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Re: Depth of Field: Gregg Toland, Citizen Kane and Beyond

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Todd Terry
Re: Depth of Field: Gregg Toland, Citizen Kane and Beyond
on Jun 14, 2012 at 8:19:25 pm

Good finds, Tim... that Citizen Kane trailer ranks right up there with one of the more bizarre things I've seen. You'd certainly never know what the movie was about (or any of its mood or flavor) judging from that.

As for deep focus... well, while I am usually super-shallow focus director/DP myself, I am a fan of the deep-focus shots when done really well. I think there's a factor to the really good ones (such as the many from Kane) that I've never heard anyone mention before (or maybe just missed it)... I think many of these deep shots work so well because so many of the classic better ones are in stark black and white. The viewer can absorb all the minutiae of all the sharply-focused detail, because we are not also being bombarded with all the color info. Personally, that's why I think many of the classic deep shots look so darn good. I've rarely seen a full-color one that I thought could compare with the impressiveness of a B/W one.

What's impressive about things like Kane is the lighting and DoP work that went into orchestrating those shots. Any yahoo with a camera can get a deep DoF shot on a sunny-day exterior... just stop that lens down to f/22 or beyond. For interiors though (especially with the slow-as-molasses filmstocks of 70 years ago), can you imagine the truck fulls of light they had to pour onto scenes in order to get the apertures small enough? Even with wide lenses? Especially when you consider this is well before the HMI days, that's mighty impressive indeed.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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