Discussing his camerawork in the National Geographic TV science series Cosmos: Possible Worlds, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Karl-Walter Lindenlaub, ASC, BVK details his approach to a complex, global production. The cinematographer is joined for this interview by his DIT and pre-production assistant on the project, Roi Vissel, and American Cinematographer associate publisher and web manager David E. Williams.
Lindenlaub’s extensive credits include such complex science-fiction and fantasy features as Stargate, Independence Day and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, as well as dramatic projects including Rob Roy, Red Corner, Black Book and Driven.
Karl-Walter Lindenlaub, ASC, BVK on the set of Cosmos: Possible Worlds.
Above, the show’s signature Spaceship of the Imagination (or SOTI) was a 300-degree greenscreen set with a built-in LED ring light in the ceiling. “I always tried to keep the camera moving to keep the perspective interesting as the foreground would shift in relationship to the CG background,” notes Lindenlaub, seen here operating one of the cameras setting up on show host Neill deGrasse Tyson.
Above, the Cosmos crew sets up a shot on deGrasse Tyson while on location outside of Vancouver: “After extensive scouting, we found a great forest close to the city, with different elevations and lots of variety of older trees. Of course, this being Vancouver, it did rain sometimes and I had to do quite a bit of lighting. I used the Aero Crane in difﬁcult-to-get-to places and a 50" Technocrane where we could get it in.”
Lindenlaub and crew prep for shooting on stage in Santa Fe, New Mexico: “This is our cave set. I used the ﬁrelight from the controlled gas ﬁre to light the faces, taking full advantage of our wonderful Leica Summilux lenses.”