In his interview on the American Cinematographer podcast, Crescenzo Notarile ASC says when he was shooting CSI that he would do his closeups from 40 feet away using 150mm to 250mm lenses (as opposed to Gotham where he uses 21mm to 32mm).
As mainly a stills photographer, I understand where he's going, most people look a lot better with longer lenses. However, the farthest I get from my still subjects is 10 or 15 feet. Forty feet away would be a whole other universe...
So, in cinematography is there an advantage to shooting with such long lenses besides the flattering look and change in subject-background relationship?
Does it change the actor's dynamic with the camera? What other benefits does it bestow?
The Wife use to use a 100mm on a fullframefilm Nikon for her 'ideal' portrait lens. I presume for the cinematography example, using a somewhat standard frame format equivalent to 35mm 'movie' film, that a 150mm has a bit smaller Angle of View, than for the FF 35mm still.
With that in mind, 40 feet sounds reasonable for a 'shoulders up' shot.
In terms of the 'film language', how distant the camera is to the action does give a certain message. More of a distant observer, rather than in the middle of things wide angle perhaps even distorted slightly. (Other than extreme distortion for that effect).
In the case of CSI, my guess is that the mood of the show is 'reality', 'factual', 'undistorted' (aside from the philosophical point of view that any filming necessarily distorts reality...).
In the case of Gotham, while not going as far as the old Batman TV show 'total cartooning', there is some sort of distortion which to me is in keeping with the idea of the comic... excuse me... graphic novel style. I've also noticed more 'dutched' shots as well... no 'ka-pow' in big psychedelic letters yet...
Edited by John E Clark, 12 December 2016 - 01:09 PM.