Knives Out cinematographer Steve Yedlin revealed that he used day-for-night and night-for-night shots to create the film's exterior night shots. Knives Out was released nationwide just last week as the latest film from writer-director Rian Johnson. The crime drama raked in $42 million from U.S. box office sales despite having to contend with Frozen 2. Knives Out features an all-star ensemble including Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and Lakeith Stanfield to name a few.
The mystery of Knives Out centers around a family who lives off the wealth of patriarch, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). After last being seen by his caretaker, Marta (Ana de Armas), on the night of his 85th birthday celebration, he's found dead the following morning by his housekeeper. Despite being ruled a suicide, famous detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is hired anonymously to find Harlan's murderer. The murder mystery asks not only "whodunit?" but much deeper questions about how economic class and racial bias affect a crime scene investigation.
Over Knives Out's long opening weekend, with the film hitting theaters the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in the U.S., cinematographer Yeldin tweeted about how he created the unique nighttime shots. See his tweet below.
Behind-the-scenes DIY fun: many of the impressionistic night exteriors on #KnivesOut were combinations of day-for-night and night-for-night in the same shot. (I did the compositing myself on my laptop.)#BoringFilmTechStuff pic.twitter.com/EtwS8K88UE— Steve Yedlin (@steveyedlin) December 1, 2019
Put simply, Yeldin combined simulated night takes filmed during the day and takes that were actually filmed at night to create a realistic looking night scene. The film switched back and forth from daytime investigations in the present and the night of the murder, so creating a distinct difference between the two was imperative to the story.
The techies on Twitter that were into the "boring film stuff" continued to ask the cinematographer questions. After one fan asked the reason behind using this visual technique, Yeldin revealed that he did not do it to save money or time on the film. Instead, he wanted to create a "very specific impressionistic nights exterior look" that fit the film thematically. He answered fan questions involving an array of detailed camera techniques ranging from camera position to the light bulbs he used.
Hiring experts like Yeldin is what made Knives Out a masterpiece. Yeldin has been working as a cinematographer since 1996 and has worked alongside Johnson numerous times. The pair worked together on Looper, Brick, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He has been around for the evolution of technology and knows exactly how to manipulate the camera to get what he wants from a shot. This attention to detail is what makes Knives Out a stand-out film and thanks to Yeldin fielding questions on Twitter, fans now know exactly how he and Johnson achieved those particular night exterior shots.
Source: Steve Yeldin/Twitter