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Is it too late to learn?


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#1 Layl Tammuz

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 10:59 AM

Hi;

Here's my situation...I'm a 32yo architect. I have never touched a camera except for the still variety for easy clicks and I am interested in crossing over to cinematography. This might sound silly and whimsical to some but the truth is I love the ability of a cinematographer, in tandem with the director's general vision, to compose a whole other world...and this is more so when the cinematography is embedded within the idea of the film and not simply a tool to capture a replication of the world (such as Tarkovsy +Georgy Rerberg Mirror and others, Van Sandt's Elephant more recently, Peter Greenaway + Sasha vierny then in a different manner Tim Burton's and Stefan Czapky eccentric worlds...) The truth is I also discovered good films at a late stage. Regardless, I am intrigued by the technicalities of achieving these moving images that can be soft or harsh, colourful or monochrome...where time is completey yours to speed up or slow down...where every light has its character and technological implications. etc etc. ok, ill stop the rant and just ask :) ...is it too late? what would be a good first step? I was thinking of maybe starting with a super 8mm. At the moment school is out of the question...but perhaps in a couple of days..till then...

I'd appreciate any helpful tips, thank you.
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#2 Tim Carroll

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 11:45 AM

It's only too late if you've decided you have nothing left to learn . Hell, you're 32, you're still a baby. Get on with it.

Best,
-Tim
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#3 Kristian Schumacher

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 12:05 PM

Hi Layl,

Just letting you know that we are in the same boat - 32 and determined to learn this thing :-) I am starting out on 16mm/s16, but I think 8mm can be OK if you get a basic camera with all manual controls. I know this has been discussed before - what format is best to learn on - and I can't tell you.......yet!

Best of luck to you,

Kristian
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#4 Dan Goulder

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 12:12 PM

...is it too late?

Absolutely! The only plot development you should be concerned with at the ripe old age of 32 is a burial plot. It's way too late to start a new career! You're better off spending the next 50-60 years of your life doing something you hate, while merely fantasizing about doing something that would bring you fulfillment. On the other hand, why don't you just go roll some film? If you like doing that, roll some more film, etc.
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#5 Scott Bryant

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 02:09 PM

...is it too late?


Never.


Personally I would start with still photography. Buy an old (or new) manual 35mm and a light meter to understand exposure (that's what I did and it's much cheaper to use trial and error with a still camera than with even an 8mm movie camera). Since you are an architect I imagine you'll pick it up quickly with the help of a good book and some internet searching. From there you could either get an 8mm camera or 16mm. My first camera was a bolex h8 (hand wound 8mm) and while it was great, I was hungry for sync sound and more options so i moved up to 16mm. I think there is something really incredible about shooting on film and getting to see what your shot looks like for the first time when it comes back from the lab. Then again, if you want to shoot digital you can save more money in the long run (but I think there is something hypnotic about film that really works on people).

As far as the actual art of making a film, watch as many films as you can from every country from every decade. You don't have to steal other people's shots but there are many standard shots and set-ups that are universal.

"If you truly love cinema with enough passion, and you really love it, you can't help but make a good movie." - Quentin Tarantino.

Now I know that alot of people don't like him and I'm not saying he is the greatest director ever or anything, but I think that is a great idea to hold on to. Pay attention to great films, read as much as you can, and just keep trying. I think everyone on this forum is still learning.
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#6 timHealy

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 02:43 PM

Not it is not to late. I always seem to come across articles about great artists who started in architecture. Architecture must prepare the mind to create and build things and not just buildings.

Best

Tim
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#7 David Auner aac

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 03:21 PM

Not it is not to late. I always seem to come across articles about great artists who started in architecture. Architecture must prepare the mind to create and build things and not just buildings.


Second that. I see cinematography as a contact point between creativity and technics. And in that way it's related to architecture. I was once thinking about going into architecture myself. But somewhere along the way I shifted my focus from being interested in building things to making pictures. So you'll probably be able to use some of your meta skills in cinematography as well (composition, a sense for space, balancing what your trying to achieve creatively with whats possible technically on your budget etc.) Get started, it's never too late.

