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Kurosawa


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 10:26 PM

I was just talking to a director about Kurosawa's amazing deep focus shots done using telephoto anamorphic lenses, which is amazing, although it often required lighting a shot to f/22. But you get this interesting flattened telephoto perspective. Here's one shot from "High & Low" and two from "Red Beard":

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#2 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 10:41 PM

Always great to see "jaw dropping" lighting and composition. Fantastic.
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#3 Mike Williamson

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 03:43 AM

Beautiful images, David, very easy to take for granted how hard they must have been to create. It's amazing that they could get such nice modeling and shape when lighting to that kind of a stop, especially the shot from "High and Low".
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#4 Chris Fernando

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 11:19 AM

For curiostities sake, it would be interesting to know just how much light they were using to get a 22 with those older stocks. Lighting diagrams for a Kurosawa film - where do I sign?
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#5 Ben Schwartz

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 01:46 PM

Can you imagine how hot his sets must have been?!?!
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#6 John Holland

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:03 PM

About 200asa double x , iam guessing , so about 800- 1000, foot candles , to get to f22. not to hot , compaired to Technicolor in th 30s-40s about 2-5asa , then shoot at f2.2 . john holland .
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:35 PM

Hi,

Looks a lot like the foreshortened stuff in ancient Greek frieze carvings, specifically the Elgin Marbles (Sorry, the Parthenon frieze, as recently defaced by the British Museum).

Phil
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#8 Chris Fernando

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:47 PM

About 200asa double x , iam guessing , so about 800- 1000, foot candles , to get to f22. not to hot , compaired to Technicolor in th 30s-40s about 2-5asa , then shoot at f2.2 . john holland .



Wouldn't a 200 asa stock require about 1600 fc's for a f/22 (unless the formula has changed)? I guess this is subjective and dpendent on how much sunscreen you are wearing, but that's a good deal of light, isn't it?
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#9 Stephen Williams

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:59 PM

About 200asa double x , iam guessing , so about 800- 1000, foot candles , to get to f22. not to hot , compaired to Technicolor in th 30s-40s about 2-5asa , then shoot at f2.2 . john holland .


Hi John,

I think its nearer 3000 FC in both cases. (assuming 3 asa for Technicolor)

Stephen
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#10 fstop

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 03:33 PM

I absolutely love depth of field and am dying for it's return to mainstream (and indie and perhaps even World) cinema. It's now wrongly ridiculed as some poor side effect of shooting on video without any control. Either that or it "isn't natural like in a documentary" or any other ludicrous excuses to put down the near lost art of lighting deep with hard light. Shallow DOF has it's place and lots of people do it really well, but whatever happened to epic, deep focus?

One of the most depressing things I heard was from a long-serving Panavision maintenance guy recently- in conversation about trends in cinematography he said, word for word "Depth of field doesn't exist anymore". Now obviously, this is all taken in rant mode, but this guy was explaining to me that his testing and maintenance is pretty much exclusive to DPs shooting with shallow DOF! It's almost all he's required and requested to know. We also touched on how focus pulling use to be not particularly hard (sets commonly lit to F4-F5.6 and even F8) and now it's largely for the really thick skinned only, wide open.

Just on the subject of high footcandles, here is a great quote from Stephen Burum, found at the "in conversation" section of the ICG site:

"In graduate school, I was the cinematography teaching-assistant. When I got out of college, I immediately went to work for a Disney animal unit. I was 24 years old, and I was shooting films for Disney with 16 mm ARRIFLEX cameras. I even met Walt Disney. He was very nice. He asked what I was doing, and told me to have a good time. The interesting thing was that he had complete control over all of his projects. He looked at dailies for everything. We were at Three Rivers in the Sierras for maybe six months, and he visited us twice. He was very hands-on. We had a scene in the show where a crow comes out of a cage, flies across a room and lands on a set of antlers. We were expected to shoot it exactly as it was scripted. We were having a tough time getting the shot in one take, so the director Hank Schlossdecided to do the scene in three pieces. Once a week, the director had to call and talk to Walt about the dailies. After one call, he said, Walt wants the crow shot all in one piece. It took us a week and it drove the animal trainers crazy. It was a very good beginning work experience because we had to do everything. We did a two-parter called My Family is a Menagerie in Three Rivers near where I was born. It was fun living in the mountains, shooting those films. It was all Ektachrome, 16 ASA. I remember lighting a kitchen with these animals tearing it up at 800 footcandles. We learned to light at these really high light levels, but it didn?t seem so difficult because that?s the way you learned. It would be a lot easier today, because we?ve got better and bigger lights"

As for Kurosawa, I must admit I don't buy this common belief that his work went downhill after Akahige (Red Beard). However, the earliest, twentieth century set stuff I find MUCH more interesting than say period melodrama like Yojimbo.
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#11 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 04:00 PM

Looks a lot like the foreshortened stuff in ancient Greek frieze carvings, specifically the Elgin Marbles (Sorry, the Parthenon frieze, as recently defaced by the British Museum).


