2018 ICS INTERNATIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY SUMMIT REPORT - Grab a coffee this one's quite a read...

by Ron Johanson OAM ACS
With contributions from Tony Costa AIP, Rolf Coulanges BVK, Lukas Teren ASK, Marek Jicha ACK, Philippe Ros AFC and others.


“Cinematographers must continue the development of our craft as an art form, and at all levels promote the highest standards of visual storytelling within the creative community.

Our vision is to foster and encourage dialogue between all Societies Governments, Ministers of Culture, Manufacturers, Producers and Directors to further nurture and protect the visual integrity of the final product. We, as cinematographers are the custodians of the image. This is our heritage and our responsibility”.

Greetings fellow ACS members and friends,

Even though I had attended the Summits in 2011, 2016 and now 2018 much had continued to change so Andy Hyde, Roger Lanser ACS and I weren’t really sure what to expect at this International Summit held under the auspices of and with great generosity by the ASC. We had read the Summit program of events and wondered how we were going to fit it all in, but knowing the capacity and the organisational skills of Suki Medencevic ASC and ASC stalwarts, the ever enthusiastic “Dynamic Duo” of Patty Armacost and Delphine Figueros not forgetting the remarkable Alex, ASC President, Kees van Oostrum ASC and the Board of Governors, we were always going to be in very good hands. This was further re-enforced by the incredible support afforded by the contributing sponsors and supporters of the ASC, without whom this event may not have been possible, and I pass on our collective thanks to them all.

Download the ICSC Agenda here »

With over 60 delegates representing 36 countries, it was a resounding success and it is with delight I present to you all an overview of what took place, during the week 4th - 7th June 2018 at the very welcoming and impressive ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood, where it was also an opportunity to catch up with fellow Aussies, Rob Draper ACS, Peter Moss ACS ASC, Richard Chappelle ACS, Peter Levy ACS and many others to renew old friendships.

2018 World Cinematography Summit begins…


After a hearty breakfast at the ASC Clubhouse, we assembled at the entrance to receive our first instructions from both Suki Medencevic and the irrepressible Patty Armacosat regarding which bus we would travel in for the day’s activities.

I was allocated Bus 1# and with my colleagues from Slovakia, Mexico, Norway among others and with Joe Dunton BSC in the front passenger seat regaling us all with his vast knowledge, we travelled to the IMAX Theatre at Universal for our OPENING SESSION: THE MAXIMALISTS – The aesthetics of shooting large format & the importance of film.

This was going to be a cracker! A conversation between ASC and Academy Award nominee, Hoyte van Hoytema ASC FSF NSC, Director, Christopher Nolan and Producer, Emma Thomas followed by a screening in IMAX of Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan spoke with great passion about film and the fact that he believes film is far from dead, and he will continue to use it given it organic advantage to the storytelling process. I must admit his comments lifted many spirits in the theatre as the opportunity to shoot film still exists in many countries. But having said that, I did think that perhaps in some countries, like Australia it’s simply gone missing.

It was stated that IMAX is keeping film alive, along with a number other major projects. Many millions of feet of film will be run through the gate, which is fantastic. Everyone hung on every word from Hoyte as he explained in detail his approach to shooting this massive project and his relationship with both Christopher and the Producer, Emma Thomas. This was obviously a group of filmmakers who collaborated openly and honestly and respected each other’s capabilities. If you have the opportunity to see Dunkirk in IMAX, do it as it really is an amazing experience.

Emma Thomas enhanced the fact that shooting in film or digital doesn’t matter in terms of costs as long it serves the project. “It is an artistic choice to use 35mm, or 65mm or any other format. It is not the cost of shooting on film. There was a moment when the studios were afraid of the fail of the infrastructure but more and more films are being shot on film and labs are working beautifully and Kodak has been very supportive” In relation to the use of multiple formats Christopher mentioned that he wanted the audience to have “An immersive experience. The emotion of being in front of a wide screen along with the sound track accordingly gives the audience a genuine experience of being there as the story evolves”. “The reason to shoot on multiple formats was due to needs of distribution. IMAX certainly doesn’t fit in the tv screen and it was needed as well a format for regular theatres, which was a wise decision said Emma Thomas.
For Hoyte van Hoytema it was curious to hear the expression that 65mm could be a good format for documentary “It handles so well flat lighting and the shallow depth of field is so good it doesn’t demand any lighting in particular and Nolan adds “it is such a clean format. 65mm is so rich and clear”. Afterwards the delegates had one more chance to watch the film and experience once again the large format of the fantastic IMAX projection.

The screening of Dunkirk was a great way to start the Summit as it allowed us all to ease into the rest of the Summit, but we needed to move on to the next item, which meant all delegates boarded our magic little buses and returned to the ASC Clubhouse. Huge thanks to Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Hoyte van Hoytema.


FORMAL INTRODUCTIONS- Society delegates formally introduce themselves and their organizations.

