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Introduction to Film. Cinematography. Cinematography. Cinematography: "writing in movement” Everything that has to do with cameras and lenses, with film/film stock (and its digital equivalents), exposure and processing of film/digital images. Cinematography. Mise -en-scene. Cinematography.

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introduction to film

Introduction to Film


  • Cinematography: "writing in movement”
  • Everything that has to do with cameras and lenses, with film/film stock (and its digital equivalents), exposure and processing of film/digital images.



How it is filmed


Aspect Ratio

Film Stock

Camera Elements

Camera Angle

Camera Movement

Camera Position

Camera Lens


  • What is filmed
    • Set Design
    • Color
    • Lighting
    • Actor’s Performances
    • Diegetic Sound

Other Issues

  • Digital Cinematography
    • Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) has brought changes in Cinematography, which was traditionally based on chemical/photographic images and effects.
  • Visual Special Effects
    • Often done in post-production (esp. digital effects).
  • Lighting
    • Since it is part of “what is filmed,” it is often seen as part of a film’s mise-en-scene. However, the cinematographer has significant input into lighting decisions.
  • Framing
    • As with lighting, framing involves the director and cinematographer.
  • Angle, level, and distance of framing each shot
  • Offscreen space versus onsceen space

Extreme Wide Shot

Very Wide Shot


Wide Shot

Mid Shot


Medium Close Up

Close Up


Extreme Close Up


camera angle
Camera Angle
  • The angle between the camera and the subject.
height of camera
Height of Camera

Tokyo Story (1953)YasujiroOzu

aspect ratio
Aspect Ratio
  • Ratio of screen width to height
  • Classical Hollywood ratio (1.33:1)
  • Widescreen ratios (1.85:1, 2.35:1)
  • Video conversion
    • Pan-and-scan
    • Letterbox
aspect ratio1
Aspect Ratio

Rules of the Game, Jean Renoir, 1939

1.33:1 (4 to 3)

Aliens, James Cameron, 1986


Rebel Without A Cause, Nicholas Ray, 1955

2.35:1 (Cinemascope)

aspect ratio2
Aspect Ratio
  • Converting from film to TV.

2.2 to 1

Pan & Scan; 1.33 to 1

film stock
Film Stock
  • Selection enables cinematographer to control:
    • Color reproduction
    • Light sensitivity
    • Contrast levels
    • Sharpness
    • Grain and resolution
film stock1
Film Stock
  • Other Types
    • Kodachrome
    • Kinemacolor
    • Cinecolor
    • 35mm
    • 70mm
    • IMAX
  • Film stock deteriorates over time
camera lens
Camera Lens
  • Focal Length
    • The distance from the center of the lens to the point at which the light rays meet in sharp focus.
    • This length determines perspective relations and depth cues on the flat screen surface.
camera lens1
Camera Lens
  • Wide Angle
    • Short focal length (35 mm or less) which produces a wider angle of view
    • Effect: distorting straight lines, exaggerating depth
camera lens2
Camera Lens
  • Telephoto Lens
    • Lens with a long focal length (75mm or more).
    • Effect: collapse depth cues by enlarging distant planes and making them seem close to the foreground planes.
camera lens3
Camera Lens
  • Zoom lens
    • Lens with a focal length that can be changed during a shot.
    • Shift to telephoto range magnifies the image and flattens the space
    • Shift to wide-angle increases depth cues and demagnifies the background.
depth of field
Depth of Field
  • The range of distance within which objects can be photographed and remain in sharp focus.
    • Short focal length has greater depth of field.
    • Long focal length reduces depth of field.
camera movement
Camera Movement
  • Pan
    • Rotates horizontally, side to side
  • Tilt
    • Vertical pivot, up and down
  • Dolly, tracking, or traveling shots
  • Crane (and boom or jib) shots
  • Hand-held and steadicam shots
camera movement1
Camera Movement
  • Dolly, Tracking, Traveling shots: all basically the same.
  • “Tracking shot” came from the “tracks” that dollies moved on.
  • Traveling shot is generally reserved for movements taken from a vehicle.
camera movement2
Camera Movement
  • Boom/jib shots
    • Camera mounted on counterweighted boom; some booms can also telescope in or out.
    • Can use for combinations of pans & tilts, horizontal, vertical or diagonal moves.
  • Crane shots
    • Shots look the same as boom shot, but often motorized or with hydraulics for movement.
camera movement3
Camera Movement
  • Hand-held shots
    • Can pan or tilt or track
    • Hand-held movement is obviously “unsteady”--which is how we know it’s a hand-held shot.
  • Steadicam
    • A device which dampens unsteadiness, producing a relatively smooth movement, even when walking or running.
    • Steadicam first used in Rocky (1976)
  • Putting it all together with story boarding.
  • Example: The Lord of the Rings