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Knives Out’s lighting expert pulled out all the stops for the movie’s best closeups

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Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Ah, the key grip. For those not in the know, they’re the lighting and rigging engineer on the set. Basically, the director of photography’s muscle. They have to come up with all kinds of methods, improvisations and experiments so that you, the viewer, can see what the director is holding in their mind’s eye.

For Knives Out, Rian Johnson’s whodunit that premiered Nov. 27 and is getting a lot of traction at the box office right now, key grip Matt Mania went all-in to deliver verisimilitude in the film’s lighting. He sculpted the lighting diffusers in order to reflect, in the actors’ eyewear, a realistic presentation of the windows in the rooms where they are sitting for their closeups.

Cinematographer Steve Yedlin credited Mania’s mattes in a tweet this morning.

It’s a really cool you-may-have-missed-this detail for a really cool movie with a really cool cast. And it’s another thumbs-up for practical effects in a time when a lot of things are simply shot on a green screen for convenience’s sake.

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