I really love the stark, realistic feel in the tradition of Michael McDonough’s work, as seen in “Winter’s Bone.” He employed a DV camera with 35mm lenses to great, naturalistic effect. Is this type of filming as "simple" as it looks?
Copy the link below to share this page:
I believe winters bone was shot with a Red camera. And lit with a bunch of lights and a very good production design department. Not to forget a very photogenic leading actress!
Okay, a Red camera? Forgive me, Bruce, I'm just a mere screenwriter... but, is that a brand or a specific type of camera? I ask because I loved the look of Winter's Bone. I have noticed similar "looks" in other films, but something with this one seemed more "polished," maybe? Perhaps that's the lighting and great production department I'm noticing.... yes? :)
You are forgiven Beth. And forgive my sarcasm for a moment: I'm writing this post on the top of the line MacBook Pro... So, I'm a screenwriter? You get the idea :) As for the Red (brand of digital movie camera), it's a professional level motion picture camera, but there are many choices now, but none particularly inexpensive. And, the camera had the capability to capture fine images, but not the ability to put them in front of the lens of course. I really liked the film, "Winter's Bone", and thought it looked very nice. A lot of hard work went into that film, to achieve the look and "atmosphere" if you will. Simple is hard work. But I suspect, deep down you knew that!
The "look" of a film has more to do with the person shooting it than the tools used... despite what advertisers claim and aspirants would believe.
Thanks Bruce. My quip about me being a mere screenwriter was meant only as a lighthearted joke -- I know nothing of motion picture cameras. Of course, I understand and realize all filming is hard work, hence my use of quotations around the word "simple" in my initial post question. :) Anyway, thanks for further explaining. Much appreciated.
Hi Royce. Yes, tools are just tools. It's the artist using them that creates such incredible images. :)
And my quip about the computer writing screenplays was also lighthearted!
Well, ain't we a pair! Best to you, Bruce!
The "look" of a film is achieved in two stages: Production (image acquisition) and Post-Production (visual effects and color grading). During production, the cinematographer (DP) lights the scene and controls the color temperature of the lights to achieve the look that he (or she) and the director have agreed upon. He selects lenses to give the scene a specific look (more or less depth of field / bokeh) to help inform the narrative. The specific type of camera used, film or digital, and if digital, what type/size of sensor, can play a big roll in the final quality of the piece but the quality of both film and pro-digital is so high now this is generally less important than the lighting, choice of lenses, camera angles, and whether or not the camera is in motion or still. In post-production the DP and director work with the Colorist to create the final look of the film. This can be as subtle as simply adding contrast or as radical as changing the entire color-pallet of the movie. This is almost exclusively done with software these days but used to be done through a chemical process known as color timing. The advantage to using pro color grading software is, it allows for precise, exact control of the color, contrast, and brightness of everything on screen. If you need an actor's face to be brighter, or darker, you can isolate their face, track it, and apply a filter to just their face. Getting a really good look is almost never an accident and usually requires great effort and coordination between many people who know a great deal about lighting, lenses, composition and color.
Thank you so much for your thorough explanation, Laddie. Between you and Bruce I feel much more aware of what I am seeing and how that "look" was achieved. It's simply amazing. :)
Beth, you got some great answers from Bruce and Laddie. As a DP for over 30 years I'd like to add this. Picking the right tools (camera, lights, etc) to use on a specific project is an important decision - but in my opinion, it receives too much attention by many filmmakers. It's much more important for filmmakers to concentrate their energy on how they will use their tools. Creative filmmakers make great films despite many limitations - including equipment. I believe that if the makers of Winter's Bone had used a different camera, the film might have looked slightly different - but insignificantly so. I think that the film would still be very powerful due to all of the other more important choices made by the entire cast and crew.
Hi Randolph! Yes, I did receive some great answers, and thank you so much for sharing yours. As an artist, I completely understand and concur with your insightful point: the how; the why; what the end result, the overall meaning and emotional effect of a piece will be -- those considerations far outweigh any specific tool choice. However, understanding and mastering a tool certainly aids an artist(s) in their creative endeavors, yes? :) The whole process of creating film is truly amazing. I have some interest in producing so venturing into and learning about other fields has been exciting for me. Thanks again. :)
First camera I ever shot anything on was the Sony PD-170 Mini DV tape, took me back, not as rich as film obviously but it did the job lol
First camera I shot on was a Canon super 8, in junior high, back in the dark ages. So odd that just a few years ago people were pushing shooting on super 8 again.
David, did you enjoy physically cutting Super 8 film together? Kinda like trying to connect spaghetti together. The splices didn't didn't make it through the projector very many times. 16mm was a breeze after working with Super 8mm.
You had to use the tape instead of the cement. the cement would peel apart from the heat of the projector lamp, but the tape lasted. I had my own small editor with reels - obviously no sound. I used to find music and play it back on a tape machine and try to cut the film in time to it. Sort of like the old videophone of 1929. In high school I did several papers as movie projects instead. My English/literature teacher was very cool about it.
I had the Super 8mm editor/viewer with reels as well. I remember the tape with guillotine splicers as well. Tape didn't hold up very long either. The tape eventually left sticky residue - so splices got stuck in the projector's gears.