Now it was nuts and bolts time, assembled in the main reception area of the ASC for a welcome introduction from ASC International Committee Chair, Suki Medencevic ASC, all the delegates had the opportunity to introduce themselves and tell us all a little something about the different Societies. This was a real moment of discovery when you hear the delegates talk about those smaller Societies who punch well above their weight. This was a fantastic way to get to know each other, and some wonderful friendships were made and renewed.
I advised the group of our membership numbers and the various categories of membership, our Awards system and our CineKids initiative, which was received with great interest by all in attendance. Our good friend and BSC Vice President, Nigel Walters BSC spoke briefly and paid a very emotional tribute to the late Fred Goodich ASC who contributed enormously to the previous ICS Summits.

SESSION 3 – Monday, 4th June.

ASC presents The Crown – A coffee and conversation with ASC Award winner, Adriano Goldman ASC ABC who will discuss his work on the second season of the Netflix series.

This was absolutely fascinating and a well spent 2 hours listening to Adriano speak and also discuss various clips that were screened. He talked openly about the visual style that has established the show as one of the most beautiful looking series to date. His elegant use of light and composition to portray the characters is outstanding and Adriano shared many moments with us, including how the cast and indeed the crew respond so positively to the script and the storytelling process. His use of smoke to highlight a time period or a specific mood is outstanding as at no time does his cinematography interfere with the structure of the storyline at all, it simply enhances it all beyond expectations.

The series are shot on a SONY F55 and Goldman uses old Panchro Cooke lenses along with a haze filter. The contrasts are strong with often-silhouetted figures. Adriano says that this style wouldn’t be possible if not worked in close cooperation with other departments “these series give me the rare opportunity to work closely with the set designer”.

Goldman explains the aesthetics “I rather have the actors separated with the background or by light from the windows or by the set rather than using backlight. I always avoid when not justifiable” One characteristic of “The Crown” there is not so much coverage as expected from a regular series Goldman explained that it is a work with the director and both work the mise-en-scene to prioritize longer shots than rather cutting. “the actors enjoy it immensely and enriches performances”. In one of the clips Adriano screened for the audience, it can be seen clearly in the night scene that there is one bulb in frame causing a strong flair. Adriano said that fact intrigued the producer who asked him how could be justified such light and Adriano honestly said that for a moment he couldn’t give him a right answer, but the director came on his help and said “That is the light that makes all this look beautiful”.

Adriano is currently in pre prod for Season 3, which will take us to the next phase of this amazing series. Adriano fielded many questions from the delegates and again was honest and frank with his responses. A cinematographer of great ability and grace, Adriano Goldman was very generous in his sharing of this career highlight with us all.

SESSION 4 – Sponsor meet and greet.

These events do not happen without the hard work of many people and the support from numerous and generous sponsors.

This session was a mini expo with numerous sponsors sharing their products and expertise with the delegates before adjourning for the OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION AND DINNER. It was great to see so many of our ACS sponsors present including Seth Emmons from CWSonderoptic (now Leitz Cine Wetzlar), Chris Ragsdale from RED and our good friend Phil Greenstreet from Rosco. This was a fantastic way to talk technology in a relaxed and “hands on” way with old friends.

DAY 2 – Tuesday, 5th June 2018
SESSION 1 – A morning at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

John Bailey ASC

This was a very busy morning encompassing several separate events all within the Academy building, which in itself is an impressive piece of architecture in Hollywood. We were welcomed in the Linwood Dunn ASC Theatre by John Bailey ASC the sitting Academy President, who in his quiet, elegant way welcomed us and informed us of the program of events to follow. John Bailey is a quiet man but one of the highest integrity and his work as a cinematographer is widely respected. His role as Academy President has been challenging, but he has taken his calmness and capacity for hard work from the set to the Academy with great success

Session 1A: ACES NEXT presented by Annie Chang, with Cinematographer, Geoff Boyle and Steve Tobenkin.

This session was incredibly informative, which included our old friend Geoff Boyle who has lost none of his enthusiasm or commitment to who actually creates and should control the visual content of any project…the cinematographer.
Annie Chang is part of the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and got the ball rolling in this very informative session giving us a rundown of ACES, the Academy Color Encoding System.
With the change from film to digital the standards we have all used for the last 100 years are mostly now considered no longer valid.

The ACES system has been designed to rectify this, and is becoming the industry standard for managing colour throughout the life cycle of a motion picture or television production. It is a free, open, device-independent colour management and image interchange system that can be applied to almost any current or future workflow. From image capture through to editing, VFX, mastering, public presentation, archiving and future re-mastering, ACES ensures consistent colour that preserves the filmmaker’s creative vision. In addition to the creative benefits, ACES addresses and solves a number of significant production, post-production and archiving problems that have arisen with the increasing variety of digital cameras and formats in use.

Session 1B: Exposure index investigation with Joachim Zell

In most cases these presentations can assist one in catching up on lost sleep. However, when exuberant German, Joachim Zell is in the room, “there will be no sleeping”!

Here’s some background about Joachim.

