Digital technology has
taken the cinematography world by storm.
It’s required people such as myself to evolve.
(I’m a film guy.) Just like many filmmakers,
I’ve found that choosing the right lens can
help take away some of the artifacts and
hard edge of digital imaging, and help match
the softness, grit and organic qualities that
we love about film. I’m still in love with the
beautiful imperfections that film has given
us, but working hand-in-hand with Panavision
has helped me not only solve some of
digital’s shortcomings, but in some respects,
to take the image even further.
OBTAINING THE ‘LOOK’
My relationship with Panavision is one
of the most integral aspects of what I do.
I’m constantly explaining to advertising
agencies that the “look” is just as important
as the story, if not more so. Images captivate
people. Sometimes stories that are less
structured can be incredibly moving if the
images are right.
The other day I did a very elaborate job
for an important client, explaining to them
the importance of the image and how and
why images move people. To me, these are
really the most important considerations.
I referred to a famous still photographer
who could deliver emotional impact in a
single frame. The exciting thing about film-making
is that we get 24 frames per second
to elicit a response.
I’m often inspired by classic filmmakers
such as Stanley Kubrick. He began as a still
photographer and understood how the
right lens could transform an environment,
change the story, or help get the audience
into the character’s head. Choosing the
right color palette is also crucial to making
great images. There are chords and discord
in color. When you look at a painting, the
combination of colors can create an emotion.
It’s the same thing with lenses.
During the past 20 years, Panavision has
built a couple of lenses for me. I’m not a
technical person, but I can talk to the Panavision
folks about my thought processes—
about why certain images look the way they
do—and then the company develops the
tools that allow me to emulate that quality.
I think that’s an amazing thing for a company
to do. What they do for me is priceless,
something I could never replicate.
LENSES ACHIEVE WHAT WOULD
BE VERY DIFFICULT IN POST
I recently did a spot for Moët & Chandon
champagne which depicted an exclusive
party. I used the special lenses that Panavision
developed for me and think the results
are stunning. There are light effects happening
in the images that would have taken
weeks of post house work to try and replicate.
The commercial is very modern, but
the refractions and distortions of the lens
really make the whole piece. I’m looking for
the perfect imperfection, something that is
almost accidental, and incredibly simple. It
happens in the moment of photography.
Getting the image right is the best part of
what I do. Putting my eye to the camera and
finding the right image, that’s why I love
what I do. I become part of a process that
goes back more than 100 years. And Panavision
is a crucial part of that process for me.
Samuel Bayer is an award-winning director/cinematographer and visual artist,
known for his music videos and commercials.
He may be contacted through
For additional information, contact
Panavision at 818-316-1000 or visit