SCSMI2017 Helsinki has ended
The annual conference of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image (SCSMI) welcomes you to the Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, June 11th – 14th, 2017

SCSMI2017 Helsinki program is under construction and changes are to occur. Meanwhile you may complete your personal information with a photo and some tags, so the other attendees and speakers will get to know more of you and your interests, and vice versa.

Go to registration or check practical information about accommodation etc. at http://scsmi2017.aalto.fi/
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Tuesday, June 13 • 11:00 - 11:30
SP Marcelo Bertalmio and Albert Pascual. Reclaiming the creative techniques of film cinematography

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Cinematographers are becoming increasingly frustrated by some artistic limitations that the digital medium imposes, and that current movie production trends promote. 
Since the beginning of cinema and for many decades, there was a wide variety of cameras, film stocks and film developing options that allowed cinematographers to experiment, find and test new possibilities for creative expression, often carefully thought out in advance, while the limitations of film in terms of dynamic range required a mastering of the craft of lighting the scenes which also fostered artistic creativity; cinematographers performed the bulk of their work at pre-production and during the film shoot, with relevant but usually minor adjustments during post-production. 
Currently, virtually all professional productions resort to the same digital cinema camera model, causing the default ‘look’ to be quite homogeneous to begin with. And these cameras have ever increasing dynamic range capabilities, so there is less and less need to light the scenes. Consequently, producers are pressing directors of photography to complete more and more shots per day, just ensuring that the image quality is good in the barest possible sense (detail visibility, focus, and so on), but as much as possible leaving artistic decisions regarding contrast and color for the color-grading stage in post-production. The reasoning from the point of view of the producers is that since the costs of a shoot are prohibitive, every chance to save on shooting time (like using wide latitude cameras that don’t require to set-up artificial lighting) is welcome, especially because it is assumed that the digital medium gives total freedom to the artist so cinematographers can in principle make all the creative tests and artistic choices that they want later, during the color grading phase. 
But, in practice, this is often not the case, for two main reasons. Firstly, because the allotted time for post-production is also being progressively reduced to save costs, and in some productions the cinematographer is not even present during the color grading. Secondly, and more importantly, because the digital tools of a color grading suite are not the tools of a director of photography. As a consequence, cinematographers have increasingly less oportunities to properly exercise their craft: on the set there is pressure not to devote too much time for lighting and just make sure everything is properly visible, while in post-production the cinematographer must communicate the artistic intent to the colorist, who must be able to translate it into operations performed on the color grading suite (and the time devoted for this is also being progressively reduced). The net result is that more and more movies tend to have a similar look, with directors of photography growing dissatisfied with the diminishing role their craft seems to be taking. 
In this work we want to explore the possibilities for developing digital tools that allow the cinematographer the level of artistic freedom that film photography granted. Our main goal is not to create digital methods that emulate film characteristics, like stock response curves or film grain, but rather to study the requirements for digital techniques that directors of photography can intuitively employ on set to creatively play with contrast and color rendition, giving them back control over the look of the picture, fostering creativity and the advance of their craft.


Marcelo Bertalmio

Associate Professor, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Marcelo Bertalmío is an Associate Professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain, in the Information and Communication Technologies Department. His publications total more than 9,000 citations. He was awarded the 2012 SIAG/IS Prize of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics... Read More →

Tuesday June 13, 2017 11:00 - 11:30 EEST
A-305 Room, Töölö Campus, Aalto University (3rd floor) Runeberginkatu 14-16, Helsinki