Article from "Computer Graphics World" Magazine about the changing role of the cinematographer and what GCI is doing to educate current and future cinematographers
by Kathleen Maher - Excerpts from the article below - read the full article here
In 2012, Yuri Neyman and Vilos Zsigmond, two well-known cinematographers obsessed by the idea that the art of cinematography was lost to the flash-bang of digital effects, founded The Global Cinematography Institute (GCI).
Neyman is best known for his work on Liquid Sky and DOA. He has become an instructor, writer, and a developer working on technology and tools to ensure the accuracy of a movie's "look" as content is transferred between cinematographer to effects houses, post, and finishing. While teaching cinematography at AFI in Los Angeles, Neyman was disturbed by the lack of historical knowledge of cinematography he encountered among working professionals in the industry. Neyman found a kindred spirit in Zsigmond, famous for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Deer Hunter, and the Long Goodbye. Neyman interviewed him for an article in Neyman's Gamma and Density Journal, and during the course of the interview, they realized they both had a fierce love for the art of cinematography and a commitment to nurturing and protecting that art. GCI, the product of their love for cinematography is a school for industry professionals and its faculty is made up of experienced and well know professionals. The Institute also holds regular screenings and events in Los Angeles to educate people about the art of cinematography.
After the recent Visual Effects Society Summit, Neyman commented on a panel of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Presidents. The panel discussed the ramifications of digital technology as it blurs the lines between original cinematography and digital work that comes later.
Neyman says, "It is often problematic to distinguish in the final image where the work of the cinematographer ends and where the VFX begins, and vice versa." He quoted the former Academy President Hawk Koch, who suggested that perhaps a new category was needed. Koch suggested visual imaging.
They're not just debating Academy categories; the bigger question, and the uncomfortable question, is this: When a movie has just as much or even more footage generated by VFX as was originally shot, how does that affect the Academy Award nomination for Cinematography. The question is particularly acute because of the fabulous and utterly seamless work done on Gravity.
Is Gravity an animated film? In the case of Gravity, at least Sandra Bullock's nomination is safe because her face in the film is live action, even if her body is often CG. It could also be argued that the poor woman spent much of the shoot strapped in a harness surrounded by roving cameras, and that delivering the performance, she did was acting - and damn fine acting, by any definition.
Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki is also probably safe because he had a very active role in every part of the production of Gravity. He worked closely with VFX house Framestore to ensure that the lighting in the effects was consistent with the lighting he designed for the entire film.
The issue could be much more of a problem for cinematographers, who have seen their work changed in the process of adding effects and compositing. And Neyman raises the issue of Academy Awards for Cinematography and Effects awarded to the same film numerous times, including for Life of Pi, which, again, is a very CG-heavy film. And in fact, cinematographer Chrisopher Doyle, who has shot Director Wong Kar Wai's films, was moved to dismiss the Academy Award for Claudio Miranda as "an insult to cinematography." It's worth noting that Doyle has no idea what Miranda's actual level of control was in the making of Pi. He's sounding off about the growing role of FX and the lack of recognition the craft often gets. And he's saying that the Academy itself is a crusty old bunch who have no idea where the line is between cinematography and effects.
Computer Graphics World 2013
Read the full version of the article here - Cinematography is changing, learn how to adapt with "Expanded Cinematography" taught at the next session of GCI beginning January 28th.
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