Cooke 5/i Primes Help Bring Authenticity to Instrument of War

Wes Johnson lenses the true story of WWII POW Clair Cline for Director Adam Thomas Anderegg Photo courtesy of Lukas Salnas
Publish date:

Instrument of War is a period piece based on the true story of Clair Cline, a US Army Air Forces pilot shot down over occupied Holland during World War II and held at the German Stalag Luft 1 POW camp, and “The Prison Camp Violin” he made from materials found in the camp and by trading Red Cross cigarettes for a bow.

“We shot in Lithuania for the authenticity of the architecture, and built the POW camp around existing buildings to enhance the film’s production value,” said cinematographer Wes Johnson. With the authentic look of their sets, and a strong US dollar, Instrument of War looks like it was shot for several times its actual production cost.

“The weather in Lithuania can be challenging, with a Baltic winter where you can get sleet, rain, hail, fog, and clear skies all in one day,” noted Johnson. “Those elements were also a blessing, giving us the realism of the POW’s miserable experience. Bad weather makes for great photography. It can be rough on equipment, but our set of Cooke 5/i prime lenses not only stood up to the challenge, it helped us get shots that we wouldn’t have been able to capture with most other lenses.”

One of those shots was an interior lit by a single candle, the perfect situation for the Cooke 5/i range that all feature T1.4-T22 speeds. “It adds to the authenticity of the story, but I could only do that with a T/1.4,” said Johnson. “Knowing that I could go there with the Alexa XT with a Cooke 5/I, wide open, was amazing - it’s the lens at its most vulnerable state. It’s just naked. And it’s the most beautiful image I’ve ever seen in a spherical lens.”

Johnson’s kit included seven of the eight 5/i prime lenses (18-100mm) plus a colour-matched S4/i 14mm for extra tight spaces where Johnson needed a wider lens.

When shooting something that has to read as realistic, everything on the set needs to register. That’s where the T1.4 speed of the Cooke 5/i primes can really add to a film. “At T1.4, I could light up a quarter-mile of landscape with one 18K light, and still have a stop to play with. The effect we achieved felt like a natural night look, not a movie night look,” continued Johnson.

Johnson has been a fan of Cooke lenses for a decade, as an AFI Alumnus and having worked as a professional cinematographer for the past six years. “After you’ve worked with other lenses, when you put a Cooke on the camera, there’s instantly a quality you can’t articulate,” said Johnson. “You immediately feel like you’re back on celluloid, it just knocks the digital edge off the sensor — that subtlety, that’s just so hard to describe. You don’t need diffusion to bring back that natural film look, it’s built into Cooke lenses out of the box.”

It was this confidence in Cooke lenses that gave Johnson the conviction to rent the 5/i primes in Lithuania, even though he had never used that model before. “The 5/i was among the options I had, and I knew it had the characteristics and the speed I needed for low light exteriors and interiors,” he said. “Sometimes there’s nowhere else to go when you run out of light – even with the high ISOs of modern digital cameras. – but when you can open from 2 to 1.4 and double your light, it can be a life-saver. That stop saved my hide more than a few times.”

On Christmas Eve, 1944, Cline played The Prison Camp Violin for the other POWs, and its story goes on from there. When the camp was liberated in 1945, Cline took his violin back home. Since then, The Prison Camp Violin has been heard in concert halls across the United States. In 1995, he donated it to Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City, where it was played by Glenn Dicterow of the New York Philharmonic during a ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier.

Instrument of War was produced by Kaleidoscope Pictures of Provo, UT. It is currently in post-production with a US release date of November 23, 2017.

# # #



Black Box Radian Flex Software-Based Video Wall Platform Earns ISE Best of Show Award

Black Box, an industry-leading provider of pro AV connectivity and signal distribution systems, today announced that the company's Radian Flex software-based video wall platform won an ISE Best of Show Award from AV Technology Europe, a Future Publishing magazine. Of the more than 1,000 exhibitors at ISE 2019, only 15 — including Black Box with Radian Flex — earned this award, which recognizes achievements and innovations in product and service development.


Luxul to Bring Reliability and High Performance to IBS 2019 With Latest Networking Solutions for the Smart Home

Luxul, the leading innovator of IP networking solutions for AV integrators, today announced its technology line-up for the NAHB International Builders' Show (IBS), taking place February 19-21 in Las Vegas. In the Legrand booth SU614, the company will exhibit a wide range of solutions for home builders that deliver reliable, high-performance networks in smart homes, including Gigabit switches; the next generation of wireless controller technology; indoor and outdoor wireless access points (APs); wired and wireless routers; intelligent network power distribution units (PDU); and the Wi-Fi Assurance Program exclusively for builders.


HoverCam's Pilot Series and ClassFusion Learning Platform Land Big Wins at TCEA 2019

HoverCam, a leader in innovative, interactive, and engaging education solutions, announced that the company's digital classroom solutions received three major honors from Tech & Learning at the recent Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) 2019 Conference in San Antonio. At the show, HoverCam's Pilot 3 digital teaching station received the Award of Excellence in the District category, while the company's new Pilot X podium and ClassFusion software platform both earned Best of Show honors. The awards were presented on Feb. 6 at a special ceremony held at Casa Rio restaurant in San Antonio.


College Football Playoff Uses Veritone's AI and Digital Asset Management Solutions to Enable Richer Media Coverage

Veritone Inc. (Nasdaq: VERI), the creator of the world's first operating system for artificial intelligence, aiWARE™, today announced that the College Football Playoff (CFP) leveraged an expanded deployment of Veritone solutions and services for the 2019 CFP National Championship to give members of the media even faster and richer access to its content resources. In addition to the CFP's Digital Media Hub, a white-label digital asset management portal from Veritone, the CFP also utilized Veritone's Live Event Services and aiWARE artificial intelligence platform for the first time. With aiWARE, the CFP was able to apply artificial intelligence to video footage and still images of press conferences, interviews and other Media Day events to produce transcriptions, automated facial recognition of players and coaches, logo identification, and other tasks enabling expedited and enhanced coverage of the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. For the first time, the CFP was able to make Media Day press conference clips and images available for search and immediate download within minutes of delivery. Following the success of this deployment, CFP has renewed its agreement with Veritone through the 2020 championship game in New Orleans.