Nick Dance BSC shoots The Replacement with Cooke lenses

The Replacement, BBC1’s three-part prime time drama, was shot with Cooke S4/i lenses by Nick Dance BSC. Written and directed by Joe Ahearne and starring Morven Christie and Vicky McLure, the unsettling story follows a woman who falls pregnant just as she lands a big contract at work. Her maternity replacement, Paula, seems ideal at first – enthusiastic, competent and personable – but as Paula shadows Ellen through the last few months of her pregnancy, Ellen begins to worry that Paula has another agenda.

Dance, who also recently shot the BBC’s Poldark with Cooke glass and ARRI Alexa cameras, said, “The S4/i’s tend to be my first choice, as this range generally covers most requirements. I find the Cookes more forgiving than other lenses, especially when shooting digital. The focus roll-off is closer to the look when shooting on film. Although the story needed to feel real and naturalistic, we still wanted the female protagonists to look as good as possible, but keeping it believable – and these lenses do this.”

Shooting in Glasgow meant that the weather and lighting conditions could change in an instant but, Dance said, a combination of Cooke lenses, Alexa cameras and the colourist, Sonny Sheridan, made it work.

“The lenses greatly contributed to this as the contrast holds through all lighting conditions. We did embrace lens flare, especially in the story when paranoia sets in, and the lenses handle this well. The image remains solid and doesn’t blow, but has a beautiful subtle flare and bokeh.”

The main set, of the architects’ offices, posed a major lighting challenge as it featured almost 360-degrees of plate-glass windows and walls.

“As the window was massive, it was not possible to ND. Also, as we would be shooting throughout the day, it would be tricky and time consuming to remove ND when the light started to drop or the weather changes,” explained Dance. “I didn’t want to over-light the interior, and using big lamps would cause more reflection issues, so less was definitely more in this instance. We soon discovered what worked and what didn’t, and the lenses helped me greatly with holding contrast with all these challenges. I have to say it was all worth it as the natural reflections gave us extra depth and texture that otherwise we wouldn’t have had with flat solid walls.”

Meanwhile, Johan-Fredrik Bødtker FNF shot Norwegian drama series Valkyrien using Cooke Anamorphic/i and Cooke 5/i lenses. The lens metadata collected from the ARRI Alexa cameras proved highly beneficial to both the on-set production and post-production workflows.

In further news, Cooke Optics is planning to open a second factory less than two miles from its current Leicester premises in order to keep up with demand for its lenses. The new 700sq/m. facility, scheduled to open in June 2017, is expected to increase output by 25%, and to facilitate the development and manufacture of new ranges. Initially, it will focus on building the new Cooke Panchro/i Classic line, which will make its debut at NAB 2017.