In the race to the Golden Frog Award at Camerimage 2015 : seven movies shot with Angénieux lenses

par Angénieux

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Among the 15 feature films selected for the main competition at this 23rd edition of the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography, seven movies have been shot with Angénieux lenses.

The International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography Camerimage is one of the greatest Festivals dedicated to the art of cinematography and its creators – cinematographers. The Main Competition with the Golden Frog Award exists since 1993 i.e. since the first edition of the Festival. The aim of the competition is to present films with unique visual appeal which will then be evaluated by International Jury who will choose and award the authors of the best cinematography.

Among the 15 movies nominated for the main competition, seven have been shot with Angénieux lenses :
- The 33, directed by Patricia Riggen – cinematography by Checco Varese ASC with the Optimo 24-290, 17-80, 28-76 and 15-40 zoom lenses.
- Carol, directed by Todd Haynes– cinematography by Ed Lachman ASC
- I Saw the Light , directed by Marc Abraham - cinematography by Dante Spinotti AIC ASC – who used the new Optimo 56-152 A2S
- Mad Max : Fury Road, directed by George Miller– cinematography by John Seale ACS ASC– Optimo 15-40 on Steadycam
- Sicario, directed by Denis Villeneuve–cinematography by Roger Deakins BSC ASC – aerial shots
- Les Suffragettes, directed by Sarah Gavron– cinematography by Eduard Grau
- Wolf Totem, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud – cinematography by Jean-Marie Dreujou AFC who used a wide range of Angénieux lenses on Wolf Totem :Optimo 28-340, 24-290, 15-40, 28-76 and the Optimo DP 3D packs
Full list of movies on

Checco Varese, ASC on The 33 – extract from Jon Fauer’s full interview soon online on
“This is a movie about the 33 Chilean miners who got trapped in 2010 underground for 69 days before they were rescued. We shot the movie in the above-ground scenes in Chile and underground in mines in Colombia. There were 2 mines in Colombia, one small mine called Nemocon and one larger mine called Zipaquira.
We worked 14 hours a day, 6 day weeks, for 6 weeks inside a mine. It was very tough. For everybody, actors, director and myself. One of the mines was almost two miles long. And one of the sets was in the beginning of the mine, the other was in the middle and obviously the last one at the very end of the mine. So we had to cable all the way, you cannot bring generators into a mine. So we had to cable two kilometers and that was brutal. And the other mine had no vehicle entrance, so you had to walk into the mine, like a five foot high tunnel, four feet wide, so we had to bring everything by hand. So one was easy to get to but it was long, and the other was very hard to get to but it was close. So there you go.

We had 3 Alexa XT cameras. We shot in Raw with Codex. We occasionally had a couple more Alexas when needed, but basically that was the package. The lenses were Angenieux Optimos. We had 24-290, 17-80, 28-76 and 15-40. We didn’t use any filters underground. I exposed the Alexa at 1280 ASA and a couple of particular scenes I went all the way up to 2500 ASA, with fantastic results.

With wide zooms, everybody said, “Oh my God, you’re crazy, you should use primes for depth of field and the lack of light.” But first of all the director wanted to show the immediacy of the process, which you could only get with the liberty of doing one take and then without resetting and doing other take.
The other reason was for the look. Most of the lighting was done with available light, we had the miners with their flashlights, and we had a few little lights hanging. There’s a point with 33 miners with flashlights pointing at camera or at each other.

So that was one of the reasons that the zooms were welcome because they have a more gentle flare. Some of the primes have a very pronounced flare, because of the sharpness of the optics. So we needed to be able to live with 30 flares.
We had very soft halos, a romantic kind of flare. And that was given by the zooms. The above the ground part we shot with the same package, the same cameras, but almost all of it was either a very long lens, the 24-290 or hand held.
Because the director wanted to transmit the immediate feel of the clock ticking… trying to rescue people who are underground.
So the hand held gave this sort of immediate feeling to the product.
The other reason is you don’t want to change too many lenses inside a mine, it’s very dusty.
Of course you do change lenses but you change it twice a day, three times a day as oppose to five times in a scene. And that was one of the practicalities, I’m a very practical person. And I think the limitations of reality shape your character in life and the limitations of reality in a movie shape the tools and the look of a movie. We were in a very sunny and windy desert and in a very dusty and dirty environment in a mine.
Three weeks after being out of a mine, I still was showering in hotels with white towels and the towels were black after.
The accident happened in Copiapo, is a mining camp 1200 kilometers north of Santiago de Chile. We went to Copiapo to recreate the town. We couldn’t shoot it in the real place, obviously for legal reasons and the mine is closed because it’s very dangerous, so we found a place a few miles from where the mine was, 15 miles and we shot there.
Well, I’ve been a big fan of the Angenieux for a long time. I started as a news cameraman, so to me the concept of being able to adapt the composition to what the reality is very important, especially in a mine where we try to adapt the reality to us. In a mine you just can’t move anything. So, you better adapt your image to that.

