Posts Tagged ‘Alfonso Cuaron’

MediaComposerIn an earlier post regarding editing resources, I discussed a variety of editing programs used by a wide variety of professionals and educators, and here is an update for filmmakers interested in Media Composer by Avid.  Cengage Learning offers a number of titles designed to teach use of Avid Media Composer and its editing, effects, and sound programs.  These include: Media Composer 6: Professional Picture and Sound Editing by Woody Lidstone, Media Composer 6: Professional Effects and Compositing by David East, Media Composer 6: Part 1 – Editing Essentials by Mary PlummerMedia Composer 6: Part 2 Effects Essentials and Color Grading with Media Composer and Symphony 6.  

Another update since that previous post about editing, in which Oscar award-winning editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall are discussed, is that the most recent Academy Award winners for editing are Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, who used Avid Media Composer to edit the film Gravity.  Here are two excellent interviews with Mark Sanger concerning his work on Gravity: one from Pro Video Coalition in which he specifically discusses working with Media Composer and an interview with Moviescope where he talks about the development of his career and his work with Cuarón.

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Cuarón (left) and Lubezki (center) working with digital techniques on Gravity set

Cuarón (left) and Lubezki (center) working with digital techniques on Gravity set

In an earlier post, I highlighted the work of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and director Alfonso Cuarón, featured artists in Moving Images, whose collaboration has generated many of the most powerful and provocative movies of recent decades.  Their current film, Gravity, is sure to offer strong opportunities for studies of the art of moviemaking, as it weaves together technology, visual communication, storytelling, and the artistry of directing, acting, sound design, and many other departments to craft its narrative and build its thematic and emotional resonance.  A number of thorough and insightful pieces on this movie and Cuarón’s career have appeared in recent weeks.  I highly recommend this article from the Directors Guild of America.  In addition, if you have not visited the DGA site, you will find that it is an unequaled resource, particularly for its extensive interviews with dozens of directors.  Also, New York Magazine published a superb piece by Dan P. Lee – The Camera’s Cusp: Alfonso Cuarón Takes Filmmaking to a New Extreme with Gravity in its September 22 issue.    

George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, and Alfonso Cuarón making Gravity

George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, and Alfonso Cuarón making Gravity

For an initial investigation into some of the science in Gravity, here is a video in which Cuarón and space.com’s @DavidSkyBrody discuss scientific aspects of the creation of this movie.

It is my plan to return to this post with more links to lessons associated with this movie or material that emerges once it is released.  Stay tuned.  And maybe I’ll see you at the movies on the day of its release.

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I Fidanzati or The Legend of the Holy Drinker? - a tough choice!

I Fidanzati or The Legend of the Holy Drinker? – a tough choice!

For a bit of a different post today, in the wake of all of the picks we saw this past Sunday of last year’s “best movies” (well, at least the ones that got their angles right with the Academy voters), I was prompted by students to share a piece that I wrote a little while back.  Every now and then, folks will ask “well, what is your favorite movie?” and I can immediately answer “One?  Oh, I could never pick just one… but let me think about it and I can give you a few…”  So here is my answer.

Dozen Favorite Films  (in baker’s alphabetical order)

