Cinematography refers to the technology and the art of photography of motion-picture. It incorporates a couple of techniques such as scene composition, lighting of the location, camera selection, lenses, film stock, filters, movements, angle of the camera; and other special effects. To achieve the effects and images desired by the director, a sizeable crew is deployed to look into the various concerns. The crew is headed by either, a photography director, lighting cameraman, first cameraman or cinematographer and ensures that the desired quality is achieved. Cinematography is marked with major revolutions. It has evolved greatly with the application of the emerging technology. Earlier, pictures on motion could only be filmed as stage plays, where only one or just a few cameras positioned in front of the stage were used. However, at the start of the 20th century, cameras could capture close-ups, shooting from vehicles in motion, incorporate lighting effects such as the backlighting, and in general, the cameras could distinguish pictures in motion from the tradition of the theatre. Later, the coming of sound posed a challenge to motion picture photography since the noisy cameras were very interruptive. They could only be placed at a stationary sound-proof point where they would not interfere with the activities taking place on the stage. The invention of the silent cameras, however, made the process of cinematography more flexible. In 1929, the camera crane was developed and had major benefits in cinematography. It expanded the vision of the camera since lenses with wider-angle were used to gain a greater field depth. The wide screen processes and color were the most essential events that followed after sound (The Editor).
Many people are ford of confusing between cinematography and photography. However, the two terms do not refer to the same thing. While one photograph may be a complete task in photography, a cinematographer looks into the relations between shots and group of shots. For instance, the main character may first appear on the screen in shadows to an extent that they are unrecognizable. A single shot, therefore, will be poor photography. On the other hand, cinematography includes other shots that disclose the character and give the movie integration and style. Photography is also less collaborative than cinematography. This is because the latter involves prior planning with the designer, director, producer, sound technicians, as well as, the actors. The crew handling the cameras could be complex especially in a feature movie. The crew is headed by chief cinematographer who supervises a second camera operator whose work is to handle the camera. The focus-puller is the assistant operator who ensures that the focus of the camera is adjusted appropriately. The assistant operator has an assistant referred to as clapper-loader. The latter holds up the slate during the start of the shot, ensures the magazines are loaded with the film and maintains a record of footage and other particulars. The grips push and carry equipment while laying camera dolly tracks. Sometimes the cinematographer also oversees the gaffer, or a technician in charge of lighting who is helped by one or several best boys. A big film may also include additional crew that deals with special effects and sometimes another unit of assistants and cinematographer is deployed (The Editor).
Any work of art, film or TV show is first put down on paper in a process known as script writing. This may be done by one person or a group of people. The work of script writing is not usually an easy task since the writer has to be creative and sensible in whatever they write. Their work has to be flawless and chronological. Consequently, script writers have to be very meticulous in their choice of words and sentence structuring. Emotional expressions also have to be vivid on paper. The script has to be properly laid out such that the characters are well developed, and the fine details are not missed. Sometimes it becomes difficult to have your script written by another person since the risk of unwanted details or omissions is rampant. It is, therefore, advisable for all filmmakers to come up with their own scripts at a given point. Although the skill has not been developed thoroughly, it is central in the film industry, and many directors love it when filmmakers write their own scripts. This is because the filmmakers are in the full capacity to modify and make the necessary changes to the script. The process of modification for a self-written script is time saving. However, there is always the temptation of playing with the script continuously. Filmmakers with a good background find it best working on their own script, while some filmmakers find it challenging to work on the script by themselves especially due to the challenge of lacking time. Additionally, in the preparation for a feature movie, there are a string of activities that need to be done. For instance, there are costumes that need to be worked out, equipment, locations and a budget that needs to be prepared. Enlisting the services of a writer, therefore, frees up some time for the filmmakers such that they can focus on other activities. Another advantage is that they help in creating employment for the script writers.
