Cinematographers use tech to bring visions to life

Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:47am EST
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By Carolyn Giardina

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Anthony Dod Mantle remembers racing through the slums of Mumbai, desperately trying to keep up with the 7-year-olds who ran ahead of him.

There they were, "armed with life's energy and a world of hope and wonder; and me, overladen with 14 kilos of state-of-the-art equipment and a normal dose of middle age! What more can I say, except that I lost 11 kilos," quips the "Slumdog Millionaire" cinematographer.

Like his fellow Oscar nominees, he had to juggle high-tech equipment with the realities of capturing performances in a sometimes hostile environment. To record the energy of the densely populated streets of India, Mantle chose to shoot with a combination of 35mm and lightweight SI-2K digital cameras. The digital camera helped him to move quickly and discreetly through the slums, and to shoot while running alongside the child actors, getting him into the action without being obtrusive. It's a camera he never could have turned to a few years ago.

"The tools we use in the industry are developing and being re-evaluated all the time," he says. "This is how it should be." Keeping up with them, he says, is "one of my main responsibilities as a cinematographer."


Taking advantage of the latest technology, "The Dark Knight" is the first narrative studio feature to be lensed, in part, using Imax film cameras.

Wally Pfister, director Christopher Nolan's longtime collaborator, lensed six key action sequences of "The Dark Knight" with 65mm Imax film cameras and the rest of the film in anamorphic 35mm. His goal was to create the epic imagery of Gotham, from breathtaking aerials to high-octane chase sequences, in the highest possible resolution. The Imax sequences included the bank heist that opens the film and the chase through the Chicago streets during which the filmmakers literally flipped an 18-wheel truck.

Pfister was unwilling to compromise on camera movement and setups with the heavy 100-pound Imax camera, so he hung the camera off a car, helicopter and an 18-wheeler.   Continued...

<p>Anthony Dod Mantle poses with the award for cinematography for "Slumdog Millionaire" during the 2009 BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London February 8, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>