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Sony’s F23 High-Definition Camera Cuts Its Teeth In The Making Of "Cloverfield"


Movie’s Handheld Shooting Style Showcases New Model’s Visual Latitude

Nick Theodorakis, digital imaging supervisor for “Cloverfield,” knew the exact production tool he needed when he signed on for the movie blockbuster that opened this past weekend.

The movie’s scenes were shot mostly at night using only a hand-held shooting style envisioned by producer J.J. Abrams. Theodorakis used Sony’s F23 camera to capture nearly all of the movie’s New York exteriors.

“When we viewed the footage, there were literally gasps in the room,” Theodorakis said. “Without any lighting, you could see so deep into the shadows it was unreal. The F23 camera sees more than the human eye.”

There is no traditional scene coverage or musical score, and the entire story of New York City under siege unfolds over about eight hours that are encapsulated into a 90-minute feature. A character named “Hud” shoots the entire movie all night long as the city is attacked by a monster.

“We needed the look of the movie to be very immediate, like ‘found footage,’ so a YouTube aesthetic was the look we were trying to achieve,” Theodorakis said. “The F23 provided latitude without sacrificing any color imagery, allowing us to stay as strict to reality as possible while generating that warm look of New York City’s streets with its sodium vapor lights.”

To mimic a Handycam® camcorder’s look and feel with the movement and image quality of a studio camera and to satisfy the tremendous visual effects demands, Theodorakis said he placed the F23 camera’s deck inside a backpack to make the shots seem more mobile.

“I literally ran up and down the Brooklyn Bridge 10 times with [director of photography] Mike Bonvillain operating the camera and didn’t encounter a single problem,” he said.

Theodorakis said he liked the fact that the F23 was a system, not a mixture of “components thrown together.” He also found that the “real estate” of the camera’s controls made it ideal for mounting microphones and other accessories on top and for carrying the camera underneath the operator’s arm without fear of pressing the buttons.

“It’s obvious that Sony really listened and took the suggestions of cinematographers and DITs across the globe,” he said.

While comparisons to the “The Blair Witch Project” style of filmmaking are expected, Theodorakis anticipates that once people see “Cloverfield” they’ll discover it’s very different.

“In ‘Cloverfield’ something actually does happen, extraordinary things, and moviegoers get to see it all happen,” he said. “It’s a great story with great characters and a whole lot of fun.”


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