- In 2004 he joined the ASC Technology Committee, working with the DI subcommittee helping to define the ASC CDL
- In 2006 Joachim transitioned to Technicolor Thomson as “VP of Advanced Technology”. EFILM hired Joachim.
- In 2008 as “VP of Imaging Science” and “Technical Director”. He started the EC3 Onset and near set dailies division, supporting filmmakers all around the world and in his spare time he teaches for the RED REDucation program and at the ASC Masterclasses.
And by the way….He holds 4x imaging processing patents.

After the formalities the audience could witness a detailed explanation about the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) and visit the Stella Stage where Joachim Zell and Alex Forsythe test exposure index which is an investigation with all camera manufacturers in the market.

The visit ended with two more lectures about the SPECTRAL SIMILARITY INDEX with Josh Pines, George Joblove and Joe di Gennaro, which will give the cinematographer information as to how colours will be rendered using various types of LED, along with explaining the complexity of the LED lighting spectrum and colour behaviours. ACES central is a forum online where you can participate by sharing your thoughts and experiences with the Colour encoding system ACES.

For more info follow the links below:

http://acescentral.com/ »
http://www.oscars.org/science-technology/sci-tech-projects/aces »

After leaving the Academy we headed down to the DOLBY Cinema on Hollywood Blvd that promised to be another interesting and informative session.


This was an enlightening presentation by Post Production supervisor, Peter Mavromates and colorist, Eric Weidt on how they collaborated with Producer/Director, David Fincher to create the look of the psychological thriller Mindhunter. Eric Weidt developed the HDR color grade, which drew inspiration from the visual style of 70’s cinema. Demonstrated to us all live on BaseLight with Dolby Vision, followed by a creative discussion with experts from Dolby and Netflix who shared insights from their work with the latest tools and solutions for creating HDR content.

So, the perplexing thing about this session was the fact the cinematographers were not present and Eric Weidt the colorist seemed to be the force behind the visual look along with David Fincher. I have seen this show and it is visually outstanding and while I understand the creative process and the amazing talent of David Fincher, I felt it would have been of great benefit to have cinematographers, Eric Messerschmidt and Christopher Probst in the room. I’m pretty sure I was not alone in my thinking…. but then again, the room WAS full of cinematographers.

I must say DOLBY were very generous with the information and the facilities they afforded us, so again if the opportunity arises to sit in on a Dolby presentation at the theatre, go for it as it is an outstanding experience. But for us it was “back on the buses”: and a short trip returning to the ASC for the evening sessions.

SESSION 4 – A portrait of Slovak inventor Ivan Putora by Slovakian Society President, Lukas Teren ASK with Maros Zilincan ASK and thanks to Stefan Komorny ASK.

Every two years, our Society, the ASK awards the best cinematographers in Slovakia. This past year we have awarded a prize for a lifetime technical achievement for the first time. We were pleased to present the award to Mr. Ivan Putora, whose work and difficult life story inspired this short document and during the process, we discovered that he is not the only outstanding inventor within cinematography from former Czechoslovakia. That’s why we would like to introduce you inventors that you probably never heard of, but whose inventions are still being used today.

During this period, Czechoslovakia was still under the influence of Soviet Union. Human rights were restricted, censorship in media and arts, along with political killings staged as suicides. However, these dangerous times have not stopped excellent individuals from advancing in their field and creating inventions beneficial for the whole world.

It indicates the lens ability to resolve fine detail (chromatic aberration and other lens defects). Set critical focus at any distance. We can define the level of sharpness of the lens, by the way the lines blend together even if the object is in focus. It enables us to test anti-aliasing, camera sensors and OLPF filters.

Thanks to the chart’s design, there’s no need for tilting the sharpness indicator to reveal the slanted edge problem.

Advantages of 7A9 sharpness indicator:

There is a possibility to test all the filters - special beauty and soft filters. For example, Alfonso Parra, AEC, ADFC is known to use the chart for filter testing. It is possible to use the chart to test DeBayering in cameras and post-production software. It is less expensive than other similar charts on the market and you don’t need any expensive software for results. It’s amazing how simple it is, one can spot the problems instantly without special training or education. 7A9 is widely used, but there are many more variations out there.

Even after 50 years, this guide is still relevant when testing recent digital cameras. The focus was on the quality of imaging technologies during this period in Czechoslovakia. Firstly in 1958 imagining facility VúZORT created exponometry grey table.

With this table they invented spot meter called Lumispot and used it together in research and in TV studios. Due to Lumispots large size it was impractical to use on set - microelectronics was not developed enough in the country.

Authors Krejci and Hoffman created sensitometric control method called SENCOMET. It is a handy tool for cinematographers during the phase of laboratory post-production and colour grading. This method was utilised on a high level 10 years before similar tools have emerged in the world from companies like Kodak and Arri.

This all inventions where described in great manual for cinematographers made by Krejčí and Hoffman.

Based on this research Robert Hardónyi invented the Grey Exponometry Integration Sphere.

He was also excellent special effect cinematographer who invented his own method of front and rear projections.

The Sphere can fully represent the light properties in 3D space which makes it more accurate than 2D table. The table was used prior to the Sphere and often mistakes were made by incorrect tilting during the shooting. The Sphere has significantly decreased the time spent on colour corrections from 10 days to 10 hours. The Sphere’s variation is still being used today, as a foundation for the addition of CGI objects into real filmed environment.

