Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and sound designer/re-recording mixer Paul N.J. Ottosson spoke with Variety’s David S. Cohen about the tricks they used to deliver, respectively, director Christopher Nolan’s vision on “Interstellar,” and David Ayer’s scheme on “Fury.”
Answers are condensed from the Artisans video series. For more of the interviews, go to Variety.com/v/video/artisans
Hoyte van Hoytema on ‘Interstellar’
On filming Earth as a dying planet: Chris wanted a muted palette. We planted corn and put dust in the air, (which makes) the radiant green disappear. The low-hanging clouds and dramatic skies of Alberta were just so giving for us when we were shooting there.
Capturing ice planet and water planet scenes: “(We shot them) on a glacier in Iceland, which is a desolate place … with a big lagoon knee-deep for miles in all directions made of melting ice. The elements there are very harsh, basic and pure. We brought a spaceship there and shot it practically in a place where you normally couldn’t shoot. It was very beautiful. We wanted to find ways to capture that on Imax. ”
Going handheld with the Imax camera: “People thought it was impossible. It’s not designed to be handheld. I was very determined to do things with it that normally aren’t done, like shooting portraits and creating scenes that are much more intimate — getting the camera much closer. It’s a giant box with a lens, but we found that with a bit of re-engineering, it actually be-comes manageable.
Paul N.J. Ottosson on ‘Fury’
On conveying the shockwaves of an explosion: It’s really scary. It shuts down your ears, and you feel this pressure, like someone is punching you. I was in the Army. When bombs went off, I don’t remember how loud they were, I just remember the low end, what it does to your body — the shock and sound waves that hit you before you can hear them. The subwoofer was a really important element in the movie.
The sound of bullets hitting a tank: It doesn’t sound like you want it to, because the armor is so thick. You end up with a tiny ping, so I recorded with thinner metal and bigger projectiles.
The hardest part of the movie: The dialog. The canons and all that stuff plays by itself. But there’s (still) a lot of noise on a live set. It’s not controlled. They’re firing blanks, but it’s still loud. The smaller things are harder than anything.