Magazine article American Cinematographer

Cinematographers on the ARRIFLEX 535

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Cinematographers on the ARRIFLEX 535

Article excerpt

MICHAEL BALLHAUS, ASC

The Mambo Kings

Warner Bros.

"We used two 535s on The Mambo Kings. It was a new camera system then, but I felt confident, after working with ARRIs for 25 years, there would be no problems. I was right.

"I have to admit, though, that at first I did worry about the 535's electronic features. I didn't think they were anything I needed. The speed/ shutter feature - what did I need that for? Why not make the 535 lighter and simpler? But as I learned, you have all these possibilities! I was surprised by how wonderful it all works together. The 535 gave me the opportunity to do things we couldn't do before.

"For instance, we shot from 24fps to 40fps, and then back to 24fps. No worries about exposure or testing - we just shot at any speed we wished, whenever we wished. It was tremendously interesting within a scene. It simply provided new creative possibilities that didn't exist before. We used almost everything the camera has in it - we even shot bluescreen in Super 35. It was so easy to switch the 535 from the Standard aperture to Super 35 and back that my assistant did it right on the set in minutes.

We also did a lot of handheld shots. The 535 has such a terrific gravity point that it was easy for my operator to move around. It's a little heavier, but that isn't the end of the world. We didn't do any double exposures, but I'm going to use the 535 on my next picture, Bram Stoker's Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola), and will do so. The director was very intrigued by the 535's speed/shutter change feature. And the 535 was so quiet that I couldn't believe it."

The 535 gave me the opportunity to do things we couldn't do before.

Gabriel Beristain,BSC

Blood In...Blood Out

Hollywood Pictures

"I've had a longstanding relationship with ARRI GB in London, so when the 535 became available they loaned one to me for a twoday commercial. I was very impressed.

"When the feature Blood In...Blood Out came along, I had my opportunity to use it again, so I discussed the 535 and its capabilities with the director, Taylor Hackford. This film presented an unusual challenge: a fantastic interlacing of poetic style with the most powerful documentary format. Taylor has an enormous appetite for realism and wanted to shoot in actual locations in almost every instance, such as San Quentin State Prison, where part of the film takes place.

"Naturally we needed great mobility, and the obvious choice would have been a compact camera. The 535 is a few pounds heavier and a few inches longer than the 35BL, but we wanted to use it so we said, "Let's make the 535 work our way. Let's use it in situations where you wouldn't ordinarily use a camera of this sophistication.

"We discovered all the little things that the 535 would permit us to do there, on the spot with minimum effort, without adding anything on top, without having to sacrifice time or compromise production priorities. In San Quentin, for example, we were working in 4' by 8' cells and yet, with the Swingover Viewfinder, I was able to position myself in every corner.

"We turned what some would consider size and weight disadvantages into advantages. We used all the features built into the 535 in those difficult situations where we ordinarily wouldn't take accessories to load on to the basic camera. All that remarkable technology enabled us to shoot anything we wanted, pretty much anywhere, including an occasional handheld shot.

"Suddenly, the 535 became a very special "compact" camera, one with the most sophisticated features of any camera on the market."

535s from Otto Nemenz Intl.

Rodney Charters

Stephen King's Sleepwalkers, Columbia

Nightmare Cafe, NBC-MGM

"Stephen King's Sleepwalkers was an interesting challenge. We had animals - lots of animals - a monster, and people interacting with both. As a result, we used a lot of the features found only on the 535. …

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