June 11, 2014

What Is the Future of Cinematography? ASC President Richard Crudo Weighs In

Richard Crudo ASCCinematography has undergone quite a change in the past decade. Not only has digital technology finally supplanted celluloid as the preferred capture medium of most Hollywood cinematographers, but computer generated imaging has become interchangeable with traditional cinematography, as is evident by the trend of CGI-heavy films winning the Best Cinematography award at the Oscars. As much as this issue has been talked about by bloggers and other internet dwellers, we had yet to hear the industry weigh in on the debate. Until now, that is. Richard Crudo, the current president of the American Society of Cinematographers, recently wrote a short piece that appears in this month's issue of American Cinematographer in which he shares some insightful and timely thoughts on the traditional vs. hybrid cinematography debate.

Having written extensively about this debate multiple times, I'll just summarize it quickly before getting to Crudo's comments. In one sense, it’s an entirely technical matter. Films like Gravity and Nebraska (both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography) were created in two vastly different ways, and therefore it isn’t prudent to judge their images by the same standards. On the other hand, it can be argued that the method and technology don’t particularly matter as long as the images have the same effect on an audience. In the end, it’s about utilizing the tools of cinematography, which are constantly changing with technology, in order to tell the story.

Here are the trailers for those two films, just in case I haven't shared them enough already.

And here are a few profound excerpts from Crudo's statement.

Every awards season, the ASC is swarmed by people from all segments of the industry who want to know when the Society will create a new awards category to recognize hybrids, motion pictures that feature a prominent mix of live-action photography and CGI. We currently have a committee hard at work on deconstructing the issue, but I have set them to this task with a great sense of unease. They are some of the best people in the world at what they do, and still I wonder whether the rules they might develop to judge such an award will stand up to honest scrutiny.

And even if we could differentiate the real from the virtual, what sort of ratio should determine which projects fall into this new awards category? 70-30? 60-40? 50 1/2-49 1/2? Once again, it’s an impossible call.

This is the primary problem with trying to differentiate between traditional and hybrid cinematography. Even though it seems prudent to separate the two since they're two vastly different technical processes, the criteria to determine which films would fall into which category are inherently arbitrary. There needs to be some kind of definitive line of demarcation, which would not only involve determining each individual film's ratio of CGI to conventional photography (which is no easy task), but it would involve determining what the base ratio would have to be for a film to be considered a hybrid.

Since almost all films these days are a combination of traditional photography and digital compositing of some sort (even the films that appear to be completely clean of digital effects), trying to accurately distinguish between the two could cause some serious issues.

Crudo went on to talk about how Emmanuel Lubezki's work on Gravity should serve as a model for all cinematographers in the future:

Though [Gravity] marked an intense collaboration among a variety of creative minds and employed a wave of innovative technology, there is no question that Lubezki’s hand shaped every frame of the movie, regardless of whether the material was originated traditionally or through CGI. This notion -- that a single pair of eyes governs the overall look -- is the only one that makes sense.

Gravity

As much as I've said that organizations like the ASC and the Academy need to differentiate between traditional and hybrid cinematography, the reality of the inherent problems with trying to separate them is beginning to set in. Unfortunately, it seems as if there's no viable and fair way to demarcate traditional cinematography and computer generated cinematography. But that's okay. Ultimately, we need to view computer and compositing technology as another tool in our bag.

What do you guys think about this issue? Is Crudo correct in his fears that a system to differentiate between traditional and hybrid cinematography would be inherently arbitrary? If not, can you think of a fair and balanced way to separate the two? Let us know down in the comments!

Link: The President's Desk -- ASC

Your Comment

53 Comments

I think that the basics of cinematography are essentially the same whether, digital or traditional. You still have to understand how to use lighting, focus, depth of field, movement, etc... and DP's vision shines through in either form.

June 11, 2014 at 10:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

3
Reply
Tyler

But that's the point. The DP ISN'T often involved in the process with hybrid cinematography.
Lets take two examples. Life of Pi and Gravity. It is usually a mixture of the VFX Supervisor and the Director that 'direct' this sort of imagery not the DP. In fact it is the VFX or Previs artists who are doing the '" lighting, focus, depth of field, movement" in the case of Gravity. Claudio Miranda had little involvement with the visual effects and post production of Life of Pi, but it is precisely this post production time that gave the film it's distinct look that probably won it the Oscar. So for him to receive the award is incorrect as he essentially is picking up an award for another departments work.

