On “Uri,” ALEXA SXT and Master Anamorphic “performed together amazingly”

On “Uri,” ALEXA SXT and Master Anamorphic “performed together amazingly”

The Indian war film “Uri: The Surgical Strike” was shot by DP Mitesh Mirchandani with ARRI ALEXA SXT and Master Anamorphic lenses. The cinematographer speaks about his camera and lens choices and shares his experience during the difficult shooting conditions.

“Uri: The Surgical Strike” is a war action film describing the story of 19 soldiers, who were killed by terrorists in 2016 at an Indian Army base camp near the city of Uri in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Written and directed by Aditya Dhar, this story pulls its audience in on an emotional level and its powerful message made the film a huge success in India and around the world. Cinematographer Mitesh Mirchandani worked with the ALEXA SXT camera and Master Anamorphic lenses, utilizing the ARRIRAW Open Gate format.

Why did you choose the combination of an ALEXA SXT camera with Master Anamorphic lenses for “Uri”?

I’ve been shooting on the ALEXA since 2011. I’m truly in love with the way it captures the highlights and the colors. I choose the ALEXA SXT for two reasons: We wanted to shoot high speed and I wanted to utilize the maximum capacity out of the ALEXA sensor as we were planning to shoot using anamorphic. We wanted to have a lens that could hold up even in low light, so we decided to go with Master Anamorphics. I’ve gotten the best output with the ALEXA SXT in the past, so there was no reason for me to change my camera.

Was the speed of the Master Anamorphics helpful?

Oh, most definitely, I was shooting a lot of low light sequences in this film and the speed of Master Anamorphics helped a lot when shooting wide open. Also, at 1280 ASA, sometimes even 1600, the camera and lenses performed together amazingly. The lightweight design proved to be a great solution for handheld shots.

What was the overall impression of the optical performance?

I love the way the Master Anamorphics capture skin tones; it’s very natural. And my contrast was always on point. I prefer shooting on wide angle lenses even for the close up shots. That allows me to be closer to the actor and also helps the audience to enjoy the images. One of the most important things was that there was absolutely no distortion on the lenses not even on the 28 mm. The focus fall off on the lenses also was quite seamless. It is an anamorphic lens with sharp edges and that’s the kind of look we wanted to go with.

Did you use flare sets? If yes, please describe how they were useful.

After I did a few tests with the lenses and figured out what the characteristics were, we soon realized that we were missing some idiosyncrasies from the lenses; they were too perfect. That is when I started researching about the flare set and saw some tests. Even with the flare set on, the contrasts were still intact. The vendors in India were kind enough to buy the flare sets for the film, so it worked out to be exactly what I needed.

How was the look of the film finalized?

After all the tests, camera formats, lenses, and research on how the film should finally look, I decided to have a word with the director because we wished to have each action sequence look and feel different from each other. Although the film is high in contrast, one won’t feel the high levels of darkness as we always have some highlights in frame. This helped us create a distinct look for all the action sequences we shot. I wanted it all to look saturated and glorified. Subsequently, all the bits that were outside the battlefield and at home were kept to look realistic and natural, maybe even a bit desaturated, in order to feel the stark difference of the two worlds.

For more information about Mitesh Mirchandani please visit www.miteshdop.com. In India, ARRI equipment is available at http://cineom.com