FRAMES - 2. New York Nights -- in progress - essai

This is the second FRAMES post about Uncut Gems by the Safdie brothers with cinematography by Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC. The idea of this new FRAMES series is to present frame grabs with comments by the filmmakers. In addition to Darius, I will include comments by colorist Damien Van Der Cruyssen, gaffer Andrew Day and first AC Chris Silano.

The first post covered anamorphic bokeh and shooting a car interior. This post focuses on the night interiors and exteriors.


Alexa Nights

The daytime scenes and all the footage in the Show Room in Uncut Gems were shot with Arricams and 5219 negative, but Darius chose to shoot the night scenes with an Alexa Mini rated at ISO 1600. Both day and night were shot with Panavision anamorphic C and Es, and three zooms.


Location Lighting Package

Gaffer Andrew Day shares the location lighting list, with a mix of Tungsten, HMI and LED fixtures.


New York Seder

And you would never had that cityscape on film

And that’s why I started going to Alexa

we’ll have more freedom shooting nights with Alexa


Ghost Grain


-- You don’t see the difference

-- grain exaggerated, great texture

digital grain wasn’t as nice

-- it’s a  ghost of the film stock


Damien Van Der Cruyssen: 

-- making film and digital look the same was the biggest challenge. we did a lot of tests; first to see what ISO would work with the film, Darius wanted to push process the film 1 stop; then we tested the Alexa, at different ISOs, it started to feel like a good match at 1600.

Then adding the real film grain sampled over the Alexa helped a lot


The Club



Sparklers set the exposure Completely         

And then I added the scene in the night club. Because when we scouted it was very dark, and they also wanted to do black light

There was really zero light

And I said, we’re going to have to add lights. Let’s give ourselves the freedom to shoot it as it is.

That’s what I wanted for this film was freedom.

I’ve never put as many black light fixtures in one space.   The entire ceiling was full of lines of black lights. And it was still very dark. And I shot at 1600 ASA wide open. But then they wanted to use a zoom. I wanted to give them that freedom. To do a technocrane move with the zoom.

And then I saw this orange sweat shirt in the crowd, and it was an explosion of light

he’s my source




Night Exterior


Shot with no permits

I added a ball on a streetlight

Then everything else was lit with a light on a boom

I had Andy Day with LED

It’s like what we add on chimera

 I use it in 4x4 8x8 20x20

Always the same

I put different sources behind it

-- Sometimes doubled?

There it was doubled

Because I need very little light in digital


-- so you don’t see


Digital Sputnik DS6 and DS1



night exterior parking outside school


night exterior

with lights added to street light

cross light with mercury vapor

lit as little as possible so as to have a lot of black in the image

I like that it’s like blades of light

With green in it

I love to add green to nights

Everything was done with LEDs

With Sputnicks

I use Sputnicks S1 and S6


-- change the led color


I always tell my gaffer and colorist that I want silvery. It’s not really blue. It’s metallic



underexposure paste


LINKS Black ProMist Filter



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