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2009 / 02 — February Issue of American Cinematographer
2009 / 02 — February Issue of American Cinematographer

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Creative talents from all over the world have spent the last two years in Oregon working on Coraline, the first 3-D digital stop-motion-animated feature. Based on Neil Gaiman's creepy tale about a girl who discovers a dangerous, hidden world behind the walls of her new home, Coraline is the third feature collaboration between director Henry Selick and cinematographer Pete Kozachik, ASC, who previously teamed on The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Kozachik has penned a first-person account of this groundbreaking production for AC.

The Spirit
After his apparent murder, idealistic sleuth Denny Colt dons a mask, fedora and red tie and exacts revenge on the underworld as the vigilante known as the Spirit. Based on the comic-book series created by Will Eisner in 1940, the film marks the solo directorial debut of Frank Miller, who enlisted cinematographer Bill Pope, ASC and visual-effects supervisor Stu Maschwitz to help lead the production through its technological twists and turns. Pope details the benefits and challenges of shooting the movie primarily against greenscreen with a mix of Panavision's Genesis camera and Vision Research's Phantom HD high-speed camera. AC's coverage also includes an interview with Maschwitz explaining the project's color pipeline and visual-effects workflow, which includes 10 vendors from around the globe.

He's Just Not That Into You
In a Q&A with New York correspondent Patricia Thomson, cinematographer John Bailey, ASC discuss his work on the ensemble comedy He's Just Not That Into You and explains why the picture was well-suited to his favorite format, anamorphic 2.40:1. "One of the things I love about anamorphic in a character-driven dialogue film is that you use much longer lenses [than with Super 35mm], so you have more control of the background," he says. "Being able to throw the background out of focus really helps you be present with the actor." After lobbying Panavision to develop more anamorphic lenses, Bailey was able to benefit from two new ones, both zoom lenses, on the show. "Panavision's new anamorphic lenses have been quite successful, and I think the company is having a difficult time supplying enough of them to meet demand," he notes. "There is no anamorphic-lens system in the world as good as Panavision's."

ASC International Award
Australian-born cinematographer Donald McAlpine, ASC, ACS received the ASC International Award at the 23rd annual ASC Awards ceremony, held in Los Angeles on February 15, 2009. The International Award is one of the Society's most prestigious honors, presented annually to an individual cinematographer who was born on foreign soil and whose work reflects the highest standard of excellence. McAlpine's long and varied list of credits certainly meets this criterium. His early Australian credits include The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, Don's Party, My Brilliant Career (which led to his being named Cinematographer of the Year by the Australian Cinematographers Society) and Breaker Morant (which won an Australian Film Institute Award); his Hollywood résumé includes the major studio features Moscow on the Hudson, Predator, Parenthood, Patriot Games, Mrs. Doubtfire, Clear and Present Danger, Romeo + Juliet (for which he received an Award of Distinction from the ACS), Moulin Rouge! (which won an Australian Film Institute Award and earned him both Academy Award and BAFTA nominations) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The February issue's departments also offer illuminating insights:

Short Takes offers cinematographer Thomas Kloss's account of his partnership with director Francis Lawrence (Constantine) on a kinetic music video for the song "Circus" by Britney Spears.

Production Slate present an interview with cinematographer Frank Griebe about the aptly titled thriller The International, which was shot throughout Europe — in Germany, Italy and Turkey — and also in New York. This section of the magazine also offer an intriguing look at a test film (titled Reverie) shot by cinematographer Vincent Laforet with Canon's EOS 5D Mark II SLR camera, which offered impressive latitude in nighttime shooting situations..

Post Focus reports on Lowry Digital's recent restoration of the 1920 art film Manhatta, which takes viewers on a strikingly photographed 10-minute tour of period life in New York City.

ASC Close-Up profile Society member Peter Suschitzky, whose extensive résumé includes The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back and many films for director David Cronenberg, including Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Crash, eXistenz, Spider, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises.