Over 100 of the North East’s industry professionals – many of them established and aspiring cinematographers – gathered for a Digital Cinematography Camera Showcase at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead last night.
The evening was organised by RTS North East and the Border Centre, full-service facilities house Picture Canning North and creative development agency Northern Film & Media.
Designed to give the audience access to a manufacturer’s expert product knowledge tempered with the independent insights of a leading practitioner, the showcase brought together Milan Krsljanin of ARRI, with award-winning cinematographer Lol Crawley BSC, DOP on Crimson Petal and the White, Hyde Park on Hudson, and the forthcoming Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
It was a welcome return to the region for Crawley, until recently based in Newcastle. Inevitably there was a question from the floor about the relationship between his current big budget projects and his formative experiences on the low budget early short work of directors such as Duane Hopkins and Sean Conway – fellow Northumbria alumni who are currently also making major names for themselves on the small and big screens. Crawley commented: “A key factor in my early work was a lack of money. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing creatively. I’m a big believer that less is often more – less lighting, for example, often makes for much braver images. And in some ways I’d really like to get back to that discipline.”
Weighing the benefits of digital cinematography against the creative limits it can impose, Crawley commented: “I have to say I shy away from the cult of perfection. Each of the major digital cameras has a look – the Alexa, RED, and so on. The resolution and dynamic range is great, but you’re trying to find a way to push that look. There’s a certain amount that can be done in the grade, but actually a lot of it is to do with lenses. Especially now that the use of film is diminishing there’s a big swing towards injecting character by using older glass.”
The organisers hope to announce further cinematography events early next year.