“I just wanted to take a moment and compliment you guys on the quality of your lenses. We recently wrapped a job using the Cooke 5/i lenses for the first time and we were blown away by the performance and quality of the lens in every facet. I do not think we would have been able to achieve the look we wanted with any other lens set.
The Cooke look was evident and perfect for the aesthetic we were trying to convey. The skin tones in particular were simply beautiful and I've never used anything that has captured them quite as well.”
Jeff Levine, AC and DIT for Variable
After receiving such a wonderful email, we had to talk to Jeff and find out more about this project….
The company works on drama, documentary and commercials; recent productions include a promo for the acclaimed National Geographic drama Killing Kennedy, Coca-Cola spot The Perfectionist, and Get Old, a series of mini-documentaries for Pfizer that aim to reverse negative preconceptions about ageing.
The project on which Variable used the Cooke 5/i lenses for the first time was a short video for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website, to highlight the issue of over-incarceration for non-violent offenses. The film, entitled Natural Life, focuses on the humanity of the issue, showing how it affects not just the incarcerated person but their family as well. It was shot by Director/DP Jonathan Bregel in Shreveport, Louisiana, telling the story of Eisibe, her son Rufus and her grandchildren in a very intimate way – in their house, around their neighbourhood, in the car on the way to prison.
“The ACLU contacted us about working on this video as it is an issue that the organisation is planning to target for the next few years. We felt it was something we could get passionate about,” says Jeff. “We knew we had a really strong message, and the visuals had to be something special to match the power of the story. We wanted it to have a very filmic quality, so we decided to use the Cooke 5/i lenses with a RED EPIC camera.”
The production team had used Cooke S4/i and miniS4/i lenses on other projects, appreciating the warmth and humanity the lenses gave – and those qualities were imperative for this production.
“The skin tones that we captured with these lenses were special, Cookes undoubtedly have the best balance of warmth and contrast of all the lenses I’ve used, and a quality that’s immediately evident,” says Jeff.
The 5/i lenses also worked well with the different light sources used, whether interior or exterior. As Jeff explains, “We shot fast and it wasn’t practical from either a time or space perspective to set up many lights, so we relied largely on natural lighting. We shot a lot at dawn and at dusk, inside a house and a car. The 5/i lenses allowed us to shoot wherever and whenever we needed to, they coped well with low light and still produced a beautiful image.” The production used 18mm, 25mm and 40mm, which Jeff describes as ‘the perfect set’.
And that nice email? “There are a handful of companies that we believe in, that clearly love what they do and produce great products to help filmmakers realize their vision,” says Jeff. “Cooke is definitely one of those, and we wanted to reach out and tell them how much we appreciate their work.”
The ACLU film is available to view at https://vimeo.com/85367938 www.WeAreVariable.com