“在宽银幕画幅下，ALEXA XT加Master Anaormorphic变形镜头拍摄画面的锐度高，拍摄的画面从边缘到中央都有很好的解像度。而且MA变形镜头不像别的变形镜头画面周围是柔的，更不会有畸变。”
—— 摄影指导 杜杰
摄影机：ARRI ALEXA XT M, ALEXA XT Plus, ALEXA XT Studio
镜头：ARRI Master Anamorphic变形镜头
可能是因为我们这一群人教育背景比较接近，大家经常会一起聊电影，所以当我们拍《罗曼蒂克消亡史》的时候，已经有了大概的方向。我们希望《罗曼蒂克消亡史》的画面是非常清晰、解像力非常好的那种质感，所以当时首先定下了用ARRI Master Prime定焦镜头 。后来在怀柔影棚的一个民国景片里，我们用一台高分辨率的摄影机配MP镜头、一台用ALEXA XT配Master Anamorphic变形镜头和MP镜头分别进行试拍。做完测试后对比画面觉得ALEXA XT配MA变形镜头呈现的质感更符合我们的需要一些，它的色彩也跟这个片子更融合。
因为《罗曼蒂克消亡史》是宽银幕画幅，如果是把MP镜头拍摄的画面上下裁掉一部分，画面整体的观感锐度可能没有直接用ALEXA XT加MA变形镜头拍摄画面的锐度高，而且MA变形镜头拍摄的画面从画面的边缘到中央都有很好的解像度，画质和MP镜头不相上下。有一场菲律宾部分的戏，我们在海南拍的，当时是拍章子怡的近景，因为使用了景深范围更丰富的MA变形镜头，所以我一直在控制浅景深镜头在整个片中的比例，很多外景我并不想要后景完全虚化的那种效果，我把镜头的光孔缩小到了T16，以便让背景有足够多的信息。因为带环境感会给人更好的感觉，所以虽然光孔收到那么小，但是画质却没有任何影响。而且MA变形镜头不像别的变形镜头画面周围是柔的，更不会有畸变。它的景深的感觉跟球面镜头不一样，拍广一点的镜头时，MA变形镜头的景深可控制的空间更大，更符合这个片子想要的气质， 最终的效果我非常满意。
是的，我现在正在拍的这个片子就用了ALEXA Mini摄影机和SkyPanel LED柔光灯。我比较喜欢SkyPanel那个可以调颜色的功能，这样在现场直接看监视器就能调到最终想要的效果，完全不再需要在灯前面加片子。而《罗曼蒂克消亡史》的拍摄还都是加色纸和片子，现在则完全不需要再这样操作了。这次用了非常多的SkyPanel S60，现在又新出了一个更长的S120，但还没来得及用。之前ARRI还出了一个Trinity稳定器，也可能是题材的原因我现在还没用过它，它应该比较灵活，高高低低的地方都能用，配合一直运动的镜头会是非常好的选择。以后会做哪些尝试的话还要看题材，ARRI的各种器材我经常都在使用，我对它的综合印象很好，就目前来说，ARRI是我们能拿到手里最可靠、最有保障的器材。
Interview with THE WASTED TIMES DP Du Jie
"Master Anamorphic lenses are able to take advantage of the full sensor resolution from ALEXA XT, and they performed well from the center to the edges of the image. Unlike other anamorphic lenses, Master Anamorphic lenses have minimal distortion and maintain consistent sharpness across the entire image."
—— Director of Photographer Du Jie
Director: Cheng Er
Director of Photographer: Du Jie
Camera: ARRI ALEXA XT M, ALEXA XT Plus, ALEXA XT Studio
Lens: ARRI Master Anamorphic
Rental House: KO Media, Salon Film (H.K.) Ltd.
THE WASTED TIMES is a Chinese-Hong Kong thriller film produced by Huayi Brothers Media Group and Emperor Motion Pictures, directed by Cheng Er and starring Ge You, Zhang Ziyi and Tadanobu Asano. Set against war torn Shanghai in 1937, the film follows a local crime boss at the receiving end of the Japanese army's attempt to forge a dubious alliance. Spanning three separate times during the period, the story details mindsets from various perspectives, all culminating in a suspenseful and tense finale. Upon the film’s theatrical release in China, DP Du Jie spoke to ARRI and shared his experience working on the film.
Previously you worked with director Cheng Er on LETHAL HOSTAGE, can you talk about what made you team up again on THE WASTED TIMES?
I met Cheng Er back when we were at film school. Our first official collaboration was LETHAL HOSTAGE which was well received and it was a pleasant experience working with the crew. Since then we become good friends and hang out together often. When the project THE WASTED TIMES came along he got me on board. I was so fascinated by the script and I had to turn down many other projects so I could focus on this one.
THE WASTED TIME started principle photography in 2014, how did you choose the cameras and lenses? What tests did you do?
Since we went to film school together and we talk about films all the time, the director and I were pretty much on the same page in terms of creative choices on THE WASTED TIMES. We wanted the film to have a sharp and detailed look. We decided to use ARRI Master Prime lenses and we tested them along with Master Anamorphic lenses on an ALEXA XT and another cinema camera in the studio. After reviewing the results we preferred the ALEXA XT with Master Anamorphic lenses combo. The color rendering in particular was a good fit for the narrative and the image quality was exactly what we expected.
