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#1 Tom Lowe

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 03:44 PM

One thing I don't like about American Cinematographer is that the articles are often filled with serious spoilers, so you can't really read an AC piece safely until after you've seen the picture. This often means that I have to go back a month or two or even a year later, after I have finally seen the DVD of a certain picture before I can read the AC article.

I wish AC would prohibit major spoilers in their articles. They are not really important for discussion of the photography most of the time. This would also allow us to the read the AC piece in advance of seeing pictures, so we can keep our eyes peeled for certain techniques, setups and shots.

Just my 2 cents.
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 03:55 PM

Really? I rarely think AC gives any story material away that you couldn't already guess anyway. I read the articles, see the movies and really don't feel like I missed out on anything.
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 04:25 PM

I've only seen one instance of this, and that was with "The Assassination of Jesse James" in the latest interview with Deakins...but then again, the spoiler is in the title itself, so it really didn't matter.

If it's a film I plan on seeing, I rarely read the article until I've already watched the film. That way I know more of what they're talking about.
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#4 Tom Lowe

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 04:28 PM

Seriously at least half the articles have serious spoilers. There seems to be no consideration at all about spoilers in many of the articles.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 05:25 PM

I don't mind the spoilers myself, but that's partly because I take a long-term view of the magazine, having reread the 1970's issues many times over, some of which had articles on films I have yet to see.

A good example is Cinefex magazine, which covers the efx work of a movie from start to finish, story-wise, so there is no effort made to hide the story elements because it makes it harder to discuss how those scenes were shot.

All I really want from those magazine articles is hardcore information about how they were shot. If that requires discussing the ending of the movie to do so, then fine.

I guess I don't really go to movies to be surprised by turns in the plot, except for a few famous exceptions, and usually an AC magazine article would avoid giving away some major surprise like that.

Anyway, it's not my impression that AC magazine goes out of its way to give away plot surprises except in the discussion of how the scene was shot. For example, it would have been hard to discuss shooting the space capsule scenes in "Astronaut Farmer" without giving away the fact that the main character managed to get into space, but to leave out those scenes would made the article less informative.

I think of these magazines partly from the point of view of someone fifty years from now researching how a movie in 2007 was shot. Maybe that's why I married a librarian...

SPOILER...







I'm glancing at the last issue on Deakins and the interview says "when Jesse shoots Ed Miller..." -- now I read that article before I saw the movie, but since I hadn't seen the movie before I read the article, the name "Ed Miller" did not stick in my mind, so when that scene came up, I had forgotten the discussion in the magazine, though there is so much tension throughout that sequence that you're basically just waiting for it to happen, it's hardly a surprise. It's a western, so if an article says that someone gets shot, I just assume it's one of a dozen people who probably get shot during the movie.

Anyway, I've read every issue of the magazine going back to 1924, and this is the first time I've even thought about the issue of spoilers, so it clearly was not something that stood out in my mind as being an aspect of the magazine.
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#6 Tom Lowe

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 05:35 PM

I do agree with you in one sense... that it makes for better long-term reading. That piece on Farmer was one that came to mind in terms of giving away serious plot points. But yeah, in that case, they had no choice.

I guess my point is that some of the articles give away serious plot points when there is no need to do so. When it's vital to the long-term discussion of a movie, then okay. But some of the articles seem to throw in spoilers kind of randomly. I'd prefer if they made their articles a bit more like a movie review. Most reviews at least attempt to conceal major plot points.

Another option would be that AC could give a spoiler warning for pieces with serious plot revelations.

Maybe I am just over sensitive about spoilers, or maybe I'm just so lazy about getting out to see new pics that I want them to cater to me. :lol:
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#7 chuck colburn

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 05:48 PM

It's a publication for camera men/women, it's not a film review rag. If it has an article about a film you haven't seen, don't read it.
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#8 Tom Lowe

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 08:15 PM

Easy enough to say, chuck. But every time I get my new AC it's like Christmas for me, and I always want to jump in and read the articles. :P
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#9 Rodrigo Prieto

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 09:21 PM

One thing I don't like about American Cinematographer is that the articles are often filled with serious spoilers, so you can't really read an AC piece safely until after you've seen the picture. This often means that I have to go back a month or two or even a year later, after I have finally seen the DVD of a certain picture before I can read the AC article.

I wish AC would prohibit major spoilers in their articles. They are not really important for discussion of the photography most of the time. This would also allow us to the read the AC piece in advance of seeing pictures, so we can keep our eyes peeled for certain techniques, setups and shots.

Just my 2 cents.



Good point Tom. When I looked at the article for Lust, Caution before it was published, I realized it had several spoilers, so I tried to rewrite them as to not reveal important story points. I am curious to hear if you think that I made the descriptions abstract enough so as to explain the intention of the specific photographic techniques without giving away important story information. Thanks!
Rodrigo Prieto.
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#10 Tom Lowe

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 10:00 PM

Rodrigo, it's very funny you mention this! I was thinking of the LUST article when I made this thread.

Well I started reading the article and it said something about Tony Leung being a "sinister character" or something like that so I shut the article right away! I thought maybe they were revealing whether Leung turns out to be good or bad in the end.

