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My review of The Revenant, shot on the Alexa 65mm in only natural light


Andrew Reid
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I saw the movie on Friday.  visually one of the best films I have seen.  I'd seen comments from others who said they couldn;t tell the difference between shots, but watching the movie is was very obvious when they were shooting 65mm.  in image quality terms the digital projection of The Revenant smashed Hateful Eight (70mm film projection).  Some of the vistas were incredible.  I felt as far as an entertaining movie - I'm not looking forward to watching it again for it's entertainment value.  I started hoping it would reach the end about 40mins before it actually did.  And the cg on the bear scene was horrific.  not up to the standards required for such a film. 

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Unfortunately there was only a small amount of this film shot on the Alexa 65. Lubezki estimated that only 13% of the movie was shot with it. They received the camera well after production was underway and was only planning on using it for establishing shots. It would be fun to know what was and wasn't shot on the new camera. 

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January 2016 American Cinematographer has full article telling you exactly how they made it all.

Interestingly it says

The
Revenant ultimately relied on a combination
of Arri Alexa cameras: the Alexa
XT, which was used primarily for
Steadicam and crane shots; the Alexa
M, which was designated as the
primary camera; and the new Alexa 65
system, an early version of which Arri
made available to the filmmakers

According to Lubezki,
approximately 13 percent of The
Revenant was shot with the Alexa 65.

“My preferred lenses are the
[Arri/Zeiss] Master Primes and Leica
Summilux-Cs,” Lubezki says. “A very
small range of lenses.” His main lens
was a Master Prime 14mm, with 12mm
and 16mm used on occasion. He notes
that the Leica lenses — of which the
production employed the 16mm, the
widest focal length available for that
series — were particularly useful when a
lighter-weight lens was warranted. The
cinematographer explains with a laugh,
“As I age, certain equipment becomes
very heavy for all the handheld work, so
the weight of the lenses does matter.
The Leica lenses are light, but [retain]
an incredible image.”
The production encountered an
ongoing back-focus challenge with its
extensively used Master Prime wide
lenses whenever the temperature
dropped to near 0°. The problem wasn’t
fully sorted out until a few weeks into
production, when Lubezki and Connor
teamed with Panavision to find a solution.
According to Connor, neither he
nor the Panavision team had seen this
phenomenon before on other shows
shot in similar weather.

As to the Alexa 65’s Prime 65
lenses — which utilize optics from
Hasselblad HCs — the 24mm was the
main lens, and a 28mm was used occasionally.
In terms of pulling focus, Connor
attests that The Revenant was “the single
most difficult movie I have ever done.”
Noting that he uses a combination of
classic and modern focus-pulling techniques,
he says, “I still like to be close to
the camera, with a wireless focus and
monitor in hand. About 20 years ago, I
took the Preston wireless focus system
off the Steadicam and used it on ground
cameras to give me an advantage with
ever-challenging styles of shooting and
extremely long lenses. It’s comprised of
a small 8-inch HD monitor with builtin
LUTs and real peaking. Chivo only
has Log C coming out of the camera,
and doesn’t like to see peaking on his
monitor or the director’s. The small HD
monitor allows me to apply any LUT, as
well as its own peaking. Along with a
Paralinx wireless transmitter mounted
on the focus unit, [the rig] gives me
complete mobility to move through the
set terrain and see the scene develop or
change.

its a very bold statement by the Director and DOP to shoot it all with available light , not many would have the guts to go that way on a modern made film , its such a unique look it achieves

they where shooting approx 9am - 3pm due to the light so it was short days so the shoot took alot longer

 

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I saw a demo of the trailer processed in HDR from the source material, on a 4k Sony hdr compatible TV. Quite a show case for the technology. The landscape and skies looked great. I just hope they don't push the tech too far with some horrible tone-mapping. 

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I noticed that the production designer was jack Fisk, Malicks right hand man, which explains quite a bit I think. He's a bit of an unsung hero and I definitely noticed a quite strong cross over in look to elements of 'The new world'. I'm not sure if it's okay to post a link here but there is an interesting article about his work on the revenant here http://lwlies.com/interviews/jack-fisk-the-revenant-interview/

I couldn't understand how people were managing to eat popcorn through the first ambush scene either, my jaw was on the floor. I can't remember the last time, if ever, that I have been so utterly blown away by the sheer intensity of what I was seeing. I will have to watch this many more times just to actually see it all, the frames are so ripe and full. The sun pouring down the valley in the last stand off scene was....there aren't words.

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Every time i walk into one of Inarritu's movies, I'm very optimistic. But I never feel quite satisfied by the experience. Couldn't quite connect with this one either. It was beautifully rendered certainly. But looking back i think my issue with it was that this had an hour's worth of story in the first and third act, with 90 minutes of episodic survival sequences that (for me) stalled the plot. meaning, you could have replaced all those scene with a "two weeks later..." title card and you'd have no meaningful issues with the narrative, character arcs, etc. Loved the beginning and ending though.

