Monday 23 May 2022
Technology is merely a medium for expressing ideas

Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro on How He Won Woody Allen Over to Digital

Technology is merely a medium for expressing ideas

Art and Experience: Woody Allen was won over to digital within days of starting shooting his latest movie — working title WASP 2015 — with Sony’s 4k CineAlta F65 camera, when cinematographer Vittorio Storaro demonstrated its versatility and verisimilitude.

Shooting his new project — a feature set in New York and Los Angeles in the 1930s and 1940s — Allen was unsure about stepping into digital.

“Woody Allen told me he had never done a film in digital,” Storaro, who has three Oscars to his credit for Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor, told The Hollywood Reporter.

“We can still use film [Allen told me]. I said, ‘Woody, time is now telling us that technology is changing. We cannot run behind something that is going to disappear. Let’s start when we have the chance to see in front of us the best — almost final quality — from the beginning.'”

Speaking at Poland’s Camerimage festival, which lauds the work of cinematographers, Storaro said that the F65 gives “almost 90%” of the final image.

“The camera gives me the opportunity to see practically the final image on the monitor; I am not looking at a reference image; I am looking at the final result of the image,” the veteran cinematographer said.

Allen initially affected an aloof attitude, Storaro recalls.

“Woody [said] I am watching the actors…on the first day he did not pay any attention [to the F65 images]. On the second he was on the monitor and never left it; he did not look at the rushes after that; you see what you are thinking as you do it right away in that moment.”

The immediacy allows for a greater common focus between director and cinematographer, he notes. “[It] enables both director and cinematographer to be conscious of what they are doing; there is no longer any guessing.”

For a cinematographer renowned for his wide and deep familiarity with classical art and the painterly quality of his images – he is known for his love of playing with light – his enthusiasm for digital may come as a surprise to some. But Storaro insists an artist can always “go back” to his previous tools and that technology is merely a medium for expressing ideas.

“Humans have always felt the need to express themselves through images,” he says. “The idea is what counts; you materialise this idea on the material that is appropriate at the time; you can always go back – but today is the time for digital capture…this is the best element for me [with which] at this moment to perform.”