Cheers, Dave
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#8 Frank Barrera

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 10:29 PM

"too late?"

well that depends on what you mean by "too late"? Too late for what? As the other posts mention it is certainly never too late to learn a new set of skills or pursue any discipline within the arts. But realistically speaking: what are your goals for your new found work? Are you married? Do you have children? Do you have a mortgage? Do you have a big pile of money in the bank to pay your bills while waiting for paid shooting work? These are just a few questions that need to be answered before you can really answer the initial question.

I don't mean to be negative. I just read the other posts which are all perfectly inspiring and started to think about my wife and two kids and mortgage and how I don't have a big pile of money in the bank after graduating from film school 13 years ago and working as hard as I can to slowly develop my skills and career. Don't get me wrong: I love this business and hope to expire someday on a dolly when I'm 90 years old. i wouldn't want to do anything else for a living but this can be a very rough game. And any new comer needs to understand this.

f
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#9 Layl Tammuz

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 11:02 AM

Thank you all for your advise and input. I'll work my way backwards :) :

Frank; no I don't have a family or a mortgage or ... I'm pretty free to do my own thing. But neither do I have a big wad, or even smaller pile, of cash lying around somewhere for me to , for instance, take me through university again or by myself anything expensive. But if I don't start somewhere I won't start at all. If I might ask, what do you mean by it being a rough game? In what way? Financially? In trying to pursue your own vision rather than visions dictacted on you by others?

Tim/David; I believe that one of the most "architectural" aspects would be the composition of an image. For instance, I sometimes lay out a frame and sketch (very badly) within it ..characters or elements as I would want them in accordance to each other and to the frame. For instance an exaggerated narrow landscape frame complements flattish gently undulating landscape and the allowance for a lot of void in the contact between sky and ground. there is also something very powerful about it in terms of the characters laid out and their relation to their environment,. One thing that it doesnt compliment as much is intimacy....it just invites so much space. a portrait frame can encourage more intimacy for instance when shooting full shot bodies of two or more persons next to each other. A square frame yet something else altogether...for instance two faces filling up that frame. As well, the matter of symmetry and asymmetry. many greenaways image compositions are iconically symmetrical in capturing a hyper-artificial cinematic staging. All this achieved through the compositional abilities of the cinematographer, unless i am incorrect. so yes, there is a commonality.

Scott; Thank you for the suggestions. I agree with you, still photography would be a good beginning. But I was planning to start with a digital say nikon N60 or N80 rather than a manual one for the following reasons (not because i favour digital over film, i know how much difference in quality there is and read up a bit on why that is) :
1- i wont have really large prints therefore the matter of resolution will not be an issue until i become more serious/knowledgeable
2- i will not be developing the actual colour film but letting a lab do it (i dont have the equipment plus ive been told b&W is much easier to self develop whereas the colour is too expensive )..therefore in reality all actual colour calibrations will fall pray to the lab setting in any case. I can still learn all about exposure, f-stops, speed...whilst using a digital still cam. whislt recognising that the quality is just not the same.
3- it takes too much time to wait for the film to develop, therefore i would not be able to instantly connect the picture to the manner of how i shot it. whereas i would get immediate self-intruction with a digital camera (please on any of those points, do correct me if i go awry or offer altertnative suggestions, Im here to learn from others)
4- its much cheaper to take tons of pictures to learn about all the points mentioned above with a digictal still cam than to learn with a manual film one. or would you disagree?

as shown by the above, i would be using the digital camera as a tool to learn not an end in itself. in reality i really prefer the film quality, it manages to capture details and colour that a digital still cant. but when i start with actual motion camera filming, i would definetely be more interested in film for its qualities.

Tim/Christian/ D.goulder...Thank you for the encouragement.
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#10 Scott Bryant

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 11:24 AM

4- its much cheaper to take tons of pictures to learn about all the points mentioned above with a digictal still cam than to learn with a manual film one. or would you disagree?


