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Alan Hume BSC has died


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#1 Tim Partridge

Tim Partridge
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Posted 15 July 2010 - 12:21 PM

I have just read this and I am sad to hear it. I think Hume was a brilliant cameraman, and seemed quite a workhorse with an extensive career.

He was a camera assistant to Georges Perinal and Guy Green during the 40s (Oliver Twist et al) , became Peter Ellenshaw's matte painting cameraman in the early 1950s and then moved into operating. His career as DP really took off with the Carry On films and then just stacks of features back to back, from the Amicus and Hammer movies to three Roger Moore Bond movies, Return of the Jedi, Supergirl, A Fish Called Wanda and Shirley Valentine among many others. He could jump from scope to spherical and back again. During the early 1990s until his retirement he seemed to focus exclusively on many a television series and film.

While I think he was quite traditional in his lighting and camera sensibility, I think Hume was very clever with lens diffusion/filtration and softlighting particularly. I was lucky enough to talk to him about his work with nets and he had commented that particularly with anamorphic work he went out of his way to soften the image because he found the resolution to high and unflattering, particularly when shooting close ups. He was always conscious of making his leading ladies shine. I thought his work on the 1979 film Arabian Adventure, filmed on the Pinewood backlot is pretty imaginative in it's creative photographic solutions to faking a sun soaked look (coloured filters, nets, shooting through gas vapour). Hume could also create a very softlit effect when he felt necessary too (see Runaway Train).

My favourite of Hume's work has to be Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce, gorgeously shot in JDC anamorphic. I think Hume's expressive, heightened lighting really complimented Tobe Hooper's trademark wide angle compositions and elaborate camera movement on that one. There's a certain contrast to it probably given Hume's black and white training that punches the production design and an overall sense of technical discipline to the trippy, striking unusual compositions and movement. I actually think it's one of the best looking colour anamorphic British films of all time.
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