How Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Perfected the Long Take | Cinematography Breakdown

published on July 17, 2020

This episode of Indy Mogul is brought to you by Squarespace All of the extras are dancers? How does a shot like this even get shot? It's so seamless now that you don't– because your brain goes like "Oh" Half the series one of my electricians is dressed as a lamp operators What did you do about the hard light? This was hard– For close-ups and things like that? It's just hard in the close-ups all right What's going on Indy Mogul today I'm here with Emmy winning David Mullen, ASC the cinematographer behind the show of "Marvelous Mrs Maisel" Maisel is coming back next month so today we're

Gonna do a walk-through of the camera choices, the lens choices, the lighting, and then also walk through a couple of scenes and how they were actually accomplished How was the experience of shooting "Marvelous Mrs Maisel" It's an extremely fun shown to work on, a bit exhausting but fun The big issue is just what is the period look for the show they wanted to be vibrant – energetic and lively but still feel like something of the aesthetics of the 50s

In terms of color schemes and stuff so a lot of it was about looking at historical reference combined with period photography, advertisements are a big thing, movies to work out the color schemes and things but camera wise I felt like the Alexa would give us the most film ish quality shooting digital we ended up at Panavision lenses and I chose primo lenses because I wanted to use fairly low flare modern lenses because we do so much camera work

That constantly looks into lights and windows and I have to do 360 degrees shots on location that if a lens flares too much then it could be distracting over the actors and I could control that better with filters I just been using the Hollywood black magics for several years very familiar with these filters trouble is that there occasionally still a shot where you're shooting into such a bright light or bright window or light hitting the lens that you see some weird ring or

Some sort of strange glow I tested various diffusion filters the best were the Tiffen black diffusion effects filters so I use those when I have bright lights or bright windows so sometimes I will mix and match filters if I want more of a hazy glow and less of the blurry glow I would I would play around with the types of filters Amy doesn't want tight shots so even though we're moving around in tight spaces she wants to keep it like waist up so that

Tends to push you in there with wider angle lenses we'd go 24 on the wider shots we use the 30 a lot coverage although when we get into the performances with multiple cameras I go to zoom lenses often Let's break into one of these performances right now you start with the first scene let's play the clip Oh this is the opening of the pilot episode of "Marvelous Mrs Maisel" it's a flashback to the day of Midge's wedding to Joel So it sets

Up a lot of the tone of the show her talking in front of a microphone being the most obvious one so we went for this Doctor Zhivago it's winter ice palace theme look but I didn't want to light the actors with blue light so it's a square room right here centre door like this and there's a door in the background and those windows on this side and there's some little windows on this side so I put a square lighting balloon right over here And this just

Floated up with helium right above her right? I had to move it around a little because what I've learned with top light is that if you're lighting a person especially an actress that you wanted to look attractive you don't want them under the center you want them on the edge you want them standing here so that they're slightly front toplit rather– So some of this light can kind of come here and fill in those facts not to toppy

Because the balloon went this way her parents are sitting back here and her friends and family are all farther from the center of the balloon I had to hide a few Lekos around the room So these you probably put them right here and they're bouncing into the ceiling and then bouncing back down Yeah, it's also four chandeliers basically doing the corners of the room and then they added some chandeliers on the stage hidden in the beam of the stage I just I hung two

Daylight key no flaws so they put a bluish soft top light on the the band And this is just natural daylight coming in? You know I might have had a little bit of HMI bounce to add to them as the light change because I did have some mix of Sun and then no Sun knowing that the next sort of flashbacks would be warm I wanted to keep this on the cold side so you know that was the basic approach to the wedding they basically said they didn't want a golden

Honeycomb sepia tone look for this show even set in the past so I have to be very careful about what scenes I choose to be warm that's why if I have a lot of warm scenes in the show I will try to punctuate it with a seam lit with some blue light I'd say most of time is a single-camera show because we move the camera so much yeah but when we get in these crowd scenes and performance scenes where she's in front of a mic it becomes a multi camera show where we

Have two to three cameras running just trying to get as much as we can within the time we have okay so montage that opens episode 4 which is the day she moves out of her apartment it match cuts shots of her the day she moved in with the day she moves out and at some point I just committed to feeling like the day she moves out she'd be kind of cold and overcast and the day she's her happy members should be warm and golden so knowing that I

