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Yaron Y. Dahan

Yes it's another 'which camera should I buy post' :)

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Image quality is not the end all be all of story telling. I will watch something shot well on Film over something shot on a Red. I don't consider one format to the better than another in all situations.

 

Hang on you got that film and red thing back to front right?

 

Freya

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Also Mathew I have done this comparison before. That's why I am not aligned with one format over another. They are completely different to me. I think far too much time and effort is spent worrying about shooting on platform X and not enough time is spent on finding good locations, lighting, stories, and actors. Audiences don't care what you shoot on as long as it meets the baseline technical quality they have come to expect from conventions. That baseline is being raised constantly and is largely what drives format popularity in the industry i.e. 8mm film, Black and White, and Mini Dv with 4:3 aspect ratio is not acceptable to most audiences unless it's driven by the story. The artist comes to mind as one such movie where the story clearly chose the format and the audiences accepted it even though it was not the current convention. Most people I know just won't watch it because it's Black and White and Silent. I can't really fault them for that any more than I can fault people for living in modern houses instead of caves which are superior in a lot of ways.

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Hang on you got that film and red thing back to front right?

 

Freya

 

No I don't care which one is technically better. To be honest I have seen crap shot on both. I have seen great things shot on HDSLR. Their just tools. All things being equal get the best image quality your budget can afford definitely. But otherwise there are other factors of great importance which is often over looked. Like should I shoot this motorcycle chase scene with Imax or a Red? Shoot I shoot this close up shot of a man on a toilet in a hotel bathroom with Imax or an HDSLR? How important is the shot? Can I get this shot with available light from the window or will I need to light a tight space. Is it even possible to get the proper composition or movement required by the story? Will it affect the budget or schedule adversely? These things matter to me more than it was shot on Red or Film. Honestly when I watch a good movie I don't notice what it was shot on the first time. Because I am more interested in the story not whether it was shot on Red or film.

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Shoot I shoot this close up shot of a man on a toilet in a hotel bathroom with Imax or an HDSLR? How important is the shot? Can I get this shot with available light from the window or will I need to light a tight space. Is it even possible to get the proper composition or movement required by the story? Will it affect the budget or schedule adversely? These things matter to me more than it was shot on Red or Film. Honestly when I watch a good movie I don't notice what it was shot on the first time. Because I am more interested in the story not whether it was shot on Red or film.

 

Well personally I care a lot about the cinematography but it is a dying thing. It's definitely a popular meme these days that it's all just about "the story". I'm not really into that. I care about how it is lit, what lenses are used, what it is shot on etc etc. "The Story" might be important too depending on the project.

 

I think you are right tho in a way, that we are kinda all becoming producers in our thinking these days. It's just the way things have gone.

 

Freya

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Well personally I care a lot about the cinematography but it is a dying thing. It's definitely a popular meme these days that it's all just about "the story". I'm not really into that. I care about how it is lit, what lenses are used, what it is shot on etc etc. "The Story" might be important too depending on the project.

 

 

 

 

The ASC defines cinematography as: a creative and interpretive process that culminates in the authorship of an original work of art rather than the simple recording of a physical event. Cinematography is not a subcategory of photography. Rather, photography is but one craft that the cinematographer uses in addition to other physical, organizational, managerial, interpretive and image-manipulating techniques to effect one coherent process.

 

Cinematography is story telling. Videography is capturing events as they happen. I think the line between photography and cinematography has been blurred by broadcast schools and the masses of uneducated filmmakers. The choice of lens, lighting, camera, aspect ratio, movement, etc is all a part of telling the story. It does not exist in a vacuum un-affected by the story. Cinematography is how we tell the story.

 

Unlike stage the actors don't tell the story. The actors are a part of the story. The camera is our portal to their world. The camera controls what the audience sees and how they see it. What the audience sees from a scene and how they see it is completely controlled by the cinematographers choices. If those choices are not based on story then you will have a very disjointed and poor quality movie. If more people would become cinematographers instead of just motion photographers there would be a lot more great movies in my opinion.

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Samuel, you make some good points and are probably the most reasonable person I've had this debate with in well...maybe ever? But I have to believe that Freya is correct. At what line does "art" have to involve a "baseline quality" or a "technical prowess?" The idea of capture medium being unimportant is no different than saying lens isnt important or lighting isnt important. And what level of quality is deemed "good enough?"

 

You mentioned DSLRs are good for low light situations. But why does any situation have to be low light? Why cant you light if you choose to? I have never understood this new trend toward being light averse. Yes, things move quicker without dealing with lights. Its cheaper, lighter weight, blah blah. But this is film making and that takes time and work. At what point do we say enough is enough and realize that it isnt about convenience or comfort?

