Cinematography

Focal Points: Learn About Grips, Dolly Zooms, and How to Read a Light Meter

If there’s a theme to this week’s Focal Points, it’s perspective.

Perspective from all sorts of industry voices including Mark Hamill, Bill Murray, Shane Hurlbut, Mark Vargo, Christopher Nolan, and a handful of cinematographers lending their voice to the film vs. digital debate at Sundance. There’s also perspective from the camera’s lens in a dolly zoom montage.

And to put that into, well, perspective, consider what Truman Capote said: “Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.”

Are you ready to rearrange the rules? Here we go…

7 Great Focal Points to Check Out

1. Grip It Good Short Documentary

In this short 11-minute Vimeo doc, Mark Vargo, ASC explains what it is grips do on a film set. He explores their role in helping shape light through the use of flags, scrims, and diffusion as well as their responsibilities to rig, rope, and move the dolly. While it may be nothing new to those with experience on set, it’s refreshing to see the grips given credit when most audiences have no idea who they are and what they do.

2. Hitchcock to Scoresese: 47 Years of the Dolly Zoom

The first time I ever saw a dolly zoom (where you simultaneously zoom in or out while dollying in the opposite …read more

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