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Andrew Reid

A look at the camera setup on Oliver Stone's Vladimir Putin Interviews, with DP Anthony Dod Mantle

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I've watched the series and it's impossible to know the real world problems the crew encountered during production, but IMHO it contains some of the ugliest modern interview footage I can remember seeing on Showtime in recent memory. Plenty of possible culprits to point at; shooting on Putin's home turf, the extra harsh added lighting, mostly clipped exposures on skin as well as highlights, really soft as well a way too sharp images + odd mismatched color/skin tones within the same scene like the cameras weren't prepped.... if it's color graded it obviously didn't help, etc.. Considering the depth of experience and expertise behind this production, I think we can safely rule out incompetency or lack of budget. Either way I was left wondering why all that high end talent would intentionally create that look, much less why they used the C-300MI or 5DMII in FHD and whether they are a problem or not. I waded through all 4 episodes just to hear the content but was constantly distracted with how really shitty it looked.

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It really did look terrible on a technical level.

But so does Dogme 95 stuff in general.

I think Dod Mantle did it on purpose.

I find it quite an interesting piece and was moved enough to write an article about it so I guess that's job done from the DP.

It would be boring if all interviews and documentaries were polished turds, with glossy shot after glossy shot... What's the point?

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Hi,

Quote

... stage-play look of Dogme ’95. Compare the style of Lars Von Trier’s Dogville to Snowden.

what do you mean with the stage-play look of DOGMA95? "Dogville" is not DOGMA95, it is far far away from it!

The only DOGMA95 film from Lars von Trier was "Idiots", shot by himself.

Anthony Dod Mantle shot DOGMA95 films with Vinterberg and Kragh-Jacobsen not with Lars von Trier.

Best regards

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On 2017-6-30 at 9:46 PM, Andrew Reid said:

Dod Mantle can be seen with a Canon XC10 outputting 1080p to an Atomos Ninja Star, presumably for ProRes which can be edited straight off the bat. The funny thing is, Oliver Stone obviously didn’t need a very fast turn-around for the project as it was shot over a period of 2 years! Maybe the choice of the Ninja Star was to allow smooth playback of the files for the whole crew to look at during the day or at the end of the day, on a laptop, who knows…?

Read the full article

@AndrewReid The XC10 outputs 10bit 422 via HDMI in 4K mode, and paired with the Ninja Star it's auto-downsampled to 1080p. That's probably why the Ninja Star - 10bit HD rather than 8bit 4K = more bit depth and less data so the cards go further. I do the same sometimes if I know I won't want to crop in post.

By the way, was sad you never got around to posting that XC10 video shot in Italy. I really love this little camera. It has a lot of annoying 1st generation quirks in terms of usability but the image is fantastic. If the C200's supposed 400mb/s codec update is equal to the XC10's that camera will be insanely good.

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On 7/2/2017 at 3:38 PM, Andrew Reid said:

It really did look terrible on a technical level.

But so does Dogme 95 stuff in general.

I think Dod Mantle did it on purpose.

I find it quite an interesting piece and was moved enough to write an article about it so I guess that's job done from the DP.

It would be boring if all interviews and documentaries were polished turds, with glossy shot after glossy shot... What's the point?

I understand the point you want to make here but there's "different" and then there's just f'ing ugly... personally, after the 1st 15 minutes I don't really care what they shot it on. Ugly video may not be boring but I found watching it was so distracting that it was counter-productive to the content. 4 hours is a lot of content that may have been easier to digest as a Podcast. Just my opinion of course but I doubt I'm the only one who took that away from watching this series.

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Interesting post. I would have missed this otherwise. That said, on the clips I watched there are actually two C300s (or equivalent, it's hard to tell) on the interviewer and interviewee. Locked off and constantly running so nothing is missed. The whole thing could be edited with just footage from just these two and the image is very classic, very  clean. The cheaper cameras are only there, I suspect, to inject an element of spontaneity and dynamism, conveying an impression of intimacy and sincerity associated with (apparently) lower production values. It's very well done propaganda.

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I'd have struggled to understand a fair amount of the answers without the subtitles if it was a podcast to be honest ;)

I was actually considering at one point if maybe they shot it on 5Ds because the cameras themselves would've been provided by the hosts. If this was the 'old' days of the Soviet Union (which I think Putin wishes it was), security concerns would've meant them not allowing new fangled technology in. Mind you, it was also a pride thing then too where they'd use their own versions of the western technology that they'd copied and often enhanced. MIghtn't have been a bad thing these days, imagine it :

"You use our new Canonski Shest MK DVA. It is like your Canon 6D Mark 2. But made of cast iron. And has 4K"

Putin's personal photographer also uses Canon so perhaps he felt more at ease seeing those cameras around him. Looking at his personal photographer, I'm sure I'd feel at ease too if she was around....

If I was into conspiracies (which of course I am!!!) then maybe the look was also a deliberate bit of propaganda done to not beautify the subject and his surroundings. 

You could take that one way - which was to make Putin more relatable - or the other way to make him and his surroundings all look a bit shabby and low end.

Its like whenever the BBC have a news item or documentary that includes TV adverts they always seem to get the advert, record it onto VHS, put it by a huge magnet, dub it onto another VHS where the tracking is fucked and then get a VHS camera to record it off a TV that they found in a skip. The message obviously being 'Look and behold how horrendous and grubby TV advertisements are compared to our beautiful images. Please keep giving us your license money so we don't have to sully your screen with this garbage'.

Whatever the reason though, after just starting to watch the first episode, I think the content trumps the technical for me. 

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