THE WASTED TIME was set in old Shanghai, how did you come up with the look of the film? Why did you choose Master Anamorphic lenses?
Many of the ideas came from our casual conversations about film. Sometimes when Cheng Er was editing something and he would recommend a film to me and we would then analyze the film together. In terms of cinematography, we often talked about INGLOURIOUS BASTARDS, THE BURNING PLAIN, PRISONERS and THE BUDAPEST HOTEL. Instead of simply using those films as visual references, we studied how the images enhance storytelling. For example, in PRISONERS lensed by Roger Deakins, there was a slow moving shot of a freshly killed deer through a car window. There was also an empty shot where the camera pushes in to a tree. These whimsical images really add something special to the film’s narrative. In terms of color scheme we wanted to find inspiration from THE BUDAPEST HOTEL, however during filming we found out symmetrical framing worked really well for us since the director doesn’t like traditional shot-reverse-shot. So the look the film was developed gradually as we moved along.
Because we chose cinemascope format for THE WASTED TIME, if we letterboxed the images using Master Prime lenses we wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the full sensor resolution from ALEXA XT. Master Anamorphic lenses performed equally well compared with Master Prime lenses from the center to the edges of the image. I remember we shot a scene in Hainan and there were some close-ups of Zhang Ziyi. In order to retain as much background detail as possible, I stopped down the lenses to T16 which did not affect the optical performance at all. Unlike other anamorphic lenses, Master Anamorphic lenses have minimal distortion and maintain consistent sharpness across the entire image. The way they render depth of field is different from spherical lenses, I was able to have more control over depth of field when shooting wide shots which greatly helped creating the look of the film. I was extremely happy with the results.
How did you come with the lighting in THE WASTED TIMES? What fixtures did you use? How did ALEXA perform in low light?
We envisioned the lighting to be simple and exquisite at the same time. It’s like a piece of furniture, it might look plain but every bit is meticulously crafted to perfection. For this reason we didn’t use much glaring backlight or radiant colors. For some interior scenes, we would just use a single light source from outside the window without additional fill light or backlight. Most scenes were shot in the studio and were lit with tungsten fixtures. An array of 24 head fixtures were used for bounce to create a skylight effect. We also made some softboxes and LED lights. In a number of scenes we used ARRIMAX 18K.
There were quite a few dimly lit scenes in the film. Old Shanghai had a lot of tall buildings in the Bund which made the interior darker than usual. Therefore in order to achieve a sense of realism for the period we kept sunlight effect minimal. At times we had to work in very low light but I wasn’t really concerned with noise. I did tests to check noise level before filming and from what I saw on set, noise was no issue for ALEXA. For the scene in reed marshes, we shot it with dim lighting but in post we decided to push the exposure up a little, the resulting noise was minimal and after moderate noise reduction the images were pristine. ALEXA did an amazing job in low light and I never had to worry about noise.
How did you make sure that the skin tones of the different actresses in the film look flattering?
I wanted to make the skin tone of every actress in the film look as good as possible. I used tungsten lighting mainly to film the skin tones this time. Sometimes I would add color gels on the lights to enhance the color of the skin. Sometimes the right color and texture of the background can also complement the look of the foreground talent. In my opinion, ALEXA has the best skin tone reproduction of all digital cinema cameras. It might not be spot on every time but only minimal adjustment is needed. Most of the time we only use one ALEXA camera and I was the camera operator myself. Since a large number of shots were locked off, we had more flexibility to finesse composition and lighting.
Can you talk about the massacre scene?
It was a fairly dramatic scene. Dead bodies were everywhere. I wanted to capture the entire environment and the aerial view of the room made the character seem small and inconsequential. The purpose built two-storey set was 10 meters in height. For this unique perspective we managed to secure a 12mm wide angle lens. A track was set up in the ceiling and the camera rig was connected to a wire system, the operator would move the camera through wires based on the blocking of the actor seen in the video feed. We also had to follow the actor walk up the stairs so we used Scorpio Digital Remote Head for that, coupled with ARRI WCU-4 wireless follow focus and ARRI Ultrasonic Distance Measure. This scene alone took 4 days to prepare, a lot of effort went in to it and we were pleased with the results.
What recording format did you use? What do you think of it?
We used ARRIRAW format. Most scenes in the film were live action and for scheduling reasons a number of scenes were done in compositing. For example, the car interior scene of Mr. Lu in the streets of Shanghai and the killing of character Zhao Baogang had some composited elements. It’s clear to me after my tests that ARRIRAW format is extremely robust and perfect for compositing.
Since the production began, ARRI has released a number of new cameras, lights and support accessories, if you had the opportunity, what would you like to try?
Actually I’m already using ALEXA Mini and SkyPanel LED lights on one of my current projects. I particularly like the color tuning feature of SkyPanel LED lights, it eliminates the need to attach filter gels and enables me to get the look on set in a convenient way. I have been using SkyPanel S60 extensively and I’m aware that a bigger S120 was recently released. For the types of films I have been working on, I haven’t really got a good opportunity to use the Trinity stabilizer from ARRI. I believe it could be extremely flexible and ideal for continuously moving shots. I’d love to try it with the right film in the future. I have been using ARRI equipment for a long time and I’m thoroughly impressed by how reliable and trustworthy they are.
The Wasted Time Trailer
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