Cinematography – The Rollingball Difference

Film and television are visual mediums. Cinematography is the art of visual storytelling and encompasses all aspects of light and movement within the medium. The cinematographer leads the camera and lighting crews and is also known as the Director of Photography.

Here at Rollingball Productions, no matter the location or genre, cinematography is a key component to our output and is headed up by the award-winning and very talented Paul Donnelly. Paul was born in Scotland, raised in Australia and began his career working in the AD department on iconic British productions including Cold Feet, The Bill, Coronation Street and Northern Lights. He has produced commercial work for brands including The Australian Defence Force, BP, Dell, Tourism NSW, NSW Health, Westpac, Department of Industry, and Brokenwood Wines. Paul, along with the talented Rollingball crew, have many years experience in film production and cinematography.

Two travellers embrace in the Van Life film - cinematography by Paul Donnelly
Two travellers embrace in Van Life – Stories from the Road – cinematography by Paul Donnelly

“My love for film and imagery has never wavered. For 20 years, I used every excuse to be around the camera, both in Australia and back in the UK. Now, as a Director and Cinematographer, I try to balance and connect the aesthetic emotions with the visual representation in a narrative, both in film and commercial work,” said Paul.

When it comes to a cinematography perspective at Rollingball Productions, every aspect of the production is considered – wardrobe, talent, lighting, and composition (angles/movement) are all crafted to complement the tone, style and narrative of the film. It is usually a collaborative approach with the film production team to perfect the cinematographer’s vision.

The importance of light for cinematography

Light plays a major role in what is captured on film. It has a profound influence on the tone, style and narrative and requires a great deal of patience. Waiting around for that perfect light in the final minutes of the day, can make all the difference in quality cinematography output. Manipulating light in your favour is a craft that sets a great cinematographer apart from the rest.

Rollingball Productions shoots on a range of digital cinema cameras to achieve exceptional cinematography. Our in-house lenses of choice are a set of LOMO ILLUMINA MK II S35 CINE PRIMES that capture an organic, rich image that are a major contributor to the Rollingball aesthetic which can be defined as organic, emotional, and real. The mixture of light, lens and camera choice create a visual language and tone that enables the cinematographer to communicate with the audience.

The Rollingball aesthetic

“As a cinematographer, I thrive to create a look that imitates life in the context of the narrative. For exteriors, smart of use of natural light, knowing sun direction and the time of day you are on location is a good start, and always having a quality full silk on standby for use as diffusions above talent is wise. Know and use the locations as part of the storytelling. Nature creates its own voice and having the perfect landscape in the right light can be half the job,” said Paul.

“When doing internal shots be it night or day I lean heavily on large key lights from exterior sources beamed through windows, a quality HMI 2K and above is a good start, then adding in and creating shape with subtle fill lights; A combination of Chinese Lanterns for face fill, keno banks and practical’s for shape and texture gets you around most scenes.”

Paul’s love of Australian classic cinema has no doubt influenced his cinematography aesthetic. “When I moved to Australia, my new country ignited my imagination; I loved the expanse and the notion that anything was possible. You just needed to get creative. I fell in love with the story and the history that was served up to immigrant Australians. I delved into Australian classics of the ’70s and ’80s. I watched relentless reruns of The Man From Snowy River, Phar Lap, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Gallipoli and the list goes on,” the cinematographer said.

It is the cinematic techniques and equipment that make the Rollingball difference. No shoot or brief is the same, therefore a lot of planning in the pre-production phase enables the team to achieve the desired visual. Specialised camera equipment is used to capture this – whether it’s a drone, crane, tracks, a gimbal, each shot is crafted to enhance the overall film and the result is a cinema quality production.

For more info about our cinematography or film production services, contact us.

Rollingball Productions Cinematography Highlights

Here are some examples of Paul’s cinematography.

Brokenwood Wines digital content commercial
Department of Primary Industries – Fish for Life campaign 60sec digital content commercial
Uniting AgeWell – digital content 30sec commercial
Van Life – Stories from the Road – trailer – independent production
April Howard