I visited with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (aka Chivo) in Los Angeles last June, we had lunch and spoke about cinema.
We discussed his latest film with Alfonso Cuaron, the stunning Gravity. I have written an article about the film in the American Cinematographer.
We spoke about the increasing importance of virtual cinematography, and the need to establish this skill as a new part of the cinematographer’s role. There has been some controversy about virtual cinematography, with some — like my friends Christopher Doyle and John de Boorman — saying that virtual cinematography isn’t really cinematography at all.
I agree with Chivo that virtual lighting and camera moves are part of the expanded definition of cinematography that comes with digital tools. It’s still about designing and fashioning lighting and the image, whether it’s via computer or on a sound stage. It’s essential that the cinematographer not relinquish virtual lighting and camera moves to VFX, but rather he or she should contribute their leadership and creativity to the VFX process.
Emmanuel also emphasized his commitment with Cuaron to long takes, or plano sequencia in Spanish. “From the very beginning we talked about having very long shots, like we did in Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men. With very long shots there’s a sense of immersion, you do feel that you are with the actors.”
As always, I enjoyed speaking with Emmanuel, who is a true artist.