“without fear” 2015 - matthew j. lloyd csc

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“without fear” 2015 - matthew j. lloyd csc
Without
Fear
Matthew Lloyd, CSC brings a
film-noir aesthetic to the superhero
series Daredevil.
By Noah Kadner
•|•
M
arvel Comics’ Daredevil character debuted in 1964 as
the crime-fighting alter ego of Matt Murdock — a
blind New York City lawyer by day and a fearless vigilante by night. Combining his enhanced remaining
senses with martial-arts prowess, Daredevil serves as the city’s
best defense against evildoers like the nefarious Kingpin.
Marvel recently joined forces with Netflix to develop
Daredevil into a series for its streaming service, and Matthew
Lloyd, CSC was tapped to shoot all 13 episodes of the first
season. It was a six-month marathon of New York-based location and stage production that shot from July through
December 2014, with the goal of creating a dark and gritty tale
that’s decidedly not for kids. (And with an eye on the long
game, Netflix is releasing Daredevil as the first of four superhero
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May 2015
shows, with the intent to combine them into the crossover
project The Defenders.)
Charlie Cox stars as Murdock/Daredevil, with Deborah
Ann Woll as Karen Page, Rosario Dawson as nurse Claire
Temple, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk — a.k.a.
Kingpin. Veteran cinematographer and series director Phil
Abraham (The Sopranos, Mad Men) helmed the first and
second episodes of the series, which served as pilot and origin
story for the fearless sentinel.
Though he admits he’s not a comic-book aficionado,
Lloyd greatly admires the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Furthermore, having acquired a taste for television through his
numerous collaborations with director Adam Bernstein, Lloyd
says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to shoot Daredevil.
“My agent got me a meeting,” he recalls, “and I went in and
met with [executive producers] Karim Zreik and Jeph Loeb.
They were looking to create something outside of the typical
scope of broadcast. Showrunner Steven DeKnight also said
they wanted to really push the boundaries and I was well suited
for that kind of a task.”
Abraham says, “I saw Matt’s work on Fargo and thought
he was a great choice for Daredevil. He started a few days after
I did and we had a very tight schedule with about three weeks
of prep. We looked at many of the classic New York street
American Cinematographer
Unit photography by Barry Wetcher, SMPSP, courtesy of Netflix.
Opposite: Matt
Murdock (Charlie
Cox) is a blind
New York City
lawyer by day
and a fearless
vigilante by
night in the
series Daredevil.
This page, top:
Murdock with
associate Foggy
Nelson (Elden
Henson). Bottom:
Cinematographer
Matthew Lloyd,
CSC (holding
camera) and
director Phil
Abraham
(pointing to
monitor) line up
a frame with
Cox.
movies for reference and inspiration, like
Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, The
French Connection, Marathon Man and
Serpico. Daredevil is a modern-day film
noir, so I also showed Matt a British vigilante crime film, Harry Brown [AC June
’10]. It has a lot of visceral camera movement and stylistic lighting from sodiumand mercury-vapor sources in a very realistic setting without cinematic romanticism.”
Daredevil shot on location in New
York City with stage work at Broadway
Stages in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Netflix’s
delivery requirements stipulated a 4K
master for both 1080p HD streaming
and to accommodate the company’s
nascent Ultra HD streaming rollout.
“With the incredibly physical reality of
an action show, the only 4K option at the
time was the Red Epic Dragon,” notes
Lloyd. “It had durability, flexible size and
reconfigurable modes. I’d also recently
done Project Almanac on Red cameras
with a similar set of requirements: lots of
moving camera, nights, high-speed work
and 4K delivery. Panavision New York
was able to make a tethered configuration with most of the required gear in a
backpack, leaving a compact 10-to-15-
pound body, viewfinder and lens that the
operators could more easily handhold.”
The Epic Dragons recorded 4K
raw Redcode files at 5:1 compression to
onboard RedMag SSDs. Lloyd notes
that 4K was chosen rather than the 6K
the Epic Dragon is capable of “because
we were delivering in 4K. We were also
shooting a lot of high-speed [footage],
and I didn’t want to be constantly
switching resolutions — that can be
www.theasc.com
messy for the post folks.”
