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WHAT IS GOOD CINEMATOGRAPHY?????????????


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#1 Daniel Porto

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 01:31 AM

Plain and simple... what is good cinematography???

share your thoughts below
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#2 Daniel Smith

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 06:06 AM

I think one of the biggest things people studying film miss out on is watching the BAD films.

We're all told to watch Lubezki, Hall, Tolland and Deakins material, but after watching these films we know we have just watched some beautifull cinemtography but we don't have much else to compare it to so they actually become the norm.

I think watching the bad films is just as important.
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#3 Evan Pierre

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 06:44 AM

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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 08:16 AM

What is "good" cinematography? That's a bit on the subjective side...


But in general, our JOB is to choose the appropriate lighting, lens size, framing, depth of field, media (filmstock/tape), etc. to "tell the story" or present the information in the "best" (appropriate, attractive) way possible given the circumstances (time, budget, resources, etc).

In other words, have we as cinematographers/cameramen/videographers/DPs acquired the most attractive and appropriate images possible that fit the story being told? If that is accomplished, then that is "good cinematography." The way a shot is framed and lit for one movie (or whatever) may not be appropriate at all for another movie no matter how "good" or "bad" it looks (which can be an entirely subjective judgment).

So, "good cinematography" comes from a cameraman or camerawoman who knows his/her tools and the BUSINESS well enough that he/she is capable of acquiring images appropriate to the project at hand.
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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 09:04 AM

IMHO the best Cinematography is that which doesn't call attention to itself, maybe the occasional pretty sunset or landscape shot but never detracting from the narrative content. The minute an audience starts thinking about camera work, lighting, whatever they've lost contact with the story. It's called Esthetic Distance, otherwise known as the "Willing Suspension of Disbelief". Consistency of style is probably a big part of that, a 1940's noir flick may have a pretty extreme style but if it's consistent throughout the movie that style subsides into the background, it supports the story, not calling attention to itself.
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#6 Oli Soravia

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 03:22 PM

For me it`s when the cinematography merges with the directing, acting, music and all the skills given for a film and its story. When I get touched by the arts. The shots don`t even have to be exhausting from a technical view, they can be very simple, but appropriate.
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#7 Ram Shani

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 01:20 AM

i once read a quote from a famous DP (don't recall the name) saying that every time someone tells him that the cinematography on a film he shoot is great, he feels he failed in his job cause he overcome the story.
i think that good cinematography is the one that when you watch the movie goes unnoticed.
you just moved by the story the mood and the cinematic journey
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#8 Allen Achterberg

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 01:34 AM

Brian is right, its subjective.

good cinematography is when you feel the marriage between the pictures and the story. Whatever grabs you.
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#9 Simon Wyss

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 05:17 AM

For me good cinematography is something about which I sense human work, physical, emotional, mental, in every respect from a thouroughly discussed story/event over the recording complex and editing to all the details of prints' densities, light source of the projectors, screen, room. Cinema is perhaps the most technical-artificial expression form. I want the characteristic cinema experience for the money I pay, and that is magic, silvery, fantastic, surprising, vibrating. As soon as I discover patterns like longshot-medium-close up-reverse angles, sweetening, all the industry, I am bored. Good cinematography smells of sweat.
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#10 Matthew Buick

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 06:20 AM

I think one of the biggest things people studying film miss out on is watching the BAD films.

We're all told to watch Lubezki, Hall, Tolland and Deakins material, but after watching these films we know we have just watched some beautifull cinemtography but we don't have much else to compare it to so they actually become the norm.

I think watching the bad films is just as important.


Watch some of my stuff from a year ago, then. ;) Thankfully I'm leagues better now.


In my opinion good cinematography is anything with passion. I've watch High School Musical, and although perfectly lit it just seems so devoid of any sort of artistic expression or flair. It just left me feeling completely cold. Anything that have a sense of passion, whoever made it or whatever it's shot with is good cinematography in my opinion.
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#11 Allan Legarth Nielsen

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 03:16 PM

A lot of you say, that good cinematography is when it's unoticed, without drawing attention to itself and fits the story well. That is of course true, because the story is the most important thing in the film.

...but some people, especially us camera people, should be able to be grabbed by stunning cinematograhpy, while keeping track of the story. I offen talk to friends, that are not in film, and they (of course not as much as folks like us) notice nice looking shots, and didn't feel it was taking the attention from the story.

As said the story is most important, but without a camera, you don't have a film, and without a film, you don't have a story (well... write a book), so why not make it look nice, and once in while do a little over the top, we can't forget we're making films, so what you show on the screen should be as beautiful as possible. Just look at films like Se7en, Amelie, Minority Report, The Untouchables, Hoffa, Black Hawk Down, oh I could go on.....

A lot of times when I watch movies, I even stop and rewind to look and study a nice shot again, for framing, lighting and so on (big frustration from my girlfriend :lol: )
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#12 girish kant

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 08:45 AM

Plain and simple... what is good cinematography???

share your thoughts below

hi
i think as a cinematigrapher if u r able to visualise your script in such a manner that anybody{specially audience} cannot observe your shot and ur shots are just going smoothly according to your script.
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#13 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 09:29 AM

Cinematography is the craft of turning an idea/thought into moving images. The director and cinematographer (among many other people) work together to bring it to life.
I believe good cinematography has the capacity to touch you at an emotional level, it connects you with the narrative in a way that makes all the different part of the film (acting, production design, etc) come together as a whole. I don't think cinematography should go unnoticed all the time, if that was the case, I'm not sure why we spent so much time talking about it. The cinematographer and director have to have the tact and skill to choose the right shots for the right time, using the vocabulary of cinema to reach the audience's emotions.
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#14 Tom Lowe

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 12:12 PM

IMHO the best Cinematography is that which doesn't call attention to itself, maybe the occasional pretty sunset or landscape shot but never detracting from the narrative content. The minute an audience starts thinking about camera work, lighting, whatever they've lost contact with the story. It's called Esthetic Distance, otherwise known as the "Willing Suspension of Disbelief". Consistency of style is probably a big part of that, a 1940's noir flick may have a pretty extreme style but if it's consistent throughout the movie that style subsides into the background, it supports the story, not calling attention to itself.