Ultimately, if film's themselves just won the Cinematography awards then it wouldn't matter, but it's the DP's that get the awards and this is the problem with not having a distinction.

It is essentially the same when make-up artists get awards for work that was actually Visual Effects.
This also causes problems as it means films that have genuinely been top of their craft miss out because films are nominated in a category that didn't involve that specific craft to any high level.

June 12, 2014 at 7:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

I'll give you Pi but Lubezki supervised every shot of Gravity in terms composition, focal length, movement and lighting, just like he would have in live action.

June 12, 2014 at 12:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

2
Reply
Robert

Lubezki was full-time at DNEG supervising the lighting team and attended every dailies for a full year that the film was in post? I highly doubt it. Also the process of CG lighting bears almost no resemblance to lighting in the physical world.

I have an enormous amount of respect for Lubezki and I think his contribution to Gravity went far beyond the usual level of involvement of most DoP on such a project. But it really should have been a shared Oscar.

Lubezki should have gotten he Oscar for Children of Men. He got robbed on that one.

June 12, 2014 at 1:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
FX

Look I hear you to a certain extent, but by that rational he should be sharing his awards with his operators, ac's, gaffers etc as well

June 12, 2014 at 3:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Robert

Claudio Miranda is a poser and a cheat. It's very clear that is was the talent of the VFX artists that made Life of Pi and Tron Legacy a success in cinematography.

June 14, 2014 at 10:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Razor

I like that this "discussion" is about Claudio Miranda and Emmanuel Lubezki, and there is a question about whether each of these guys deserves an Academy Award.

They're both some of the finest artists in the game. Top notch filmmakers bar none. Claudio cut his teeth as one of the most sought after gaffers in the business. He knows lighting better than anyone I've ever heard speak about it. Life of Pi gets a lot of flack about the imagery being created in post but the technical and conceptual challenges to create the plates for those effects were massive. Lighting actors isn't "done in the DI". The directionality, quality, and color of that light is carefully coordinated on set to match the finished work. It takes visualizing the effects work and translating the whole experience into a cohesive image. I would even give him an Academy Award for the shots that had minimal effects. That was a gorgeous use of the Alexa and natural light. The atmosphere and visual "finger" print of that movie is immaculate.

Awards go to Cinematographers for specific movies but I also think they represent part of a body of work. Emmanuel getting an award for a movie with Cuaron is definitely a nod to the inventive, highly modern style of cinematography and camerawork they have been pushing together for the last decade. The lighting is an extension of his philosophy on light and the relationship he has had with capturing nature. There is a much more powerful creative energy at work which shaped the look of that film and it was absolutely deserving of an Oscar.

Think of Cinematographers as consultants. Most of the world's best directors employ them. They are there to be at their side to guide the creative vision of a film. They intimate knowledge of the aesthetic and technical aspects of film photography. Most of them have devoted their entire lives to it and made numerous sacrifices to improve their skills. Emmanuel Lubezki and Alfonso Cuaron spent countless hours talking about every detail of their film, and how it was going to come together. Phaedon Papamichael and Alex Payne spend hours making pasta trying to create the visual "finger print" for their movie.

If the day comes when directors... or "story creators" want to go off on their own and take care of everything by themselves, then that will be fine for them, but that sounds like a miserable, lonely process. At the end of the day we're making films to push the medium, to explore and create something special. I will always seek out to have the best advisors to helping me achieve this goal.

June 16, 2014 at 8:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
J.S.

Cinematography is cinematography, the DP guides the lens and the light. Whether its in the real world or the virtual world, its all the same thing because they use the same kind of principles. Merge digital and traditional DPing together and if theres opposition by traditionalists, get over it, and move on because the rest of the world will leave you behind, very quickly...

June 11, 2014 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
shaun wilson

Yes, Cinematography is cinematography, but the DP isn't responsible on films like Gravity/Life of Pi, yet they are the ones that pick up the awards for work they had little involvement in.

'DP guides the lens and the light' - yes in real films. 'Whether its in the real world or the virtual world' - sadly not, only in the 'real' world. It's not a case of the world leaving anyone behind, it is people fundamentally not understanding the digital film making process and the DP's often lack of involvement in it.

