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September 2011

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White Collar , N White Collar cover story big city EW YORK — Thanks to some competitive tax incentives, the streets of New York are becom- By RANDI ALTMAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF This USA Network series works the streets of Manhattan. ing flush with TV and film productions, many of them capturing footage digitally. USA Network's White Collar, which was shooting its Season Three finale at press time, is one of them. DP Russell Lee Fine has worked on all White Color episodes, including the pilot, set- ting the look of the show along the way. He enjoys shooting in the city and uses the streets of Manhattan as a set. Last season, Fine took off his DP hat and put on the director's hat for one episode. For Season Three, he helmed the season premiere, a mid-season episode and the aforementioned season finale. Fine works closely with DIT Othmar Dickbauer, who explains the workflow:"We are shooting on Sony F35 cameras and recording onto HDCAM SR tapes.We do immediate color grading on set with a re- mote control housed at the DIT station.This allows us to create the looks on set with two engineering monitors allowing for con- tinuous control." He calls this process fast and immediate. Dickbauer describes his relationship with Fine as very collaborative.The two sit shoul- der to shoulder, along with the gaffer An- drew Hansen, to set tonalities, grading and Cook says all the heavy lifting for the look of the show was really done in Season 1, but he and Fine will communicate by phone and with emails on occasion, especially when working on any visual effects shoots. According to LA-based post producer Keira Morrisette, they get MFX files and bring that footage into the Avid Media Composer at their Woodland Hills,CA, office where the show's two editors — Jonathan Chibnall and Doug Hannah — cut in DNx36. Fine graciously took time from shooting the season finale for a quick chat. POST: You shootWhite Collar on Sony F35s? Is this the same format you shot on last year? RUSSELL LEE FINE:"We've shot White Collar on Sony F35 cameras since Season 2. We're a show that doesn't do hand-held or Steadicam as a rule, so the moderate size of the camera isn't an issue.We're able to get more gear and lenses by using a two-year-old camera with no discernible difference in image quality. It's not as if there was no great photography before the latest digital systems. In fact, if you asked most people what TV shows or films they found the most beautiful, they would likely be ones shot on equipment that would be considered un-usable today." POST: Have you considered other digital Russell Lee Fine on 's set. contrast. "The whole look is created collab- oratively," he says. After the look is established on set, it's baked in and sent to Technicolor New York for dailies. Minor color correction and match- ing happens at Technicolor in LA with colorist Joe Cook,who works on the DaVinci 2K Plus. 14 Post • September 2011 cameras? FINE: "I love the Alexa and like the Red, and have used both extensively.We carry a Sony F3 on which I use Nikon lenses for in- serts (60mm macro, most often) or wider PL primes as an occasional 'C' camera.We princi- pally shoot with Arri master primes, often close to wide open or Arri master zooms. Our long lens is the Angenieux Optimo." POST: You work with a DIT on-set, can you describe that relationship? FINE: "Our DIT, Othmar Dickbauer, is the heart of our set — open to all depart- ments.We never hide in a tent, and try to get as close to set as possible.A and B cam- eras are featured on separate monitors (matched Sony Trimasters) with Preston re- mote iris controls on each camera.There is rarely a shot that we are not manipulating the aperture on as the scenes play.We have some sort of conventional remote paintbox where we can adjust the gain and shutter to control depth of field, etc. "We're the rare show that uses long runs of dolly track and two cameras cross- shooting on the streets at all times. Our grip crew, led by John Dolan, can set down 100 feet of dolly track before we've fin- ished rehearsing!" POST: You have been directing a bit more this season. What happens to the DP role while you are at the helm? FINE: "I've been the series DP since the pilot, so when I'm directing I have a solid idea of the type of locations to choose and which will best accommodate our photo- graphic approach. Niels Alpert, my friend and operator for 20 years, is the DP when I direct, and we share an aesthetic developed over many projects together — The Wire, Black Donnellys, the CrashTV series." POST: What is the type of look that is set continued on page 42

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