Gregg Toland in 1947
|Born||Gregg Wesley Toland|
May 29, 1904
|Died||September 28, 1948 44) (aged|
Los Angeles, California
|Known for||Innovative use of lighting and techniques such as deep focus|
|Notable work||The Best Years of Our Lives|
The Grapes of Wrath
The Long Voyage Home
(m. 1934;div. 1945)
(m. 1945;his death 1948)
Gregg Toland, A.S.C. (May 29, 1904 – September 28, 1948) was an American cinematographer known for his innovative use of techniques such as deep focus, examples of which can be found in his work on Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941), William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940). Toland was voted as one of the top 10 (actually 11 with a tie) most influential cinematographers in the history of films by the International Cinematographers Guild in 2003.
A cinematographer or director of photography is the chief over the camera and light crews working on a film, television production or other live action piece and is responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image. The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography.
Deep focus is a photographic and cinematographic technique using a large depth of field. Depth of field is the front-to-back range of focus in an image — that is, how much of it appears sharp and clear. In deep focus the foreground, middle-ground and background are all in focus.
George Orson Welles was an American actor, director, writer and producer who worked in theatre, radio and film. He is remembered for his innovative work in all three: in theatre, most notably Caesar (1937), a Broadway adaptation of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar; in radio, the long-remembered 1938 broadcast "The War of the Worlds"; and in film, Citizen Kane (1941), consistently ranked as one of the greatest films ever made.
Toland was born in Charleston, Illinois on May 29, 1904 to Jennie, a housekeeper, and Frank Toland. His mother moved to California several years after his parents divorced in 1910.
Charleston is a city in and the county seat of Coles County, Illinois, United States. The population was 21,838, as of the 2010 census. The city is home to Eastern Illinois University and has close ties with its neighbor, Mattoon. Both are principal cities of the Charleston–Mattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area.
A housekeeper is an individual responsible for the supervision of a house's cleaning staff.
He first demonstrated his chiaroscuro, side-lit style on the short film The Life and Death of 9413: a Hollywood Extra (1928), on which one of the two 400W bulbs they had available burned out, leaving only a single bulb to light with.
Chiaroscuro, in art, is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures. Similar effects in cinema and photography also are called chiaroscuro.
The Life and Death of 9413: a Hollywood Extra is a 1928 American silent experimental short film co-written and co-directed by Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapić. Considered a landmark of American avant-garde cinema, it tells the story of a man who comes to Hollywood with dreams of becoming a star, only to fail and become dehumanized, with studio executives reducing him to the role of extra and writing the number "9413" on his forehead.
During the 1930s, Toland became the youngest cameraman in Hollywood but soon one of its most sought-after cinematographers. Over a seven-year span (1936–1942), he was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, including an Academy Award for his work on Wuthering Heights (1939). He worked with many of the leading directors of his era, including John Ford, Howard Hawks, Erich von Stroheim, King Vidor, Orson Welles, and William Wyler.
Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California, notable as the home of the U.S. film industry including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the industry and the people associated with it.
The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is an Academy Award awarded each year to a cinematographer for work on one particular motion picture.
Wuthering Heights is a 1939 American romantic period drama film directed by William Wyler and produced by Samuel Goldwyn. It is based on the novel, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë. The film depicts only sixteen of the novel's thirty-four chapters, eliminating the second generation of characters. The novel was adapted for the screen by Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht, and John Huston. The film won the 1939 New York Film Critics Award for Best Film. It earned nominations for eight Academy Awards, including for Best Picture and Best Actor in what many consider Hollywood's greatest single year. The 1940 Academy Award for Best Cinematography, black-and-white category, was awarded to Gregg Toland for his work. Nominated for original score was the prolific film composer, Alfred Newman, whose poignant "Cathy's Theme" does so much "to maintain its life as a masterpiece of romantic filmmaking."
Just before his death, he was concentrating on the "ultimate focus" lens, which makes both near and far objects equally distinct. "Just before he died he had worked out a new lens with which he had made spectacular shots. He carried in his wallet a strip of film taken with this lens, of which he was very proud. It was a shot of a face three inches from the lens, filling one-third of the left side of the frame. Three feet from the lens, in the center of the foreground, was another face, and then, over a hundred yards away was the rear wall of the studio, showing telephone wires and architectural details. Everything was in focus, from three inches to infinity".
