We were recently invited as guests of the Society of Camera Operators to attend a fascinating event at the American Film Institute in Hollywood, where distinguished Camera Operators talked about the movies they’d worked on and discussed the state of the industry. We also learned which version of Star Wars (2D or 3D?) is best, from the man who filmed it!
The event was a collaboration between the SOC, AFI and the Producers Guild of America, and both Producers and Camera Operators were in attendance. A popular topic was the role of the Camera Operator where a Cinematographer chooses to operate the camera themselves. Another was a viewing session where cameramen demonstrated particular shots they’d made, and the technical background to them.
There were plenty of laughs in the process – Stephen Campanelli, a long time camera operator for Clint Eastwood used the phrase “Fraturday” when describing the long hours that film crews typically put in. He also shared another phrase of how not to be a successful camera operator -“Pan, Tilt and Invoice!”
Daryn Okada, the Cinematographer for Mean Girls and Harold and Kumar got a big laugh when discussing the difficulties of working with animals, saying “I don’t know about your Dolphins… but mine never hit their marks!”
The relatively new role of the Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) on set was also discussed. British Production Manager Dan Lupi regaled the crowd with a number of anecdotes, and respected Cinematographer John Toll offered his take on how the industry has developed since the introduction of digital.
In general the challenges of new technology were a popular topic of conversation, although some admitted to having only modest knowledge of the world of 360 video and VR. This is perhaps unsurprising when you consider all are working back-to-back productions, and relatively speaking, at the top of their game.
We met cameraman’s cameraman Colin Anderson, who recently shot Star Wars: The Force Awakens and is shortly to begin filming Episode 8. He explained how Star Wars was shot principally for 2D rather than 3D, and recommended watching it that way if given the choice.
We are very grateful to the SOC for inviting us along to attend such a fascinating event!