I’ve been quite impressed by the overall crisp, lush and personal nature that is achieved in the cinematography of Jacques Audiard’s Un prophète… I am aware that he uses a handheld camera for most of the film and I was wondering if anyone by any chance had an idea of what kind of camera it was, exactly, that he used on the project? Secondly, I’d like to get your opinion to as whether it was so much the camera that was able to crisply and vibrantly capture the often darkly-lit atmosphere so well or, on the other hand, whether it was not so much due the camera but more due to thoughtful/effective lighting done by Audiard’s crew? (thus, the camera could have been interchangeable) Or… does the polished look come from post production and computer mastering of the lighting effects?
Sorry if this is hard to understand or if it is something of a ramble but I really can’t stop thinking about it… any responses would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
*When I say that he, (Jacques Audiard), uses a handheld camera… that was something of a typo… I am aware that we must thank the DP of the film, Stéphane Fontaine, for all of the wonderful camerawork… I am aware that much of the dark feeling that is achieved in the cinematography of the film is also due to things such wonderful set design, attention to color specifications and of course, a close attention to the use of lighting.
However, I’d still love to know what kind of handheld camera was used on the film if anybody happens to know…?
“I’d like to get your opinion to as whether it was so much the camera that was able to crisply and vibrantly capture the often darkly-lit atmosphere so well or, on the other hand, whether it was not so much due the camera but more due to thoughtful/effective lighting done by Audiard’s crew?”
I can’t speak definitively, but I’m pretty sure it was all of the above. If I had to make a clear cut though, it does seem a bit like Audiard was relying pretty heavily on lighting and post-prod. for the effect you’re describing (that is, if I understand you correctly). I saw the movie a good year ago, so my memory is a bit blurry, but in any case I’d put my money on lighting and post-prod. Obviously the camera isn’t exactly “interchangeable” I don’t think, but just rather of secondary concern in that department. It’s much more clear if you take a good look at the clips below. Some of the most powerful and (visually) dramatic scenes lean pretty heavily on stuff like the lighting, set design and perhaps even things a simple as make-up and colour palette and shot setup.
That works. Thanks very much for your input.
It was mostly shot with an Aaton 35mm camera with Cooke primes and Fujifilm negative.
I think a lot of the look came from the production and costume design, lighting, as well as the lenses and use of the film stock and handheld work.
In terms of the camera: When shooting on film in my opinion, any camera within a particular format is interchangeable, when it comes to the image. The camera is just a light-tight box that film runs through, so the lenses and film stock as well as the elements mentioned above are more important to creating the final image.
Ah, I see! This is wonderfully enlightening. Thank you so very much for taking the time to add your input.
>> it does seem a bit like Audiard was relying pretty heavily on lighting and post-prod. for the effect you’re describing <<
Actually, if you hear Stephane Fontaine (Cinematographer) talk about the photography—the entire prison is actually entirely a custom built set, with many custom lights built into it chosen (obviously) by the DP. With the POSSIBLE exception of some outdoor scenes, I believe Audiard and Fontaine took very meticulous steps to achieving that smooth, cold look rather than lucking out and waiting for a visual atmosphere that they could hopefully capture. As for post-pro, which in the digital age who really ever knows how much was actually achieved in camera, Fontaine claims they didn’t get too ridiculous—which is comforting considering the, “We’ll fix it in post” attitude that one too many filmmakers take. Here’s a quote:
“This digital timing was not about reinventing the image of the film, but rather to confirm choices made during shooting. The intention must be in the negative.” – Stephane Fountaine
Shooting w/ Fuji stock most definitely gave the film it’s distinctive look.
Un Prophete is great, and looks fantastic, btw.
@ Angelo Dagonel
Amazing input! Thank you so much for taking time to respond as well! … I had no idea the entire prison was a custom built set, with every location set-up with particular lights chosen by the DP… this to me, is absolutely amazing and changes the entire way I look at the film… The most interesting thing to me is the importance of the use of Fuji stock and setting up particular mood/atmosphere with the lighting of the custom set, also, that while they do use post-pro that they don’t rely on it as they take time to plan their shots effectively to begin with… Amazing film and even more amazing now that I understand some of the methodology that went into it. Thank you, thank you!