Audience Q & A
Could you tell us about how you got started and where it could be a study in a school or yeah, I did I wouldn't teo I always love a dog of a mate my dad used to make films and believe it or not in the day on sixteen milano berlex and you know, the family and stuff like that, so we're sort of I grew up in an environment where photography was kind of quite a big part of it weekends and I became a photographer and am an architectural school in london called the architectural association and then we had a visit from one about patrons amazing rich but about winston full of the american philosopher architect inventor of the geodesic dome and he was one of our architectural school patrons and name because I mean, doing still lives there our central stills, which I loved and they asked me if I'd be interested in making a film about his visit, so I jumped at it and made this pretty terrible film, but um uh, it inspired me to the point of that I'm going to the london film school and she went to ...
london film school and um didn't did a two year course there and then ended up getting a grant from the bf I which is the same as the fbi to make my own film, which again was a pretty weird film but the director off the bf I at that time was a fellow called bruce beresford who went on to become a very well known director did driving miss daisy in the black robe and things like that and he asked me to be I was just very lucky I was in the right place at the right time and he asked me teo be his camera operator on the first movie he got my dance for which was a kind of almost like a breed is essences of films are made I'm here in the state tickle crocodile dundee and the original versa there's was nothing gold the adventures of barry mackenzie which was about a nun coup with australian that went to london on dh you know they were very low budget and you know but I was a camera operator and I just got to love it and then I went to australia and I was just like enough to be that when the australian film ministry just took off with directors like peter we're on dh fred scapes e and all those kind of pretty well new australian peter were made witness, which is one of my favorite films of all time theoretically supposed to be one of the most famous scriptures of all time it's kind of put up on a pedestal that has been one of the great scripts of all time witness so I was fortunate enough to see that grow up in that it arum and then I went back to england and them on this was when tv commercials were kind of like huge and ridley scott's and dhoni's guards and allan parker and adrian line and hugh hudson orders soon to be big become major movie directors that we're all making tv commercials in britain and and I got to be camera operator and then I started lighting for some of them and got to work with some really great british dps like can donald courts you shot with kubrick can them? I got asked to I went from a meeting with seventy kubrick who asked me if I want to do a bridge on the movie he did call for metal jacket but it was just a point win. Um I was asked to shoot my first movie so I didn't get to do that and just sort of developed from there and then I came out to the states it's got a long time ago twenty two twenty three years ago to take over the first adam's family as dp that them state ever since in them you know, I hated the weather in england so much bit like seattle uh we're no going back so I've been in the states ever since and living in l a starting from that it's really your seventy people ask me am you know, how do I get into the film industry and it's like the most difficult question and to answer and I think it's exactly what stephen this editions perseverance on dh just you know just knocks it not ever taking over unanswered and just being there and you know it's the only way it will happen and the reason to secret formula you you can be lucky you get me in the right place at the right time and there's a certain amount of that involved um happens dance I call it but in the end it's just hard work and you know I mean I'm not sure whether it's easier or harder now in some ways it's harder because, um because of the internet on everybody thinks that could be it will make him but on the other hand now you could make films that you can get your work seen at a fraction of the price which you could never do you could only dream before about doing it and I I credit my, uh I'm repeating watched even said I credit my sort of a knowledge about photography with an awful lot of time spending smelly dark rooms on dh seeing her light interacted with silver and you know, it's just sort of process that yet it into your head it's rather like the equivalent of that thing always told him out degrees kelvin in the heat of I am it's, almost like you begin when you begin to understand lions and how it works and how it reflects and how it angles itself and how you control it that's when things start to fall into place for you and, you know, it's, just literally perseverance and, uh, you know, and being aware and this disconnect that you have to try and pull off between and the eye and the brain is terribly important, I think you need to really look at an image without allowing your brain to reinterpret it for you. You so that's the short and so on. Yeah, we're wondering if you could talk a little bit about how inexpensively that scene was shot. We've talked about a lot of the pieces specifically, but maybe review um pieces that were being used and how expensive that was we were all were using available lighting, correct? Yeah, I was going to meet the available life. So that's one thing, way had a few expensive pieces. I mean, you know, the, uh, the glide cam was probably the most of effective tool that we use for all of that because it was so dynamic and got in their in what's that three, ninety nine for nineteen, ninety nine and, you know, so I didn't need