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It`s becoming easier...?


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#1 Oli Soravia

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 08:19 PM

Some days ago I finished a production and my thoughts after the color timing in telecine were - maybe - a bit strange: I thought about the craft of newer latitudes (in this case 5218). Sure, in the last years they were still becoming better and better, but now, they`re excellent. For some seconds I couldn`t really accept the look of the film, because of it`s quality, I thought about making it look worser (the story didn`t ask for it) - I did not in the end...and still don't know whether it was right or not (for me). I`m not talking about not willing to use all technical possibilities to make it look trashier or worser or whatever. I`m only thinking, is it becoming easier and easier or has it maybe become too easy to achieve "good" technical results...? In the first years of doing my job I thought about getting the best results, not only regarding the story and it`s visualization, also regarding the quality of my neg. Now I need to thing about achieving worser results..? Is there anyone who shares my thoughts?
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#2 Joseph White

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 09:24 PM

i think this is an interesting point, because with the advent of new technologies in every aspect of cinematography i don't know if easier is necessarily the right word, but we're definitely finding more ways to have more overall control. line up an arri 2-c with an old s-mount zeiss lens and a 235 with the lens data system, cine-tape, and a cooke s4/i and the differences are pretty darn clear. but in the end, i don't think it's necessarily the tricks and tools of the trade that make a cinematographer great, it's his or her instincts, their style, how they play with light and composition, how they tell stories, that makes them truly great.

in terms of making things "worse", you're seeing a lot of people playing around with the limitations of the medium with awesome results. take harris savides' work on "birth", malik sayeed's work on "clockers", rodrigo prieto's work on "21 grams", and paul cameron's work on "man on fire" just to name a few. here are all examples of people playing around with pushing, cross-processing, severe underexposure, hand-cranking - using simple tools to do things outside of standard beauty lighting (although this can mean a number of things as well) and more conventional cinematography. there have always been pioneers in terms of breaking away from conventional, technically "proficient" cinematography, and it took people like raoul coutard, vittorio storaro, and gordon willis just to name a few to break free from the conventions of their time. "worse" is a really subjective term, i'd say it's always hard to find the "approproate" look. 5218 is great in a lot of ways in that you can potentially work with less light, but you still need the right light no matter how you rate something. it's getting easier i'd say for beginners working with film to simply get exposure and to get something in focus, but i don't think these advents necessarily have anything to do with the overall quality of your work. they're just tools that allow you to express yourself in different ways, but it all has to come from within you i think, whether it's for "better" or "worse".
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#3 Oli Soravia

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 06:59 AM

I agree with you. But I didn`t mean personal skills and ways to go beyond the limits. I think more in terms of the million possibilities which are given to us and the respective results which are reachable - which is great - on one side - and on the other side, there is the fact, that you can shoot a somehow bad exposed neg, fix it in DI or telecine ot whatever and still get acceptable results, which is maybe great for beginners, but maybe also a bit strange for others? I`m not sure in finding the right words to express what I really mean. To make it clear, I`m happy about getting some of these possibilities (technical opportunities regarding budget) - it was a thought which came in mind while I was timing the master: "it`s easy, it`s too easy to reach the desired results". Maybe I need the chance to make better movies and to get more demanded. Honestly.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 11:23 AM

Well, while it's true that modern film stocks make it easier to not screw-up, and create nice images without a huge effort, you have to consider this is true for everyone else working out there too -- so what will make your work better than theirs? What will lift you up out of the morass of mediocrity out there? What will make you stand out?

When your goal is to create truly exceptional images, to push yourself as an artist (and that doesn't mean necessarily pushing an emulsion to the point where it breaks down), I think you'll find that it is STILL hard to create great work even with modern emulsions helping you. In other words, you need to raise your standards and expectations.

If it's too easy to get your desired results, then desire more...

But also, don't confuse the difficultly of the process with its artistic value. Sometimes you can create a great, artistic image in available light with hardly any effort, while other times you can struggle, with great time & effort, to achieve something just barely acceptable. So if a great shot occasionally comes easily to you, just enjoy the moment because it won't last.

Edited by David Mullen, 20 November 2005 - 11:27 AM.

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#5 Oli Soravia

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 06:05 PM

Well, I also agree with you David and I think to be aware of your arguments. It is a strange discussion, I know. It´s a bit hard for me to express myself in english the right way, but I like to thank you guys for the time you spend in giving me some aspects of your thinking.
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