 

Yes, some stories are better told digitally. But in the narrative world, I believe those instances are few. I believe there is something "unreal" or perhaps "ethereal" about film that makes it perfect for a mental escape. People used to say it was the frame rate but digital has that and still doesnt look the same. I just know that when I watch those moving pictures, it is much easier to allow myself to get into the story. I almost WANT to like it. When I watch DSLR shoots, I am apprehensive and I have to get into the story IN SPITE OF the format. Some cant tell the difference but I sure as hell dont know how they cant. Side by side I think it is always obvious.

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Art is in the eye of the beholder. I find some digital movies are better than film. I will admit it's rare. I find that many movies shot on digital I don't notice at all. I find that some are so completely obvious it's truly a diservice to the cast and crew. I have also found the difference in modern times is usually the cinematography and not the format. Compared side by side I think you will always find a difference but it's not always going to be that film is better or that there is enough of a difference that I can honestly care. There was a time when film was without a doubt always the superior format for large productions. Those days are long gone and quality video can compete with film all but side by side. As it turns out most people don't go to the theater to see film comparisons side by side. If they did I think films future would be safe for another 5-10 years easily. There is a very very small group of people who actually care so much about every pixel on the screen that they can tell. It's not even all DP's that care anymore. Several of them have accepted Digital for it's benefits and said good bye to film all together.

 

Why would anyone give up film? I honestly wouldn't if I had a big enough budget to always shoot on film. I would not give up digital either. But as I said before movies are not all about image quality or a particular aesthetic. Here is a very real world example. I worked on a movie over the summer that's entire budget was far less than the cost of film stock. They shot on a Red with mostly available light. In side they used practical lights and Kino Flo Diva's. The movie is not going to be a block buster but it looks amazing. It does not look at all like it was shot with a skeleton crew with borrowed locations. The director got everything he wanted to get and he has a professional product with a standard baseline of quality that can be shown on big screens. Is it the greatest quality movie I have ever seen? Absolutely not! But it is a good movie that was shot well and honestly it did not need all the crew to make it great because they chose the appropriate camera. It did not have VFX. It was not a block buster. It was a 20 something love tragedy. Not my thing but it was good for what it was. That movie could never have been made with film. The budget would have been too high and the crew would have needed to be bigger or the movie would have looked worse than it does.

 

Which brings me to the point on lighting. As a general rule I light everything unless it's not practical. I am of the opinion that audiences expect good lighting and their perception of image quality is almost entirely based on production design, lighting, and composition. I have done very unscientific tests and people have always chosen the video with the nice location, proper wardrobe, and softer image, lighting that fits the scene and mood, and composition. The technically better video of an average location with an amazing camera is never chosen. Film in these tests is always last place. This is because there has never been super 35mm in these tests. It's always been 8 and 16mm which is on par with HD in our tests. 8MM interestingly always has lower dynamic range in color than an HDSLR. 16mm seems to have less but I have seen it have more. So this leads me to believe once again it's the person behind the camera. But film is usually not chosen over high end video due to it's lack luster sharpness. Which again is more operator than format in my opinion. Super 35mm would in my experience completely blow video out of the water in regards to resolution and dynamic range. But we know from the non existent outrage from movie goers that they can't tell or just don't care. Honestly I never cared until I became a film maker. In my view and most people I have asked there are two differences in motion pictures. Television and Film. They really don't get that most movies are not shot on film because those little differences to them don't register enough difference in their reticular activating system to say there was something different. You and I can tell and we may differ on which is better all the time. But the general audience does not care. Movies are not about film. They are about so much more.

 

Now lighting is not always possible, practical, or cost effective. This is just how physics work. If you want to light a street with a moving care on a low budget or even a moderate feature budget good luck with that. The only reason why we are told we must do this is because film set the standard that everything must have a lot of light. Everything should have controlled light when possible. That does not mean it's necessary just because film requires it. If I can use a reflector and an HDSLR for B-roll or because I just don't have the money that's not technically wrong. I can still get 56 IRE on a grey card and shape the light. I just need less of it. I have seen far better low light footage from digital than film in this regard.

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Once again, good points Samuel. I guess I just really love working with film. It keeps me honest, it keeps me willing to spend money that I would never spend with digital. We all say "I cant afford this or that" but you would be surprised what you can afford when you want to. If I shot with a camera that allowed me to have ISO 100,000+, I wouldnt pay for expensive lighting either. Sadly though, I would have a poor image result. Film forces me to cater to it, much like a high maintainence girlfriend. Digital is like the girlfriend who allows you to get off cheaply and it feels good. But when it comes time to show the girl off, you wish you had the high maintainence one.

