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

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

Targeted on the No 1 album of the identical title, Billie and her brother Finneas carry out all the tracklist entrance to again accompanied on varied songs by the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed by Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Youngsters’s Refrain.
Moreover ‘animated Billie’ drives throughout LA from the recording studio to the Bowl through varied LA landmarks which have private which means to her.

Billie Eilish on the Hollywood Bowl

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

“One in every of my major considerations 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 overall 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 the best way to mild.

They’re lighting for an viewers; these very steep, laborious lights from very excessive angles; they’re very frontal and flat. And that’s actually not essentially the most flattering factor if you’re attempting to {photograph} someone shut up.
And I actually wished to shoot Billy actually shut, with the digicam actually near her face and simply do stuff that you simply wouldn’t usually be capable to 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 in regards to the digicam 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 strategy over 3 weeks previous to the shoot.

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

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

I actually like lighting, generally 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 understand, creating worlds by means of lighting. It’s about creating volumes in area, not only a tableau. And sure, generally you flip the lights off and that’s what finally ends up actually working!”

“Individuals like Billie, you understand, 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 digicam 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 modifications. It was actually about turning lights off, to be sincere with you, greater than including further lights.

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

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

Billie’s reside workflow introduced challenges as a result of she was recording the entire vocals reside and she or he sings tremendous quietly. So there’s quite a lot 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 all of the sudden there are 5 folks operating across the expertise attempting to sing her music and carry out. So it was a type of ballet of everyone being very very quiet, but in addition 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 Purple Komodo in S35 6K R3D, the primary efficiency by Billie Eilish on the Hollywood Bowl turned a showcase for Sony’s Full Body Venice digicam.

“There’s solely actually two choices for me on the subject of selecting digital cinema cameras lately:  the Alexa system, the Venice. and generally presumably the Panavision DXL2.  However on this present the Venice was a no brainer for plenty of causes. I knew from the second I bought employed that it was the appropriate device for this job.
It actually helped out from a programs structure standpoint for the video programs workforce.
There have been so many alternative video villages that needed to be arrange for thus many alternative purchasers 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 quite a lot of the cameras ended up being laborious wired by means of fiber with the intention to have higher management. It ended up being the appropriate resolution. And Sony with their broadcast expertise they’ve that functionality constructed proper into their programs.
Additionally, my DIT Dan Skinner was in a position to remotely management each single digicam. So the operators didn’t have to fret about exposing something. Basically, they might simply depart the lens large open, after which every time I wasn’t in a position to management the grasp fader on the lighting console we might modify the cease remotely in extremely superb steps.

My DIT and I used lookup tables for the Venice digicam that they developed at Firm 3. One was like a movie simulation and one other one is type of a extra stylized model of the identical really feel. The output of the digicam then ended up wanting stunningly stunning; its one of the crucial filmic pictures I’ve ever seen on a digital digicam.”

Lens choices

The present additionally used a big selection of lenses.

“I’m famously indecisive generally, particularly on the subject of prep. So mainly I known as my pals over at Panavision and informed them in regards to the job.
It began as an anamorphic present after which it turned spherical after which, you understand, large-format spherical glass normally 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 quite a lot of COVID on-set restrictions had began to elevate). So that they type of pulled quite a lot of wonderful miracles to offer 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 suppose 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 occasions.
We additionally had a set of Zeiss Supreme primes that I personal, largely 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 all the things on this big 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 loads 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 appropriate resolution. 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, obtainable. And I’ve been attempting to get my fingers on them without end.

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 type of just like the ARRI Grasp Anamorphic Flare kits. However these specific attachments, I don’t know the best way to describe the glass, there are not any filaments like different ‘faux anamorphic’ optics. So the way in which the sunshine interacts with them and these specific lenses I simply discovered tremendous stunning and it actually introduced a three-dimensional really feel somewhat 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 take advantage of 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

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

“You realize, 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 reside 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 realizing what he wished. I imply, once we have been filming the promos for the present we truly completed early! As we known as wrap, Billie circled and stated ‘What?? I’ve by no means completed a shoot early, ever’.”

“Highlights? From the primary second of the primary music, 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 similar to, holy shit!

I feel the opposite time it was actually, actually electrical for me was capturing Oxytocin, it was one of many first songs I shot handheld together with her on stage, and there was no different digicam operating. It was similar to, that is the one shot on this setup. And we have been like, dancing forwards and backwards collectively and she or he’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 she or he’s singing, and I used to be similar to, wow, that is actually particular.

Such an iconic place and, you understand, such a wonderful younger star not even on the peak of her profession, she’s simply in the beginning however is on high 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 present capturing ‘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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