to be a less expensive I mean and then and then any here you write a cz well I mean that's what you were talking about earlier that you can rent all that and all that I have one of that trevor rentable right hundred answering from from borrow lenses who supported us with that right I mean what what stephen was saying before was it really impossible to make a five hundred dollar movie was I mean everyone that would have been impossible five years ago and suddenly now it's possible you know you can actually do that and you know but it's a lot of hard work and but that's you know that's on you it's not about money anymore yeah so I mean you could rent the gear and then get involved it like you know l a final cut user group or the dna and then just meet people if they cost five dollars to go to I mean you're positive you're meeting after effects guy in a post guy and then you know for you guys together that's one hundred twenty five dollars each so it's gold possible on dh and now you can get your work scene and you know there's a lot of self publishing you could do on the internet you guys really take some questions I think takes questions okay I have a question from kobach who would like to know how concerned you would be about the blown out windows in a real shoot how would you expose for that shot? To be quite honest, I think it was about the dams and I wouldn't really give a damn about the window because even if I exposed for it, the most you'd see is some chicken wire. Ah, you know, a little bit of glass texture, which ain't worth it, you know, I really wouldn't worry about it, I would probably tend to limit how much I soren by, you know, coming around a little bit more, but because we had four cameras and as you can see, some of them were shooting all of you guys too. It was an exercise in terms of dynamics and what you can do with movement with four cameras rather than a perfect photographic excercise on dh you know, when you inevitably if if the light source that is lighting the scene is in the short, it is going to be clipped there's no way around that because that instantly creates a dynamic range so great that even on film effectively you're you're blown out because that that was the light but it's like you're looking into the light let's light, it seems that there's nothing that you can technically you're about that on any form of digital or film capture, unless you did some kind of hdr, high dynamic, range kind of image capture and you know what you say I mean there's no it's it's just I mean that's like tens stopped overexpose relative to wonderful dungeon gobble so you lose the whole looked if you read it in here yeah. So right next question is from cameron could gail talk about how closely he as a dp likes to work with production designers during preproduction to me it's kind of like that's one of them most important things of all because when I when I read the script and I see something difficult coming up I go running immediately to the production designer and saying, wow, I need some windows in this set because I know very well the director is going to want to shoot three sixty and and if I have lights in charge is going to get man and so on and so forth so we worked very, very closely together and then um our production designer on harris is wonderful a scotsman called jeremy I love very much and we work together really well as a team because he often has budget problems and comes to me and says I've got the money for a ceiling can you manage without a ceiling you know, even on house I mean this there's limitations and especially as we get towards the end of the season where we spend all the money and you know things like that so it's it's an incredibly important collaboration to have and especially over colors and textures of set and the only so far you could go and still have a hospital kind of look like hospital I mean, if I had mine way it would I would love to cover the walls of the hospital in fungus and you know, so does he told down and make it look like, you know, people had exploded off zarian, but it wouldn't quite be hairs, you know, because I, you know, sort of stare I'll I'm sort of white walls and, you know, pay or surfaces and vast expanses of walls to me, you're incredibly boring and it takes an awful lot of you too can get text you're out on them and to them separate the actors from them so that you know, you're not sticking people on pieces of white paper all the time which think incredibly boring. Lorcan it's one of the reasons why this sounds really horribly snobby, but and ninety percent or eighty but end of the movies that you you see when you go to the movies and I feel personally aunt controlled all that well in terms of directing the eye because I didn't get any at any time in any movie in any sequence in any frame you should, you should have decided where you want the audience to look and you do that by controlling lead the densities and controlling the framing and controlling the depth of field and controlling all those elements together to really focus the eye on what you want the audience to look at and I think some people just let it go completely and you know, instead of me looking at you are something that windows really interesting and it shouldn't be that way sugar, you know, I want to, you know, hear you there shouldn't be anything that's magnetically can I'm trying to pull my eye away from that, you know, unless you're making some other kind of statement that is the general similar to still shot? Yeah, yeah, absolutely thank you question from diner dog, who had asked if the footage is too shaky. Is there anything you do impose toe lesson that wait do it all the time, not so much on the five because she don't you can't really go in on the midget if two to correct shake, you have to be able to go in zoom in on the material quite a lot to correct the shake and then you you put tracking markers on a