Archive for the 'thefilmbook' Category

VR Cinema 2: Image Spheres

thefilmbook by Benjamin B
Greetings from Forza d’Agro in Sicily, where I am attending the Terre di Cinema cinematography event.

This post continues my investigation of Virtual Reality Cinema. If you haven’t read my first post about Google Cardboard, I encourage you to do so now.

I must stress that I am not a VR expert. I am simply a VR newbie who is trying to understand the cinematic implications of the new VR tools. Please don’t hesitate to give me your corrections and suggestions in the comments below.


Blanca Li 360 equirectangular frame 1 -thefilmbook-

A frame from Blanca Li 360. Note spatial distortion at top and bottom. (concert.arte.tv)


1. headsets
2. Cardboard app
3. Earth maps
4. Blanca Li 360
5. camera issues

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VR Cinema 1: Google Cardboard

thefilmbook by Benjamin B2015 may well mark a turning point in the development of immersive, Virtual Reality cinema.

This post is an introduction to the cheapest immersive cinema viewer: the Google Cardboard. My next posts will investigate production possibilities to create VR cinema.

google cardboard -thefilmbook-

Looking at Virtual Reality with Google Cardboard and a smartphone


1. Edison Kinetoscope
2. Oculus buzz
3. Google Cardboard
4. stereo and 3-D
5. 360 or ride
6. video VR

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Video of Roger Deakins Tribute in Cannes

thefilmbook by Benjamin BRoger Deakins, ASC, BSC, received the Angénieux ExcelLens prize for cinematography during the Cannes Film Festival last month.

This post looks back at the ExcelLens ceremony, and features video of some of the speeches given by Roger Deakins, the Coen brothers, and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Frances McDormand.

Roger Deakins applauded by friends -photo Pauline Maillet -thefilmbook-

Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, holds his Angénieux zoom and is applauded by:
Pierre Andurand, Suzel Pietri, Denis Villeneuve, Agnieszka Holland, James Deakins,
Ethan Coen, Frances McDormand, Joel Coen, Jake Gyllenhaal and Irène Jacob
(photo Pauline Maillet)

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Cannes 2015: Women Warriors & Sexual Emancipators

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThis post presents some of the themes that struck me in Cannes.

This year I was struck by the emergence of strong women characters, notably women warriors and sexual emancipators.

Furiosa fights

Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

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Cannes 2015 – Dheepan & Son of Saul

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThis post focuses on two films that struck me at the Cannes Film Festival: Dheepan, which won the Palme d’or, and Son of Saul, which won the runner-up award, the Grand Prix.

The jury led by the Coen brothers gave its top two awards to films that speak of Europe’s present and past.

Cannes - Jacques Audiard with lead actors of Dheepan-

Actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan, director Jacques Audiard and actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival

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Cinematographers at Cannes 2015

thefilmbook by Benjamin BThe 2015 Cannes Film Festival has just begun. Although there is a lot of publicity about the films and directors at Cannes, much less is said about the cinematographers.

As a start, this post lists some of the films that will be screened in the next 11 days, and identifies some of cinematographers involved. There are, of course, many more…

2015 Cannes Festival poster-

Actress Ingrid Bergman on the poster for the 2015 Cannes film festival

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Gordon Willis: A Web Reference

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post is a Web reference for the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, with annotated links to all the interesting online texts and videos, interviews and articles, that I could find about the cinematographer.


In a future post, I will offer a conclusion to my three previous posts about Gordon Willis. The posts were based on the tribute I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage 2014, with help from ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond. (My friend Stephen recently finished writing a book about Gordon.)

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Gordon Willis receiving a standing ovation at the ceremony for his 2009 honorary Oscar

In preparing my future post, I wanted to be sure that I consulted all the most important online material about Gordon. As I researched, compiled and annotated this list of links, I realized that it might be of service to others interested in exploring Gordon’s work, as there is no other such reference, to my knowledge.

So below is my annotated web reference for Gordon Willis. Note that this resource does not include any film excerpts, just material directly about Gordon, and his cinematography.

