Let’s get together

Letter from America / Kees van Oostrum ASC

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Let’s get together

Letter from America / Kees van Oostrum ASC

New ASC president, Kees van Oostrum ASC calls for international collaboration between cinematographers, with a view to regaining creative control over the role of imagemakers.

Throughout the years, people have asked me how we, as cinematographers, could regain our creative control over the image in a manner that we sort-of-did during the era when we were shooting solely on film.

At that point in time the post process was rather simple and straightforward, and we enjoyed maybe the protection of the mystique of film exposure and development that ironically took place in the dark.

With the change to digital all of that came out in the open and it nurtured a democratisation of the process, providing access to many.

I know there are several factions around the world that strive to create laws and regulations to provide cinematographers with rights. And although I would support and encourage those efforts, I have often searched for a more short-term solution without negating the long-term legal process.

At the ASC we have long-enjoyed a technology committee, now almost 14 years old, under the chairmanship of Curtis Clark ASC. During those years many initiatives were presented by the technology committee, that currently counts almost 120 cinematographers and engineers from various manufacturers. It has been able, over the years, to seriously influence our work in setting standards such as the Digital Cinema Initiative, ACES, ASC Color Decision List, and so on.

It also showed me, over the years, that knowledge of technology often provides the cinematographer with a position where they are likely to be the most all-round knowledgeable person in the room. Having accurate and up-to-date information – from pre-visualisation, camera systems, lighting and workflow through to the finish – will often translate into economics and thus, not surprisingly, creative control.

Now, I am the first to admit that most of our member cinematographers, including myself, are far from technical wizards. But fortunately we have access to the ASC technology committee, and its reports from specialised members. We are able to ask questions and get support too. So that, in fact, we really do know at some crucial point what ‘rocks the cradle’, so to speak!

This year is an important year. The ASC international conference at the clubhouse this June solidified many relationships, and consequently the ASC and IMAGO are bringing their technology committees together in an attempt to collaborate.

I consider this to be somewhat of a historic move, that will take place first with a joint ASC/IMAGO panel at the year’s Camerimage Festival Of Cinematography. It is called “The Importance Of International Collaboration”, and will cover key questions of how we best share, and continue to share, knowledge and experience, so that we ultimately can stay in control of the images we create. Knowledge is power.