Capturing Emotion in Film and Print

Tiffen Dfx Digital Filters Drive Visual Creation on Multiple Levels for Michael Bernard

Michael Bernard headshotFor a cinematographer, having the ability and tools that allow you to evoke emotion through imagery is key. At times, the camera may not be able to capture the exact atmosphere an artist is looking for, or that atmosphere may not even exist. It’s at those moments and instances that visual effects and digital filter technology become life (and image) savers. From creating a dark and edgy background for an alternative rock music video, to tweaking the color to amplify the bold nature of a commercial for consumer audiences, and even adjusting the lighting of an outdoor shot on the beach at dusk, visual effects tools can take a cinematographer’s or photographer’s work to the next level.                                    

“I try to create an emotion visually and capture that through composition. The best photographs are able to evoke an emotion through a single image, and that’s what I strive for in my film work, that single frame or scene that sparks a response in audiences.” 

  - Michael Bernard, Director & Cinematographer 



Michael Bernard’s work as a director and cinematographer represents an eclectic mix of cultures, style, viewpoints, and life experiences. Born in Southern California and raised and educated in the UK, hence his unmistakable and charming accent, Michael’s career has taken many twists and turns – all contributing to the phenomenal visual artist he is today. His first introduction to the film industry came from his initial career as a musician, playing bass in a rock and roll band. Not surprisingly, his work as a cinematographer has since found a home in the highly visual world of music videos. Shooting with some of the most well known directors and biggest artists in the world, like photographers David LaChapelle and Albert Watson, and renowned musicians among the likes of Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliot and India Arie, Michael’s artistry has been nominated for an AICP award in 2004 and for a MTV Music Video Award in 2003 and 2005. After working in the music video industry for almost a dozen years, Michael took the next logical step in his career and began directing commercials himself.

From popular Victoria’s Secret commercials starring Heidi Klum, to spots for M&M, DSW Shoes, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Revlon, as well as acting as director of photography on promos for the hit TV show Entourage, Michael’s work as a commercial director and director of photography has skyrocketed. When taking a look at his portfolio, one thing is clear – image composition is everything. “I try to capture images lyrically, to bring things to the camera with a sense of rhythm between the composition and the lighting and how it works with the editing,” says Michael. “Every element is important; what’s key is how they all play together.” To achieve that perfect composition, Michael digs into his arsenal of tools and comes up with Tiffen’s Dfx digital filter suite for enhancing his images and footage. He was introduced to Dfx technology a few years back when in need of a good bleach bypass filter for a project in the Cayman Islands. Impressed with the software’s capabilities, Michael became an immediate fan and has continued to use the Dfx suite throughout his wide range of work.

A Photo Lab Made Digital

Constantly transitioning from one medium to another – print to film and back again – Michael’s workflow includes tools he can easily use in all areas of his work. “One of the most intriguing things for me about the Tiffen Dfx filters is how customizable they are for virtually any workflow. With roots in the film world, the filters are dripping with terms and concepts that, as a cinematographer, I am extremely familiar with. This makes working with the filters in more than one medium very simple, and allows me to carry ideas over from one project to the next,” says Michael. Tiffen’s Dfx digital filter suite represents a major technological breakthrough that compliments and expands the extraordinary creative control that Tiffen optical filters bring to still, film and video. Not only do the filters bridge the gap between film and print, but also between traditional and digital image control. For a multi-faceted artist like Michael, the Tiffen Dfx suite is the only one he needs to have in his repertoire – it works for all. From dabbling with the filters, such as bleach bypass, on a recent music video for the L.A. based alternative group Pop.Control, to using them when collaborating on Lucky Brand Jeans ad campaigns, Michael often pulls out Tiffen Dfx filters like Diffusion or various Color Gels to make his images stand out. “I incorporate Tiffen’s filters into any project that needs image or color correction – which, in reality, is usually all of them,” says Michael. “Much of my print work has involved the Tiffen Dfx filters at some point or another – they are that powerful and that simple to use. And since they are compatible with so many different workflows, it’s easy to achieve the same look and feel across multiple mediums in one campaign. That’s a huge benefit.”

With Tiffen Dfx filters, Michael’s image editing workflow is fairly simple. Mainly working in Photoshop or Final Cut Pro to edit his work, Michael imports his images or footage as TIFFs and immediately starts playing around with levels to find creative inspiration. He opens up the Tiffen Dfx digital filter suite and first looks to the Diffusion filter to soften any harsh edges or strong light in the images. For images involving models, he uses a Mask to cover the eyes, hair, lips, etc. and diffuses any areas on the skin that contain unwanted sharpness or lighting. Color gels are used quite often in Michael’s work, as his work involves a lot of high impact, commercial campaigns that need color tweaking or adjusting to achieve that consumer pop. “The Dfx filter suite gives me so many options to work with – it really expands the range of creative options for any visual artist,” says Michael. “As for my favorite filters? I really enjoy working with Black Diffusion/FX® and Bleach Bypass.”

More Creative Control Than Ever Before

As a beta tester of the recently released Tiffen Dfx 3.0 digital filter suite, Michael had the opportunity to try out the new software for himself; “Simply put, I think Tiffen Dfx is truly a digital dark room essential for any photographer, cinematographer, or retoucher,” says Michael. “It opens up so many doors to creativity. From acting as a bridge between my film work and print, to heightening that raw emotion that I strive to capture in all of my work – there’s really no comparison.”

            To view Michael Bernard’s work you can visit:



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