Oscar-winning Polish cinematographer Janusz Kaminski cautioned that directors of photography are losing control over the images they shoot as motion pictures increasingly depend on digital techniques and tools, said The Hollywood Reporter.
Speaking at a National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas on Monday, Kaminski said films now have “too many cooks in the kitchen” and the “ownership of the image” is disappearing. Kaminski has collaborated with Steven Spielberg for three decades, mostly recently on his science-fiction adventure Ready Player One (2018). “So far the results are good, if you have a good chef, like Steven [Spielberg]. But the moment the director is not involved, [the cinematographer loses] control of the image,” Kaminski said.
Based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name, Ready Player One is set in the year 2045, when people immerse themselves in the virtual reality software OASIS to escape the hopelessness of the real world. Kaminski said that although Ready Player One is an “amazing movie” that he’s proud of, his “contribution was 40%”, because the virtual world of the OASIS has been created with computer graphics. “To some degree, it’s not movie-making for me,” he said. “I’m making movies with [actual] lights, sets ... I consulted with ILM artists for [the digital parts of] Ready Player One.”
He lamented that cinematography as an artistic practice is getting diluted with digital production and post-production. “Cinematography is the art of light and shadows, visual metaphors and nuance,” Kaminski said. “That is disappearing. It will evolve and come back. But right now [there are not enough young directors of production] using cinematography to express themselves.”
Kaminski has won the Academy Award for his cinematography in Schindler’s List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998).