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I don't think there is anything wrong with loving to shoot on film. I love to shoot on a Red over an HDSLR. I can't always justify it and it's some times not possible to give me the shot I need to get. If film was not being phased out which truly is tragic in my opinion I would eventually shoot on it if the story called for it.

 

I think you mistake high ISO with poor lighting. The intensity of your lighting does not by itself make your image good. Proper exposure and good lighting is relative to your format. I have done a lot of great scenes with cars driving down the road and using just the light from the road to dimly light the actors faces. The first time was purely out of necessity and I fought the director every step of the way convinced it would be a travesty of my artistic ability and also just look like garbage. Being left with no choice I decided I would just have to find a way to do it and make it look good. So I chose a street with a lot of street lights and shops. I used an F1.4 lens and an APS-C camera to control the depth of field. I put a bounce in their laps and the results were great. They were properly exposed with little noise in darkness. They had specular highlights and the city behind them blurred to a beautiful Bokeh. I have since done many shots like this. Point is the shot could be done much better. But because the story forced me to go beyond the limitations of my equipment and push it further a new technique was learned and ultimately the shot that every non filmmaker loves most out of everything I have done.

 

I think we strive for the same thing ultimately. Where as you say your doing it because film forces you to be honest. I do it because the art of cinematography demands it. Oddly I have these same debates with people about full frame vs. APS-C sensors and Black Magic vs. Red vs. D800 vs. GH2 vs. FS100 vs. Alexa. The same debate rages on over HDSLR vs. Video camera and Kino Flo vs. Lite Panels vs. Molle Richardson vs. Arri. I have my favorites and they change from time to time. In the HDSLR world I have loved working with Canon's until the D800 came out and it's Dynamic Range and Image Quality is far superior. It's low light is not as good. So I will now have to use both. When I get a Red I will still have both because they all have their uses when executed properly.

 

I suspect if film stopped being made today you would find the principles that drive your exacting standards of how things should be done would ensure everything you ever make will be done right. But with different tools comes different work flows and technology. I can light a set exactly the same way you can with film and use a fraction of the light even with low ISO's. I can technically get good exposure with no extra lights in most cases but that is not cinematography now is it. :D

 

I think there are far too many photographers due to a fundamental lack of knowledge about art and what cinematography is. This is not limited to digital. It's a common problem with film only shooters as well. There are just higher numbers of digital noobs because so many people want to make movies. I was one of them but I always had my eye on becoming a good cinematographer from the start so I never had the mindset. If it's worth doing it's worth doing right. Just because you can't make a blockbuster doesn't mean you shouldn't start making movies on what ever you can in the mean time. That's what I did and I learned fast by making a lot of mistakes. It also gave me the ability to push my limits without fear that it was going to cost me a lot of money. A bad quality movie is a bad quality movie whether you had to shell out money or not and vice versa.

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Cinematography is story telling. Videography is capturing events as they happen. I think the line between photography and cinematography has been blurred by broadcast schools and the masses of uneducated filmmakers. The choice of lens, lighting, camera, aspect ratio, movement, etc is all a part of telling the story. It does not exist in a vacuum un-affected by the story. Cinematography is how we tell the story.

 

Unlike stage the actors don't tell the story. The actors are a part of the story. The camera is our portal to their world. The camera controls what the audience sees and how they see it. What the audience sees from a scene and how they see it is completely controlled by the cinematographers choices. If those choices are not based on story then you will have a very disjointed and poor quality movie. If more people would become cinematographers instead of just motion photographers there would be a lot more great movies in my opinion.

 

Cinematography is definitely NOT story telling. If you look at the ASC definition, even that does not mention story telling.

 

There is a long tradition of cinematography outside of story telling and there is also a long history of films that do not follow the kind of narrative tradition you talk of. For example there are films that are somewhat narrative but do not feature actors.

 

I think that the director may also have a bit of a say in what the audience sees from a scene and how they see it, often others too...

 

Freya

Edited by Freya Black

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Cinematography is definitely NOT story telling. If you look at the ASC definition, even that does not mention story telling.

 

There is a long tradition of cinematography outside of story telling and there is also a long history of films that do not follow the kind of narrative tradition you talk of. For example there are films that are somewhat narrative but do not feature actors.

 

I think that the director may also have a bit of a say in what the audience sees from a scene and how they see it, often others too...

 

Freya

 

Well I think the majority of cinematographers worth anything would strongly disagree with your statement. If there is no narrative your documenting events which is not cinematography it's motion photography. Cinematography is so far beyond pointing a camera at something and getting proper exposure. Photographers are always talking about the story their picture tells as well so I think your basically wrong all together.

 

But don't take my lowly word for it. You can read what ASC members have to say about it.

