Roger Eaton - Director Of Photography
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Don Harris - ARRI News

1st Sep. 2000, Don Harris - ARRI News

Crescendo in Colour

ARRI NEWS September 2000

Roger Eaton, Director of Photography, recently used the ARRI Ultra Primes to film a short, contemporary drama called COURIER, the script of which won an Alfred Hitchcock Award.

COURIER was written, produced and directed by Rikki Tarascas who describes the film as a contemporary, up beat psychological film noir with a surreal edge. Such a film demanded supreme visual clarity and a wide range in tonal quality so the choice of lens was very important.

The story is about Luke, an artist and cycle courier, who delivers human body parts in packages without realising he is being drawn into a subterranean world of crime and murder. He is also a spin painter, throwing paint at a huge spinning wheel and, as Luke becomes aware of the contents of the parcels he delivers, his art and life begin to descend towards a psychological crescendo of blood and paint.

To capture such a powerful story line on film, both Roger and Rikki wanted to give the film a contemporary feel with a look of mystery so they decided to shoot everything clean without the use of filters. Roger had originally planned to use Cooke S4s but Vince Wilde of Take 2 Film services, they camera facilities house, had suggested using Ultra Primes.

Roger found that the Ultra Primes delivered the feeling of luminosity and brightness needed to capture the graphic clarity that they required. He felt that the Ultra Primes delivered a crystal sharpness, but also lent a very tonal, sensual quality to the subject. It is unusual for these elements to be combined to such a degree in most other lenses.

Using the Ultra Prime lens, Roger found that the focus was very sharp and the contrast very high. The colour saturation was good and the colours seemed to be exceptionally pure throughout the whole spectrum.

The uniformity of each focal length within the system had a very good feel across the whole range of lens. The nine blade iris looked very round so when there was a flare it gave a very classic feel to the image. Roger felt that this was more than a three blade iris. He tended to use the lenses almost wide open and felt that they responded amazingly well. The Ultra Primes where very tolerant to flare and, as problems seemed to be non-existent, roger felt that the optic must have been developed to the most sophisticated and consistent level.

Roger’s focus puller, Jonathan Oddy, liked working with the Ultra Primes and found them very user friendly, commenting that there was no looseness in the ring, which was of great help when he only had an inch or so to play with and he was pleased that the lens where marked up properly in feet.

The longer focal length lenses, 35 upward were used for the film and Roger’s particular favourite was the 85.

The Alfred Hitchcock Award was set up by Waltham Forest Arts Council in conjunction with the London Film & Video Development Agency last year as a celebration of Alfred Hitchcock’s Centenary year.

Roger Eaton is an award winning DoP of fifteen years’ experience, mainly in drama and commercials. He has worked on both large and small budgets and a great variety of film projects.

- Don Harris

 

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