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The Cinematography of Birdman, shot by Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, ASC AMC

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#1 Matt Workman

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 10:27 AM

Birdman-header01.jpg

 

Check out my latest breakdown of the film Birdman, shot by Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, ASC, AMC.  I'd love to hear you feedback!

 

http://www.cinematog...el-lubezki-asc/

 

Cheers,

Matt

 

 


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#2 Miguel Angel

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 07:27 PM

That was very nice!

 

Thanks for sharing it.

 

Best.


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#3 Alexander Myszki

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 09:39 PM

I loved the film, and found it very interesting to watch from a DP's point of view.

For the attentive eye, it's easy to see Lubezki's lighting strategies when he used almost only practicals: in the hallways, the different rooms, and on the stage. Everything is shown on camera, the lighting decisions are there, invisible to the general public of course, but very clear and briliant for whoever analyses the lighting in this movie. His cinematography in this film is open, it's all there for us to see.


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 01:48 AM

It's also a practical approach (pun intended) due to the use of wide-angle lenses moving 360 degrees around in a small space.  The great thing that Lubezki or Deakins does is work closely with the production designer, set decorator, and location manager so that the practicals are where they need to be and produce the quality of light desired.  

 

I also noticed in "Birdman", having shot in similar backstage rooms in a Broadway theater for "Smash", was how he had the lights on a dimmer board so that some would go out after the camera passed them so that there wasn't a camera shadow, like those shots where the camera runs up the stairwell lit with bare bulbs on the wall, silhouetting the actors -- as the actor passes one wall with a light bulb, the camera chasing him, it would normally be front lighting his back after he passed it and perhaps throwing a camera shadow on the actor's back, but I noticed the light faded out after it was passed, momentarily putting the stairwell in darkness until he passed the next light bulb on the next landing, etc.

 

You also learn when filming around make-up mirrors backstage is that the frame of light bulbs around the mirror produces a lovely wraparound light on the actor facing the mirror and does a nice job on the room itself. It helps to use a camera with a lot of dynamic range like the Alexa so that you can expose more for the room and not worry about the bulbs looking too clippy.  What was cool in "Birdman" was how the camera was free to move around the mirror, the reflection of the camera being painted out in post.  I could never afford to do that in "Smash" other than for one shot where we shot through a one-way mirror mounted to the wall behind the actor's head so that we could dolly from looking over their shoulder at their reflection across to the other shoulder, and only see the opposite mirror behind their head.  "Being There" did a similar trick for a scene in a green room.


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#5 Matt Workman

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 11:18 AM

@David Mullen: Those are some really awesome practical tips about shooting near mirrors, or in any "backstage" environment.  I did a commercial where we were craned down with a Hollywood make-up mirror in the background and you saw the camera, the crane, and  all of the bright lights.  They painted it out of course, but I heard that it was pretty expensive.


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#6 Carl Looper

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 06:56 AM

Birdman is positively riveting. On all levels. Throughout. Loved it.

 

But the very last moment, while purely punctuation (and it would be impossible to beat Alan Parker's Birdie for a conclusion), left me somewhat deflated.

 

C


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