Knew that even though we matched the angles there would be a shift in color when we crossed dissolved from the past of the present but then we climax with a shot that had to be completely seamless where were we she were circling her during a New Year's Eve party and then as we're circling her suddenly the room is completely empty and it's the day she's moved out and then now the apartment is completely empty in the state I'm Amy said when we Circle her I

Wanted to transition to the present and not see the transition I wanted to be as invisible as possible let's yeah wait wait wait we're doing I told everyone that one more time okay a party so this was shot before lunch yeah and then right here we've repeated the move and so how are you going to hide that transition issues why change the color change even things like I said you know if she's wearing one outfit and one

Seen another and the other you're gonna see the outfit change you're gonna see her hair if it's good you know what she describes essentially as a morph right so we're gonna morph from one shot to the other and make it as invisible as possible but then you have to start thinking what's going to change her clothes are gonna change your hair it's gonna change the walls are gonna change it's a moving shot so I try to have the moment a transition happened the moment

There was a blank wall behind her head so you wouldn't see the furniture magically disappear in the shot you have the perfect moment happens to be a rage and so we end up having the redesign her party dress so that it was a similar in design to her moving date outfit so you wouldn't see sleeves disappear like go from a sleeveless dress to a sleeve dress the two outfits are similar enough her hairstyle is similar enough but even then I still had to deal with the fact

That we go from a night scene to a day scene even though it was a day soon and she would be lit more from the windows I had an overhead soft top light for the night party scene that I kept on for the day scene and we actually shot the day scene right after lunch because the visual effects supervisor was worried that we would have too many changes if we shot them on different days and it's something that normally would do with motion control to have a perfect match

Dissolves no way to do this with motion control so I had to be a Steadicam essentially we shot to the past shot and then we played it back on the Steadicam monitor with an overlay so the Steadicam operator Jim McConkey could line up the walls and the furniture and the fireplace behind her head as best he could and then after he sort of practice it enough he just you didn't do every take with an overlay the visual effects Leslie Foster Robson had to steal bits

And pieces of each take to get the mantlepiece and everything to line up it wasn't just a simple straight morph but it's so seamless now that you don't use your brain goes like Oh that is crazy here we go in the pilot you see this big Steadicam move like the Goodfellas where you're out on the street and you follow someone you end up going through the door you see the whole room you see a band playing on stage and you follow Mitch all the way up to this

Bar counter here a lot of people today like soft lighting you know it's more flattering we shot the Gaslight originally in the pilot in a black box theater space that was in these Village Gaslight you know it was a real historical place and we had reference photos but the reference photos were all like shot with flash photography they have no feeling for what the lighting might have been like I have to like the audience have to like the bar area and

Have to light the stage but it essentially it's a raised seating area mm-hmm and there's a stage area with a piano mm-hmm this room has these kind of acorn lights they're just like a six or eight of them in the room that sort of give you a general warm yeah but they're dimmed down so they don't really do much other than put a little dim fill light on everyone all through the room there's a there was a grid you know pipe grid that I could hang from a me was very

Concerned that she didn't even though I had all these lights in this room that she didn't want the room itself be too bright she wanted the stage to be bright and the bodies to be in the dark I needed some lights on the audience because partly we have dialogue in the audience sometimes but dimmed way down so I tried to keep him backlit sort of just etched out the question was when she started performing is do I put a follow spot dead center or do I do it

From the corners you know 80 to 90 percent of the series it was always this one here so we had a leak oh and half the series and one of my electricians is dressed as a lamp operators what did you do about the hard light in terms of this was hard yeah it was just hard well for close-ups and things like that's just hard in the close-ups alright Amy wanted to do a 360 degree crane move that was not a dead overhead circle but she said it was more like a ferris wheel

Ride that was high at one end and low at the others of the camera is is doing this weird loop from high to low as they dance this is a flashback and it's not a fantasy so I thought well it's a dance number he takes her dancing it kind of cool if though there was some colored lighting but I can't justify it it's not a fantasy all right this happened around it was real well after we were scouted the same he

Said could we have the light just changed like to some colored lighting like you guys were on the same way normally we got camera circles yeah the best way to like people is from the center of the circle so then the camera's not shadowing them but the trouble is the circle has been created with a crane arm doing this so I knew the arm of the crane would cross the center and I couldn't like them from the center so I had to like them from under

The high point of the crane wherever the camera is the highest is where the light is hitting them so hopefully the arm is not throwing a shadow so this is 7th Avenue I think and then so the diner is here in the middle and so we had a whole scene in the diner and then they come out and he stands the middle of street and she's on the sidewalk and as a kiss week attach the movi to the technical crane so you guys are literally alive rigging it and a magnet system so we

