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Tuesday, 23 April 2013 15:57

Claudio Miranda, ASC on Shooting Oblivion

Written by  James Thompson
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oblivion_smWinner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Cinematography on Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Cinematographer Claudio Miranda, ASC recently attended the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nev. to discuss the breakthrough technology he used on the upcoming sci-fi epic Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. The DP appeared at a Sony press conference and did a panel discussion moderated by Cinematographer and Film and Digital Times Publisher/Editor Jon Fauer, ASC.

At both sessions, Miranda said that he appreciated working with the Sony F-65 camera and Fujinon Premier zoom lenses. When asked by Alec Shapiro, the president of Sony Professional Solutions Group, why he chose the F-65, Miranda responded, “We just loved the way it looked.” The DP also indicated that Oblivion Director Joseph Kosinski was determined to have a 4K film release and wanted a high-end camera that would get superior images.

oblivion_sm_2According to Miranda, the script for Oblivion had a lot of tough production requirements, including the shooting of difficult architectural locales. The two main sets involved a futuristic tower that appeared to reach as far as 3,000 feet and a desolate ground area with a “gritty, dirty” look. “[These created] a definite kind of architectural pun,” Miranda noted. To create realism, the crew used a 500-foot-wide, 42-foot-tall screen with 21 front projectors to give real-time 15K motion-picture front projection. Many of the ground scenes played out in Iceland. “What we really liked about the challenges in Iceland is to capture an overcast sky, which is very white, and a volcanic black earth,” Miranda reported. “I just knew that would be a pretty tremendous challenge. You want to be able to see all the sharp nuances.” The DP shot the ground scenes with the Sony F-65 and Fujinon 14.5–45mm T2.0 Premier zoom lens. “For a zoom, [the Fujinon has] pretty great engineering.” Other production challenges included an abundance of explosions and camera movement. “I didn’t want to deal with a rolling shutter or a sliding frame rate,” Miranda added.

One scene in the sky tower was lit by a candle placed in the middle of a table — and the camera sensor remarkably picked it up. “What’s really amazing is that [the actors] were almost eight feet apart from each other, and it’s just one little candle that’s lighting [the scene],” enthused Miranda, noting that there wasn’t another light within 100 feet. “What’s amazing about that candle is ... you can see the flame coming off of it, and you can also see everyone’s faces. You can see the highlight of the flame. They interact as it flickers.” What made the shooting of this scene even more challenging is that it took place in a house full of glass. “We wanted to do everything in camera,” the DP explained. “So that candle is all in camera. You see it for just what it is. What’s amazing is it’s all projection, it’s all glass, it’s all real, [like] the skin reflection. It’s all stuff you get from being in an immersive environment.”
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