There is no better teacher than doing. Learning as you go and surrounding yourself with filmmakers who are better than you is one of the best ways to learn the craft. However, there are quite a few cinematography books that are worth taking a look at. In fact, some of them not only educate on craft, but they also provide a new way to see the world. Let’s jump in. (more…)
Exposure TriangleWhat is Aperture?What is ISO?What is Shutter Speed?What is Frame Rate? If you know how to adjust your aperture on your digital camera, you’re much closer to mastering lighting and nailing the right exposure for your shots. Without knowing how to use aperture, and how it works with other camera settings, you could be at a real disadvantage when it comes to creating quality images and video. So what is aperture and how does it work in visual storytelling? (more…)
As camera technology evolves, the mirrorless vs DSLR debate is becoming more and more about preference. While DSLR cameras may have been the frontrunner for the last few years, mirrorless cameras have made such incredible advancements that both professionals and beginners alike swear by them. We’ll lay out the key differences between a mirrorless camera vs DSLR, and help you determine the most important question — what’s best for you? (more…)
Often the most impactful inventions in history have come about as a result of a beautiful accident. In film, especially on set, beautiful accidents happen all of the time. Luckily for us, a particular invention happened nearly half a century ago, early enough to give us some of the best footage we’ve ever seen. The Steadicam came about over trial and error. So what is it? What is a Steadicam shot? Let’s quickly define it, and learn more about the inventor of one of the most revolutionizing pieces of equipment in film history. (more…)
CLOSE-UPMEDIUM CLOSE-UPEXTREME CLOSE-UPEXPLORE MORE SHOTS Medium close-up shots are a go-to for many directors, but understanding how to use them in the most effective way possible takes some finesse. We’re going to discuss the medium close-up shot and why it's the preferred option when a close-up or a medium shot just won’t do. Before we get too far, let's start with our ultimate guide to shot size for a refresher on the various options. Let's jump in. (more…)
It can be difficult to push your audience to identify with the characters while only using camera movement. But it is possible. Today, we’ll review the dolly shot and learn how you can use them creatively to bring the audience into your characters’ world. We'll also walk you through the process of planning, scheduling, and shooting your own dolly shots in your next project. Hello, Dolly! (more…)
Cinematographers and filmmakers have depended on camera support mechanisms since the beginning of cinema. With tripods, dollies, and cranes, the mechanisms to support a camera have evolved. One method, however, relies on none of these mechanisms and has only grown more relevant with time. The handheld shot. It's important to understand how filmmakers have utilized the handheld shot to achieve more than just a stylized look, but rather a psychological effect. Before we answer the why and how let’s first address the what. What is handheld camera movement? (more…)
Dof basicsShallow dofDeep dofDOF GuideTYPES OF CAMERA FOCUS Shot List SeriesShot SizeShot FramingCamera AnglesCamera FocusCamera GearCamera Movement Camera focus is more than just making sure your image is sharp and detailed. When you consider the storytelling value of shallow focus or how a rack focus can guide the eye, a whole new world opens up. Directors and cinematographers can manipulate the depth of field in film or photography for a variety of purposes. As you complete your next shot list, don't forget this vital aspect of image making. Today, we're going to review the different types of camera focus, how ...
Lighting is a key element to the mood of any film. It can be the difference between a happy and cheerful scene or a mysterious and ominous scene. One of the most important lights in any lighting setup is the key light. The key light has a heavy influence on how a shot looks and feels. Let’s take a deep dive into the techniques cinematographers use with a key light to achieve unique visuals and create compelling worlds. (more…)
By this point in time, there is a strong chance you have at least heard of IMAX. It’s often sold to potential customers as the most immersive way to watch a movie, featuring a larger-than-average screen and the highest quality imagery and sound. The ticket price is higher, too. But what is IMAX, and how did it go from a speciality format often seen in museums to a common option found at many multiplexes? (more…)
When making a movie, it can be a struggle to decide between the two most common widescreen aspect ratios: 1.85:1 and 2.35:1. For anyone who has ever felt this struggle, there is an ideal middle ground. We’re talking about the 2:1 aspect ratio which has seen a resurgence in the last decade. In this article, we’ll go over the 2:1 aspect ratio, where it came from, and how it’s been used in movies and TV so that you too can take advantage of this unique frame. Disclaimer: Since 2.35 is often used interchangeably with 2.39 and 2.4, we will do the ...
