Camerimage 2017

Arri Workshop: “Lighting, Shooting, Postproduction in HDR”

By Caroline Champetier, AFC

by Caroline Champetier AFC newsletter n°283

[ English ] [ français ]

Arri Academy’s HDR seminar was well-attended and impressively-outfitted. All the students and young DoPs in attendance at Camerimage came to this event. The session is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m., and let’s hope that the hundreds of young people queued up outside will be able to get in at some point.
The set-up and the audience of the Arri/HDR workshop - Photo Alex Lamarque
The set-up and the audience of the Arri/HDR workshop
Photo Alex Lamarque

For the set-up, in a gymnasium belonging to the University of Bydgoszcz, three cameras were dedicated to broadcasting and one on a dolly to the set, six coupled LG OLED screens for comparisons. A general introduction to HDR’s contribution and how it lets you “better tell the story,” since this technology is now required by streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix.
“The Odyssey”, an advertisement filmed by Matias Boucard for Nike India, was screened and it includes all of the elements of the “new culture”: music, velocity, colours, youth, girl power. It was shot in Cuba, under extreme lighting conditions... it was undeniably exciting to the eye.

The “supporting cast” for the presentation included lead protagonist Karl Walter Lindenlaub, ASC, BVK. The DoP leading the defence for HDR simply introduced himself on set inside of the bedroom with the yellow walls that will serve as the theatre of operations. What he says about how contemporary DoPs need to plan out both pre- and post-production on every cinematographic project rings true.

He shows images from his recent projects: Houdini filmed in Budapest in 45 days, a man jumps into a hole cut into the wintry ice, the thermal shock allows him to free him from the chains that are holding him down. Everything, or almost everything, was shot against a green screen in studio.

A slightly dechromatized ambience of sky and ice, a spectacular contrast between the whites and the blacks, images of a park in the mist in which the outlines of the trees are strongly visible and the substance of the mist itself is particularly well-rendered, which is without a doubt one of the possibilities opened by HDR, and which is confirmed in the following extract from “Underworld,” a series of 12 films, which, in his works, is “also about darkness”... This is followed by images from Driven, by Nick Ham, with a number of indoor scenes with prop lighting that enable the scene to be approached as though it were backlit, and heavily-saturated skin that remains attractive while still saturated.

Then, we headed into the workshop properly speaking, where Lindenlaub asks the young actress in attendance to sit on the bed and begins to light her. Two windows provide direction to the backlighting, one lets daylight in at the back of the room, the other is to the left of the bed. The light is controlled by the effects and the level of lighting on the face is reflected off of a sheet and is controlled according to how visible the face should be.

Alex Lamarque and I feel that this is a pretty basic approach to adjusting contrast, and that the HDR is going to shake things up. Indeed, when changing over to HDR, what had been a problem with the balance between the backlighting and the key light on the face of the young actress becomes even more glaring. He switches over to SDR again and now begins to work the daylight coming in through the window at the back, it appears, and then when switching over again to HDR, it gives an even more imposing presence of the light, which is explained by the sampling in the bright lights and in colours.

We have to leave for Storaro’s conference on colour in Woody Allen’s latest film, Wonder Wheel, but what the hour-and-a-half we spent on Arri’ HDR workshop taught us is that light material, like smoke, mist, and rain, are really seen in their best light using HDR.

  • In the portfolio below, some images from the Arri/HDR workshop

(Translated from French by Alexander Baron-Raiffe on behalf of the AFC)