 

Roger Deakins answering questions about what is most important in cinematography.

http://www.rogerdeakins.com/forum2/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2114

 

Jeff Cronenweth ASC on Story Telling

“If filmmakers shooting digitally choose to use depth-of-field as a storytelling tool, then it’s imperative to control the exposure to control focus,” Jeff Cronenweth ASC

http://www.createasphere.com/En/insider-view/2753-jeff-cronenweth-asc-a-lifelong-love-of-storytelling.html

 

Shane Hurlbut Story telling through composition.

http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2012/08/storytelling-through-composition/

 

As for the director nobody said they were not telling the story as well. They are the chief story teller in charge. However they are not the only person telling the story. I mean really think about that. If cinematography was not story telling then how exactly is the story conveyed to the audience? How does the director tell the story? Cinematography is most definitely about telling a story or else your only other option is capturing an event as it's happens. I have never seen a Cinematographer credited on any recorded event, Cspan, or any other non narrative works. Even documentaries and reality TV are narrative. The fact that your lighting, composition, and movement is all in support of a script means that your story telling. I am sorry but I have to say this is one of those times where people use the term cinematographer too loosely. Like Camera Op's calling themselves cinematographers because they operate a camera. Just because a cinematographer also operates a camera it does not make a camera op a cinematographer.

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I think you mistake high ISO with poor lighting. The intensity of your lighting does not by itself make your image good. Proper exposure and good lighting is relative to your format.

 

 

I can light a set exactly the same way you can with film and use a fraction of the light even with low ISO's

 

I dont understand, Samuel? In a digital camera with variable ISO, why would a person select a high ISO and then light like 200 ISO and stop down so far? Yes, there is a relationship between ISO, Exposure, and shutter...I get that...DP 101. But I dont think most people use extremely high ISOs and then plan to light like they would on film. It really doesnt even make sense honestly.

 

How can you light the same as me and use a fraction of light even with low ISOs? Im confused by this. If you shoot 200 ISO and I use 200 ASA film, how is there going to be less of a need for you to use light unless 1) your lens is faster 2) I stop down more than you do or 3) your camera is off on its ISO rating? I really dont know what point you are trying to get across.

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As for the director nobody said they were not telling the story as well. They are the chief story teller in charge.

 

I wasn't talking about the story I was talking about this:

 

What the audience sees from a scene and how they see it is completely controlled by the cinematographers choices.

 

I would argue that it is not only the cinematographers choices.

 

Freya

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I mean really think about that. If cinematography was not story telling then how exactly is the story conveyed to the audience?

 

I think this kind of sums up your thinking on the matter.

 

Freya

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As for the director nobody said they were not telling the story as well. They are the chief story teller in charge. However they are not the only person telling the story. I mean really think about that. If cinematography was not story telling then how exactly is the story conveyed to the audience? How does the director tell the story? Cinematography is most definitely about telling a story or else your only other option is capturing an event as it's happens. I have never seen a Cinematographer credited on any recorded event, Cspan, or any other non narrative works. Even documentaries and reality TV are narrative. The fact that your lighting, composition, and movement is all in support of a script means that your story telling. I am sorry but I have to say this is one of those times where people use the term cinematographer too loosely. Like Camera Op's calling themselves cinematographers because they operate a camera. Just because a cinematographer also operates a camera it does not make a camera op a cinematographer.

 

I'm not saying that cinematography can not be in aid of storytelling, I'm saying that it is not storytelling.

 

As I said earlier:

 

There is a long tradition of cinematography outside of story telling and there is also a long history of films that do not follow the kind of narrative tradition you talk of. For example there are films that are somewhat narrative but do not feature actors.

 

One of the more obvious and well known examples might be the music video. Can this be split into documentary and scripted narrative of the kind you are discussing? Are the cinematographers working on music videos not cinematographers? Are they only cinematographers when they work on some music videos?

 

Even documentaries and reality TV are narrative. The fact that your lighting, composition, and movement is all in support of a script means that your story telling.

 

Do these sentences go together? They don't seem to go together? Do they?

 

Freya

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I would argue that it is not only the cinematographers choices.

 

I would argue the same thing. My fault for assuming we were only discussing the cinematographer and not all the department heads. Had you said all of cinema is not about story telling I would have been more specific. Next time I will try not to be so absolute in my communication.

 

What the audience sees from a scene and how they see it is completely controlled by the cinematographers choices.

 

That just about sums it up. The audience only sees what the camera sees. What the camera sees is everyone else's job. Again obviously the director approves all of this and the other departments collaborate on this.

