The Top 5 Greatest Cinematographers of all Time

As the entertainment industry becomes more and more invested in completely immersive technologies, it should always be remembered that motion pictures are still primarily a visual medium. It is through the use of light and shadow, brightness and contrast, color and saturation that directors seek to carry us along with them as they convey stories that will make a lasting impression on us. Aiding them in this task are cinematographers. They must take all of the aforementioned tools and sculpt them into an experience that all involved in the project can be proud of and that the public will enjoy. We honor five of the cinematographers who stand out from their peers in this difficult task by including them in this list.

  • Roger Deakins: British born Roger Deakins is best known for his work on the films of the Coen brothers and Sam Mendes. He has received accolades from the British Society of Cinematographers as well as multiple Academy Award nominations. His movies include: The Shawshank Redemption, Dead Man Walking, O Brother, Where Art Thou? A Beautiful Mind, True Grit and many others.
  • Robert Burks: Best known for his collaborative work with Alfred Hitchcock, Burks is often referred to as a chameleon for his ability to adapt to any director with which he worked. Some of Cinematographers_The_Birds_original_posterhis works include Strangers on a Train (1951), The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), The Music Man (1962), Vertigo (1958), the Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964).
  • Jack Cardiff: Director Michael Powell once described British born Cardiff as “the best colour cameraman in the world” (Cardiff’s illustrious career began in the silent era.) His resume includes the movies Black Narcissus (1947), War and Peace (1956), Fanny (1961), The Red Shoes (1948), Ghost Story (1981) and many others.
  • Janusz Kaminski: Kaminski is best known for his partnership with Steven Spielberg and has been a cinematographer since 1993. He has won the Academy Award for his work on Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) and for Saving Private Ryan (1998). His other works include Amistad (1997), I. Artificial Intelligence and many others.
  • Vilmos Zsigmond: Zsigmond fled Hungary in 1956 and began his career in the 1970s. He is known for his use of natural light and vivid color. His works include The Long Goodbye (1973 ), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977 ), The Deer Hunter (1978), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) and many others.

We know that this list is debatable and many greats are not included here but these are cinematographers who we feel deserve a special mention for elevating the art of movie making. Their works are a part of posterity. They are noted for combining the latest technologies of the time with their own natural knowledge of the medium.

Wireless DMX, Skylink and SkyPanel: The Next Logical Step

The most exciting thing about being a part of the lighting industry is witnessing how one technology is often combined with another to enhance the quality and functionality of both innovations. This is the case with ARRI and Innovative Dimmers who have teamed up to create Skylink a two-part system that allows for wireless DMX and RDM communication to SkyPanels. What are SkyPanels? SkyPanels are a compact, ultra-bright and high-quality LED soft light. They incorporate the features of ARRI’s L-Series LED Fresnels. In short, SkyPanels are one of the most versatile soft lights on the market, as well as one of the brightest. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and thus can be used as a soft light or a space light. Innovative Dimmers and Ratpac Dimmers use the same kind of wireless dimmer technology and have eliminated the need for DMX cables.

 

This new creation, Skylink, increases the innovative features of SkyPanels which among other things are cable of

 

  • Being matched with existing light sources
  • Fitting into tight locations
  • Adjusting from 2.8k to 10kskylink_prod
  • Having hue and saturation control
  • Being able to be used in multiple configurations
  • An easily shaped beam
  • Move around from one location to another easily


One can easily see the many applications for which SkyPanels can be used. It is also not too difficult to see how this added convenience is made possible due to wireless DMX technology. SkyPanels can be used outdoors or inside, in theatre productions as well as concerts and in Television products and by the movie industry. These technologies merging in the way they have, demonstrates the innovation that our industry is constantly achieving. Ratpac Dimmers is a part of that innovation and is proud when a technology that we commonly use can be made to enhance another exciting device. Our wireless DMX technology is state of the art. We are very much excited to see how this creation – Skylink – evolves even further.

