Traditional And Current Style Of Cinematography

Cinematography is both an art and a motion-picture photography technique. It includes all visual elements on the screen, such as framing, composition, lighting, acting, production design, make-up, costume, camera movement, choice of lens, size of shot, etc. Effective cinematography implies that the film’s photography complements, serves the plot, and strengthens the film’s storytelling. It also requires monitoring what the audience can see, in addition to professional camera operations, lighting and composition. The head of any camera and light crew is called a cinematographer or director of photography. For every single frame in a film, they are the person responsible for creating the look, colour, lighting, and framing.

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Cinema has been in existence for more than 100 years and there has also been a great deal of progress in cinematographic design and technique. There was a restriction on the use of the number of film stocks before the film stock was used. The method of film shooting was unbelievably different. Sholay, a Bollywood blockbuster with flawless cinematography, grips you throughout the film was shot over a span of two and a half years. Sholay’s premise was loosely based on an epic samurai drama film by Akira Kurosawa, Seven Samurai. No wonder Sholay is forever remembered for more than one occasion. The Cinematographer of Sholay, Dwarka Divecha, almost risked his job to film the robbery scene action sequence on a moving train that was filmed between the railways of Bombay-Poona. The camera was incredibly heavy at the time, and they had no chance to replicate the filmed scenes. It took seven weeks to film the series, but he shot each and every frame so perfectly that it made Sholay a cult movie. The film’s budget was 3 crore and it had a box office collection of about 35 crores.

In 2015, Bajirao Mastani was released by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and everyone complimented Bhansali for his direction, accomplishments and the cast’s performances. With lots of VFX and post-production work, the film took 217 days to finish. Sudeep Chatterjee, a notable cinematographer, shot the entire film on Arri Alexa XT on 22 giant sets in the film city. There were approximately 1400 visual effects shot in the movie. The film’s budget was 145 crore and it had a box office collection of about 356 crores.

There are numerous grips and equipment to shoot a shot specifically, as the technology progressed in 100 years, the filming process also improved. A filmmaker now has access to a range of instruments to put his vision into practice, from Drones to Action Cameras. Considering what we had 100 years ago, cinema has changed a great deal and the style of storytelling has been enhanced by technology. Yet, like Quentin Tarantino, there are a handful of filmmakers who still believe in shooting on film stock. “Digital projection is the death of cinema, as far as I am concerned,” said Tarantino at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The digital shooting process is economical and replicates the traditional shooting process. It uses an electronic sensor rather than a film stock to capture images. The digital image files are stored and processed and enhanced for the audience in the memory card/drive. Personally, I find that watching a stock film is much better than watching a digital one. The photographs have more texture and are rougher. The digital film appears to look smooth and clean. Movie cameras are not going to take over the market again. Digital has a stronghold on to that position. But the revival is fuelled by a sense of nostalgia.

According to me, films with brilliant cinematography and their respective cinematographers are:

  • 1) ROMA – Alfonso Cuaron
  • 2) Blade Runner 2049 – Roger Deakins
  • 3) The Shinning – John Alcott
  • 4) The Revenant – Emmanuel Lubezki
  • 5) Lawrence of Arabia – Freddie Young
  • 6) Touch of Evil – Russell Metty
  • 7) Citizen Kane – Gregg Toland
  • 8) Godfather – Gordon Wills
  • 9) Mirror – Georgy Rerberg
  • 10) Wuthering Heights – Gregg Toland
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