Mank: Cinefade Supercut

Cinefade VariND
January 7, 2020

Cinefade is a motorised variable ND filter that allows cinematographers to gradually transition between a deep and a shallow depth of field in one shot at constant exposure to accentuate a moment of extreme drama in film or to make a client’s product stand out in commercials.

It can also be used in VariND mode to achieve interior to exterior transition shots without ‘riding the iris’ and to control reflections on automotive shoots with the remotely controlled RotaPola.

Director of Photography Erik Messerschmidt ASC used the Cinefade VariND not only as a practical tool to control exposure on set but also as a storytelling tool to accentuate certain moments and guide the viewer’s attention.

Director: David Fincher
Director of Photography: Erik Messerschmidt ASC
A Camera First Assistant: Alex Scott

Erik Messerschmidt ASC to Filmmaker Magazine:

“We also used this tool called the cmotion Cinefade. It’s a motorized polarizer that you sync to the iris so we could effectively pull depth of field. It’s quite extreme. You could pull five stops of depth of field. So we could go from a T8 to a 2. That thing kind of lived on the camera. There were times where we’d say, “It’s too much. Let’s look at it at a 5.6.” So you set the iris to a 5.6, the polarizer compensates and now you’re looking at the same scene but with less depth of field. So, it was nice to be able to use focus and iris as a storytelling tool instead of just an exposure tool.”

Read the full presentation

“We Don’t Find Shots, We Build Them”: DP Erik Messerschmidt on Mank, Lens Flare Painting and Native Black and White

Matt Mulcahey
December 22, 2020

In 1941, a 25-year-old Orson Welles made one of cinema’s most auspicious debuts by directing, co-writing, starring in and producing Citizen Kane. With Mank—David Fincher’s look at the evolution of Kane’s screenplay—cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt makes an impressive feature bow of his own. 

After working his way up through the ranks of grip and electric and earning DP credits on the shows LegionMindhunter and Fargo, Messerschmidt’s very first fiction feature has landed him in the midst of Oscar conversation. With Mank now streaming on Netflix, Messerschmidt spoke with Filmmaker about deep focus, high ISOs and painting in lens flares; and how even when working with David Fincher you “start compromising when you get out of bed in the morning.”

Read the full interview