Cinematography assignment

write a paragraph

Familiarize yourself with the definition of CINEMATOGRAPHY below. Pick a shot from the “8 minute montage” of all of the Oscar Winners for CINEMATOGRAPHY. The 8 minute montage link is at the end of this file. A link to the 8 minute montage video is also in ASSIGNMENTS SP’18 and in Our Online Library. Refer to information in this file that you think is exemplified in your chosen shot and post that textual information in the relevant DB by Sunday 2/11.


In controlling mise-en-scene the filmmaker stages an event to be filmed. But a discussion of cinema as a medium cannot stop with simply focusing on what is put in front of the camera. The filmmaker also controls the cinematographic qualities of the shot, i.e., not only what is filmed, but also how it is filmed.

The cinematographer—also known as the Director of Photography, or “DP”—though one of the most obscure members of the production team, is responsible for all the visual elements of a film. He or she makes every creative choice related to composition, lighting, and camera motion—anything that audiences can see in a given shot. The DP determines everything from color to depth-of-field—how much of the shot is in focus versus how much is blurry—from zoom to the positioning of people and objects within any given frame. –

The Photographic Image

Remembering that good film can always be equated with literature we can say that CINEMATOGRAPHY means literally “writing in movement” that depends to a large extent on photography which is “writing in light”. This visual penmanship allows the filmmaker or the cinematographer to project an image that may seem all grays or stark black and white or it may display a range of colors. Textures may stand out clearly or recede into a haze. The filmmaker/cinematographer controls all these visual qualities whether it is traditional film stock or Digital cinematography. With digital cinematography the image is captured on an electrically charged sensor and recorded to tape or a hard drive however the filmmakers must make choices about color, exposure, and tonal contrast that are comparable to those offered by film.

CONTRAST is the ratio of dark to light in an image.

If the difference between the light and dark areas is large, the image is said to be “high contrast”.

Film Noir scene

High contrast is usually associated with the low key lighting of dark scenes in genres such as the horror film and film noir. A common cinematographical cliche is to use contrast between light and dark to distinguish between good and evil. Commonly years ago, the use of contrast in a scene might draw on racist or sexist connotations.

For instance, this shot from Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958) employs high contrast to further emphasize racial differences between a blonde American woman and a menacing Mexican man.


If the difference is small, it is referred to as “low contrast” Most films use low contrast to achieve a more naturalistic lighting.


DEEP FOCUS involves staging an event on film in such a way that significant elements occupy widely separated planes in the image but even though all the elements are at very different depths of the image they are all in sharp focus.

Robert Redford/“All the President’s Men” deep focus

SHALLOW FOCUS involves a restricted depth of field, which keeps only one image in sharp focus. It is the opposite of deep focus and is used to direct the viewer’s attention to one element of a scene. Shallow focus is very common in close-ups.

Heath Ledger/”The Dark Knight” shallow focus


In cinema, the frame is important because it actively defines the image for us. If we needed proof of the power of framing, we need only turn to the first major filmmaker in history, Louis Lumiere. The Lumiere camera, the most flexible of its day, also doubled as a projector. Whereas the bulky American camera invented by W.K.L. Dickson was about the size of an office desk, the Lumiere camera weighed only 12 pounds and was small and portable. As a result of its lightness, the Lumiere camera could be taken outside and could be set up quickly. Louis Lumiere’s earliest films presented ordinary events like a train entering a station (1895).

Frame Angle: The frame positions the viewer at some angle looking onto the shot’s mise-en-scene. While the number of such angles is infinite, since the camera might be placed anywhere, in practice, we typically distinguish three general categories: (1) the straight-on angle (the most common); (2) the high angle (where we the viewer look down at the material within the frame); and (3) the low angle (where we look up at the framed materials).

Frame Distance: The framing of the image positions the viewer not only at a certain angle and height but also at a certain distance. Framing supplies a sense of being far away or close to the mise-en-scene of the shot. This aspect of framing is usually called camera distance and here we can use the human body as the standard measure of various distances:

In the extreme long shot, the human figure is barely visible in this framing used for landscapes for example;

In the long shot figures are more prominent, but the background still dominates;

”Road to Perdition”

In medium long shots the human figure is framed from about the knees up and are common, since they permit a nice balance of figure and surroundings;

”Hunger Games” (one of them)

The medium shot frames the human body from the waist up which makes gesture and expression more visible;

The medium close-up frames the body from the chest up (post-Reeves “Superman”)

The close-up is traditionally the shot showing just the head, hands, feet or a small object. It emphasizes facial expression, the details of a gesture, or a significant object;

The extreme close-up singles out a portion of the face (often eyes or lips) or isolates and magnifies an object of importance to the storyline.

See below for an 8 Minute Montage of all the Oscar Winners for Cinematography to date:…

Note that the above pages are a result of information taken from the below website. I have vetted, paraphrased and condensed text from that website for insertion into this file.

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