In many ways I agree with you, Hal, but sometimes shots DO draw attention to themselves, and they are still examples of the very best of cinematography. I think Hall's photography in "Perdition" is about as good as it gets, but many of the shots certainly do draw attention to themselves. For action cinematography, "Saving Private Ryan" was groundbreaking, but the opening shots at Omaha beach drew massive attention to themselves and the craft of camera work. A movie like Chris Doyle and Wong Kar Wai's "In the Mood for Love" is jam-packed with highly stylized and framed shots, including dozens of overcranked shots that draw attention to the cinematography. Not to mention movies like Citizen Kane, Days of Heaven, etc.
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#15 monday sunnlinn

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 05:00 PM

i think a big factor in determining that is whether or not the images you are bringing to the screen are as close as possible to the director's inner vision, or the inner vision the director and DoP decide upon together.

the questions of whether or not the cinematography is transparent or stylized is subjective to the tastes of the audience and has no bearing on the skill of the cinematography. the skill is being able to use the tools to deliver what has been asked of you.
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#16 Brian Rose

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 06:24 PM

I'll be the first to say that my ideas of good cinematography have their exceptions, and I don't by any means consider them ironclad. But generally, I look for two things:

1) Is the light source apparent? That is, is the scene obviously lit, or did the DP do a good job to cover his/her tracks, and make the lighting seem plausible. For me, the best example I think I've ever seen of this is "No Country for Old Men." That film blew me away; I KNEW it was lit, yet it looked completely natural. Frankly, I think it should have won the Academy Award.

2) Does the cinematography draw attention to itself? As others have said, it should support the story, rather than be and end to itself, usually to cash in on some awards (sadly, this is reinforced by the Academy which seems to vote for the most beautiful cinematography). A wonderful recent example for me was Juno, DPd by forum member Eric Steelberg. He accomplished a truly rare feat by making the lighting/camera work wholly integrated into the film. After a few minutes, I completely forgot to look for lighting, or anything DP related. It was that subtle and perfect for the form. It is a shame this kind of work is almost never recognized by the Academy, though I think it is the hardest thing for a DP to pull off.

Now as I said, there are some major exceptions to these rules. What about genres that rely upon non-naturalism, like horror or fantasy, or noir, for example?

But in general, those are the factors I consider important.

Best,
BR
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#17 Dominic Case

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 06:47 PM

Brian is right, its subjective.

No, that answer is a cop-out.

You can watch a film for the sake of watching a film - they way a general audience would watch it. You will attend to the story, and hopefully not be distracted by visual issues - good or bad.

But as a cinematographer or critic or artist you can also watch on a more visually aware, or analytical level. You might notice composition which contributes to the message - or which is just plain good. Or lighting which must have taken a day and a half to set up, but was essential for the shot to work. Or an elegantly-timed camera move that is unobtrusive, where a cut would have destroyed the tension. That's good cinematography. It is where cinematography transcends the purely functional and adds aesthetic value to the production.
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#18 Brian Rose

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 09:58 PM

It seems like there's two different arguments going on here. 1) What is good cinematography from the point of view of a cinematographer and 2) What is good cinematography from the point of view of an audience goer. It's a variant of the age old debate over high art and low art, and if any distinction exists or should be made. Some are addressing the initial question from the point of view of a filmmgoer, who is not going for the cinematography, but going to see a story and be entertained. Others are going into the theater as cinematographers, and place higher value upon the visual palette than the story, acting, etc.

Now, depending on your point of view, the answer is going to be different. For those seeking the film as a whole, the cinematography is one part of a whole, and ought not to overwhelm the other parts. For those emphasizing the visual experience, and who bring with them the knowledge of lighting principles, and camera stocks and the likes, they will tend to place greater emphasis (and importance) upon the visual element.

Perhaps the original poster should clarify his question. Are we talking about what is "good cinematography" to a cinematographer, or to film goers and movie making as a whole?

Best,
BR
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#19 Nadav Hekselman

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 11:58 PM

For me , great cinematography is positioning the camera in the right place dramatically and emotionally,
When decisions are made to serve the drama and not only on creating a beautiful perfect picture.

On the set is being a good team mate and understanding your department is not the only one, be supportive and positive. and of course shoot well.


(wish i had more time to write. have to run, to a a location scout...)
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#20 Robert Sawin

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 01:11 AM

Plain and simple... what is good cinematography???

share your thoughts below


I hate this question because Good Cinematography is ultimately one that best serves the story and moment at which you are to capture. Some exceptionally cinematographers spend much of there life trying to do that. eventually the choice tools and limitations a cinematographer has to work should be the force that best represents a story.

so I guess what I'm trying to say is good cinematography best tells the story in a visual way without distracting the viewer.

I saw a documentary called visions of light and one guy said good lighting is in lights you don't turn on.

Trip...
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