Making of Hateful Eight | Episode 1 | Cinematography

Making of Hateful Eight | Episode 1 | Cinematography

– Balaji Thangapandian(BT)|Film Theorist


Film stock is redundant. Film projection is dead. That’s the general consensus among people that they are not in use anymore. Well, they are neither obsolete nor dead. They do exist! With enormous support from influential filmmakers, such as, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and many other film advocates, the film stock company Kodak has been able to effectively revive the film. Now, the period is called renaissance of analog!

Why did Quentin Tarantino shoot his eight movie, ‘ The Hateful Eight’ in film?

Quentin Tarantino was called by Panavision (the household name for camera and lenses in Hollywood) and projected the famous chariot sequence of the legendary film ‘Ben-Hur’ in 70 mm film projection in the native aspect ratio of 2:76.1(the widest aspect ratio possible). Tarantino was completely impressed, and instantly wanted Panavision to revive the cameras and lenses used for ‘ Ben – Hur ‘ for his film ‘ The Hateful Eight.’

When, Tarantino’s long time associated cinematographer Bob Richardson was called into Panavision for this film, he noticed some hard shaped lenses deserted. He learnt that those were the very ones used to shoot the chariot sequence of ‘ Ben – Hur ‘, and even many classics of 60s and 70s. The format used was called ‘ ULTRA PANAVISION 70 MM ‘.

Panavision understood the gravity of the situation as those lenses didn’t see the light since 60s, and were not used, and preserved in the dark room, idle. The lenses had to be re-engineered and cameras retrofitted so as to ensure that they were completely functional and endured the extreme temperatures as the film was to be shot in winter.

Before the production began, the crew shot some test footages of Ultra Pansavision 70 mm, and projected them on big screen. The output was stunning and everyone involved in the crew was convinced of the format.
Test Footage
Test Footage

Now, we must understand why was the movie shot in 65 mm film and projected in 70 mm film projection, and not the digital camera?

Because film in general offers unparalleled grains, colors, width and depth (aesthetics), which are relatively moderate in digital.

Importantly, with Ultra Panavision format, the size and width of the frame is massive,  which technically enables it to capture more details, than any other format can possibly capture.

Apart from being an advocate of film, Quentin Tarantino intended to give his film the authentic grandeur western appeal, which was possible only with ‘ ULTRA PANAVISION 70 mm’ format.

The cinematography of Bob Richardson:

We need to understand the cinematography techniques of three times academy award winner for best cinematography, Bob Richardson, before moving to understanding the cinematography of ‘Hateful Eight ‘ in a detailed manner.

Typically, director of cinematography (DP) asks the director for the motivation of lighting, i.e where does the source for main light come from? But, Bob does not do that, he lights based on his understanding of the script and it invariably complements the vision of the filmmakers. He does not use automatic and does prefer manual cranes. He completely gets into the making.
His signature techniques include, strong backlight, spotlight and low bounce.

Dissection of cinematography of ‘ Hateful Eight’:

Following are the technical specifications of the camera and lenses used for the shoot:

-Panavision 65 HR Camera and Panavision   Panaflex System 65 Studio
-Panavision APO Panatar -Lenses 65mm: Kodak Vision3 200T 5213, Vision3 500T 5219
Aspect Ratio: 2.75:1

The cinematography database has done detailed analysis of all aspects of photography of Hateful Eight.

The article is about: The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino, Making, Cinematography, Bob Richardson, Ultra Panavision 70 mm, Balaji Thangapandian


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