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About that Center Line (5 replies and 2 comments)

Andy Critter
6 days ago
Andy Critter 6 days ago

Master Roger:  Thank you for your excellence.  Your work is truly inspiring.  I have recently started studying your work.  There is so much to learn.  One thing I have noticed is that an extremely high percentage of your shots have some kind of vertical line or object in the dead center of the frame.  In Sicario, the conference room scene early in the film, I noticed you put a thermos in the background to serve just that purpose.  Since you do it so consistently... I have to assume you have an excellent reason for doing this.  Could you please tell me why you do this, and what effect it has on the frame...  Thank you

Roger Deakins
4 days ago
Roger Deakins 4 days ago

Really? I wasn't aware that I did that.

rlandry1
4 days ago
rlandry1 4 days ago

It's called the golden ratio. It is a phenomenological pattern frequently found in nature and most art (if not all art).

The human brain is highly evolved to register a multitude of different patterns in nature, both objective and symbolic. For instance, we see red, our brain instinctually registers, that there may be danger or something highly desirable (depending on the surrounding circumstances).

Essentially, what you are seeing in these films is something that your mind has been trained to see. 

Roger Deakins
2 days ago
Roger Deakins 2 days ago

Yes, but the golden ratio is one of thirds so that doesn't seem to account for an upright of some kind in the center of the frame. It is, of course, about the balance of the frame. That is also what the golden ratio is referring to and that any cinematographer instinctively works towards - or even consciously against.

CinematicDave
2 days ago

Do you use the golden ratio often when composing a shot?

Roger Deakins
23 hours ago
Roger Deakins 23 hours ago

Do you mean do I get a measuring tape out and check if my shot adheres to the Golden Mean? No! But I think some things are instinctive .... well, I think most of the best work is instinctive.

CinematicDave
23 hours ago

Of course not, I meant what kind of techniques do you use to compose your shots. Or is it just what feels right for any given scene?

Roger Deakins
2 hours ago
Roger Deakins 2 hours ago

Composing a shot is just an instinctive reaction to a script, to the way the actors move, the geography of a location, the color of a costume, everything. To me there is no technique at the point of shooting. Thinlking about your technique just gets in the way at that point. Now, there may be more thought going into storyboarding and conceptualizing the 'look' of the film but that is slightly different to thinking about the Golden Mean every time you point the camera.

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