Jump to content

Visual style, limitations, and process


kye
 Share

Recommended Posts

I recently re-watched a great video on the visual style of Alfonso Cuarón and collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki, and in delving into this more deeply, was reminded how the pair imposed their own limitations when shooting Y Tu Mamá También and how limitations can help focus the creative process and also keep costs down and allow amplified creativity.

Who else does this in their own work? 

We likely all have limitations imposed externally, considering we're not world famous with infinite time and money, but even for those who are operating with limitations, how many of you are either consciously shaping your process in order to fit within your limitations, or even imposing more when you don't need to, in order to simplify and increase creativity?

I have found that the limitations that Cuarón/Lubezki impose fit well with my own.  They shoot only wide angle lenses, exclusively hand-hold the camera, use natural light, and feature the characters relationships to each other and to their wider surroundings.  Further, the camera movement is deliberate and has a 'character', they use long takes at the climaxes in order to further the sense of reality of the situations.  
I shoot my families travel and the occasional event, shooting hand-held with a 35mm prime (and only changing lenses when a specific shot is called for), shoot only in available light, feature the moments of my family and friends interacting with each other and the environment we're in, and because i'm behind the camera and have a relationship with my family my movement and framing will take on that character.

It almost seems to me that there will be a range of famous directors, DoPs, cinematographers, and other visual artists that will align well enough with your own style and preferences that we can learn a lot from it.

Who else is studying the visual styles and processes of others to learn?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great topic!

For me its an neverending ongoing process. The usage of natural light by lubezki, unnatural light usage by Darius Khondji. Found it also interesting that they filmed "call me by your name" with a single lens, not that the movie looked that spectacular, but it was a great film(due to the performances). Lately I was massively inspired by the visual style of the safdie brothers. The use of long tele lenses for basicly everything. But it isnt really that easy shooting that way where I live where spaces are quite small and tight (and dont have the funds for decent anamorphics, which offc would help)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great topic. I've never really looked into anyone else's workflows, but it's nice to learn what I've read here.

I'm currently filming a documentary where I've imposed some minor limitations. The one which is having the most impact is only shooting between 2 and 6pm on the same day every week. This started out as a scheduling limitation, but I've come to really embrace it. I make sure I'm 110% focused for those short hours, and since the whole film is outside, the light and scenery has changed dramatically since I started in August. I won't be able to finish it until the start of next summer, so there's still a lot more change to come.

For personal stuff, I can basically echo @kyeExclusively hand held, natural light, a 35mm lens. I love it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love 2x zooms. Change in focal length opening the realm of a different state of mind and being. Just two states of 35 and 70 are good enough to always be connected to its implicite message: change of approach, view and perspective. I love to study films which are classy but not hyperpopular. Gives me more control about not being influenced by the conclusions of others or what others might see in it. Instead of studying the current masters I would study their masters or study nonmasters or other fields of art or other genres and types of film and filmlength or sujet. Like Hitch said something like, if they go wide I go tight, if they go tight I go wide. Same with studying the arts in a way but not by principle. You know what I mean.:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Use of a single prime can have many advantages, this article from Noam Kroll is a good overview: https://noamkroll.com/many-iconic-directors-have-shot-their-feature-films-with-just-a-single-prime-lens-heres-why/

Of course, it has to fit with your situation as @zerocool22 illustrates.  I derived my choice of the 35mm FOV from my situation, being that I wanted environmental portraits while being on holiday with people I know, so typically filming between 1-3m away from the person, and I'm often not allowed to move around such as in tour busses and boats.  The FOV also creates a neutral point of view that is close enough to 'normal' that it doesn't create any obvious effect.  I found a 50mm FOV to be too tight as it tends to isolate at that distance, and 28mm FOV isn't tight enough because when you get someone large enough in frame they become too distorted.

The idea of a 2x zoom is interesting and I've recently discovered that with the 5K GH5 sensor I can shoot 1080p and get a 5K-2K downscale but also if I use the 2x digital zoom then I get a 2.5K-2K downscale so image quality is still preserved and noise reduced compared to the 2.5x 1:1 crop which is also a bit too much of a change to be so flexible.  That turns my 35mm FOV lens into a 70mm FOV lens too.  It's a useful option and for those that like 24mm focal length the 24-70 is a great choice.

Interesting to hear about your scheduling limitation @Anaconda_ - do you find that you can plan and operate on a weekly cycle with this schedule?  What are the productivity implications you've found?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm liking the limitation, but I'm sure I'm missing a lot of good material because of it. That said, the audience will never know what isn't in the film, so I can overlook that for the most part. On the flip side. I can film for those few hours and then I have 6 days to process, think and even edit the material.

As it stands, I'm about half way through the whole shooting process, but already have a clean 1hr edit that's basically ready to go. I'm aiming for 1hr30 in total. The story is there, I now just need to expand on a few points and film some sequences that can't be done right now due to the season.

Working this way, means if I need a specific shot to illustrate something, I know that I can pick it up next week. Due to the nature of the subject, filming this way fits a lot better than filming a few 3 hour interviews and then making the film. Instead, we can do half an hour a week focused on one specific topic, then I can shoot broll that will fit into it. I'll head home, edit the segment, see what's missing and pick it up next week before moving onto the next topic.

I can also watch the film from beginning to end and think about how to transition between topics, and themes. it also means I can develop a closer relationship with the subjects as I see them regularly. The type and depth of information I'm given now compared to the first day is light night and day. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...