For most people, this is the summer of recycled superheroes, terrorists, and tyrannosaurs at the movies. It's also a risky cinematic season in which everyone will be waiting to see which of the $100-million-plus studio offerings goes bust. And not least, it's a time when collective breaths will be held over whether James Cameron's Titanic, the most expensive film ever made, sails into box-office port on schedule.

LD's focus in this, the third annual special report on cinematography, is slightly different. We do look at a few of the summer's blockbusters--Batman & Robin (this photo) Men in Black, Face/Off. And we then take a peek at some upcoming films from outside Hollywood, whether it be the American independent realm (Nowhere) or foreign shores (The Pillow Book, When the Cat's Away).

And what we find, surprisingly, are common themes. Whether the project is in the mega-budget range, like Batman & Robin, or the under-$10-million category, like The Pillow Book, filmmakers seem increasingly inclined to use equipment--moving lights, dimmers, projections--that is not traditionally associated with cinema. And then there's the matter of color: Which has the wilder palette, for example, B&R or Nowhere?

Of course, no one knows about color like Jack Cardiff, the great cinematographer of The Red Shoes and The African Queen who recently published his memoirs, and who helps to give 1997's technological and artistic endeavors a historical context.