DPP: Growing up in Italy and being exposed to the story-driven classic Italian cinema seems to have had an impact on your eye and approach, as well.
Ketch Rossi: It’s because of it that I have become a very passionate cinematographer and photographer, paying extreme attention to the details—in the story, the drama of it, the composition—and always ensuring a story is told, as in a motion film or even more so in a photograph, there has to be a reason and it needs to say something, or it’s worth nothing. The films I watched growing up in Italy were so full of expression. These were all theater actors, and actors of an era with no sound, and in black-and-white, so their passion needed to come through their expressions and the way they moved. That was true acting.
But I also must give credit for who I am and where I’m going today, to Hollywood, as America is my second home, even now that I’ve moved back to Italy. I’m extremely fortunate to have had the teachings of both the passionate world of old Italian movies and the incredible movie-making machine called Hollywood.
DPP: How has your career evolved in the still + motion world?
Ketch Rossi: One word sums that all up: RED. It seemed that every time I had taken my still camera out for a shoot, I wished I could have also filmed, yet every time I was out filming something, I wished the opposite—I wanted to have photos of some of those images, but it wasn’t possible. Then came the RED ONE that records at 4K resolution, allowing one to pull RAW frame grabs out of the motion stream, but the camera just wasn’t a good transition for me at that time. It was, in fact, a few years later, when the RED EPIC camera came out, that I "evolved." Thanks to the friendship and alliance with Steve Gibby, Jim Jannard [founder/CEO of RED] and Jarred Land [president of RED], it allowed me to become second in the world to take delivery of a preproduction "EPIC-M," which was serial number 00008, aka M8. Jim kept serial numbers 1 through 5, and a colleague friend from New York got serial numbers 6 and 7. Ever since I’ve started using the RED EPIC, I’ve melded the arts of photographer and cinematographer, evolving into a *Cinephotographer.
DPP: Which came first, and why did you start incorporating the other?
Ketch Rossi: The passion for motion came first, with that little mirror, but the first camera I bought was a still camera, and the capacity of freezing a moment in time was such an amazing experience for me that I still can’t get over it. It’s because of still photography that I developed my skills as a director of photography, where the lighting is the most important element in an image.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started incorporating them, and this was with the RED EPIC-M M8, the camera that changed it all for me. I can have the very best of both worlds. I now exclusively use the RED EPIC Digital Cinema Camera. For the first time, we can have both—still images and motion images to the quality of IMAX projection. My colleagues such as Ridley Scott used this camera for Prometheus. The given capacity to have still images via frame extraction from the motion stream, which now presents you with 14, 20+ megapixel images with the Dragon sensor, with a great dynamic range and strong files in R3D RAW to allow for post manipulation—it’s so important to us in this new world of digital.
is ever faster evolving; in fact, we’re waiting for an email from the guys at RED to inform us that our RED EPIC M8 is to be sent in for the new sensor upgrade called Dragon, another reason I love this camera. It’s so modular that we can even get a new sensor, instead of needing to buy an entire new camera.