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Freya I realize that you don't think it's story telling. That doesn't change the fact that there are countless books, film schools, directors, cinematographers that don't agree with you. And yes those two lines can go together if you have ever worked on reality tv or a documentary. I have worked both. In Reality TV there is a person that actually makes up stories. Shocking I know it's not reality. In documentaries you are telling a story. If you are documenting the events happening without a narrative your simply capturing what is happening. That is not cinematography. That is photography. You don't have to agree. I know dozens of Directors and Cinematographers that are not actually directors or Cinematographers and they all think pointing a camera at something makes them directors and cinematographers.

 

I have directed and been cinematographer on a lot of music videos. I can tell you without a doubt and so will the bands that I have worked with music videos are telling a story just as their songs are telling a story. They are scripted making them narrative. If they are events they are not narrative and there is no cinematography involved. Just because you shoot something that does not mean it's cinematography. There are a lot of music videos with no cinematography. There are a lot of music videos with cinematography. I am sure there are feature films that have no cinematography in them as well. It's not defined by being a motion picture.

 

A perfect example of this is broadcast technician school. Broadcast schools generally don't teach cinematography. They teach broadcast television. Film school doesn't generally teach broadcast television. Both jobs have over lapping skills and technology. They are worlds apart in practice. A broadcast television camera operator does not need to know anything about cinematography.

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I dont understand, Samuel? In a digital camera with variable ISO, why would a person select a high ISO and then light like 200 ISO and stop down so far? Yes, there is a relationship between ISO, Exposure, and shutter...I get that...DP 101. But I dont think most people use extremely high ISOs and then plan to light like they would on film. It really doesnt even make sense honestly.

 

How can you light the same as me and use a fraction of light even with low ISOs? Im confused by this. If you shoot 200 ISO and I use 200 ASA film, how is there going to be less of a need for you to use light unless 1) your lens is faster 2) I stop down more than you do or 3) your camera is off on its ISO rating? I really dont know what point you are trying to get across.

 

Lighting has two functions. We use it for proper exposure and to paint out scenes with accents and shadows. The image of a digital camera in low light is often times better than film with the same ISO. Film ISO and Digital ISO is likely very different since ISO from model to model seems to change within the same manufactures line. Digital has more variables to deal with than just ISO. You can change the image a lot in camera before it's recorded. You can control contrast, white balance, saturation, sharpness, color cast, gama, etc. This creates a perceived variance in exposure. The is really just gain in the digital world where as if I remember correctly film has a fixed ISO and white balance. It been 20 years since I have used film so I could be wrong.

 

But the point is I can use say ISO 100 in a room with practical lights and get a decent over all exposure. Then I can expose the faces of the my actors if I want with smaller lights. I can shoot 25,600 ISO on a 5DMK3. I have bounced a flash light off a reflector and used it as the key light in a car trunk and their faces had modeling, their eyes had highlights, and there was not a lot of noise in the image. Another shot where an HDSLR would fit and a Film camera would not. Also where low light capability was needed. Would the shot have been better if we could cut a hole through the trunk, rigged a film camera and used tungesten lights? I don't know it looked pretty good. The shot was not important enough to justify the expense of doing all that. Given the proper budget it would have likely been done on an HDSLR just the same because of schedule. It took us 5 minutes to set this up and get a good clean shot. I would have likely shot 30% of that movie on an HDSLR and the other 70% on Super 16mm if I had the budget. I would have likely not used Zeiss CP.2's either. They were way to sharp of a feeling for that movie. It would have been better with vintage lenses. The story could have benefited greatly from the look of celluloid to provide a more gritty and low budget feel. Instead it looked very clean and will have to be fixed in post. This is why I think cinematography can't have one format and why the choice of format is part of telling the story.

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Samuel, I know what you mean about digital and film having different looks but I question your statement about 100 ISO being different on film and video. The whole purpose of ISO to begin with is a standard that doesnt change with respect to different formats, mediums, etc. If you are getting an exposure value of, say, 10 and you are at ISO 200 and your shutter speed is 1/48, then you should be around T4. I dont see what difference it makes if you are shooting digital or film. Using gain on digital is sortof like push processing...you get more exposure out of it but you will suffer in noise or grain respectively. I will agree though that video cameras seem to be terrible at approximating true ISO values.

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Mathew you are correct it's suppose to be the same. That's the whole point of ISO. Take this for what it's worth because I am operating on second hand knowledge passed down to me by others with more experience. The ISO on a video camera is just a preset for gain control. It's not like film where it's a measurement of a films light response. In Digital it's a setting we choose. ISO 100 for example can on some cameras be ISO 100 with exposure compensation +/- 1/4 stop. This will actually change your exposure away from ISO 100. There are many values that make up exposure in a digital camera. Most digital camera's don't even use ISO. They use infinite adjustment gain control so you can dial your exact gain value instead of being forced to use presets. I would say for this reason you can't really rate a camera's ISO since it's really not a set in stone rating as much as a measurement of gain.

