elaine, 28, film student always, and the last to leave the theatre.


August 15th


Super cut of one of the greatest artists of our time: cinematographer Roger Deakins.

August 2nd


Hannibal cinematography: inspiration from visual art

Production designer Patti Podesta credits visual artists including Gustave Caillebotte, Francis Bacon, Edward Hopper, Todd Hido and Andrew Wyeth as inspiration for the lighting and palette of Hannibal. [x]

May 19th

“There weren’t a lot of contemporary mechanics introduced, like helicopters and zoom lenses. It was a tableau form of moviemaking, where the actors move in and out of frame, very straightforward. It was supposed to feel like a period piece… There was no discussion of lighting. I just did what I felt like doing. The design came out of the juxtaposition of the bright, cheerful garden party wedding that was going on outside, and the underbelly in this dark house. I used overhead lighting because the Don was the personification of evil, and I didn’t always want the audience to look into his eyes, see what he was thinking. I just wanted to keep him dark… (In those days) screens were so blitzed with light that you could see into every corner of every toilet and closet on the set. I’d always hear, ‘They have to be able to see it in the drive-ins….’ When the dark stuff started to appear on the screen, it seemed a little scary to people who were used to looking at Doris Day movies.” - DP Gordon Willis talking about The Godfather in Peter Biskind’s book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. Willis died yesterday at the age of 92.

May 11th

Every burst of incandescence around the car’s night-time exterior was carefully staged and the effects of weather were controlled as much as was humanly possible.

“That was really hard because we knew what we wanted,” says [DP Roger] Deakins. “It wasn’t a very big budget and we searched forever to find the right streets and we only had one night and half a night outside the hospital.

“We had nozzles mounted to the front of the car to create rain on the windshield but we couldn’t put rain over such a large area of that whole drive. We wet the streets down. All the snow was CG because there was no way we could create snow over such a vast area.” (via Screen Daily)

March 28th

For lustful eyes only, here are a couple of pics (courtesy of camera operator Andrew Bikichky) of the blacked out Panavision cameras that will be shooting Star Wars Episode VII over the summer.

The Panny’s are custom made for Star Wars and will be the production’s “A” and “B” cameras, nicknamed “Death Star” and “Millennium Falcon.” 

Mounting on the front of these bad boys will be Panavision anamorphics and they’ll be loaded up with Kodak film stock 5219, as was revealed by cinematographer Dan Mindel, ASC, BSC last summer.(via Blog | The Black and Blue)

January 21st


Evolution of the Dolly Zoom (by Vashi Nedomansky)

Very nice. It even has the one that taught me the term and remains my favorite (at 5:37). Though I’m not sure “evolution” is the right word - how’re you gonna say it got better after Vertigo?

December 20th

88 Cinematographers Share the Best Professional Advice They’ve Ever Received | The Black and Blue

When I was a focus puller on a movie with Adrian Biddle, BSC, I told him I did not have focus marks, and he said, ‘Feel the Force.’ I use that advice all the time. - Dan Mindel (Enemy of the State, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness)

1) Learn how to listen; 2) Choose one strong idea per film; and 3) Really understand your motivations, why you do something and not something else, and the direction you take in your work. - Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC (Delicatessen, Se7en, Midnight In Paris)

At ILM, Dennis Muren, ASC had a simple, powerful phrase: ‘One shot, one thought.’ When we lapse into gilding the lily on a setup, that quote provides a reality check. - Pete Kozachik, ASC (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Never take rejection personally if you don’t get a job. There are so many cinematographers vying for so few jobs, and there are many forces at work that have nothing to do with one’s talent. - Nancy Schreiber, ASC (The Nines, Woody Allen: A Documentary)

Stay calm, listen, observe and lead by example. - Jonathan Taylor, ASC (Iron Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy)

November 20th

The film’s bold contrast ratios pay homage to classics like The French Connection (also shot by Owen Roizman), and The Pope of Greenwich Village (shot by John Bailey, ASC), while the Panavision C series lenses (developed decades ago, and modernized by Dan Sasaki) softened resolution and increased flaring (like 1970’s era films), while still providing a clean, grainless negative.  [Cinematographer Robert] Elswit, and his first-time director Tony Gilroy, culled from New York anamorphic classics, while adding new school touches like invisible Steadicam and digital scaling. “Those films had minimal camera movement and exploited image size changes,” says Elswit, “bouncing in from very wide to very close, for example, to highlight their graphic qualities. Rather than using a standard master and coverage, the shots all stand on their own and that’s what we tried to emulate. Tony even looked through the camera, and screened dailies (digitally projected) every day, both of which seem like rarities for most directors these days.”

“The movies that came out of New York City from 1965 to 1985, were, to me, the creative peak in American cinema,” adds Elswit, “and I wanted to find my way back to those movies, led by the likes of Gordon Willis and Owen Roizman, that I saw in film school.” (via)

November 18th


The Art of Roger Deakins.

October 20th

The Light Box stood over 20-feet tall and 10-feet across, with a sliding door on one side that allowed access to the interior, and a gantry hanging overhead that tethered the box to a team of VFX technicians at a computer control center. The interior of the box was comprised of 196 panels, each measuring approximately two feet by two feet, and fitted with 4,096 LED bulbs that could cast whatever light or colors were needed and alter them at any speed. Images could also be projected onto the walls, including the planet Earth, the International Space Station (ISS), or the distant stars “giving the actor the perspective of what their character was seeing,” [VFX supervisor Tim] Webber says “It was primarily so we could reflect the appropriate light on them, but it had the double benefit of being a visual reference for them, too.” (via)


"If you zoom in on Sandra’s eyes, sometimes you can see the earth moving around—things like that would have been almost impossible to do without the box. So we built the box, but that wasn’t it.  To be able to shoot inside the box, we had to build a special rig that holds the camera and moves with motion control. So we had people build a very narrow, lightweight but sturdy rig to control the camera. If you imagine the big box of LEDs, it has a gap that is almost a foot and a half or two feet wide, and the camera has to go into the box and make all these moves to make the audience believe that Sandra is turning and turning, but it’s really the camera and the environment in the box that is moving. So we built the box, the rig, and then used a company called Bot & Dolly. These guys are from San Francisco, and they use robots from the automotive industry.  They redid all the software for us, so we were able to use these robots to move the cameras and the lights around the actors.It was just a big ballet of gadgets and new technology for the film.” - Emmanuel Lubezki

October 19th

Can you touch upon some of the pieces of technology and equipment that were created to make Gravity possible?  

Emmanuel Lubezki: To make this movie we used many different methodologies. For one of them, we invented this LED box that you’ve probably read about, which is basically this very large LED monitor that is folded into a cube. So all the information and images that you input into this monitor lights the actors, and you can input all of the scenes that were pre-visualized to create the movie—all the environments that we had created—and you can input them into this large cube so space itself is moving around the actors. 

So it’s not Sandra Bullock spinning around like crazy, it’s your cameras.

Emmanuel LubezkiYes, instead of having Sandra turning in 360s and hanging from cables, what’s happening is she’s standing in the middle of this cube and the environment and the lighting is moving around her. The lighting on the movie is very complex—it’s changing all the time from day to night, all the color temperatures are changing and the contrast is changing. There were a lot of subtleties that you can capture with the box, subtleties that make the integration of the virtual cinematography and the live-action much better than ever before.(via)