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 Post subject: Janusz Kaminski Goes To War
PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 7:43 pm 
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Martian War Lord

Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2005 7:01 pm
Posts: 1259
Location: UK
As War Of The Worlds opened this summer, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski was already in Malta shooting his next picture for Spielberg, a film focusing on the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the Israeli team during the 1972 Olympic games.

That film, their tenth together, is slated for release in December, a tight schedule made all the more possible by a working relationship evolved over more than a decade.

Their collaboration began with Schindler’s List in 1993 and went on to intersperse history with sci-fi. Amistad, Artificial Intelligence: AI, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan and The Terminal. War of the Worlds certainly combines both, with a special attention to reality. We’ll let Kaminksi explain.

F&V: How did you prepare for War of the Worlds?

Kaminski: I read David Koepp’s script with Steven [Spielberg]. We had two copies and were reading them side-by-side. I kept asking him, ‘How are we going to do this? This movie is so huge and the scope is amazing.’ Steven just looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.’ He used a previsualization system to create computerized storyboards with dimensional sets along with production designer Rick Carter. We didn’t shoot most of the film that way, but it was a good way to get familiar with the story and how we were going to tell it. Mainly, we scouted locations and figured out how to shoot and light them. The story takes place in contemporary times, so we didn’t want the locations or sets to feel dated.

F&V: Did you have visual references?

Kaminski: We wanted to create a sense of raw, urban reality, like when the workers are coming out of the steel mill during the opening of The Deer Hunter. Tom Cruise plays a blue-collar worker who works on the docks on Long Island. He is divorced and lives alone. He’s a bit of a dysfunctional personality, but he is trying to re-establish a relationship with his two teenage kids. They are visiting with him. When the aliens arrive, he’s not interested in saving the world. He wants to protect his family. It’s a character-driven story with elements of horror and an organic sense of reality.

F&V: Why was this movie produced in 1.85:1 rather than anamorphic?

Kaminski: The monsters Dennis Muren [at ILM] created are hundreds of feet tall, so we needed a vertical frame. Dennis created amazing visual effects very similar to what he did on our Jurassic Park [The Lost World] film. We did a lot of interactive lighting, including searchlights scanning the sky and ray beams from the spaceships to help integrate live-action, CG images and physical effects . We had 200-foot cranes with light boxes controlled from a dimmer board to simulate warm light coming from explosions and fires.

F&V: Did you have time to do any testing with Muren?

Kaminski: Not really. We shot some tests on a New York street on the back lot at Universal Studios with fog and smoke and physical effects with cars crashing and explosions. My key grip [Jim Kwiatkowski] and gaffer [Jim Richards] created amazing rigs that we hung Xenon lights on and used them to create beams of moving light to reveal things hiding in the darkness.

F&V: How about the visual grammar?

Kaminski: It’s a character-driven story that begins like a drama and becomes kind of an homage to the horror films of the 1970s. We mainly shot with a single Panaflex XL camera , and about half the time it was on a Technocrane. It’s an amazing piece of equipment that allowed us to keep the camera moving up, down and around and at different angles. That movement was important, because Steven wanted this feeling that people were running away from this monster. As the story develops, everything changes including the pace of camera movement and colors. Blue is the dominant color in the beginning. It evolved to more reds and oranges, and near the end it gets kind of grey.

F&V: Was this filmed at locations or on stages?

Kaminski: It was mainly locations in New Jersey, Virginia, and New York. We shot the explosion scenes at Mystery Mesa in California. We shot one 15-minute scene on a set in a studio. It takes places in a very dark basement, where people are hiding from this creature that’s outside killing people. We had to find a way to be scary without being campy. Steven told me that it could be as dark as I wanted as long as the audience could see everyone. The only source of light was some very small windows high on a wall. I under-exposed the (500-speed) film [WHAT KIND?] and used directional hard light to put highlights on faces and show bits of the texture of the concrete walls. Later in the lab, we used an ENR silver retention process to make the shadows blacker. We shot other scenes on stages, including a big one in a farmhouse in a meadow that we built.

F&V: Did you use a DI process to manipulate colors and integrate visual effects ?

Kaminski: No. We created colors with gels on the lights and straw filters on the lens, and used an ENR silver retention process at Technicolor. It’s a much more organic look and feeling than you see with most DI finishes. It feels more like a reality-based movie.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 8:39 pm 
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Martian War Lord

Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 10:00 pm
Posts: 2870
Location: Liverpool, UK
thanx lee, most interesting.

Bah bah black sheap April diamond spheres, Rigsby, Rigsby, Eight sided Pears.

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