As I said, the Angenieux zooms have a very beautiful flare, it’s extraordinary, gentle, even the rainbow, the dissection of the color spectrum is very soft and it’s very nice, you never get this magenta or green flare, you get some kind of a very gentle color. That was the main reason and the other reason is, the 24-290, by exposing at 1280 ASA, we had a range.
I think it’s a very interesting lens. It has a fantastic warmth. All the colors inside a mine had to be warm to show the friendship and solidarity among the miners and that helped a lot. Once we jumped into the desert, then we were in the same scenario.
Believe it or not it’s a large independent movie. At some points we had 1,200 extras. So the advantage of having a zoom is that you can pull focus and it doesn’t breathe, it’s sharp as a razor blade, but at the same time it’s gentile and poetic.

And in the handheld you can grab the zoom and just very slightly adjust your focal length to a better pleasing frame and that was unbelievable.

Jean-Marie Dreujou AFC on Wolf Totem
(...) I shot with 5 cameras ! : (3) 2D cameras and (2) 3D cameras. I used a Screenplane rig for 3D cameras, on which I set either 16-42 3D packs or 30-80 3D packs. On 2D cameras, I mainly used Angénieux zooms : 15-40 & 28-76, 24-290 & 28-340. We shot about ¼ in native 3D and ¾ in 2D. The movie has then been entirely “spacelized” to go out on cinema screens in 3D.
I liked to use the new 28-340 on Wolf Totem with the Angenieux 2x extender. I appreciated its very homogeneous optic quality.
When I started as an operator, I frequently used Panavision lenses such as 24-275, with a 2.8 aperture, which was an enormous advantage when shooting in 35mm argentic.
I alternated this lens with the Angénieux 25-250 HR which had an inferior aperture.
I used the 24-290 Optimo as soon as it came out, as it exactly matched my need in term of quality of skins and in colorimetry. It was for me the ideal lens. I also found these qualities, of course, with the 28-340, as well as with the lightweight Optimo 15-40 & 28-76. I could switch from a fixed camera with long focal to a shoulder camera with harmony. My shooting method is really focused on that. I usually mix with Cooke S4 and it works very well because I find the same quality. (...)
In 2D I shot with some Alexas, and in 3D, with RED. I registered in RAW, so that we quickly link the two systems. Olivier Garcia accompanied me. He has set up a laboratory on site and fixes all the issues. We also linked quickly, thanks to Angénieux lenses. With the Alexa associated to the Optimo, I found exactly what I obtained with argentic. The mixing is bluffing ! (...)

Jean-Marie Dreujou full testimonie

AFC Masterclass at Camerimage – supported by Angénieux and Panavision Alga (Paris) - with Jean-Marie Dreujou, AFC, Patrick Duroux, AFC, and Claire Mathon, AFC, moderated by Benjamin B took place on Thursday, Nov 19 – 17h15 – 18h45 at Multikino 7.
Note that China has nominated Wolf Totem as its official submission for the best foreign language film Academy award.

Steadycam Operator Mark Goellnicht on Mad Max : Fury Road
“The production on the film spanned about 7 months in the harsh conditions of Namibia and South Africa back in 2012 and pickups in Sydney in 2013. We used the 15-40 Optimo zoom as the workhorse on both the Steadicam Cameras and on the handheld Arri Alexa M cameras. I have to say that zoom range suited the look that George Miller was after with the shots in and around the war rig vehicles. He particularly liked the camera to be close to the actors to make the audience feel like they are actually there and the wider focal length zoom lenses could deliver that in a compact housing without multiple lens changes in the dusty and rough terrain we were constantly shooting in. There were no issues with the optics of the lenses during the entire shoot which is a testament to the quality build of the Optimo Zooms. “

Camerimage 2015 Winners on Camerimage website.