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David Hart

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Lighting whites
Raoul Coutard Film-maker
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Well cinematographers don't like lighting white because it's very complicated. I mean I was staggered by one of Slocombe's shots in- My American colleague, in "The Great Gatsby". There's a shot where there are girls sitting down, they are all wearing white dresses, in delicate lace, etc., they are sitting on a glass roof and he films the glass roof, their white dresses and all that. I don't know how Slocombe did it, because it's superb, it's magnificent, it's absolutely extraordinary. And it's true that filming whites is very complicated. Because I mean white isn't all white, there are obviously shades in it, from white to light grey, etc. So and it's obvious that it's very difficult to handle, because white catches light straight away, in the same way, if you film on black, the light disappears completely in the dark. So it's one of those very complex things to master.
Bah les chefs opérateurs n'aiment pas éclairer le blanc parce que c'est une chose très compliquée à faire. Moi, je veux dire j'ai été sidéré par un plan de Slocombe dans- Mon collègue américain, dans "Gatsby le Magnifique". Il y un plan où il y a les filles qui sont installées, elles ont toutes des robes blanches, en petite dentelle, etc., elles sont installées sur une verrière- On filme et la verrière et leurs robes blanches et tout ça. Là je sais pas comment il a fait Slocombe, parce que c'est superbe, c'est magnifique, c'est absolument extraordinaire. Et ça c'est vrai que c'est très compliqué à faire le blanc. Parce que je veux dire le blanc c'est pas vraiment, que du blanc je veux dire, il y a forcément des nuances dedans, du blanc au gris léger, etc. Bon et c'est sûr que c'est très difficile à manipuler, parce que le blanc accroche la lumière tout de suite, de même que si on tourne sur du noir la lumière disparaît complètement dans le noir je veux dire. Donc ça fait partie de ces choses qui sont très complexes à maîtriser.

French cinematographer, Raoul Coutard (1924-2016) was twice nominated for the César Award for best cinematography which he won in 1978 for 'Le Crabe-tambour'. He made over 75 films and documentaries, including 'À Bout de Souffle', Le Mépris' and 'Band à Part'. He was the most acclaimed French cinematographer of his generation and one of the key figures of the New Wave.

Listeners: Bernard Cohn

Benard Cohn is a French filmmaker and writer, who has directed five films as well as numerous documentaries and television series. As an assistant director, he worked with many important filmmakers, including Luis Buñuel, François Jacob, Otto Preminger and Woody Allen. He was a founding member of the Ciné-Qua-Non cinema club and has acted as editor and translator for various publications on the world of cinema.

Bernard Cohn est un réalisateur et écrivain français, ayant réalisé cinq film ainsi que de nombreux reportages et séries télévisées. En tant qu'assistant réalisateur, il a travaillé avec plusieurs grands cinéastes, notamment Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, Otto Preminger et Woody Allen. Il fut membre fondateur du ciné-club Ciné-Qua-Non et a participé à la rédaction et traduction en anglais, de plusieurs ouvrages sur le cinéma.

Duration: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008