Film & Digital Times focuses on HUGO

Martin Scorsese's HUGO has garnered much praise for its visual storytelling through the deft use of 3D stereoscopic origination. Many critics have hailed the production for advancing the cinematic language of motion pictures. At the Golden Globes, Scorsese won the Best Director award and last week, HUGO collected Best Live Action 3D feature, Best Stereography (live action), and Best 3D Moment of the Year at the International 3D Society Creative Arts Awards. This year, HUGO leads with the most Academy Award nominations in 11 categories, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best VFX and Best Director.

Cinematographer Robert Richardson, ASC notes, "The look that was achieved on HUGO was strongly influenced by the ALEXA. We decided early on to author a style that did not replicate film. We were making a 3D movie utilizing digital capture. The ALEXA brought tremendous range of exposure, tonality and flexibility. HUGO could not have been achieved with any other camera system."

Scorsese and Cameron on Shooting HUGO in 3D

Director Martin Scorsese discusses his vision with James Cameron for his latest film HUGO. The production shot in 3D stereoscopic with ALEXA cameras, which utilized Fusion Pace 3D rigs developed by Cameron Pace Group. Footage courtesy  of Paramount Pictures.


Recently at a panel discussion, Scorsese spoke about incorporating 3D as a tool. "For me, it's just another element to tell a story...It was extraordinary. We'd look at a shot and say, "What can we do here? We could also use the depth as a narrative -- that was the idea."

In the article "Moving HUGO," for Film and Digital Times, writer Jon Fauer, ASC, interviews eight crew members including Richardson, stereographer Demetri Portelli, VFX supervisor Rob Legato, first camera assistant Gregor Tavenner, key grip Chris Centrella and Steadicam operator Larry McConkey.

Portelli says, "ALEXA is beautiful in terms of latitude and color. It has a cinematic look. I am proud that people are really responding to the images."

Portelli credits Scorsese's vision and support for allowing the filmmakers to be ambitious in their visual storytelling. "HUGO is a great accomplishment of a director's full commitment to shooting every shot in the film utilizing 3D tools and a 3D capture format to its finest potential. It is due to Marty's faith in 3D and in all our combined abilities to face the challenge that we did not feel the need to have a 2D camera on set."

The new techniques allowed an immersion for viewers within scenes. For instance during a sequence shot at Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve, shafts of natural light streaming in through the windows could be captured in a more tangible effect.

Explains Richardson, "You are feeling the sides of the light source...it's giving the light beams mass. In 2D, it's just a shaft. It doesn't have mass. That's where the 3D is phenomenal, in terms of how it transforms the emotion for me."