1. AC tribute
2. Richard Crudo
3. John Bailey
4. Gordon’s Oscar
5. Visions of Light
6. Cinematographer Style
7. Craft Truck
8. other interviews
9. articles & biographies
10. the Willis frame
11. selected obituaries
12. thefilmbook

Of course, I would be delighted to get any additions or comments you may have. So, if I have missed some important text or video, please let me know. I plan to keep updating this page so it can remain a good reference.
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Gordon Willis Tribute – THE GODFATHER PART II

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post continues excerpts from a tribute to the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, that I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage last November, with help from ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond. My friend Stephen is both Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the American Cinematographer, and has also recently finished writing a book about Gordon.

This third post focuses on the wonderful cinematography of The Godfather, Part II. If you haven’t read the previous posts about the first Godfather, I encourage you to do so before reading this one.

Gordon Willis metering on set of Godfather-

Gordon Willis, ASC, takes a reading on the set of The Godfather as director Francis Ford Coppola and camera operator Michael Chapman, ASC, look on in the background (photo: ASC archive at AMPAS)

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1. visual coherence
2. 12 time shifts
3. the best epic
4. hitting marks
5. Fanucci’s murder
6. storytelling
7. Fredo’s murder
8. dump truck coverage

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Gordon Willis Tribute – THE GODFATHER

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post continues excerpts from a tribute to the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, that I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage last November, with comments by ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond. My friend Stephen is both Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the American Cinematographer, and has also recently finished writing a book about Gordon.

This second post focuses on the wonderful cinematography of The Godfather. If you haven’t read the first post about Klute, I encourage you to do so before reading this one.

Because of a prior commitment, Caleb was absent from the discussion about Klute, but he was able to join us for this portion of the tribute.

The Godfather played by Marlon Brando -Gordon Willis tribute -thefilmbook-

Marlon Brando as Don Vito in The Godfather, 1972

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2 masterpieces

During the tribute to Gordon Willis at Camerimage, we screened excerpts from The Godfather, 1972, and The Godfather Part II, 1974. These two films by Francis Ford Coppola are landmarks in world cinema. The two films re-invented the gangster genre, and contributed to the New Wave of American film in the 1970s. Both met with great critical and commercial success.

Like many masterpieces, these films have it all: engaging scripts, incredible actors, masterful directing, memorable music, evocative art direction… And then there is Gordon Willis’ extraordinary cinematography that combines restrained compositions and movements with gutsy, revolutionary lighting.

The Godfather was nominated for 11 Oscars. Amazingly, neither film was nominated for cinematography, proof perhaps that Gordon’s approach was too radically different from the conventions of the day to be recognized.

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Gordon Willis Tribute – KLUTE

thefilmbook-by-Benjamin-BThis post features excerpts from a tribute to the late, great Gordon Willis, ASC, that I organized with Stephen Pizzello at Camerimage last November, with comments by ASC members Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond.

This first post focuses on the pioneering cinematography of Klute.

Gordon Willis Tribute at Camerimage 2014 -thefilmbook

The tribute took place during the 2014 Camerimage Festival

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tribute at camerimage

When I saw the 2014 Camerimage schedule and realized there was no event dedicated to Gordon Willis, I called my friend and colleague Stephen Pizzello and asked him if he would help me organize a tribute event. Stephen is both Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the American Cinematographer, and has also recently finished writing a book about the cinematographer. The book will be titled Gordon Willis on Cinematography.

Steve and I spent a few days selecting clips and preparing the event, and recruited ASC cinematographers Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Matthew Libatique and Vilmos Zsigmond who kindly agreed to comment on the work of their legendary colleague. (Caleb does not appear in this first post, he joined us later because of a prior commitment). We had a full house, and the event was very well received.

We showed clips from Gordon’s work with 3 key directors: Klute, The Parallax View and All the President’s Men by Alan J. Pakula, The Godfather I and The Godfather II by Francis Ford Coppola, and Annie Hall and Manhattan by Woody Allen. I came away with a renewed appreciation of Gordon Willis’ unique mixture of methodical rigor and pioneering poetry.

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