cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM – Top 10 directors of photography



The Top 10 according to Josh Timmermann in Stylus Magazine.

According to the wiki: cinematographer:

The term cinematographer has been a point of contention for some time now; some professionals insist that it only applies when the director of photography and camera operator are the same person.

Perhaps the director of photography (film or digital) should be called The Lilac Chaser, after the well-known visual illusion. In other words, he or she’s the one who knows how to produce a good visual effect in the completed film – which thereby enhances a good script – but also has the knowledge to avoid unintended visual consequences which might wreck a good script. 

Josh talks about the opposite, where great cinematography props up an initially weak film idea.

I’ll put a link  to Jim Emerson’s cinematography post here:

Avatar and Oscar again raise the question: What is cinematography? (Part 1)

Read the comments as well which debate cinematographer/Director of photography.

Jim himself writes in reponse to a commenter:

The cameraman on set or on location must understand not only the sequence of shots, but the time of day, the temperature of the lights, how the film reacts in a multitude of situations, and even what time the sun will rise and set. Then there are the happy accidents that only the trained eye will catch, like the way the heat waves will play with the light in a telephoto shot. The cinematographer with experience will in many cases give the director the benefits of his or her knowledge.

(Which reminds me of the work of the location manager and the scouts, who themselves are the beginning of the the cinematographer’s work. It is they who will begin the work of noting where the sun sets and rises in relation to a building, say, and when, because they will be working from a script, will be able to see such things as whether it will be easy or diffcult to lay tracking down, which will effect how the film can look.)

No one has mentioned that a film (film or digital) is edited after it is made. So it is quite posible that much of a cinematographers work can be removed afterwards for non-cinematographic reasons, such as length of final film.

The more one looks at film the more the collaborative nature of film-making is highlighted. A professional editor (unless that means the director) works with the director and all the other major players on the film. Who can imagine the director of photography not being allowed in to see how the editing is going, and to perhaps have some say in how the editing is altering (for good or bad) the look he has set out to achieve?


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April 7, 2010 - Posted by | cinematography, director of photography, editing, film [its techniques] |

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