 

Ratpac Dimmers: Illuminating the Future of Entertainment Lighting

There is a reason why the effects that the movie going public knows are referred to as “the magic of Hollywood.” Entertainment lighting experts constantly face the challenge of creating spectacular on- screen effects that are eye-popping and that propel the story they are trying to convey while at the same time concealing the means by which they perform this “magic” from the public. This is why they rely, more and more on our technologies that are unobtrusive and that not only help to create spectacular displays, but are more or less hidden from public view. A small list of productions that have or who are currently using our wireless dimmers and LumenRadio’s industry leading CRMX technology are:

● Gone Girl
● Fantastic Four
● Pitch Perfect
● Trumbo
● Free state of Jones
● Roots
● Avengers: Civil War II
● Jurassic World
● Passengers
● Bad Moms

Sci-fi films such as the Fantastic Four, Jurassic World and Avengers: Civil War II in particular create challenges for gaffers and lighting artists as audiences have become more demanding with each movie that comes out of Hollywood. They expect to be wowed and to let down viewers can be a death sentence for these kinds of movies that cost millions of dollars. Similarly, letting down our customers by not providing them with the latest lighting technology is not an option for us. Cintenna receivers – which plug directly into a lighting fixture without extra hardware, zip ties or cable – are especially helpful for lighting professionals who are looking for the most efficient and quickest way to communicate with an array of other equipment. We sell to bigger companies like the major studios and rent to smaller ones, equipment that can make all the difference in a production. And as anyone who works in the field of movie or TV production knows, further complications in producing features are not needed. There are a lot of moving parts that must be managed in producing a 90-minute or even a 30-minute production.

In other words, the strength of our products as everyone from lighting technicians to gaffers to other artists can attest to is that they are easy to use, reliable and functional. The productions listed here encompass several different genres which call for different and very specific lighting demands. This is why our product is used by these professionals or as Erik Messerschmitt – Chief Lighting Technician on The Fantastic Four and Gone Girl says, “They have changed the way we work for the better. Such a great product.”

The IBC2017 Conference, Rai, Amsterdam

Established in 1967, the IBC2017 Conference is perhaps the most well-respected conference in the electronic media and entertainment industry. This year the 50 year-old conference will be held in Rai, Amsterdam from September 14 – 18. Ratpac Dimmers proudly announces that we will be in attendance at this prestigious conference. However, the IBC2017 is more than about prestige or the fact that the IBC conference is enjoying its Golden anniversary. It is about the opportunity for professionals in the business to share their ideas on where the industry is now and where it will be headed in the future. It is a meeting place for thought leaders in the industry as well as an opportunity for professionals to present their strategies and innovations that will continue to grow this industry. This is why we will be one of the many proud attendees of the conference.

 

Last year the conference boasted record attendance with more than 55,000 people gathering there. “IBC really is the only forum that attracts a global audience, the most comprehensive exhibition, and the best thought-leaders to spark the debate,” Michael Crimp, CEO of IBC, said in a statement last year. This year, attendance at the conference is expected to be equally robust. This year there will be more than 1,700 exhibitors including: Verizon Digital Media Services, BBC Research and Development, Dalet Digital Media Systems, Primestream and many others. One company, TV Globo has already won the IBC Conference Prize for best conference paper titled ‘Big Data for Data Journalism, Enhanced Business Analytics and Video Recommendation at Globo.’ibc2017

 

Being the 50th anniversary of the IBC, the conference will also include a Charity Football Match and 4k 4Charity Fun Run.  Events at IBC2017 will include the Conference itself, a Big Screen feature, a Leader’s Summit, C. Tech Forum 5G, C-Tech Forum: Cyber Security and a CE Hub Theatre feature. The Leader’s conference will include Tony Maddox EVP and Managing Director at CNN International, Latha Maripuri, Global CISO & Deputy CTO of News Corp, Richard Michos CMO, Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment, IBM.

 

Yes, innovation will be the emphasis of this year’s IBC2017. Since we at RatPac Dimmers are all about innovation, we will be there to interact with other professionals in the industry and to share in the events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the August IBC.

The Top Upcoming Lighting Events of 2017-2018

One of the most exciting things about our industry is watching how rapidly technology advances. Because lighting technology advances so quickly, we constantly keep apprised of events where new technologies are demonstrated and where information between professionals can be freely exchanged. That is why we are excited that a whole host of upcoming lighting events are scheduled to take place in the current and upcoming year. Here are some of the most eagerly anticipated of those events.

