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A Feast for the Eyes: Dissecting the Cinematography of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

July 25th, 2014 by Kelly Lin

Editor’s Note: This post is in conjunction with a special summer program on Hulu called Hulu Summer Film School. This summer, Hulu is using some of your favorite films to explore how filmmakers use elements such as sound, cinematography, and lighting to tell powerful stories and create moments that are unforgettable. Learn more at hulu.com/film-school. 

In Jiro Dreams of Sushi, cinematographer David Gelb uses a variety of angles, framing, and compositions to capture Jiro’s world. Let’s take a closer look at the different camera shots Gelb uses to construct the overall style of Jiro and inject deeper meaning into the images.

1) Medium Close Up - A standard for interviews in the talking head style, the medium close-up frames the subject from just below the shoulders to the top of the head.

2) Wide Shot – In this shot, the entire subject is shown as well as their surrounding area. As a result, we are able to see both Jiro’s son, Yoshikazu, and the actions he is performing.

3) Extreme Wide Shot - Gelb uses this extreme wide shot to establish the subject in relation to the surrounding area.

4) Extreme Close Up - This is a tight shot that focuses on a part of the face. The motivation of the shot is to magnify detail.

5) Dolly Shot - In a dolly shot, the camera is placed on a track and moves forward or backwards to slowly reveal parts of the frame.

6) Tracking Shot – In this shot, the camera moves with the subject, making sure to keep them in frame.

7) Fish Eye Shot – This shot uses a fish eye lens to create an interesting visual distortion. Notice that the center of the image is the widest and the most in focus while the rest of the image is slightly blurred and a bit skinnier.

8) Pan Shot - In the pan shot, the camera stays in the same position, but moves on a tripod from right to left, or in this case, left to right.

9) Tilt Shot – In this shot, the camera stays in the same position, but moves on a tripod from up to down or down to up.

10) Cut-In- The cut-in is a shot that focuses on a part of the subject in detail. In this case, the emphasis of the shot is on Jiro’s hands.

Another beautiful cut-in.

Did we mention this film has beautiful cut-ins?


If a production team were a kitchen staff, then the cinematographer would be its chef. By employing a variety of shots throughout the film, David Gelb is able to capture the beauty of Jiro and his craft, turning each frame into a mouthwatering delight.

Visit the Hulu Summer Film School page to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi and learn more about cinematography.

Last comment: Aug 2nd 2014 4 Comments
  • Andrew L says:

    I wound up seeing this film twice and indeed the cinematography is beautiful and very appropriate for the subject matter (kind of minimalistic and clean, but still managing to make that sushi look delicious in close-ups). However, one thing that bothered me is that especially during medium shots and close-ups of people the shots would often go out of focus and come back after a bit. Obviously that was the autofocus messing up and it made me think it may have been easier to just shoot those bits in manual, since the subjects weren’t moving around too much.

  • Tierney says:

    Note that the Tracking Shot (6) is also a fish-eye. I think the fish eye is used extremely well in this movie–it’s interesting to me that this specific shot is used so well, given the topic of the movie largely centers around fish, however indirectly.

  • Kelly Lin says:

    Thanks for catching that! Just corrected the article with the accurate info.

  • Alex says:

    Fish-eye lenses do not create a shallow depth of field. Generally speaking, the wider the lens is while maintaining the same proportions in the subject, the deeper the depth of field. Blurring at the edges of a fish-eye lens does not constitute shallow depth-field, but are a result of visual distortion. In the centre portions of the frame, the background and foreground elements are both in focus.