There's something different you feel when shooting a movie shot by Emmanuel Lubezki. His touch is all over every frame. There's an immersive experience as you slip into the world he gives you.
Lubezki shot movies like Birdman,The Tree of Life, Sleepy Hollow, Ali, and Gravity. He's constantly elevating his game and challenging himself to think outside the box. As fans of his, we know there are a ton of lessons his work can pass on to us.
I compiled a list of ten things that Lubezki does better than almost anyone else.
10 Cinematography Tips Inspired by Emmanuel Lubezki
Emmanuel Lubezki, widely known as Chivo, is one of the most influential cinematographers of our time. With his exceptional talent and visionary approach to filmmaking, so let's see how his approach can be emulated by you and what lessons he can teach us.
1. Embrace Natural Light
The world around you can sometimes be the best lighting source possible. If you know how to harness it.
Lubezki is known for his masterful use of natural light in his films. Instead of relying heavily on artificial lighting, experiment with available light sources to create a more organic and realistic atmosphere. Understanding how natural light behaves and learning to manipulate it can add depth and texture to your shots.
'The Tree of Life'Credit: Fox Searchlight
2. Incorporate Long Takes
There are so many different ways to shoot long takes. They can envelop an audience in the story and make them feel like a fly on the wall in scenes.
Lubezki's signature long takes immerses the audience in the story and creates a sense of continuity. Experiment with extended shots to maintain a seamless flow and capture the essence of a scene. Long takes require careful planning and coordination but can deliver stunning results.
3. Experiment with Different Camera Movements
Move your camera with intention. Plan it out, and decide why and when the camera is moving.
Lubezki's films often feature intricate camera movements that enhance the film's storytelling. From sweeping crane shots to handheld sequences, each movement is purposeful and serves the narrative. Explore various camera movements to bring visual interest and emotion to your scenes.
4. Composition is Key
Every frame in your work should matter to you. Each one can be beautiful and well-composed.
Lubezki's compositions are meticulously crafted, drawing the audience's attention to specific elements within the frame. Pay attention to the arrangement of subjects, lines, and shapes within your shots. Experiment with different framing techniques to create visually compelling images.
'Children of Men'Credit: Universal Pictures
5. Use Depth of Field Creatively
Whether you're shooting shallow or deep, consider what you can see in the frame and why it matters.
Lubezki frequently employs shallow depth of field to isolate subjects and draw focus to specific details. Experiment with different aperture settings to achieve the desired depth of field and create a sense of visual hierarchy within your shots.
6. Consider the Camera as a Character
Our point of view in each scene matters. The camera is showing the audience what they should know.
Lubezki often treats the camera as an active participant in the storytelling process. Instead of merely observing the action, the camera becomes a character, influencing the mood and perspective. Explore how camera movement and angles can evoke emotions and add a new dimension to your scenes.
7. Explore Unconventional Angles
Don't do what's expected, spend time looking into other ways to tell the story.
Lubezki is known for his innovative use of camera angles, capturing unique perspectives that immerse the viewer in the story. Break away from traditional shots and experiment with low angles, high angles, and unconventional framing to create a distinctive visual language.
'The New World'Credit: New Line Cinema
8. Pay Attention to Color and Tone
I love when people experiment with color in film and TV. You can really change an audience's mood and attitude with splashes of color.
Color plays a vital role in Lubezki's films, enhancing the mood and atmosphere of each scene. Understand the psychology of color and use it deliberately to evoke specific emotions in your audience. Experiment with color grading and lighting techniques to create a cohesive visual palette.
9. Emphasize Movement
Movement is energy in cinema. you can go fast or slow, but the moves follow characters and beats and expand on how we're meant to perceive scenes.
Lubezki often incorporates dynamic movement within his shots to add energy and vitality to the storytelling. Explore ways to introduce movement, whether through camera, actors, or props, to create a sense of rhythm and engage the viewer on a deeper level.
10. Continuously Learn and Experiment
When things get boring, change them up. Keep challenging yourself.
Above all, Lubezki's work is characterized by his constant quest for innovation. He pushes boundaries, challenges conventions, and embraces experimentation. Continuously educate yourself on new techniques, technologies, and visual trends. Step out of your comfort zone and take risks to develop your unique cinematic style.
'Sleepy Hollow'Credit: Paramount Pictures
Summing Up 10 Cinematography Tips Inspired By Emmanuel Lubezki
After all that, it's pretty easy to see why Lubezki is one of the greats. His cinematic prowess has left an indelible mark on the film industry. By embracing his innovative approach to cinematography, and experimenting with light, movement, composition, and color, you can elevate your own filmmaking.
Remember, the key is to continuously learn, push boundaries, and develop your unique visual language.
So, go forth and let the spirit of Chivo inspire your future cinematic endeavors.