There is no opposition to merging the two types of cinematography, no one has issue with that. People have issue with false accreditation of work by people who don't understand the process.

Would be like giving an award to the make-up artists for avatar and saying 'makeup is makeup, regardless if real or digital'. This is why Andy Serkis got in trouble recently for belittling the role of animators saying VFX in films like Planet of the Apes or Lord of the Rings is just 'digital make-up'.

Just people shitting on the vfx industry as usual...

June 12, 2014 at 7:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

I think as long as the DP is there guiding the shots in the same spirit as they would on set then it's absolutely cinematography. Nothing hybrid about it as far as I'm concerned.

June 11, 2014 at 11:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Coty

If that were the case then yet, but it is often not and that's the problem.

June 12, 2014 at 8:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

@Coty - Wow, that's a really dumb reply. Are you even reading these articles?

June 14, 2014 at 10:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Razor

All very good points. That said, if you really wanted to create a divide, then I think best way to do it would be to create a 2D and 3D Cinematography award. Films like Gravity, Avatar, and Life of Pi would all qualify under the 3D cinematography category.

June 12, 2014 at 12:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Arthur Love

Exactly, and the award would go to the VFX Sup and probably the Previs/Sequence Sup.

Save the cinematography awards for DP's who are truly at the top of their game!

June 12, 2014 at 8:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

3
Reply
Matt

I don't know, I see both sides of the argument.

On one hand, I think they are the same. The physicality of cinematography is not what defines it. It might take less physical effort to move lights/camera in a digital setting than it does in the traditional sense (click of the mouse vs. moving heavy equipment) but the decisions, how and WHY you make them are no different. That is the essence of cinematography to me and since it's the same, they should be judged together.

That being said, shooting against a green screen for 75% of the movie where nearly everything but the talent in the shot is replaced by other people is a totally different story UNLESS the DP is there with a hand in every single phase. If they pass it off and then a pre vis comes back and they go "yup, looks great" and the rest is handled by the VFX company? DP doesn't deserve much credit in that scenario if you ask me...

June 12, 2014 at 12:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply

While I agree that a DP who shoots 75% green screen and then hands it off to the VFX team to fix everything doesn't deserve credit, I don't think that is too often the case (if ever). I feel that is just like a dp on set leaving all his work to the key grip/best boy, and director, sitting back and not 'directing' the photography at all. While people may do a decent job making making up for the dp's laziness, those same people will recognize his lack of participation and I don't think those Dp's will get much more work OR would said work truly compete with a competent DP who cooperates with his team. If that makes any sense at all.

I feel we are now getting to a place in cinema that we can't be fooled by mediocre VFX like we used to. The DP has to work with the VFX team consistently to create jaw dropping images, just like Lubezki did with Gravity or Miranda with Life of Pi. Maybe I'm just talking out of my ass, but a man can dream, right?

June 12, 2014 at 12:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Taylor C

Yeah, Lubezki or Miranda often barely step into the studio or VFX house. So I wouldn't hold those two up as shining examples. You are right with your 'lazy DP' analogy.

Even more so, previs artists now just create so many sequences in films and show them to the director (not even the DP), and when they come in they just give a sign off or a 'Yeah, that looks good', or a few minor changes.

