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Posts Tagged ‘Cinematography’

Decades ago, Princeton professor P. Adams Sitney first integrated these lessons into his work on cinematic history and its hidden lessons, along with adventures in the Avant-Garde.  Check out the embedded video above and your eyes (and mind) may be opened a bit more.

Speaking of dispelling illusions, here is a related recommendation — Race: The Power of an Illusion is an exceptional documentary referenced in Moving Images and which explores the complex story of what we call “race” in AmericaYou can learn more about it here.

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Director Francis Lawrence measures up a shot with Jennifer Lawrence on Catching Fire

Director Francis Lawrence measures up a shot with Jennifer Lawrence on Catching Fire

This week, there was a post on Yahoo News comparing the Hunger Games movies and offering an explanation as to “why Catching Fire is superior to the first Hunger Games movie”— which is that it was shot in 35mm. with “old lenses!”  (I have to add that I have been astonished at the degree to which it has become a meme that the second Hunger Games movie is infinitely superior; literally every adolescent that I’ve heard talk about the movies says this, and some then go on to describe the first movie as if it were shot by a detoxing wedding videographer with a Fisher-Price handycam.)

jennifer-Lawrence-on-fire-in-New-Hunger-Games-Catching-Fire-TrailerSince issues concerning evolving platforms for image capture (both digital and celluloid-based) are addressed in Chapter 4 of Moving Images and a few of my mediateacher.net blog posts, I had to laugh when I read this article and thought, “It’s nice to see this much passion about cinematography in a Yahoo article!”  At the same time, I remarked, “Hmmm, the writer needs a few lessons — after all, the first Hunger Games movie was shot in 35 as well!”  This is why an understanding of Storytelling with Light from Moving Images can be so beneficial: One must look at all the decisions being made by director, cinematographer, and the lighting and art direction personnel on the movie that craft its look (and vfx too!).  It’s how you create and work with the light and all of the things that it’s bouncing off of.  In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out the clip from the Catching Fire Blu-Ray: it includes many interesting observations by cinematographer Jo Willems and director Francis Lawrence about visual communication, including selecting aspect ratio, working with film negative, devising approaches to shot selection through choice of lenses (such as the effect of using wider lenses on a project), and going “old school” in general.

aviatorAs an additional note, for those interested in the craft of acting, there was a superb piece on Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence by Manohla Dargis in this past Sunday’s New York Times, while for fans of Leonardo DiCaprio, a paired article by A.O. Scott was just as compelling.  Both essays from the Times “Awards Season” series provide excellent discussion points for thoughtful debates about contemporary movies and American culture.

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Understanding the effect of aspect ratio is vital for filmmakers, such as in this year's "Gravity"

Understanding the effect of aspect ratio is vital for filmmakers, such as in this year’s “Gravity”

In Chapter 4 of Moving ImagesStorytelling with Light — the primary topic is the investigation of the core principles that one must consider as a cinematographer, whether in digital image capture or celluloid-based film.  A key issue to examine is the aspect ratio of the movie, which links back to earlier explorations of composition starting in Chapter 1.   For educators working on this unit, here is an overview of aspect ratio in motion picture history from the Filmmaker IQ website.  I was led to this page after reading an excellent essay on aspect ratios by Tyler Lavoie, who is one of my former students.  On the subject of cinematography, let me remind readers of my earlier post discussing the movie Side by Side (directed by Chris Kenneally and hosted by Keanu Reeves), which is superb to use in tandem with the work in Chapter 4.

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