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24 NOVEMBER 2013

Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)

"Expanding on footage of Monk's 1967 tour shot by Christian Blackwood, Charlotte Zwering (Gimme Shelter) has created the definitive filmic portrait of the master bop pianist–composer. This captivating DVD digs deeper into the life of the famously eccentric pianist–composer ...

Straight, No Chaser fleshes out Monk's character considerably – from his harmonic theories to his use of quarter – tones (produced by hitting two adjacent piano keys simultaneously and occasionally even striking the boards with his entire forearm or his foot) to his mysterious relationship with his patron, baroness Nica de Koenigswarter."

(Vlatko, TopDocumentaryFilms.com)

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TAGS

16mm19671988archive footageavailable light • Barry Harris • bebop • Ben Riley • black and white • Bob Jones • Bruce Ricker • Charlie Rouse • Charlotte Zwerin • Charlotte Zwering • Christian Blackwood • cinema of the streetClint Eastwood • Dick Hyman • direct cinemadissonancedocumentarydocumentary filmeccentricfilm lighting • filmic portrait • Frank Paccione • harmonic • Harry Colomby • improvised methodinfluential creators • jazz great • jazz masterjazz performancejazz pianist • Jimmy Cleveland • John Coltrane • Johnny Griffin • Juilliard School • Larry Gales • live performancelow light • Malpaso Productions • music documentary • music tour • musical genius • Nellie Monk • Nica De Koenigswarter • offbeat • Phil Woods • pianist-composer • pianoportrait • posthumous interview • Ray Copeland • recording sessionrecording studiorehearsal • Samuel Wright • sixties coolsocial realism • Straight No Chaser (1988) • Teo Macero • Thelonious Monk • Tommy Flanagan • Warner Bros

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
16 SEPTEMBER 2013

How to deal with the demands of the rapidly evolving new technology and yet further the aesthetics of our filmic art?

"With digital capture and even digital intermediates, it becomes very easy to think of the image in the simplest of terms: contrast, saturation and color bias. But I think too often we forget about texture and sharpness. Film has organic grain texture that simply doesn't exist in digital cinematography. I'm not a film 'purist' but I think it's safe to say that with the advent of radical advances in digital cinema technology there has been a certain homogenization of the cinematographic image in regard to look and texture. It is common to shoot for an evenly distributed rich digital negative (protect the highlights, see into the shadows) with plenty of sharpness to endure the color correction suite and create the look in post. Everybody shoots the sensor the same way.

Painting is a great influence on me. Whenever I can I go to museums and look at the classics, the Dutch masters, Rembrandt and Georges de la Tour. Looking at these old paintings can be inspiring. These are the basics for cameramen because we can learn lighting from them. We can study the classic paintings and try to use that technique of lighting in our photography. I have lots of picture books at home–photography books and art books. When we did McCabe and Mrs. Miller, I showed a book of Andrew Wyeth's paintings to Bob Altman and said, 'What do you think of these faded, soft, pastel images?' And he liked it. Then I took the same book to the lab and explained to them that this was what we were aiming for. They understood right away why we were flashing the film. So it helps; a picture is worth ten thousand words. A picture can immediately tell you your feelings about something.

With digital capture, we have been given a completely different set of tools, trading physical lab processes for computer–driven non–destructive techniques, creating possibilities for the image to be pushed any way we wish in post. In a time when film is disappearing fast and digital is making progress in image quality improvement, it has become important for cinematographers to master these new tools."

(Vilmos Zsigmond ASC HSC, IMAGO European Federation of Cinematographers)

TAGS

aesthetics • American Society of Cinematgraphers (ASC) • Andrew Wyeth • ARRI Alexas • art of colour • available lightcamera technologycinematographycolour • colour bias • colour correctioncolour saturation • colourist • computer-driven techniques • digital capturedigital cinema technologydigital cinematography • digital intermediates • digital negativedigital picturesdigital progressdigital technology • European Federation of Cinematographers • faded images • film grain • film grain texture • film lighting • filmic art • filmmaking • Georges de La Tour • GoProimage contrast • image highlights • image manipulation • image quality • image shadows • image sharpness • image tone • IMAGO European Federation of Cinematographers • iPhone cinematographyKodak Eastman • lab process • light exposure • look and texture • low lightmaking process • McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971) • mobile video productionnew technology • non-destructive techniques • organic grain texture • painting with light • pastel colours • post-productionpre-productionrapid technological changeRED ONERembrandt van Rijn • retraining • Robert Altman • soft image quality • Sony camerataste (sociology) • taste cultivation • taste formations • Vilmos Zsigmond • visual compositionvisual representation • visual richness • visual sensibilityvisual storytelling • visual texture

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
12 AUGUST 2012

Rob Nilsson: indie filmmaker and small format video feature pioneer

"Rob Nilsson pioneered small analog and digital formats and created a low–budget cinematic style called direct action. He established the Tenderloin Action Group (now called the Tenderloin yGroup) in 1990, a drama workshop for homeless people, inner–city San Francisco residents and professional actors. He was the first video maker to blow up small–format video to 35 mm film for international theatrical distribution. His work has screened at festivals in the United States and abroad, including Mill Valley, Toronto, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Locarno. Nilsson's work has been honored with numerous awards, including the Camera d'Or at Cannes and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival (he was the first American Director to win both)."

(Media Arts Fellow)

Fig.1 scene from Rob Nilsson (1987). "Heat and Sunlight", Betacam SP to 35mm film transfer.

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TAGS

198535mmAmerican directoranalogueanalogue and digital formatsavailable lightBetacam SPblack and white • blow up small-format video • Chikara Motomura • cinema of the street • cinematic style • citizen cinema (ethos) • convergence • direct action (ethos) • Dogme 95film actingfilmmakerfly-on-the-wallindependent cinemaindependent filmindie cinemainfluential directorlow budgetlow lightlow-budgetlow-budget film • Media Arts Fellow • Michael Edo Keane • new technical possibilitiesrealism • Rob Nilsson • San Francisco • Signal 7 (film) • small format video feature • tape to film transfer • Tenderloin Action Group • Tenderloin yGroup • underground cinema • video to film transfer • videomaker

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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