Recent Posts

DSLR Revolution. Is it over?

I recently took part in a round-table discussion with several other cinematographers and photographer in New York. The discussion was in front of film students and one of the most surprising topics that kept coming up was about the quality of Digital SLR cameras compared to high end film cameras. Many of the experienced panelists were, and still are, against the DSLR cameras as a professional film device, this could be for a number of reasons, but I’m lead to believe that this has to do with lack of quality and control many of these cameras have.

As we knew this would be a topic of discussion the moderator had prepared a series of short film clips, some were shot of film cameras, other on high end digital cameras and finally, some on prosumer level DSLRs. While viewing the clips, each panelist was asked to write down which camera they think was used for each clips. Surprisingly, the veteran filmmakers were stumped. What some thought was shot on film was actually on a SLR. In fact, none of the films were shot on film or RED cameras, every film clip we saw was shot on an SLR.

The SLR revolution isn’t just limited to the cinematography world, access to a wide range of lenses and cheap camera bodies has proven to be a great aid to both amateur and professional photographers. I recently found some work by a small photography company in san francisco. Check out some of their work, specially their food and product photography.

I contacted MarketME on Facebook to ask specifically what gear their using to produce such impressive work. I wasn’t surprised to hear that although they have a studio full of high-end camera gear, they’ve found that using a Canon 70D gets the job done 9 out of 10 times.

Another company that is really producing some great work. Is Gotham Photography in NY, their stunning real estate photographs are helping their clients close multi-million dollar deals. I wasn’t surprised to learn that light techniques and great post-production is the secret to their fantastic work.

“The camera is just a tool to tell the story”. I think we get too caught up in what we’re shooting with and forget to look up and think about what it is we’re shooting.

Let me know on twitter if you like these type of posts. I’d love to hear from you.

The Finer Points Of Cinematography

This is the first in a series of #centurycinema101 posts where I try to dig deeper into the finer points of cinematography.

When you go and sit in the movie theater, you see cinematography come to life. It unfolds from scene to scene showing how to director used tricks to create an entire story. Each scene has a story behind it where the director purposely did things to interact with the audience. It is a big reason for why they get paid the big bucks. It is an art where you have to be persistent as a director or the scene won’t justify the message being relayed to the audience.

Some of the best directors have suggested advice such as the tips below for what you should be doing.

Subconscious Control Through Lighting

Ever seen a sad scene and how the lights are manipulated to convey that particular emotion. The lights start to darken and everything becomes grim. It is done on purpose and is not an accident. It lets the audience know this is a sad scene/moment in the movie.

They are then able to cause that emotion to spark inside the audience and make the words and actions in the movie look even sadder. It is important to play with the subconscious mind that uses light as triggers.

Spatial Awareness

If you are hoping to get good shots as a cinematographer, you will need spatial awareness. It is not just about what is in front of the camera, but what is behind it as well. You need space to move around and get the high, low, and middle shots that are needed.

You might not be planning to take high or low shots, but anything can happen and you do want that option in your back pocket. It will give you more control and as a cinematographer, spatial awareness can do a lot for your movie.

If there is one movie-related issue people do end up not know what to do about, it would be the details. How do you get those transitions to flow? How do you get the words to be said right to evoke emotions that can push the story? How can you make a scene look even better through suggestive changes?

The cinematography is not easy, but you end up making it even harder when you don’t look at the finer points of the craft. If you looked, it would lead to movies that are up for awards in the end.

What Coming in 2016

Century Optics is a new way for us to share the latest and greatest in cinematography. With over 10 years experience in both the film and photography worlds, my goal is to share the latest news, tips, tricks and techniques. If you’ve come here from my original blog, then you know the drill – I don’t post often but when I do, I make sure you’re getting the high quality information.

Here are a couple blog posts you can expect this year. I’m getting into the camera world and looking for the best cameras in the industry. I’m going to be interviewing a few people who are creating cameras that are shaping the way we capture the world. I’m also going to be following a few interesting Kickstarter campaigns that are showing promise.

Drone tech has really started to peak my interest so I’ll be covering a lot more information about how to fly, where to fly and more importantly which ones you should be buying. I’m also going to be chatting with companies who are producing some fantastic work that I can share with you all.

Lastely, this new blog is going back to basics. I’m going to talking about camera lenses and cinematography techniques. I’ve lined up interviews with a few big names in the industry. Some work in feature films while other are on the business to business production side of things. My goal is to talk about the best ways to achieve creative goals in a way that keeps reasonable budgets in mind.