The full range of Angénieux Optimo zoom lenses were used for the €26m Euro production of Les Seasons, the latest nature documentary from Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud.
After focusing on birds in Winged Migration (2001), and the underwater world in Oceans (2009), Perrin and Cluzaud chose to stage a poetic 15,000-year-old chronicle of Europe for Les Saisons, from the viewpoint of wildlife on the continent. The movie recounts the adventure of the animals settling in Europe, which had to adapt to their environment, due to climate change and growing influence of the humans.
Les Seasons brought several challenges for the production – most notably a team of ten camera operators, a shooting schedule spread across 18 months, from June 2013 to December 2014, forty locations, mostly in France, but also in Finland, Poland, Norway, Scotland, Romania, Switzerland and Canada, and over 500 hours of rushes.
Photography was headed by cinematographer Eric Guichard AFC and Stéphane Aupetit, along with Michel Benjamin, Jérôme Bouvier, Laurent Charbonnier, Philippe Garguil, Laurent Fleutot, Sylvain Maillard, Christophe Pottier, Jam Walencik. Guichard was responsible for the overall aesthetic quality and technical aspects of all the images. He was assisted by Laurent Desbruères from Digimage, who calibrated all of Perrin and Cluzaud’s previous productions.
For Guichard, the choice of lenses is crucial. The nature of wildlife photography doesn’t allow for multiple takes, and the choice of the zooms arises quickly.
“Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud wanted to break away from the standard use of the long focal length in wildlife photography,” said Guichard. “I shot Belle And Sebastien with Angénieux zooms and thought they would be the perfect optics to achieve the look I wanted for Les Saisons. The idea was to work as close as possible to the animals. Focal lengths were used to produce a naturalistic perspective intended to give the viewer a true sense of being immersed in nature. Everything in the movie was designed to preserve the integrity of the animals and minimise any disruption to their normal behaviour.”
The full range of Angenieux Optimo spherical lenses was used on Les Seasons – including the Optimo 24-290, 28-340 and 19.5-94, and the lightweight Optimo 45-120, 28-76 and 15-40. The lenses were adapted to cope with the difficult shooting conditions of the movie, and Guichard especially wanted the lenses as they would help to diminish the sharpness of the digital cameras and bring some roundness to the imagery.
“Thales Angénieux is particularly proud to have contributed this wonderful advocacy for the preservation of the forest and the animals living there,” said a statement from the manufacturer about the production.