them space to move around, so that they can live in the moment and he can capture it as it happens. When Sayombhu scouts locations, he uses his eyes and his gut feeling to explore the place and memorizes the kind of natural light available, noticing potential issues before figuring out how to overcome them.

To have a good rapport with a director, Sayombhu suggests listening to the director first, and only then make a suggestion that would make it better. Ferdinando enjoys collaborating with Sayombhu because they both understand the importance of preparation during pre-production and research, and they have similar taste in filmmaking and visual language.

You can watch Beckett on Netflix.

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep138/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Sponsored by Aputure: https://www.aputure.com/

The Cinematography Podcast website: www.camnoir.com
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheCinematographyPodcast
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz

August 2, 2020

Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS on The Mandalorian, Lion, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and more

The Cinematography Podcast Episode 85: Greig Fraser

World-renowned director of photography Greig Fraser grew up in Australia, working as a still photographer before he moved into cinematography, shooting shorts, TV shows and films for several Australian directors. Greig’s most recently completed project is The Mandalorian, which recently earned him an Emmy nomination. At first, Greig felt incredibly nervous about working on the frontline development for The Mandalorian because of the massive amount of technology involved. His usual approach as a DP has been naturalistic lighting, in a real setting, rather than an entirely manufactured environment on a soundstage. The Mandalorian brought together gaming technology and set design, which could only be done with the support of ILM and Lucasfilm. The Star Wars series used 3D digital environments built with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine gaming technology that was capable of interacting with the cameras and was projected on huge LED screens for very realistic backgrounds on the soundstage. Greig was not a Star Wars newbie- prior to The Mandalorian, he was the cinematographer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As a fan of Star Wars, Greig felt some trepidation at first about shooting Rogue One, because he was worried about losing that passion in the day-to-day while on set. Greig met with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards and loved his early film Monsters, so he was convinced to take the job. Grieg also discusses his work on the 2016 film, Lion, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. Greig was extremely excited to shoot Lion- he and fellow Australian director Garth Davis had worked together a number of times. As a photographer, Greig had traveled and shot in India, and he loved being able to return to India and Melbourne to shoot such a great story. For Lion, Greig and Garth Davis wanted to be very respectful of Indian culture, and be careful of their choices not to oversensationalize images of poverty. Greig shot many of the railway scenes in the film at the level of a small child to capture the character Saroo’s feelings of loss and helplessness.

Grieg Fraser is the cinematographer of two hugely anticipated films coming soon: Dune with director Denis Villeneuve and The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves.

Find Greig Fraser: Instagram @greigfraser_dp

Find out even more about this episode, with extensive show notes and links: https://camnoir.com/ep85/

Sponsored by Hot Rod Cameras: www.hotrodcameras.com
Website: www.camnoir.com
Facebook: @cinepod
Instagram: @thecinepod
Twitter: @ShortEndz