  • LED Expo Mumbai (30 Nov – 02 Dec 2017): This event will be held in India and promises to demonstrate futuristic advances in lighting. Exhibitors there will include: Chipmax Design Labs, Kalpataru Industries (Apple Lite), Xinhua Electronical Co., Ltd. Of Guangdong and many other international lighting companies.
  • China (Guzhen) International Lighting Fair (October 22nd to 26th October): This event, which will be held in China, will hold thousands of lighting products including decorative Lighting fixtures, household lighting, commercial lighting, LED Lighting & Technology, Outdoor Lighting, Electrical and Electronic Products.
  • LuxLive 2017 (November 15 – 16, 2017): This event will be held in London and will host, according to the site, “… revolution … transforming light fittings into smart devices which can monitor and control our environment.” Exhibitors there will include A1 Lighting, iLumTech, Holophane, NorthCliffe, Samsung and many other innovators in the field of lighting.
  • Dallas International Lighting Market (Jan 17th to 21st Jan 2018): This event will showcase lighting technologies as they relate to interior design and architecture.
  • Prosal- Professional Sound and Light Expo (21st July to 23rd July 2017): The exhibitors of his event will showcase laser technologies and special effects equipment, professional audio equipment, A/V technology, Stage, studio and event technology, Pro-audio and lighting accessories and more.
  • ELA Expo Lighting America (27th Feb to 1st Mar 2018): Held in Centro Citibanamex in Mexico City, this five day event will showcase advances in industrial, commercial and architectural lighting. Exhibitor there will include: Nora Lighting, Lumika Bright Solutions, Inc., LED Roadway Lighting and many others.lighting
  • Led Japan Conference & Expo (14th September to the 16th September 2016): This conference event will be at the Yokohama Pacifico Convention Plaza in Yokohama, Japan. US exhibitors will include NTT Advanced Technology, Laser Focus World Japan, IMRA America, Inc. and others.

 

This is just a small sample of the many lighting events that will be held in the current and upcoming year. Our industry is bustling with innovation and Ratpac Dimmers proudly stands up to the challenge of providing its customers with many of these technologies like our wireless dimmers.

Cinegear Expo 2017: A Recap

Every year Hollywood, California becomes a sort of Mecca for professionals who wish to learn and share information about emerging entertainment technologies. These professionals gather from more than 60 countries for a four day series of conferences called Cinegear Expo. This year Cinegear was held from June 1 – June 4 and hosted more than 16,000 professionals in the fields of Digital Media, Film, Entertainment, Post Production, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Government and Military, Sports, and the Academic World. This year’s event took place at The Studios at Paramount and was attended by such prestigious companies as 360Rize, 4Wall Entertainment, A.C. Lighting, AC Power Distribution, ASC/American Cinematographer, Chapman Leonard Studio Equipment, Inc. to name a few.

 

The Exhibitors

 

360Rize specializes in virtual technology and media management software.

4Wall Entertainment specializes in the rental of lighting equipment

A.C. Lighting displayed their Chroma-Q Color-Force RGBA-fixtures

AC Power Distribution is a supplier of adapters, cables and connectors

ASC/American Cinematographer is the oldest and most respected magazine in the film industry

Chapman Leonard Studio Equipment, Inc. is a maker of custom camera components

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Noteworthy Seminars

 

Seminars and panel discussions where held at this year’s Cinegear as it has been in previous years. This year’s noteworthy discussions included:

 

“VR cameras A- Z” conducted by Radiant Images

“The Advantages of Lens Metadata Capture Throughout your Production” held by Zeiss

“Demystifying Log vs Linear, the power of 16 bit, and High Dynamic Range” held by Sony

“Large Format Cinematography with Leica Cine Lenses” presented by CW Sonderoptic & Leica

“Telling Stories with LED Lights” presented by IATSE Local 600 Cinematographers

“Documentary Cinematography: Challenges and Solutions from VICE using FS series camcorders” presented by Sony

“Shooting on the EOS C700: How Canon’s Flagship Camera Performs in the Field” presented by Canon

2017 Film Series Winners

Of course, the conference is all about innovation and the sharing of information between professionals in field of lighting/entertainment. However, innovation should be incentivized. This year’s big winner in the field of film were:

  • Student short film – “The Fare”
  • Independent short film – “Limbo”
  • Commercial and music video – “Cell Biology”
  • Rising Star Award Recipient – “Fragile Storm”

 

As long as innovation continues in our industry and as long as the public continues to desire the latest in entertainment technologies, Cinegear will continue to bring together professionals who will share information that improves and enlightens. Ratpac Dimmers is happy to be a part of that innovation.

