07 Jul 2019

Can Cinematography be too good?

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When is digital Cinematography too good? When is digital Cinematography too good? RED


Replay: Are we getting too carried away with glossy, beautiful, some might say pretentious looking productions, when often a simpler production style would be better?

This might at first seem like an incredibly stupid question to ask. After all as video and film producers we want our productions to look as good as they possibly can. Why on earth would we want something to look any less good than it possibly could be? I can visualise the hairs on the necks of many DP’s currently rising in response to me even putting that question forward!

I have often thought back to when a film called “Hero” appeared in the cinemas. “Hero” was a film in the same genre as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. It was certainly very beautifully shot, sublimely beautiful even, but there was an overriding criticism that was leveled at it by fans. Fans I might add who were used to watching other beautifully shot films of a similar vein from Hong Kong and China. The criticism being that they found the cinematography in the film to be pretentious.

I had never considered this before, and the idea that cinematography could be pretentious was an alien concept to me. I had always thought that a film or a video should look as beautiful as humanly possible within the constraints of the production budget.

Recent Developments

Let’s take a quick trip back in time to around five or six years ago. Sliders were only just coming in as a way of adding much more of a cinematic edge to video production. For years us video guys struggled to get lovely cinematic film like sensibilities into our productions. Especially in the lower budget corporate sector where time and budget were highly restricted.

The development of the VDSLR and subsequent portable sliders meant that we could not only produce low budget corporate videos with a much more “film like” look in general, but subtle cinematic style moving shots were also now much easier to set up and shoot without much faff.

Camera movement has always been an obsession of mine. As soon as I could get hold of a Steadicam - actually it was a Glidecam - I leapt at the opportunity. The freedom to move a camera around freely and smoothly is liberating and opens up many creative opportunities.

Versatile lighting systems are now more accessible than ever too, opening up opportunities for ever higher production values even for videos with modest budgets.

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Simon Wyndham

Simon Wyndham is the Editor of RedShark News, a professional cameraman and video producer of 20 odd years. With a background in indy feature making, he has been writing camera reviews and tech articles for as long as he can remember. When he isn't producing bread and butter corporate videos he can be found hucking the gnar on rivers whitewater kayaking and adventure sports filming.

Website: www.5ep.co.uk

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