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#1 Chris D Walker

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 10:26 AM

The last few days I've been thinking about films that fit into a lo-fi aesthetic of cinematography; asking myself whether it is disappearing thanks to modern digital cameras and film-makers who may be weary of taking such an alternative approach to shooting.

I first thought of this when a recently common criticism of horror films is that the aesthetic doesn't match the content. Several good examples are the Platinum Dunes remakes like 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', 'The Amityville Horror' and 'Friday the 13th' being "too slick and polished" compared to their originators. What's strange is that Daniel Pearl, ASC shot both 'Texas' films (original on 16mm reversal, remake on 35mm negative) and it's Tobe Hooper's film that leaves a greater impact even now. My point being that a lo-fi aesthetic can be important to a person's response to said film.

Two good examples from the early 2000's are '28 Days Later' and 'Pieces of April', which I feel wouldn't have the same effect if they were shot on 35mm instead of standard definition DV. Or look at some of the work done by Matthew Libatique, ASC or Barry Ackroyd, BSC with Super 16.

Despite the fact that I've just cited half a dozen examples of lo-fi cinematography, I still feel that the look is becoming increasingly rare.

Just to put it into a context, I consider a lo-fi aesthetic to contain:

- Available light, practical sources, negative fill, bounce and little else.

- No cranes, dolly or steadicam movement; tripod and handheld work oftentimes.

- Camera limitations in sensitivity, latitude and resolving power that can lead to a severely impacted image.

There's more to it, but I think this is a good lead off.

I acknowledge that this aesthetic was often only realised because of limited resources or budgetary constraints; this doesn't stop me from thinking that it can be an artistic and creative decision by talented film-makers who do have the resources and necessary budget to shoot with better tools and choose to shoot otherwise.

Makes me want to try it out for myself.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 11:14 AM

Well chris, you know what they say, "art from adversity." I agree that with the proliferation of higher quality tools at a lower price this look is disappearing as people go for a glossier, "professional" look. And I agree with you that it is not always appropriate and ofter detracts from the story. The best way to act an a vanguard for the look, however is to speak your mind when you're talking format and simply tell production, hey, I know you want to shoot this gritty neo-noir in IMAX (never happen, of course, but for example) but I feel we'd be better off if we stuck to 16mm reversal or something of the like. Hopefully you'll be on a production which supports you, and the director/producers agree ect-- but that's what one must do, I feel.
Also there are certain technical considerations especially for post if you go too esoteric; but in truth, there isn't too much above in the way of unsupported format. DV will work in any NLE and 16mm is still processed and looks damned good when going through a DI if you want it to.
I often consider such aesthetics a trend-- for a long time low-budget filmmakers went through hoops to get shallow DoF. Now they have it. It is now becoming such a trend that eventually someone will eschew it and start a new trend (like 3-D where often you want more DoF).
Also, a lot of our "lo-fi" looks these days seem to be being used as a narrative tool especially in the "found footage" genre of film, such as Blair Witch, Cloverfield, and Paranormal Activity. So maybe, just maybe it's not as bleak as it seems. Lo-Fi always was an outlier, and it seems that it still is. And also, as we change the way we interact with media, what "lo-fi" means and looks like will ultimately change as well-- have a look @ this video, for example:

ok, 2 cents for the day laid.
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#3 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 03:30 PM

I think you have to include production design/costumes in this as a major contributor to that look. What we just did on "Plan 9" could be considered today's version of what you are talking about. The crew size and budget was likely very much like Chainsaw's was in the '70's, but the new 16mm camera is now an F3 or AF100. Though if they had a 35mm camera back then, would it really be that different?
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#4 Dave Kovacs

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 04:02 PM

Despite the fact that I've just cited half a dozen examples of lo-fi cinematography, I still feel that the look is becoming increasingly rare.

Just to put it into a context, I consider a lo-fi aesthetic to contain:

- Available light, practical sources, negative fill, bounce and little else.

- No cranes, dolly or steadicam movement; tripod and handheld work oftentimes.
.


Makes me want to try it out for myself.
[/quote]


A lo-fi film can be shot on 35mm : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1806811/ (this film was shot on KODAK 5296, 5248 - 5 year old film)

http://www.imdb.com/...18736/technical - Six String Samurai - shot on short ends.


Use short ends. Film that has been expired for a few years. Try the FUJI 500D - very grainy.

Use reflectors and large mirrors - http://www.rosebrand...assless+Mirrors

It can be done. make the decision and stick to your guns.
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#5 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 04:09 PM

You lost me on that one.
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Visual Products

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