Chappie cinematographer Trent Opalach talks to Definition Magazine about shooting Neill Blomkamp’s new sci-fi film on RED cameras.
“There’s a comfort level that Neill and I have with the RED cameras since we shot District 9 on the RED One bodies. We used the RED Epics on both Elysium and Chappie,” Opalach explains. “I think there’s a good fit with the RED camera’s and Neill’s films. There’s an aggressive quality to the cameras that seems to fit well with his filmmaking.”
To temper the camera’s digital sensor, Opalach looked to Panavision’s anamorphic C, E and G series of lenses. “There’s a beautiful cinematic quality to Panavision anamorphics that I love so much. It adds a human touch and takes the edge off the digital sensors,” he explains.
A particular challenge was working with Blomkamp’s signature handheld style. “The main thing with working with Neill is that he likes you to light the environments as opposed to individual characters with marks like you would normally do. It’s a difficult situation as a cinematographer because you give up a lot of lighting control with that approach but I think there’s a great energy that it allows for in the scene,” Opalach says. “The actors aren’t pegged down to specific marks and have a bit more freedom than they normally would. The lighting approach must be more general and flexible to work with that. So there’s trade-offs for sure but that’s the deal.”
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