Oblivion: The Cinematography of Claudio Miranda

oblivion-7

Out of the top ten highest-grossing films of 2014, nine were either sequels or reboots for franchises already long-established – the remaining film was Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. With the current film industry an unarguable golden age for comic book adaptations, it’s become customary for most studios to play it safe and rely on audience familiarity to sell their productions. And it’s unfortunate – original stories like Edge of Tomorrow end up suffering in sales as a result while at the same time gaining critical acclaim (Edge of Tomorrow was even retitled Live Die Repeat around the time of its home video release in an attempt to re-market the film).

Given the criticisms warranted towards Interstellar (Oh man, that dialogue…), it was still refreshing to see a new, original, and all-around good science fiction film become a box-office blockbuster in the middle of Oscar season. For directors not as well-known as Nolan, making a film like that is a particular risk when taking sales into account; back in 2013, Director Joseph Kosinski took that exact risk with the release of his second film. After his debut with Tron: Legacy, Kosinski brought the cinematographer Claudio Miranda on board once more for a story he’d been working on since 2005. The result was a film released eight years later, titled Oblivion.

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Realism: The Role Photography Plays in CGI on the Big Screen

Godzilla (2014)

A reader brought up an interesting question last Saturday on my weekly cinematography post, this one over Eduardo Serra and his work in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; he asked how much credit a cinematographer can really claim for a shot done in CGI. Another reader answered him correctly in saying that the shots done in CGI are still directed in planning by the cinematographer himself. Basically, the work the animators do depends on the input of the director of photography.

That exchange made me want to write this post today; I’ve been obsessed with science-fiction and fantasy films since I was a kid, and CGI is something that’s impacted the films I grew up with as much as it has for many of us since twenty years ago. But there’s the films that do it well, and then there’s the films that we look back at and cringe in retrospect; remember those atrocious-looking monkeys in Jumanji?

So what sets apart the good CGI from the bad? How do they get it done right? If you’re going to make something look like it could have been right in front of the camera during filming, like it was real, then it would have to follow the same basic rules of photography that everything else in real life would. And what’s possibly the most important part of good photography in the first place? Good lighting.

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