Edward Lachman: Importance of Dailies

From American Cinematographer, Mad-Dog Englishman by David E. Williams (November 1999)

"Unfortunately, on both The Limey and my previous picture, The Virgin Suicides, which was directed by Sofia Coppola, we only printed selected takes or rolls in order to save money. I can't stress enough that I feel it's a false 'savings.' Some people think it's a luxury or reward for a cameraman to see dailies on film-- and maybe there is a secondary sense of pleasure about it-- but if you're having any technical problems, you're not going to see it in video dailies. I have yet to be on a film where a lens didn't perform improperly at some point, or a light didn't have an inadvertent change in color temperature that affected a shot. On The Limey, we caught a lens that went out on us. The act of moving around day in and day out can damage or affect the cameras and lenses, and those nuances can't be seen on video dailies-- the sharpness, contrast, or even steadiness of the image. If you're spending $2 million-- or even $50 million-- on a picture, you can't find yourself in postproduction with shots that are ruined by technical problems. It's much more expensive to go back and reshoot rather than have projected dailies and make sure that any problems are corrected during principal photography. It's a ludicrous attempt to save money, and I've talked to a number of cameramen who have had major photographic problems on their films but only found out about them after the fact. All cinematographers-- and producers and directors-- should address this issue. Everyone's concerned about the need for film preservation, but let's get things on film correctly first, and then preserve it."

- Edward Lachman, ASC

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