The art of cinematography is more than using the camera, lights and other tools to their best abilities, the art also includes knowing how to tell that story well.
During a casual philosophical discussion, someone once asked of me, “What are the things you need in order to make you feel like you’re week was complete?” I thought about it for a minute, and then listed a few things that came to mind. You know, the usual things you’d envision most people would say. At the end, though, I found myself suddenly saying, “…and to hear, see or read something new that makes me think, and imagine, and feel. I need a good, entertaining story.” I was in film school at the time, so my answer was probably influenced by the teachings therein, but I was actually quite shocked that I had said it. To this day, I firmly believe that a quality story or new take on an old one is a very important… nay, essential part of my life. I need a new tale often or I feel like I’ve missed something. Luckily for me, there are a lot of people with stories to tell.
Telling the Story
Everyone has at least one good story, and most at some point get the itching to share it in one way or another. That’s great if, like me, you love stories. The problem is that by default, most people aren’t very good at telling them. This is why for centuries, generations, occupations and cultures have been devoted to furthering the craft. If you learned to tell your tale through song, you were a bard or musician. If you talked through books, you were a scribe, or writer. In making a film or video of your tale… well we call that a cinematographer.
So just what is cinematography? Wikipedia defines cinematography as “the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for cinema.” (Cinema being a theater where the motion pictures are shown). Encyclopedia Britannica expands on that: “…the art and technology of motion-picture photography. It involves such techniques as the general composition of a scene; the lighting of the set or location; the choice of cameras, lenses, filters, and film stock; the camera angle and movements; and the integration of any special effects.”
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