Magazine article American Cinematographer

Details in the Dark

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Details in the Dark

Article excerpt

Given projects' often overlapping schedules, a successful collaboration is sometimes more about having faith in your colleagues than working with them side-by-side. Such was the case for The Accountant cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC and ASC associate and Technicolor digital-intermediate colorist Mike Sowa. Due to his commitments on Pan, McGarvey came in before the official start of The Accountant's DI and worked alongside ASC associate and Technicolor supervising finishing artist Steve Scott - with whom he had collaborated on The Avengers, Godzilla (2014) and Fifty Shades of Grey - to set looks for various frames across several reels. "I wanted to get in the ballpark in some areas I was concerned about," McGarvey says. "Steve set the look and Mike followed through."

Sowa began the grade a week later. "Since Seamus couldn't sit with me through the entire DI, I was thankful for the roadmap," he says. "Director Gavin O'Connor was available, but he also had to spend time on the mix and visual effects, and editor Rick Pearson was even still cutting. So I went through the movie by myself and pulled it all to the reference frames."

When McGarvey returned to Los Angeles, he came in to screen Sowa's first pass. "He wanted to make sure I was true to what they did on set," Sowa says. "It's one thing to come in and set a frame, and another to apply that look over a whole scene. So I did some tweaks and ran them by him; he asked for some others, and then Gavin came in and asked for a bunch. It's collaborative. You hope to have everybody in the room on the same day, but often that can't happen so you just prepare for the ride."

McGarvey reports that they played significandy with contrast and color and applied a look, albeit a largely unobtrusive one. "We were aiming for a naturalistic look, but to achieve that, Mike did a lot of work," the cinematographer says. "He really got into it and applied many windows."

The colorist is at the mercy of the footage, especially when it's film-originated - and even more so when there are bold low-light choices, as in the darkened house interior for the movie's reel-long shootout and fight scene. Sowa credits McGarvey for his full control on set. "The whole interior is one big shadow except where ambient moonlight would come through a window," the colorist explains. …

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