A simple scene across a desk – with many cuts.  Warren Beatty’s Lyle Rogers and Dustin Hoffman’s Chuck Clarke visit the U.S. Embassy in the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Ishtar.  Find it at the 00:28:41 mark…

            What’s notable in this diagram is a technique that has appeared in several earlier instances: Storaro’s use of 3’x3′ specular-surfaced silver cards to return some of the key light as fill light.  He’s the only cinematographer I’ve known to use these pebbled reflectors to such an extent (most would use a white card); at the time it was surprising to me that the effect never gave itself away.  I suppose he knew just how far to push it without calling attention.  Nonetheless, the result is quite pleasing – soft, directionless and undetectable – just as good fill should be!

            This scene is also notable for a second, more compelling reason.

            We shot it toward the end of the first week of the schedule.  After viewing dailies, Storaro voiced his concern about a shift in contrast he had been noticing in the image since bringing the shoot to New York from Morocco.  Of course, this set off alarms at the lab and an investigation was launched.  Kodak’s top technicians were called in from Rochester along with Mr. Labella, Storaro’s lab manager from Technicolor Rome.  Ironically, they found that Technicolor NY’s controls and procedures were more precise than those of Rome.  They also isolated the contrast shift to a simple cause: the Moroccan dailies were printed on positive stock manufactured in France while the NYC dailies were printed on stock made in Rochester.  They had slightly different characteristics, hence the anomaly.  With the problem solved, everyone exhaled and the shoot continued without further incident.

            On the diagram, notice the 3′ muslin reflector placed just outside the frame line, screen left of the actor.  Because it’s so close to the subject, the bounce light it provides is made as soft as it can possibly be.  It also looks natural.

            Hoffman’s key light comes from the 10K outside the window and is shot through a sheet of Full CTO (which provides the warming effect).

            The light that hits Beatty comes from the two 650W 9-light fays, both double-diffused through two 4’x4′ frames of Lee 216.

            The 10K\Full CTO combination stays the same for Hoffman’s close-up while the 650W 9-light fays are shifted slightly.  The only addition is the 2K fresnel that’s bounced into the right wall of the set for some fill that opens up his shadow side a bit.


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