Magazine article American Cinematographer

Daryn Okada, ASC Creates a Twinkling Cityscape

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Daryn Okada, ASC Creates a Twinkling Cityscape

Article excerpt

While working on the feature Just Like Heaven last year, director of photography Daryn Okada, ASC devised an elegant, low-tech trick for creating the illusion of twinkling lights on a nighttime TransLite.

The film tells the story of a young man (played by Mark Buffalo) who moves into a new apartment in San Francisco and discovers he is sharing it with the apartments previous tenant (Reese Witherspoon), who appears to be a ghost. (She is trapped in an ethereal state between life and death after surviving a terrible car accident.) Much of the story takes place in the apartment, a set that was built about 10' off the ground to help create the illusion that it's on the top floor of the Victorian building.

The apartment's main rooms are dominated by large windows offering spectacular views of San Francisco. Okada shot rooftop day- and night-exterior scenes against greenscreen so background views of the city could be composited in later, but for interior scenes, he preferred to use TransLites, one for day and one for night. The background plates and TransLite were shot at the same time and camera position so they would match geographically. "By using a practical background for the interiors, we were able to give the director [Mark Waters] and actors a lot of freedom," says the cinematographer.

Okada was happy with the daytime TransLite, especially when he added some smoke to give it additional depth, but he wasn't entirely satisfied with the night version. …

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