 

You can actually go to DXO Mark's website and see how ISO changes from camera to camera. I believe they measure it and benchmark it against the actual ISO value. Really the ISO value in an HDSLR is just there because film had it and that's what people understood. I hacked my HDSLR and got more values out of it. Then you have LUT profiles which are really just Gama Curves to worry about as well. Contrast, saturation, Sharpness, white balance, black balance on some cameras all effects the final image. There is a lot going on and most people just turn on auto exposure and hope for the best. This is how really ugly digital comes about. Highlights are clipped and blacks are crushed horribly. Sharpness is that of really bad lens no matter what. Aliasing, Moire, and Rolling shutter all have to be dealt with properly. There is a lot to getting good digital. It's not all sunshine and lollypop's. You have to have the same standard skill set of a cinematographer and a whole other skill set to make the camera put out good images. It's really gotten easier over the years though. There are a lot of things which are preset like ISO that make it easier for those who don't know. You can still change them on good cameras like before but it's getting easier to become a DP which I will admit worked out for me but also made it harder to get a job in this field. I try to separate myself from the masses of HDSLR owners turning out crap by actually knowing what I am doing and how my equipment works. I am not a master yet so some of what I have said until I can research it to know for sure should not be taken as fact but more as one students understanding of the inner workings of his camera. I do know that it's accurate in theory but the exact details I have never thought about researching until right now.

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Freya I realize that you don't think it's story telling. That doesn't change the fact that there are countless books, film schools, directors, cinematographers that don't agree with you.

 

I don't think that is true. I think that is just the way you see things, like the ASC definition you quoted which very clearly does not define cinematography as being story telling. There are countless books, film schools, directors, cinematographers discussing cinematography in the context of story telling but that does not make cinematography story telling.

 

And yes those two lines can go together if you have ever worked on reality tv or a documentary. I have worked both. In Reality TV there is a person that actually makes up stories. Shocking I know it's not reality. In documentaries you are telling a story. If

 

It was the extent that they are actually scripted I was questioning, the whole "scripted reality" is usually considered a new genre and if you have entirely scripted your documentary... well...

 

 

I have directed and been cinematographer on a lot of music videos. I can tell you without a doubt and so will the bands that I have worked with music videos are telling a story just as their songs are telling a story.

 

Okay not all music is songs and not all music is narrative.

 

They are scripted making them narrative. If they are events they are not narrative and there is no cinematography involved. Just because you shoot something that does not mean it's cinematography. There are a lot of music videos with no cinematography. There are a lot of music videos with cinematography. I am sure there are feature films that have no cinematography in them as well. It's not defined by being a motion picture.

 

So if you have a film that is narrative but someone just shoots it, maybe in a 3 camera studio with camera operators and a director in the gallery, it's lit completely flat but it's heavily scripted is that cinematography, even tho the cinematographer isn't present?

 

So you are saying the music videos that aren't scripted are just the filming of events and thus are not cinematography?

 

Freya

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I would argue the same thing. My fault for assuming we were only discussing the cinematographer and not all the department heads. Had you said all of cinema is not about story telling I would have been more specific. Next time I will try not to be so absolute in my communication.

 

I thought I already had said that not all cinema was about story telling? Kinda sure I did.

Also even if you are just talking about the cinematographer the statement isn't true because the other people involved exist too.

 

 

What the audience sees from a scene and how they see it is completely controlled by the cinematographers choices.

 

That just about sums it up. The audience only sees what the camera sees. What the camera sees is everyone else's job. Again obviously the director approves all of this and the other departments collaborate on this.

 

I'm saying that it isn't controlled by just the cinematographers choices. I don't think that "sums it up" at all! I also disagree with your new suggestion that the decisions in this context are all made by the cinematographer and the director just signs them off!

 

Freya

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Hey folks,

So after all these discussions, I just wanted to thank everybody for their thoughts, and write back here about what I decided and why, so maybe it will help out others who are considering the same decision as myself.

 

So, finally, after much hesitation I went with the Panasonic GH3. I'm not yet 100% sure it was the right decision and only time will tell... First and foremost, I think that although with my approximate budget of about 5000$ I could have gotten some "better" video camera, this budget when applied to the GH3, really allowed me to do a lot in terms of lenses (mostly) and accessories. Ultimately I bought the GH3 with the new 12-35 2.8 lens and the very pretty 17mm nokton .95. I also got a c-mount to MFT adapter, which should allow me to get some nice cheap fantastic lenses that basically nobody uses anymore. With the thousand or so left over, I am thinking of (maybe, and not yet immediately) buying a 16mm camera).

