Term 2 – Assignment 2 | 006 Cinematography

Today i made a list of films that i thought have great cinematography and tried to work out what makes them great.

Sin City
Watchmen
Scott Pilgrim VS. the World
Pulp Fiction
Fight Club
Superbad
Kickass
Battle Royale
Planet Terror
From Dusk Til Dawn
300

From this list of amazing film i chose Scott Pilgrim VS. the World as my examples (fav film!) I love how it stays true to the feel of the graphic noval and creates a true retro. 8bit feel using camera’s, sfx and the sound.

Techniques from color (300, Sin City), lens’s and camera movement all add to good cinematography.

 

Cinematography is the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for cinema. It is closely related to the art of still photography. Many additional technical difficulties and creative possibilities arise when the camera and elements of the scene may be in motion.

Filters

Filters, such as diffusion filters or color-effect filters, are also widely used to enhance mood or dramatic effects.

Lens

Lenses can be attached to the camera to give a certain look, feel, or effect by focus, color, etc.

Depth of field and focus

Focal length and diaphragm aperture affect the depth of field of a scene — that is, how much the background, mid-ground and foreground will be rendered in “acceptable focus” (only one exact plane of the image is in precise focus) on the film or video target. Depth of field (not to be confused with depth of focus) is determined by the aperture size and the focal distance. A large or deep depth of field is generated with a very small iris aperture and focusing on a point in the distance, whereas a shallow depth of field will be achieved with a large (open) iris aperture and focusing closer to the lens.

Camera movement

Cinematography can not only depict a moving subject but can use a camera, which represents the audience’s viewpoint or perspective, that moves during the course of filming. This movement plays a considerable role in the emotional language of film images and the audience’s emotional reaction to the action. Techniques range from the most basic movements of panning (horizontal shift in viewpoint from a fixed position; like turning your head side-to-side) and tilting (vertical shift in viewpoint from a fixed position; like tipping your head back to look at the sky or down to look at the ground) to dollying (placing the camera on a moving platform to move it closer or farther from the subject), tracking (placing the camera on a moving platform to move it to the left or right), craning (moving the camera in a vertical position; being able to lift it off the ground as well as swing it side-to-side from a fixed base position), and combinations of the above.

Role of the cinematographer

In the film industry, the cinematographer is responsible for the technical aspects of the images (lighting, lens choices, composition, exposure, filtration, film selection), but works closely with the director to ensure that the artistic aesthetics are supporting the director’s vision of the story being told. The cinematographers are the heads of the camera, grip and lighting crew on a set, and for this reason they are often called directors of photography or DPs.

Directors of photography make many creative and interpretive decisions during the course of their work, from pre-production to post-production, all of which affect the overall feel and look of the motion picture. Many of these decisions are similar to what a photographer needs to note when taking a picture: the cinematographer controls the film choice itself (from a range of available stocks with varying sensitivities to light and color), the selection of lens focal lengths, aperture exposure and focus. Cinematography, however, has a temporal aspect (see persistence of vision), unlike still photography, which is purely a single still image. It is also bulkier and more strenuous to deal with movie cameras, and it involves a more complex array of choices. As such a cinematographer often needs to work co-operatively with more people than does a photographer, who could frequently function as a single person. As a result, the cinematographer’s job also includes personnel management and logistical organization.

Main cinematographic techniques (things that i want to pay attention to)

Cinematographic techniques such as the choice of shot, and camera movement, can greatly influence the structure and meaning of a film.

The use of different shot sizes can influence the meaning which an audience will interpret. The size of the subject in frame depends on two things: the distance the camera is away from the subject and the focal length of the camera lens. Common shot sizes:

  • Extreme close-up: Focuses on a single facial feature, such as lips and eyes.
  • Close-up: May be used to show tension.
  • Medium shot: Often used, but considered bad practice by many directors, as it often denies setting establishment and is generally less effective than the Close-up.
  • Long shot
  • Establishing shot: Mainly used at a new location to give the audience a sense of locality.

Choice of shot size is also directly related to the size of the final display screen the audience will see. A Long shot has much more dramatic power on a large theater screen, whereas the same shot would have less of an impact on a small TV or computer screen.

Other Important cinematic techniques:

Aerial Shot: A shot taken from a crane, plane, or helicopter. Not necessarily a moving shot.

Camera Angle: The angle at which the camera is pointed at the subject: Low High Tilt

Continuity cuts: These are cuts that take us seamlessly and logically from one sequence or scene to another. This is an unobtrusive cut that serves to move the narrative along.

Jump cut: Cut where there is no match between the 2 spliced shots. Within a sequence, or more particularly a scene, jump cuts give the effect of bad editing. The opposite of a match cut, the jump cut is an abrupt cut between 2 shots that calls attention to itself because it does not match the shots seamlessly. It marks a transition in time and space but is called a jump cut because it jars the sensibilities; it makes the spectator jump and wonder where the narrative has got to. Jean-Luc Godard is undoubtedly one of the best exponents of this use of the jump cut.

Framing: The way in which subjects and objects are framed within a shot produces specific readings. Size and volume within the frame speak as much as dialogue. So too do camera angles. Thus, for example, a high-angle extreme long shot of two men walking away in the distance, (as in the end of Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion, 1937) points to their vulnerability – they are about to disappear, possibly die. Low angle shots in medium close-up on a person can point to their power, but it can also point to ridicule because of the distortion factor.

Pan: (abbreviation of panorama) Movement of the camera from left to right or right to left around the imaginary vertical axis that runs through the camera. A panning shot is sometimes confused with a tracking shot.

Point of view shot: (Often abbreviated as ‘pov’). A shot which shows the scene from the specific point of view of one of the characters.

Pull back shot: A tracking shot or zoom that moves back from the subject to reveal the context of the scene.

Story board: A series of drawings and captions (sometimes resembling a comic strip) that shows the planned shot divisions and camera movements of the film.

Correct use and consideration of these items can really makes the difference between a shit film, and an epic one.

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