Angenieux Optimo Lenses Capture Edgy Tone for MTV’s TEEN WOLF 

Lenses Complement Camera, says DP Jonathan Hall 

On the Atlanta set of MTV’s critically acclaimed hit series TEEN WOLF, the cinematic tone is dark, sexy and edgy. And with scenes shot from off-road vehicles, high speed circle tracks and even helicopters using equipment including handheld rigs, technocranes, dollies, greenscreens and hydroflex bags, it takes the full photographic talent of DP Jonathan Hall to create and maintain the cinematic feel that has helped propel the series to such favorable praise.

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High Performance Lenses Designed for High Performance Cameras
Among the high tech gear available to him, Mr. Hall credits his Angenieux Optimo S35 PL mount zoom lenses in enabling him to capture the mood that can bring the scripts to life. Having worked previously with Optimo zooms, he was confident of their ability to perform in extreme conditions such as low light, as well as have the capability to hold focus and to capture sufficient contrast and color so that less processing would be required in post.

He says, “In shooting TEEN WOLF, the Optimo zooms absolutely complement the camera because the glass can handle great color and great contrast, and that contrast can be preserved in post. Having to do things multiple times in photography just downgrades your image. If you can shoot and hit right out of the gate, it’s what you want to do, it’s always better. Angenieux Optimos give me that contrast in the raw footage and I love it.”

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The sharpness of digital cameras can narrow the forgivable focus zone of the lens but according to Mr. Hall, the Optimo zooms hold focus perfectly and are easy to keep at a collective and defined focal plane. He adds that even with the lens wide open at the far end, the zoom is able to hold focus. Lens markings are accurate and are in commonly used increments of two, four and five feet and so on. He also mentions that the lens movement is very smooth with no ramping or breathing, plus all the gearing and teeth on the lens and the mechanics for the sliders for focus, iris and zoom are all perfect.

Compact Size Adds to Shooting Versatility & Speed
A graduate of the Brooks Institute for Photography in Santa Barbara, CA, Mr. Hall has built an enviable portfolio of work including feature films, sports videos, indies and various commercial projects, using Angenieux zooms or a variety of prime lenses on digital and film cameras. All of these projects helped to season Mr. Hall and prepare him for taking on an episodic television series, where he quickly realized that, for many of the shots, there is no time to swap primes, making a good zoom lens a necessity.

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“To try out the Optimo zooms, I put the wide 15-40mm zoom on my A camera and the medium 28-76mm zoom on my B camera. At just over four pounds, they were light enough to go hand-held, the optics were pristine enough to be used in the studio and the compact size kept the camera package small,” he said. “It was a great combination. The lenses improved the agility and size of the package and they held true to the image structure.”

Mr. Hall notes that while he did not originally plan to use the Optimo zooms for shooting the whole show, in the end they stayed on the cameras for the entire season and were only replaced by the Optimo 24-290mm zoom when he needed to go longer or on the few occasions when primes were used for extremely low light shoots. He said that the camera operators strapped the rig on at the beginning of the day and left it on for the whole shoot because it was lightweight and convenient.

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“Using the Optimo zooms really let us speed things up. If an actor missed the mark or if the set was a little bit smaller than we thought it would be, or if we needed to tweak a blocking, we didn’t have to reorder a new lens to come into the set to switch out,” he adds. “And if I needed only to back out a couple mils it was there. Or punch in a couple mils, it was there. Everything was at my fingertips. Most of the show was shot at a 2.8 or a 4.0 stop on the Angenieux zooms. It was nice to be able to do that and not have to suffer with any of the old fashioned problems of zoom lenses like breathing or focus problems.”

Digital Zoom Lenses
TEEN WOLF has been renewed for a second season and Mr. Hall reports that he will resume shooting this winter, again using the two Optimo zooms and possibly the new Optimo 45-120mm lens. In the meantime, he has been working on several other projects and with them has had the opportunity to use the Angenieux DP series of Optimo lenses.

He says, “I am very impressed with the DP series of Optimo lenses, but then again there is an optical clarity that is standard in the Angenieux world. They understand that there are various tiers of creativity and have glass to meet financial as well as creative objectives.”

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