The language of the cinematographer. Cinematographers and Directors

                                  The language of the cinematographer.


Cinematographers and Directors work together to create the visual language of a film. Films are more than words in a script; cinematography plays a key role in the storytelling. Cinematographers also called Directors of photography (DOP) creates the look of the film, which reinforces the story of the film. Focusing on two cinematographer and the directors they have worked with. It is the Cinematographers job to translate the director’s vision into a reality. Directors often use the same DOP for their films. This Review will be discussing the work two DOPs how they work with the directors and interpret their ideas for the film. The two Cinematographers this review will be discussing are Dick Pope and Bill Pope. This review will do this by looking a five key areas, research and influence, lens and camera, light, colour and finally framing and composition. 

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Research and Influence.  


In this the first section, the review will be discussing the research Cinematographers and Directors go through before production of their film and their how they are influenced. Directors and Cinematographers are Typically influenced by art, life or other films when they are writing and creating a movie. (Panavision, 2017) making “baby driver” the director Edgar Wright was influenced by a movie called “The Driver” and crime and gangster movies from the 1960’s and 1970’s. In an article Bill Pope discus “Our film is a visual and thematic rejection of the current spate of car movies that are so heavily CG’d and fantastical.”  A throwback to the old style of a movie genre while going against the modern status quo of movies. In comparison (British Cinematographer, 2017) Dick Pope and his team researched and adsorbed the artist turners work. They went to gallery’s and examined books to understand how Turner used colour in his works. This was an important part of the preproduction for the film, which allowed him to create a visual interpretation of Turner’s world and thinking. To summarise research and influence are important parts of the cinematographer’s work, it helps to create the visual story of the film and reinforce an emotion or experience that the director wants.  Dick pope’s research into the colours turner used lets him understand turners colour pallet and bring that into the film to allow the viewer to see turner’s world.  Edgar wright influenced from 1960’s and 1970’s gangster and crime movies and his rejection of the modern car movie allowed Bill pope to form a visual understanding of what the director wanted.  Hence the two different approaches of to two different films show the diverse styles of the cinematographers and directors of achieving the same goal.    


Lens and cameras


This section will be exploring the camera and lens choses of cinematographer and their reasons for choosing them.  Cameras and lens are important they help to create the look of the film. every camera records colour and light differently and every lens has its own characteristics. The cinematographer chooses cameras and lens that are fit for purpose.  (British Cinematographer, 2017) on Mr. Turner, Dick Pope used an old set of “Cooke Speed Panchros” from the 1950’s. He talks about how he wanted a lens that was soft and romantic, he tested several modern lenses but they was not working the way he wanted so he chose to use the Panchros lens for the film. He chose theses lens because of the look and feel they give the picture.  In contrast to Dick Pope (Panavision, 2017) while shooting the film “Baby Driver” Bill Pope shot most of the film using 16mm film but when it came to shooting a car chase in a car park he couldn’t light it and had to only use the existing light which wasn’t good enough for filming using 16mm film. he had to divert to shooting with an ARRI Alexa digital cine camera, so he can get the ISO right and therefore the shot right. In the preproduction period of the film the two cinematographers choose their cameras and lens to fit what they want and need for the films look. Dick pope choose lens that had a soft and romantic feel. In comparison to Bill Pope who chosen to use a film cine camera for most of the film but when it came to a particle scene he chooses to use a digital cine camera because he couldn’t add lights to the space, so he used a digital to be able to adjust the ISO. To conclude They are two different reasons but in the same way it’s what the film needs and what the cinematographer wants the film and scenes to feel and look that dictates the equipment they choose.




For the third section the review will be looking at light because Without light we cannot see. Light dictates the films atmosphere and situation. Thus, an important part in the story telling process to assist in narrative of the films plot. (Gray, S, 2017) A scene in “The Matrix Reloaded” Bill Pope had to simulate candlelight during close-ups. He could of use a flicker box which flickers light. However, he founded them to look fake, so he used small tungsten lamps, which were operated manually from a dimmer board to make it look more natural.  Additionally, for another scene Bill Pope had to simulate light from a ship rescuing a stranded group of people.  A “20×20” rig of par cans “to provide a bright ambiance” and lighting strike units which “simulated the electromagnetic propulsion system”. The two different scenes Bill Pope used different lighting tenancies to artificially simulate the environment on the scene. This contrasts with (British Cinematographer, 2017) Dick Pope who wanted “Mr Turner” to have a “soft and gentle Atmosphere” he lighted the scene with bounced light and diffused light. He did this to create a natural feeling in the scenes and bring focus to the actors and dialog and the let the landscapes Tuner painted.   Cinematographers use a verity of lighting techniques to tell the story of the film. the two cinematographers used light to create specific feeling to a scene. Dick Pope used light to create a natural feel to the film and make the viewer have a feeling of Turner’s world and paintings while on the other hand Bill Pope used light to simulate specific environments and events simulating the events in the film with light. They both do the same thing and reinforce the feeling of the film whether it’s a historical drama or futuristic Science fiction they used light to create the sense of being in those situations and let the viewer feel they are experiencing the scenes personally.




In this section the use of colour will be discussed and how cinematographer use colour. In films Colour is used to reinforce the feeling and emotion of a scene and change in situation and to connect the film together throughout each scene. As an example (Cipriani, 2017) Dick Pope visited the Tate Britain to study Turner’s work. He did this to researched Turner’s colour palette Turner was using in his work during the time of the film was set in. As a result, he could then use Turners colours to colour and create the look the film. Likewise (Gray, S. (2017) while filming “Matrix Reloaded” Bill pope had to film a foot chase scene in a sewer. A sewer is cold, dark and misty so Pope had to use cooler colours and made it darker than the rest of the film. This allows the viewer to know they have gone into a different space but also add drama and a much darker feel to the foot chase. Bill Pope and Dick Pope used colour for the same reason, to create a certain feel and look to the film. They used colour to tell the story and communicate a feeling of a scene to the viewer. Dick Pope used colour to recreate the colours turners used in his paintings to visual represent them in the film and recreate the landscape turner painted in the film therefore allowing the viewer to enter Turner’s world and feel like they are they’re with him while he painted his masterpieces. Similarly, Bill Pope used colour to represent the change of scene and the transformation of the sense of a scene making the viewer feel more danger and dread experience the situation the characters bringing the viewer into the scenes similarly to what Dick pope achieved in “Mr Turner”.




Framing and composition.


Framing and composition helps tell the story of the film and what the viewer sees.   

(Cipriani, 2017) Dick Pope talks about camera movement and placement “one thing is lighting, and the other is where we put the Camera”. Dick Pope and Mike Leigh studied Turner’s work and worked out where they are going and when to capture the best light. (Panavision, 2017).  Bill Pope talks about the title screen for “baby Driver” were the main character Baby is getting coffee. A continues Steadicam shot was used while Baby was listening to music and him and the world was perfectly choreographed.  Music is a big part of the movie perfect start to the movie. Bill Pope talked about how he and Edgar Wright talked about the shot for years and how they wanted “a glorious homage to all musicals that show the world is a lovely place”. Director and cinematographer choose specific compositions and framing for a scene. Dick Pope and Mike Leigh researched Turners work and framed and composed their shots to recreate the paintings. Bill Pope and Edgar Wright created a continuous shot as an intro to the film. following the main character going to get coffee while listening to music.  These two approaches tell the story of the film and allows the cinematographer and director to choose what viewer sees and doesn’t see.