TYPES OF LENSESLENS BASICSPRIMEZOOMWIDE ANGLETELEPHOTO The benefits of using a wide angle camera lens can be found in the work of some of the best filmmakers from Steven Spielberg to Roman Polanski to Stanley Kubrick. What is a wide angle lens used for? The answer to that varies. Wide angle lenses can create visual and psychological effects depending on how they are used. Understanding these different effects is a great way for any filmmaker to learn how to make a scene more immersive. Before we dive into when to use a wide angle lens in film, you may be wondering ...
What is Technicolor? Whether you knew at the time or not, you’ve probably seen a Technicolor movie. If you’re trying to recall an example, just think, color, color, color. Technicolor changed the course of cinema forever with bright and bold visuals, saturated to the point of near-surreality. We’re going to look at some examples of Technicolor in films like The Wizard of Oz and The Godfather but, first, let’s check out a quick video to see where it started. (more…)
When it was announced that 1917 would be shot to look like a single take, it quickly became one of the most anticipated movies of the year. While the performances and screenplay were both incredible, many left the theatre wondering the same thing. How was 1917 filmed? While there is no single answer to this question, there are various factors that contributed to the immersive 1917 one shot cinematography. Without further adieu, let’s dive into how they pulled this off. (more…)
Shot List SeriesShot SizeShot FramingCamera AnglesCamera FocusCamera GearCamera Movement You're looking for a list of the different camera angles in film, but you also want great examples that come with clear explanations of when and why to use specific camera shot angles. Whether you want your characters to seem powerful, vulnerable, or intimate, the power of camera angles cannot be understated. We'll provide you with downloadable shot lists that feature all of the different types of camera shot angles in film. Lezgo. (more…)
HIGH ANGLELOW ANGLEDUTCH ANGLEEYE LEVELOVERHEADAERIALEXPLORE MORE SHOTS There will be moments in any good story where the main character is under duress. Where something is... wrong. How does a filmmaker convey this? With a Dutch angle. A Dutch angle is a classic cinematic technique to create unease inside the mind of the viewer. In this post, we’ll break down Dutch angles so that you can use them in your next project. (more…)
HIGH ANGLELOW ANGLEDUTCH ANGLEEYE LEVELOVERHEADAERIALEXPLORE MORE SHOTS Overhead shots are used all the time, sometimes for practical reasons, while other times for an emotional effect. The trick is to make sure they don’t disorient the viewer and come out of nowhere. We’re going to discuss the overhead shot and go over which emotions are generated when you use a bird's eye view, and show you overhead shot examples that enhance the scene in a positive way. (more…)
If you’re an aspiring cinematographer or director, you know that the camera is your primary storytelling tool. How you move the camera or how you frame a subject communicates intangible information to the audience. The zoom shot is just one of these techniques and adds a very particular and nuanced message. Knowing what this message is is critical to deciding when to use it. So, what is a zoom shot? (more…)
Have you ever been watching a movie or TV show and noticed a subtle change in depth of field that revealed some new detail in a scene? That’s a rack focus. Today we’re going to go over the rack focus. We’ll cover how to do it, how to use it, and why this technique should be on your next shot list. The rack focus shot explainedRack focus examplesHow to rack focusHow to shot list a rack focus shotThe Best Rack Focus Examples in FilmShifting FocusThe rack focus shot explainedChances are good you've seen countless rack focus shots without even realizing ...
Whether you’re a filmmaker or photographer, capturing near perfect eye light can really help tell your story. The eyes are the most telling feature of a person and reveal so much to the audience. This post explores the technique of using a catchlight to breathe life into your work. So what is a catchlight and how can you capture one? (more…)