'Slumdog' DP sees brave new world in craft

Mantle says it's getting 'easier' to combine digital, film

Anthony Dod Mantle won the Oscar for cinematography on the strength of his energetic rendering of Mumbai in "Slumdog Millionaire."

The first-time nominee's win underscores the widening palette of film and digital approaches available to cinematographers to use to tell their stories.

Both "Slumdog" and nominee "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" were multiformat titles, lensed with a combination of film and digital-cinematography cameras. "The Dark Knight" is the first narrative studio feature to be lensed in part using Imax cameras.

"Slumdog" was shot with a combination of lightweight SI 2K digital cameras -- often handheld -- and 35mm film. Mantle said the digital camera allowed him to be unobtrusive and move quickly through Mumbai. To get into the action, Mantle also ran alongside the children, shooting handheld with the digital camera.

"It clearly does mean that, even though ('Button' cinematographer) Claudio (Miranda) and I used different techniques and image-capture mechanisms, it's getting easier to incorporate different formats together," Mantle said. "There is an open-mindedness coming."

He added: "The most important thing is each story has to be told in the right way, and every story can work on different formats if emotionally you know why you are doing what you are doing and stand your ground. If you do that, you can explore formats to a surprising degree."

Mantle also emphasized that good filmmaking doesn't always look the same.

"Many associate beauty with higher and higher definition," he said. "But beauty, brilliance and sublime are relative."

For Mantle, the Oscar recognition follows honors including the BAFTA Award and the Golden Frog at the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography Plus Camerimage.
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