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Sava Silin

Christopher Doyle and his unique style

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Hi guys, I have question about Christopher Doyle's style of cinematography. I watched several Wong Kar Wai movies and I was just fascinated with this dreamy look those movies have. Particularly Chungking Express and Fallen Angels:






From IMDb pages and few interviews and documentaries I found out that, first of all, it's shot on film (obviously). He definitely used 35mm Arri camera. But I don't know which one particularly. Both films shot at 1994 and 1995, what 35mm Arri cameras were popular at that time? Also, I know he used fuji and kodak film stocks but i don't know which ones exactly and is it available to buy right know? Also, I know he used Zeiss and Cooke primes as well as Angenieux Optimo for his movie shootings, but again what series exactly?

Do you think he used any special filters? I know his style is not only based on camera and lenses, its also very cool shallow lighting and camera movements. But if you can help me with some of this question I will be very grateful. I really want to know how to create this moody and dreamy images, how he makes light look so bright and soft. I just started to learn old film cameras so its very interesting topic for me, because I'm thinking to buy one in the near future.


Here is also interesting old documentary with him:









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The 1990's color negative stocks he used -- Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa -- are all off the market now. There is only Kodak Vision-3 today. I think he used Agfa for "Chungking Express" and Fuji F-Series for "Fallen Angels", but sometimes those stock decisions were probably financial. It seems to me that he often push-processed the stocks, as he does with his still photography (I suggest getting one of his books.) The push-processing helped accentuate the color differences when he used mixed lighting sources.


There seems to be some ProMist-type filtration on the 90's movies, and some Classic Soft diffusion in the 2000's.


Not sure why the type of ARRI camera he used would contribute to the look. Shooting handheld with wide-angle lenses certainly was part of the look, at least with "Fallen Angels". He once said he shot like that partly because he liked to work fast.




Some of this later movies in the 2000's went against the saturated, grainy, contrasty look he did in the 1990's and went the opposite way -- he overexposed and pull-processed the stocks for a creamier low-contrast look.

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Hi David, thanks for the reply and for book advise, I already order it)


Yes I guess promist type filters gives effect that I'm looking for. I read somewhere that Doyle also used black promist filters. What's the difference between them? And there is also warm promist filters. I suppose 1/2 promist filter makes light softer and brighter then 1/4 and 1/8, right?


I also have question about film stock. So as you said there are only few Kodak Vision 3 on the market: 500T, 250D, 200T, 50D. What the difference between them? Which one is grainer and has a look closer to the Wong Kar Wai movies. Also, what would you suggest to watch or read to get better understanding of film stocks?

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Brightness is an effect of exposure or intensity of a light source - a heavier ProMist filter will just soften more and create a stronger halation (glow) around light sources. Black ProMists dont quite lose as much contrast, the image is not quite as milky as with regular ProMists... but today with digital color-correction it matters less which you use since black level and contrast can be tweaked.


Faster stocks are grainier though the leaps between the stocks are not very obvious.

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Hate to nitpick... but I noticed that more and more people are just posting questions to the General Discussion category -- this post should have been under the Cinematographers subforum.

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