He died in his sleep, in Los Angeles, California on September 28, 1948 of coronary thrombosis at age 44. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
Coronary thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel of the heart. This blood clot restricts blood flow within the heart. It is associated with narrowing of blood vessels subsequent to clotting. The condition is considered as a type of ischaemic heart disease.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles, California. Located at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, it was founded in 1899 as Hollywood Cemetery, and later known as Hollywood Memorial Park until 1998 when it was given its current name. The studios of Paramount Pictures are located at the south end of the same block, on 40 acres (16 ha) that were once part of the cemetery but held no interments.
Some film historians believe Citizen Kane's visual brilliance was due primarily to the contributions of Toland, rather than director Orson Welles. However, many Welles scholars maintain that the visual style of Kane is similar to many of Welles's other films, and hence should be considered the director's work. Nevertheless, the Welles movies that most resemble Citizen Kane ( The Magnificent Ambersons , The Stranger , and Touch of Evil ) were shot by Toland collaborators Stanley Cortez and Russell Metty (at RKO).[ citation needed ]
At the time Kane was produced and released, Welles and Toland (among others) insisted that Welles gave lighting instructions that fall normally under the director of photography's responsibility. Many of the transitions in the film are done as lighting cues on set (such as the transition at the opening of the film from the outside of Xanadu into Kane's bedroom for his death), where lights are dimmed up and down on stage. Apparently, Welles was unaware that one could achieve the effects optically on a film so he instructed the crew to dim the lights the way you would on a theater production, which led to the unique dissolves. Different areas of the frame dissolve at different times, based on the lighting cue. However, the visuals were truly a collaboration, as Toland contributed great amounts of technical expertise that Welles needed so that he could achieve his vision. Years later, Welles acknowledged, "Toland was advising him on camera placement and lighting effects secretly so the young director would not be embarrassed in front of the highly experienced crew."
Toland's techniques were revolutionary in the art of cinematography. Cinematographers before him used a shallow depth of field to separate the various planes on the screen, creating an impression of space as well as stressing what mattered in the frame by leaving the rest (the foreground or background) out of focus.
In Toland's lighting schemes, shadow became a much more compelling tool, both dramatically and pictorially, to separate the foreground from the background and so to create space within a two-dimensional frame while keeping all of the picture in focus. According to Toland, this visual style was more comparable with what the eyes see in real life since vision blurs what is not looked at rather than what is.
For John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), Toland leaned more heavily on back-projection to create his deep focus compositions, such as the shot of the island women singing to entice the men of the SS Glencairn. He continued to develop the technologies that would allow for him to create his images in Citizen Kane.
Toland innovated extensively on Citizen Kane, creating deep focus on a sound-stage, collaborating with set designer Perry Ferguson so ceilings would be visible in the frame by stretching bleached muslin to stand in as a ceiling, allowing placement of the microphone closer to the action without being seen in frame. He also modified the Mitchell Camera to allow a wider range of movement, especially from low angles. ″It was Toland who devised a remote-control system for focusing his camera lens without having to get in the way of the camera operator who would now be free to pan and tilt the camera."
The main way to achieve deep focus was closing down the aperture, which required increasing the lighting intensity, lenses with better light transmission, and faster film stock. On Citizen Kane, the cameras and coated lenses used were of Toland's own design working in conjunction with engineers from Caltech. His lenses were treated with Vard Opticoatto reduce glare and increase light transmission. He used the Kodak Super XX film stock, which was, at the time, the fastest film available, with an ASA film speed of 100. Toland had worked closely with a Kodak representative during the stock's creation before its release in October 1938, and was one of the first cinematographers using it heavily on set.
Lens apertures employed on most productions were usually within the f/2.3 to f/3.5 range; Toland shot his scenes in between f/8 and f/16. This was possible because several elements of technology came together at once: the technicolor three strip process, which required the development of more powerful lights, had been developed and the more powerful Carbon Arc light was beginning to be used. By utilizing these lights with the faster stock, Toland was able to achieve apertures previously unattainable on a stage shoot.
Gregg Toland collaborated on a number of shots with special-effects cinematographer Linwood G. Dunn. Although these looked like they were using deep focus, they were actually a composite of two different shots. Some of these shots were composited with an optical printer, a device which Dunn improved upon over the years, which explains why foreground and background are both in focus even though the lenses and film stock used in 1941 could not allow for such depth of field.
