Leading up to production on Universal Pictures’ action film Nobody, cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski (Hereditary, Midsommar) tested a variety of cinema cameras, just like he’s done for every film he’s shot. It’s an exercise he admittedly loves. He lined up a variety of cameras, including RED DSMC2s with the MONSTRO, HELIUM, and GEMINI sensors. When director Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) and he compared the results, one in particular jumped off the big screen: HELIUM.
Call it a moment of divine inspiration or serendipity, but during the test Pogorzelski inexplicably pushed the HELIUM to 1600 ISO. It was the only camera he tried at that setting. “Why?” he asks, ruminating for a few moments. “I don’t remember why I did that in the test room that day. I shot the HELIUM at 800 and 1600 ISO, and 1600 gave us this look that we responded to emotionally – that’s the movie.”
Nobody seems to be an ideal movie for pent-up audiences. Filmed pre-pandemic on location and in studios in Winnipeg, Canada, Bob Odenkirk stars as Hutch, a low-key family man whose quiet life is upended after the burglary of his suburban home. No longer able to repress who he truly is – a highly skilled weapon – Hutch discards his innocent bystander facade, drawing the ire of the criminal underground.
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“It came from getting the right camera, the right lenses and then creating the right LUT early on with the colorist”
"I'm not such a technical person"
The film’s visual aesthetic was influenced by the signature styling of Korean action movies, with their rich, vibrant colors and deep, inky blacks. “It came from getting the right camera, the right lenses and then creating the right LUT early on with the colorist,” the cinematographer says. “That really helped define the movie, and you get to see it as intended while you’re shooting it – that gets everyone excited.”
Lending to the visual aesthetic was Pogorzelski’s choice to go with Hawk V-Lite 2x Anamorphic lenses. “I’m not such a technical person,” he says, “so it was more of a visual response for me. The combo of the HELIUM with the Hawk lenses was the closest to what we had in our minds, reflecting what the image should look like on screen. My testing is elaborate so that on the big screen we see all the nuances such as the focus roll off and the bokeh, as well as little flares, contrast, skin tones and how faces morph from distortion.”
Pogorzelski shot at 2.35:1 at 6K resolution, primarily with two cameras. On studio days, the B camera was sent off to get inserts. “I’d run between A camera with the actors and B camera to light those sets,” he recalls. “It was exhausting but a lot of fun.”
The hero LUT, created at EFilm with Colorist Walter Volpatto, who since has moved over to Company 3, was dense, at least two-thirds to a full stop darker to enrich the colors. That also meant Pogorzelski often had to light the black and darker areas of scenes. Whenever there was a need to be certain, a quick disabling of the LUT proved the HELIUM sensor indeed was capturing all the necessary image information.
Pogorzelski holds a deep appreciation for RED as a company. “Their support is amazing, as is their new IPP2 [Image Processing Pipeline] color profile, but what I really love is that, since their debut camera, they’ve pushed everyone else to improve,” he says. “As a DP, it’s great to have options, like a different brush for each application. I believe deep down one can get nearly the sa me result from any camera, but why not choose a paintbrush that gets to that result with an easier stroke? For Nobody, that brush was the RED HELIUM.”
RED’s HELIUM 8K S35 sensor delivers 17x more resolution than HD, over 4x more than 4K, and over 16 stops of dynamic range. HELIUM’s unmatched performance offers users benefits such as the flexibility of super-sampling, cropping, and stabilizing in post to produce unbelievable content without compromising their vision.
HELIUM is available in the modular DSMC2 or all-in-one RANGER brain.
Never Underestimate a Nobody
2021 | R | 1h 32min | Action, Crime, Drama
Emmy winner Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul, The Post, Nebraska) stars as Hutch Mansell, an underestimated and overlooked dad and husband, taking life’s indignities on the chin and never pushing back. A nobody.
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, RZA, Aleksey Serebryakov and Christopher LloydWatch Nobody