A Brief History of Wireless Communications

While not quite the dinosaur that telephone booths are, wired communications is rapidly disappearing from our modern day society. Wireless is more convenient, faster and simpler to use and despite what some people believe, it can be secure. But this boon in wireless technology did not just spring up overnight. A lot of people laid the groundwork for the wireless keyboards, headphones, speakers, dimmers, etc. Here are just a few milestones on the path of our decreasing dependence on wired communications.

  • Early 1820s: Electromagnetism is discovered by Hans Christian Ørsted and Andre-Marie Ampere.
  • 1896: Guglielmo Marconi and W.H. Preece send wireless signals over a distance of one-and-three fourths miles on Salisbury Plain. (Early that year Marconi patented an operational wireless telegraph apparatus.)
  • 1906: Lee DeForest patented the first triode amplifier. The first speech wireless transmission was broadcast by Reginald Fessenden.
  • World War II (1941-1945): The war years see the rapid advancement of radio technology. Shortly after the war two papers are published on Information theory. These papers contain the basis of data compression (source encoding) and error detection and correction (channel encoding).
  • 1954: Many Americans get their first glance of a wireless mobile car phone in the movie Sabrina starring Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. (The first car-based mobile telephone was set up in St. Louis, using ‘push-to-talk’ technology.)
  • 1962: The first communications satellite, Telstar, is launched into orbit. Telstar was a U.S., French, and British collaboration that was the world’s first active communication satellite.
  • 1974: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocates 40 MHz for cellular telephony.
  • 1982: European GSM and Inmarsat established.
  • 1990: Motorola files and is given permission by the FCC to launch 77 low orbit satellites into orbit.
  • 1994: The FCC licenses the Personal Communications Services spectrum (1.7 to 2.3 GHz) for $7.7 billion.
  • 1998: IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba join forces to develop Bluetooth for the wireless exchange of data between handheld computers or cell phones and stationary computers.

Today as the public has gotten used to the convenience of wireless communications, companies like ours have – out of necessity – had to accommodate this need. Wired technologies, though they will probably never be completely replaced, are simply not practical in a number of situations. Ratpac Dimmers stands on the shoulders of giants and continues to innovate in ways that the early pioneers of wireless communications could not have possibly imagined.

The Harry Potter Light Show 2017

First J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books captured the imagination of children all over the world. After that the books were transformed into blockbuster movies that adults and children from all over the world have enjoyed for years. Now, the story of a student/magician is being translated into a Universal Studios light show that some people say will be a “bone-chilling adventure.” The show, which will launch on June 23, will be the culmination of years of planning by expert light technicians. Universal Studios is counting on this display to be the perfect blending of light, color and music. The music will be scored by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams — who composed the music for the first three Potter films.

The display will be a five-minute show, called “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle.” This display was inspired by the Wizardry World of Harry Potter ceremonies last year. “We really wanted the guests to have that bone-chilling moment and go, ‘Wow, this is something I’ve never experienced before,’” says Stacey Quinealty, the park’s senior manager of audio and visual production. Universal Studios is no stranger to displays of pop culture references. In the past it has had to coordinate and plan displays such as The Flintstones, The Star Trek Adventure, E.T. Adventure, Back to the Future, etc. However, as technologies develop and change, expectations grow as well.

The light show – which will have audio piped in through a 27.5 surround-sound system – is an example of how light technologies have to be adaptive in the 21st century. Audiences who have come to know and love the Potter books and movies will be expecting visuals that are truly immersive. Ratpac Dimmers provides technologies that are utilized by the makers of such events every day. We understand that the logistics of a venue like Universal Studios are too complicated to accommodate wired lighting fixtures. It is not practical for people who work with enormous displays that must be synchronized in this way to be tethered to old, wired technologies. Quite a bit of state-of-the-art technology is needed to make such experiential events. That is why we take pride in our wireless dimmers, our portable DMX wireless receivers, etc. They make events such as the one that will be held in Universal Studios during the summer of 2017 possible.

So, whether you are a Potter Fan or not, we invite you to look over some of our state-of-the-art technology that experts in the field of lighting use every day due to its simplicity of operation and reliability. Have a fun summer.