certain things and and it was steady it waken do it, we could do it on film, we always did it on film and you know, if something happened, you know, like you'd be doing it a car sequence innuendo or a section of road that was really bumpy where it tends to fall apart is when you get motion blur within the frame than it can actually sometimes look worse but sometimes you can correct shake quite well but you have to have a lot of data to be able to do it find these right on the edge in terms of you know how much data you have so soon and she stopped blowing it up and it it'll fall apart very very fast indeed so five d probably known but alexis film genesis you read probably yes, but a question from mark blake which is can wants to know about lighting hugh laurie's eyes please that is one of the best thing about house jury lighting oh hugh laurie jive well, he does have beautiful eyes so I've already got a huge leg up on a lot of them actors and he's got hugh has beautiful blue eyes and it is one of the first things I do once I start getting in close on him is to try and get reflection into his eyes he's an amazing looking men and and uh, you know, I am the resent angles of discovered particularly with him that I can use to can't get light into his eye especially for example night scenes ways working in his in your office and he's gonna table them born and it's reflecting off paperwork on the table and I've got him on another angle which gives me a really good excuse for getting reflection in his eyes and so it's actually not as difficult as it seems. What I really love to do is always to try and get the I light in from the direction of the key light as opposed to some people use what they call a newbie like, which is just like literally man did on the map box above the camera just to put a spark or straight him but I I hate that because it just flattens out image and I was trying to do it from the angle of the key line even if that means that he really gets reflection in more night it still looks much more natural and just putting something straight flats in from them where the camera is mary obviously different styles of lighting for different types off shows I mean, you know, sitcoms typically are much more over lip uh, you know, dramatic tv shows I mean the old adage being you don't tell jokes in the dark you want to see every part of a nectars face when it's a comedy you want to see that you know that catalog corner you know, can you want to see all of that? And so comedies tend to be much more and sitcoms tend to be much more over lit. They have formulated lighting that kind of basically is set up on stage is that they use all the time and they they rehearse for days and then they shoot three cameras and run the whole show almost as well there's one thing we where much house is a much more handmade show and so way work shot by shot or two shots by two shots on dh um you news way have likes him place that we know will probably be used but we're always moving stuff all the time for different a different mood, a different feeling where is a lot of sitcoms? They never move the lighting, it just works for everything they do because there's so much of it the shadows had to be banned on dh shadow is a horrible things, you know that you know, create darkness and you know, so in the case of how sweet you know, I mean I do time put as much moved into it is possible, but given the fact that you're in the reality bounds of a hospital in a that hopefully that helps absolutely question from bill washed walsh d p he'd like to know on the path to becoming a career dp is it best to gain enough experience independently to join the cinematographers killed as a dp or to climb the ranks of the camera department or to start in the electrical department well that's that's a really difficult question it's really that's a really difficult question I don't think I'm not alone that many gaffers become dps if you do, but I think more people become deep eased by working their way up through the camera department nowadays I think all bets are off though I mean if you just started shooting beautiful stuff and you get it seen you you're just is likely do I have a shot is, uh, assist cinematographer just buy him share luck and by being then what? What you like buying by doing it that way is that you will get caught out one day you because you'll be asked to do a scene that you haven't got a clue how to do and because you haven't worked with them cinematographers I mean just just for example, we had to shoot and can't remember the name of the episode but it was actually scripted that we had to shoot bull riding sequence in the bull riding arena right? Sixteen, sixteen hundred frames a second and so to do that, you know I needed something like six and a half stops of extra light from somewhere on dh we needed to shoot it about four to give the focus puller zone a chance in hell of getting the focus so basically we had to light to about to stop writer than sunlight on interior and a a rodeo arena I mean that's not a small space, it was a huge base we used forty five thousand amps of power on way had to ninety done cranes and thirty for dino lights that the thirty six kilowatt siege and it was like constructing the biggest toasted toast balls that we've never seen on yet, you know, of course, when right is right that they they are sitting in terms sipping a cup of coffee and they're right at sixteen hundred frames, a second ball comes out of the chute with the guy on top of it and, you know, and then it all goes along and then suddenly the script is accepted, it all goes down the road because nobody really knows about from the dp what that takes, and then suddenly I've got a screaming production manager on top of me saying, why is it going to cost eighteen thousand dollars in lighting to shoot this day? And then I have to explain and, you know, if if you haven't had the experience of