GOLEM – Cinematography

Golem from Laputka Films on Vimeo.

A man seeks to discover his connection with nature while hunted by the onslaught of the machine.

Written / Directed / Edited by Woodruff Laputka
Photographed by Tehben Dean
Sound by Jebarri Dean

Featuring Troy Norton.

Music by Sigur Ros, “Dauðalogn” on Valtari (2012)

Featured on Film Shortage’s Daily Short Picks

Shot on: RED Epic – Canon 28-70mm 2.8 – Canon 85mm 1.2 – Canon 100mm Macro – Formatt Variable ND.


Our latest collaboration with Laputka Films, “Golem” just premiered online and I thought I would share some of the processes behind creating the visuals for the film.

The project started in the fall of 2013 with a phone call I made to Woodruff to say we should shoot a “Tree of Life” ‘esque film. Woodruff completely agreed and we had a bunch of conversations following that to discuss ideas. Woodruff wrote up several concepts, but for budget and casting reasons we had to scrap them. So long story short Jebarri and I flew out to Florida at the end of November and after some location scouts and concept discussion we settled on the idea of exploring the disconnect that man has with nature in the modern world of technology. Woodruff wrote a script and we shot for several days in a swamp with the talented local artist and model, Troy Norton.

From the beginning we decided to use a “Sigur Rós” song for the backing and selected “Dauðalogn” with Jebarri tasked to create a complementary soundscape to add ambiance and tie the whole thing together.

It's Moss

It’s Moss

First shot of the day.

First shot of the day.

Our goal was to create an abstract piece with a contemplative feel and strong visuals to capture the rich foliage and details of the environment. To this end we shot most of the film early in the morning and in the evening, shooting at mainly 72fps to create a visual ambiance of contemplation. Use of a higher shutter speed also helped emphasize the water drops and chaotic feel at the pool scene where the footage was sped back up.

I spent a lot of time on the 100mm macro getting tight into the environment and specific moments, and for the train and walking scenes stayed mostly with the 28-70, pulling out the 85 1.2 for a couple of portraits.

For lighting, the natural ambient light was so good I pretty much stuck with what I found, using the filtered light in the forrest and the morning/evening haze.



After a trip over the summer managing lots of gear through airports I decided to travel super light for this project and only packed the Epic body, 4 RED Bricks, REDmag, touchscreen, laptop, a few Canon stills lenses and some odds and ends. This meant relying on Woodruff’s flimsy Manfrotto tripod which he used for his 5D III (horrible idea, but easy to carry) We split the film pretty evenly between statics and hand-held with a couple of slider shots and one overhead on a jib.

On the tracks.

On the tracks.

Packing out after wrap.

Packing out after wrap.

Woodruff  did the edit in Adobe Premiere on his Windows machine and once he finished he sent me the project file and I opened it on my Mac, reconnected the files and Ba-Bam. Magic.

When I sat down to color grade I decided to give Adobe Speedgrade a shot because I wanted to use the warpstabilizer on some shots and staying within the Adobe suite meant I wouldn’t have to do an intermediary render in or out of Davinci.

The workflow was setting a basic look in RedCineX, then applying a film LUT with FilmConvert (beautiful plugin) in Pr and  doing final touches in Sg. The key for me was to create adjustment layers in Pr and then create scene based grades in Sg which I layered as necessary on the Pr timeline. Making clip exposure tweaks in the REDcode panel.
Having the grade show up on your Pr timeline is amazing and Sg has actually improved enough since it’s initial release that It’s starting to feel like a real piece of grading software. I’m almost sold and will probably be doing a lot more projects this way in the future.


Base grade Left – Final grade Right.

Base grade Left – Final grade Right.

If you have any questions be sure to comment below and I will do my best to get back.


- Tehben

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