 

I think that it really simply didn't make sense for me to get anything biggest and better. I was looking at the Sony f100, which looks and feels pretty sweet to be honest, but then, the logic goes, why not just buy an f700? and then why not an f3? And what about tripod to hold them? And lenses? And a monitor? It just becomes a black pit of spending, for something that is certainly more worthwhile to simply rent. Daily rental fees for the F3 are like 300 euros (in a kit, sometimes less, sometimes more), plus you don't have to be stuck with a worthless brick in five years.

 

Besides that, the qualities of the GH3, esp. the autofocus and its low-light performance make it a really attractive offering. That, plus the fact that anyhow I wanted a good still digital camera pretty much decided it for me. The fact that it allowed me to buy a few nice lenses didn't hurt either.

 

The GH3 certainly does have its disadvantages, but I think that in my case, a "split strategy" works best because it allows me to make the most of the Gh3's plusses - namely to use its compactness as an advantage for things that require freedom,smallness, discretion, etc. And if I want to do anything more, shall we say "Serious" it's always possible to rent (at this point anyhow, I'd be making either relatively short films for lack of budget, or shoot with funding)

 

So anyhow, there are my two bits... hope this helps out anyone else thinking about purchasing a camera...

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Freya please define for me your understanding of cinematography. I don't think this word means what you think it means. To be honest I don't think you can actually prove there are any books, cinematographers, directors, schools, or any reputable sources to show that cinematography is not story telling. That's a fundamental of cinematography theory it's astonishing. I have to ask what do you think cinematography is? Roger Deakins, Shane Hurlbut, Wally Pfister, Stephen Goldblatt, Nancy Schreiber, Bruce Logan, Haskel Wexler and even documentarian Phillip Bloom have all stated cinematography is story telling. It's not just my view of things it's the entire body of consumate professionals and the lowly people like me that see it this way. The ASC definition does actually define it as story telling since the term Authorship means to write or develop a story.

 

Then there is this.

Definition of Cinematography

 

"Cinematography is a creative and interpretive process that culminates in the authorship of an original work of art rather than the simple recording of a physical event.

Cinematography is not a subcategory of photography. Rather, photography is but one craft that the cinematographer uses in addition to other physical, organizational, managerial, interpretive and image-manipulating techniques to effect one coherent process.

These visual images from the cinema, extending from conception and preproduction through postproduction to the ultimate presentation and all processes that may affect these images, are the direct responsibility and interest of the cinematographer.

The image that the cinematographer brings to the screen come from the artistic vision, imagination and skill of the cinematographer as he or she works within a collaborative relationship with fellow artists."

 

John Hora, ASC

 

 

 

Responsibilities of the Cinematographer

 

I. PreProduction

 

Conceptual Research and Design

- Discuss all aspects of script and director’s approach to picture in preliminary talks with director

- Analyze script as whole

- Analyze story structure

- Analyze characters

- Research period, events, general subject and appropriate design elements

- Devise style, visualize approach

- Continue talks with director on new ideas

- Come to agreement with director

- Discuss and come to agreement with production designer

- Discuss and research with technical advisor

 

Practical Research and Design

- Ascertain or find out budget requirements

- Scout and approve locations

- Plot sun position for location

- Check local weather

- Check tide tables near ocean

- Review, discuss and approve set plans

- Review, discuss and approve spotting plans for stages

- Review and approve props, picture cars, airplanes, boats, horse-drawn vehicles, mock-ups and miniatures

 

Technical Research and Design

- Visit laboratory to calibrate, customize and evaluate exposure system for any combination of electronic or chemical image capture; establish developing, printing, set timing and transfer protocols

- Visit equipment vendors

- Explore new equipment

- Learn how new equipment works

- Invent (or cause to be invented) special equipment or technique for show

- Standardize and create effects bible for show

- Help create and approve any storyboards

- Design (or cause to be designed) and approve any built-in or practical lighting fixture

- Design lighting-plot plan and rigging for stages and locations with gaffer and key grip

 

Quality Control

- Choose and approve crew, film stock, lab, equipment, second-unit and visual-effects crews

- Supervise manufacture and testing of new or modified equipment

- Visit sets under construction

- Approve wild walls, ceiling pieces and any moving set pieces

- Check lighting-fixtures crew

- Walk locations and stages with all departments to discuss requirements

- Approve set colors and textures

- Approve costume colors and textures

- Approve make-up and hair

- Generate (or cause to be generated) and approve equipment list for camera, electric and grip

- Check dailies screening rooms for correct standards

 

Implementation

- Cast stand-ins

- Train crew to use any new equipment

- Walk locations and stages with director and devise shooting plan

- Make list of special equipment for production manager and indicate number of days required

