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Cinematographer|Lin Tsan-ting

  • Date:2023-02-13

‧ Chinese Name: 林贊庭
‧ Date of Birth: 1930
‧ Place of Birth: Taichung County (Central Taiwan)
Did You Know?
Lee Ping-bing (李屏賓), an internationally renowned cinematographer who has worked with director Hou Hsiao-Hsien (侯孝賢) many times and was involved with Wong Kar-wai (王家衛)'s "In the Mood for Love (花樣年華)," calls himself a student of Lin Tsan-ting, and has said that he has learned from Lin ever since the beginning of his career. Lee calls Lin, a key figure in the industry from black-and-white movies through to color ones, a living history of Taiwanese cinema.

After graduating from high school in 1949, Lin Tsan-ting joined the Agricultural Education Film Company as one of its first trainees, studying shooting, sound recording, editing, lighting, developing, and other specialist cinema techniques. In 1950, Lin took part in his first shoot, working as an assistant cinematographer to Wang Shi-zhen (王士珍) for the movie "Awakening From A Nightmare (惡夢初醒).” In 1954, Agricultural Education Film Co. was restructured into the Central Motion Picture Corporation (CMPC, 中影), and Lin was promoted to a technician in the Taichung Studio. In 1957, CMPC lent Lin to the Taiwan Film Company to shoot the Taiwanese-language film "Love's Crossroad (愛情十字路)," which was his first time officially shooting a movie.

In 1961, Lin Tsan-ting returned to CMPC after having completed his national military service. At a time when Taiwanese-language films were on the rise and there was a great demand for cinematographers, he jointly purchased Arriflex IIA cameras with director Li Chuan-his (李泉溪) and cinematographer Hung Ching-yun (洪慶雲), who often co-produced Taiwanese opera films in Taichung. At that time, Lin took on work on a large number of Taiwanese opera or contemporary films. In 1963, Dah Du Industrial Co. (大都影業股份有限公司) was established, and Lin became one of many shareholders, along with taking on contracts in the development business and shooting and lighting techniques for black-and-white film. By 1966, Lin had made more than 50 Taiwanese-language films.

In 1963, when the 70mm film "The Great Wall (秦始皇)" co-produced by CMPC and Japan's Daiei Film Company (大映株式會社) came to Taiwan to shoot on location, Lin Tsan-ting was assigned as an assistant cinematographer, later going to Japan to study color film production techniques with cinematographer Michio Takahashi (高橋通夫). After the completion of "The Great Wall," Lin continued working with Daiei to assist in post-production work until the premiere. Later, he worked as an interpreter for actress Tang Pao-yun (唐寶雲) on "Sea Gulf Weather (金門灣風雲)," a co-production between CMPC and Nikkatsu Corporation (日活株式會社), until the film was finished.

After returning to Taiwan in 1964, Lin Tsan-ting was promoted to full cinematographer for CMPC. At the time, Taiwanese cinema was transitioning to color, and Lin’s studies in Japan immediately came in handy. CMPC also lent him out to Hong Kong’s Tien Nan Motion Picture Company (天南公司) to shoot "Murder in the Wedding (新婚大血案)," which became his first Mandarin-language color film. In 1965, Lin filmed "Dodder Flower (菟絲花)" for Grand Motion Pictures (國聯影業有限公司), with his work earning the appreciation of director Li Han-hsiang (李翰祥). In 1967, he cooperated with director Bai Jing-rui (白景瑞), who had just returned from Italy, to film "Lonely Seventeen (寂寞的十七歲)," which won the Best Color Film Cinematography Award and the Special Award for Best Cinematography at the 6th Golden Horse Awards. After that, the two enjoyed a long period of cooperation, including on landmark films such as "Home, Sweet Home (家在台北)" and "Good-bye Darling (再見阿郎)."

After the 1970s, Lin Tsan-ting began to work with a new generation of directors, as well as set up a company specializing in the rental and sale of cameras, lenses, and lighting equipment. In 1979, he set up a film studio that worked on production and equipment rental for commercials, music videos, and TV programs, along with often working as a Taiwanese location producer for Japanese films. In 1981, he retired from CMPC. Lin Tsan-ting has more than 130 films to his name, four Golden Horse Awards, and one Best Cinematography award from the Asia-Pacific Film Festival. He served as the third and fourth director of the Cinematography Association of the Republic of China, and published the book "An Overview of Taiwanese Cinematography Development, 1945-1970 (台灣電影攝影技術發展概述1945-1970)" in 2003. In 2021, 91-year-old Lin Tsan-ting won a Lifetime Achievement award at the 58th Golden Horse Awards, becoming the first cinematographer in history to be so honored.