Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cinematography for Directors by Jacqueline B. Frost

Jacqueline B. Frost. Cinematography for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration. Studio City, Ca.: Michael Wise Productions, 2009.

The Director and Director of Photography, or Cinematographer, should cooperate in conveying a desired fell to their movie. The cinematographer chooses the lighting during production and the digital intermediate or color timing in postproduction to create the movie’s visual appearance. Directors and cinematographers usually share their concepts, examine other works to realize what fits their needs, and then create accordingly.

There are many nuances that make filming each movie different. The director controls the pace of shooting. The cinematographer works to produce the director’s cinematic vision. Some directors, especially ones from theater or writers who turn directors, are less skilled in the technical aspects of filmmaking. The cinematographer may need to provide more advice on such technical aspects as what mm of film, filter, etc, to use.

The genre of a film may help determine its’ cinematography. For instance, a comedy is usually filmed brightly without shadows. Science fiction often uses wide angle lenses and a de-saturated color palette. A romantic comedy often uses soft and practical lighting.

Decisions have to be made for each shot as to whether it will be a long, medium, or close up shot, the type camera used, how the cameras moves (i.e. handheld, dolly, Steadicam, crane, or tracking), whether the visual palette should be warm or cool and amber or blue, as well as hue and gradient , whether lighting should be high key or low key, soft or hard.

There are about 340 who belong to the American Society of Cinematographers.

The cinematographer determines the set lighting, calculates exposure, and determines camera placement, lighting, and focal length. This is usually planned in advance, often with the storyboard. These decisions are flexible, especially if the cinematography makes an observation during shoots that will improve a film.

Cinematographer Daniel Pearl is known for top light, warm sepia hues, and low light images that are used in his horror films.

Since directors and cinematographers work closely together over the shooting period, it is usually important they work compatibly with each other.

Directors often share their cinematographic visions with cinematographers by showing photographs indicating a desired look.

The Director of Photography or cinematographer (DP) controls the camera and lighting crew. The camera operator is second in charge.

The cinematographer/DP often observes the actor and the action for lighting and framing issues. The DP can operate the camera, but usually does not and instead concentrates on the overall situation.

The DP usually knows in advance what an actor will do. The lighting thus is determined prior as to what is best in each situation.

The director sends the DP a final shooting script, meets and discusses a vision, determines style of filming, determines who will operate cameras and who the crew will be, goes over storyboards or similar visuals, discusses vision concerning scenes and color with the production designer, shoots tests, visits and consider locations and what lighting works best at each, considers recommendations, and decides what to do.

DPs find the most difficult directors are those who don’t collaborate with them and are too controlling without considering the DP’s advice.

Directors should keep updated on new camera technology, know cinematographic fundamentals, have visual references available, collaborate with DPs, prepare storyboards, and make other necessary preparations, observe locations prior to shootings, determine importance of shots, consider blocking, prepare postproduction procedures, and manage well.

Super 16 mm is often used for High Definition.

The t stop is true light and the f stop concerns exposure.

Lens should always be clean with no smudges.

Cooke lenses are often sued for soft images. An Arri master prime or Zeiss high speed prime is for sharper images when opened at 1.4 stop instead of the slower 2.8, which lets less light in.

The zoon lens varies its focal length while a prime lens is fixed in its focal length.

32 mm prime is better for close shots.

Zoom changes the background focus. Changing the camera position and the lens create the same size shot with a different look. A prime lens can shoot close up and keep the background in focus.

The zoom lens emerged in the late 1960s.

Panavision zooms and Zeiss ultraspeed zooms offer sharper images.

Normal vision is approximately 180 degrees. To approximate normal vision in film, use 35 mm file with a normal or 55 mm lens, with a SI16/16 mm film with a 25 mm lens. A large imaging device area requires longer focal lengths when using a normal lens. A 123” DDC would use a 15 mm lens. A 1/3” CCD would use a 11 mm lens. A Super 16 mm formal would use a 22 mm focal length. Wide angle lenses would be 16 mm, 10 mm, and 8 mm. Wide angles in 35 mm format would use lenses such as 32 mm, 27 mm, or 14 mm. The normal lens offers more clarity and less distortion than the zoom lens. Zoom lens are good for moving shots and particular views.

A beauty shot usually will not work as well with a wide angle lens.

Combining a long field depth with a wide angle lens can underscore certain kinds of scenes. Wide angle lenses keep backgrounds in focus and can be good in shooting scenes with motion.

A Steadiman with a short lens keeps focus. A Steadicam, dolly, or handheld keeps better focus and dept of field with a wide angle lens.

Fish eye lens create horizontal frame edge distortion.

A telephone lens distorts the background behind the image it focuses on. A telephone is an 85 mm, 150 mm, and 200 mm lens in 35 mm, 1:85 aspect ratio.

The focal length of a lens is often found on the inside lens ring beside the glass. Often, white numbers tell feet and red numbers tell meters.

F/1.4 is about what the dilated pupil sees. F/22 is what a constricted pupil often sees. F and t stops occur, from widest opening to least amount of light let in, occur at 1.4, 2.0, 2,8, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 16, and 22..

F stop is used to calculate field depth. T stop is used to determine exposure.

An anamorphic lens usually opens at f and t stops from 3 to 22. It allows less lgith to enter and thus requires more light for scene lighting.

The most light enters at f aperture open at 1.4. The least light enters at f of 22. “Stepping down” is defined as switching to the next lowest f stop. “Opening up” is defined as switching to the next highest f stop.

