Deliver Us from Evil crew talk about shooting with Sony 4K cameras, “Is the story told better captured in analog or digital?”
As moviegoers decide which summer-film to see this weekend, the crew behind “Deliver Us from Evil,” discussed their decision to shoot in digital 4K. The film, which hits theaters today, was shot on Sony’s F55 and F65 4K cameras. The story of the film is based on the experiences of former NYPD officer Ralph Sarchie, who uses his police skills to uncover the work of the demonic world.
The new horror/thriller was filmed right here in our fair city, on location in The Bronx and throughout other locals in New York, as well as Abu Dhabi and the Liwa Desert and in California.
According to Sony, the director’s intent was to, “take viewers into dark places; in fact audiences are first introduced to the main character — played by Eric Bana — in a dark, rainy alley on tough streets of The Bronx.” The movie’s production team, and Screen Gems President of Production Glenn Gainor, talk about the technology behind the film.
As you may have guessed, the film comes from Sony Pictures, which played a large part in supplying the tech used in the making of this film.
“The Sony F65s and F55s allowed us to enter into darkness like never before,” said Director Scott Derrickson. “Shooting through rain, we were not only able to pick up The Bronx city lights in the deep background (something film would never be able to do) but we were able to set a single light on a distinctively Bronx building a good 1/4 mile away to create an especially ‘Bronxy’ master image.”
Derrickson added, “The Sony 4K cameras allowed us to make The Bronx a character in our film with minimal lighting adjustments. On film, the look we achieved to tell the story would have been virtually impossible.”
According to director of photography Scott Kevan, the movie’s visual style needed to reflect a combination of the reality of being a cop in New York mixed with paranormal encounters.
Kevan and team used several F55s and one F65, with a lens package consisting of Panavision’s PVintage lenses. He noted the cameras’ low light capabilities and ergonomics really helped him capture the look he wanted.
“We were thrilled with the image quality and the emotional imprint that the images from the Sony cameras left on us,” Kevan said, “especially the F55, with its ability to dig into the shadows and the soft quality of the lenses. At the same time it maintained a contrast that we liked without getting washed out on the low end. Additionally, the ergonomics of the F55 worked for what we wanted to do because we were planning a good amount of handheld work, a bit of Steadicam, and we were in rather tight spaces. It was a location-based shoot in basements and places where the ceilings were less than six feet high at times.”
The team also used Sony OLED monitors on set, and recorded to Sony’s AXS-R5 recorder. The post production and digital intermediate process was completed at Sony’s ColorWorks facility in Culver City, Calif.
Screen Gems’ Gainor is no stranger to the Sony 4K workflow. The Sony F55 and F65 cameras have become workhorses for recent Screen Gems’ productions.
“Currently, the two cameras that can do what we need are the Sony F65 and F55,” Gainor said. “It’s undeniable that digital handles the absence of light better than film. Digital can pick up details in the darkest of dark images because its noise threshold is so much lower than film.”
He added, “There is storytelling going on in the exposure aspects of movies. It’s the sensitivity to light that is the main game changer. It’s getting into a nightclub and using existing lights. It’s getting onto streets without redefining the lighting that already exists.”
According to Gainor, the real test of the new 4K technologies’ place in production is whether or not they serve the story.
“The important question is this: Is the story told better captured in analog or digital?” he said. “I’ve helped filmmakers shoot on location all over the world with 4K cameras. We’ve gotten into places that were off limits to film cameras and shot with the least amount of light available, embracing low light sensitivity, rather than pouring in more light with traditional HMI’s that would require generators and cables, and so on.
He added, “4K digital cameras have allowed us to capture scenes in a living room with daylight coming through the window in the background while we’re trying to capture the actors at a table. We can lighten images, darken them, zoom in on them, focus attention to certain parts of the frame, by use of power windows in post, and so on.”
“Deliver Us from Evil” is the studio’s 4th 4K production, joining other recent titles including “Think Like a Man, Too” and “About Last Night,” and upcoming pics “No Good Deed” and “The Wedding Ringer.”