doing things like that and then you'll get court at some point or you'll need to do some very serious homework very quickly, so luckily, I I've been lucky enough to no, I operated for fourteen years and worked with some really great b p's, and luckily I am able to steal from some of the best and you know, I was very lucky but it's difficult you might never ever get into those situations. I mean, um but sometimes you do get some really tricky ones that were thrown at you and they just come out of the blue sometimes. Um was that the question absolutely great answer next question is from el elmer tanking, which is so what is the process when you read a script to create the way to approach the story visually I think it's a novel a lot of it is talking to the director and because I think any film that's worth it sold is really under the captaincy of one captain it's not in committee and if you do your job really well, your job is to serve your captain on dh enable him to make his vision and, um, it's terribly important to get on his wavelength and understand exactly what he's after in achieving and so there is no ego in law. This isn't an ego thing at all it's all about understanding exactly what the director wants to see from this project because it's unfair to criticize a film if you didn't give a direct every single john's possible too actually do exactly what they wanted to do because they really do have to be a great captain to put off a great film and all films have made buying directors and writers and everything else is much less important than that I seriously believe that I'm good photography is invisible and I think it's invisible if it's following the arc of the story and if it's I'm really doing what needs to be done in the script because I've seen examples of films that were beautifully lead but it was wrong because the place when for example one example come see the paradise which alan parker made is a wonderful film director that was likely enough to do the commitments with me m uh he didn't come to see the paradise but it was just so beautifully lit it was about the sad story of the japanese internment during world war two where japanese people rounded up put in internment camps and they lost deliberations in the season you know they always shot the exteriors can like late in the afternoon or very early in the morning you know to me it looked like hard left to go there it looked great you know the way the light shown off the barbell arrow so gorgeous I think if you blow all your room your visual abilities beginning mohr anywhere you have nowhere to go with it so sometimes things I need to kind of look on bland or boring all you know sort of frightening or threatening or not exactly ugly but you know you need to save your are still sometimes for when it's really needed rather than just making everything looked like a commercial and I think that was I think quite a few gonna sound like horrible critic on and you know it's just my personal opinion and that's no more valid than anybody else's but it's something I felt and I think him you need to read a script so many times to understand the intent of the writer and then talk to the director to make sure you've got it right and understand what it is they're looking for and then try and help them execute on that feeling and that's all the things like you know how you break a scene and the choice of lenses you might use in them you little they're such things so great question from prod kay who would like to know what frame rate and shutter speed would you recommend for music videos? Well well, if they're if they're singing normally twenty four and fiftieth and even I mean I've seen lots of people do things like sort of sing, play back double speed and then shoot it like fifty frames and or sixty frames and things like that but I mean if it's really seeing them you shoot to releasing speed but then it depends what it is and totally the low comedy you want really depressing that you obviously shooting real lypsinka speed or try and simulate that but I think in music videos it's probably one area where the there really aren't any rules I mean you can do what you want you know I hope I said it got that question because you know, it is one area where really all you're making is a visual extravaganza and selling some interesting music is supposed to point of it but then I haven't done any music videos show also maybe I'm out of the loop question from higher state is earlier when we're looking at the footage on you talked about the shape of the dancers that in terms of says what does gail mean when he talks about shape in terms of light and the performers um I think you know, if you're doing something like we did with dance it's really beautiful too to bring out the body form and I think you do that by bank edging it or at least putting edges on things I mean wouldn't you agree? Steve? You know, if you shoot it flat you create no dynamic to it all so I think um uh the shots I really liked that the guy's here did that worked master the ones where you saw body form and you your miss created line drawing by having a harder edge on things and that exaggerates the body movement uh especially when that bright light is against the background so on and so forth so I think that's what I meant by that liked all the handheld sorry I said I liked all her handheld yeah yeah right um I think you you were talking about it earlier but some folks on the internet are still asking can you explain exactly what the role of the dp is versus other camera operators well I suppose I mean it's obviously director of photography basically is working with the director to provide visual content off fillmore show or movie or whatever you are you're involved in so then sure on paper sort of fundamental role how you go about doing that is um you know basically working with the director who hopefully is at one with the writers understands