More light reduces depth of field. Less light induces background detail.

Overexposure can be handled with a neutral density filter. The neutral density filler ND.09 reduces the f stops. The ND 0.6 reduces two f stops, and the ND .03 combo filter can turn tungsten film to appearing as daylight.

A cloudy outdoor light might require f/5.6.

“Hitcock’s Rule is how much space things appear in should be equivalent to their importance in the scene.

Many Westerns used wide angle lens when showing scenery. Many horror/suspense films use wide angle lens as the surroundings, at times including a hidden villain, are important to the scene.

A wide angle lens on a Steadicam or handheld is used to show what a character is viewing.

“Chiaroscuro lighting” involves wide difference of light and shadow at the same time.

Light at down has cooler light. Late afternoon light has more amber hues.

Surrealism has a dreamy imagery.

Impressionism uses changing light qualities.

Film relates to light differently than does the eye. HM 1 lights color balance as natural daylight at 550 K. HM1 lights thus are used for many daytime shoots.

The amber appearing Tungster films color balances at 3200 k.

The “cooler colors” are blue, green, cyan, and violet. Yellow, orange, and red are dominant next to cooler colors. The eye is drawn to yellow with blue surroundings and thus a dominant sight could be established this way.

Cool colors can highlight feelings of isolation.

Ektachrome film presents a blue hue.

Orange, yellow, and red usually exert warmth.

The light amount required for correct exposure is the film’s speed rating or exposure index.

Kodak and Fuji are the only manufacturers of movie film. Only Kodak makes black and white film.

The three point lighting set up uses a key light as the main light source, a source light that can be seen in the scene, and a fill large for balancing shadows.

Dramas usually are lit to show realism with faces evenly lit and shadowy areas.

A tracking shot is filmed with in a car and is shot following or moving away from the action.

Handheld shots are often shaky as operators usually shake while filming. The shot usually brings an audience more emotionally into the scene.

There should be reasons as to what message a scene tells by a camera that moves or stops moving.

Crane shots are for views from high angles. A crane uses a zoom.

A dolly moves a camera and has less of a depth of field shift as does a crane.

A Steadicam is worn with a harness which reduces the movements faced with a handheld camera. Theya re good when filming where a Dolly can’t be placed.

The frame height and weight ratio is called its aspect ratio. Regular 16 mm has a 1.33 aspect ratio, which fits digital video’s 4:3 aspect ratio. Super 16 mm has a 1:66 aspect ratio, High Definition a 1:78 aspect ratio, regular 35 mm as 1:85 aspect ratio, super 35 mm a 2:35 aspect ratio, anamorphic a 2:40 aspect ratio, and 70 mm a 2:65 aspect ratio.

HD Super 35 mm, anamorphic, and 70 mm are for wide screens.

U.S. theaters mostly use 35 mm or anamorphic. Wide screen theaters use 70 mm.

Some films are shot on Super 16 mm and transferred to 1:85 for theaters.

The lifespan of film is 100 years. A film stored on HD will need to be rebooted periodically to restore its data, which is more expensive than archiving film.

Filming on 35 mm film with a 1:85 aspect ratio is most common and often the least expensive method. This is for theater and will appear letter boxed on television.

Frame is normally 2:40. Some prefer framing at 1:85 to show scenes more intimately. Many don’t wish to first shoot in 1:85 in order to get a sharper looking scene. A 35 mm shot in 1:85 can be developed into 2:40 and this is commonly done.

Super 18 mm film is about half the cost of 35 mm film and runs about twice as long. Yet is has higher postproduction costs as it has to be converted for theater use. It can be used directly for DVD release.

Super 18 mm is used by smaller and lighter cameras. It is thus often used by lower cost productions.

The super 16 mm aspect ratio of 1:66 is similar enough to HDs 1:75 ratio and thus can be converted to HD.

Anamorphic lenses compress images during wide screen shots.

IMAX uses 70 mm film.

Super 16 mm is generally better quality than digital. Digital can allow more diversity.

It is becoming more common for directors and DPs to view dailies on HD or DVD.

When processing a film photochemically, the first print is the answer print, which is processed three times adding two rolls and the soundtrack. The answer print is corrected for colors, dissolves, optimal effects, title checks, etc.

Films with a large distribution may need over 1500 prints. Foreign distribution often causes subtitles using the title interpositive.

The photochemical developing process can be used to deliberately alter colors. Using less or no bleach bypass sharpens contrast between dark and light, lowers color saturation, and yields a more monochromatic color palette. Doing this to the print results in darker shadow areas and darkens the color black.

Neutral flashing is when the color is desaturated to reduce contrast, improve shadows, and show more detail. Color flashing reduces contrast according to specific goals.

Forced processing involves under exposing film to increase grain and increase darkness. It often is done to balance by overexposing film that was shot when underexposed.

Cross processing uses a different chemical process that removes orange mask.

Most studio movies use digital intermediate then convert film to a computer hard drive. It scans more slowly than other systems as it requires correction at a different resolution than the resolution at viewing.

Billy Bitzer was one of the first notable cinematographers, working with D.W. Griffith. They first used tracking shots.

GregToland was a noted cinematographer in both silent and talking films. He worked on “Citizen Kane”.

Robert Burks was a cinematographer on a number of Alfred Hitchcock films. Russell MEtty worked on a number of Douglas Sirk films. Januse Kaminski has worked on several Stephen Spielberg films.

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