June 12, 2014 at 7:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

3
Reply
Matt

Taylor and Matt, you are wrong in your assertions that "Claudio Miranda" and "Emmanuel Lubezki" are not shinning examples of DP's. Your disrespectful stripping of there first names in your remarks is in poor taste. Both of those men have been honing their craft a great deal longer and in much larger circles than you. One of the biggest problems the industry has, particularly now, is everyone is 'poaching' from everyone else. Directors steal image crafting from DP's, VFX artists want to steal image accolades from DP's; everyone is trying to embellish their contributions to suit their own self importance. I wrestled with this conundrum myself for many years, working as a gaffer, providing my lighting expertise to motion pictures. I was amazed at how often I was charged with lighting a set for a DP who couldn't light! That is sometimes the job. Sometimes the DP is lacking in brilliance and sometimes, you get to work with individuals who are truly inspiring! But either way, at the end of the day, I was not hired to be the DP. I did not drive the work at its root motivations. I did not have the 'big picture'. Dp is 'director of photography'. He is not a mechanic. He is the primary inspiration behind the finished composition. He is not laboring among the fine details. That is what the crew is for. To say that a DP is not contributing to a green screen process shot is patently untrue and shows you do not fully understand what is being done on set. Green screen is part of principle photography. VFX is part of the post production process. Therefore, the green screen elements must be produced in advance of the VXF contributions. Talent must be properly positioned and lit with context to plates that may not yet be created. Scenes must be realized in green limbo before the environments surrounding the live action have been finished. In those moments, the DP's work is setting the stage for what must come next. Therefore, he is the motivating force behind the result, whether he went to the VFX house to supervise, or not.
Now, that is not to say that there are not DP's who don't work as hard at others, to guide the results. A good DP, like Emmanuel Lubezki, will offer his guidance at all levels, tempered with the trust and blessing of his Director. Don't penalize him because other DP's are not thorough. Just because a gaffer must pick up the lighting slack for a DP, doesn't mean he has the right to claim responsibility for all the other concerns the DP has on a given job. Neither does the VFX team. Ultimately, we are all there to realize the vision of the Director anyway. A good tech can look at the work in front of him, or her, and know what must be done, but, that doesn't give the the right to claim undue credit. Even the movie "Wally" credited Roger Deacons with the DP accolades. That should tell you something. If you want credit for the DP's work, then ask for the job. Don't try to assume it because you are providing a service towards a finished product. A good DP 'directs' the image whether it is created with a camera or a CG screen, or both. Good technicians understand that relationship and contribute with professionalism and humility.

June 12, 2014 at 12:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Mike W

I started to reply to Matt, but you took the words out of my mouth. The sets I've been on as gaffer and grip have shown me the same thing, the DP is in charge of photography. I would like to count the VFX dept. as virtual gaffers and grips, doing the job on the computer that can't be done in reality. Everything comes from above, and just because other people do the job, the one giving the orders are the DPs. Cinematography is cinematography, virtual or real. Sometimes I wish animated films were nominated in the same category, or at least have a best animated cinematography, because some are so well shot and lit. Rango was incredibly well done, and after watching Kung Fu Panda a million times with my daughter, I'm struck by how well shots are framed, how light compliments the scenes. Both of these films had help from Roger Deakins, so it explains a lot. The reason that so many want different categories, I believe, is that there are now better DPs out there, more people and films that are really well shot, and everyone wants an accolade, but it drives us all to be better, the competition will help films look better and better, so sticking to one category for cinematography is just fine with me. If I have to learn to light my scenes better than an all CGI film, then so be it, it makes me better.

June 12, 2014 at 2:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Mason

The level of ignorance you obviously demonstrate is remarkable.Your statement clearly shows that you have absolutely no sophisticated inside knowledge about digital lighting and how cg artist create the final shots for a movie. Claudio Miranda (and now Lubezki) is a SHAME for all cinematographers in the world for accepting the oscar, which he clearly did not deserve.
The background plates that he shot for Life of Pie consist of a boy in a blue screen pool with a bag full of sand (the replacement for the cg tiger). All the artistic lighting, compositing, the cg tiger, the mood of the scenery were created by the hard working cg artist, who went bankrupt afterwards (Rhythm & Hues). Even the framing was changed later in the process of finalizing the shots. And a lot of that was prepared by the storyboard artists too. Not to mention the previs guys who spent 3 years on the project planning out the shots in 3D for both the physical crews and the vfx teams.
So he won the Oscar because those old senile members of the Academy know nothing about cg integrations let alone that 90% of the shots were composed by other people. It just makes me mad when people praise such a guy (Miranda) because they just see the final images in the movie and the think that those cg artist just made a mere color correction. All he did was shooting stupid blue screen background plates UNDER THE SUPERVISION of the CG Supervisor in order to accomplish a seamless integration of cg and real life background plate.
He was not involved in the process of finalizing the shot, check out various youtube-interviews with Miranda. He clearly admits how surprised he was when he saw the final shots.

What you both say is this: So explain to me the difference in Deakins requesting and adjusting virtual lenses and lights (as he did for Pixar) and real ones (as he did for Prisoners)? I can’t see one.