- Work with assistant director on shooting schedule (order of and days required for each scene)

- Estimate and order film stock (type, size, quantity)

- Generate (or cause to be generated) and approve rigging and shooting manpower and man-days

- Assist other departments in getting required equipment, manpower and tests

- Drop by all departments and visit department heads at least twice a day to answer any questions

- Mediate any problems between departments

- Check loading of production trucks or cargo containers for location or international shipping

- Visit cast run-through and rehearsals

- Advise and back up director on any problems

- Help producer or studio solve any production problems

 

Testing

- Shoot tests for style

- Shoot tests for lab

- Shoot tests for lighting of principal actors

- Shoot tests for camera and lenses

- Shoot tests for wardrobe and makeup

- Shoot tests for any special effects processes, unusual rigs, props or methods

 

 

II. Shooting (Production)

 

Planning

- Check and approve all call sheets and shooting order of the day’s work

 

Blocking

- Watch rehearsal of scene to be shot

- Devise shot list with director (coverage)

- Choose lens and composition, show to director for approval

- Make sure composition and movement fulfill scene task

- Work out mechanical problems with camera operator, assistant camera, dolly and crane grips

- Set any camera-movement cues

- Place stand-ins and rehearse, fine-tune

- Ensure proper coverage of scene for editor

- Work with assistant director on background action

 

Lighting

- Design lighting to show set/location to best advantage relative to story, style and dramatic content

- Light each actor to reinforce and reveal character

- Make sure mood and tone of light help tell story

- Design light for minimum reset between set-ups

- Utilize stand-by painter for control of highlights, shadows, aging, dusting down of sets and props

- Set and match light value, volume, color and contrast of each setup (exposure)

- Set any lighting cues (dimmers, spot lights, color changes and any pre-programming)

 

Preparation

- Work out any sound problems

- Work out any problems with other departments

- Check, set and approve all stunts with stunt coordinator

- Set any additional cameras required for stunts

- Double-check safety with all concerned

- Show shot to director to make any final changes

- Get actors in for final mechanical rehearsal; solve any outstanding problems

 

Photography

- Photograph scene

- Approve or correct take

- Check parameters and reset for next take

- Shoot any plates

- Shoot any video playback material

- Move to next setup

 

Administrative

- Define first setup in morning and after lunch

- Make sure stills are taken of scene

- See that “making off” and/or EPK crews get needed footage

- Make sure script supervisor has any special camera or lighting notes

- Check film raw stock inventory

- Try to shoot up short ends

- Check that camera log book is being kept up to date

- Complete day’s work

- Discuss first setup for the next day

- Ensure camera, electrical and grip crews get all copies of equipment rental or purchase invoices and approve before accountants pay vendors

- Take care of any future or ongoing production issues

- Answer any questions about future problems

- Visit production manager and producer at end of day

- Check for return of all unused equipment

 

Quality Control

- Call in for lab report

- View previous day’s work in projected dailies with director, producer, editor, camera crew

- Discuss and approve dailies

- Consult with makeup, wardrobe, production designer and assistant director about dailies

- View, discuss, correct or approve second-unit or effects dailies

- Order reprints if necessary

 

Training

- Teach beginning actors movie technique (hitting marks, size of frame, lenses, etc.)

- Train camera crew for next job up the ladder

 

Contingency

- If director is disabled, finish day’s shooting for him or her

 

 

III. PostProduction

 

Additional Photography

- Discuss and be aware of delivery dates for all postproduction

- Photograph and approve any additional scenes, inserts, special effects or second-unit footage

- Timing (Color and Density)

- Time and approve trailer for theaters and TV

- Approve all optical and digital effects composites

- Time the picture

- Retime until correct

 

Quality Control

- Approve final answer print

- Show to director for OK

- Approve interpositive (IP)

- Approve internegatives (IN)

- Approve release prints

- Approve show prints from original negative

- Approve all blowups or reductions

 

Telecine / Color Correction

- Supervise and approve film or digital transfer to electronic or film media (Hi-Def, NTSC, PAL, Secam masters, digital intermediates, archival masters, etc.)

- Supervise and approve all transfers to and from digital intermediates (DI)

- Supervise and approve all letterbox, pan and scan, or reformatting of film

- Supervise and approve tape-to-tape color correction and VHS, DVD, digital projection media, etc.

- Show electronic transfers to director for OK

 

Publicity

- Do any publicity (newspaper, magazine, Internet, radio, TV, DVD commentary, etc.)

 

Restoration / Archival

- Be available for any future reissue, archival reprint or electronic transfer of film

 

You can't tell me the Cinematographer is not a part of the story telling since he is responsible for approving the majority of the movie and researching the script, period, and characters. Why would that at all be important if it was not story telling?

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