Re: 86 Long: Thanks and Praise for Television's Greatest Ach

After thinking it over, I have no idea what the job titles: Director of Photography & Cinematographer entail. So, I checked Wikipedia and found an article that describes both these jobs. I pasted an excerpt from this article below as well as a link to the complete original article.

Originally, I didn't think it was very interesting and wasn't going to post the entire article. But after giving it some more thought, I decided that much of the brilliance that goes into the work of a genius like David Chase or Stanley Kubrick concerns decisions about the camera such as camera movement, lens choice, film stock selection, lighting, filtration, etc. And since I know almost nothing about these things, I decided that I'd better post the article after all. I especially enjoyed reading about the controversy concerning Director of Photography vs. Cinematographer and I hope you will too.

Responsibilities - The English system of camera department hierarchy sometimes firmly separates the duties of the director of photography from that of the camera operator to the point that the DP often has no say whatsoever over more purely operating-based visual elements such as framing. In this case, the DP is often credited as a lighting cameraman. This system means that the director consults the lighting cameraman for lighting and filtration and the operator for framing and lens choices.

In the American system, which is more widely adopted, the rest of the camera department is subordinate to the DP, who, along with the director, has the final word on all decisions related to both lighting and framing.

The cinematographer typically selects the film stock, lens, filters, etc. to realize the scene in accordance with the intentions of the director. Relations between the cinematographer and director vary; in some instances the director will allow the cinematographer complete independence; in others, the director allows little to none, even going so far as to specify aperture and shutter angle. Such a level of involvement is not common once the director and cinematographer have become comfortable with each other. The director will typically convey to the cinematographer what he wants from a scene visually, and allow the cinematographer latitude in achieving that effect.

On some shoots, a director may assume the duties of the cinematographer, especially when shooting nude scenes or in other physically intimate settings where the director wishes to have as few people as possible present.

Re: 86 Long: Thanks and Praise for Television's Greatest Ach

The DP is responsible for supervising the lighting and exposure of the film, which most technically and critically is about managing the dynamic range of light to control the amount of detail visible in the extreme dark and bright areas of the frame. Obviously artistic objectives with the light often come into play as well. The DP is also in charge of technical details of camera operation . . . filters and lenses, which affect the field of view in the final image as well as the depth of field (how much of the frame beyond or in front of the object of focus remains in focus). He may also help the director with choices about camera placement, moves, support devices, angles, framing, etc., although the director typically retains ultimate say in these areas.

The combination of all these elements is what I meant by "capture", and I meant it to distinguish from what the image may look like after editing and post production (the Stage 5 hit had an extreme, fluid slo-mo probably accomplished with the aid of overcranking in the shooting of the footage.)
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: 86 Long: Thanks and Praise for Television's Greatest Ach

Thank you Fly. I was hoping to get a simplified understanding of the job but you seem to have so much info about it that you have opened up the topic to many new possibilities for me.

In any event, I was hoping to dig into the possibility that one of the factors in distinguishing great directors from ordinary directors is their understanding and abilities in the use of cameras - both motion picture cameras as well as, possibly, still cameras.

In the meantime, if anyone recalls seeing that documentary about Stanley Kubrick or has any info on the film, I'd sure appreciate knowing more about it.

Re: 86 Long: Thanks and Praise for Television's Greatest Ach

Well, the biggest benefit a still photographer has when transitioning to film is being able to frame their shots with much better impact.

Since you're talking about Kubrick, one prime example is a particular scene in the Shining. When Jack is locked in the freezer (after getting whacked in the head by wendy) Kubrick used a terrific angle during that scene that really intensified the moment. He had the cameraman lay flat on his back, and the DP was holding a simple table lamp to provide light as Jack leaned against the door of the freezer. They shot straight up, close to Jack's face. The scene was brilliant.

No tricky dolly shots, or crane shots, or computer controlled motion capture. Just simple straight framing that in hindsight just couldn't have worked any other way.

Re: Cinemetography

I think it's a given that Kubrick's experience as a still photographer contributed greatly to his brilliant 'eye' as a film director later. That unique sense of how to frame and light a shot is one reason why Kubrick is my favorite director of all time. Another is something he has in common with Chase: there are obviously some hidden meanings in his films, but he never, ever discussed what HE meant by them. He wanted the viewers to make up their own minds. Take 2001, for example... there are entire webpages out there devoted to nothing but the interpretation of that one movie, and the interpretations vary as wildly as discussions here about 'The Test Dream' and other such episodes. We certainly could stretch this thread out quite a ways talking about his films. I have some great Kubrick links, Fly, maybe I will post some later if you'd like to talk about him.

Even Kubrick's films that are not as loved by his fans, like Eyes Wide Shut, are very, very pretty films. And make no mistake, every frame of every scene looks exactly as it does, because Kubrick wanted it that way!

Also, that was Kubrick himself laying on his back in the meat locker :icon_biggrin:

Re: Cinemetography

Eyes Wide Shut to me is a deeply nuanced film to study on this subject. One really has to watch it in a theater to appreciate the full vitality of the color filters but what's fascinating is how he weaved the entire story with dramatic color schemes, there are scenes where it's just electric.
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