BUT =>: Ever head of Lighting & Shading? These two go hand in hand because to tweak let’s say a metal or chrome shader you must have detailed knowledge of how the shader works and how light reacts to the surface. And I don’t want to start about writing shaders. You cannot light properly without knowing the shaders inside out.
The cg artists after spending months on researching, writing shaders (the suit shader for Iron man (The Avengers – 2012) consists of 5000 lines of Renderman code), painting 8k and 16k textures, lighting the scene with 200 area lights (like in the dock scene in Iron Man 3, check out fxguide.com) and maybe Nuke relighting in the process of compositing, SURELY DON’T NEED a Lubezki or a Miranda to adjust 5 stupid parameters (focal lengths, shutter angles, color temperatures,… ) in the VRay or Arnold PhysicalCamera option menu.

June 12, 2014 at 11:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

7
Reply
FerederikO.

"Both of these films had help from Roger Deakins, so it explains a lot."

Please check the facts before posting such a nonsense. Deakins was not the DP on Rango, the CG Supervisor managed all the shots. Deakins was a mere "Visual Consultant" and was not even mentioned in the end credits, which shows his degree of involvement.

June 12, 2014 at 11:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

13
Reply
FerederikO.

@FederikO.

You're saying that Lubezki should feel shame for accepting his Gravity award (which he shouldn't at all). But if that was the case, whoever stole his awards for Children of Men and Tree of Life should feel even more shame. He got that award (apart of the great work done), because he was already due for an Oscar.

That's how the Academy works, we should know by now. You don't get your Oscar for you best work, but when they get tired of hearing your name as a nominee. (Except for the poor Roger Deakins)

June 13, 2014 at 2:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
J

"Stripping them" of their first name is for brevity not a lack of disrespect... But I'm sure you know that .

You don't need to explain how green screen plates are shot, I've worked as a VFX artist in the visual effects industry for a considerable amount of time and shot enough myself as both DP/cameraman and VFX sup to know. Also I know many close friends who have worked on both Pi and Gravity, so I'm not just talking out of my arse you know... ;-)

The issue is not really about poaching credit, but mis-assigning credit where it is due. In fact it is partly this problem that is leading to the VFX industry slowly going bankrupt, so it is not an issue to be trivialised.

Your main argument seems to be based on the fact that VFX artists should just be thought of as part of the DPs crew (laughably offensive to VFX artists in reality).. But it doesn't alter the fact that he is just shooting a green-screen, so his sole contribution to the final image is just the green screen element. This whole debate is about AWARDS for being best in their field... are you honestly suggesting that Miranda... sorry ...CLAUDIO Miranda was best in his field of cinematography for just shooting green screen elements? Enough to give him an award saying that his DP contributions were greater or displaying more talent than any other film that year??

"If you want to be credited as DP, then ask for the job"... It's like you haven't even read the article, the whole point is that the situation has become more complex, so a redefinition of traditional cinematography and "hybrid" is a possible answer.

June 16, 2014 at 6:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

Than CG lighters, VFX composers and TDs should be credited for cinematography too.
Most of the DPs never come to VFX studios. Actually it is a VFX studio who figures out how to light and render things in space or how to light Godzilla or an alien spaceship. The studio comes up with technical and aesthetic solution than DP or Director say weather they like it or not.
Meanwhile 3d lighting and rendering technology becomes more friendly even to someone from outside the VFX industry most of the established DPs (most of them are under 40 now) don't have a minimum idea of what is going on on the monitor.

June 12, 2014 at 12:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

7
Reply
Einar

Precisely!

June 12, 2014 at 7:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

In a case like Gravity the DoP should be nominated along with the VFX and lighting lead for a shared Oscar. That would be more just and everyone would be rewarded equally.

June 12, 2014 at 11:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Fx

You clearly have no clue how the process works on the ground. If you had any field experience at all, you would not be so quick to spout nonsense. I have never been given a lighting mandate from a producer and I don't expect I ever will. When I shoot, or light for a living, I am creating in the moment, or from preproduction notes that I and the Director, or Cinematographer have worked out through research and prep. We do not consult VFX people on how to exercise our craft. If anything, when possible, we include them in discussions to inquire how we may make their jobs easier or to inform them of our decisions. One day, you may understand this if you are blessed with a career
.

