As a matter of fact, cinematography is a part of filmmaking, but those who lack this understanding often try to spot the difference between them both.
And for that reason, I am writing this article in order to help you have a better understanding of cinematography in filmmaking.
This article will aim to show you what is cinematography in regards to filmmaking as well as the difference between filmmaking and cinematography.
And after helping you to understand that I will close this article by using my own experience as a cinematographer and filmmaker to show you how to use your cinematographic skills to become a better filmmaker.
And without further ado, let’s get started with this article.
What is cinematography in filmmaking?
Cinematography in filmmaking is the art or process of using camera movements, shots and angles to create visuals or motion pictures which helps to interpret a movie script.
In filmmaking, a cinematographer is also known as a DOP which is an acronym for Director Of Photography.
The difference between filmmaking and cinematography.
The difference between filmmaking and cinematography is that filmmaking is the process of using the various stages of film production to interpret a storyline into a movie while cinematographer is a part of filmmaking where camera movements, shots and angles are used to create visuals or motion pictures that helps to interpret the movie script.
The roles and responsibilities of a cinematographer in filmmaking.
The roles and responsibilities of a cinematographer in filmmaking includes the following:
- Camera positions.
- Camera movements.
- Camera angles.
- Choice of lens.
- Shot sizes and composition.
- Depth of field.
- Aspect ration.
1. Camera positions.
It is the role and responsibility of a cinematographer to determine the where to place the camera while taking every specific shots.
It is worth noting that placing the camera in different positions is one of the ways you as a cinematographer will help to reveal the character or subject in a way that will convey a particular kind of emotion on your viewers.
For instance, if you want the viewers to have a better view of the facial expression of a character in any kind of situation, you must ensure you place the camera close to the subject. On the other hand, if you want the audience to understand the particular environment the character is inhabiting, you must place the camera in a way that reveals the location of the scene.
Where you determine to place your camera must not be a choice but rather the way it feels right to interpret the particular scene of the story.
2. Camera movement.
Camera movements is often used by cinematographers to build a kind of suspense or emotion on the audience.
For instance, if your character is running or driving, instead of using a zoom movement to reveal a subject as they come in view, you can use a dolly shot and follow along the horizontal axis as the subject is moving.
On the other hand, if you subject is stationary you can use a static shot to create a more subjective point of view.
3. Camera angles.
A camera angle is the position a cinematographer places the camera to relate to the central theme of a character or subject, an d it usually has a big influence on the shot compositions.
The main aim of using a camera angle is to help the audience or viewer relate more with the character or subject.
For instance, you can use a low angle shot to make a character or subject look more powerful, and if you want to make them look inferior, then you need to opt for the high angle shot.
Camera angles is the best way for a cinematographer to help the viewer relate more to what is happening on the screen at the particular point in time.
You can read the article below and learn how o set camera angles as a cinematographer.
4. Choice of lens.
There are various camera lenses that enables the cinematographer to create different types of images and he choice of these lenses are entirely the role and responsibility of a cinematographer.
Thus being able to choose the right type of camera lenses is an essential part of cinematography in filmmaking.
It is worth noting that each camera lenses offers a different look and feel. Some lenses will make a subject appear bigger while some will push them farther away when placing them in the same position.
For instance, using a 50mm lens will make your subject more closer to the screen compared to using 180mm to film the subject on the same camera position which will make them seem farther away from the screen.
5. Shot sizes and composition.
It is the role and responsibility of a cinematographer to decide on how much the audience needs to see in a particular movie scene.
The way you arrange the subjects in a shot will go a long way to interpret the scene. If you want to create an intimate moment between the audience and the subject, then a close-up shot is going to be preferable. On the other hand, you can use a wide shot to create isolation between your audience and the character.
The skill here lies in the ability to pick the best shot size for each moment in a particular scene.
Even though lighting is signed to a lighting professional when it comes to filmmaking, you as a cinematographer also needs to understand the film lighting as they align with any moment or location you are shooting in.
For this reason, you must ensure you work hand in hand with your lighting crew to choose the type, quantity, color as well as the shape of each type of light you will need for each scene.
Sometimes, it will be a great option to not light the scene too much when shooting a night scene in a street corner because it is not every street corners that has light at night.
As a cinematographers, you need to be able to use lighting to amplify emotions, create atmosphere, and guide the viewers focus throughout every scene.
7. Depth of field.
Depth if field is basically the range of accepted sharpness in front of the camera that helps the subject to attain focus in the viewers eyes.
If you put the subject closer to the camera, or outside the end of the range, he will appear out of focus or blurry. However, if you want to hone in on a characters emotions you can use a sharp subject with a blurred background.
On the other hand, a clear subject and background will reveal everything clearly on the scene.
8. Aspect ratio.
The aspect ratio is actually the width times the height of frame you are shooting in. It is the aspect ratio that is going to shape your viewers experience.
If you need an epic and cinematic look, you can opt for a wider frame which is achieved in a landscape mode. But f you need something more personal or is a tight character-driven scene, you can use an aspect that’s narrower.
However, you need to pick everything based on the kind of story you are trying to tell, but have it at the back of your mind that getting the aspect ratio right is a big element of helping visuals become the language.