Lloyd chose Arri/Zeiss Master
Primes to go with the Epics. “I’ve never
really encountered another set of lenses
as robust, well-made and durable as
Master Primes,” Lloyd says. “We had a
full range of every available focal length
and we were shooting very dark night
scenes with a lot of stunts and fast movement. With the bulk of the show shot
between T1.4 and T2.0, our ACs were
May 2015
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Without Fear
virtuosos at hitting focus under
extremely challenging conditions.”
The production also carried a set
of Angenieux Optimo zooms, including
the 15-40mm (T2.6), 28-76mm (T2.6)
and 45-120mm (T2.8). Panavision New
York provided all of the production’s
lenses. Lloyd shot at a 16:9 aspect ratio,
mostly handheld, along with some
Steadicam, 25' and 50' Technocrane, and
40' Louma Crane work. Key collaborators included Lloyd’s longtime key grip
Jim McMillan (who also served as
action-unit cinematographer), Acamera focus puller Marc Hillygus, digital-imaging technician Patrick Cecilian,
gaffer Rusty Engles and production
designer Loren Weeks.
The first episode of Daredevil
opens with a major fight scene featuring
a shadowy figure battling a series of
thugs on a waterfront dock, shot in the
Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn
with a view of Manhattan across the
river. “The script has [Daredevil]
popping in and out of very deep shadows, pulling bad guys out of the light,
knocking them out off camera and then
throwing them back out into the light,”
Lloyd explains. “I knew we’d get killed if
we tried to do localized lighting for all
those scenes, so instead we placed huge
units very far away. Peter Girolami at
SourceMaker custom-built an 8-footby-8-foot air-filled balloon cube with
two independently controlled 1,000watt sodium-vapor football globes
inside.
“I had the crew frame the cube
with speed rail, like a soft box, with an
LCD egg crate on the bottom,” he
continues. “It was a very soft, directional
box that gimbaled off the end of our
Jekko crane. The cube included a 5K
tungsten globe on a dimmer to help
clean up the parts of the color spectrum
where sodium vapor peaks. It provided a
nice, focused, authentic night light.
“Rusty and his team also ran
cables along the rooftops and set up a
variety of Arri T12 tungsten Fresnels,”
Lloyd adds. “We also had a couple of 60foot scissor lifts with 12 very narrowspot Par cans per lift. We used Lee 179
Top: Murdock
with colleague
Karen Page
(Deborah Ann
Woll). Bottom:
Murdock uses a
cane to navigate
New York City
by day.
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May 2015
American Cinematographer
Chrome Orange, 100 Spring Yellow and
combinations of Half CTB and Half
Plus Green to match the tungsten lights
to the industrial vapor units. Phil was
also very specific about [the look] being
very patchy in terms of what you’d see
and not see. So we used the big units to
pick up a nice background piece behind
the characters and let everything else fall
off to darkness.”
“Dark is a subjective thing,”
observes Abraham. “Matt and I
provided each other with the moral
support and confidence against that
creeping notion that things were getting
too dark. A cinematographer needs to
feel empowered to go for it and be
daring, as that’s how great things are
achieved. With film you also have the
doubt of not knowing exactly how
underexposed you might be, but shooting digitally, everyone is seeing the image
on the monitor.”
Throughout the first two
episodes, flashbacks portray Murdock’s
childhood as he slowly goes blind, braving the ordeal accompanied by his father,
a morally upstanding professional boxer.
The production chose a compact, splitlevel “railroad” apartment with narrow
hallways in Queens to represent the
hero’s childhood home. “It was the
smallest set we had to work with by far,”
Lloyd says. “We tried to do as much as
possible through the windows and via
motivated sources. We removed all the
fixtures from the ceiling and wired
everything through existing house power
to avoid cables, crossovers and boxes.
