A cinematographer without a ‘signature’

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  • This topic has 10 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated 4 days ago by Stip.
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  • #176170
    TinTin.Wang
    Participant

      Hello Roger,

      I’m a young cinematographer from China, lots of Chinese filmmakers love your work, and some of the film scholars think that you are a cinematographer  without a ‘signature’, meaning that the styles of your works varied all the time, and the vision you created in each film is perfectly matches the story. I just wonder how would you think about this comment? Does a cinematographer’s style have to bond with narrative? Or let’e say what would make a cinematographer be valuable in a film, what ‘s the moment will audiences think this cinematographer done a great job for film?

      By the way, I would very glad to help if you have cooperation with Chinese filmmakers in the future.

      Thank you.

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    • #176738
      M Ryan
      Participant

        For me, a cinematographer does a great job if you don’t notice their work! Of course a compelling story and quality actors are important for this.. plus of course the director.

        Apart from our esteemed host, Stanley Kubrick (who basically DP’ed his films, from what I understand) is another one who is very good at making the camera work seem to disappear leaving us with the story and performances. Would love to see Sir Roger direct a film 🙂

        #176746
        Stip
        Participant

          Interesting, in my opinion Kubrik’s camera is among the most ‘signature’ and not discreet at all.

           

          #176772
          quijotesco24
          Participant

            I do think Roger has a very clear style. It’s not as flashy as other DPs in the sense his approach is very naturalistic.
            But after watching lots of his works you can tell where he likes to put a camera, his approach to cover a scene is pretty solid and similar between lots of his films. You can also tell also what lighting he likes to use. Again very natural lighting and a clear use of soft lighting. Even the way he exposes a scene and the lighting ratios used and their interpretation for characters types and moments are very similar in lots of his films too.
            Technically the use of dolly and technocranes and very stabilized and heavy-feel camera movements. Since digital he is also always using same camera, same lenses and almost same color grading.
            When you think about it Roger must be the DP out there with the most defined and clear style of all of them in my opinion.

             

            #176842
            dmullenasc
            Participant

              Cinematographers often repeat certain tools and techniques to achieve the intended look of the project. And of course, they apply their personal taste on their work.

              But personal style, outside of the project’s style itself, is not something one should try and develop self-consciously.  That tends to look inorganic. Just tell the story visually in the way you think is most appropriate and effective.

              #176846
              M Ryan
              Participant

                Another way to look at it is that directors often have a definite style, and it’s the cinematographers job to convey it.

                #176848
                Roger Deakins
                Keymaster

                  I don’t think I have a particular style at all. As David says, everyone has a personal taste and that informs the work. And, like every cinematographer I know, I have certain tools and techniques I have developed over the years. But technique is only a way to create what is in the mind’s eye and is not , or should not be, the impetus for it.

                  While it is true some directors have a defined style I would argue that may are chameleons who morph into each film they take on.

                  #176851
                  quijotesco24
                  Participant

                    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Style is usually define by personal taste. Artists from all ages and genres have always attached themselves to specific techniques, themes and how they see the world. That’s their own style.
                    Artist styles also have evolved as we humans also constantly evolve as sole individuals but also as society. That’s why some artists get to the same conclusions around same time and same place in history. I guess.
                    I don’t think there is nothing wrong to be attached to one style or another in my opinion. At the end it’s your taste, and that is never wrong. When the result and conclusions are genuine and not forced they are always right, at least to me. The other side is what David exposed, to search for a particular style to forced something into you, that’s the real problem and that always feels fake and soul less.</p>

                    #176853
                    Roger Deakins
                    Keymaster

                      Yes, it all depends on what you define as ‘style’. I would not like to be known as a cinematographer who’s style is lighting soft and shooting with a 50mm lens. Whereas, I could light with a single hard source and shoot with an 18mm lens and the image would, I hope, still reflect my taste.

                      #176883
                      Stip
                      Participant

                        There are different ways that all do the job but I enjoy Roger’s cinematography the most. It’s like good editing, you don’t really notice while watching – it just draws you in completely and irresistibly.

                        Quite often I tried to analyze how he shot particular scenes or sequences and then forgot what I came to do after watching a few minutes. He would probably blame the ‘good story’ or ‘great acting’ for it but we all know that’s not the whole truth! 🙂

                        “Bardo” (DP Darius Khondji) has just been nominated for Best Cinematography at the Oscars, and it’s quite the opposite approach – the steadicam/gimbal, super wide angle lens style is extremely pushy. But I’d argue that it works well for that particular, surreal story and probably helped to draw attention to the movie.

                        #176889
                        Stip
                        Participant

                          “…you don’t really notice while watching… ”

                          That sounded strange, of course one notices how great his work ‘looks’, but it does so without distracting.

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