Director Roland Emmerich and award-winning cinematographer Anna Foerster, ASC used Codex Onboard Recorders on the Sony Pictures feature film White House Down. The film stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and depicts a paramilitary invasion of the White House in Washington, D.C.
“The Codex Recorders did what every tool should do: perform so flawlessly that we forget they are there,” Emmerich said.
In early 2010, Foerster was one of the first directors of photography to use the ARRI Alexa camera, shooting a feature film using a prototype of the camera and Codex Recorders. The film, Anonymous, was set in the visually rich period of Elizabethan England; and it earned Foerster the German Film Award for best cinematographer. Anonymous was also directed by Emmerich.
For White House Down, Emmerich and Foerster envisioned a look that differed from that of a standard action film. The story unfolds over one morning, and the movie was shot almost entirely on stages in Montreal.
“White House Down is more contained than Roland’s previous action epics,” Foerster said. “It’s more grounded in a single building, and it’s limited to a handful of people. There’s a lot of physical action – running, shooting, fighting.”
That physicality was a major factor in the decision to shoot with the Alexa/Codex combination, according to Foerster. “We knew we’d have a lot of quick movement, and a lot of Steadicam,” she said. “We liked the size and balance of the Alexa with the Codex.”
The Codex recorded images in ARRIRAW format, and SxS cards simultaneously recorded ProRes 444 images as a backup and to capture metadata for visual effects. There was no color correction on the set.
A fiber optic link connected the DIT data station with the SAN at the Technicolor offices, cutting down on transfer time and ensuring copies of the data in two separate, secure sites. On location, shuttle drives were used. Reports were consolidated to cloud storage for easy access. Images were monitored and QC’d at several stages to ensure integrity.
“The Codex 512Gb Datapacks worked perfectly,” said Julie Garceau, digital imaging technician. “We never have any problems. The product is rugged and dependable, and Codex is always improving it.”
A digital intermediate post path was followed at Sony Colorworks, with colorist Steve Bowen. Foerster said that the Codex recorders allowed her to focus on the artistic aspects of her job. “The Codex is a well-designed tool,” she said. “You don’t need to worry about it.”