Inside, we built covered wagons with
skirted, unbleached muslin and batten
strips of four to eight household sockets
with a variety of globes to produce a
slightly uneven soft source.
“To augment the overheads, we
added SourceMaker 2-foot-by-2-foot
LED Blankets in closets and washing
down stairways,” he adds. “Outside the
apartment, we horizontally mounted
[Kino Flo] Image 85s gelled [with]
Industrial Green aiming onto the flat
blinds that the art department added.
The set also had a lot of practicals and a
Kelvin Tile LED fixture to simulate the
Top: The crew preps a scene with Cox. Bottom: Murdock ventures out at night as his vigilante alter ego.
modulated wash from a TV as Matt
watches his dad boxing. It was our best
attempt at a Gordon Willis look —
with everything very dark and motivated.”
Abraham adds, “We liked the
idea of being mostly handheld in
present time while the flashbacks could
be a little more rooted on traditional
dollies or a crane. I had a lot of reticence
about filming in an actual apartment
due to the size, but it really made the
www.theasc.com
relationship between father and son
resonate.”
Another key fight sequence ends
the first episode, as Daredevil defends
Karen Page from assassins at her apartment. “It was a running fight that goes
from a studio set of Karen’s apartment,
continues down the side of a building on
location, and ends up at a construction
site nearby — all in pouring rain,”
Abraham explains. “We shot some parts
of it at 96 fps to heighten the action;
May 2015
61
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Without Fear
Top: Lloyd (holding bounce board) adjusts the lighting on actor Vincent D’Onofrio.
Bottom: D’Onofrio portrays Wilson Fisk.
anything higher than that becomes eye
candy.”
“That was the darkest scene of the
series and the darkest thing I’ve ever
shot,” notes Lloyd. “We started in
Karen’s apartment with people fighting
in the dark against windows. There was
a heavily diffused Arri T12 with a
mercury-vapor gel pack on the front
above each window creating pools of
light and long bay lights with household
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May 2015
bulbs dimmed to just above zero IRE
inside.
“Next, the fight moves outside
onto a scaffolding that Loren built both
into the set and onto the real building
exterior to bridge the two locations,” the
cinematographer continues. “The scaffolding included practical overhead fluorescent lamps combined with 4-foot
two-bank Cool White Kino Flos
wrapped in diffuse plastic. Across the
American Cinematographer
street, we used Arri M90 lightweight 9K
HMIs with Max reflectors to create a
huge overall wash.
“The fighting continues at a
construction site,” Lloyd adds. “We
brought back in the SourceMaker
mercury-vapor cube from the opening
scene, along with pairs of M90s in a
120-foot Condor on the other side of
the block. Everything ended up incredibly high up in the air due to all the rain
towers in play. They were at 60 feet, so
we had to put our lights at 80 to 100 feet
to keep them dry. There was so much
second-unit work on those fight scenes
— Jim’s contribution as our second-unit
director of photography cannot be overstated.”
To depict Daredevil’s signature
heightened perception at key moments,
Lloyd chose an old-school optical
approach. “We used a Century Optics
Swing/Shift system,” he reveals. The
system, Lloyd explains, included “rehoused Hasselblad lenses; you adjust the
tilt and pan of the focal plane by sliding
[and/or tilting] the lens itself away from
the sensor. It was like making a
daguerreotype, with the actors holding
very still as I adjusted dials and the
bellows. You end up with a shot where
you have very shallow focus, say on
Daredevil’s eyes, and then some important detail very far off in the distance and
nothing else. [The effect is] like a variable split-field diopter.”
A final major fight scene, which
bookends Daredevil ’s second episode, is
a nearly six-minute-long continuous
take. The camera follows Daredevil as he
fights his way through successions of
baddies in a basement hallway to rescue
human-trafficking victims. Once the
creative team signed off on the concept,
it was up to Abraham and Lloyd to
practically achieve the shot.
