A full ARRI package on HITMAN: AGENT 47
ARRI is unique in terms of the sheer range of linked products and services it can offer to productions. One major motion picture that recently took advantage of this was HITMAN: AGENT 47, a slick action thriller about a mysterious assassin, directed by Aleksander Bach and shot by cinematographer Ottar Gudnason. Combining ALEXA XT cameras with Master Anamorphic lenses and Electronic Control System accessories, the production also used M-Series lighting fixtures and utilized dailies, VFX and other postproduction services from ARRI Media. Gudnason speaks here about his work on the film and the benefits of ARRI's one-stop-shop philosophy.
On HITMAN: AGENT 47, cinematographer Ottar Gudnason combined ALEXA XT cameras with Master Anamorphic lenses and Electronic Control System accessories. The production also used M-Series lighting fixtures and utilized dailies, VFX and other postproduction services from ARRI Media.
What approach did you and Aleksander take to the look of this film, and the camerawork?
Before I came on board, Aleksander had put together a mood board that represented the look he had in mind; he wanted the film to have nice, rich saturation. We spent the first few weeks of our prep developing that look, as well as the camera language. Our production designer Sebastian Krawinkel also had great ideas when it came to painting our sets and making sure we had pleasing colors to play with. I think we managed to put together a nice palette.
In terms of camerawork, the Agent 47 character has great physical skills -- the way he fights, the way he shoots guns and gets out of trouble, is quite amazing. For these scenes we designed camera movements that emphasized his physical skills and his precision. Then there are other characters and scenes that required a different flow and energy, so I would say that the camera language varies throughout the film.
What made you choose the ALEXA XT as your main camera?
For me it was a no-brainer to use the ALEXA XT. I have used ALEXA from the very beginning, when it first came out; I feel I know how far I can push it and, more important, I trust it. I think no other digital camera looks better for interior and low light work. Also the ALEXA feels great when working handheld; I very much like the weight of the camera and how that weight is distributed. We had to use a different camera for some of the drone shots and I wish the new ALEXA Mini had been available then, because that would have been my preference.
We used the XT in Open Gate mode and captured ARRIRAW. During the DI process, we learned how important it was to capture ARRIRAW, especially for the complicated VFX scenes. It was pretty remarkable to see on the big screen how the camera performs in terms of latitude and color rendering.
This was an early production to use Master Anamorphic lenses; what did you think of them?
Preproduction was quite stressful because the Master Anamorphics were not quite ready and at first we could only get the 35 mm, 50 mm and 75 mm. The 100 mm was a big question mark, but the lovely staff at ARRI tried everything to accommodate our needs and a week before principal photography we got all four lenses. There is no doubt that the Master Anamorphics are great optics and we used them in pretty much every scene, but with two to three cameras in main unit, four lenses was not enough. ARRI Berlin provided us with a doubler, which was optically perfect and helped us to maximize our usage of the Master Anamorphics. To fill the gaps of the three focal lengths not then available (40 mm, 60 mm and 135 mm) we used a few other anamorphic lenses and rear-converted anamorphic zooms.
What are the key advantages of the Master Anamorphics?
The Master Anamorphic lenses are solidly and beautifully designed. A key advantage is that they perform perfectly wide open and every focal length matches 100% in terms of color, contrast and resolution. Also the physical size of the Master Anamorphics is ideal and the balance never becomes too front-heavy. Optically they are perfect, in fact flares were the only things I was missing during filming, so I was very happy when I saw that ARRI has released the new Master Anamorphic Flare Sets.
Were the Master Anamorphics and ALEXA's 4:3 sensor a good combination?
Absolutely, the Master Anamorphics with the amazing ALEXA sensor is just a great combo. All the other ARRI devices such as wireless camera control units and remote focus tools make it feel like one system and there are hardly any technical surprises. It´s just a very well thought-out system and that's a big factor in keeping the momentum of work going on set.
You used M18, M40, M90 and ARRIMAX daylight fixtures from ARRI's M-Series. What do you like about these lights?
The ARRI M-Series lights are great and the parabolic design is just genius -- there is so much output. I am a big fan of soft lights and I use a lot of bounce sources, so it´s great to have that extra power from the M-Series fixtures; you never feel like you are running out of light level.
As well as various ARRI products supplied by ARRI Rental, the film also used ARRI postproduction services. Did you feel well looked after throughout the production?
It was great to be able to get so much from one place -- camera, lighting, grip and postproduction. You always feel you are in good hands because people in every ARRI department communicate so well. As soon as there was a question or a concern it would be tackled and solved immediately.
ARRI postproduction made the whole workflow very enjoyable. The ARRI Webgate cloud service worked really well and is a bulletproof system. Being able to view the previous day's dailies early every morning on your laptop or tablet was just great! We got so used to the workflow that we decided to fly a few ARRI postproduction people down to Singapore when we shot there, in order to keep the same workflow. That´s how good it was.
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