In pre-production for the Elizabeth I series, starring Lily Cole, I discussed using a small degree of 'base layer' diffusion with maestro director Chris Holt. After extensive testing I settled on one of the Kipper Tie diffused Optical Low Pass Filters. These replace the existing Red OLPF and sit directly in front of the sensor for a light touch of softness and some highlight halation. Aside from avoiding filter flare issues, these keep a consistency of diffusion across various focal lengths, which I love. For scenes that needed any additional diffusion, I would go to more traditional in front of the lens options, using Tiffen's Glimmer Glass offering.
We employed two of 16oz Studio's Red Weapon bodies as A and B cameras. Both cameras utilised Arri/Zeiss UltraPrimes, the set running from 16mm through to 135mm. Throughout the series we always stayed wide open on these lenses at T1.9. It is here that I feel these lenses have a more 'painterly' look and AC Dan DiMartino did some sterling work in keeping it all sharp.
Although there were some signature dolly moves in and out of scenes and characters, and a small jib for some overhead pushes... all of the dialogue was shot handheld. This kept a little 'breath' to the exchanges and allowed the actors a little more freedom with the blocking.
The lighting for the series was all single source in its inspiration. Large HMI lighting through the windows did all the work for daylight interiors, and then a mixture of firelight and candles for night. The real fireplaces were augmented with multiple small tungsten heads on separate flicker generators. Haze and mist was then used throughout the filming, giving the lighting a degree of 'shape' in the room. This 'atmos' also, critically, provided all of the 'fill' lighting that was needed... I avoided any more traditional 'fill' lighting fixtures throughout the series.
As any filmmaker who has watched Kubrick/Alcott's Barry Lyndon dreams of... I also managed to light a number of scenes purely by candlelight (admittedly requiring a lot of candles!)
Whilst we were always shooting Raw to the Weapons R3D files, I applied a small degree of desaturation to the monitored 'look.' This 'touch' aside I otherwise let the lenses, diffusion and the lighting get us to the distinctive look of the series. Whilst protecting the series for a future 4K release, the Raw files always provide an unrivalled degree of colour richness.
All of the production publicity stills below are actual frame grabs from the cameras 5K, 5.5K and 6K rushes.
A montage of my approach to the photography on the series can be seen here: