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Because he understood the London shoot would include a black actor to test the film against dark skin tones, Stannett enlisted the help of Panavision employee Jackie Pelle, who graciously assisted the DOP and served as a model, too.
In London, Stannett joined three other ranking cinematographers who each shot a sequence of the test drama. His colleagues were Phedon Papamichael asc (Sideways), British DOP Sue Gibson (Hear My Song) and the renowned Jack Cardiff bsc (The African Queen), who did a segment with Sir John Mills, playing a hobo. Stannett said he wanted to do a night exterior, but "they were all assigned by the time I got there. What was left for me was the daytime exterior of the demonstration film.
"The daytime shoot at 500 ASA was a challenge," he said, "but the ETERNA500 handled the contrast and the highlights very well."
He said that with director Marcus Dillistone, "We designed a continuous shot going from one lighting situation to another, totally different situation, finally ending up as a crane shot on the top of a light standard in a park, part of Pinewood Studios. It worked quite well I thought. It certainly showed different lighting situations and how the stock handled them.
Stannett said, "It's always a challenge to shoot day exterior with 500 ASA film because you're shooting with such a high-speed film. Normally you'd select a 200 or something. It was such a bright, sunny day that I had to stack a lot of ND (neutral density) on to the camera. It was all sort of backlit, which was great, and I just split the difference between my highlights and my front light and did a balance that way, favouring the front light as being a little bit under.
"On that shot, I had one bounce board that I used with the young lady sitting reading the paper to give her a nice look. There was no artificial lighting. I wanted to see what the stock would do by itself, and it did very well. The highlights held, the balance was nice. We ran into a bit of a situation where we were starting to lose a bit of the light under the big tree, but I thought, 'You know, it'll be a test. This is what it is.' And it wasn't too bad at all."
As it turned out, there were no dark skin tones to work with in his segment.
Stannett's 35mm camera was a Panaflex Millennium with a 10- to-1 lens. He also shot the London test in 16mm to be blown up to 35mm. At this writing, he had not seen the final demo film, "but considering the fine grain it should be very good."
(Please see CSC Calendar for the dates of the ETERNA500 launch in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.)
Stannett said he wished to thank Fujifilm's London representatives, Bob Quinn, technical support, and Roger Sapsford, field sales manager, for their help and hospitality, and his crew of operator Peter Versey, 1st AC Robert Binnal, 2nd AC Chris Dale, grip Mark Binnal, and gaffer Paul Borg.