Our inventors had to be twice as industrious, on one side they were professionals in their fields and at the same time professionals in tricking the absurd governing system. A good example of this is the Hardónyi Sphere, it was created to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the country’s freedom and has given up the royalties, otherwise the production would not be allowed.

Thanks to the new technologies created during this era, Czechoslovak cinematographers had more control over the image leading to absolute creative freedom.

SESSION 5 – One of the oldest cinematic shots ever made: PLACE DE LA CONCORDE presented by Marek Jicha ACK

Marek Jicha ACK is the President of the Czech Society and a noted educator. He explained to us that this remarkable piece of cinematographic history was discovered by a young woman who was working at The National Technical Museum in Prague.

FOLLOW THE LINKS BELOW FOR FULL REPORT ON THIS SESSION. Open the images on a large screen, grab a coffee and enjoy!


SESSION 6 – INTRO TO IMAGO presented by Paul Rene Roestad DFF, Louis Philippe Capelle, Tony Costa AIP and Ron Johanson

Closing the second day of the Conference IMAGO has its opportunity to present several aspects of its activity.

Louis Philippe Capelle general secretary followed by explaining most of the activities with partners.

IMAGO General Secretary, Louis Philippe Capelle talks about IMAGO as a global Federation.

President Paul René Roestad FNF explained the activities of IMAGO and the issues concerning the federation. The authorship, working conditions, two main subjects which IMAGO has been fighting for several years.

Tony Costa AIP presented the education committee activities and aims and Philippe Ros AFC talked about the Technical Committee presenting studies concerning texture in the digital domain. Elen Lotman ESC closed the long day with a presentation of her study research on Psychological of perception – a new tool in cinematographer’s tool kit?

Tony Costa talks about the work of the IMAGO EDUCATION COMMITTEE.

It was an honor for me talk about the influence and the benefits of IMAGO to those countries outside Europe.

SESSION 7 – An introduction to the IMAGO TECHNICAL COMMITTEE presented by Philippe Ros AFC

Philippe Ros AFC is the Chair of the very active IMAGO TECHNICAL COMMITTEE and a fantastic cinematographer in his own right. After many, many months of work by the Imago Technical Committee, Philippe shared with us this detailed presentation regarding the potential collaboration between manufacturers and Imago for the benefit of the manufacturers and cinematographers, colourists, assistants, DIT’s and Post Production supervisors among many.


During ICS, the Imago Technology Committee (ITC) has presented two Powerpoints to summarize its last activities.

The first presentation was on the survey the ITC launched few months ago on the Requests to Manufacturers Proposals. The idea is to give to camera and grading softwares companies some proposals with two goals:
- First to make the work of cinematographers, camera department members and colourists/post-production managers much easier
- Secondly to give cinematographers more control on their work. The Digital Age has clearly generated new great tools for the cinematographer but also never-ending new approaches and new solutions.
The survey aims to receive more input and insights from our community of cinematographers and other people working in the field of picture creation. The final goal is to recover the maximum of power on artistry.

The second presentation, directly linked to this survey, was focusing on the sharpness in the 4K workflow. The presentation was a summary of a long report on this topic, explaining how skilled engineers found way to deal with the limitations of current sensors to create an artificial sharpness. The issue is, that generally, cinematographers can’t control the level of the over sharpness sometimes generated by the process.

Philippe Ros AFC who was representing the ITC in Los Angeles (He co-chairs the ITC with Mick van Rossum NSC) underlined the fact that he almost destroyed Ron Johanson social life due to his request for Ron to correct its “frenglish”.

We will be putting both ICS reports onto the ACS Website along with the Survey and for those who are interested the sharpness topic the full presentation on the artistic control of the 4K workflow.

Philippe Ros asked also all ICS attendees to send representatives from their associations to the ITC. Currently the center of gravity of this committee is clearly North-European balanced but it needs to recover as soon as possible the real international representativness of Imago who is now gathering 53 countries.
That’s why the next ITC meeting will take place during the first Sunday (November 11th 2018) of the Camerimage film festival in Poland which seems to be the best place and moment to gather all delegates.

The ITC will present the results of the survey in the morning and, in the afternoon, will organize a special demo on the New Texture Equaliser Operator Tools of Filmlights. This demo will dig into all the new ways to control and create different textures of the image.

The First of these presentations is now available on the ACS Website via the link below:

Control of Sharpness in a 4K Workflow - Imago Technology Committee (2018) - Presentation @ 2018 ICS Los Angeles » - View the Slideshow in Presentation form on the ACS Gallery - Grab a Coffee, it's pretty in-depth

SESSION 8 – CINEMATOGRAPHY & PERCEPTION presented by Estonian Society President, Elen Lotman ESC

This very entertaining, little gem of a presentation by the gregarious President of the Estonian Society, and Imago Board member, Elen Lotman ESC had the audience trans-fixed. Her anecdotal experiences made her Phd topic easy to understand, and above all entertaining. Elen proposed that throughout film history there are traceable cinematographic conventions in lighting, movement and framing that affect the audience’s sense of space. Does the enforcement of ‘sense of space’ increase emotional empathy? This study focuses on different tools used by cinematographers to create a sense of space and volume, i.e., three-dimensions, within two-dimensional images, and how this corresponds to human perception.