I personally think that that is okay, I use my Nikon D70 alot to meter when I'm shooting film. One thing to keep in mind though is that digital cameras cannot capture the same range of lighting as film (latitude) so sometimes whenever something looks almost black in your digital camera it will really be just a darker shadow when you get your film back. Same with the whites. In case you don't know, to meter with a DSLR set it to shutterspeed priority at 1/50th which is the closest to 1/48 of a 24 frame per second film camera with a 180 degree shutter angle. I would also suggest sticking to whole f stops (1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 5.6, etc.) most cine lenses i've had experience with don't have fractional f stops like digital cameras do.

Another thing. When you do start shooting film overexpose the scene by 1 stop or so. This shrinks the film grain and gives you a good image to work with. When I was metering for a test shot a few weeks ago I overexposed and then properly exposed. The overexposed image on the DSLR was unusable completely too bright, but when I got my film back, the overexposed portion was the one i could easily use to color correct/grade. The more properly exposed image was a little to dark for my taste. Which comes back to the whole idea. It is about your taste. No matter what, shoot what the shot calls for. If you think it fits the story better completely underexposed or completely overexposed or perfectly exposed do it.
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#11 Layl Tammuz

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 06:30 AM

thanks scott
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#12 Nate Downes

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 06:52 AM

Not it is not to late. I always seem to come across articles about great artists who started in architecture. Architecture must prepare the mind to create and build things and not just buildings.

Best

Tim

This struck me as I studied architecture.... 8)
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#13 Nate Downes

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 06:57 AM

I would re-suggest looking into a film SLR and shooting B&W for a few reasons:

1) one of the worst habits for any DP or director to have is to overshoot. Shoot the same thing 8-10-20-200 times (yes, I've had that happen) because "it's digital, it's free". Being tied to that 2 minute runtime, or that 12 frame limit really forces you quickly to learn to judge a shot before you take it.

2) buy a tripod and shutter release. By letting go of the camera, you can sit and focus on your shot more. Yes, sounds illogical, but it is so true. I learned to take better pictures just this way.

3) By shooting B&W film, you focus first and foremost on the image, without the colors as a distraction. The best movies work if a) you can turn off the sound and B) turn off the color. If the movie still captures your interest, then you've done it.
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#14 Stefan Neubig

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 06:01 PM

I suppose being an architect is a very good precondition.
Among the great cinematographers are a lot architects
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#15 michelle arakelian

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 01:36 PM

Two Weeks of Cinematography and Advanced Lighting Techniques in Film Studio and motion picture lab Movie and Sound (www.movieandsound.it) in Florence. Combination of Film and Digital Video. Taught by award cinematographer Janusz Sikora who teaches filmmaking at University of Southern California and Dreamworks Studios. Janusz teaches his Dancing with Light Technique which is a comprehensive approach to visual expression where Cinematic Eloquence is of primary concern. Workshop is designed for Directors and Directors of photography as it deals with esthetics of cinematic interpretation. Students are encouraged to bring their own ideas as they will have chance to try their execution in professional environment of Film Studio. Program is unique in that it covers both Technical and Artistic aspects of cinematic expression.
Read about Program: http://www.cecov.it/altricorsi-en.html


Hi;

Here's my situation...I'm a 32yo architect. I have never touched a camera except for the still variety for easy clicks and I am interested in crossing over to cinematography. This might sound silly and whimsical to some but the truth is I love the ability of a cinematographer, in tandem with the director's general vision, to compose a whole other world...and this is more so when the cinematography is embedded within the idea of the film and not simply a tool to capture a replication of the world (such as Tarkovsy +Georgy Rerberg Mirror and others, Van Sandt's Elephant more recently, Peter Greenaway + Sasha vierny then in a different manner Tim Burton's and Stefan Czapky eccentric worlds...) The truth is I also discovered good films at a late stage. Regardless, I am intrigued by the technicalities of achieving these moving images that can be soft or harsh, colourful or monochrome...where time is completey yours to speed up or slow down...where every light has its character and technological implications. etc etc. ok, ill stop the rant and just ask :) ...is it too late? what would be a good first step? I was thinking of maybe starting with a super 8mm. At the moment school is out of the question...but perhaps in a couple of days..till then...

I'd appreciate any helpful tips, thank you.


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