Cinematographer Eigil Bryld on designing a uniform look for ‘House of Cards’ with director David Fincher:

Fincher’s ground rules included “no steadicam, no handheld and no zoom lenses.” […] “to a great extent, moves are on the dolly or the boom. We wanted to use the space more so people would grow larger in the frame or move away and get smaller. We went for a more composed look; even though we had very shallow focus, we tried to create deep compositions all the time to add a sense of drama and power, and the 2:1 aspect ratio really helped with that.“

The entire show was shot on ARRI/Zeiss master primes, mostly the 27mm and 35mm. “We used longer lenses at times for close-ups, but we never wanted the sense of space to disappear,” says Bryld.”

Zoe barnes gets three sizes of coverage in the scene above, each inching higher and closer to the eyeline.

Also, the A and B cameras are usually kept very close, often stacked one on top of the other. “We typically had one camera doing a low-angle wide over and the other doing a tight over,” says Bryld. Continuity is key. “If you have perfect continuity, I think it almost creates a hypnotic universe, like you’re almost experiencing something in real time. In Fincher’s world, you have to respect space and time, and two cameras help with that.”


Here’s the first of two articles concerning Labyrinth from the August 1986 edition of American Cinematographer magazine - this one is largely concerned with Alex Thomson, the cinematographer on both Legend and Labyrinth. Particularly interesting is Henson’s comment - ‘Look, tell me if you did this on Legend and we won’t do it!’

The article is riddled with spelling errors, the best being 'Jarrod, the goblin king.’


Lion (2016)

Directed by Garth Davis

Cinematography by Greig Fraser


This Day in Julie-history: STAR! begins its first day of official shooting on Stage 14 at Twentieth Century Fox Studios.

On 12 April 1967, the world’s press was on hand to watch Julie Andrews go before the cameras for the start of principal filming on STAR!, the lavish screen musical based on the life of Gertrude Lawrence. Dressed as a Pearlie Queen, Julie shot preliminary scenes for the film’s “Piccadilly” music hall number under the guidance of director, Robert Wise.

Julie had already been hard at work on STAR! since February, rehearsing and pre-recording the film’s big musical sequences, and would continue till the close of principal photography in December (Browning, 2-6). It would be the most ambitious undertaking of her entire film career, requiring a total of 159 days in front of the cameras, with 20 days in New York at 27 different locations, 8 days in Southern France, and 17 days in London” (“98 Outfits,” 9-C).

“This is the most difficult film I’ve ever made,” gasped Julie in interview during production. “It’s like going into training. I must take care of myself or I’d be dead. I get up at 5:45a.m. every day, and sometimes I don’t get home till 8 at night” (Wilson, 11).

As part of proceedings for the first day shoot, Julie was joined for a special press photo call by director Robert Wise, associate producer Saul Chaplin and choreographer Michael Kidd. Much was made about this reunion of the dream team behind The Sound of Music. “Can they do it again?” asked one syndicated news article, claiming "If any picture is likely to match ‘The Sound of Music’ in public popularity it will be ‘Star!’” (”Will Julie,” 12).

Sadly, it was not to be the case and STAR! would prove a box office disappointment when it was released in 1968. Still, STAR! is a much cherished favourite of the Parallel Julieverse, so expect some big! exclamation point! celebrations! for the film’s 50th Golden Anniversary next year in 2018.


“98 Outfits for Julie and 21 Songs.” The Sunday Press. 11 June 1967: 9-C.

Browning, Norma Lee. “Julie Finishes ‘Star’: Film on Life of Gertrude Lawrence.” Chicago Tribune. 25 December 1967: 2-6.

Champlin, Charles. “Stage Saga of Miss Lawrence Hitched to ‘Star’.” The Los Angeles Times. 3 March 1967: IV-1, 11.

Land, Kevin. “Recreating Four Decades of Modern History for STAR!” American Cinematographer. 50: 3 March 1969: 294-297.

“Will Julie Hit the Big Jackpot Again?” Press and Sun Bulletin. 6 May 1967: 12.

Wilson, Jane. “Thoroughly Wholesome Julie.” West: The Los Angeles Times  Magazine. 15 October 1967: 11-17.

© 2017, Brett Farmer. All Rights Reserved


The    Invisible    Man    (1933)  (American Cinematographer, written on 1934 by the head of Universal’s effects department John P. Fulton):  

We used a completely black set-walled and floored with black velvet, to be as nearly nonreflective as possible.

Claude Rains was garbed from head to foot in black velvet tights, with black gloves, and a black headpiece rather like a driver’s helmet. Over this he wore whatever clothes might be required. This gave us a picture of the unsupported clothes moving around on a dead black field. From this negative, we made a print, and a duplicate negative which we intensified to serve as mattes for printing. A second route of optical printing added the moving clothes, and the composite final negative was painstakingly retouched by hand, using opaque dye to eliminate visual imperfections.

A scene in which the invisible man stands before a mirror and removes his bandages was exceptionally complex, requiring four separate negatives, [and was perhaps the most elaborate composite shot ever attempted in Hollywood, rivaled only by some sequences in King Kong, also released in 1933]. First, there was a shot of the wall and the mirror, with the mirror itself masked out by black velvet: next, a separate shot of the opposite wall of the room, as reflected in the mirror; thirdly, the shot of the invisible man, from the rear, unwrapping his bandages, and lastly, the reflection of him, from the front, doing the same act. The black suited-scenes were especially difficult. In some of these scenes, it was possible to leave small eyeholes in the helmet, through which the player could see: but in others-especially the close shots of the unwrapping action-this was impossible, and the player had to act ‘blind’. Air had to be supplied through tubes, as in a diving suit- but the tubes were concealed, usually running up a trouser leg. Midsummer filming, coupled with the intense heat of arc lights, made the work especially uncomfortable. On at least one occasion [Rains] fainted in the middle of a scene. Had he not been in splendid physical condition, I doubt if he could have survived the strenuous ordeal of working in such a costume, under such conditions.

In nearly all of these scenes, it was difficult-sometimes impossible- to direct the actor, for the helmet muffled the sound from the outside, and the air-tubes made a roaring rumble in his ears, which drowned out any sounds which might filter through the padding. When I used a large megaphone, and shouted at the top of my voice he could barely hear a faint murmur. Accordingly, we had to rehearse and rehearse- and then make many takes; as a rule, [by] take 20 of any such scene, we felt ourselves merely well started toward getting our shot.


here is an article about chronicle (2012) from the march 2012 issue of american cinematographer magazine! i realized that most of the (somewhat limited) information about chronicle’s production on its wikipedia page was sourced back to this article and decided to order a copy of it for myself. written by jay holden, it contains an interview with cinematographer matthew jensen, whose hard work and innovation brought chronicle’s found-footage premise to life. i’ve scanned the entire article so you all can read it and see the behind-the-scenes photos of the sets, cameras, lighting rigs, and stunts, many of which i have yet to find anywhere else on the internet! enjoy! (open each image link in a new tab/window to see them full size!)