American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 16

Pro Perspective
John Schwartzman, ASC:
Roll With It
John Schwartzman, ASC is the cinematographer behind Benny & Joon, The
Rock (AC June '96), Pearl Harbor (AC May
'01), National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The
Amazing Spider-Man (AC Aug. '12) and The
Founder. He received an Oscar nomination
and an ASC Award for his work on Seabiscuit (AC Aug. '03), and he'll next be reteaming with his Jurassic World (AC July '15) and
The Book of Henry director, Colin Trevorrow,
for Star Wars: Episode IX.
"The most important tool I bring to
set is my sense of humor," offers the cinematographer. Although this may seem like a
tongue-in-cheek response, Schwartzman,
ironically, is dead serious. "It's more impor-

16

July 2017

tant than my meter or any other piece of kit.
Making a film is a team sport. Although the
cinematographer may have a very strong
sense of how he or she wants the film to
look, the real world conspires against us
every day, and I have found that having a
sense of humor, and realizing that it's not a
perfect world, has allowed me to not only
survive but thrive in this business.
"You can plan [your day], check the
weather, and hope the sun will shine the day
you are at a certain location - and, lo and
behold, it's crappy weather!" Schwartzman
continues. "We aren't in the business of
coming-back-tomorrow anymore, so you
need to be able to laugh, smile, and figure
out a 'plan B.' There's at least one shot in any
film I have done that I would want to do
over, but humor stops me from testing my
car's airbag at crew parking."
- JH

American Cinematographer

John Schwartzman, ASC (left) checks the
frame while shooting Jurassic World.

Schwartzman photo by Chuck Zlotnick, courtesy of Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment Inc.

Above: Canon's 6.5-180mm (f1.5) UHD DigiSuper 27 zoom is a 2⁄3"-format studio lens for
broadcast applications. Below: Sigma's 24-35mm (T2.2) FF Zoom is designed for cine-style
use with full-frame image sensors.

and making it appear as if the lens is
"breathing" in and out. This is most readily observable in zoom lenses, due to their
complex design, but it can also be seen in
primes. Most designers of cine-style lenses
work very hard to eliminate breathing as
much as possible.
The next point of comparison
applies only to zoom lenses. Cine-style
zooms tend to favor a parfocal rather
than varifocal design, the latter of which
does not hold precise focus as the lens is
zoomed in or out; the focus will instead
drift, and you will have to refocus every
time you change the zoom magnification.
A parfocal lens, on the other hand, maintains precise focus over the entire zoom
range; you can zoom-in to the maximum
focal length, focus on your subject, then
zoom out to any other focal length and
the lens will retain the desired focus. With
a varifocal lens, you will not be able to
zoom in-shot. Many still-style lenses are
varifocal.
Finally, some zoom lenses demonstrate an axial shift to the image as you
zoom in or out. This means that the image
composition can change slightly from side
to side or top to bottom from one focal
length to another. In most cases this isn't
a problem, but if you're zooming in on a
rigid structure, the axial shift can be



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - July 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 7
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 8
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 9
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 28
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 33
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 37
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 38
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 40
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41A
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41B
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 42
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 43
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover3
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