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I couldn't understand how people were managing to eat popcorn through the first ambush scene either, my jaw was on the floor. I can't remember the last time, if ever, that I have been so utterly blown away by the sheer intensity of what I was seeing. I will have to watch this many more times just to actually see it all, the frames are so ripe and full. The sun pouring down the valley in the last stand off scene was....there aren't words.

Absolutely agree.

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Referring the new Star War Movie to Feminist is typical stereotyping, and a rather irrational and somewhat sexist .. as for the movie, it just get me back to the core , the fundamental, the essential of what Photography and then Cine brings, that is to record a true event, scene, and a world. And this is what made it grand. No amount of wizardry can best mother nature in providing the perfect backdrop , setting, and stage , period

what the tech do is bringing that backdrop into a visual entity that we the viewer can feel it, enjoy it, and admire it , together with the story unfolding , that to me is what good cinematography should do 

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I noticed that the production designer was jack Fisk, Malicks right hand man, which explains quite a bit I think. He's a bit of an unsung hero and I definitely noticed a quite strong cross over in look to elements of 'The new world'. I'm not sure if it's okay to post a link here but there is an interesting article about his work on the revenant here http://lwlies.com/interviews/jack-fisk-the-revenant-interview/

I think it's pretty clear Iñárritu is in some ways trying hard to ape The New World. The ultra wide handheld low angles and decision to shoot in natural light scream Malick.

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Referring the new Star War Movie to Feminist is typical stereotyping, and a rather irrational and somewhat sexist

I see you don't like my joke, and are probably reading a lot into it like 'typical stereotyping' and sexism.

I have to say I don't appreciate that.

Your kind of response reminds me a little bit of this shrill tone, in a review of The Revenant - http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/17/revenant-leonardo-dicaprio-violent-meaningless-glorification-pain?CMP=share_btn_fb

ISIS video style violence, really?! A case of maybe reading far too much into what isn't there.

I enjoyed the new Star Wars film. Only just seen it. Wasn't in a mad rush, because it had not really been part of my childhood like it had been for so many. In fact I was really into many films at all when I was 3 years old at the time Return of The Jedi came out and subsequently I didn't really get into any of them on VHS or on TV. Didn't need to. We had the BBC.

At risk of gong off topic...

There are definitely a lot of modern politically correct undertones in the new Star Wars franchise. For the first 10 minutes I enjoyed Rey. Great character but a very two dimensional one with a lot of overly expository lines lacking in wit, almost all of them saying "I don't need the help of a man". Well put the boot on the other foot and if all the male characters in the movies said "I don't need a woman" it would kill a bucket load of stories stone dead wouldn't it?

To be honest Lara Croft In Space is not exactly original either.

It's time escapist mainstream entertainment stopped worrying about modern gender and racial politics and got on with plain old storytelling.

That new droid though... very cool.

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But you should really lower your expectations if you have already had disappointing experiences with a filmmaker in the past.

this is quite ridiculous.  You make the assumption that pessimism is a mental state we all share.  It's the same as suggesting that if you fail at something the first, second and third time you should just give up and never try again!   

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If someone let you down several times then you shouldn't fully trust that person ever again. That's a simple lesson life teaches you.

The same is true for filmmakers.

Yeah I totally get you, I cry every time someone makes me see a movie that's not 100% awesome and up to my expectations. It's also been 3 times a friend of mine hasn't made me laugh enough on saturday nights, I won't be wasting anymore time with him.

Back to reality, I didn't enjoy the movie, the visual part was nice but I think the camera work was half assed, it didn't really work out imho. Not to talk about the story, which was laughable.

Birdman on the otherhand had me tied to the screen for the whole time, best movie I've seen in a long time. There were some aspects of the script (that pseudo intellectual stuff) that sucked, but you don't really care when the movie has a nice rythm and momentum. 

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I did not like Revenant.  When growing up, I was interested in camping, fishing, hunting, etc.  A lot of the things the main character (Mr. Glass) does in the movie was wrong and did not happen in real life.

1) you cannot survive very long in cold water like Mr. Glass does.  You would be dead in 15mins because of hypothermia (that took me out of the movie very quickly).  In other words, DO NOT TRY stuff that Glass does in the movie if you are stuck in the wilderness.. You will DIE.

2)  In the end of the movie, the Leader left the base.  In real life, he would have gotten a bigger posse.  I can understand if the director did that to make the movie more "intimate", but there were other ways to provide the "intimacy".

3) MILD SPOILER...........In real life, Glass does not kill anyone, but instead forgives them.  Also, in real life, none of the white people killed anyone in their party.  It was basically a huge F-Up when they left Glass for dead.  Basically, they just thought he was dead.  Or 100% going to dead.  It just wasn't so cold hearted like how it was displayed in the movie.

There are other stuff that I didn't like, but I cannot remember them now even though I just saw it yesterday.  If you don't care for realism, and logic; it's not a bad movie.  It is interesting to note it was mostly shot on available light :-)  pretty cool.

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