Not so long ago, the concept of computerized massive scenes was not even conceived yet and effects studios used different methods to “create” sets bigger than can possibly fit in a studio. One way of doing it was hand painting a matte glass with a set and using it around the shot action. One of the most famous effects studio: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) released a movie showing how they used Matte glass and hand painted sets to create Indiana Jones and the first chapters of Star Wars. The amount of work and planning to make one of those matte shot was laborious almost beyond possible.
In 2010, Christopher Nolan released a film he’d been working on for over half a decade, and the premise of it was something not too long ago thought un-filmable. Titled Inception, the story was held off as a complete secret, and when teaser trailers did release, nobody really understood what they just saw. Wally Pfister, the cinematographer behind the movie, arranged an immediate meeting with Chris after reading the script he was sent, to try and figure out “what the f*ck was going on.”
Wally Pfister has been a collaborator with Christopher Nolan for a long time now, working as a cinematographer for every film of his since 2000’s Memento. Both him and Chris share two significant things in common: their love for naturalism, and their love for shooting in film. And if there’s anyone keeping the medium of film alive in the digitally dominated industry of Hollywood today, it’s these two guys. Their last venture together with The Dark Knight Rises grossed over $1 Billion, and that was accomplished without the film ever being released in 3D; when I say they love naturalism, I mean they love naturalism.
By now, most of us are familiar with the film; it became one of the biggest original stories to top box offices worldwide within the past few years, and it was something new. And with how practical both Chris and Wally are with the way they want things shot, Inception was cinematography at its finest.