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Dice in Popular Culture

Due to the dramatic sight of a slow-motion die tumbling and spinning over a table-top, this particular form of gambling has often proven very popular with film makers. The type of die can often prove to be icon within the context of the film. One good example of this is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest in which one of the protagonists gambles with his soul in effect over a game like craps. The dice props used in this scene are suitable old looking and fit into the historical context and like any card games such as poker will require some props to be made for the movie.

Another good example where dice feature heavily in the plot of a movie is in Ocean's Thirteen starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney and others, in which loaded dice are used to repeatedly win in the casino. A similarly dodgy movie prop pair are used in the 1983 film Octopussy starring Roger Moore which features the game of Backgammon which, as mentioned above, is a very ancient dice game indeed.

Other instances of where the throw of some dice has been a main dramatic point on screen include an episode of friends, again involving a casino where the characters went to Vegas.

The way the roll of the dice is shown is down to the director of photography in a movie, also known as a cinematographer. Whilst there is a director of the film responsible for the overall "direction", the DoP is in charge of making artistic decisions with regard to the image on screen, and this can include lighting. In fact such is the confusion over the role of this person in different situations that in the UK this term "lighting cameraman" is often used, whereby the director consults this person to determine the best way to achieve an attractive end result in the image.

In America, the role of the cinematographer or director of photography is usually in charge of choosing the film stock and lenses or filters which are required to realise the vision of the director on screen. Normally the director will outline how he wants to photograph the image and the DoP will make it happen.

The skills of a DoP are in many ways similar to someone who takes stills. Whether someone is a Hollywood photographer or a Liverpool photographer, the principles are the same for setting up shots of both. Shutter speed, aperture, film stock etc all need to be taken into consideration whether you're filming the roll of a pair of dice across a table in a high budget film, or if you're taking a photo of the Liver Buildings.

In the film Casino Shooter, the principle character was a man who was a liverpool photographer in his everyday life but by night was an expert in the casino. In one famous scene, he rolls the dice at the same moment someone is breaking into his flat and stealing all his equipment. As we see his slow-motion ecstacy of winning alongside the ransacking of his property, we feel for the character.