“"[...] In terms of optical performance, these new anamorphic zooms (56-152 A2S and 30-72 A2S) are light years ahead of old HR lenses with anamorphic rear adapters. Having zooms on the Steadicam is extremely useful as you can save time re-balancing the rig after a lens change, and you have the flexibility to adjust the frame easily."”
Norimichi KASAMATSU JSC wrapped up “IKARI” using a variation of anamorphic lenses.
Anamorphic lens review by Yasuhiko MIKAMI – Thales Angenieux.
FDTJ: Tell us about the movie
NK: The movie is based on a crime novel written by Shuichi YOSHIDA, and directed by Lee Sang-il. The whole country is in search of a fugitive murderer for over one year. The story features 3 men disguising their past, starting new lives in different locations. This is the second time I work on a Yoshida-Lee project, following “Villain” in 2010.
FDTJ: What were the requests from the director in respect to the look of this feature?
NK: The most important instruction was to make this movie look different from “Villain”. Same author, same director, same DP but a distinctive look was required. The producer and director requested a more saturated, vivid look. Since the 3 stories are inter-weaved amongst each other, one of the challenges was to design a particular look to each story/location so that the audience can easily identify which story he/she is watching.
FDTJ: How did you establish and control the look of each shot during production?
NK: We shot ARRI RAW on the Alexas and applied basic viewing LUTs unique to each shooting location. The LUTs were prepared during location scouting, and are not as stylized as they would be in final grade. Something mild enough to give a flavor of the look we are intending to establish was thought enough for on-set monitoring and dailies. The director and crew do not rely much on monitors, and the production environment does not allow the use of large displays anyway. All we have is a 7’ monitor, which was primarily used by the lighting department.
FDTJ: Why did you decide to shoot anamorphic?
NK: This is the 3rd time I am working with director Lee. We are both big fans of anamorphics due to the distinct bokeh and flare. Our previous work <Unforgiven> was an anamorphic film production shot in the wilderness of Hokkaido, thus the anamorphic format was a perfect fit. This project is somewhat the opposite, as we had to shoot in confined spaces both on location and within the studio set. On several occasions I had to ask the director whether we are really going to shoot and release the movie in 2.4:1 or in 1.85:1. Anamorphic lenses have good horizontal coverage, but I was concerned of narrow vertical field of view. The director was pretty much determined to go anamorphic, so having access to wide anamorphic zooms and primes was extremely beneficial.
FDTJ: What made you pick up anamorphic lenses from 3 different manufacturers?
NK: We evaluated Master Anamorphics, KOWA and HAWK primes. We settled on the Kowas and Hawks, where the two lens line-ups compensate each other nicely in terms of focal length. Both prime anamorphic sets carry the traditional anamorphic look and feel, and are not terribly difficult to match with each other. We needed the Angénieux zooms for the Steadicam and B-camera. In terms of optical performance, these new anamorphic zooms are light years ahead of old HR lenses with anamorphic rear adapters. Having zooms on the Steadicam is extremely useful as you can save time re-balancing the rig after a lens change, and you have the flexibility to adjust the frame easily. Zooms are somewhat addictive as you get to shoot faster without any loss of quality, but a part of me says there is a risk to make you indifferent to lens characteristics.
FDTJ: How did you select lenses for each shot?
NK: Perhaps 70% of the movie is shot on primes be it a KOWA or HAWK depending on the focal length. The two Angenieux zooms were indispensable for Steadicam shots, and we were very fortunate to have one of the very first 30-72 zoom out of the factory. The zooms have very little distortion, which helped to shoot scenes where you see buildings and straight lines in the background. Some of the anamorphic primes have pronounced distortion, which can be disturbing at times. The two zooms have a nice overlap between 56mm and 72mm, which enabled us to cutback between A & B-cameras set around 65mm by using the 2 zooms. Closer MOD was another factor where the KOWA and Angenieux have an edge. On certain street scenes, we had to use prime anamorphics on the Steadicam as we felt T4 on a wide zoom was not fast enough to separate the foreground. In Okinawa, we had to shoot from a little boat. Exchanging lenses in a rocking boat is not an option, so we intensively used zoom lenses for that particular sequence.
FDTJ: How did you manage to inter-cut shots coming from all those lenses with different characters?
NK: We tried to narrow the gap by applying different grades of TIFFEN GlimmerGlass on all lenses. Obviously newer lenses require heavier filtering, but we did not apply extreme filtering. The GlimmerGlass also helped to defuse highlights and establish a more summer looking lighting condition. The whole story takes place within the month of August in Japan, where the strong sunlight is always diffused by the intense heat and extreme moisture. There is a minor shift in color across the lenses, but that can be managed in DI. There is very little VFX work and no 3D modeling/figures in the movie so we had no issues coping with different lens distortion characteristics in post.