Ang Lee and the art of 4KHD 3D 120 fps film-making

AMSTERDAM: Ang Lee is an auteur par excellence. His films Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and The Life of Pi bear testimony. Lee is open to pushing technology to mount a magnificent tale. Lee was at the IBC here to talk about his latest film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

What's different about his latest work is that it has been shot in 4K HD 3D and at a 120 fps frame rate under the Tristar banner for a 11-November release in the US. It is the highest frame rate that a film has been shot at so far, and has been filmed at a budget of $ 46-48 million. The film has been shot on the Sony 4K F65 by two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll.

Otherwise, it's based on Ben Fountain’s 2012 novel by the same name. It follows Billy Flynn, a 19-year old soldier (played by newcomer Joe Alwynn) and his unit who survive a battle in Iraq to return to the U.S. for a promotional tour culminating with a halftime-show appearance at a Thanksgiving football game.

Lee has said that his film is a story of a young man "learning his place in the world, and of the special brotherhood among men at arms, the depths of their bonds, and the sacrifices they make.”

Sony's TriStar and Britain's Film4 are partnering with Jeff Robinov's Studio 8 for the film.

Lee disclosed during his key note that it was a challenge to film at 120 fps 4K HD 3D.

"We had to really light up everything differently. I wanted realism for this film. I wanted the expressions to be real, and not acting. But, everything was magnified," he stated. "If the actors overacted or made some awkward facial movements, it became larger than life."

"I am a guinea pig for the studio," he confessed. "Since the day I began this film, everyday has been crazy. I was seeing what was being shot at 120 fps 4K in 60 fps 2K monitors, and it was a challenge. I kept telling my heads of departments that they are not good enough. Because, even I am not good enough while working with this new format."

While Lee was greeted with applause, some stated that the clip which was screened looked very much like "video" and did not look like cinema.

To this Lee, responded, "Please give us a chance. It is a baby, and we are pioneering something. Directing this film has been very humbling for me as no one has tread this path before, shooting in 120 fps 4K, HD, 3D."

Lee chose to shoot at these frame rates because it would allow the studio to be able to experiment with various frame rates below -- right from 60 fps to 24 fps to 48 for releases in different territories because of the availability -- or lack of 4K HD 3D 120 fps projectors - in theatres in different parts of the world.

"I am not saying 24 fps 2D is not good enough," he pointed out. "But, it is about making a difference and taking a leap forward in technology and in art."

Lee ended by saying he would continue pushing the boundaries on technology in cinema. He would like the equipment makers to come up with smaller cameras, better sensors.

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