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Are you happy with that?


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#1 Adam White

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 12:34 PM

In terms of work under my belt I am still pretty green but I was wondering how the more experienced DoP's enjoy viewing projects that they have done.

When you reach a level of consistancy, do you end up scanning for the slightest flaws or for the best bits?

Of course, I realise that there are showreels to compile and the constant need to perfect ideas but do any of you guys find you can enjoy past work, forgetting that you were shooting it?

just interested, that all. :)
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 12:49 PM

I don't have to "scan" for my flaws -- they LEAP out at me!

A few years go by and I can look a little more objectively, almost like an audience member -- "hey I like the way that looks! Who was that DP? Oh, it was me..." Sometimes you see some of your earliest work and think you should be getting back to that.

When I was a beginner, I was aping the work of my heroes, in particular Storaro. Now I look back and think I should go back to aping my heroes because some of what I did was pretty exciting. The problem is that as you know more, you tend to fix the "problems" and a creeping blandness comes in. Trouble is that producers and directors actually reward you for that blandness, so you keep repeating it -- their conservatism is hard to overcome, and their lack of interest in risk-taking is deadly to the artist.

So often when I am timing a movie, I find that the director and producers are always trying to remove anything that stands out. Shots that are too dark, too blue, too warm, etc. are all "fixed".

I remember one director telling me how much he hated the look of "Munich" because there seemed no rhyme or reason for why one scene was bleach-bypassed or really dark, etc. He mentioned this to a lab person and he said that Kaminski likes to occasionally "wake up" the viewer and just do something that is jarring. Now they were thinking that this was a mistake but I can see some of the logic there, of the reason why not to smooth out a movie too much. But Kaminski is allowed that experimentation by the director.

The flipside to this, though, is what about subtlety and sophistication as an artist? What about the value in burying your style so deep into the narrative that no one thinks too much about the cinematography?

So how do you know when you're being bland and not just being subtle? I don't know, it probably takes a certain amount of self-confidence to not feel the need to show-off and be noticed.

So getting back to the original question, there are the mistakes that we see in our own work, technical and artistic, but there are also broader questions of taste and style and what we can improve beyond just technical issues. Some of the technical mistakes can be avoided over time as you learn more (like bad exposures), some just keep coming back to haunt you (like bad focus-pulling), some are acts of God, but you also have to keep asking yourself if you are growing artistically or if you are in a rut.
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#3 Evan Winter

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 01:30 PM

great question and great post by david.

i personally have a really hard time looking at my work. so far, i'm not truly happy with anything i've done. although, there is a funny pattern that i've noticed.

1. concept is finished - elated, the idea seems brilliant
2. pre-production - frustrated, i have to give up so much that the idea feels like it will barely come through
3. shoot day - sombre, we nailed mostly everything but i lost 1 - 3 nice shots due to time. although i still feel positive that the concept will work in the edit.
4. transfer - overjoyed, everything looks fantastic on that perfect little monitor in that dark little room on all that gorgeous equipment.
5. rough cut - suicidal, the concept has been lost, the video doesn't flow, the pacing and energy of the piece isn't maintained or heightened as the video progresses - this is the 'i'll never work again moment'.
6. delivery - pragmatic, everything worked out in the end, it's true the video isn't going to revolutionize the genre or break records for award nominations but there's a very good chance that next month i'll be doing this all again and have another crack at doing something that lives up to the artistry i think i have inside.

true story by the way.

evan
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 01:44 PM

I always have to get over the crushing feeling of defeat on Day One of shooting that I only got half of what I imagined and that the pace (as always) is so fast that there's no time to think or breathe.

It's always weird that the special scene that you spent weeks thinking about gets shot in a few hours and you move on to the next without reflecting on what you've accomplished -- it's just one of dozens of scenes you'll be shooting. You never get to "savor" the moment unless it was the last shot of the day and you call "wrap".
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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 02:25 PM

IThe flipside to this, though, is what about subtlety and sophistication as an artist? What about the value in burying your style so deep into the narrative that no one thinks too much about the cinematography?

My wife saw "Akeelah" with me and really liked what you did there, she commented on how she really felt like she was in Dr. Larabee's office, at the Bees, etc. How deeply was your style buried in shooting that movie? For me, often outstanding cinematography is often that which is permanently captured in my minds eye. There are scenes in "Akeelah" that I can call up like a slide show, for instance: I can see the kids at the final bee right now almost like I had a screen in front of me.

Have you thought of giving seminars someday? I'd certainly pay money to learn hands-on from you.
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#6 Bob Hayes

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 06:19 PM

When I first started I assisted and operated for Dick Bush BSC. He was a great DOP and I learned quite a lot from him. Once he told me how dissatisfied he was with his work. He felt all he saw was mistakes. I thought he was nuts. His work was superb as far as I was concerned. Then when I started shooting I saw myself doing the same thing. I see the mistakes and areas I wish I had fixed far more then I pat myself on the back for the stuff that looks great. It sucks.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 08:30 PM

When I first started I assisted and operated for Dick Bush BSC. He was a great DOP and I learned quite a lot from him. Once he told me how dissatisfied he was with his work. He felt all he saw was mistakes. I thought he was nuts. His work was superb as far as I was concerned. Then when I started shooting I saw myself doing the same thing. I see the mistakes and areas I wish I had fixed far more then I pat myself on the back for the stuff that looks great. It sucks.



Yep, I'm relatively inexperienced and I do it...and people wonder why there were so many great manic-depressed artists throughout history...
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#8 Tim Partridge

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 10:26 AM

When I first started I assisted and operated for Dick Bush BSC.


:blink:

WOW!!

Bob,

If possible, could you please share with us what you learned from Bush and his working methods?

As you probably know I think Bush is fascinating for all of the set stories and his infamous reputation alone, but I also think he is an extremely underrated DP -he taught Roger Deakins for goodness sakes, and his work with Ken Russell/Blake Edwards and stuff like Natty Gann is breathtaking. Did you work on the non-union TV movies he was shooting in the late 80s?

MANY thanks

edit: at imdb I see you worked on FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN, which was one of the many films Bush left during production. I think I read that Daryn Okada finished the film, among other people.
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Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Opal

Technodolly

Wooden Camera