The size of the budget is also key in determining whether a script writer needs to be incorporated, or the filmmaker will do it be. For a small budget, it is advisable that the filmmakers write the script by themselves to avoid the challenge of straining the limited resources set aside for other activities. However,’ this does not mean that it is the only option available. The filmmakers can look for script writers who are willing to write in order to gain experience. This can be accompanied by an agreement that the writer will be given a certain percentage of what the film makes. Again acquiring a writer who is willing to do the script at a reasonable cost helps create strong relations such that the filmmakers will always ask the writer to do their script every time they have a film to make.
The quality of the movie should not be compromised at the expense of less cost. This is because the effects of a substandard film are far beyond the cost of a single writer. Thus, the script should be done with the greatest regard to quality and satisfies the demands of the director (Film School).
The director of the film plays a key role in the outcome of the film. Their vision is central in shaping the feel and look of the film. They are the force of creativity that brings the film together. They are also responsible for turning the words on the script into images that appear on the screen. The writers, cinematographers, editors and actors revolve around the director. When the director is provided with the script, they start visualizing it how it will appear on the screen. They are carried away by the story of the script until they can see vivid images and how characters and scenes will play on the screen. The director is also capable of making modifications to the script in order to suit their vision for the film. In the production of some films, the director works hand in hand with the script writer to advice on how the script should appear. The director has an emotional connection to the film in the offing. As a result, they ask themselves a lot of questions concerning the film. They have to identify the theme of the film and visualize how it would be developed on screenplay. The director has to have a target group in mind. This is to ensure that the audience intended for the film is well captured.
Directing also involves assembling the crew and the cast. When a superb movie is produced, and many people desire to see it, the most credit goes to the characters who appear on the screen. However, the success of the film takes concerted efforts of very many stakeholders. In most cases, the director is the key unseen player who determines the outcome of the film largely. Other members of the crew work behind the scenes and do a great work towards the success of the movie. It is the director’s work to ensure that all the people work together towards a common goal. The director lets them know of the vision for the film and organizes them in such a way that everyone works towards the realization of that vision. Consequently, the director chooses cast and determines the actor to play a given role. The director also organizes the other members of the crew behind the scenes for a successful session. When shooting begins, the director has to progressively remind the stakeholders of his vision. The directors should also be in a position to improvise the set as well as troubleshoot if need be. The flexibility seen causes a difference between and a high quality movie and a low quality one. After shooting is done, the director guides the sound and film editor on the details of the technical work needed at that stage.
The director guides on which parts of the film that need to be cut off and which ones should be joined. The director may decide to use clips from a different film in order to bring out the desired effects. All this is done collaboratively between the editors and the director as a final step to bring the vision to life. As observed, the director has a bigger say when it comes to the final product to be released into the market. Therefore, an accredited director has to be called if the film has to be exceptional and not just acceptable. Further, the director should be well paid according to the terms of the contract with the studio so that they can provide the best of their know how to this film (The Editor).
Editing and visual effects
Film editing refers to the process of preparing sound footage and existing motion for the final product ready to be published and distributed to the market. Hence, the process is extremely essential in the making of the film and calls for great creativity and expertise. The editor and the visual effects editor both play equally dynamic roles in this process. However, emphases focus on VFX, editing as well as sound design, a key element of post-production during filmmaking. An editor has to creatively select the most appropriate timing for placement of shots and scenes in the project. As such, the editor has to have a vast knowledge of the variables applied in film production industry. The editor should also have the capabilities to use the standard equipment used for editing in the industry. This includes understanding of computer systems, editing software used as well as experience with the tools of on-set.
Sound is also equally essential in the process of editing. The services of the editor are extensively used during the sound mix and design. As noted, editing is very essential in the production of any film and has to be done with the greatest creativity and expertise. This is because a film editor contributes a lot in the final look of the film. Editors work hand in hand with the director in order to bring the desired vision into accomplishment. The editor has to ensure that the scenes in the film follow each other the way they are meant to. Additionally, they can scrape out some of the undesired scenes and sounds in the film to make it better. To that effect, editors are always on the lookout for any flaws, irregularities and misfits in the film and fix them (The Editor).