But Toland hated this technique, since he felt he was "duping," (i.e. a copy of a copy) thereby lowering the quality of his shots. Thus other shots (like the shot of Susan Alexander Kane's bedroom after her suicide attempt, with a glass in the foreground and Kane entering the room in the background) were in-camera composites, meaning the film was exposed twice—another technique that Linwood Dunn improved upon.
Toland had already had experience with heavy in-camera compositing, and many of the shots in Kane look similar in composition and dynamics to a number of shots in John Ford's The Long Voyage Home .
For instance, both movies contain shots that create an artificial lighting situation such that a character is lit in the background and walks or runs through dark areas to the foreground, where his arrival triggers, off-screen, a light not on before. The result is so visually dramatic because a character moves, only barely visible, through vast pools of shadow, only to exit the shadow very close to the camera, where his whole face is suddenly completely lit. This use of much more shadow than light, soon one of the main techniques of low-key lighting, heavily influenced film noir.
The Long Voyage Home and Citizen Kane share a number of other striking similarities:
Although Citizen Kane is his most well-regarded achievement, his style was much more varied than most people realize. For The Grapes of Wrath (1940), he took inspiration from Dorothea Lange's photographs, achieving a rare (for Hollywood) gritty and realist look. For one of his final projects, Toland turned to Technicolor film. Made for Disney, the 1946 Song of the South combined animation with live action in bright, deeply saturated Technicolor. In The Best Years of Our Lives his deep focus cinematography served to highlight all the aspects of the characters' lives.
When the Office of the Coordinator of Information (predecessor to the Office of Strategic Services and later the Central Intelligence Agency) was created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt before the United States' entry into World War II, Toland was recruited to work in the agency's film unit.Toland was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Navy's camera department, which led to his only work as a director, December 7th: The Movie (1943); this documentary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which Toland co-directed with John Ford, is so realistic in its restaged footage that many today mistake it for actual attack footage. This 82-minute film took the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
In addition to sharing a title card with Orson Welles on Kane—an indication of the high esteem the director held for his cameraman—Welles also gave Toland a cameo in the film as the reporter who is slow to ask questions when Kane returns from Europe.
Toland was the subject of an "Annals of Hollywood" article in The New Yorker, "The Cameraman," by Hilton Als (June 19, 2006, p. 46).
The results of a survey conducted in 2003 by the International Cinematographers Guild placed Toland in the top ten of history's most influential cinematographers.
The 2006 Los Angeles edition of CineGear assembled a distinguished panel composed of Owen Roizman, László Kovács, Daryn Okada, Rodrigo Prieto, Russell Carpenter, Dariusz Wolski, and others. Called "Dialogue With ASC Cinematographers," the panel was asked to name two or three other cinematographers, living or dead, who had influenced their work or whom they considered to be the best of the best. Each panel member cited Gregg Toland first.
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American mystery drama film by Orson Welles, its producer, co-screenwriter, director and star. The picture was Welles's first feature film. Nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories, it won an Academy Award for Best Writing by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles. Considered by many critics, filmmakers, and fans to be the greatest film ever made, Citizen Kane was voted as such in five consecutive British Film Institute Sight & Sound polls of critics, and it topped the American Film Institute's 100 Years ... 100 Movies list in 1998, as well as its 2007 update. Citizen Kane is particularly praised for Gregg Toland's cinematography, Robert Wise's editing, its music, and its narrative structure, all of which have been considered innovative and precedent-setting.
Cinematography is the science or art of motion-picture photography by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as film stock.
Andrew Lesnie ACS ASC was an Australian cinematographer. He was best known as the cinematographer for The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003) and its prequel The Hobbit trilogy (2012–2014), both directed by New Zealand director Peter Jackson. He received the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in 2002.
The Frazier lens is a special camera lens designed by Australian photographer Jim Frazier. The Frazier lens provides an appearance of a massive depth of field, allowing the foreground and background of an image to be in focus. Frazier's lenses have been widely used in Hollywood and wildlife cinematography. In addition to its unique depth of field properties, the Frazier lens is significantly smaller than previous deep focus lenses allowing more versatility and flexibility to cinematographers. The main feature of the lens, an extended tube with a rotating prism, allows cinematographers to place the camera in a variety of positions for a given shot. Cinematographers then rotate the prism to correct the horizon. This feature allows directors and cameramen to achieve shots in minutes that previously took cinematographers hours in rigging and designing special sets to accommodate shooting positions.
