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Gibson Digs Digital Action

Filmmaker finds new technology a dream

On “Apocalypto,” Mel Gibson found that using the Panavision Genesis gave him a unique look.

He points to a scene where the film’s hero is chased through the jungle by men carrying torches. Not only was he able to shoot using just the torchlight, but, “When you open the shutter 360 degrees, the quality of movement takes on a different quality that you don’t get on film.

“The fire had a liquid thing that doesn’t happen on film. The greenery and the stuff he’s running by has this incredible blur effect; you can stop on any frame and it’s like a Monet painting. It makes him look like he’s going even faster than he really is.”

Gibson was also excited about seeing those images with digital projection at the ArcLight theater in Hollywood.

“It was astounding,” he says. “I think I like the (projected) image (more) than the digital image that was scanned onto film. It was almost like 3-D, it was so great and clear. And of course there’s less deterioration of the actual material as you watch it.” Referring to the degradation of tradition film, he adds: “You make this pristine image you want to send off like your child to school, but it comes home by 3 p.m. with a nosebleed.”

For Gibson, the bottom line is simple: “I think the digital has caught the film. I don’t think it’s a wannabe anymore. It’s an ‘is.’ It’s a very high-class alternative.”

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