The Art of Cinematography

Filmmaking is not just a business it’s an art. It takes years of practice to cultivate a consistent craft and keen eye for filmmaking. Telling a story on film isn’t just about recording the action, it’s also about how the images are captured. How often we have wondered about the camera shots of a particular frame and its relevance with the story line. In the world of film and television it is known as cinematography. Great cinematography separates it from cliché movie making.

Cinematography is the art and craft of making motion pictures by capturing a story visually. A cinematographer (Director of Photography), is in charge of the camera and the lighting crew. They’re the person responsible for creating the look, color, lighting, and for framing of every single shot in a film. Cinematography supports the overall look and mood of a film’s visual narrative. Each visual element that appears on screen can serve and enhance the story hence it is the cinematographer’s responsibility to ensure that every element is cohesive and supports the story.

Elements of Cinematography

Camera Placement and Movement

Placement of camera greatly affects how the audience will react to the shot and eventually to the rest of the scene. It provides a significant impact to the character behavior and the particularities of the shot. Details and small things in camera placement matters determining the storyline, making it more effective. Camera movement can heighten the emotion and suspense in a scene. Moving the camera with the characters gaining perspective, keeping the camera static and now we’re separated from them and then peering in.

Shot Composition and size

Composition refers to the way elements of a scene are arranged in a camera frame. Shot composition refers to the arrangement of visual elements to convey an intended message. Starting from the main visual element i.e., your actors and applying techniques to set up perfect composition. Shot size determines how much of the scene is actually seen. From a close up shot to a wide angle shot of a particular scene, it determines the things that are supposed to be visible. It becomes important to make attention to some details and shot size help you in such.

Focus

Part of a cinematographer’s job is to play with focus to emphasize different aspects of the story. A basic example of this is showing how intoxicated the character is by going in and out of focus. There are many types of camera focus available, each with their own particular storytelling value.

Lighting

While there is a separate lighting person, cinematography demands this knowledge. Cinematography is what we see on-screen, and how well or horribly the scene is lit is a huge aspect of the craft. There are many approaches and styles to lighting having their own value to the scene.

Although we have known some general aspects of what a cinematographer considers, there are lots of components and technical aspects of it which have to be laid out somewhere. Making a film is a huge project and director’s visions are important, however it is necessary for the cinematographer and the director to work together in order to execute the plans and ideas with the desired creativity impact.

Written by: Maharshi Vidhyarthi (Instagram: @mahi_103)

Vociferous Writers (Instagram: @vociferouswriters)