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Dion Beebe on shooting Michael Mann’s Collateral in HD

Here is an excellent article I came across detailing DP Dion Beebe’s (Miami Vice, Collateral) approach to shooting Collateral. I made the mistake of thinking Miami Vice was a poor visual outing for Dion when I first saw it. But many viewings later, I don’t know what I was thinking. Miami Vice is stunning and in some instances, genius. At some point I will post my top cinematographic moments… but there are many.

You can get the full article by clicking here, and read a snippet below:

On an HD shoot, Beebe quickly learned, the devil’s in the details — like the sudden appearance of filter dials on your camera. “With a film camera, you load the film and you go, and you know that if you’re running six cameras, you’ve got a standardized system in place so you’re getting the same results,” he explains. “But if you’re running four HD cameras, you’d better step through each, making sure that the gain setting is the same, that the matrix settings are all the same— that there aren’t color shifts within them. You need to switch between them on the HD monitors and make sure they’re all matching up. There’s none of this just-pick-it-up-and-roll unless you’ve pre-set everything beforehand. It’s all very doable, but there’s a whole new set of things you’ve got to factor in.”

Beebe acknowledges that Collateral has spurred “a lot of discussion” about the continued viability and relevance of the film medium, concerns that he dismisses as largely irrelevant to the job at hand, which is storytelling. In the end, he says, both film and HD formats are just tools used in service of a narrative. The trick is to get out of the way of technology, rather than stay in thrall to it. “There can be information overload when you step into the digital domain and the HD world, in terms of compression and bits and storage— these elements that, in the end, have nothing to do with what you’re trying to do in telling the story,” he says. “My feeling is that technology will take care of itself. You will have the expertise around you to solve the technical challenges you’re going to meet. I’ve always felt happy to just step over the technology and find a way of creating the image.”

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