Thank you, again.
Thank you, again.
Whether or not they are photographically knowledgable, most directors are fairly smart (not all, but most) so it doesn't take long on a feature shoot of putting up lenses for them to learn the effect of different focal lengths.
If I have a lens finder on the package, I can put the actual prime lens up on the finder and let the director watch a rehearsal through it. Then he can say "too wide" or "not wide enough" etc. or get a sense of whether the action is too spread out to capture in one composition or moving shot.
Working like that, it isn't long before the director and DP then start to guess the lens and come to similar conclusions ("let's try shooting the master on the 27mm...") because they've gotten familar with the lenses in the package.
Assuming your lens choice isn't based on practicalities like filming in a small room and trying to get a wide shot, then mostly what you and the DP will be trying to decide on is the level of perspective compression or expansion to use for the shot. An over-the-shoulder looks different on a shorter lens than a longer lens because the focal length affects the relative sizes of the two heads in the shot.
Now for a normal question....
What do you feel is leading more and more Cinematographers/Directors today to shoot with a very, "MTV" sense of style?
It seems that the days of long, slow, meticulously composed shots are out the window in favor of the wide followed by a usually un-controlled procession of mediums, close-ups, and the more than ocassional ecu.
Perosnally, I'm a huge fan of the Kubrick / Kurosawa framed film. I won't lie though, I think that some films are perfectly fit for an ecu filled extraveganza such as Requiem for a dream.
How much of this trend would you contribute to todays music video, reality tv, in your face sense of media exposure?
Do you think that these decisions have more to do with the Cinematographer or the Director?
I know that many french and spanish films tend to still stick to a slower tempo of story telling but do you see the pacing of Hollywood films ever coming back down to the same tempo of the past in the sense of wider framing and slower more drawn out shots?
Though it makes sense at times, like for action scenes, I'm not such a fan of the "more is more" attitude in modern Hollywood directorial style -- more shots, more movement, more close-ups. It can be self-defeating because you quickly run out of tricks to pull out of your hat when you actually need to get the viewer's attention. In fact, these days it's the occasional extreme long shot that these directors use to create an impact, because the close-up is so overused.
What I tend to like is a little musicality to the directing, where shot size and length is varied like in a symphony -- choppy alternated with fluid, loud with quiet, close with wide, etc. Spielberg is good at that approach. I remember the opening montage beginning the truck chase in "Raiders" -- the quick cuts to tight inserts (doors being slammed closed, foot on gas pedal, googles going on, etc.) emphasized by the beats of the music score, followed by a long slow boom down from a wide shot to reveal Indiana Jones watching on the low hill. It's almost like iambic pentameter or something: short, short, long, etc. (not that that's iambic pentameter...)
The thing is that when your framing gets tighter and tighter, you are almost always forced into making more cuts because so much action is happening outside the frame, so you have to cut to it to see it.
A nice bit of directing is in the climax to Michael Powell's "Black Narcissus" (the attempted killing of Deborah Kerr by Katherine Byron), which was staged to music playing on the set. Although you really should see it on DVD (the colors are gorgeous), you can see the clip on YouTube:
Thanks for all your input it makes good reading.You guys sure stay up late, I'm eating breakfast writing this in the UK!
I take it you work mostly on 35mm, most of my commercials work has gone from 35mm to HD in the last two years in the UK. Are you feeling a similar push in the States? And, is it your interest in Indie that leads you to this forum or do you see yourself adopting the Red Camera 4k route through commercial budget pressures?
David, with high definition displays becoming ubiquitous in the home, and Blu-Ray and HD DVD becoming the consumer standard, will lighting, and even lensing undergo any significant changes to disguise the skin or body imperfections of actors? After all, with the need for more content and the dounward spiral in general health, it will soon be impossible to find apparently flawless-skinned talent, when that is called for. I'm thinking that makeup will be more noticeable to the viewer as well, so how would you approach any problems that a director might present you with, in re: the above?
What about the 40 ft. movie screens we've had over the past 100 years? Film is the oldest high definition format. Why are facial imperfections now just becoming a problem (besides the over sharpening on HD cameras?)
FYI - there is no such thing as "flawless-skinned talent" - never was, never will be. Why do you think they use everything from stockings and Vaseline to Promist?
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