Filming Billie Eilish on the Hollywood Bowl – Unique Interview with DP Pablo Berron

Filming Billie Eilish at the Hollywood Bowl – Exclusive Interview with DP Pablo Berron

Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Oscar-winning animation director Patrick Osborne Happier Than Ever is a novel efficiency movie starring Billie Eilish shot over 5 consecutive nights on the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Centered on the No 1 album of the identical identify, Billie and her brother Finneas carry out your complete tracklist entrance to again accompanied on numerous songs by the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed by Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Kids’s Refrain.
Moreover ‘animated Billie’ drives throughout LA from the recording studio to the Bowl by way of numerous LA landmarks which have private that means to her.

Billie Eilish on the Hollywood Bowl

Bringing this to life on the hallowed Bowl stage was DP Pablo Berron.

“Considered one of my foremost issues after I first bought the decision to the job was, how are we going to work with the stage lighting to make it cinematic? As a result of I knew a live performance lighting designer was going to be concerned with the final design of what was occurring with the lighting.  And I’ve labored with theatrical lighting designers earlier than, and it’s a really completely different thought of learn how to gentle.

They’re lighting for an viewers; these very steep, arduous lights from very excessive angles; they’re very frontal and flat. And that’s actually not probably the most flattering factor whenever you’re attempting to {photograph} any person shut up.
And I actually wished to shoot Billy actually shut, with the digital camera actually near her face and simply do stuff that you simply wouldn’t usually be capable of do in a live performance movie with an viewers, for instance.
However because it turned out, Billie’s tour lighting designer Tony Caporale was unbelievably collaborative and an actual ace throughout.  He understood completely from the start that this was concerning the digital camera and never an viewers in a giant venue, and he was tremendous receptive to all of my concepts. 
So he and I and my longtime gaffer Konrad Siggurdsson got here up with an general method over 3 weeks previous to the shoot.

We constructed these particular RGB 36″ delicate China balls that we may use once we have been very shut and once we wished to observe her across the stage. I additionally introduced in some large delicate Arri Sky Panels on the aspect or lighting from the ground on sure songs.

I feel we additionally had six or eight large 10ks lining the stage after which positioned one other pair strategically, actually far downstage on the perimeters to type of make them be a reasonably, cinematic sidelight for her. The thought was, as a lot as doable, to eradicate the follow-spot live performance lighting that often features because the performer’s key gentle and determine a special method to get gentle on them from locations the place you’d by no means anticipate the sunshine to come back from in a present with a stay viewers.

I actually like lighting, typically to a fault. I got here up as an electrician and a gaffer after I first began out. And so I simply get very enthusiastic about, you already know, creating worlds by lighting. It’s about creating volumes in area, not only a tableau. And sure, typically you flip the lights off and that’s what finally ends up actually working!”

“Individuals like Billie, you already know, who’re simply so photogenic and so emotional it’s simply such a pleasure to shoot them they usually can take nearly something lighting-wise. It was all about being versatile to her efficiency.

My 5 operators, myself, the entire lighting workforce, my man for the lighting program, we have been all on a comm system. So relying on what the digital camera was meant to do, if I used to be in there handheld together with her, if it was a Steadicam shot, I used to be anticipating the lighting adjustments. It was actually about turning lights off, to be trustworthy with you, greater than including additional lights.

It was just about each time there was a tough gentle on her, it was like, ‘flip it off, flip it off, flip it off!’ It was about retaining undesirable gentle off her and actually getting in sync with the programmer. We’d all the time simply attempt to hold gentle on the again by no means on the entrance of her. Particularly when the digital camera’s shut up.

So once we spun round her, I’d be on the intercom and I’d say, ‘OK, we’re going to show round, begin fading the entrance gentle out, now fade this gentle out, OK, now fade out this one and fade this one fully off’ as we moved. So it was very fastidiously timed when a sure gentle would fade out and once more when it might fade in. And fortunately after a short time we have been capable of have it occur nearly in real-time which was wonderful.

Billie’s stay workflow introduced challenges as a result of she was recording all the vocals stay and he or she sings tremendous quietly. So there’s a number of sensitivity to that; the Steadicam man has to stroll on the tip of his toes and if I’ve one other operator on rollerblades shifting round and one other man with the fiber cables from the cameras shifting round, then abruptly there are 5 folks working across the expertise attempting to sing her track and carry out. So it was a form of ballet of everyone being very very quiet, but additionally having to anticipate when one thing was going to occur.”

Selecting the gear

Whereas the classic Porsche automotive and different plates for the animated elements of the movie have been shot with the Red Komodo in S35 6K R3D, the principle efficiency by Billie Eilish on the Hollywood Bowl turned a showcase for Sony’s Full Body Venice digital camera.

“There’s solely actually two choices for me in relation to selecting digital cinema cameras nowadays:  the Alexa system, the Venice. and typically probably the Panavision DXL2.  However on this present the Venice was a no brainer for various causes. I knew from the second I bought employed that it was the correct device for this job.
It actually helped out from a techniques structure standpoint for the video techniques workforce.
There have been so many alternative video villages that needed to be arrange for thus many alternative shoppers and folks and eyes. I don’t even know what number of displays there have been! However at any given time, there have been perhaps 300 folks on the shoot and everyone wanted to see image.