“The idea, subconsciously or not,
probably initially came from the
extended, single-take fight sequence in
Oldboy,” notes Abraham. “Otto
Preminger also used a lot of long,
languid takes in Where the Sidewalk Ends
and Laura. It adds real tension to the
performances because you’re witnessing
something unfold from a single point of
view. You’re dealing with the pressures
and tensions of a long single take and
adding a fight, with 10 to 12 guys from
Chris Brewster’s stunt team going full-on
in a very narrow hallway set.”
“Initially, Phil suggested it could be
done on Steadicam or perhaps with
moving set walls,” says Lloyd. “I worked
with Loren and Jimmy to devise another
option: build a very rigid set with a scaffolding shelf, reinforced by water drums,
and on top an I-beam bridge with a rail
dolly system that held A-dolly grip Dan
Beaman and a Fisher 10 dolly. The ceiling
had a 1-foot channel for an underslung
Epic on a Mini Libra head. Rigging key
grip Dave McAllister engineered the
scaffolding system that supported the set
and Jimmy built the I-beams spanning
the set, enabling the dolly to roll overhead
on an offset riser. High-tension wire was
added to reinforce the walls and prevent
any flexing or wobbling as the dolly
maneuvered above the action.”
With the physical configuration
solved, the next hurdle was lighting the
narrow space as the camera made multiple 360-degree turns. “The set was built
as a real hallway with no lighting positions and nothing wild, so it became a
strategic practical situation,” Lloyd
explains. “The hallway featured two side
rooms, each with two dead-hung Image
85s with Cool White fluorescent bulbs
lighting the room and pushing out into
the hall. As Daredevil busts into the
rooms and rips the doors off the hinges
and fights, you get shafts of light coming
out of the rooms.
“The hallways on either end had
open-faced 2K Blondes bouncing into 4foot-by-8-foot foamcore, creating a soft
rake at 90 degrees to the wall to bring out
the texture Loren built into the walls,” he
continues. “The room at the end also had
a 2K Blonde gelled Primary Red to foreshadow Daredevil’s signature costume. It
was an Expressions DMX dimmer-board
dance, because when you spin around
with a suspended camera you can’t have a
light on behind you or you’ll see the
camera shadow on the hall and on the
➣
actors.
Fisk, the most
feared and
powerful crime
lord in New York
City, is also
known as
Kingpin.
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May 2015
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Without Fear
“We had a 100-watt frosted household bulb mounted at 90 degrees on the
side of the wall right at the front entryway
and a fluorescent housing over the door at
the back fitted with a Mac Tech LED
tube,” Lloyd adds. “That enabled a
smooth ramp from 0 to 100 percent on
both the fluorescent and incandescent
units at either end of the hall. Our board
operator, Jim McNeal, looked like he was
playing a perfectly timed game of PacMan, riding two faders as the camera
panned up and down [the hallway]. It’s a
really incredible sequence to watch when
you think about all the mechanics, and yet
the moviemaking is completely invisible.”
Lloyd chose to operate the complex move
himself, which the crew nailed in a single
day in seven takes after plenty of
rehearsal.
Colorist Kevin Krout supervised
most of the series’ dailies at Encore in
New York after taking over for Rob Bell
and Lloyd’s longtime colorist, Andrew
Geary. Lloyd communicated his desired
look for specific scenes by grading stills in
Photoshop on his laptop. “We punched
out a pretty unique look for the show,”
recalls Krout. “I’d take the raw 4K Red
R3D files into my system via Encore’s
SAN, apply a LUT that Matt created
previously for use with Red Epic shows,
and color dailies based on Matt’s stills.
“From the graded dailies, we delivered Avid DNx36 1080p files,” Krout
continues. “We also uploaded H.264
QuickTime files at 720p to the Pix dailies
review system. We usually received raw
footage from the production between 10
p.m. and midnight and had to deliver
dailies by the next morning.” Krout’s
hardware included a Pioneer Kuro plasma
monitor in one of Encore’s calibrated
rooms and a Red Rocket-X PCI card to
help speed the processing of R3D files.
“We’re at a strange point where
many productions seem to ignore the role
of the DIT and dailies,” Lloyd notes.
