I’ve been doing lots of reading lately. Magazines (the AC), books ( Cinematography by Blain Brown), forums (Cinematography.com, studentfilmmakers.com), watching movies with good cinematography… And as they say, when you are in a person’s shoes (I often like to add that you’ll have to be in the shoes and walk around in it a little), you can feel for the person more. The same kind of goes to shooting. I used to watch movies and admire the lighting style, composition, camera movements and how these complements the story seamlessly. And when I tried to develop my own lighting style and plan, I realise (time and time again), that it is not as easy as it seemed. The pros paint a set with light like as if they have magic fingers. Just a snap, and the lights are there, perfect for the story. Or so it seems. But only when you’ve tried first hand and try to solve the problems and limitations the professional DPs might have faced countless times, I slowly develop this heartfelt and sincere respect for the DPs and their works.
The experienced DPs make a film look as if shooting it was easy, but when I read up articles on the difficulties they faced, I can’t help but admire their intelligence, commitment, teamwork and effort. Respectable.
These are some DPs I admire most. More are coming up on the way I believe:
– Emmanuel Lubezki
– Roger Deakins
– Robert Richardson
– Christopher Doyle
– Dariusz Wolski
– Conrad L Hall
– Vilmos Zsigmond
– Vittorio Storaro
– John Toll
– Oliver Stapleton
– (I’ve been watching lots of Bollywood and Hong Kong film these days, and I shall go explore their DPs)
There is definitely so much more, but these are few I can think of for now.. I always love reading up about how they work with the directors, deal with problems during pre-pro and on set, and how they use different tools to achieve the image they want without over-relying on post.
There are some quotes I quote from the website: http://www.blogger.com/profile/08879464916748214969
Its a really good site, go check it out 🙂
From American Cinematographer, Master of Light and Motion interview by Bob Fisher (June 1998)
AC:Why do you prefer the title of “cinematographer” to “director of photography” in the credits?
Storaro: Because we aren’t directing. That is Warren’s job. We are writing with light and motion to tell a story. That distinction is very important.
– Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC
From American Cinematographer, Galloping Ghost, by Stephen Pizzello (December 1999)
“Usually I hate lightning as an effect, because it has the potential to take the viewer out of the movie a bit. If it’s supposed to be raining, it’s fine, but otherwise it can be a bit much. When we did tests with the Headless Horseman, though, we found that the lightning really added a lot of energy to the character– it made him more impressive, scary and Burtonian. Every time the Horseman is going to kill someone, the lightning appears as dramatic punctuation. The problem with lightning is that it really affects the editing of the movie. If it’s really fast paced in one cut, and you go to a shot where the lightning doesn’t match, you start to feel this lack of freedom. It took us a while to learn how to keep it constant without obliterating the images with lightning. It looks really interesting when you’re shooting it, but you have to control yourself!”
– Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC
AC: Did the different characters have visual signatures in terms of the way you lit them?
Zsigmond: Hugh is kind of suspenseful in the beginning. You don’t know who he is or where he’s from, but he shows up in a bar and claims he’s killed his wife and child. We shot that scene film-noir style, like an old black-and-white mystery. Other characters, like Meredith, are lit more romantically with lots of backlight. However, these were subtle differences, because we didn’t want it to look like six different movies.
“Composition is terribly important, and such a critical tool in storytelling. You use the frame to communicate the feelings you want to convey in the shot. By centering a character, placing them on a side, or short-siding them, you use the composition to support the movement that counts dramatically. The one moment where the composition makes a dramatic statement is what is important. Otherwise, in a lot of situations, composition isn’t as critical. You don’t necessarily have to have a great composition every second. But when the dramatic import of the scene is crucial, the composition should reflect that and aid the shot is being effective.”
– Conrad Hall, ASC
From American Cinematographer, Learning to See by Bill Linsman (March 1998)
“August of 1976 was the first time I taught in Rockport. Rob Draper was my assistant. Those first few sessions were a bit haphazard; we were just feeling our way. For example, one time we were lighting a parking lot, and suddenly we had a blackout. The whole town went dark. There we were with the camera and lights, and the lights wouldn’t work. I said, ‘Wait a second. We can do something while we’re waiting for the lights to come back on.’ We had a lot of students who had their cars there, so we actually staged the scene by the headlights of the cars. People were crossing in front of the headlights, and their silhouettes were going in front of those lights, and the images were just beautiful. We came up with something out of nothing to show that in a desperate situation, you can use anything for a key light.”
– Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC
These are just a few. Not exactly the best, but one of those that made an impression on my. Give the site a go, it’s a good read 🙂
P.S. You is relative