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An evening with Jaron Presant ASC

11 Jul 2021 10:00 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

Jaron Presant ACS, international cinematographer from L.A.

In June Christchurch was fortunate to have Jaron Presant ASC share a conversation around XY Chromaticity and it’s uses. After being in NZ for nine months, Presant found a gap in his schedule to hold a conversation with some local cinematographers.

After production on the Apple TV+ production Mr Corman, Los Angeles was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Presant found himself relocating, along with production, to New Zealand.

An attempt to restart production in LA under COVID-19 protocols proved too costly and the decision was made to shift the production to New Zealand, with Wellington doubling as San Francisco. “It was a difficult task to say the least, but that process I think made us really focus in on what aspects of the environment were critical to the story and in what way.” Says Presant, “I think the show benefited a great deal from the shift even beyond the obvious ease of process.” From there Presant jumped from Mr Corman into another international Amazon production, Don’t Make Me Go.

And it’s not just the ease of process that has won him over. Presant says that the crews here have been so creatively engaged and unbelievable to work with. “It’s been an absolute pleasure and at the end of long days I looked around to see a group of faces, all of which I would gladly go spend an evening with.”

Local cinematographer Bevan Crothers was second unit DP on the production and suggested that while the shoot was fast paced at times it gave a real insight into the "vision, experiences and processes of Jaron Presant ASC."

Bevan Crothers, Cinematographer and NZCS committee member

“I feel like that’s the goal of any group one puts together, that you can go through massively stressful scenarios together and still want to hang out.” Says Presant. The New Zealand scenery was not lost on Presant, calling it ‘unbelievably inspiring’ during his two week break and extensive scout. “I spent my down time seeing the West Coast of the North Island and a large journey around the South Island. Across the board New Zealand is so stunning, and also so varied.” 

While in New Zealand, Presant had an opportunity in his schedule to share some of his extensive knowledge with the local Christchurch cinematography community. New NZCS member Simon Waterhouse had nothing but praise for the evening describing the knowledge shared as a real treat. “I'm a new member, so this was my first NZCS event - being in Christchurch we don't get much exposure to the wider industry so it was lovely to meet some NZCS regulars.” 

Attendees gather at the venue foyer, with an opportunity to network and socialise.

The topic of the night, lighting using XY Chromaticity coordinates, which Presant described as the most exciting part of the cinematography of today. “With new technology comes new forms of control. Running lights in xy modes, where the color is determined by a chromaticity coordinate on the CIE Yxy graph, allows us to color match instantly and accurately like we have never done before.

Waterhouse says of his biggest takeaway, “I found it really enlightening seeing the industry shift towards RGB sources and the supporting technology. I'm definitely keen to explore shifting my lighting workflow towards XY controllable sources.”

Jaron Presant ACS

While the excitement of colour and light control was a hot topic, it was met with the broader context of pipeline control. “With all new technology, our job is being split farther across the entire production process, spreading forward into prep with pre-visualization and virtual production and farther into post with all the nuanced color correction and vfx we can do.  It’s still our job to control the image and to me, our job is to follow that image from conception through presentation.” He says developing a deep understanding of how a camera responds to light and the corrections planned for before final display is the key to allow a cinematographer to be artistic with confidence. 

The event was extremely well received, with Bree Loverich of Screen CanterburyNZ in attendance, saying the evening was a “fantastic opportunity to learn more about the craft from such an internationally accomplished DOP, but also a great chance to network and be part of the growing screen community in Christchurch.”

Perpetual learning is something Presant is especially passionate about. “I think that the process of learning is integral to the art of cinematography. Every job I’m trying to test something new, try something we haven’t done before. We have to keep learning, keep pressing forward into new areas, and part of that process is passing on what we learn to others. I make it a point of teaching when I am not working, whether through universities, film schools, film festivals or mentorships. My hope is that those that I teach go and learn on their own and then come back and teach me something. That’s the goal - that we all move forward learning together.”

~ John Ross, Cinematographer

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