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ARRI cameras and lighting behind the many works of Italian DP Michele Brandstetter de Bellesini AIC

14/09/2022

Proficient in a wide range of genera, DP Michele Brandstetter de Bellesini AIC has lent his skills to the world of TV with the series Curon and cinema with Holidays on Mars. He has also gathered years of experience in the field of commercials for well-known brands, including high-end fashion houses. Throughout his projects, Brandstetter de Bellesini relies on ARRI products such as the ALEXA Mini LF, Signature Prime lenses, TRINITY Stabilizer, and SkyPanel softlights whenever he can. Some of his most recent work includes advertising campaigns for Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, as well as teaser videos for the final season of TV series Gomorrah. ARRI sat down with the cinematographer to gain some insight about his choice of equipment and hear how the tools perform.

Armani Exchange

Black and white with a rich and dense gray range: Still taken from the Armani Exchange Spring Summer 2021 advertising campaign

What visual style were you looking for in this project?

I had worked for this brand before and knew that Armani Exchange has a well-defined aesthetic: elegant black and white with some touches of color and the use of a LED wall. In this case, I was in charge of the main campaign, the eyewear campaign, and the watch campaign. The brief proposed by the creative direction and director Michele Bizzi proposed abstract graphics on the LED wall-positioned on four sides and able to aid in lighting the subjects-with very dynamic images and wide-angle lenses in motion. We were looking for black and white with a rich and dense gray range. Motion graphics determined the lighting and produced reflections on glasses and watches so there was a colorimetry problem that required paying close attention to saturation and de-saturation. You had to get the white of the LEDs to match the white of the camera, and I had to work with Michele to have the graphics mapped in order to get interesting light and shadow patterns.

Why did you choose the ARRI ALEXA Mini?

Shooting with the ARRI ALEXA Mini means that you will be absolutely comfortable with the colors and latitudes. Its a camera that solves problems rather than creating them. It allows you to be sure youll get the job done without surprises. In this case it was perfect for the richness of the shadows and the gentleness of the highlights. A second camera body hand-operated by Alex Crovi allowed even more coverage and availability of B-roll to enrich the editing. We also used ARRIRAW as our recording format.

Were there any particular difficulties while shooting?

We had to pay attention to the reflections on the glasses. We programmed ARRI SkyPanel front lights overhead so that they followed what was happening as closely as possible and increased the dynamics of the scenes. We mounted ring lights on the camera for aesthetics on close-up wide angles; the fall of the light helps to emphasize the movement of the camera. As soon as the subject gets closer or farther away, the image goes very quickly from underexposure to overexposure and you feel even more that it is moving.

We had to pay attention to the reflections on the glasses, says DP Brandstetter de Bellesini on the Armani Exchange eyewear campaign

How did you maintain camera stability?

I have been using the ARRI TRINITY with Luca Sportelli. I use it a lot because it offers flexibility, and that helps so much in fashion film photography. TRINITY allows you to better capture the dynamism of wide-angle close-ups and half-heights. This is always a problem with Steadicam because you have to be in hi-mode or low-mode. Particularly in fashion commercials, when you want to tell the story of outfits, you often find yourself with the camera between 90 centimeters and 6 feet, and thats exactly where Steadicams fall apart. Instead, with TRINITY, you can stand at that height, but also make very interesting changes in elevation seamlessly, without stopping anyones work between takes. One can frame the logo tag on the pant at the height it is, and then continue shooting while moving comfortably. On projects of this kind, I now always ask for ARRI TRINITY.

To what extent did you use monitoring on set?

With DIT Claudio Palumbo, we were directly monitoring, de-saturating, and enriching the gray range and separating the different channels. Claudio would do color corrections in real time, then save them as LUTs to be passed to postproduction-a very convenient system that allows you to present the client and director with something very close to the final result right away. This was a fashion job, an environment where you are used to having a certain skin texture acquired with filters and retouching in postproduction, so you add or take away sharpness where you need it. Its mostly cosmetic corrections to look for the right density of grays while maintaining good contrast and giving the correct tone to different skin colors. It is a job closer to photo retouching than to traditional color correction.

Baci Perugina Dolce Vita Limited Edition from Dolce & Gabbana

For Baci Perugina, bright colors that popped out of the screen were used to mimic the chocolate's packaging

What visual cues did you have for the Baci Perugina commercial?

The idea of director Giulio Volpe was to stay very simple in order to focus as much as possible on the human aspect of the film. Since we had to portray the most diverse types of people-from children and young adults to the elderly of the most diverse ethnicities-the interesting challenge was to create portrait setups of light that could enhance everyone in the best way.

What precautions did you use to achieve the result?

A lot of casting work was done. This was a film about people, technique had to be invisible. There was a lot of work done on looks, with a focus on humanity, without flare and backlighting. It was necessary to create a light that would work w
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