Polly Morgan ASC BSC talks about the greatness of filming – YMCinema

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Despite all the valid challenges, Polly Morgan ASC BSC made ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ on film. In an interview with the Go Creative Show, Morgan explains the pros and cons of filming with film cameras, and how this artistic decision alters many parameters in almost every aspect of the movie-making process. And what is the future of film cameras?

BSC ASC cinematographer Polly Morgan at left and Millicent Simmonds on the set of Paramount Pictures’ “A Quiet Place Part II”. Photo by Jonny Cournoyer. © 2019 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved

Morgan started her career as a production assistant and in several roles in the camera department. From the start, she aimed to be a filmmaker. It was (and still is) his main goal. She has worked with many filmmakers and attended the AFI Conservatory of the American Film Institute as a Fulbright Fellow, earning a Masters of Fine Arts in Cinematography. It is accredited by the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC) and the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC). As far as I know, Morgan is the only woman to be a member of both and the youngest member of the ASC.

Polly Morgan BSC ASC.  Source: IMDB.  Credit: Unknown
Polly Morgan BSC ASC. Source: IMDB. Credit: Unknown

Morgan said the decision to shoot ‘A Quiet Place, Part IIhe film was made to retain the classic look and feel of the first film. “John (the director) really wanted to shoot on film. This added a level of complexity to the production. We had to transport the negatives for scanning and it took a few days before we even saw the dailies. It’s not like digital shooting that what you see is crap you get. Everyone was eager to see the dailies. And that made the studios nervous, ”Morgan shared his thoughts on an interview with Go Creative Show. Morgan shot the film on the Panavision XL2 associated with the anamorphic of the T series. On very precise sequences, the ARRI ALEXA Mini was used, in particular during filming in restricted places, at a distance (the scene of the bus ), and in a very dark environment.

Cinematographer Polly Morgan BSC ASC on set "A Quiet Place, Part II".  Image: Panavision
Cinematographer Polly Morgan BSC ASC on the set of “A Quiet Place Part II”. Image: Panavision

According to Morgan, when shooting on film, unlike digital, there is no backup. Image tracking is much more complicated (and risky). You cannot judge the exposure by looking on monitors. So your light meter is your best friend. However, “it’s a phenomenal experience for the cinematographer,” she admits. There is no calibrated imaging. Nevertheless, as a director of photography, you feel more free, because you are not buried in this video village, but walking around the team with your light meter. Shooting on film enhances the overall shooting experience and makes the DP more present during principal photography.

BTS of 'A Quiet Place Part II.  © 2019 Paramount Pictures.  All rights reserved
BTS of ‘A Quiet Place Part II. © 2019 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved

Morgan shot ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ with 2 films. In the film, a huge amount of light has to be used. “The film should not be underexposed, because, unlike digital, black people are a real challenge to recover on the job. You don’t have this flexibility in the post compared to digital. However, film has tremendous dynamic range, and when the dailies roll in, you see those details in highlights, even when they’re overexposed, ”says Morgan. Therefore, according to Morgan. you better overexpose than underexpose.

A Quiet Place Part II was shot on Panaflex Millennium XL2 and T Glass by Panavision
A Quiet Place Part II was shot on Panaflex Millennium XL2 and T Glass by Panavision

Morgan says the level of specification is higher in digital cameras. You have the privilege of manipulating more imagery as opposed to film. The Video Village gives you powerful and modern tools to do this in real time, such as HDR monitors and LUTs. The settings are much more precise. On the contrary, when shooting a movie, your instincts override digital LUTs. So, film cameras require better visual instincts, as your eyes stitch the image together and simulate the look you want, and so you have to rely on your inner creativity and artistic skills. Listen to the full interview below:

Our charts show a reduction in the use of film cameras in the best productions. If we take the Oscars as a benchmark (because it is the best benchmark in the field), we explore a significant decrease in films shot on film cameras. For example, at the 2020 Oscar, movie cameras were the majority of movie cameras used on set, unlike the 2021 Oscars, which shows that only a third of films were shot on film. The main film cameras used are ARRIFLEX and XL2. The 235 and 435 are used in action sequences when a compact form factor is needed. The Panavision XL2 is the primary favorite and weapon of choice for celluloid shooters aiming for the huge canvas (IMAX theater). Check out the graphics below:

Film cameras vs. digital cameras: Oscars 2020 vs. Oscars 2021. Image credit: YMcinema Magazine
Film cameras vs. digital cameras: Oscars 2020 vs. Oscars 2021. Image credit: YMcinema Magazine. Click on the image to see it in full resolution

As a movie buff, I think there is nothing quite like pure natural light burnt in celluloid and then projected into a movie theater. It is the natural process of creating images. The camera is the brush and the film is your canvas. Nevertheless, it takes expertise, skills, knowledge and instincts. Film is as precious as gold but beats any ultra-sophisticated high-resolution digital sensor. What are the chances that a new affordable consumer-level film camera will be introduced? It would be a wonderful announcement for the filmmakers. Unfortunately, it seems that the technology is going in the opposite direction, inventing bigger sensors with more resolution. This is the reason why the image quality has reached a plateau. Do not you think?


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