June 12, 2014 at 9:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

3
Reply
Mike W

Sorry Mike, you seem to tell everyone that they don't understand anything, when all I read seems to be aggressive yet smug ignorance. There is no need for that. I'm guessing from your brief description of your profession you are either a gaffer or cameraman, perhaps DP? So I'm guessing your knowledge of VFX is limited so I'll forgive you on that. But you must understand on big shoots things happen a little differently, and this article tackles an issue that needs addressing. On big budget VFX heavy blockbusters, VFX supervisors work very closely with DPs and directors. When shooting green screen elements, lighting pre-vis is often carried out that DOES inform the DPs lighting decisions. The lighting rig may often be created to integrate with the final CG if it is a complex camera move. Not everything is done in the moment, at least not in high budget films.

"If you are blessed with a career" - no need for rude (and probably false) assumptions, let's play nice here.

June 16, 2014 at 6:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

In fact, in gravity, the lighting previs WAS the lighting rig! As they used a cube that projected the 360 pre--rendered low res lighting previs that Sandra Bullock would sit in the middle of so the lighting would interact correctly on her face when she was "spinning".

Just one example...

June 16, 2014 at 7:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

This is like having the category for "best music" divided between "best music done with acoustic instruments, recorded to analog tape (with multitrack allowed)" and "best music done with an army of people using synthesizers and computers and Pro Tools" - or "best sculpture done with clay" vs "best sculpture done with 3D printing."

There is certainly room for category awards. But I do agree with everyone above that if you think of cinematography as being more about filmmaking choices (eg the whole art vs craft debate), there obviously it should be possible to honor the most artistically and conceptually strong work overall. Not that voting committees have ever been particularly good at judging that, of course! And of course it's a bit nuts trying to pick one work as "best" each year when the competing films can be night and day. But that's another issue :)

June 12, 2014 at 12:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply

The difference being that in music, there is still a composer who creates the music.
With films like Gravity and Life of Pi, the DP often has very little involvement in the films resultant cinematography, but he is the one picking up the award and falsely taking credit for work that primarily wasn't his/hers.

It would be like Avatar being nominated for best make-up.

June 12, 2014 at 7:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

3
Reply
Matt

- What time is it Geoffrey?
- Time to take advice from the group of men still believing that 35mm film, photochemical process, puppets, miniatures and rear projection are the best things ever.

June 12, 2014 at 3:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

4
Reply
Natt

I've been in the CG industry for more than 15 years now, worked on over 30 movies all around the world in major FX companies. I never, ever saw the DOP in the FX house. Ever. The CG sup makes the call with the director. Maybe Gravity is an exception. Oh! No, it happened once, on Valiant, a full CG movie. We had a "real DOP". It was a nightmare because the guy didn't know anything about CG and he was asking for gels and bounce card to light the shots. He would ask us to put a 2k light to the right, for example. In CG, we don't work this way. The guy was pissed, thinking it took forever to get results. Well, we told him to try to make a spotlight that doesn't cast shadows, or make objects invisible in reflections. Good luck! I'm all for having the DOP in the FX studio but they also need some training on how CG works.

June 12, 2014 at 8:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

3
Reply
Robert

Exactly. I've been in FX for +20 years. The DoP has long moved on to another show by the time the post work starts.

Back when we still shot miniatures etc you never saw the main DoP. It was the VFX and his DoP working with the motion control operator. Basically second or third unit.

I once had a very high level DoP come in on a show for a day to give us some feedback on a particular scene that was shot against green screen and needed to look like the outdoors, but that had more to do with a political struggle between two executes than anything else. Other than that I have never seen the DoP during post in 20 years.

June 12, 2014 at 11:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
FX

That is a very common situation when DOP is somewhere else to shoot a new project. Some people here talk about Hybrid approach, traditional,digital,CGI not CGi it does not matter! The point is that with complex digital/VFX cinematography there are more people involved who also independently take creative and technical decision, but never get credited for cinematography. Actually Gravity was the first case who brought up this issue..who knows may be tomorrow a good 3d artist would have a right to call himself DDOP (first D stands for Digital).
If it doesn't matter which tools and technology are used in cinematic storytelling, than any talented 3d artist can call him self a cinematographer as he operates the same camera and lights but on a computer.

June 13, 2014 at 2:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Einar

This is exactly how I assumed it happened. Therefore the credit needs to go to VFX houses.

June 12, 2014 at 12:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

7
Reply

Perhaps the award should be split. One for the overall cinematic image and one for the actual photography?

June 12, 2014 at 8:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply

Yes, 30% is the fine compromise. "The Wolf of wall Street" had a few non-crucial CG sequences and thus would qualify as "traditional" cinematography. "Gravity" and "Life of Pi" have to go to the VFX folks.