Attach it with a magnet to the technic crane and we put a safety chain on it so the Technic rain is here on the sidewalk like this so the move goes high here and then it swings around and then drops down back to here again low so it's the arm swings through the center of the circle cameras looking back at the arm yeah you know to like this for a dance number where the light actually changes from white to pink at the start of the shot I have a one Condor with white

Light lighting the whole block and then next to it I have another Condor with a pink light on it that fades up and way over here I had another Condor just to put some fill like this direction on them it's the key here that ones here that yeah the light on this Condor is still lower than this camera position so the light itself is getting under the lens and lighting them so so it lights it from underneath if they had been the same height then what happened is this

High point I would have had a big shadow of the camera on on everything here so this light has to be lower than this camera at this point and now before we move on I want to talk to you about our amazing sponsor and that is Squarespace who actually helped us make our beautiful Indy mogul website and could potentially help you out as well maybe you just graduated from film school maybe you found photography to be near new passion in life whatever the

Case may be you're gonna need some kind of visual portfolio to show people all the work that you're capable of you're gonna save a ton of money actually gonna come out with a modern-looking webpage I actually also really like the video backgrounds feature in order to do that all you have to do is actually just import a video into a custom overlay stretch it as far as you can and boom it is that simple so head on over to Squarespace comm /

Andy mode start a 14-day trial and it'll actually get 10% off of your first purchase of a website or domain thank you again to Squarespace and now back to the episode Amy likes to hire dancers to play extras some of these shots are so complicated that we need extras that can time themselves to the camera so she'll bring in our choreographer Marguerite it makes sense it makes perfect sense they're dancing to a beat they're dancing to a rhythm the shot is so fast

If you wanna the story point is that she's been after the first season where she gets confronted in the altman's she gets demoted so we begin the second season she's now been demoted to the switchboard room in the basement is said to be choreographed for a couple days they were practicing in the set and then we saw her her cyl and then had to figure out how to move the camera with

Her and we know it going with the movi on a stick it's he's holding it on the end of a pole but he's still holding there with his arms yeah that's Larry McConkey and Jim macaques on the wheels operating while arias on the pole because a movi move is really a two-person job two people are in sync with each other we started high and we we push down on the basket immediately tilt up fast yeah

And then follow the letter basket around until we enter the room and as we enter the room the question was which side of the heads do we do the hardest thing and go between the heads and each person had leaned out of the way of the movies I had to have art department install these light bulbs along the switchboard so they would have light in their eyes and I decided to gel the fluorescence above them with some blue green gel so they would have this kind of cyan quality and

Then the light bulbs have created a color contrast again because otherwise the only light was the fluorescence in the center of the room which was throwing a shadow on their faces how are you not worried about the the movie blocking the light glass the other problem is like I was worried I would see a shadow of the movi crossing every light bulb on their face because these are the labels here they're cuddly it didn't each person has to get it away of

The camera but didn't get right back into position again she's smoking the whole time – David what on and this is a case where I had to switch the filters because I told you that sometimes with lights in the frame you get a weird halo from the Hollywood black man yeah so I had to use the tiffin black diffusion effects filter because you're shooting these like yeah as I passed each light bulb they were so big and frame and I got this strange halo glow from the

Filter he's interesting but it's also distracting I don't have the audience to look at the LEDs yeah sometimes you get a weird glowing and your eye goes to it and then looking at the actor they're looking at the strange halo it was like it's honestly like the Super Bowl of camera movements yeah it's like you have the best talent with the best tools with the wildest craziest vision choreographed a dancer and save it thank you so much for

Joining us seriously the best being able to learn a little bit about the behind the scenes process I know Mazal comes back soon too as well summer syncs December 6th okay so one of those places coming back number six I first of all I can't wait to see it as well because we have a crazy shot in the first step to southern calling me asking me how again thank you to Squarespace for sponsoring this video start designing a portfolio that you can be proud of by going to

Squarespacecom slash Indy mogul which will also give you 10% off of that first purchase of a website or domain and a free 14-day trial and if you want to know more about David's career in cinematography we also have a podcast discussion with David that we're also gonna include an inscription down below thanks so much for watching we'll get you guys like that at one point we go so low that we actually look right into the condo our scissors in the middle of this

Buck and visual-effects turned it into a moon which was great it turned that that was roses relived yeah that is the she turned delight into a moon oh it looks great I totally believe it

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