PAVAROTTI: GENIUS IS FOREVER

It was great to work on the second UK stint of this. I had to light some very important people in the life of the great singer within nice and atmospheric locations in London. It was a pleasure to be part of the amazing crew and the great award winning production behind it, Whitehorse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. They called me back last year to photograph the EU part of their upcoming new high profile documentary.

Directed by Ron Howard.

Shot on Alexa Mini with Cooke S4i Prime Lenses.

“THREE” WINS BIG IN AMERICA!

THREE, the horror short film starring Melania Dalla Costa, written and directed by Alberto Bambini, wins two major short film festivals in the United States of America. It is with my great pleasure that the film is gaining some recognition, it was a collaborative effort that took a lot of passion and commitment. I am happy to have been able to bring Alberto’s vision to the screen and to have helped Melania’s performance with my lighting. Upwards and onwards to new exciting things!

AIC – AUTORI ITALIANI DELLA CINEMATOGRAFIA

It is with great pleasure that I can say I was invited to become a member of the famed AIC, the Italian Society of Cinematographer. Since I started this incredible journey within the film industry, without connections of sort, I always looked up at the AIC as the pinnacle of the art, a group of people who value the art of cinematography, whose aim has always been to push forward its boundaries and look after its associates. I am now a proud member of that esteemed group. It is not the end of a journey, just the beginning of a new, better and more surprising one.

http://www.aicine.com/

NEW DANIELE SILVESTRI MUSIC VIDEO – QUALCOSA CAMBIA

Here’s Daniele’s latest music video I shot entirely on green screen.

Produced by Pulse Films and Indiana.

Directed by Giorgio Testi.

Graphics and editing by Filippo Rossi.

FIFA WOMEN WORLD CUP 2019

In order to establish a bigger presence of the Women National Football Team among the people the advertising department of the Italian state television (RAI) asked me to follow and film in cinematic way our most recognisable female players. This is what actually came out of it.

Shot on Red Helium S35 with Cooke S3 Panchro Primes and Alexa Mini with Cooke S4 Primes

 

KOWA ANAMORPHICS WITH THE BRMC IN BERLIN

In December 2017 we filmed four music video for the American band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in the famous Babelsberg Studios in Postdam, just outside Berlin. Excited by the job, filming one of my favourite rock and roll band, and with the rare chance to design the lighting from scratch and control it fully I devised a set of color schemes for each song, helped by the use of specific gels and a set of Arri SkyPanel S-60C all connected to a DMX board.

More recently, last March I believed, I met with Anna Piffl at the AIC micro salon in Rome, excited by the fact that I had used lenses that were rehoused by the company she now manages, the brilliant P+S Technik, she asked me to write a few lines explaining my choices. Here they are coupled with a few pictures of the day and a backstage video (shot and edited by Luca Previtali):

“Filming BRMC music videos in Berlin – December 2017 – released spring 2018

When Giorgio Testi, my long-time friend and collaborator, asked me to join him on a new job financed by Apple Music he was going to direct, about filming the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club band in Berlin I was elated, not only because of the coolness of the job itself but also because I’d always loved their music. Giorgio and I have been very lucky over the years working for some of our idols like the Rolling Stones, Gorillaz, Pixies, Killers and Blur, just to name a few, but BRMC held a special place in our heart. A band for true rock and roll music lovers, their latest album was one of the best ones yet…

In the last few years size and high sensitivity on high end digital cameras’ sensors has meant a rediscovery of anamorphic glass, of each and every kind. We had recently filmed a show using old Kowa anamorphic lenses that Giorgio had fallen in love with. In contrast with the vintage Lomo anamorphic lenses, which we had used in the past, Kowa’s were lighter and warmer. I liked their look and I thought it was going to be perfect in a rock and roll scenario. However I, on the other hand, wasn’t a big fan of their original housing, often hearing complaints by my camera department on their user unfriendliness and overall stiffness. As I was trying to weigh my options I was given the opportunity from SeeYou Rent (where Gunnar Weber’s Bear Films, our production on the ground in Berlin, was renting the camera kit from), of hiring the P+S Technik rehoused Kowa Anamorphic lens set instead (provided by Ludwig), I jumped at it. I went to test the lenses the day prior the shoot at the rental house, where I was joined by my focus puller, Sebastian Katzer, who had been brilliant prepping the kit for me as he would be assisting me during filming.

I found the new housing very solid, made of high quality and precision. The bigger barrel, common front diameter of 80mm and 77mm thread for screw in filters render the lenses more easily employed on all sorts of application as well as more easily coupled with modern wireless lens control systems that the older design wasn’t particularly friendly with, given its inherent stiffness and small size. I find the Kowas to be quite soft generally, within the set I was given the 50mm seemed particularly so, in fact I ended using it less than the other three focal lengths and avoided using any diffusion filter with that particular focal length. I am not a fan of very shallow depth of field in and on itself, I like it but it has to serve a storytelling or visual purpose at least for me. In this particular case, being old glass, the lenses have a greater degree of optical and chromatic aberrations around the edges, especially on the two wider focal lengths, than we are used with newly designed anamorphic sets (the optical distortion found on the outer edges of the 40mm is more similar to the 35mm anamorphic JDC Xtal Xpress lens than that of the new Cooke 40mm anamorphic for example, which still has some contrary to for instance the ARRI Master Anamorphic who have almost none). For this reason I tried to keep them within a T4 to T2.8 throughout the shoot, only a couple of times going wide open as I was also asked to film mostly at 50fps and my lighting set ups where under at times. Doing so would not cancel out the optical shortcomings of the lens design itself but would help make them match more closely to each other as I found that when these lenses are used wide open (as with most vintage lenses, anamorphic or spherical), they tend to sway one way or the other often losing contrast and definition more so than when they operate slightly stopped down. Indeed, at T4 they were truly beautiful. The warmer flaring on this lens compared to the archetypal blue anamorphic flaring is spectacular, however harsh point light needs to be used as any slightly softer source, even a straight down the barrel Fresnel unit will only give you a wash more than a proper line. The rehoused lenses worked very well on both our Alexa Mini, one on a 360degrees dolly track around the built set operated by me, and the other on a Steadicam rig, operated by the relentless David Willert with focus puller Leo Kairat. Most of the time the 40mm was employed on the dolly whereas the 75mm on the Steadicam rig. We ened up filming four music videos in one day, within Studio 10 at Babelsberg Studio in Postdam, just outside Berlin. It was great to be given the chance to design the lighting from scratch, pick a colour scheme for each song and program the lighting movements from the ground up. On top of the two filming cameras, we had three video camera operators manning smaller prosumer cameras linked to a video mixer that was feeding their live feed as well as previously made graphics live onto the screens we had rigged within the set.

