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“Shameless” Lighting

Shameless SMThe hit Showtime series “Shameless” is the story of a highly dysfunctional family that, when put to the test, can come together and hurdle hardships and stars Oscar® nominated actor William H. Macy. 


Key Grip Sean Crowell On The Hangover III


Key Grip Sean Crowell (Game Change) is no stranger to The Hangover franchise, after having worked on the first two films with Cinematographer Lawrence “Larry” Sher. “Where it really starts for me is when I sit down with the DP and we go through the schedule and each scene,” says Crowell. “Those are the building blocks for how we do our job. My interpretation of what Larry does is he brings a lot of scope to these films. I think people are surprised with how great the first Hangover was and how it redefined how people look at comedy. I think Larry really put his fingerprint on that genre. He creates really beautiful films, and when I sat down with him I was excited because I knew we would be pushing the envelope and try to bring grandness to the project. Anytime someone pushes you to do your best, that’s always a great way to work. There is no compromise in what Larry does.”

In the openings for the first two films, the camera movements are fluid, and as things start to fall apart for the lead characters, the crew switched to handheld mode, which brought a ton of energy to the story. Crowell believes that the look of the third film is very important to the entire series, and that all three films should stand alone while still being visually stunning. “Larry defined his look in each [Hangover] film, and I believe his fellow DPs [now] look at comedies in a completely different way.” 

For this sequel, Crowell again found himself working with a capable team. “We run with a daily production crew of about ten guys,” Crowell explains. “John Koth has been my best boy [grip] for about 15 years. We have two dolly grips; Chris Glasgow is the A [camera] dolly grip and Tim Christie has been the B [camera] dolly grip for us on the last two films. [We also have] two rigging crews on this with Josh Stancil at the helm as the rigging key grip. We’ve also been fortunate to have the same camera operators as well. Geoffrey Haley, who was the A camera and Steadicam operator this time out, did an awesome job. With this team it’s almost a secondhand language with Larry as far as how they want the camera moved. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we had 30 to 40 grips a day, if you counted all the rigging crews and all the production people. It becomes a pretty big machine.”

H3photo-137 SMFor the grip and electric departments to work efficiently, the other departments had to step up so everyone could do their jobs without any conflicts. The location team in particular did a stellar job that included ensuring access to facilities and holding back onlookers so no one would get injured. “The locations department really doesn’t get a lot of credit, but when you have a strict amount of time to get things set up, we really rely on the importance of having them around,” says Crowell. “The production team with the AD staff is another huge aspect. [Co-Producer] Jeffrey Wetzel and his crew did an amazing job of making sure all the parts were laid out in a manner that could be translated by the location team and all the other departments so everything worked seamlessly.”

When obtaining certain shots became a challenge, they were executed flawlessly with the help of great equipment. The film was shot digitally on an ARRI ALEXA and a few scenes were shot on film with a Panavision camera. This was quite a change after the first Hangover, which was shot almost entirely on film. For one scene in The Hangover Part III, where Galifianakis’s character is running frantically in the desert, Crowell and his team used a Doggicam Systems Bodymount rig to achieve a rugged look that worked perfectly for the film. “Larry and Todd Phillips are very particular about camera movements,” explains Crowell. “They’re a collaborative team and everything is thought out. Larry loves dolly track, so we laid out a bunch for this film, and we made good use out of the 30- and 50-foot Technocrane from Cranium. On Stage 16 at Warner Bros., we built a façade of Caesars Palace [that’s] five or six stories, and we had to be able to reach that from the stage floor. [To do that] we used a 73-foot Hydroscope from Chapman [Leonard], which was a great option. Chapman dollies and the Hydroscope are always reliable, and the technicians that come with them are fantastic.”