Terms that Every Stage Lighting Student Should Know

Every profession has its own personalized jargon. These highly specialized terms may seem baffling to people who are outside of that profession, but to experts within those given fields they are an important tool for communicating effectively with others in that area of expertise. In the field of stage lighting, it is no different. It is incumbent upon lighting students to begin to master the specialized words and terms that are so essential to the craft. Here are some basic lighting terms that students and event lighting people should know.

 

    • ACN: Advanced Control Network. This is an Ethernet-based control protocol between control desk, dimmers & moving lights. It was developed by Strand Lighting, et al in 2003.
    • Backlight: This is a light that comes from upstage, behind scenery or actors. It helps to separate them from the background. Tip: Smoke, steam, and other Translucent work very well with backlighting.

Lighting

  • Intelligent lights: These lights that can be controlled and programmed by sophisticated lighting software and hardware systems.
  • Non-Intelligent lights: These are basic, static light fixtures that move to music (as in rock concerts, etc.)
  • Vertical and Horizontal Truss: Vertical truss systems are hollow, steel columns that stand on either side of a stage’s floor and support lights. Horizontal truss columns usually rest above or below a stage allowing them to lay over or below it.
  • Digital dimmer: A digital dimmer responds directly to the multiplexed output of the lighting desk. This technology permits the dimmer to report faults and other data back to the control board.
  • Dimmer: This is an electronic or electric device that reduces a fixture’s brightness sometimes with a corresponding loss of color temperature. Optical dimmers maintain color temperature.
  • Dimmer Hookup: This is a spreadsheet that lists each fixture in a show with all its relevant information, including, color, template, accessories, dimmer, circuit, channel, wattage, and purpose.
  • DMX Terminator: This device regulates DMX fixtures when many fixtures are used on a single DMX line (Universe). Its function is to remove excess noise and flickering on the DMX Tx line.
  • GOBO (short for Graphical optical blackout): This is a physical stencil or template that is placed inside or in front of a light source, to control the shape of the emitted light.

 

Finally, knowledge of these specialized terms – and many others – will help you communicate better with lighting experts if you are outside of the field and help you communicate with peers if you are a lighting specialist.

The Psychology Color in Filmmaking

We all know that light affects mood and perception. During the shorter winter days when there is less sunshine and light, for example, people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is why light therapy is used as a treatment strategy for this disorder. But color also has a huge effect on our moods and our behavior. Advertisers, lighting experts, cinematographers, etc., have known this for some time. In fact, no lighting director worth his or her salt can get by without at least a passing knowledge of color psychology. Let’s explore the mystery of color psychology and how it is used to influence our emotions and behavior.

 

  • Red: The color red is a very powerful color. It has a tendency to be associated with passion, violence, love, danger, power and anger. Its effective use is demonstrated in Stanley Kubrick’s 2000px-RGB_color_wheel_72.svg2001: A Space Odyssey and it is used all throughout Sam Mendes’ American Beauty.
  • Pink: Pink is used with great effectiveness in the movies Frozen and Hairspray to denote innocence, sweetness, femininity, playfulness, empathy and beauty.
  • Orange: The color orange is perceived to mean warmth, sociability, friendly, happiness, exotic and youth. The color has a higher wavelength than yellow, for example, which is why it is used to draw the attention of viewers. It is used often in the movie Romeo and Juliet (dir. Braz Luhrhamm).
  • Yellow: The color yellow is often associated with madness, sickness, insecurity, obsessive, idyllic and the naive. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining effectively uses this color to illustrate Jack Nicholson’s obsessive behavior, especially in the “Here’s Johnny” scene.
  • Green: Nature, immaturity, corruption, ominous, darkness, and danger are all connected to this color. Wachowski brothers’ Matrix series is filmed predominantly using this color.
  • Blue: Blue is a favorite color used by director Tim Burton for many of his movies which have to do with the melancholy such as Corpse Bride. This color is connected with coldness, isolation, melancholy and calm.
  • Violet: This color is associated with fantasy, eroticism and the mystical. It is used to great effect all throughout key scenes in the movie Avatar.

 

Finally, armed with the basics of color psychology lighting directors, cinematographers have another tool to use in order to influence the mood and perceptions of their respective audiences. The wireless dimmers and other devices on our site also help in this effort.