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DP George Burt finds “The Right Glass” with the Cooke Anamorphic/i FF Special Flair for Joe Baby

Behind the scenes image from Joe Baby
By: The Cooke Team  |   1 min de lecture

According to director of photography George Burt, lenses come first. “When it comes to bringing the project together, you need the right glass to get the right look. Once you have talked through with the director about the different looks and how you want to approach shooting the movie its so important to chose the correct glass. After you have really done the research and finally made this everything else starts to fall into place.” For Joe Baby, directed by Steven Brand, Burt selected the Cooke Optics 1.8x Full Frame (FF) Anamorphic/i Special Flair (SF) series.

“Optics are the foundation for presenting your vision of the story… Cooke’s have this extraordinary ability to draw one’s attention into the two-dimensional space in a remarkable way. As a result of my experiences with their optics, whenever I’m filming a new project, I always check with Cooke to see if they have anything fresh and readily available.”

George Burt | Director of Photography

The visual aesthetic that Burt had to create was that of a seedy money collector, who is hired by a private investigation company. The storyline delves into an almost forgotten underworld of murky money laundering through dishonest real estate and casinos deals, unleashing a tangled can of worms. Burt claims that the movie, which stars Dichen Lachman (Severance), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Harvey Keitel (Pulp Fiction), and, Willa Fitzgerald (Reacher), has all the characteristics of a 1980s movie blended with modern noir.

“Working on a tight schedule meant that our itinerary included a lot of shifting components and we were shooting in new locations every day. The persistent heat of the sun did us a number of favours by producing incredible sunrises and sunsets that made for stunning photography in Biloxi, Mississippi.”

Behind the scenes image from Joe Baby
Behind the scenes image from Joe Baby

Once Burt and Brand knew they wanted to use Cooke 1.8X Anamorphic/i FF with special flair coating, he reached out to Cooke. “Andy Buckland, director of product management at Cooke, put Burt in touch with Eric Oliver at Nashville Camera, who provided the lenses and the cameras for our production,” said Burt.

Burt chose a set consisting of following six Cooke Anamorphic/i FF Special Flair primes: 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 135mm, and 180mm. After reccing the locations and considering the frequent shifts in location.

Burt commented, “The 32mm is simply so wide. It’s incredible to go that wide with minimum distortion. But that’s what a full frame sensor gives you in the 1.8x anamorphic de-squeeze ratio. A 32mm focal height with a field of view of under 18mm. It’s such an amazing extra width to image height.” His “go-to” A camera lens was the 40mm, with the 75mm on the B camera, for the broad opening shots. “I also utilised a 2X doubler on the 135mm and 180mm, which was so helpful for our extended observing shots that followed our main character from a distance, when we really wanted an extra-long lens.”

Burt utilised two Sony Venice cameras set to an aspect ratio of 2.39, recording in 6K using the Sony’s X-OCN XT codec. Cooke’s 1.8x Anamorphic/I primes shot in the 2.39 ratio capture 90% of the sensors resolution (100% open gate producing a 2.70 aspect ratio). “This set up allowed us to acquiring as much colour detail as possible along with all the good things that such as the Venice’s low light mode with a push of a button, allowing us to keep shooting in so many low light scenarios without spending a long-time relighting,” said Burt.


The benefits of shooting with the Cooke Anamorphic/i FF Special Flair primes were obvious to everyone on-set. “Everybody could see the story coming to life in such a cinematic way, with the additional bonus of the Special Flair coating adding another level of dramatic depiction to the cinematic look we were aiming for. For example, Burt says, “We had a vintage blue car and at night with the headlights on, the Special Flair really popped the headlights out. With so many car scenes, that’s when the magic of the Special Flair really came to life without being over bearing.”

Burt read about Cooke’s Special Flair coating and had seen tests online, but this was his first experience with using them. “I went with them for what they added. For example, In the casino location with lots of lights, it brought that world to life.”

While Burt served as the A camera operator for a good portion of the film, he realized that bringing in another operator for certain scenes would greatly improve his ability to make sure that the shots from the two cameras would be perfect.

“When we were reviewing rushes, I realized that the more delicate scenes, like a bedroom at night, that it would be critical that the cameras match perfectly in low light with silhouettes and love making,” “I said to Brand and my producers, David Lipper and Stephen Endelman, that it would be really helpful to have two operators for those key night interior and exterior scenes. Thankfully he agreed. The upshot was that it allowed me to make full use of Cooke’s /i Technology for frame-by-frame digital information in video village.”

Still from Joe Baby
Still from Joe Baby

“At that point, I could look at both cameras and their data and talk to both operators on comms to make sure everything was perfect – aperture, focus, distance, camera modes. This was a basic necessity with the speed we were shooting at.”

According to Burt, /i Technology would also play a big role in aiding VFX work. “There’s quite a few VFX shots in the film, one being a big explosion. We used two Creamsource Vortex 8 units with one camera on a crane to do a small explosion shot with a bit of fire. That’s all you need; the rest is handled in post with the lens and camera data making things go much smoother.”