Digital Beauty: Behind the Camera Choices of Luc Besson's 'Lucy'

DP Thierry Arbogast and Luc Besson choose the Sony F65 for Besson's first foray into digital filmmaking.
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Thierry Arbogast has been Luc Besson’s go-to cinematographer since their breakout 1990 film La Femme Nikita. Even though Besson is always his own camera operator. Arbogast is the one in charge of cameras, lenses and lighting. In an in-depth interview, Film and Digital Times’ Jon Fauer gets Arbogast to open up about shooting Besson’s first digital film with the Sony F65.

“We chose [two Sony F65s] after doing many tests with all the major brands. After screening the results in a theater, our favorite camera for the look of this film was the F65—especially for its color space,” Arbogast explains. They paid particular attention to “the green of the trees, the costumes, the skin tones of the models. For the look of Lucy, we felt the F65 was the best for the skin tones and for the colors of the film.”

Besson and Arbogast chose spherical lenses as opposed to anamorphic because of the F65’s issues with cropping the latter. “We liked the Cooke S4 set. They are very good lenses, very sharp, very beautiful. But they are not too ‘crispy,’ you know? I think it’s good for digital to be not too sharp…not too hard or harsh,” Arbogast reveals.

Arbogast was also keen on capturing the natural beauty of lead actress Scarlett Johansson. “We used ring lights on the camera all the time. Because I wanted to have very good highlights in the eyes. I wanted her to be as beautiful as possible,” he says. “I used the ring light a lot of times, with a dimmer. The dimmer was controlled wirelessly. When the camera moved, I could dial the brightness of the ring light up and down.”

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