Two types of empathy are noted, referencing both current scientific consensus and examples of how cinematography can elicit one or the other experience of empathy. A fantastic session!

SO….After a really full day we re-capped with a few drinks in the grounds of the ASC and then Nigel Walters, Tahvo Hirvonen and I wandered next door to the luxury surrounds of the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel to ready ourselves for yet another full day tomorrow.


The delegates all arrived punctually at 7.30am at the ASC for breakfast and then we boarded the buses for yet another Magical Mystery Tour and another busy and informative day. First stop was the Winnetka Pacific Theatres where a panel conversation led by ASC Motion Imaging Technology Council Chair, the esteemed Curtis Clark ASC and including from Roundabout, Jerome Dewhurst and Bryan McMahan and from Samsung, Bill Mandel and Nick Conti.
The Samsung line of 4K LED theatrical screens are now called Onyx, which is meant to evoke the picture quality of its pure black capabilities. The screens, six of which exist now around the world, stand at 34-feet and 4096 x 2160 resolution, providing a richer, crisper picture than standard 2K projection. They’re capable of displaying 2K, 4K, 3D, and HDR images.

While the screen is smaller than the standard 45- to 65-foot projection screens at most movie theatres, the Onyx LED monitor takes advantage of the fact that it’s not relying on projection technology. It is essentially a giant 4K TV screen built into a movie theatre wall. Samsung says it works with theatres to design the seating arrangement and the custom JBL sound system to maximize the viewing and audio quality experience. And unlike projection, the screen also works well in partial light, which Samsung hopes will make it a viable option for dine-in theatrical experiences and even e-sports and other live gaming events, as viewers won’t need to sit in complete darkness.

As for how much the screen costs, Samsung isn’t putting a concrete figure on it, but estimates put it somewhere between $500,000 and $800,000, depending on the needs of the theatre owner. The company already has two in South Korea, one in Switzerland, and two more in China. Samsung is also introducing a 46-foot 4K LED screen later this year to help the Onyx line better compete with traditional laser projection systems.

Needless to say, we were impressed with the new Samsung Cinema screen, which is an amazing piece of technology; a modular led screen made up of numerous panels, built up to the size of the screen required. It was impressive, particularly when we were privileged to see images showcasing the screen itself with material from Netflix’s MERIDIAN directed and shot by Curtis Clark ASC and Arri Alexa footage titled LIQUID SUNSHINE shot by Bill Bennett ASC. With these screens you can expect to see images as you would hope the general public would see them, in the very best environment available. We viewed many examples, side by side dealing with luminance mapped content…there were many smiling faces leaving the cinema

Back on the buses and off to Panavision at Woodland Hills for a bite to eat in the garden area and then a much-anticipated presentation, and a visit to the Panavision shop.


We were ushered in through the foyer to the state of the art theatre. Of course it is necessary to go past the Panavision shop to get to the theatre, so I’m certain the sale of t shirts, caps and other Panavision merchandise spiked on that particular day. We were introduced to Dan Sasaki and he along with Michael Cioni engaged with us for quite some time about all things Panavision, and of course in this instance lenses, lenses, visual human perception and then filters.
As one would expect, this was a fantastic session, incredibly informative, with the enthusiastic Michael Cioni and Dan Sasaki demonstrated how choices in optics can evoke a unique aesthetic that is tailored to the vision of the cinematographer.

PANAVISION presented its new H- Series lenses, new filter system, Large format, Pana speeds, it seemed to be a renewal or a relaunch of a new company, by seeing so many novelties at the same time. The whole afternoon was taken to give us a presentation of set of various lenses

- Primo 70
- Pana Speed T 1.4
- H-Series
- Ultra Vista
- Primo X

A new camera model of the DXL M D2E 1.0 capable to be manoeuvred by wi-fi and from any mobile phone, android or iphone to introduce LUT’s, HD proxy files ready for the editing suite, no need of transcoding, a camera ideal for commercials and low budget.

About the lenses; a new series are about to arrive, he Primo X lenses. Totally water proof to be used on drones and gimbals. All controls focus and iris all remote controlled. The lenses have a different configuration made. A small window on the side of the lens exists a digital display where focus distances, Iris and the depth of field will be displayed to check. Totally wireless controlled.

A new series of lenses for large format was presented. The images screened were astonishing when displayed on screen. Some footage shot on large format size sensor and used with ultra-vista lenses. The wide screen and the quality of the image were impressive.

The new system for ND filters was also introduced. ND’s made from liquid crystal. Just by pressing a knob the filters display on the filter located in the matte box.

The audience was left impressed by the end of the session. For some, it was an impression of returning to the good times of large formats and for others a new discovery on the large screen and the magic of lenses.


