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Peter Bitic

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  1. This is not really a good summary of everything that I tried to communicate in this thread, but I would agree with most of your quote (with the biggest exception being "basically could just be a wide shot in every scene", because various editing styles create a huge difference, and some of the things you just can't accomplish with all wide shots. That is not to say that you can't have a great movie with all wide shots, but such a movie would be meaningfully different (meaningful in terms of content) from movies with different editing). And again, so that I am not misunderstood: saying that you don't need a good cinematography to create a good movie (as opposed to good acting, directing, etc.), doesn't mean that I think cinematography is worthless. It is very important, because it is part of the creative expression of the people working on a movie.
  2. Sraiyanti, I didn't say that The Office would be equally funny without the interviews and looking into the camera, I said that if it wasn't made in such mockumentary fashion, the realistic cinematographic style would still work equally well. So the style doesn't need this mockumentary rationale to work. As for the dark room example - I agree, there are cinematographic approaches that are not right. Extremelly unrealistic lighting that puzzles the viewers or some extra-stylized stuff that distracts them are obviously not the right thing to do. But I think that goes without saying. When I am talking about various styles being right for one movie, I am talking about "normal", "functional" styles, not the styles that are obviously wrong (lighting the night as if it was day, strobing light through entire movie, shooting at 100x100 resolution). There is nothing wrong with putting in effort into the visuals. I completely and wholeheartedly agree. The problem is that you guys are reading my posts as if I am advocating against artistic personal expression which includes individual cinematographic styles, seeking perfection with visuals, etc., but that is not true. I have a very strong and nuanced opinion on how movies should look, what are legitimate styles (not in the sense that they are functional, but in broader sense). Majority of the people that I talk with can't relate with my obsessions over smallest details. But that is not what I am talking about in this thread - in this thread I am talking about the specific influence cinematography has on the subset of what the movie is. I am not talking about the influence of cinematography on the whole movie. I am not talking about the influence of cinematography on the whole experience of the viewer. As we found out, we are defining story differently. I feel like "story" to you guys is basically a synonym for the whole movie, the most important thing, something that everything should be subservient too, etc. So when I am saying that the function of the cinematography is not to "tell stories", that to you basically means that cinematography is worthless. But I have never said that, in fact, I have repeatedly in this thread stated that I find cinematography very important.
  3. For me story, when it comes to movies, means general description of what happens. This general description includes what the character do, what they say (not literally, just a description), what they think, where they are, how they look and key things that they hear. It does not include the camera with which the movie was shot, creative lighting style (I am not talking about basic lighting that is required by the script, eg. "character has a torchlight in hand", "it's dark outside"), coloring, composition, camera movement, description of every little detail in the scene, description of every word the actor say, detailed description of how they say everything, their movement, complete soundtrack, background music (unless, for example, it comes from the radio and has narrative meaning), ... you get the idea hopefully. *** Sraiyanti, sure, the look of The Office is probably the result of the rationale that you mention, but my point is that this style would function even if there was no mockumentary rationale. Imagine The Office without fake interviews, looking at camera, etc., and the style would work just as good. So would the more polished comedy lighting, so would being shot in B&W, etc. In all of these cases we would think what a great show this is and we would obviously associate this specific look with that greatness. My point is that these rationales "brightly lit is for comedy", "realistic is for mockumentary", "b&w is suitable for film about holocaust", "desaturated is for horror" are not true, because for every genre you can find many great examples of very different looks. Those styles might or might not have a specific rationale, but IMO most of the time these rationales have just a minor intellectual symbolic meaning, and are not actually "right for this movie" in the sense that they wouldn't work elsewhere or that some other competent style would be distinctly worse.
  4. Well, I guess I really shouldn't force my definition of the story, given that so much of the film-making community shares their view of what the story and story-telling is and they seemingly agree with each other on that. I don't exactly know what that definition means, despite seeing it used constantly, that is why I resort to my understanding of the word. But yeah, fair point.
  5. I know that in filmmaking stories are conveyed visually. That doesn't mean that what the cinematographer is doing is telling the stories, though.
  6. Yeah, I definitely don't define "story" in this overarching sense where "story" has basically became a synonym for the whole movie ("everything needs to support the story"). I don't remember telling anyone that what they are doing is unimportant. I don't think elements that don't contribute to the narrative are unimportant. Majority of my posts here are obsessing about cinematographic and visual elements that even many of you don't recognize as really important (film vs digital, movie titles, etc.). And that is just a small subset of the field. Maybe you think that I don't value cinematography because I said that the movie from my hypothetical was a success despite 10-year-old serving as a DP. Well, in that sense the cinematography really isn't very important. If all other elements are great, bad cinematography won't ruin the movie (and vice-versa - no DP can save otherwise bad movie). So how is cinematography important? It's important because it is one of the devices through which the director achieve his artistic vision of the movie. There could be thousand of legitimate cinematographic styles for every movie, each of them offering distinct visual experience, but the one we see is the expression of the people who worked on that movie. There is no single "appropriate style" for any genre or theme. Every group of persons, as long as they don't mechanically follow cliches, will come with something different, with some specific rationalization. That doesn't mean that this was the "look that was right for the story" meaning that all other "looks" would be worse. It was just one of the possible creative expressions that worked, and since individual creative expression is very important, cinematography is also very important.