---In this case it might be more inspired by Japanese prints.
Though interiors in prints are often from high angles.

Kurosawa said he avoided color for such a long time because film colors were transparent, while the colors in Japanese prints and paintings were opaque.




I absolutely love depth of field and am dying for it's return to mainstream (and indie and perhaps even World) cinema. It's now wrongly ridiculed as some poor side effect of shooting on video without any control. Either that or it "isn't natural like in a documentary" or any other ludicrous excuses to put down the near lost art of lighting deep with hard light. Shallow DOF has it's place and lots of people do it really well, but whatever happened to epic, deep focus?


---I second that.

Even Eisenstein, who's often put on a phony dichotomy of montage vs. Bazinian deep focus, is fond of deep focus and refered to it as 'montage within the frame'.

in TohoScope'

---LV
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#12 Chris Fernando

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 04:10 PM

I absolutely love depth of field and am dying for it's return to mainstream (and indie and perhaps even World) cinema. It's now wrongly ridiculed as some poor side effect of shooting on video without any control. Either that or it "isn't natural like in a documentary" or any other ludicrous excuses to put down the near lost art of lighting deep with hard light. Shallow DOF has it's place and lots of people do it really well, but whatever happened to epic, deep focus?


I remember reading a CML thread to this effect and someone brought up the point that with contemporary production design and color stocks it might be too "distracting" (read: video?). I guess it definitely has more of an aestethic place in B&W, though.
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#13 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 04:18 PM

I love too how Kurosawa used his frames (take a look for example at the telephoto opening shots of "Ran"!) and once again I agree with Tim on his thoughts about deep focus. I strongly believe that any photographic style & technique should be taken into account, but as much as I like shallow depth of field in anamorphic in a 1970's film (f.e. "The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3") because it was the exception to the rule, I would love to see again a hard light & deep focus film on the big screen.

If back these days some DPs managed to shoot a whole film with anamorphic zooms (T/4.5, at least) and 100 ASA stocks, why that style can't be achieved anymore? My guess is money rules today more than ever...
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#14 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 04:25 PM

As for Kurosawa, I must admit I don't buy this common belief that his work went downhill after Akahige (Red Beard).


to me, dreams and madadayo are amongst his most powerful films, both made very late in his career. they get little mention when people bring up kurosawa, mostly because they feature no samarai or swords. madadayo, about an old man reflecting on his life and trying to delay death, is particulary powerful when you consider that it was his final film made just a few years before his death.
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#15 Hunter Sandison

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 05:10 PM

I've seen all the Kurosawa movies set in the feudal and post-fuedal time periods and I love them all. I've never gotten around his more contemporary work even though I have been meaning to for some time. Perhaps you guys have some suggestions as to the titles I should check out first.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 06:25 PM

Well, if by contemporary, you mean that the setting is not in the past, I recommend "Stray Dog", "High and Low", "The Bad Sleep Well". If you mean post-1970 Kurosawa, my favorites are "Ran" and "Kagemusha".

"Straw Dog" and "High and Low" make great use of the seedier parts of post-war Tokyo / Yokohama. "Stray Dog" is an early Kurosawa film but seems to have been inspired both by American Film Noir and Italian NeoRealism.

Kurosawa shot 35mm anamorphic b&w exclusively from "Hidden Fortress" to "Red Beard" and all the films in that period really fascinate me. Most directors are lucky to have more one or two great films in their lifetimes, but Kurosawa was on a roll from the late 1940's to the early 1970's in terms of churning out classics.

"Sanjuro" is a great film to study in terms of how to compose 10 people in every frame...
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#17 Mike Lary

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 03:06 AM

I've never gotten around his more contemporary work even though I have been meaning to for some time. Perhaps you guys have some suggestions as to the titles I should check out first.

My favorite non-Samurai films made by Kurosawa later in his career are Madadayo and Dersu Uzala. They are both very powerful stories that explore the human condition, and they are beautifully shot.
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#18 Hunter Sandison

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 03:36 PM

David,
I meant the first way. I should have been clearer and said contemporary setting or something. I've seen and adore RAN, KAGEMUSHA, and SANJURO so I'm looking forward to watching the other five titles that you and Mike suggested. Thanks for the time you guys.
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#19 Jason Maeda

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 07:02 PM

"Looks a lot like the foreshortened stuff in ancient Greek frieze carvings, specifically the Elgin Marbles (Sorry, the Parthenon frieze, as recently defaced by the British Museum)."

it's a crime that they haven't been returned to the greeks. we can find fifteen million dollars to "search" for stolen jewish art but can't do the right thing with the greek art sitting right in front of us.

pathetic.

jk :ph34r:
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#20 Wendell_Greene

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 11:25 PM

I highly recommend you watch "Ikiru".
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