Basics of Cinematography

Cinematography is the back bone of movie making process. With out cinematography, what would audience going to watch on screen. In simple terms, cinematography is lighting for the cinema and capturing content. Unlike photography, where source of light and camera both are static in most cases, in cinematography it differs largely. The basic grammar is same in both photography and cinematography.

Basics of Cinematography
Read: How to Sell a Script Screenplay in Bollywood?

Read: Script writing format: How to Format a Screenplay?

We are focusing on film making, so this article would be entirely about basic concepts of cinematography. The chief incharge of cinematography is known as cinematographer. The people who helps or assists cinematographer are known as assistant cinematographer.

Note: Assistant cinematographer and camera assistant both are different. When a production company hires camera and other equipments from a shop, a camera attendant from that shop also comes to keep eye on good handling of camera and other equipments.

In cinematography, three important factors matters first.
  1. Camera movement
  2. Camera Angle
  3. Lighting

A director needs to inform cinematographer, what kind of camera movement he wants in that particular shot. Then he needs to mention what kind of camera angle he wants. Then he need to narrate the actions that are going to take place in the shot.

Remember: Before shot by shot establishment, the film director must have narrated the entire scene to the cinematographer. Cinematographer must have understood what kind of lighting he or she needs to set for the scene. Along with this, while establishing each shot, the cinematographer might add extra light or remove lights depending upon the need.

Since the first feature film to a decade back released movie, all the movies were produced in celluloid cameras which had lots of limitations. Actors were used to rehearse  a lot then they used to deliver their best performance in front of the camera. If performance went wrong then it used to effect the movie budget straight. But these days, memory cards are used. So actors and entire team can easily go for any number of takes they want. There is no budget restrictions these days.

Examples of Camera movement:

Static Camera
Camera track in / track out
Camera pan
Camera tilt

Examples of Camera Angle

High Angle
Low Angle
Eye level

Examples of Lighting

Mood Lighting
Key light
Fill Light
High Key
Low Key
Motivated Lighting