  7. But nowadays this obsession with "story" and "story-telling" in our language (everything seems to be story-telling) could mean that we simply mean different things by it.
  8. Also, of course you realize that I am not talking about visual elements in general? (unless by those you mean just what is cinematographer's job). And I am sure there have been great filmmakers in the history of cinema who didn't view lighting, color grading, etc. as something that influence narrative in any meaningful way.
  9. Visual elements that are of any narrative importance are specified by the screenwriter or worked out by a director and set designer. Lighting, lens choice and even specific compositions (as long as you don't point the camera to the ground) have practically zero effect on the story. That doesn't mean that I don't value cinematography - quite contrary - it's just that I think it doesn't have a narrative function.
  10. I don't know how you "tell a story" by virtue of pointing a camera at the scene or by lighting it. The resulting movie (which, of course is visual) contains a story, but the act of recording or lighting is not story-telling. Let's take an extreme example, to see if we understand each other: there is a movie set with great actors, great director, great scenography, great sound engineers etc. Screenplay is also very good. Even if you just watch the rehearsal on the set you can see it's great stuff. Now the director gives his 10-year old son a film camera and tells him approximatelly where to point it. There is no lighting, just what's there naturally. After the scene is shot, it is edited by a great editor and professional sound mix is made. The finished scene is extremely good, better than 99% of the movies out there. Now, as you said, "by it's very nature, every single element of the writing, performances and direction were filtered through the lens of the camera" and as Justin has said: "You can't make a movie without camera". Those statements are supposed to support the conlusion that "cinematography tells the story by design". I don't know how that follows from those statements, but OK. So: was this 10-year old story-teller? Was his act of pointing the camera at the scene act of telling the story? If you think it wasn't, then the argument needs to be corrected. If you think it was, then I am even more convinced that the argument is absurd.
  11. If we want the audience to notice the purple light, we can have two intentions: 1.) the audience would notice the effect, but wouldn't think it has any narrative relevance - it would be seen simply as a stylistic visual choice. It can indeed be a cinematographer's job to suggest such interesting stylistic choices and to execute them if the director agrees. 2.) the audience would notice the effect and would think it has narrative relevance - they could for example wonder why the flame is purple and would wait for the movie to answer that question or they could attribute the color to something that has previously happened (eg. Aliens landing, somebody performing magic, etc.). In that case screenwriter/director intended for the flame to be purple, because it has specific narrative meaning. In that case it's the same as before - this is a screenwriting decision, not a cinematographic decision. The cinematographer's decision would be how to photograph and create the purple flame and not to decide whether the flame would be purple or not. The only original things he could suggest would be stylistic and technical in nature. Creating the narrative is not the cinematographer's job. Wow, that's a very weird conclusion and argument, I don't even know how to break it down, sorry. Anyway, I strongly disagree that cinematography "tells the story".
  12. Everyone lighting bonfires in the streets is a screenwriting decision and not a cinematographic decision. Cinematographic decision would be how to photograph bonfires, whether to use an additional lighting etc., and those decisions would be stylistic and technical.
  13. Not at all. What I am trying to say is that lighting and coloring decisions are stylistic decisions, and not "story-telling" decisions. And style is very important to people, so there is no fear of cinematographers losing jobs. Besides, the job of a cinematographer is not just to achieve a style, but more importantly, to assure general technical quality and consistency. There is no single "appropriate look" for any given type of movie. It's a preference-based stylistic decision largely driven by popular cliches that are in currently in vogue. Yet some cinematographers speak like they are some "story-tellers" (God, how I hate this term when it comes to movies), because they have a learned instinct to color the romantic movie warmly.
  14. I think mood based on lightning is overrated. It's only a superficial thing that can also come across as a tired cliche that we have seen countless of times. So many films and videos seem to rely on lightning, coloring, music, slow motion etc. to evoke some kind of feeling, but they are mostly without any substance. Atmosphere of the movie - if it is of any substance - comes from screenplay, acting, scenography and directing. Whether a cinematographer uses this or that lighting shouldn't matter (imagine any *really good* scene from any movie, whether it is funny, romantic, suspensful etc. and imagine it was shot with only natural light - it would be equally funny, equally romantic, equally suspenseful. It would just look different.) I think people associate their emotional reaction to the movie with the way it looked, despite it had almost no effect on what they felt, and they would feel the same if it was lighted differently. And since there are lighting and coloring cliches that lots of movie use, people automatically attribute those "looks" as being "appropriate for this or that story". Eg. comedy should be brightly lit, horror should be dark, detetctive thriller should have hard shadows, etc. But this is extremely simple and superficial thikning. The Office UK is the most funny thing in the history of TV and it doesn't rely on any lightning and coloring technique that is deemed "appropriate for the comedy". And there are not just funny moments, but also sad, dramatic, romantic etc. (all done extremelly well), and they all function equally good without needing to change lightning or coloring.
  15. Public domain music does not require attribution of any kind. Attribution 3.0 licence =/= public domain. Also, it is clear this is advertising for the site. I know saying this comes across as rather rude, since there is a FREE MUSIC involved, but it had to be pointed out for what it is. If everybody who offered sample free stuff on their website advertised in this forum, it would be buried under the spam.
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