James Medcraft has an his unconventional approach to motion picture work, including some unusual applications and combinations of traditional photographic techniques that produce astonishing results. We caught up with him at BVE to talk about his work,his approaches, and why time distortion could be his favourite tool...
Photography has been a part of life for James Medcraft from a young age with a small darkroom at the family home. He later studied Typography at the-then London College of Printing (now LCC) which was a course with a highly theorised focus to design. Alongside this, James studied colour theory and film studies. This combination of skills peaked his interest in the semiotics of film and how he could explore his own ideas as moving pictures.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
I've had and continue to have quite an unconventional approach to my motion picture work. I graduated and worked at many production companies in London and found a job with the-then unknown United Visual Artists where I remained for six years. There, I worked as a designer and photographer of the works we created. As the work we created was so unusual and difficult to photograph, I became specialised in photographing and filming in environments which often required the need to adapt cameras and create rudimentary motion equipment in order to capture the works. After leaving UVA, customisation of equipment as became core to my storytelling approach. Now, I'm working as a full-time DP and occasional director. I am fascinated by how the correct and subtle use of technological in-camera effects can aid, and itself become, the medium of storytelling. My aim is never to blind people with science; moreover to create new ways of seeing our everyday world.
I would like the viewer to come away with new insights in how the evolving world of technology and narrative can enable new ways to tell stories.
What do you hope visitors will take away from the insights your are sharing with us at BVE?
For my talk I will be explaining the detailed and evolving production processes of some of my favourite projects to date. Most of my projects involve unusual applications and combinations of lighting and time. For most of these projects, 'time' has become a medium in which I need to distort, reverse or change its speed in order to reveal something to the viewer. In order to do this I've had to create new shooting processes and work with developers to sculpt specific shots. I would like the viewer to come away with new insights in how the evolving world of technology and narrative can enable new ways to tell stories.
Are the latest technological developments destined to revolutionise how we capture images? If so, are content creators being encouraged to explore these areas to merge storytelling and technology and deliver new perspectives to the industry?
New developments in technology enable us to create images previously impossible to capture in the past. They also enable us to display and augment them in new ways too. As new technologies enable us to explore new ways of seeing the world, it also presents some new challenges in how to convey these images in a way that's understandable to the viewer.
I am very interested in how VR will be developed as a technology for entertaining, educating and revealing ideas previously too difficult to convey in a seemingly two dimensional world. I feel that this technology has one of the biggest potentials to change the industry, but I feel its success lies more in conversation and development as to how the medium is used and presented rather than how it is captured.