The Apartment: Billy Wilder

A Canterbury Tale: Powell & Pressburger

Children of Men: Alfonso Cuarón

Dr. Strangelove: Stanley Kubrick

The Fiancés:  Ermanno Olmi

The General: Buster Keaton

Gigi: Vincente Minnelli


And Vertigo? Of course…

The Great Race: Blake Edwards

Hearts & Minds: Peter Davis

The Mirror: Andrei Tarkovsky

Night of the Hunter: Charles Laughton

Princess Mononoke: Hayao Miyazaki

War Requiem: Derek Jarman

When I was asked for one favorite, it had to be five, then ten; in the end, it was a dozen.  I decided that I wouldn’t choose more than one film from any director.  Tomorrow, the list will be completely different.  In fact, it will be five minutes from now.  A memory will surface, seeing a seat in a theater, recalling an instant of passion or creative sparks.  A righteous stirring, an inspiring leap, a deep wash of red or green or blue, a whispered line or angry burst – films by Jean Renoir or Frank Borzage, Preston Sturges or Wes Anderson, François Truffaut or Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang or Carl Dreyer, Max Ophuls or Kenji Mizoguchi, Akira Kurosawa or Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh or Bill Douglas, Michel Gondry or Alexander Payne, Jacques Tati or Roman Polanski, Larisa Shepitko or Tenguiz Abouladze, Ingmar Bergman or Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda or Bertrand Tavernier, Delmer Daves or Dimitri Kirsanoff, Yuri Norstein or Ladislas Starevich, Aki Kaurismaki or Federico Fellini, Louis Malle or Ken Loach, John Cassavetes or Ousmane Sembene, Stanley Donen or Alexander Mackendrick – through the swell of music married with dissolve to close-up, or the shades of black and white as they sear upon our cornea, or the flow of a camera moving across a magic hour landscape as we travel across our own fields and back yards; and smiles, chomping popcorn and sipping a soda in the dark, overturning a chair with laughs or gripping it with white knuckles; then, a face slides upon the screen, and we connect with it for that instant, more than we can comprehend, until we may turn to one that we truly know and suddenly be seized by a moment of understanding, sliding outside of our selves in suspension of awareness, of holding the angle of their gaze, of the contour of their soul, until it abruptly slips, and we are once again in the familiar perspective, but with this sacred memory.

Mine for 2013

Winner for 2012

Now that I’ve just posted this, it makes me want to produce some lists – yeah, I know they’re everywhere these days with the digital-crunching brave new netverse obsessed to convert everything to some hierarchy of numbers, but… they’re still pretty fun.  So maybe there could be some for sound design, musical score, cinematography, acting… and so forth.  And what is your favorite movie?

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Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki measuring light on the set of Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”

I was amused to see the picture accompanying one of the most recent in-depth interviews with Emmanuel Lubezki, a featured cinematographer in Chapter 4 of Moving Images (titled “Storytelling with Light”).  This photo from the shoot of Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life shows Lubezki measuring light.  When I was in the process of completing the work for Chapter 4 of Moving Images, which focuses on cinematography and compels students to understand and reflect on the capture and use of light and its impact on visual storytelling, I found an image that showed a famous cinematographer using a light meter.  I thought it would serve as a good illustration of a director of photography at work and bring home the basic idea that light is something that can be measured and manipulated in order to create the images that one wishes to use to tell a story in moving image media.  I contacted him to request permission to use the image.  He responded with a thoughtful response, but he forthrightly declined, making a variety of comments that amounted to “these devices are stuck resolutely in the past” and offering phrases of the “manufacturing a buggy whip after the invention of the car” variety.  I moved on and was graciously offered an image gratis from independent filmmaker William Farley.

Interestingly, since then, there has not been a single year yet in which the majority of Oscar nominees for cinematography have shot digitally.  Although that year is sure to come, it is clear to me that it is in any student’s interest to have a fundamental comprehension of key concepts of light and photography, whether for digital sensors or through celluloid.  To establish an understanding that one can measure light, that it makes a difference how and with what tools one captures light, and that the ways light is used by a creator to tell a story help to form the basis of what we view as moving images, whether in feature films, TV shows, commercials, local PSAs, music videos, YouTube streams, and everything in between and beyond — that is what educators must convey when introducing “Storytelling with Light.”

Clive Owen, Emmanuel Lubezki, and Alfonso Cuarón during the making of “Children of Men”

The cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki offers some of the most powerful contemporary examples of the expressive possibilities of moving images, particularly his work with Alfonso Cuarón, such as the awe-inspiring Children of Men and A Little Princess (see Fig 4-14, Moving Images); with Terrence Malick (including the Oscar-nominated The Tree of Life); and in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.  And here is a commercial directed by Lubezki for broadcast during the recent London Olympics.  

For more thoughts on issues about working in digital or celluloid-based media, here is an interview with cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, Steven Spielberg’s long-time collaborator and DP on War Horse and many other features.  In the accompanying article they announce that Kaminski would be shooting Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, but the cinematographer of Saving Private Ryan didn’t seem to have what it takes to make the cut since Benoît Debie ended up as DP.  In 35.  Go figure.

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