DP Adrian Cranage on the ARRI Look Library

It was a tough brief: Director of Photography Adrian Cranage was asked by the German lottery company NEOLotto to film 12 scenes in the same small space in just 12 hours – and he had to create the illusion that they had each been shot in 12 different homes. He described for us how loading ARRI’s Look Library into his ALEXA Mini enabled him to make each scene appear unique.   

According to the client brief, there were going to be 12 protagonists sitting in 12 different sets.

We were shooting in a quite small space where it was only possible to have one main set and then an alternative that was to be prepped whilst the main set was being used. Each set needed to look like it was in someone’s living room, therefore we needed 12 completely different looking sets, props, furniture, and general look and feel of each set. That only gave us about 40 minutes to dress, light and shoot each one.

We had a basic wall built, roughly 8 meters long (with a window built into a part of this ‘non- movable’ section), and then had another 4 elements (each about 2 meters long) that were moveable. The idea was to try and not to shoot always into the same corner while only swapping out the set decor. The walls were painted a grey tone.

Apart from the very ambitious shooting schedule, the turn-around from shooting the commercial to the spots being “On Air” was only 14 days.  I knew I would not be involved in the “Final Grade” as I had already received a booking for an overseas job before receiving this one. So, it was very important for me get the product on-set looking as close to the final image as possible. I exported frame grabs (with the applied look from the Look Library) from the camera and had these saved with the material, and also gave a copy of them to the director, Christian Ricken. He then made sure that the final images were kept in line with these exported frame grabs.

I was first informed about the Look Library from the ARRI Newsletter and then was asked whether I had used the Library by Phillip Orgassa, Lead Colorist at ARRI Media in Berlin. To begin with I didn’t really see the need for such a tool, but after this experience I found it to be invaluable, and together with the app I was able to search and decide on the 12 different looks even before we began shooting.

I found it extremely helpful when using the app on my phone, that I could scroll through the many pre-installed looks in the Look Library and select (in this case) 12 looks, pre-install them into the camera and simply select each look whilst setting up the camera in each new set. The whole process was flawless and really saved the production a huge amout of time.

I would recommend the Look Library to any cinematographer who does not have the luxury to play around with LUTS [Look Up Tables] in the prep time, and also when time constraints make it impossible to spend time on set coming up with a suitable LUT, either because there is no DIT or simply because of time. I would also recommend the Look Library for anyone who knows or thinks that they may not be involved in the final grading, and who wishes to maintain some sort of control over the final image.

Being somewhat apprehensive at the beginning of the actual use of the Look Library, I found it to be extremely valuable and helped me enormously on this production and will not hesitate to use it again. I am currently prepping my next TV Film, and I intend to use it in every location.