I actually fought to maintain all of the cameras wi-fi however a number of the cameras ended up being arduous wired by fiber with a purpose to have higher management. It ended up being the correct choice. And Sony with their broadcast expertise they’ve that functionality constructed proper into their techniques.
Additionally, my DIT Dan Skinner was capable of remotely management each single digital camera. So the operators didn’t have to fret about exposing something. Primarily, they’d simply depart the lens large open, after which each time I wasn’t capable of management the grasp fader on the lighting console we may regulate the cease remotely in extremely tremendous steps.

My DIT and I used lookup tables for the Venice digital camera that they developed at Company 3. One was like a movie simulation and one other one is form of a extra stylized model of the identical really feel. The output of the digital camera then ended up wanting stunningly lovely; its probably the most filmic photos I’ve ever seen on a digital digital camera.”

Lens choices

The present additionally used a wide selection of lenses.

“I’m famously indecisive typically, particularly in relation to prep. So principally I known as my mates over at Panavision and instructed them concerning the job.
It began as an anamorphic present after which it turned spherical after which, you already know, large-format spherical glass on the whole is in actually excessive demand. And it was one of many busiest filming weeks we’ve ever seen in Los Angeles (as a result of a number of COVID on-set restrictions had began to carry). So that they form of pulled a number of wonderful miracles to present me a bunch of choices on lenses.

We ended up with two units of the Panavision Primo 70s, a set of Cooke Panchros that I don’t assume we ever used, and a set of Panavision P-vintage lenses which in there was a 50 millimeter T 1.0, and that was simply freaking attractive and I used that a few instances.
We additionally had a set of Zeiss Supreme primes that I personal, principally due to the Primo 70s. There’s a 14mm and a 24mm within the Primo’s and there’s nothing in between, so I’ve a 21mm Supreme and that bought used.

On the drone we used a 14mm Arri Extremely Prime in S35, as a result of they didn’t need any of their massive format costly glass up there so I wanted a pleasant small lens as we had a Venice and our RAW recorder and every little thing on this large drone.

After which for zooms, we had a Panavision 11 x 1 Primo zoom expanded, a 3×1 Primo zoom expanded, and two of the Fuji Premista 28-100s. I had by no means used the Fuji’s personally, however they’re attractive, a real T2.9 4x zoom. I used them rather a lot the primary couple of nights with the orchestra, after which switched to primes once we shot Billie. And we additionally had a Primo 70 15-30 zoom for large angles and that was additionally actually actually fairly.”

“So spherical was completely the correct choice. However initially, I used to be actually bummed that we couldn’t shoot anamorphic as a result of by some miracle there have been these Panavision UltraVista anamorphic lenses, that there are solely three units on the planet, accessible. And I’ve been attempting to get my fingers on them perpetually.

However then we determined to not go the anamorphic route. So the blokes at Panavision have been like, have you ever ever seen these anamorphic attachments that we made for our lenses? They usually’re basically form of just like the ARRI Grasp Anamorphic Flare kits. However these explicit attachments, I don’t know learn how to describe the glass, there aren’t any filaments like different ‘faux anamorphic’ optics. So the way in which the sunshine interacts with them and these explicit lenses I simply discovered tremendous lovely and it actually introduced a three-dimensional really feel fairly than feeling prefer it’s simply layered on the picture.

I used to be like, I’ll take them and we’ll see if I exploit them. And I ended up utilizing them fairly a bit!”

Billie Eilish at the Hollywood Bowl
Gustavo Dudamel conducting – an instance of the Anamorphic attachments to the Panavision Primo primes.
Copyright Interscope/Disney

Those who have labored on the Bowl for 50 years, they have been like, ‘no one’s ever accomplished this. No one’s ever had the Hollywood Bowl for every week and are available in and simply actually do no matter you need.’

“You recognize, we even rebuilt the pool within the Bowl that hadn’t been used for the reason that early ’70s; the entire thing was simply completely insane. Aron Levine and Kerry Asmussen and his folks from the stay manufacturing firm have been so good at coping with the infrastructure and logistics of the entire thing, and Robert (Rodriguez) who I’d by no means labored with earlier than, was so direct in figuring out what he wished. I imply, once we have been filming the promos for the present we really completed early! As we known as wrap, Billie rotated and mentioned ‘What?? I’ve by no means completed a shoot early, ever’.”

“Highlights? From the primary second of the primary track, after I stepped on stage and there was Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil and out come Billie and Finneas, and there was the solar setting and it was identical to, holy shit!

I feel the opposite time it was actually, actually electrical for me was taking pictures Oxytocin, it was one of many first songs I shot handheld together with her on stage, and there was no different digital camera working. It was identical to, that is the one shot on this setup. And we have been like, dancing forwards and backwards collectively and he or she’s taking part in to the lens and I’m so near her and the lights are firing off and there are lasers and there’s smoke and I flip round to the empty Hollywood Bowl, and I’m on the stage there and he or she’s singing, and I used to be identical to, wow, that is actually particular.

Such an iconic place and, you already know, such a stupendous younger star not even on the peak of her profession, she’s simply originally however is on prime of the world proper now.
And it was, ….actually, it was only a dream the entire thing.”

Happier Than Ever with Billie Eilish on the Hollywood Bowl is out now worldwide on Disney+
Pablo Berron is at the moment taking pictures ‘Hypnotic’ for Robert Rodriguez starring Ben Affleck.

This interview was transcribed utilizing Adobe Premiere.

Have you ever ever been to the Hollywood Bowl? What do you concentrate on this distinctive Billie Eilish live performance? Share your ideas within the feedback beneath!

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