Unless you really follow cinema, the name Dean Cundey won’t immediately ring a bell. If you’re a rabid film geek, however, you’ll know he’s the cinematographer of Halloween, The Thing, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Apollo 13, and Jurassic Park, to name a few.
In short, he’s shot some incredibly cool and innovative movies for a variety of great directors.
With Jurassic Park converted to 3D, Cundey spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about the dino classic he shot for Spielberg over twenty years ago. Even though Cundey had previously shot Roger Rabbit, which was a very groundbreaking FX film, Jurassic Park was also a whole new ballgame in that regard as it broke through CGI in a big way.
While Cundey is not totally convinced of 3D technology, saying, “It’s a process that requires care,” he does feel that Park was a good candidate for conversion. “Steven is very good at wide shots that [look] three dimensional and great storytelling with the camera. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the raptors in the kitchen with the kids. It has a lot of 3D potential with the raptors jumping up on the counter, things falling and the kids hiding in the foreground or background””
Remember, this year is also the 25th anniversary of Roger Rabbit, and as Cundey recalled, “We put so much effort into making it look different and believable. Everybody was invested in making sure the movie was new and innovative.”
Cundey’s indeed been very lucky to have shot a number of innovative films, and as he once told me, “So much of what we do with these new leading edge films, whether it’s Roger Rabbit or Jurassic Park or The Thing, it’s about the right people at the right place and time. Roger Rabbit was really a major new step… We had been given rules by Disney, ‘You can’t move the camera, shoot wide shots so they can move the animation around inside it,’ and me and Robert Zemeckis said, ‘Well, we’re going to violate those rules because we want to do something different.”
Cundey adds, “I’ve always particularly enjoyed doing things that haven’t been done before, or taking something to a new level as far as technology or technique. You kind of get used to flying by the scene of your pants through a lot of these new techniques. You learn as you go. Just about the time you’ve got it mastered, which is the end of the film, somebody else comes up with an idea and says, ‘Hey, I think we ought to do this,’ and you’re off and running on a whole new concept.”