S&P: Are you still shooting 35mm?
Manley: No, actually. We switched to the Arri Alexa. It’s crazy. The people over at Lionsgate wanted to do it. Matt was a bit unsure if it would work so we shot a bunch of tests with film versus the Alexa, and the Alexa looked great. We ended up going with it and Technicolor, the people who do our post. They added a digital grain effect to make it look like the 5219 film stock we were using.
S&P: How do you feel about moving away from film?
Manley: I’m on the fence about it. I love film. I love the Alexa. When we discussed the issue about switching, I knew it would give me a little more creativity going into my fourth season so that was a bit exciting. But if we stayed on film, I knew that it might be one of my last opportunities to shoot on it.
S&P: How has the Alexa changed your approach to lighting?
Manley: The first season was more of an old fashioned style of lighting. Over the seasons, Matt wanted to go in a more naturalistic direction, which is more of my default style of working so it got easier.
I generally rate the Alexa at ASA, but after a few weeks, I put my meter in the drawer and it hasn’t come out since. If you set your meter to 800 ASA, it’s too bright. Our swing sets are working at far lower lighting levels then we ever have, which I kind of like, as it help our ability to keep it looking naturalistic.
With the Sterling Cooper office, we are building up the light levels to the overhead fluorescents and the backing. The office lighting levels are at their normal tone, but now I’m putting ND filters in front of the camera. For wide shots, I’m using an ND6, and for close ups, I will have an ND3 on there to make it a little easier for the focus pullers.
The entire interview is worth your time, and can be found here:
Great series, now represented on Blu-ray in a pure digital to digital form.
With previous seasons now priced in the mid-teens on Blu-ray, one can catch up with the first four seasons for a mad price of around $65. That's 2500 minutes of extremely high quality programming.
Very Highly Recommended.