HPA Tech Retreat Notes
The development of higher definition capture devices and post workflows is progressing at a rapid pace. The care and concern that has been paid by the industry toward coordinating efforts is a great leap forward from the divisive days of proprietary technology in-fighting. As a result, the tools for visual expression being utilized by end users such as myself offer more options.
There is a reality that cinematographers continually like to push the visual envelope as far as what is possible to achieve with a given technology. Short of taking a band saw and chopping a camera in half (which is actually what cinematographer Ron Dexter did to see what made it tick), cinematographers will always attempt to pervert the intended parameters of what the “manufacturer’s specifications” state. This was true at the dawn of cinema when cinematographers rolled the film backwards in hand-cranked cameras, in the 1950’s when Oswald Morris defied the Technicolor consultant to achieve a drained palette for John Huston’s “Moby Dick” and “Moulin Rouge”, and it is true today.
Cinematographers face a myriad of challenges with constantly evolving technologies. Not the least of these are correcting the misperceptions that some producers and studios have about what is possible to achieve with a given camera. It is easier to read marketing pamphlets than technical data sheets, so cinematographers end up fighting these misconceptions.
One of the biggest battles we fight is with the fear of actors we work with for technologies that are sharper. No actor I know wants to be photographed in any razor-sharp format. This fear is largely founded by a bad experience seeing themselves presented on display devices calibrated by the “DYNAMIC!” button on the TV, or when their images are artificially sharpened. My hope is that, as we progress, these practices will be put to rest.
Ultimately, I am in the business of creating fantasies. Some of those fantasies may involve hyper-real imagery to tell the story, while others will require a subtler palette. I look forward to utilizing technologies which will take the audience on a realistic journey to places they’ve never been before, as well as journeys to escape reality.