The word ‘cinematography‘ is derived from the Greek roots kinema (movement) and graph (writing). That is the rationale behind the job of a cinematographer, one who ‘writes with motion’. The role of cinematographers in film has continuously changed and evolved over the years. Cinematographers are heads of camera, lighting and grip crew, hence, they are often referred to as Director of Photography or DOP. Cinematographers work closely with the directors to help visualize their vision to the fullest and make the footage aesthetically appealing. They transforms all the non-verbal components of the narrative into visual elements.
At the beginning, there was no director. The cameraman was the director. Lumiere Brothers invented the Cinematograph, the first hand-cranked movie camera, and shot and directed their own films. These were all actualities, slice of life, single shot films captured by the Cinematograph. The camera was a simple hand-cranked device and the films were shot with natural lights. Even when you shot indoors on studio floors, it was natural light that illuminated the set as the studio floor had no ceiling. Sometimes, a white cloth was stretched across the ceiling that diffused the light that came in. With advances in lighting technology, the art of lighting of the set with artificial lights gained prominence.
A good cinematographer does more than merely move the camera or light a scene. He studies the script and creates elaborate setups and camerawork that strengthen the plot and incite emotions. A cinematographer creates realistic images of the world around him or he creates an imaginative world of myth, magic and fantasy. It is the cinematographer’s job to create an environment that the narrative demands. A good cinematographer communicates a character’s dreams, hopes, despairs, joys and miscellaneous emotions based on where and how camera and lights are placed. It is in fact well-known that creating a compelling visual narrative is a collaborative effort of the director and cinematographer. For example, John Alcott and Stanley Kubrick teamed up to produce visual masterpieces like A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon and The Shining. Robert Burkes was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite DOP and Michael Chapman’s collaboration with Martin Scorsese resulted in gems like the Taxi Driver and the Raging bull.
One need to have an in-depth understanding of the various technicalities involved in the art and craft of cinematography. To do the same, one need to dedicate significant amount of time, effort and money to access knowledge pieces that explains various aspects of cinematography. We at India’s first online film school – WWI Virtual Academy, are perfectly equipped to introduce you to various aspects of cinematography, without you having to compromise on your everyday professional and personal commitment. The module in Cinematography comprise of:
- Role of Cinematographers
- Impact of Lighting & Types of Lights
- Lensing & Compositions
- Camera Movement & Technicalities
- Filters & Colors