FAMILY and friends from around the world have paid tribute to a widely-respected cinematographer, musician and director for television and film.

Stephen Blackman, who died suddenly of a stroke last month at the age of 55, achieved fame as a cinematographer and was the director of photography behind a string of successful TV commercials.

He worked on the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel The Cement Garden, which starred Charlotte Gainsbourg and won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1993.

Mr Blackman’s daughter Catalina, 21, said: “The one he was most proud of was the Cement Garden. Andrew Birkin (the director) said he thought they won the Silver Bear just as much for cinematography as for direction.

“He also had an extraordinary love or animals. He would often stop a multi- million dollar commercial shoot to save a dormouse.”

Mr Blackman was born in Oxford in 1957. His family moved briefly to the USA but his parents separated in the late 1960s, and he and his mother returned to live in the Banbury Road house where he remained until 2010.

Mr Blackman abandoned a degree in architecture at Oxford Polytechnic (now Brookes) to start making his own films.

He rose to prominence directing adverts such as John West’s Bear Fight in the early 2000s, where an employee fights a bear for the tastiest salmon.

He was also director of cinematography on Virgin Atlantic’s Love at First Flight commercial, where a 1980s airport is awe-struck by seeing the first crimson-clad crew of a Virgin Atlantic flight, followed by the tag line “still hot after 25 years.”

His friend of 40 years, Rob Hollier, said: “Stephen was incredibly passionate about the things that mattered to him, particularly film, music and cars.

“He was incredibly confident in his own abilities, always completely clear in his head about what he was doing and was held in high regard by people in his business.”

In 2008, Mr Blackman co- produced the short film Accidental Encounter with Green Wing actor Julian Rhind-Tutt.

Mr Rhind-Tutt said: “Stephen’s day job was a master of light. His life’s work was illuminating the lives of everyone he met. I could ask for no greater or more loyal friend.”

Mr Blackman was married to the producer Anne Mannion from 1990 to 2010. He passed away on July 4 and is survived by his father and daughter.