The main camera was an Aaton Xterà, usually used with Zeiss Super Speed prime lenses. Sometimes Yeoman used the smaller Aaton A-Minima, which weighs less than five pounds with batteries and a load of film. The filmmakers made occasional use of a Canon 11-165mm zoom. Yeoman often outfitted the A-Minima with an onboard monitor, making it even easier to "run around" with and grab shots.
The filmmakers tested Kodak and Fuji stock in 35mm and Super 16 gauges. "We were drawn to the bit of grain and texture that film has," says Yeoman. "We found that the Kodak 7213 200T was the stock we liked best, so we shot the entire film on that stock. We never used an 85 filter to correct for daylight, and we shot everything at 200 ASA, even outside during the day. Occasionally, I'd use an ND filter if it was really bright. A couple of times it got late in the day, including some scenes with the girl reading by a campfire, and I was amazed at how the stock dug it out for us."
The 800-foot loads dovetailed with Anderson's penchant for continuing to roll between takes. "It was great not having to stop and reload, especially with the kids," says Yeoman. "That's something we've done from the beginning. Wes likes to get a scene going, and then, without cutting, say, 'Okay, let's go again.' He feels that the actors can get into a rhythm that way."
Anderson's precise ideas about composition make multiple cameras counterproductive. "I find that when directors have more than one camera, often it becomes all about the second camera and how we're going to use it," says Yeoman. "You compromise the first shot in order to get the second. And Wes is completely focused on getting the shot he really wants, the shot that best serves the story."
Anderson likes to "centerpunch," and he loves to cover dialogue scenes with swish-pans. There are also many long dolly shots. "He designs the shots so that each part of the story is encapsulated in that one shot," says Yeoman. "When you shoot like that, there's not really a place for a cut. As a result, he almost never cuts shots out of the movie because he can't. Everything is very carefully designed, so there really isn't a tremendous amount of coverage. Pretty much everything that we shoot gets used."
Lighting for the day exteriors shot in natural surroundings consisted almost entirely of bounce cards in keeping with the simple aesthetic. Day exteriors taking place during a storm were exceptions. Yeoman used 18Ks to backlight the rain in order to make it visible. The big units, which were mounted on towers, were sometimes left in the shot, justified as existing camp lighting.