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HomeCraftsCameraEl Conde is The Film Film To Use Ed Lachman ASC’s EL...

El Conde is The Film Film To Use Ed Lachman ASC’s EL Zone


A scene from El Conde (Credit: Netflix)

Ed Lachman, simply put, is one of the greats. The cinematographer behind CarolThe LimeyLight Sleeper, and The Virgin Suicides, to name a few of his many wonderful films, is a true illusionist behind the camera. He shows audiences new worlds through singular characters’ eyes. He did it again with filmmaker’s Pablo Larrain’s El Conde, and he did it with the EL Zone.

The cinematographer developed the game-altering tool, standardizing exposure measurement on set.

EL Zone is short for “Exposure Latitude.” For the Oscar-nominated El Conde, Lachman used the new system on SmallHD monitors. The end result is bold and lush black-and-white photography. “When people talk to me about El Conde, they ask how I got so much detail in the mid-range,” Lachman explained in a statement. “EL Zone gave me a visual representation in creating the image–I could control exactly where the exposure wanted to be by placing detail in the highlights and shadows.”

From the set of El Conde (Credit: Lewis Communications)

The EL Zone isn’t only creative but practical for the cinematographer. “Let’s say I’m returning to shoot in Pinochet’s bedroom,” Lachman added. “I can look at a frame grab to see what precisely we had done before and what I liked as the starting point. Even if you don’t have to come back and reshoot that set, you can still use the information that you’ve learned from where you were, instead of starting over. In the analog film days, I used to take Polaroids and keep a record in a book of exactly where my exposure was, mapping everything with my spot meter.”

All current SmallHD monitors now incorporate EL Zone. “Ed’s concept for EL Zone is something so simple that it’s stunning it hasn’t existed for years,” Greg Smokler, VP / GM Cine Products, Creative Solutions, added. “SmallHD’s technical architecture is designed for expansion and flexibility, so we were able to quickly develop an EL Zone tool with support for every camera system on the market. With the vast array of digital cinema cameras and the overwhelming diversity in monitoring LUTs and delivery requirements, cinematographers can quickly glance at EL Zone and instantly see a representation of any sensor’s dynamic range in an intuitive format that is at the heart of all photography: stops.”

El Conde is now available to stream on Netflix. 

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