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chris descor

Birth - Harris Savides

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Hello

I just revisted 'Birth' on DVD. It was a single layer DVD unfortunately, so the quality was quite awful, but it was slightly upscaled as it was played on a Sony Blu-Ray player, plus my tweaking of the image properties itself.

I went to see this when it came out at the cinemas in 2004 when I was younger.

I remember most people hating the film. I love the film, it is extraordinary.

The look and feel of the film stood out in such a perfect unobtrusive way.

Glazer's previous film and work is also brilliant, but this film is just like a peak, or like turning a page to something new, foreign/alien, and close.

It is also enhanced you could say by having previously seen his amazing first film 'Sexy Beast'.

Both his films are polar opposites in ways and very close in other ways, to each other.

But this thread I've created is for the cinematography of Birth.

 

Harris Savides is someone I truly admire. His films are just so precise in what they are doing to me as the spectator.

 

So, could any members here, please post your thoughts on the cinematography of 'Birth' ?

I've seen tidbits of a tiny quote here and there, but thats not why I opened this thread.

 

I would like to know, as would other readers, how Savides photographed 'Birth', in as much detail as possible.

I know they push processed the film. But what else did they do to achieve the film's 'look' ?

Does anyone know what film stock/s was used? if any lens filters were used? - I thought they might had used a very very faint brown tint on the film. etc

What about the lighting? what lighting was used?

Also, I suspect there was no or at least minimal use of what every film now days/as of the last 3-5 years shamelessly and effortlessly subject the look too; that is, digtal colour correction, namely the boring teal & orange 'expensive' palatte.

But I suspect Savides treated this film photochemically, pushing the film so as to heighten the constrast if I' m not mistaken, and giving the shadows and blacks of the film Caravaggio-esque milky purples and browns.

How did they light the film?

What lenses were used?

How was the film treated?

etc

 

Anything else related to how exactly the film has this 'look'.

 

Any links would be very helpful.

 

I can post screenshots for more discussion.

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The book, "New Cinematographers" has a chapter on Savides and there is a section on Birth. His basic style is lowering the contrast and color saturation without filters through underexposure and pull processing, or sometimes flashing. The pages about Birth are not available in the Google preview. The Amazon "look inside" preview shows more pages. It's a nice book where all the cinematographers are "breaking the rules" and usually going for a gritty or unique look, and not a slick Hollywood look. It's worth checking out.

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=10kR9a9SYnMC&dq=new+cinematographers&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=Lpc4TJGNDYH88AaT4-ymBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=birth&f=false

 

http://www.amazon.com/New-Cinematographers-Alex-Ballinger/dp/1856693341/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1278778183&sr=1-1

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There was a great thread on the site about this years ago back when the movie came out...if you do a really thorough search I'm sure you can find it...either in the cinematographers section or the on-screen section.

 

From what I remember it was shot with Kodak 5277 320T stock, underexposed 2 stops and then pulled another two stops and printed up from there (or something ballsy like that). I also think he used older lenses like Super Baltars or Speed Pancros.

 

There might have been mention of a lot of soft toplighting through covered wagons and muslins.

 

My memory could be totally wrong about all this info though, you should do the search. Anyways, I love this movie too.

 

Also, the book Steve mentioned, "New Cinematographers," is great for info, but I don't think there is a section on Birth.

Edited by Richard Vialet

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Double checking my copy of New Cinematographers, there IS NO section on Birth. There are articles on The Game, The Yards, Gerry, and Elephant.

 

Here is the old, revived thread under Cinematographers:

http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=3203

 

 

Steve

 

There was a great thread on the site about this years ago back when the movie came out...if you do a really thorough search I'm sure you can find it...either in the cinematographers section or the on-screen section.

 

From what I remember it was shot with Kodak 5277 320T stock, underexposed 2 stops and then pulled another two stops and printed up from there (or something ballsy like that). I also think he used older lenses like Super Baltars or Speed Pancros.

 

There might have been mention of a lot of soft toplighting through covered wagons and muslins.

 

My memory could be totally wrong about all this info though, you should do the search. Anyways, I love this movie too.

 

Also, the book Steve mentioned, "New Cinematographers," is great for info, but I don't think there is a section on Birth.

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