Bio: Karl Herrmann c.s.c.
Photographer / Cinematographer
Karl Herrmann has seen the world through a rectangle since he got his first Kodak “Brownie” at the age eight. Inspired by the work of Ansel Adams and Paul Strand, young Karl built a fully functioning black and white darkroom in the family’s attic.
Through a combination of photography interests and skiing, Karl met ski filmmaker Warren Miller. “Extreme Skiing” hadn’t been invented yet, but Karl and his friends were doing it. This, along with a promotional ski film Karl made of his wild skiing buddies, prompted Miller to suggest a career in the film business. Karl worked for Miller, on and off, filming at some of the worlds most exotic ski locations.
Upon moving to Hollywood, Karl was introduced to renowned British Visual Effects Cameraman, Wally Gentleman, BSC by George Turner, then at the ASC. Wally had been the head of Visual Effects at Pinewood Studios and had lent his considerable skills to the groundbreaking visual effects film, “2001: A Space Odyssey”. As things turned out, Wally was looking for a new camera assistant who understood the photographic process and Karl got the job. Along the way, as Wally’s understudy, Karl was loaned to, and schooled by, such Visual Effects masters as Linwood Dunn ASC and Bill Abbott ASC. One of the more notable projects Karl worked on with Wally was Francis Ford Coppola’s “One From The Heart”. ( see American Cinematographer Magazine)
As that film ended, a friend and admirer of Wally’s was starting a Steven Spielberg film at George Lucas’ newly established Industrial Light and Magic facility. The friend, Dennis Muren ASC hired Karl as his assistant for the Visual Effects work on “E.T.”
Upon completion of “E.T.”, a recommendation from Muren brought Karl aboard “The Right Stuff”. Karl photographed the dramatic John Glen re-entry sequence for the film, along with many other shots. Karl re-connected with Caleb Deschanel ASC on this film, whom he’d met on the Zoetrope lot while filming “One From The Heart”.
Karl began to get commercial assignments, which allowed him to utilize his vast visual effects background along with his early photographic skills. His roster of clients grew to include many national and international corporations.
The commercial work grew into special format films. Iwerks 65mm-8 perforation cameras were used for enormous IMAX music video presentations of Willie Nelson, Prince, and Duran Duran. The IMAX film “Reno!” was also shot in this format. Karl also shot the visual effects for a Chevrolet presentation film in the Showscan format. “Postcards”, a nine camera – 360 degree Circlevision film took Karl and his crew on two laps of the globe. (see American Cinematographer Magazine)
In 1985 Karl wrote a series of three technical articles, “Agfa”, “Fuji”, “Kodak”, on film testing for American Cinematographer Magazine. Each major manufacturer’s films were systematically run through their paces and the results explained in detail. ASC members Gordon Willis, Caleb Deschanel, Bob Primes and Steven Burum offered their expertise to the project.
Bruce Paltrow, on a recommendation from ASC member Rick Gunter, hired Karl for a CBS pilot. The show put Karl on the map at CBS. His next pilot outing was “Touched by an Angel”. Because of his work with African American actors on “Touched”, HBO hired Karl for “America’s Dream”, which went on to garner many awards and a long TV run. Karl also photographed the pilot and first season of “Dawson’s Creek”. (see International Photographer Magazine)
Recent projects include the massive Second Unit and Visual Effects photography for “I, ROBOT”, “Agent Cody Banks” “Freddie vs. Jason” and “Case 39”. As technoloty changed, Karl became the co-Chair of IATSE Union HDTV Training for Western Canada. He’s utilized his expertise in the HD field on a diverse range of shows including “Scary Movie 4”, “Marilyn, Forever Blonde” and “Babylon 5 – The Lost Tales”. “Babylon 5” and “The Dream Princess” were shot completely on virtual sets utilizing the green screen process.
Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s Karl was involved in major alpine mountaineering expeditions throughout the world. The most memorable was the historic 1987 climb, and first ascent, of Annapurna IV(24, 688’) in the Himalayas of Nepal. In National Geographic style, Karl photographed the expedition for sponsor client Celanese Corporation.
In 2010, at the urging of a friend, Karl produced and published the “Canadian best-seller” coffee table book ‘Pacific Spirit – Vancouver”.
Karl continues his love of black and white photography. He processes and prints all his own fine art black and white work, which is represented in galleries, private collections and museums across North America. He relishes, and is inspired by, the return to his roots and the quiet time he spends in nature.