June 12, 2014 at 11:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
DLD

PLEASE 2D vs. 3D CINEMATOGRAPHY IS THE ONLY TANGIBLE DISTINCTION. THE ONLY WAY TO LEGITIMIZE 3D CINEMATOGRAPHY IS TO GIVE IT A SEPARATE OSCAR. SORRY FOR YELLING BUT THIS ARGUMENT IS VERY 2003.

June 12, 2014 at 11:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Ben Gates

2D vs. 3D cinematography is the modern equivalent of b&w vs. color, which was eventually made into distinct categories to recognize the distinct artistic possibilities of both mediums.

June 12, 2014 at 11:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Ben Gates

...and to follow that line of thought to it's conclusion...folded back into one category because b/w and color is still cinematography any way you sliced it. Now, of course, as Richard Crudo suggests...it's not a clear cut and simple answer.

June 19, 2014 at 12:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

2
Reply
Daniel Mimura

What does the overused term HYBRID mean. Toyota wants to sell you HYBRID cars. Fujifilm wants to sell you cameras with a HYBRID viewfinder. Panasonic wants to sell you a HYBRID camera that shoots both stills and video.

Now Richard Crudo is talking about HYBRID cinematography. Time to stop using Buzz Words/Marketing Terms and to speak clearly.

June 12, 2014 at 12:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

4
Reply
c.d.embrey

hy·brid noun \ˈhī-brəd\
: something that is formed by combining two or more things

Its an apt word to use not a buzz word at all and applies to every example you just listed.

June 12, 2014 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
AdRath

If most of the work is done in front of a green screen. The cine award should be shared with the VX team and the DP.

June 12, 2014 at 5:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

11
Reply

I am a technical director who started my "Art" side of life with pencil to crayons to watercolor to mouse/tablet and migrating to interactive gestural devices. I have been closely following up with the evolution of "Computing" and here is my take on this whole cinematography issue.

There CANNOT be hybrid thing in this matter when the worst things are coming round the corner if you want to stick to your "title".

Lets take this example. There used to be ayurvedic/siddha/herbal/you-name-it medical treatment and "physicians" were there and then came allopathy/modern medicine and "doctors" have come. Both "cured" people and methods are different. Previous one is less/vanishing and the later advancing.

I know its hard to accept the fact that our current knowledge/values are worthless because the tool & technology is advancing... sorry to hear that...... and thats the way it will be. I tell you even CG artists life are in a big mess as who exactly doing what. You will soon witness even the current set up of BIG postproduction houses would vanish and majority of VFX would come in a box thats connected to cloud.

I can't predict what is going to be after 1000 years but I can predict whats the near future and you tell me where would "cinematographer" be.

A guy called director - sorry his title gone - and now evolved as "the story creator" envisions a story and we all know that director is the one who used to frames and approves the shot. Now the story creator can "choose/pickup" the best sequenced of shot ideas and methods from the cloud right at the "editing" table where there would be automated editing choices for a sequence that the story creator has envisioned to tell.

So the future is going to be one and only "Choosers" - who choose to create what they want to create in media.

Forget your titles. Go, be the chooser who creates.

May God be with you :)

Solomon.

June 13, 2014 at 12:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Solomon

No one should be awarded for anything. Films are not sporting teams. They should be collaborative not compettitive.

But they are.

And the only way a DP should be rewarded from him or herself. But it is so nice when someone says, "oh my god I loved that film you shot so much" - that you helped work on a piece of art that helped or inspired someone.

June 13, 2014 at 12:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

7
Reply
Ed David

DOPs and Directors work together to come up with a look and feel for a piece of Cinema and, everyone attached to that team work to produce it. DOP gets credit for the vision, camera operators and VFX don't really have the latitude to stray from the vision without messing up the look and feel of the entire piece and, they get a pat on the back and a salary for getting it right. That's it. There are plenty of conceptual art pieces on this planet where the people who participated in the construction will never see their names in a credit. Should construction workers get credit for working on an architect's vision? I'm not saying they souldn't or couldn't be proud of their work but, should there be a credit roll? That seems to be what we're talking about.

