Australian cinematographer Greig Fraser is a firm believer that film is just as viable today as digital.
“Five years ago you could quite convincingly say, and win an argument, saying ‘film was superior to digital’ – you could easily win an argument,” Fraser tells IF via phone from London.
“Now I think you’d have a hard time winning that argument. Because digital is almost as high as film, resolution-wise. The RED certainly is and the [ARRI] ALEXA is kind of getting there I guess.
“To say that digital is superior – I’m not saying that – but I’m saying it’s close to being on par.”
The 35-year-old cinematographer knows what he’s talking about. Formerly from Melbourne, Fraser was, earlier this year, awarded the Australian Cinematographers Society’s most prestigious annual award – the Milli Award – for his work on 2009 Jane Campion period piece Bright Star.
He also received an AFI award for best cinematography and a 2009 British Independent Film Award for best technical achievement in cinematography.
The humble filmmaker, who recently finished shooting Cogan’s Trade starring Brad Pitt, is currently in London, about to start filming upcoming flick Snow White and the Huntsman, which stars Aussie Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Kristen Stewart (Twilight) and Charlize Theron (Hancock).
Since last November he has been working on and off with the film’s director Rupert Sanders. This marks Sanders’ first experiment with feature films after being involved previously with video game commercials.
At the recent Comic-Con, Sanders and producer Joe Roth told the crowd that the filmmakers “want to make the definitive version of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale, on a scale of Lord of the Rings".
Fraser, who moved to Los Angeles about two years ago, confirmed they will primarily be shooting on film.
“We’ve tested quite a number of formats but are using film primarily,” he says.
“The digital formats tested quite well, but we felt film had a more classic look, that better served the story.”
While not elaborating on what cameras he will be using on Snow White, Fraser says he is a fan of the ALEXA.
“We tested the ALEXA for Cogan’s Trade and we were really impressed with that,” he begins.
“I’ve been talking quite a lot to Roger Deakins [ASC, BSC] who is a mad fan of the ALEXA – he’s been suggesting I test it for a long time and he’s just done his last film on it…so I thought we’d look at it.
“And I think it’s really an incredible camera – it’s incredibly light-sensitive and it handles tones really well.”
The filmmakers, however, instead opted to use Panavision XL’s with G series anamorphic lenses. Fraser used relatively new stock Kodak 500T Colour Negative 5230/7230. Filming on the Andrew Dominik-directed flick lasted about eight weeks, with a lot of night shooting and rain.
Cogan’s Trade is set to be released next year, while Snow White and the Huntsman starts filming on August 15.