Thursday, August 22, 2013

Star Wars Episode VII Rumor: Star Wars Cinematographer Named, To Use Film Instead Of Digital Cameras

Always at the cutting edge of cinematic technology, George Lucas was always trying to push the boundaries.  This included his promotion of digital filming and digital theater projection.  Star Wars Episode II and III were both shot on Sony CineAlta, high-definition digital cameras.

The hiring of J.J. Abrams to direct Episode VII foreshadowed a shunning of this digital film making and a return to the more traditional use of film.

In June at the Producers Guild of America, Produced by Conference, Abrams said the following about digital versus film movie making:

“I have not yet shot a movie digitally,” he explained. “Film is the thing I am most comfortable with. If film were to go away — and digital is challenging it— then the standard for the highest, best quality would go away...Also, with all the CG, it was important to me that it was as warm and human and analog as possible... "It may not be obvious to many of the people who saw it, but I think it is more important than people know."

Twitter user @bobafettfanclub posted the following tidbit of news today:

The ASC is The American Society of Cinematographers, an by invitation only group of just over 300 professional cinematographers with the Clubhouse located in Hollywood.

Cinematographer Dan Mindel has previously worked as director of photography with JJ Abrams on Mission Impossible IIIStar Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness and has previously worked for Disney on the recent John Carter film. Mindel is the man behind the camera for the next Spider-man film as well, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 due out May 2, 2014.

The ASC's magazine had some in depth interviews with Mindel in it's June 2009 issue regarding the shooting of Star Trek and it's June 2013 issue regarding the shooting of the sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness.  These comments may give us a window into how Abrams will shoot Star Wars: Episode VII and may fit with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy's statements at Celebration Europe.

At the Star Wars fan convention Kennedy discussed briefly the film making process that she envisions for Episode VII:

10:55: “Much like many of you, looking at all the Star Wars movies and getting a feeling of what the early films did in combination with real locations and special effects — that’s something we’re looking very seriously at. We’re going to find some really cool locations for Ep VII. We’re going to use every tool in the toolbox for this movie.” – Kathleen Kennedy
10:56: “It’s using artwork that you can touch and feel in combination with CG effects.” – Kathleen Kennedy

American Cinematographer June 2009 Interview:

Mindel, who previously teamed with Abrams on Mission: Impossible III (AC May ’06), recalls, “J.J. told us early on to use the original TV show as our key reference. He wanted us to pay attention to that young, go-get-’em, positive attitude.” 
Mindel was eager to employ the anamorphic format for Trek’s 23rd-century vistas. “I’m not interested in using Super 35mm,” says the cinematographer. “J.J. wanted me to convince him to shoot anamorphic, so he and I looked at every test we could do, and when he saw the 50mm Primo projected, with the falloff in focus, he was convinced.” 

American Cinematographer June 2013 Interview:

Mindel on filming:
 In the end, J.J. agreed we should use anamorphic combined with Imax. So, we set off down a road that involved 15-perf and 8-perf 65mm and anamorphic 35mm, and that allowed us to create a gorgeous movie.” (Some inserts and aerial plates were captured digitally with Red Digital Cinema cameras.)The basic breakdown involved shooting 35mm for all interior scenes and 65mm for exteriors. Abrams mandated long sequences in each format because he didn’t want the transitions to be distracting. “As the information changes, the mind goes with it if [the approach] is consistent,” he observes. “I think most people won’t be aware of the format changes.”
Abrams on 3D and filming:
Abrams is equally pleased that he was able to shoot Into Darkness on film and convert to 3-D. “I think film has the greatest look and the greatest resolution,” he says. “The studio wanted a 3-D movie, and [shooting film] became an easier decision once we realized we could deliver that with a quality conversion. We were lucky to work with stereographer Corey Turner, who did incredible work that adds to the thrill-ride aspect of the movie. My goal was to make as good a film as I could in 2-D and let it be converted to 3-D for those who wanted the ‘hot sauce.’ I think we achieved that.”
It is worth noting that Kodak has agreements in place with six major Hollywood studios to supply film for it's movies, these include Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., NBC Universal Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. The Walt Disney Company is now the parent company of Lucasfilm.

For more information on Kodak Vision3 500T (5219/7219) film visit

UPDATE: The Boba Fett Fan Club now has the story up on their website.

SOURCES: TwitterTHR , Star Wars Blog, ASC Magazine June 2009 and June 2013

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