PARK RIDGE, N.J., July 1, 2009 – Universal Pictures’ new action-thriller “Public Enemies,” which opens nationally today, was shot with Sony F23 professional high-definition cameras. Co-writer/director/producer Michael Mann and co-producer/2nd unit director Bryan Carroll had specific HD production needs to realistically capture the look of 1930s America and overcome the challenges of shooting a period piece.
“To do a historical period movie right – especially one forecast as a summer tent pole movie – you need to push the limits on picture quality, detail, depth of field and exposure,” Carroll said. “The F23 was an ace up our sleeve.”
. Mann and Carroll, both well known for working with the latest HD technology, chose the Sony F23 cameras to recreate the story of Depression-era outlaw John Dillinger (played by Johnny Depp) – the charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids made him a folk hero to much of the public, and the number-one target of J. Edgar Hoover’s fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis. “Public Enemies” also stars Christian Bale (Purvis) and Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard as Dillinger’s girlfriend, Billie Frechette.
The production team for “Public Enemies” also featured an A-list team behind-the-scenes, including two-time Academy Award®-nominated director of photography Dante Spinotti and digital imaging technician Dave Canning. The team used the F23 to bring a vivid period in history to life in stunning detail.
A few months before principal photography began on “Public Enemies,” Mann and Carroll tested the F23 on a series of commercials. On one set, it was mounted to a race car driving at speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. On another, it was handheld with the operator running between football players on the practice field to capture the shots.
“The F23’s ergonomics, film-like design and incredible amount of features – such as multi-speed recording, ramping and, of course the 4:4:4, 10-bit quality – proved to be bullet-proof,” Carroll said. “The camera just works and does its job.”
About 95 percent of the movie was shot with the F23, while the Sony PMW-EX1 camcorder handled shots that required a more mobile tool. For example, the compact EX1 camcorder was used to lens the interior of planes and cars during high-speed chases.
“There’s a combination of a handheld, very close approach to the faces of the actors, all shot with long lenses,” Spinotti said. “But in the same set-up, we really captured at least one side of the scene. That offers a real-time immediacy and a sense of witnessing whatever is happening, which was a very important part of the way we shot this film.”
Complementing the F23’s use to achieve a realistic look was Sony’s HDCAM SR™ digital videocassettes. These cassettes are designed to fully maximize the benefits of 4:4:4 RGB recording technology. The PMW-EX1 camcorder recorded to Sony SxS PRO™ memory cards.
Carroll and Mann also used Sony professional HD cameras on previous collaborations, including “Collateral” and “Miami Vice.”
“We’re extremely proud of our technology relationship with Bryan and Michael,” said Rob Willox, director of Sony Electronics’ content creation group. “They use their talent and imagination to get the maximum potential from our cameras, and on ‘Public Enemies,’ the F23 proved to be the perfect complement to their creative vision.”