Vandavision cinematographer has revealed the secret behind the Marvel series

Vandavision differs from what we have seen before, including what Marvel shows in the Cinematic Universe. An important part of this is cinematography. For most of its nine-episode run, WandaVision has run through American sitcoms for decades, starting with the classics in the 50’s and breaking through the fourth wall in the 00’s. Along the way, WandaVision has consistently played with the proportions of its shape, how it is framed and framed, and the color schemes – all to pay homage to the family sitcoms that it has partially inspired.

There’s a lot going on in the process, such as Jess Hall, Wandavision’s photography director – previously best known for Edgar Wright’s action-comedy Hot Fudge, Scarlett Johansson-led sci-fi Ghost in the Shell, and the beloved indie Coming-of-the-Age. Spectacular now – in a chat this week Gadgets 360 told

“When you look at an era, you see certain shows – we see family sitcoms of every decade – but I think beyond that, you also see a certain filmmaking vocabulary that existed, a language that existed in the shows of that period,” he said. “When you look at the 1950s, you’re basically watching a lot of live multi-camera shows. They need a certain kind of ambient light to play because you’re shooting from three different angles on three cameras.”

WandaVision Episode 1, aptly titled “Filmed Before Live Studio Viewers”, was actually shot with a studio audience. Elizabeth Olsen, who played Wanda Maximoff, previously said the experience was, “So much nerve racking. There was a lot of adrenaline, a lot of rapid changes and it completely confused my brain, the idea of ​​not playing with the audience, but feeding the audience and a camera.” Stay. “

Moving on to WandaVision Episode 2 “Don’t Touch That Dial”, the hall continues, ending you in the era of “single-camera, more modeled lighting”. In January, Wandavision director Matt Shackman revealed that he sat down with Dick Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66) and screened “a ton of old television episodes” before filming for the cast and crew.

Wandavision Matt Shackman Elizabeth Olsen Paul Betany Wandavision Matt Shackman Elizabeth Olsen Paul Betany

Matt Shackman, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Betany on the Vandavision set
Photo credit: Chuck Zlatnik / Marvel Studios

WandaVision Episode 3 “Now in Color”, pushes the MCU series back to the 1970s, where “you’ve got an early film look, so it’s a very specific kind of color palette and they’re working with the film stock,” Hall added. Then when you bring in videos from the 80’s and 90’s, “- it happened with WandaVision Episode 5,” On a Very Special Episode 6 “-” It had a very special quality. Common to some of the shows I was watching. “

As Hall noted, the obvious route to managing different looks with each Vandavision episode was to use different types of cameras, each suitable for their duration and style. For example, “Find an early 1980s video camera and you’ll be shooting an episode in it,” he said. Although the event was not made that way.

“I actually went the other way,” Hall told Gadgets 360. “I used a main camera platform for everyone [WandaVision] Episode: A large format [Arri] Alexa, I would say maybe 85 percent of the shows were shot on that camera. And to me it was about the development of color science within that high-level camera platform, putting an envelope around the look I was making and basically creating a LUT so I could mimic these looks inside the camera. . Something was done with Technicolor in terms of creating those different envelopes to work with that one camera platform, and then using different lenses and different lighting techniques to try to render this world. “

In simple terms: the large format once indicates the size of the film, but with a digital camera like the Arri Alexa LF it refers to the size of the sensor. The larger format camera, in addition to being much larger than the standard 35mm film camera, allows cinematographers to do more with a tougher lens.

Large format vs. 35mm 35mm medium large format comparison film

Examples of 4×5 and 5×8 large format films
Photo credit: Wikimedia

LUT, or look-up table, is basically a mathematical equation that applies RGB values ​​to colors. It allows filmmakers to see on the set what the final product might look like.

So, when it comes to “mimicking these looks in the camera”, it means that they were able to achieve the various timeframes required by Vandavision with the help of a camera platform (Arri Alexa LF). Add to that a bunch of different visual styles (or envelopes, as they are called) created in partnership with Technicolor, an organization that specializes in developing and offering LUTs to filmmakers worldwide.

At Wandavision, Hall has installed a total of 47 different lenses, some of which were created by Panavision to recreate the look of the ’50s and’ 70s. Hall was a favorite? The cinematographer says that during his research, he noticed that as TV shows moved into the 60’s, they became more cinematic in terms of lighting and shooting with a single camera.

“One of the things I noticed was the kind of close-ups they did to the leading women, which was almost like Garbo-Esc.” Greta Garbo was one of Hollywood’s leading women in the silent era and she was known for her calm, subtle, serene and inadequate acting. Hall continued: “So, I actually created two special portrait lenses for Elizabeth Olson, which mimicked the standard, which had a very special kind of feature, including highlight halons, softening from the center to the edges.”

Hallelujah is basically a blur of highlights – the brightest part of the film – that gives the characters an occasional ethereal look.

Since WandaVision moved away from Westview Hex to Episode 4 “We Interrupted This Program”, Hall began using the lenses used for movie movies. Specifically, the Panavision Ultra Panator that was “made exclusively” for the Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Ultra Panators are 1.3x anamorphic lenses – which means they capture 1.3 times the horizontal data of a spherical lens (this is what people like you and me can get with a standard DSLR camera). And in contrast to the spherical lens that produces a spherical image, anamorphic lenses produce an oval image.

“[Ultra Panatars] In fact, to render three-dimensional space in a different way than the round lenses we used for Sitcom World, “Hall explained.” And you feel a spatial change; Rendering three-dimensional space to two-dimensional actually changes with it [Ultra Panatars]”

wandavision Jesse is the wandavision set

WandaVision set
Photo credit: Disney / Marvel Studios

“We live in a special kind of lighting environment, color space environment, and a color palette of the sitcom world that changes dramatically when we go into the MCU world,” Hall continued. “Of course, as the sitcom world becomes more modern, the difference is less. But I only protected it using the anamorphic lens for the MCU world. So, it was like my special sauce, which always sets them apart [Westview vs S.W.O.R.D.] The order is good. “

For Hall, his favorite moments blended those two worlds. This includes the dinner table scene from Vandavision Episode 1 “Filmed Before Live Studio Audience” which moves from a ridiculously mysterious angle to a more dramatic tune as Mr. Hart (Fred Melamed) breaks down. Hall said of the scene: “The type of light changes and we create that drama with cinematography.”

Hall also liked the color change in WandaVision Episode 2 “Don’t Touch That Dial” and the original moment of Wandavision Episode 3 “Now in Color” where Monica Rambeau / “Geraldine” (Teyonah Paris) was dropped by Wanda Westview Hex. He added: “From this very warm sitcom bubble to this cool exterior, and the shape ratio varies from 1.33: 1 to 2.39: 1.”

The WandaVision cinematographer teased that a few more shots of his choice would still come in the remaining two WandaVision episodes – WandaVision Episode 8 premieres on February 26, and WandaVision Episode 9, the series finale, will drop on March 5. But naturally, like everyone else, Marvel is an upcoming thing, he can’t talk about them.

Hall’s time at MCU came at the most exciting time, although the ever-expanding universe seemed to be his most experimental: And then we interrupt it with discomfort and excitement. We cracked it. And it’s a really interesting kind of dramatic thrill to work as a cinematographer. “

WandaVision is available on Disney + and Disney + Hotstar.

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