That's all I can tell you about that article, though, because I closed the mag as soon as I read that one tiny thing!

While I got you here, Rodrigo, can I tell you that my favorite part of BABEL was the Japanese part. I loved it!!!!!
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#11 Alex Worster

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 10:07 PM

If any major plot points were given away about Lust, Caution I can't remember which is the way it should be. Usually when I read the articles before or after I see the film I'm so focused on absorbing the cinematographic knowledge that when I go to see the film I of course know what it is about but am not ahead of the story. It maybe the way I read and absorb things but I would guess that that's pretty common. l This is not to say that AC has never given away spoilers because every now and then I find myself anticipating plot points but I think it's pretty rare. The only down side I see to AC is I find when I read the article before watching the film I find myself analyzing the photography more on the first go round, looking for the shots they talked about in the article. Ideally I would watch the film first for content, etc but realistically if the magazine is sitting in front of me I have to read it. It's has gravitational pull. I haven't seen Lust, Caution yet but am looking forward to seeing it soon. Good article in my opinion and good issue on the whole.

Ditto on Babel but I think my favorite part was the Moroccan segment.

Edited by Alex Worster, 23 October 2007 - 10:11 PM.

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#12 Rodrigo Prieto

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 11:34 PM

Alex and Tom,
It is good to hear that you each liked a different part of Babel. I personally don't have a favorite section, but I must say that shooting in Tokyo was quite a treat after suffering the heat in Morocco and Northern Mexico.
Tom, maybe it is best if you see the film first (in a cinema) before you read the article, although I was careful not to reveal much. If you pay close attention, you probably could figure out the plot points of the scenes I describe is in the story. It is just hard to talk exclusively about what you are trying to do technically, as it is all in the service of the story and what the characters are going through. Every decision made on the way the movie should look and how to approach it photographically is based on story points, so it is not easy to describe it without spoilers. Anyway, I hope you enjoy Lust, Caution when you do see it.
David: You have read every issue of the AC since 1924?!!!? You are a walking encyclopedia on cinematography! No wonder you are so knowledgeable! Amazing!
Rodrigo.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 11:50 PM

David: You have read every issue of the AC since 1924?!!!? You are a walking encyclopedia on cinematography! No wonder you are so knowledgeable! Amazing!
Rodrigo.


I only memorized the ones starting in 1970 though... ;)

I've reread the 1970's issue so many times that my collection (gathered piecemeal over the years) is wearing out. I've also reread parts of the 1950's era at the library, anything about the new widescreen formats of the day.

Last time I was at the AMPAS library, I read the 1942-to-1944 issues again, just to get a feel for the WW2 era in Hollywood (having just finished reading the history book on Roosevelt and Churchill, and seeing the PBS documentary, "The War".)

I suppose my time would be more productive spent learning how to convert and color-correct RAW files in Photoshop better, learning digital technology, etc. but truthfully... it's a bit dry compared to WW2 history!

I'd rather be more artistic, like you Rodrigo... You have a real eye!
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#14 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 12:48 AM

About a month ago I started going to the local library and sifting through the microfilms of AC mag. After a few visits, I still haven't gotten out of the 20's!

But my card's loaded with moneys for making printouts, so soon I'll be compiling all my favorite articles into a single binder for my own reference :)
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#15 Alex Worster

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 01:05 AM

Jonathan, are the AC microfilms at the SF public library? If not, which library did you find them at and do you know what the year span they have, off the top of your head?
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#16 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 02:22 AM

Jonathan, are the AC microfilms at the SF public library? If not, which library did you find them at and do you know what the year span they have, off the top of your head?


Yeah, they're at the main library near the Civic Center, 5th floor :)

As I recall, they're from 1924 to 1960-something. And their bound copies in the reference section go from 89 to '06, I think. They may have some more bound copies tucked away somewhere for now, since there seems to be some remodeling going on at the library, in general.
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#17 Alex Worster

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 03:24 AM

Thanks. I'll be checking that out.
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#18 Tom Lowe

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 11:55 AM

That is amazing how many AC articles you have read, David. That explains a lot! :lol:

I just recently found a guy on the net who sells pristine copies of AC for like 2 bucks each. I just got beautiful copies of June 1979 (Days of Heaven...the piece is written by Almendros), Aug 1980 (Shining), June 1980 (Empire Strikes Back) and June 1981 (Clash of the Titans... Harryhausen). He sent them to me in fantastic condition in little plastic slips.

One thing that really amuses me are the ads for the old editing machines! Having come up in the digital age, it's shocking to me that people actually used to edit on those contraptions!

I might scan some of my favorite ads and pieces and do a thread about it here. One of the mags has this big article (from 1981!) about some new video camera. It's called "Video vs Film" and the author predicts that video will soon overtake film. :)
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#19 John Holland

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 12:19 PM

Well it still hasnt 26 years on and those old editing machines well a Steenbeck was wonderful .i must agree about Movieolas crap things .
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#20 Tom Lowe

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 12:37 PM

I am looking at an ad right now for the Steenbeck in the June '81 issue... It has six 35mm reels feeding into the contraption, and this tiny little 7-inch screen, but the ad boasts "Large, Brilliant picture" screen... heh.
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