Being in the City of Light is always fascinating and intriguing and one of my favourite places in the world. However, my visit to Paris, France, in February had a bit more meaning and historical importance attached to it. I was in town for IMAGO’s annual general assembly (IAGA) and the organization’s 20th anniversary. Established in 1992 as a European federation of cinematographer societies, IMAGO has grown into an international organization encompassing 47 societies that represent over 3,000 cinematographers worldwide. The CSC has been a member since 2008.
Besides the 20th anniversary, the IAGA signaled the end of an era for IMAGO and the beginning of a new one. Their headquarters in Paris was formally shut down and is moving to Brussels, where IMAGO will be closer to the European Union seat of power and where IMAGO is a registered cinematographers’ lobby.
Femis Film School located at the old Pathé Studios. Credit: Joan Hutton csc
IMAGO has always been very active in furthering the rights of cinematographers, especially when it concerns working conditions and image authorship rights. To press home these concerns, IMAGO conducted a survey dealing with several issues ranging from royalties to working unscheduled overtime. I’ve presented a few of the results in this issue. The survey questionnaire was sent to CSC members last year. Full and detailed survey results can be found on the IMAGO website: www.imago.org.
In all, there were 49 delegates attending the IAGA, representing 38 cinematography societies from around the world. Granted, the representation was Europe centric, however, there were societies in attendance from Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Israel, Argentina, Brazil and of course Canada.
One informal and impromptu discussion that arose during the IAGA was over structure. Interestingly, many societies only allow for full membership in their respective organizations. The CSC’s four-level system of affiliate, associate, full and honorary/lifetime memberships raised a number of eyebrows and sparked questions over why we have multi-tier membership, and in doing so, was the CSC not diluting the exclusiveness and integrity of our society? While everyone understood full membership, it was the three other CSC categories that were at issue. I explained that the CSC is an inclusive organization that welcomes everyone. Associate members were cinematographers usually still honing their skills and who have been working for years in our industry. While some may never be full CSC members, they are still a part of our craft and should be recognized as such. An affiliate member could be a student, a camera assistant, a shooter just starting their career, or simply a person who is a cinematography aficionado. We have found that being an open society, involved with our entire community, strengthens us as an organization and furthers our goals to promote cinematography. Even lifetime/honorary memberships are inclusive by keeping retired cinematographers within our fold and bringing in those who have made unusual but substantial contributions to cinematography such as Roberta Bondar (honorary member) for the achievement of handholding an IMAX in space. What other society can boast an astronaut as a member? Judging from the many pensive looks and acknowledging head nods once I finished, the CSC may have given other societies something to mull over with their own society models.
IMAGO President Nigel Walters BSC Credit: Joan Hutton csc
In the formal presentations there was a discussion about standardized frame rates. For the past eight years IMAGO has been instrumental in helping develop standardized frame rates to reflect our new digital age. It culminated last December with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) publishing that in addition to the primary frame rates of 24fps and 48fps, four digital frame rates of 25, 30, 50 and 60fps have been defined to “ensure that the artistic intent of the content producer can be maintained at the point of delivery.” Just as 24fps is the norm for shooting film, IMAGO is pushing for 60fps to be adopted as the worldwide standard production rate for all HiDef and 3D productions. Besides resolving compatibility issues, this rate also allows for a high temporal resolution, virtually eliminating all stroboscopic artefacts.
A fascinating presentation was delivered by the Association of Czech Cinematographers delegate, Marek Jicha ACK, who is proposing a unique system for verifying the integrity of digitally restored and archived old films. The National Film Archive in Prague has one of the largest film archives in the world. Under Czech copyright law, the visual image of a cinematographer is considered artwork and as such cannot be altered or changed. In the case of film restoration, it would not only require a professional restoration artist, but also the author of the film, meaning the cinematographer or a designated representative such as the director or the producer and the archivists who would collaborate, as to how and what can be changed in order to preserve a film’s original appearance and sound. So, essentially there are three people strictly monitoring the restoration and archiving process. Once all the technical criteria has been met and all three parties agree to the veracity of the restoration and archiving process, the film is given a DRA (Digitally Restored Authorizate) as an authorized original movie. Initiatives such as this proposal by the Association of Czech Cinematographers are definitely needed now more than ever. We’ve all seen modified or colourized versions of older films heralded as so called “improvements” to the original. IMAGO hopes that more societies press the case for defined restoration and archiving for our films. After all it is a matter of preserving our culture and cinematic history.
As a part of the IAGA, all delegates were treated to an afternoon at the Micro Salon de L’image 2012, an annual trade show and forum produced by the French Association of Cinematographers. About 2,500 people attended the two-day event which was held at the legendary La Fémis film school located in the former Pathé Film Studios in Montmartre. As I walked around the Micro Salon, I could literally feel the cinematic history gushing from the walls. One would swear that Charles Pathé was peering down on the proceedings with a smile.
Two notable screenings I attended at the Micro Salon were by Aaton, the camera manufacturer out of Grenoble,
France, and a presentation by honorary CSC member Philippe Ros AFC.
Aaton showed images shot with its new totally digital Penelope Delta camera. First designed with interchangeable film/digital mags, Aaton went back to the drawing board and redesigned it into a single digital camera. While the Penelope images were impressive, the prototype camera itself was not demonstrated at the screening and will not be available to the public until the end of the year. Word on the Parisian streets has it that Sony’s F65 will probably be picking up most of the high-end work in Europe this year.
Philippe Ros AFC presented a very comprehensive review on digital negatives. While it takes more space and is an added step, Ros’ test film convincingly endorsed the use of digital negatives in the image acquisition process. Even to the naked eye, the colours were more vibrant, the darks were richer, and whites contained more detailed information. Simply put, the dynamic range and latitude were basically better.
IMAGO has made some great strides during its 20 years of existence. Many of their goals and initiatives are closely in line with the philosophies of the CSC. We fully endorse IMAGO, which gives cinematographers a much need global footprint.
The First IMAGO Survey
Living and Working Conditions of Cinematographers
[ Magazine ][ Archives ][ Search ]