Studio systems are very critical in the quality of the film produced. These are inclusive of the camera systems that play a key role in the film development process. These include manipulations on the lens of the camera, scale, movement and framing. Other film theoreticians also include the duration. Cinematography involves the relationship between the camera lenses, source of light, the lens’s focal length, position of the camera and its capacity to move.
The camera lens is manipulated to come up with the desired focus for each scene. This is because in the film, various types of focus are applicable for different parts of the film. Starting with a deep focus, a lot of light and a small aperture are required to achieve the desired deep focus. Shallow focus, on the other hand, refers to a narrow depth being focused. As a result, one plane remains clear and sharp. In most cases, the plane under focus is usually the foreground. Shallow focus is normally combined with a deep space for artistic reasons or to illustrate the subjectivity. Racking focus looks back to the ability of filmmakers to alter the focus of the lens to an object or character on the foreground to the background and vice versa. This is widely applied to shift the attention of the audience and also to point on a significant relationship between the subjects focused.
Framing is also essential in the determination of what to capture or include in a given scene. Occasionally, the film features some strange people or objects to create various artistic effects. Framing is very resourceful in demonstrating the authenticity as well as aesthetic of a film. Consequently, the angle of framing is an important feature in achieving various desired effects. When filming from above, it is known as high angle and low angle when filming from below. The films are taken from various angles to indicate the relationship between the subjects on the frame and the camera’s point of focus. The level of framing refers to the vertical distance of the position of the camera when taking a shot. It is useful in showing various points of view. It is also applicable in creating suspense when low level is used.
Scale simply refers to the magnification of the subject. To show that a moving object is going away from a stationary camera, scale is used to show this effect since the object becomes smaller and smaller as it moves further from the camera. There are various types of scale used in order to achieve the desired effects. These include extreme long shot, long shot, medium long shot, medium close-up, close-up and extreme close-up.
Movement in the camera is another integral part of camera systems. Sometimes the cameraman may not be able to take the required shots and may need to mount the camera on a crane and the cameraman can control the motion of the shots. This is key in cinematography (Smith).
Artistic and Technology
Filmmaking requires a high level of artistic work. Recently, many schools and institutions have been put up to teach art. This has led to improvements in the film industry. There has been a lot of emerging trends in technology and some of the sophisticated cameras, camcorders, software and other equipment have been deployed in the filmmaking industry. This has revolutionized the process of filmmaking and has been a major incentive to production of quality films.
In conclusion, the field of cinematography and filmmaking has had major developments. This is because people have worked hard to move it that far. The emerging technology had its greater part to play when it came to the development of the necessary equipment; this, coupled with creativity and expertise has had major impacts on the success of the film industry. Another reason the industry has seen much success is the love of the audience for entertainment. People have always loved to be entertained and have constantly financed the film industry by buying their products. Due to this fact, the industry has progressively grown and extended to almost all the parts of the world. Filmmaking is now taken as a lifetime career by people, and they are making a fortune out of it, as well as, living to their dreams. On the future of filmmaking the industry, there is a lot to anticipate from this industry since people are spending sleepless days and nights, working tirelessly to always come up with a better product. Also, engineers in this field are working for more sophisticated equipment that will improve the quality of the films produced by application of high technology. This will result to production of better films that many people desire to watch causing the field to continue expanding exponentially.
Film School. Script Issues – Write Yourself or Find a Writer. 9 May 2010. http://www. filmschool. org/script-issues. php. 9 June 2014.
Smith, Ryan. CINEMATOGRAPHY-Movement. 22 May 2013. http://collegefilmandmediastudies. com/cinematography/. 9 June 2014.
The Editor. Cinematography. 17 February 2013. http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/118048/cinematography. 9 June 2014.
—. Directing. 3 March 2014. http://www. learner. org/interactives/cinema/directing. html. 9 June 2014.
—. Editing and Visual effects. 7 September 2012. http://www. columbiacollege. edu/academics/degree-emphases/editing-and-visual-effects. 9 June 2014.