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I’d Like to Thank the Academy

Tuesday March 15th, 2011

The most exciting event at the recent Oscars did not involve Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, or Corey Haim. During the “Best Adapted Screenplay” intro, the real star was LA-based photographer Robert Gallagher, who shot a short sequence involving an iPad to represent the nominated films, including the winner, The Social Network.

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from my colleague and director of photography extraordinaire Thomas Hencz, to help Prologue Films create an intro sequence for the Academy Awards telecast. This motion project came at just the right time, as Thomas and I are in the midst of setting up a joint production company called T-stop Productions, so we can join forces on many more motion projects like this.

The video itself is not yet available to public, unless you Tivo-ed the awards ceremony. But we have some exclusive stills, and when the video becomes available, you’ll be the first to know. UPDATE 3/24/11: We have the video.

What’s interesting about the sequence is how the team decided to represent the films, as Robert explained:

The concept was to convey how a book turns into a script, which then turns into a movie. Prologue Films are primarily a post-production house, so we were brought in to handle the initial shooting stage. For each nominee in the category of “Best Adapted Screenplay,” we captured shots of a book on a backdrop representative to the story’s subject matter. For instance, True Grit on a rugged old wooden table, Social Network on a computer desk and iPad, Toy Story on a child’s play area and 127 Hours on a crevice—which turned out to be a crack in the concrete floor of the studio/garage we were working in!

The trick was to create a beautiful but consistent turn in the pages of the book, and the same with the script which we shot next. This worked best with the top quality management of a simple piece of string underneath a few pages. And after a few trials we had the turning motion down to a fine art. Finally, in post, both of these elements were merged together, and then faded into a recognizable scene from the film.

Any reader of this blog knows we’ve discussed the use of iPads before. Photographers are using them for snazzy new portfolios, which creatives often find exciting, though they are often also nostalgic for an old-fashioned print piece. But it looks like Robert came up with a new use for the iPad—his very own iPad, as it happens—and managed to use the technology to pretty accurately represent the theme of the film!

I asked Robert how it felt to watch the ceremony and see his creative work in action. He told me:

It was pretty cool to watch the awards and see our work as part of the actual telecast, especially knowing how short-notice we pulled it together, and being able to point out that that was the floor of the studio in one shot, and my iPad in another! And the winner was… my iPad! Being that it represented the actual winner, The Social Network. So I guess you could say I kind of made it to the Oscars. Well, part of my office did anyway.

I have the feeling this is not the last we’ll hear about Robert Gallagher’s iPad… stay tuned for 2.0.

-Asad

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