the writers intend and you have the story on how you go about selling that story and what's important is as I mentioned before should really be I mean the direct his hands to give him a chance to express himself in the way that he really wants to make his film and so you become his best ally you're you're his best mate so to speak and search them but what you have in your commanders dps you have your camera crew that basically help you you have you camera operator do you basically trust and your camera crew you have your electrical crew helps you with all the lighting and on dh puts up lights where you asked him to do and then you have your gripping grew that basically is all about like control on dh you know, I can remove mint and removing wars that might be in the way, and so on and so forth, so basically work as head off three d bomb and it's kind ofthe, but you're responsible to the direction to give him what he needs it also to one of the most difficult things, of course these days is because everything extremely so dramatically by budget in time and money, of course, is to be responsible in terms of time management invites even, or this is a cz difficulties thie m director's job, it is one of the tasks of the director is to be a master off time management because you, khun blow all your time on getting hung up on certain shots, and then suddenly you've got no time to complete a major sequence in today and schedule is everything on tv. If you get behind it's terrible, and the at them that's not much fun it all, so you need to avoid that. So you need to be very aware of telling directors that something he's asked for we'll take mohr time than perhaps he wishes to spend on it and maybe suggesting alternative way of doing the same thing that'll take less time so constantly, you have to be on your feet in terms of evaluating where you are in the day and all of that stuff and yet hopefully giving the director what he wants you know I am that's kind of mostly it um um most the time you're not a meeting boy but sometimes you are and you know one of the things that tends to happen with the pieces that you're the last person to basically hand this set back to the director because you buy the first assistant parents say we're ready s so you can get blamed for taking all the time when nobody has actually been paying attention and realize that other people have been painting walls or you know things would be being repaired or actors they're still sort of you know in their trailers and things like that so you've got to be very careful about you know, sort of making people aware of where the times going all the time you know so it's kind of that you know the rose of very slightly different in tv which is much more precious on those movies means a movie's not movies um no work to horrendous and yours but tv's pretty brutal shed your wise you know I could follow up to that speaking of schedules that reminds me of a comment you made earlier today I think you were mentioning your target to shoot eight pages a day I'm very curious to know the answer is really gonna be it depends in general how much of that is translated, how much real time in the final product does that translate? I suppose, on average it they count it's normally about two page minute, you know, it's a very, very rough edge on average it it can be slower or longer, but that's more or less the way the script is if it's forty five pages it's kind of, you know, like him forty five minutes there about, you know, but, you know, the trouble is that most movies and tv things are said, you're just on page camp, what people don't take into account is sometimes you have three people in three different places that are on the telephone to each other, so you that means you shoot this in three times, but it still counts. As you know, this is there's no director in in the world that would just shoot, you know, little select pieces, he'll run the whole scene at three different places because he'd like to have the humility to cut it the way he wanted later, eh? So you get caught out when seaver's like that you're saying it court out with paige can't when you could have two actors in eight pages or you could have eight actors in eight pages because all we dialogue even though it's only eight pages you might have six times more work because you've got many more actors in it so you know, a lot of these things aren't taken into a camp but it kind of averages out I suppose you know, in the end how many days did it take to should be season finale for last year it was defined the one that was ten days we had, you know, normally tv shows a shot in eight days it's a theoretical eight days because we always have an overlap nay on house and so we we normally shoot nine days one of them's an overlap day where my camera operator becomes dp on the other unit amazingly nine days, but in that case it was a ten day a ten day episode but way had to work very hard to make it happen in that time question from nada is, uh, what kind of shots are you looking for when you're using the long lenses that the extreme face close up shots mostly probably out of focus because the people are dancing? Um I just lost the rest of the question my question's document just got a little messed up with those I guess when when we were using that long lens um question was what kind of shots where we're looking for? I think they might be talking about that won't we shot through the bottles and that was really basically just to show how interesting interactive foreground khun b and how once objects become obscured to the point of not knowing what now are any more such as transparency object such his glasses and things like that it can be become rather wonderful elements you know on dh you can use the same ahs way have a lot of glass in last minute at harrison you khun often rack from reflections of people on glass through to another scene going on and