Robert L. Surtees, A.S.C. was an American cinematographer who won three Academy Awards for the films King Solomon's Mines, The Bad and the Beautiful and the 1959 version of Ben Hur. Surtees worked at various studios, including Universal, UFA, Warner Brothers, and MGM, lighting for such luminaries as Howard Hawks, Mike Nichols, and William Wyler, gaining him a reputation as one of the most versatile cinematographers of his time.
Wong Tung Jim, A.S.C., known professionally as James Wong Howe (Houghto), was a Chinese American cinematographer who worked on over 130 films. During the 1930s and 1940s, he was one of the most sought after cinematographers in Hollywood due to his innovative filming techniques. Howe was known as a master of the use of shadow and one of the first to use deep-focus cinematography, in which both foreground and distant planes remain in focus.
Lucien Ballard, A.S.C. was an American cinematographer.
Raoul Coutard was a French cinematographer. He is best known for his connection with the Nouvelle Vague period and particularly for his work with director Jean-Luc Godard. Coutard also shot films for New Wave director François Truffaut as well as Jacques Demy, a contemporary frequently associated with the movement.
Joseph Francis Biroc, A.S.C. was an American Academy Award-winning cinematographer. He was born in New York City and began working in films at the Paragon Studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey. After working there for approximately six years, he moved to Los Angeles. Once in Southern California, Biroc worked at the RKO Pictures movie studio. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and filmed the Liberation of Paris in August 1944. In 1950, Biroc left RKO Pictures and freelanced on projects at various studios. In addition to his film work, which included It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), Biroc worked on various television series, including the Adventures of Superman and Wonder Woman.
Karl W. Freund, A.S.C. was a German Jewish cinematographer and film director best known for photographing Metropolis (1927), Dracula (1931), and television's I Love Lucy (1951-1957). Freund was an innovator in the field of cinematography and is credited with the invention of the unchained camera technique.
Robert Burks, A.S.C. was an American cinematographer known for being proficient in virtually every genre, equally at home with black-and-white or color, and for his many collaborations with the celebrated film director Alfred Hitchcock.
Hal Mohr, A.S.C. was a famed movie cinematographer. He is known for his Oscar-winning work on the 1935 film, A Midsummer Night's Dream. He was awarded another Oscar for his work on The Phantom of the Opera in 1943, and received a nomination for The Four Poster in 1952.
Archie Stout, A.S.C. was an American cinematographer whose career spanned from 1914 to 1954. He enjoyed a long and fruitful association with John Ford, working as second unit cinematographer on Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and The Quiet Man (1952), becoming the only 2nd unit cinematographer to receive an Oscar. In a wide-ranging career, he also worked on such films as the original version of The Ten Commandments (1923) and several Hopalong Cassidy and Tarzan films. His last film was the airborne disaster movie The High and the Mighty in 1954.
John Alcott, BSC was an English cinematographer best known for his four collaborations with director Stanley Kubrick; these are 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), for which he took over as lighting cameraman from Geoffrey Unsworth in mid-shoot, A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), the film for which he won his Oscar, and The Shining (1980). Alcott died from a heart attack in Cannes, France in July 1986; he was 55. He received a tribute at the end of his last film No Way Out starring Kevin Costner.
David Russell Boyd, A.S.C. is an American cinematographer and director of television and film best known for his role as director of photography for the FOX television series Firefly and the AMC series The Walking Dead. He also worked as cinematographer on the first three episodes of HBO's Deadwood. On the NBC television series Friday Night Lights he served as director of photography on 18 of 22 episodes in the first season and moved up to direct two more. He also directed the film Home Run, which was released in 2013.
Ivor Daniel Mindel, ASC, BSC, SASC is a South African cinematographer best known for his work on blockbuster action films like Enemy of the State, Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, working with directors like Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and J. J. Abrams.
Derek Vanlint, C.S.C. was a British- Canadian cinematographer and director of television commercials and motion pictures. He was best known as the cinematographer for the iconic 1979 science fiction horror film Alien, which earned him a Best Cinematography Award nomination from the British Society of Cinematographers.
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