by Chris O'Falt, IndieWire
Dir: Rian Johnson, DoP: Steve Yedlin
Format: ARRIRAW 2880×1620
Camera: Alexa Mini
Lens: Zeiss Master Primes and Panavision Primo Zooms (PCZ 19-90mm, and PZW 15-40mm)
Yedlin: Prevalent superstitions notwithstanding, we are truly post-format these days, meaning our primary leverage point for designing a photographic look (the rendering of tones and colors) is the color pipeline, not the selection of camera. So, with the artistry of visual authorship decoupled from the camera format, selection of that format becomes technical/operational rather than artistic: so I chose the Alexa Mini for its excellent colorimetric reliability, its low noise, its sensor size that could be covered by the lenses I wanted to use, its ability to go up to 200 frames per second without having to change our framing area (i.e. “window in”), and the fact that I have a color pipeline already designed for it and didn’t need to start from scratch. Since I know I’ll sculpt the color/tonal rendition to my vision no matter which camera I select, I’m free to choose the camera type that is the pragmatic best choice for getting our shots.
At times we needed to shoot at extremely wide apertures in order to shoot deep into the dusk hour or to use the natural steely winter window light at our beautiful mansion location, and the Master Primes can open to impressively wide apertures without the image falling apart. At other times, we needed to use zoom lenses, as zooming was a substantial part of Rian’s design approach, which included complex evolving shots that were often compound moves: dollying/panning/zooming as we weave our way through the intricate dance of this densely populated ensemble cast. So, we used the PCZ and PZW for their versatility: well balanced combination of image quality, max aperture, and focal length range.