FotoKem originated as a film laboratory located in Burbank, CA. Founded in 1963, it is now the largest independently owned post production facility on the west coast having expanded its services over the past several decades to meet the demands of the ever-evolving film and digital motion picture industry.

Services include Telecine from 16mm, 35mm and 65mm to standard definition or high definition, or high-resolution scans, Film Scanning and Recording, DVD-Creation, Editing, Digital Intermediates, Optical Track Creation, Nonlinear Finishing, Titling, Video Duplication and Standards Conversion, Global Data Delivery, Encoding, Editing System Rentals, and many other services necessary to the completion of a motion picture feature, television series, commercial, or other professional film production.

Our visit to FOTOKEM involved our large group if delegates splitting into 3 groups and rotating through different presentations which included:

GROUP 1@ FOTOKEM - Cinematographer, Steve Yedlin ASC and colourist, Walter Volpatto discuss their great work on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. This was a great opportunity to learn about the visual look that was created for this film, and how Fotokem built technically advanced solutions, to service Steve Yedlin’s vision and support the creative team through the production from rushes to the final colour grade. Steve Yedlin was incredibly generous with his time and his responses to the range of questions put to him. It is this collaborative spirit that ensures that cinematography and cinematographers will always be prepared to share the knowledge to make the journey as painless as possible. Bravo Steve Yedlin!

GROUP 2 @ FOTOKEM – Were presented with a short film produced by Stephen Beres who is the VP of Media and Production Operations for HBO dealing with HDR monitors and the HBO HDR program “Mythbusters”. HDR…now there’s a whole new thing with more pitfalls and more ‘experts” than you can imagine. This was a good, informative presentation but I have to say, it seemed to my way of thinking that unless we are paying attention, HDR could take the integrity of the images out of the hands of the cinematographer and that would be a great shame.

GROUP 3 @ FOTOKEMvisited THE LODGE which is Fotokem’s dedicated area for collaborative workflow on independent projects, and heard a creative conversation about the making of the upcoming indie film “All Creatures Here Below” with cinematographer Bongani Mlambo and colourist Alastor Arnold. Following this there was a tour of the lab itself for those interested, which everyone was.

The FOTOKEM experience was a highlight and our collective thanks to all the Fotokem staff who really looked after us not only during the various and valuable information sessions but afterwards with pizza, drinks and doughnuts!! So, the end of another great day, back on the buses and return to the ASC.


<>b>SESSION ONE – CELEBRATING DIVERSITY ON THE CREWS – A conversation about the importance of diversity in the industry.
Presented by the ASC Vision Committee and the Australian Cinematographers Society.

Working to encourage and support the advancement of underrepresented cinematographers, their crews and other filmmakers, and to inspire us all to enact positive changes through hiring talent that reflects society at large.

“We as members of the ASC support a vision of the world where discrimination, harassment and abuse is no longer tolerated,” says ASC President Kees van Oostrum. “It’s a state of mind — a vision for the future.”

Some time prior to the Summit I had contacted the ASC Vision Committee through ASC President, Kees van Oostrum to see if I could liaise with them regarding ongoing topics relating to gender and diversity issues, a subject that we within the ACS feel very strongly about. So, it was a surprise when I was asked to participate as a panel member at the Summit and to present any thoughts to the global cinematography community. I had two papers I wanted to present but due to time restrictions and the direction of the actual discussion on the day, I was not able to present them, but have included them in this report.

The Panel itself was a learning experience for me as it dealt not only with gender but inclusion. People of colour, ethnic minorities who have in the past not necessarily been given the opportunity they deserve. This is changing as it must, and we in Australia can also do our part by directly encouraging our indigenous Australians to pursue a career in our industry. Vision Committee Chair, Johnny Simmons ASC asked what we were doing about our Australian aborigines…no mucking around!! My response and my attitude is firmly based on the fact that everyone must be given the chance to pursue their dreams at all costs. We have many fine indigenous technicians, actors, directors and artists already working in Australia but we can do better, and it is important that we do not simply let those kids on remote locations be disadvantaged, particularly if they show the talent, the desire and the capacity to pursue a career in the film and television industry. I also made the point regarding women working in the camera department, who rise to be an assistant, then decide to start a family but do not return to the job, for whatever reason. Something we are trying to understand.

This was a great session, too short to really get into the crux of the matter, but nevertheless, we continue to discuss in an open and frank way this much needed “work in progress”.


In 2016 at the ACS National Awards for Cinematography in Adelaide, I was surprised and honoured to receive a ‘thank you’ presentation from the members of the ACS Women’s Advisory Panel, a group of women, dedicated to cinematography and the ideals of the Society, acknowledging my contribution towards fostering and encouraging the role of women within the ACS.

Let’s be brutally honest, we haven’t always recognised gender equality, but something I do not doubt for one second, is that the ACS of today most certainly does.

The work is still in progress but we have made good ground and will continue to do so. The ACS will always encourage women to strive for the very best they can be, to aim for Accreditation, and to be damn proud should they receive recognition on that level playing field known as the ACS Awards.

With new technologies, opportunities abound, and I would like to think that the camera department is no longer the male dominated field it once was.