I am very proud of the results, Echo being probably the best of the four pieces we made that day. It was all possible thanks to the hard work of my entire camera crew (David Willert, Sebastian Katzer, Leo Kairat and Xaver Neumann our Tech Assistant), lighting crew (Felix Fisher and Jonathan Beck),  grip crew (Levent Suzen), the sound crew (Dirk Feistel was the sound recordist, Marta Bala our VJ and the video camera operators (Simone Pellegrini, Claus Kuhlmann and Brian Zajak), the production company and its people (our bro and sis Gunnar Weber and Julia Kempe and PA Konstantin Munzel), the studio, the band and of course the director, Giorgio Testi. A big thank you finally goes to editor Luca Previtali (who also filmed and edited the BTS video) and colourist Paul Diamond from My Brother Bob studio in London.”

WE ARE VENOM – LENS CHOICE

This is what I had to say when the guys at Cooke Optics asked me why I chose their lenses for filming that particular commercial”

“I shot Arri RAW using one Alexa SXT and one Alexa Mini, the latter being the A camera on steadicam, the former used for most SFX shots and inserts.

Cookes are usually my lenses of choice, for their beautiful warm, organic and three-dimensional look, however in this particular case the choice was not a given, I had to mix spherical and anamorphic lenses and needed a package that would match seamlessly, with glass that had the same characteristics of color and contrast between the two formats. I considered a few different options but ended up picking Cooke Anamorphic lenses and Cooke S4i primes once again, their look and coupling being the best I could find. In the end it transpired that the same lenses were also used during the filming of “Venom” itself, which was a lucky coincidence as at the time of choosing my lens package no specific information was yet available. In deciding the mood and colours of the commercial I was directly inspired by the film’s trailer, specifically tuning in on it’s neo-noir approach, rich dense shadows and clean strong highlights alongside the use of a color dominant. In this particular instance I picked a blue gel (Lee Glacier Blue) that seemed coherent to the one used on some scenes within the movie, with which I gelled some of my lights and kept it throughout as colour dominant in the shadows. We had to reverse engineer the SFX, as given our tight schedule and copyright restrictions we could not generate brand new effects on time and had to use templates handed to us by the people at Sony US that were working on the effects of the actual feature film. I used the Cooke Anamorphic 50mm as main focal length, for it’s beautiful bokeh and lack of optical distortion, coupled with 40mm and 75mm whereas the Cooke S4i 32mm, 40mm and 50mm have been mostly on camera for SFX plates. Atmospheric haze and Tiffen SFX filters were also employed at times.”

Color and SFX were carried out at Frame By Frame in Rome.

 

 

BLOGOTHEQUE: MENGONI – HOLA MAKING OF

Filming long takes is always challenging. Filming long takes that in involve 360 turns and a walk through an entire building as well as outside with real street lighting is even more and even more so if you the building is a XVI century beauty that now serves as a museum, where it’s impossible to attach anything anywhere nor even raise the temperature more than 5 degrees Celsius lest the endangerment of its art collection. Plus there’s live sound being recorded and a boom operator walking by the camera at all times! But when a company cool as Blogotheque calls, giving you the chance to work on a project this satisfying you have got to deliver. Here’s a nice behind the scenes video of that experience. Edited by Luca Previtali.

Ps: I forgot to add we could not get in until 6.30PM and had to finish by 2AM…

 

SIMONE CRISTICCHI – ABBI CURA DI ME

Early last January I was called to film two music videos back to back from well known and beloved Italian artists. One was Argento vivo by Daniele Silvestri, the other Abbi Cura Di Me by Simone Cristicchi can be admired here. They both went on playing successfully at the most prestigious San Remo festival, sweeping all critics’ as well as people choice’s awards (but not the festival crown itself).

We filmed one long take from beginning to end, all lighting was cued up with the music thanks to a dimming board and a gang of uncompromising lighting technicians and dolly grips. I was on camera. We filmed at Lumina studios in Rome. Post production was carried on at InLusion VFX in Rome.

Shot on Red Helium s35 with Zeiss Ultra Primes.

Directed by Giorgio Testi

Art direction by Laura Latorre with the support of Flaminia Ciabatti

Costumes by Noemi Intino.

Colorist Andrea Gargano

The Making Of Morning Blues

Here’s a very nice article about Rose’s music video I shot last year with the brilliant Gray Bryan at the helm.

https://elementtwentysix.com/morning-blues/