(reader) Cinematography

Cinematography is the process of capturing a scene. This process includes making choices on the many qualities of a shot, and how the camera is used to record the scene. 

One of the important qualities that a filmmaker has to make numerous choices on is the tonality. The tonality of a film is how the light is registered by a camera and shown on film. A camera can increase or decrease its exposure to regulate the amount of light being captured. While a fairly balanced exposure is usually the goal, a change in exposure levels can bring focus to specific parts of the scene. This is similar to contrast, which is also an aspect of tonality. A cinematographer may need to provoke emotion with high contrast between bright whites and darkness, or keep the “tone” of a scene less emotional. 

Another important aspect of cinematography is the camera positioning. A director can choose how wide, from which angle, and how far a frame is shot. All of these decisions affect how the different things on the screen are seen by the audience. Whether it be the power associated with an individual from a low shot, the beauty of a landscape from a farshot, or the feelings associated with a close shot of a hand, each of these can bring an emphasis to the scene. Something that separates film from other mediums of art is the ability to constantly change the frame. The most common forms of camera movements include the pan, tilt, tracking, crane, and handheld. All of these different forms have their different uses that a director might need them for. For example a pan might be used to give the audience more sense of space and surrounding. In my opinion, the movement of the camera sometimes feels as if a still frame is a thought and the movement of the frame is directly doing the thinking for us creating a new thought. 

These are just two of the important parts of Cinematography, which also includes the speed of motion, perspective, framing, time, and post-production editing. Each of these parts encompasses much broader ideas.

With the previous reading being about mise-en-scene, I have noticed how these two parts of filmmaking have to do with playing with the audience’s focus. I wonder if everything we learn will be about how a director tries to play with and maintain focus. I’m not sure if this is a quote but I do not think it’s wrong to say, “If you have someone’s focus you have everything”.

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