Definition June 2023 - web


“There is now a growing number of ways to reach for real-world, physically created optical effects” subtle grades of diffusion filter to compressing dandelion seeds between sheets of glass just to see what happens. Whether any of that represents a deliberate attempt to replicate a specific characteristic of historic filmmaking is one thing. What’s important is that there’s a number of ways to reach for real- world, physically created optical I t’s never quite clear what it takes for history to become tradition, but an affection for real-world optical effects has its roots in both. Cinema as an art form stretches back maybe a century, which means that digital acquisition has only been common for maybe 15% of the time humans have been making movies. Any movie old enough to be considered a great, then, was probably made with technology that survived the nadir of obsolescence to become antique and expensive, which tends to leave all but the best-funded camera departments short of any classical gloss they’re after. Computers can simulate complex optical effects, but it’s not the sort of thing most colourists expect to be asked for on a daily basis. That’s led people to some impressive feats of creativity in building optical filters, from ultra-

effects which don’t require a lens so old that it still grinds with the sand of Lawrence of Arabia , and so valuable it requires more personal security than the A-list talent. Manufacturers of traditional filtration have not been idle. Filters designed to make highlights glow are, of course, an everyday option, although options to make those glows slightly warm, as with Tiffen’s Antique series, have recently expanded. In the filter world, ‘antique’ has long meant ‘slightly warm’, and the Antiques do beg comparison with some of the best-known and most-loved lenses of antiquity. It’s far from fashionable to boil down the behaviour of a much-loved lens to a term as prosaic as ‘warm glows’, although that’s more or less what Cooke has become famous for. The push for real-world, organic optical effects is so strong that

FINISHING TOUCH From a diffusion filter to detuning effects, in-camera image manipulation gives more control on-set

57. JUNE 2023

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