Director of Photography Jeffrey C. Mygatt interviewed on 24: Live Another Day

Jeffrey C. Mygatt
Jeffrey C. Mygatt

“FOX had first considered going HD a few years back,” the cinematographer recalls. “I shot a teaser test for Season Six using the Sony F900, matching to the established shooting style. When they asked my opinion of the results, I said the problem with video arose when going 90º off-angle with our second camera, which is one of our stylistic go-to shots. One of those camera angles would wind up looking either dark or flat. Film had latitude that let you see into that darkness, with a falloff that didn’t make the shadows seem so heavy, but digital wasn’t quite there yet. It’s a different story today with ALEXA.”

While the first eight seasons of the series relied on the same camera operators, this time out, all of the crew were new to the series, which required them to be taught its unique shooting style. “Typically, operators are shown the starting, middle and end of a shot, so they go A to B to C,” notes Mygatt. “But there’s no spontaneity with that, so I told them that if they see something interesting happen on the first pass, keep that in mind on the next take. You might focus on that or whip-pan to it from what you had done before. Essentially, the first pass is for the director’s intent and the second for what you can find to amp things up. This can make things difficult for the assistant, but it’s worth the effort because, in these moments, the operators are helping design the show.”

While 24 had been filmed in Los Angeles for the duration of its original run, the show’s palette was varied, depending on whether action was supposed to be taking place in New York, Washington D.C. or L.A. “London has its own palette, as well,” Mygatt acknowledges. “When I first got the job, I told the director that whenever we were looking outside, it had to show a cold, gray cloudy London—at least 90% of the time. We do have vibrant colors inside, but I let the exteriors read as flat—unless a red bus goes by. Skin tones are going to be muted rather than warm and colorful, but then our fireball explosions are going to look very vibrant against those overcast skies.”

Source HDVideoPro