Crowell recalls a particular situation where his top-notch equipment came in handy. “We had a ridge we had to shoot on in the desert, and [Cranium] built a platform for us that was self-leveling [so] that we could drive wherever we needed to put it,” he explains. “Everything was superfast and very well thought out. It was a rare moment where something came up that hadn’t been thought of, and we like to have the people around who built the product to make it happen.” During this and other production challenges, Crowell was always impressed by the crew’s uncompromised commitment. “The kinds of people that are working on this movie are ones that don’t take the easy way out,” he says. “They know it’s going to be hard and they keep moving ahead. It’s really great to be around those kinds of people. It’s fun. 

 “When you are with a group that supports you, it’s really appreciated,” Crowell continues. “It’s hard and you sleep good at night, but being surrounded by people that are not going to take the easy way out makes it worth it. We don’t want to let the fans of the [Hangover] movies down and we want to make sure we get some new fans for the franchise. I’m just a technician on this movie, but that’s how I felt about it. I wasn’t going to compromise anything that I was doing. It was a commitment to make the best movie possible. [And] it was a great sense of relief when it was done, because I really felt like we did it.”   


Sony's F5 and F55 CineAlta Cameras

f5-and-f55_smSony recently launched PMW F5 and F55 CineAlta cameras, which both record full-4K resolution and lower-resolution formats. Ubiquitous throughout NAB 2013, both models are in demand by the camera-support industry as the latest and greatest cameras to accessorize for commercials, TV production, indie features and other projects. While the F5 and F55 have been heavily marketed as twins with distinct personalities, when push comes to shove, Sony is keen to accent the superior capabilities of the F55.


Convergent Design's Solution for Cinematographers

odyssey7__smConvergent Design introduced a solution for those cinematographers struggling to record a viable image while untangling the cables that link recorders, monitors and microphones to the camera. The new Odyssey 7 is a 7.7-inch OLED monitor that can eliminate one set of cables as it doubles as a 4K capable recorder — pretty remarkable for a package that barely weighs more than an 8-inch flatscreen field monitor. While there have certainly been high-end data recorders with built-in monitors, the Odyssey 7 has been designed with 1280 and 800 resolution; a wide RGB color range with true blacks and minimal motion blur; and an impressive contrast ratio of 3400:1. It also includes Waveform, Focus Assist (Peaking), Vectorscope, Zebras, LUT Support, Histogram and False Color.


J.J. Abrams on Embracing New Technology

The NBC sci-fi series “Revolution” films in Wilmington, North Carolina. The show takes place in the not-too-distant future when a family struggles to reunite after the world experiences a mysterious technological apocalypse. The popular doomsday drama was created by Eric Kripke (“Supernatural”), who is executive producer along with J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk, and they’re all known for embracing technology and infusing their productions with lots of CGI and special effects. So how does technology help in their creative process? “The technology I use in my process almost starts and ends with the Internet, because of the unbelievable amount of information that is at your fingertips,” reports Kripke. “I’m definitely dating myself, but I still remember having to bury myself in the library to research a project, and then photocopy all the research that I needed. Now, at any given moment, at any given point of writing a script, I say, ‘You know what? I need to know what this process is. I need to know how this person works.’ And I can immediately search, find it, get the information, and put it right into a script. I think that’s pretty invaluable. I don’t know if I would be as good a writer without that.”

J.J. Abrams has done very high‑concept tech TV shows and movies, such as “Fringe,” “Lost” and the Star Trek film franchise. But could he be just as creative without today’s ground-breaking technology? “Everything that Eric said is so true in terms of research,” says Abrams. “And obviously I love what technology allows in terms of visual effects and in terms of just efficiency, whether it’s getting something quickly, reading something, looking at artwork, composition or anything. [When] I’m doing visual effects for Star Trek, it doesn’t matter where I am. I can look at the latest version of a visual-effects shot and give notes. [And] while that’s all true, what it all comes down to and what matters most of all is the idea, and the writing and the execution of that idea. And for that, I usually write it out in longhand first. There’s something about it, the tactile, tangible nature of writing that just feels like I’m feeling the stuff more than I am…. When there’s a deadline and it’s crazy, of course, the Mac Book Pro is the key. But it’s something that I think ultimately just comes down to ‘what is that idea you’re scribbling with that pencil?’”



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