It’s extremely commendable that many organisations are now recognising that it’s difficult for women to actually be making a living in our industry. The fact is, this applies to everybody and we should be trying to emphasise that the ACS recognises all cinematographers, with no gender bias.

We must remain inclusive and do more for all cinematographers, and never lose sight of the fact that hard work, determination, dedication and talent play equal parts in any success story.

Gender bias is described thus: “an unfair difference in the way women and men are treated”.
The ACS of today does not condone bias of any kind, and the journey we are on has only just begun.

However, what we have found is that a large majority of women working in the camera department, who leave to start a family, choose not to return to work. The reasons are in many cases difficult to fathom, but there is one train of thought that indicates some women see no full time career will be available to them upon returning, and choose to raise their children and decide to take another career direction later. In many ways they are right, our industry does have a very short memory, and we lose those people we could really do with.
We must all work towards changing our mindset for the future, given the fact technology allows everyone the opportunity to embrace and to learn what is has to offer.

Ron Johanson OAM ACS

Our industry like all, experiences many highs and an equal number of lows. Those lows can prove to be difficult to deal with if the warning signs are often not recognized and dealt with in some way.

I can only speak personally about cinematographers, and what I have observed is a group of individuals, both male and female who can be at the very top of their game in any genre one minute, then experiencing a dreadful low the next.

There can be no warning signs, and many things, including; lack of work, feeling unwanted or unappreciated, lack of confidence, getting older, relationship breakdowns, financial concerns to mention but a few can bring on these moments of doubt and fear. Sound familiar?

The thing to remember and to try and understand is that there are many of our friends and colleagues battling these symptoms on a daily basis, and manage to smile and laugh their way through what could eventually become tragic consequences. We can no longer continue with the great Aussie adage of “she’ll be right mate” and plunge headlong into something there can be no return from, unless you seek the counsel of someone close to you. Open up, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and feelings, as your life could well depend on it.

Personally, I have experienced these ‘black dog’ moments, and if not for those close to me understanding and being there to just listen, who knows…….

Cinematographers are like any creative person who rely and depend on an accolade, a compliment or positive feedback to give them re-assurance until the phone rings with that next booking. It’s dealing with the phone not ringing that needs to be addressed, it’s dealing with the changes in style, technology and the way certain areas of our industry may not consider how crew members can and will react to rejection. It’s a fine line, but people need to be aware that it’s not necessarily “what you say” it’s “how you say it”.

This issue, and mark my words it is an issue, can be nipped in the bud by simple awareness, or it will become worse unless a greater level of understanding and compassion about the human condition takes place.

We are not all the same, we cannot all bounce back and for those who can’t adapt or adjust then the outcome could be a tragic one.

Lets raise our awareness and try not to experience losing another life that could have been saved. Look for the warning signs, ask people how they are and if they need a hand, offer yours….it could be as simple as that!!

Awareness is also paramount when it comes to on set safety; so don’t let carelessness take place on any set, as again the consequences could be dire. It’s up to all of us to accept the responsibility of looking after everyone on a working set, and to be sure that we are not putting colleagues or ourselves at risk. We must always expect, and in fact demand, a safe and friendly environment in which to work.

DO NOT cut corners, do not dis-respect your fellow workers, and ensure things are put in place that remove any danger or any negative element that could become a safety issue. The ACS feels very strongly about anything that could seriously affect the welfare of any of our ACS members and all crewmembers working honestly and diligently for a day’s pay to provide for their families.

Some might say, it’s an old fashion attitude, well so be it!!
Ron Johanson OAM ACS

SESSION 2 – 1 FILM 3 VISIONS presented by Tony Costa.

Tony Costa AIP IMAGO has been working on a thesis about cinematography for a few years. Having in the background the fundamental issue of authorship rights, the Portuguese/Canadian cinematographer has produced a film for his PhD studies to be presented and evaluated for the academic degree at the Lusofona University in Lisbon.
The essay named “1 film 3 visions” was co-produced by Lusofona University in Lisbon and by HFF Munich Film School and was filmed in Munich last March.
The research study intends to find out if there are any perception changes on the audience depending on the aesthetics of the image. So, the film intends to discover if the photographic style applied to the film along with composition and movement can give a different narrative impression to the audience independently of the mise-en-scene of the director. To be able to prove any of these, Tony Costa assembled the idea of shooting one script, with the same director, the same set, the same crew and the same actors three times, changing only the cinematographer. So, the film was produced in the HFF studio in Munich with the production assistance of Katrin Richthofer during the Hands-on workshops last March and the film was shot three times. Once by Axel Block BVK, Nina Badoux from the Netherlands and Roberto Schaefer ASC. German director, Ilse Hoffman, directed the three films.

This was a very interesting exercise and proved beyond any doubt the capacity of each individual to interpret the cinematography of the same script, the same Director, but three different results.

DAY 4 – SESSION 3 – A VISION OF A PAINTER’S COLOUR FRAMEWORK FOR DIGITAL IMAGE TEXTURE. Presented by Rolf Coulanges BVK & Daniele Siragusano - FilmLight.