usual of those sorts of elements because I think what makes for very, very boring filmmaking is just stuff that's always in the distance and then you never amongst it, you know the camera doesn't move too much. It makes for a very boring and extremely bland for dog ravine, using reflections and racking focus and from one thing to another can completely shift the emphasis of a shot from something that was basically quite normal and then suddenly became rather threatening or vice versa, you know, so all of those sorts of elements very important and that that long and shot was too in a straight just how you can use for ran in an interesting way and, you know gil um alexian the chat room had asked, what is the relationship with the actors of the artist as the dp? Do you have a close relationship with them or you kind of have tio because we all I mean we spend more time together than we do with our families because we work sexual now is so it's kind of I'm terribly in born to get on with the actors really well um you know there's often not a lot of communication because you don't want to be going blah blah blah blah blah and tonight when he's kind of mentally going to getting into the barton especially somebody like hugh laurie who is such a serious actor that takes things so seriously and works very, very hard on getting perfect american accent that you don't want to distract him so conversation you know, you always feel that this it's either a good time or a bad time but there isn't an awful lot of conversation you know but you just work you just sort of working partners in a way you know it's things like the way in which he walks with his cane s o unique that if we get a new camera pray drin when we haven't overlap day they're not used to the fact that he suddenly disappears out of frame when he's walking down a corridor because he lurches over to one side you know, you know just little things like that you begin to understand about connectors, mannerisms and the way it is likely to move and uh I mean is it's very important to have uh you know a relationship that sort of works in that way great thank you so a question from sfo on you you've talked about this a little bit but what skill or knowledge did you develop as a still photographer that has been the most valuable in your career is a cinematographer basically sfo saying as a still photographer looking to transition into video, what skill should he hones you know what? I'm going to let stephen under that gregory young's of that you can under that one yeah, just looking for your composition I mean just I mean you're getting the same characteristics you're just shooting moving pictures instead of still I mean there's a couple of little things that mean like as of like, half stops to t stops and, you know, profiling your pictures to using, you know, cinema profiles of then digital film and, you know, editing they're just they're just different tools but they almost act the same he just kind of got a little just a different like tool set, but once you have like the vision and like the composition and know howto like work all the cameras it's kind of the same gil is is doing motion video is that something that's a hobby for you as well as your job? Do you go home and and video your family or when you go to the park or I don't have great those e I have made a couple of little independent films on, but I need a little bit of them. I couldn't do it on the same day, I mean, it's like on, you know, the hours we work on a tv production and just two intends to so think about that kind of thing you do so but during my breaks, I mean, here I am and teaching workshop, I mean, so you couldn't tell that tells you something about how how much I love the medium, you know, otherwise I'd be sitting on a beach somewhere in brazil, he's going to transition into a sixteen by twenty photographer? Yeah, we got the sixteen by twenty at the lab, so we'll be doing workshops on that same because soon you know where to get pills. Well, I think it's been an amazing day think we've all learned a ton. It's been great. Thank you so much for game one of credible I've workshop a girl like me, thank you, wonderful class here and then they've thrown their hearts and souls into what we did today, and it was really great. So, you know, you guys you guys did well, I mean, better than a lot of people. You seem a lot, especially with the glide camp yeah, I know it seems like it's hard, but like you pick it up, you just gotta have it. And today I would like to take my cue for just a second and talk about what we're gonna do tomorrow. Yes, I just need a few entities on just getting going stretch my legs first almost that was alive we under? Yeah where's the lives. So everyone still watching and I think they're gearing into watch tomorrow we want to give him a little bit of a taste, so I have the schedule here. I know we're going to talk about charlotte field do you know? Are you men prepared to talk about that audio? I think so we're going to get into lighting tomorrow. We're going tio talk about what makes the vibe the special in terms of its depth of field shouted at the field and, you know, basically get into some lighting scenarios and ideas for lighting. I mean, that's the major part of our day tomorrow on dh um, wonderful glass is going to get involved and get their fingers burned on the lights of these, you know, so we've got to set that was constructed specifically for that and it's going to be a little bit of demented, but, you know, it's not like you know, we've got a dungeon in the bass steel to life. But we're going to do our best and just explain basic principles of light and talk about contrast ratios. And, you know, she did with the five d and you know, and how you work lenses, how you construct to seen how you break it down, what the reverses should be crossing the line. You know all those sorts of things, if that makes any sense.