“They just apply Rec 709 as a preset and
figure it all out in post. I think doing it
that way takes away some consistency and
diminishes the process. It is much more
cost- and time-effective for production to
get the look there in the dailies; it greatly
Top and bottom:
Blinded as a
young boy,
Murdock uses his
heightened
remaining senses
to fight crime on
the streets of
Hell’s Kitchen.
Middle: Murdock
battles Piotr
(Paul Mann).
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May 2015
American Cinematographer
◗
Without Fear
Cox discusses a
scene with director
and executive
producer Steven
DeKnight.
reduces the amount of heavy lifting
required in the DI.”
Senior colorist Tony D’Amore at
Encore Hollywood supervised the final
grade for every episode of the season. He
worked with DaVinci Resolve 11 using
66
DPX frames derived from the original
Red R3D files with the Redcolor3 preset
applied during the transcode. “I’d start
with Kevin’s CDLs and Matt’s LUT
and initially duplicate what they’d done
in dailies,” explains D’Amore. “The
looks Matt created were a great way to set
a consistent deep, dark tone for the show.
I also know what Matt likes from our
work together on Fargo. The end result
was a gritty, distinctive look. We kept a
lemon-lime color palette, with subtle skin
tones for a subdued, surreal environment.
I balanced everything toward green,
combined with Matt’s amber or yellow
source to achieve skin tones that were just
under key and not super poppy.
“What’s nice about grading with
Resolve is that I can color inside of a
LUT, versus other systems that do not
allow me to modify the parameters of a
LUT at all,” D’Amore adds. “For example, in some shots lit by an exterior source,
the initial LUT clipped the highlights. I
was then able to open the input LUT and
lower the white levels to bring back detail
from shot to shot. I’m not a big believer in
LUTs, although they can be very helpful
as a starting point and to maintain the
attributes of the Red capture.”
As the grades were completed,
Lloyd was able to review D’Amore’s
work remotely while he shot further
episodes. “We’d often stream directly
from Encore Hollywood to a suite at
Encore in New York for Matt,” says
D’Amore. “All the gear and monitors in
both locations are calibrated the same.”
Executives from Marvel and Netflix
screened final versions for approval with
D’Amore on a Sony XBR-65X950B 65"
Ultra HD monitor in 3840x2160 resolution via a Blackmagic Design Mini
Converter. Final deliverables included
4K DPX masters along with Rec 709
1080p down-conversions.
Abraham views the Netflix
concept of releasing all episodes of a
season simultaneously as the way of the
future. “It’s brilliant and the only way to
do it,” he says. “When Netflix first
started this distribution model, I worked
with them on Orange Is the New Black.
It’s very viewer-friendly; you watch as
much or as little of an entire season
whenever you want.
“As a filmmaker, I find [that the
simultaneous-release strategy] does
present some unique challenges, and you
need to consider the different modes of
consumption,” Abraham adds. “What
you do at the end of episode two could
be followed immediately afterwards by
someone watching episode three. So, for
example, you have to be really careful
about reusing locations, because you
don’t have that weeklong viewer
memory lapse to fall back on. But overall, I think every broadcaster should do it
this way.”
Similarly, Lloyd sees challenges
and benefits in shooting every episode of
an entire season. “Normally, I don’t do
full series,” he says. “I generally stop after
the first couple of episodes and hand off
to another cinematographer. To see an
arc through 13 hours of moviemaking,
and then feel as great about the last hour
as you do about the first, was a fulfilling
journey.
“It was also incredibly hard for the
crew and me, but ultimately very
rewarding,” Lloyd continues. “I give a
huge amount of credit to Marvel’s
creative team for backing what we set
out to do. It’s easy to say, ‘We want
something dark, sinister and adult,’ and
then dumb it down to a ‘PG’ level. They
really went the distance, from the stunt
sequences to the look and even the casting. Throughout all of it, everyone really
believed in what we were doing.”
●
TECHNICAL SPECS
1.78:1
Digital Capture
Red Epic Dragon
Arri/Zeiss Master Prime,
Angenieux Optimo
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