Signature look in historic ‘Aviator’

Special to The Times

Cinematographer Robert Richardson, who took home the Oscar for his work on “The Aviator,” developed his signature look of hot lights and burnished surfaces while working with director Oliver Stone on films such as “Salvador,” “Wall Street,” “JFK” -- for which he received his first Oscar -- “Natural Born Killers” and “Nixon.” He worked with “Aviator” director Martin Scorsese for the first time on “Casino” and again on “Bringing Out the Dead.”

For “The Aviator,” one of Richardson’s main challenges was to adhere to the film’s highly evolved color scheme, which was meant to emulate the look of the two-strip Technicolor process for the earlier sections, and then evolve into a brighter three-strip Technicolor look for the later sequences, following the look of movies from the periods being acted out in the on-screen story.

This year’s nominees were drawn from a rich pageant of period pieces and included work by some of Hollywood’s top shooters, as well as a pair of foreign-based nominees. They were: Zhao Xiaoding.for “The House of Flying Daggers,” who previously worked with director Zhang Yimou as head of the B unit of “Hero”; Caleb Deschanel, a veteran cinematographer with credits including “Being There” and “The Right Stuff,” receiving his fifth nomination for his work on “The Passion of the Christ”; John Mathieson, nominated for his work to bring the famously over-the-top “The Phantom of the Opera” to the big screen; French cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, previously nominated for “Amelie,” who again worked with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet on “A Very Long Engagement.”