Monday, 19 June 2006

35 Millimeters

I had the chance to spend one day on the set of "The Kautokeino Rebellion" a few weeks back. Norwegian cinematographer Philip Øgaard is working with director Nils Gaup on this large scale Swedish-Norwegian co-production, and was kind enough to spend his Sunday sharing experiences with a small crew from Tvibit.

Most of my projects are shot on various video formats. My experience with shooting on film is limited to a Super 16 mm film where I was first assistant cameraman. The film vs. video discussion is a heated one, but I personally really like what you can achieve using film over video. I won't get too technical, but among obvious differences you could mention that film perceives colour in CMYK versus video's RGB (video looks more like what your eye perceives), and the fact that you can achieve less depth of field on film. And the harder to explain argument that film images have more soul. It boils down to preference, you decide what look you want for your film, and decide on one or the other. Provided your budget allows it.

Anyway, the topic of the day was shooting on 35mm. We discussed different aspects of Philip's role as a cinematographer, and considerations he would take for a shoot. Philip is widely acknowledged as one of the best cinematographers in Norway (if not the best), and it was interesting to hear his thoughts on the subject.

A specific issue for "The Kautokeino Rebellion" was whether to go digital or not. Latitude is another advantage of film, and especially for this high-contrast shoot in winter-Norway, Philip was worried about the latitude he would lose when going digital for post production. A lot of the interior scenes also relied on bluescreen for exteriors in windows, and when going digital, he might be left with 6 stops of latitude to work on. This is not far away from what you can achieve on one of the better video formats.

At the end of the day, Torkel and I were given a strip of film to expose in the studio. With first assistant cameraman Patrick acting, we constructed a small scene with different cameramoves and challenges exposure-wise. We had a few nervous moments in front of Philip, trying to determine what exposure we would use, and how high we would dare putting our highlights. Patrick found this really funny, and made a song called "Fear of Exposing" while he was waiting. Yeah, real funny.

I must say it was inspiring to work with these guys. There is so much theory in my head about shooting on film, and it was really nice to get some more hands on experience doing it. The next step will be to try and get a photography-job shooting film. And of course, even more Dias-photography with my light meter.

You can check out more pictures from the workshop in my Picasa Web Album.

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