Is it vital to know that your camera will capture these very precise colors in a natural and pleasing way?
Yes it is. I've always really liked the color space of the ALEXA; it's very appealing to me and it seemed like the right kind of color space for this film. However, I found that the ALEXA 65 has developed a stage further, especially in terms of how it renders low light and blacks. The sophistication with which it was able to register things in that kind of borderland of the spectrum, the bottom of the curve, was really important. I did design a custom LUT, because with all the complex LED colors I needed something consistent and refined -- it was almost like working with one film stock. All the colors I used in the film were designed specifically to be captured by this camera. That was part of the testing and design process. The other thing I did was work entirely in P3 color space; I didn't use Rec 709 at all. Even the monitoring on set was done in P3 for the extended color gamut, because some of the colors just wouldn't read that well on Rec 709.
This was one of the first productions to record Open Gate ARRIRAW with the ALEXA Mini -- what kinds of scenes did you use it for?
I always like to have a very small, mobile camera on set, whatever format I'm shooting, so the ALEXA Mini offered us opportunities to position and move the camera in ways we couldn't with the ALEXA 65. Because Major is part-human, part-machine and exists in a sort of third space, I had the idea of expressing that sense of existential isolation -- which is a real feature of anime -- by having the camera float through scenes like an invisible observer. We used the Mini for that, and also for what we called a 'glitch-cam', where we put two Minis side by side but slightly offset, so we could morph between the two perspectives and create a weird effect that suggests the technology is slightly failing at times. 95% of the film is ALEXA 65, though, because we just fell in love with the look.
How was the process of working with ARRI Rental?
The ALEXA 65 is a fantastic achievement technically, but what was really great about the process of working with ARRI Rental was that they weren't just interested in the camera itself; they were interested in what I wanted to do with the camera and where we could take it. From the very first test they understood what I wanted and really helped me to achieve it, whether it was trying to get more frame rate or working with Park Road Post to improve the speed of the workflow and monitor in P3. That collaborative element of working with ARRI Rental was extremely important and valuable for me, particularly on this project because we were pushing the boundaries of technology.