GRAB A COFFEE, Take a look at the links below, they have plenty of info within

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Coulanges_ICF-Part_2.jpg »

SESSION 4 – A PORTRAIT OF ROBBY MULLER presented by Claire Pijman NSC

The late Robby Muller was a giant, a man of singular importance in our industry, a man who led from the front and created images that will remain in our psyche forever. The love, respect and care that Dutch cinematographer Claire Pijman NSC has toward Robby is palpable and she shares this love with us all in a beautifully crafted documentary tribute to Robby, entitled “Robby Muller - Living the Light”.

Claire was given all of Robby’s personal films and tapes that he lovingly recorded wherever he went as he was a keen observer of people and environments and Claire has taken Robby’s material and shared his life and his work with us. This is a beautiful insight into a uniquely gifted man who shared his most passionate thoughts with those around him. To listen to Claire talk with such fondness and reverence about Robby is deeply moving, and this must have been a seriously emotionally draining exercise, given her close friendship with Robby.

If the opportunity arises, please watch this documentary, it will reassure you of the fact that Robby Muller was indeed a visionary cinematographer and a creative master. Claire, you have brought Robby further into our hearts and minds….thank you.

SESSION 5 – ON SET SAFETY & UNION ISSUES- presented by IATSE LOCAL 600 President, Steven Poster ASC.

This session was a really necessary one and was a brutally honest one from Steven Poster ASC. Steven highlighted again the tragic death of camera assistant, Sarah Jones while on location in Georgia for the film “Midnight Rider”. This was an avoidable incident and has ultimately destroyed lives and no doubt careers, with the Director serving jail time for trespassing onto the Georgia railroad bridge and putting his film crew in the path of a freight train that slammed into the group and killed the young camera assistant.

This is one of many incidents that need not occur, as no shot, no set up is worth putting lives at risk. Steven called for global recognition of the problem and asked that senior crew stand up and say no, or suggest another way. Steven presented several films related to safety at work. Problematic issues like long consecutive days of
work and safety, were strong subjects presented. The film “If not now…when” grabs the audience attention immediately due the sensitive subject matter.

Watch the video it speaks for itself. Or visit the website :

https://vimeo.com/220880990 »
https://www.icg600.com/ »

The ACS fully supports Steven Poster and the IATSE Local 600 in their efforts to ensure absolute safety for all on any film set, anywhere in the world.

SESSION 6 – THE LATEST TRENDS IN STREAMING- Presented by Suki Medencevic ASC SAS and guests from Amazon.

This was a very enlightening session as the two representatives from Amazon, surprised us all by indicating that Amazon as a Production entity would not insist on having creative control over a production. The control would lie firmly in the hands of the creative team, as a collaboration. Amazon would need to be consulted and advised given the streaming and distribution potential but overall creative control would remain with the filmmakers.

SESSION 7 – THE BUSINESS OF CINEMATOGRAPHY – A conversation with Hollywood’s leading cinematography agents.

5 leading Hollywood agents, who represent cinematographers formed a really informing panel and gave us all food for thought, but particularly those who live and work in the USA. So, you want an agent? First up prepare your reel, NO MONTAGES, all complete works no matter the genre. Make sure your best and potentially latest work us first up on your reel, it may be the only chance you get to impress. Try really hard to be in the screening with the agent and whatever you do, answer questions honestly and with no excuses, otherwise you may end up sitting alone and wondering what just went wrong.

These people see hundreds of potential clients to represent, so you have to stand out, make an impression whether it be personally or through your work, as they go hand in hand in many cases. If you shoot TVC’s then have no ’retail’ work on your reel at all, as it will only cause the room to empty. Sounds simple, but really it’s a hard slog, so you need to stand out and offer them work that is visually commanding and has been demanding on you personally.

You could see these very influential people looking carefully around the room, gauging, even in this environment how people carry and present themselves, which was really interesting for an old bloke to observe. I must say that after the session, many cards were exchanged and conversations lingered on…a good response I thought.


Late in the afternoon each Society had the chance to screen their SOCIETY REELS to a very appreciative audience. It was great to see how each country and the work they produce, has a unique and distinctive style. Obviously dictated by the cultural and political aspects of each country.

Then there was the sound of laughter, hands clapping and conversation. The dulcet tones of Delphine Figueras announcing the winners of the traditional Summit Raffle, where every player wins a prize, was heard loud and clear through the rooms of the ASC Clubhouse. Sadly, our time together had come to an end….

ICS 2018 Photo Gallery »

It must be said that this third Summit has most certainly brought all Societies closer together in a bond of collaboration and camaraderie. We must, at every opportunity continue to cement the friendships made and the principles of cinematography as a vehicle for unity.

The next Summit is proposed for 2020, again in Los Angeles at the ASC.
To the ASC – The American Society of Cinematographers I stand and applaud you for your generosity of spirit and your willingness to bring the Societies of the world into your home for discussion and to build a better understanding between us all.

Ron Johanson OAM ACS
National President

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© 2019 Australian Cinematographers Society