June 13, 2014 at 1:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Tom M

But in many "hybrid" cinematography examples (gravity, life of Pi etc), the DP wasn't wholly responsible for the "vision" in the same way as a normal film, the VFX supervisors were, and they worked closely with the director not DP.
Plus these DPs who had "less involvement" in the "vision", shouldn't be taking the awards from the genuine visions of DPs who ARE and who shoot amazing films all in camera... Or equally taking the awards or credit for the vfxartists on these "hybrid" films.

A split of cinematography from tradition and "hybrid" would easily solve this... Not sure why there is any logical resistance to the idea?

June 16, 2014 at 11:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

I think you're mistaking credits for awards recognition.
This was never about being credited, VFX artists are (usually) credited at the end of films for their contribution.
It's award ceremony recognition specifically "cinematography" that this was always about, as DPs wrongly snapping awards that should either go to other DPs or to VFX people.

June 16, 2014 at 11:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Matt

Most DPs have now become useless. Now we have VFX artists lighting most of the shots including the CGI lensing and camera angles. And then we have companies like Company 3 and DeLuxe doing the color correction and color grading further setting the look and feel. A great example is Prometheus. I think the color and lighting in that one was awesome, but if you thought the DP Dariusz Wolski should get the credit, you would be wrong. It was purely the DaVinci colorist and lighter Stephen Nakamura of Company 3 that should have been credited as the DP.

June 14, 2014 at 11:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Razor

I'm a long time director of all CGI stuff for the games industry and I think that experience is relevant here

I tend to do a lot of my own camera animation (ie directly in maya) purely because I DON'T have a digital equivalent to a DP to help me, and even then you are having to compose only for performance and composition at that point because only a vague idea of the lighting might even exist outside of 2d concept work - you certainly can't take advantage of what you encounter in the world or quickly respond to added light like you can in the real world (though advances in preview rendering will change that to an extent)

without denigrating animators, or CG sups ( I have worn that hat a lot also) they do not necessarily have the wealth of experience and eye of a great DP who is expected to be a great visual artist but also a highly knowledgeable technician and this is where it gets tricky - they understand the physical way to deal with cameras and lights but not necessarily the virtual analogues. so you often have the wrong people doing this important creation decision making

there are definitely some talented people in the VFX or CGside who effectively become 'digital DOP's in the process though and I would agree that a lot of VFX heavy films or games or whatever are relying MORE on those people than any person actually credited with the title DOP - how much influence the actual DOP has is down to how much time the production can afford to have him involved with pre and post departments, which is often little in reality (I expect a lot of DP's don't like that either)

I think going forwards we really need to have more DP's crossing into the digital realm much more significantly so they can use their talents more and interact more with VFX/CG processes (and DI) - the problem in reality is most of them would (quite understandably) much rather be doing things live on set than stuck in a studio working with to them clunky and slow CG pipelines - we've had a few good DP's come in to consult and help our teams learn more from the horses mouth but I still often miss having a 'real DP' as a key creative collaborator (from my own role as a mainly "digital" director)

the reason Cameron invented a lot of new physical 'virtual cinematography' control systems (or more accurately had others invent for him) for Avatar was precisely because this allowed him to short circuit the usual 'cinematography via animators' process and let him and his DP do this aspect much more directly themselves with control systems they could interact with physically. He on record as saying how frustrating he finds the normal VFX process of having to work through the VFX depts on that sort of stuff

so on that basis the other thing that is helping is making CG MORE like live action - both on camera control and on lighting (ergo one of the main drivers behind the move from layers based CG to physically based lighting/shading) - one of the great side effects this should have is allowing real world talent and experience to interact more directly and easily with the virtual world

at some point of course we will eventually have purely CG DP's acknowledged as such properly - but I suspect that will take more time for the wider industry to grapple with and credit properly

June 18, 2014 at 1:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
stelvis

.........And even if we could differentiate the real from the virtual, what sort of ratio should determine which projects fall into this new awards category? 70-30? 60-40? 50 1/2-49 1/2? Once again, it’s an impossible call.

Not so true, .. anything captured through the lens is considered conventional cinematography.
... anything created otherwise could be considered hybrid cinematography.

June 25, 2014 at 1:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Cal

Semi-precious gemstones earrings are becoming the best sold earrings for fashion girls.
Spring cleaning is such a huge task because you have actually spent so
much time in the house all winter. I am free of generational beliefs
that hold me down.

August 12, 2014 at 9:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply