Cinematography watch movies online yolow, the act of directing the camera in cinema and television, is a creative art. It is also a field that requires a qidely varied knowledge of the technical possibilities inherent in different types of cameras and lenses, photographic film, videotape, lightning and special effects both those made with the use of photographic elements and those devised with the help of computer.
In most films (and in many video productions) that have pretensions to quality, the cinematographer is involved in every stage of the film’s creation, with the possible exception of the initial script. The director who, in the early days of film production was also the cinematographer has final control over every aspect of the picture, and the cinematographer may act simply as the director’s assistant. Often, however the director-cinematographer relationship is a collaboration, in which both determine the design elements of the film, its costumes, and locations. The cinematographer alone may decide on the type of film that will be used, the type of shots that will be most effective, the kind of lightning, how special effects will be achieved, and so forth.
The Technical Foundations of Cinematography
The cinematographer mys be familiar with the many technical aspects of film making, both on photographic film and on videotape.
Film and Video. Motion pictures can be recorded on light-sensitive silver halide-based photographic film on magnetically sensitive videotape, or on videodisc. Both film and video can be used to shoot within the studio or on location, to record movies with sound, color, and withing limitations in three dimensions (3-D). All the requirements of the image formation, with lenses of varying focal length, apply to both film and video production. Motion-picture film offers high image quality but requires laboratory processing. Video recording offers instant playback capability and can be transmitted via television but as yet lacks the high resolution of film. Movies on flexible photographic film are transported in camera at speed (24 frames per second in the United States, 25 frames per second in Europe, for sound film recording) past a film plane, or gate. In the gate, the image is exposed briefly in fixed position as the camera shutter opens and closes. In video, an electronic signal containing both video and audio is magnetically recorded on tape.
Film and Video Formats. Format standards regulate equipment, film, and videotape manufacture, ensuring that movies can be played back successfully from machine to machine. Despite this standardization, there are more than 20 film and videotape format in use. At the apex of this group in quality and cost is 35-mm motion picture film, a 25- x19-mm image in a film 35 mm wide. Professional video formats range from 2.54-cm (1-in) to 1.27-cm (1/2-in) videotape cassettes. Films originally made for television have been shown in movie theaters in photographic form.
Sound. About 1930, when sound first became common in films, its effect was to transform the motion pictures into what was essentially a series of still shots in order for dialogue to reach the immobile microphones. Since all sound had to be recorded simultaneously with the photography, early sound cameras and their operators were enclosed in soundproof booths. Sound, it was soon realized did not have to be recorded synchronously with the picture and could itself even be used to create illusion, in the absence of an image. Soon, the camera was freed to move in any way the cinematographer chose. Sound could be recorded simultaneously with the shot, using cameras whose motor noise was suppressed, or it could be “post-synched” in a sound lab.
Eventually, many different soundtracks were recorded into one master track, each with a different type of sound: close-up dialogue, distant dialogue, sound effects, and stereo music. With magnetic sound recording, any number of separate tracks can be recorded on up to six master tracks.
Aspect Ratio. The dimensional ratio of width and height that a picture appears to have when it is projected in a theater or shown on TV screen is called the aspect ratio. The ratio for the vast majority of movies produced from 1895 to 1955 was 1.33 to 1 which also happens to be the basic shape of television screen. In 1953, however, a new and almost instantly popular aspect ratio appeared: Cinemascope, a system based on the “anamorphic” lens, which could photograph a wide image and then “squeeze,” or condense, in to fit 35-mm films. A lens in the movie projector restored the ratio to its original wide field, producing a projection aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Other wide-screen technologies of the time included a process called Todd-AO, which used 70-mm film, and Cinerama, in which three synchronized 35-mm cameras were used to photograph three contiguous images, which were transformed in the theater by three linked projectors into an image almost six times standard size.
In Addition to requiring new ways of composing shots, however, wide-screen aspect ratios were not adaptable to the standard TV screen, so that the important action in any scene had to be confined to the center portion of the frame.
Two recent large-screen formats, IMAX/OMNIMAX and Disney’s 70-mm 3D system, have inherited the nich once filled by Cinerama and Todd-AO.
Lighting. Lighting can alter the look and mood of a scene perhaps more than any other factor, and for many years the cinematographer devoted most of his or her time to designing lighting setups. Today, the increase in location filming and the use of films that are super sensitive to low light levels have changed the need for lighting as basic photographic requirements, even for color film.
Special Effects. Beyond the reproduction of nature as it appears in reality, it was apparent from the beginning of the motion-picture art that the cinema could also deliver “magic,” an illusion of reality. In addition to a growing vocabulary of narrative decices used by innovative cinematographers and directors, movies developed unique enchantment. The camera made people and things disappear. The simple opening and closing of the movie-camera shutter or a fade in and out could establish or end a scene. Undercranking and overcranking the camera produced fast and slow motion. Creative masking of the image area, or frame, produced a variety of image shapes and sizes. The glass shot, back projection, and the matteshot were developed. These are techniques of superimposing action and people on fake backgrounds, techniques that required complex in-camera shutters and high levels of precision in registration to ensure accurate re-exposure in the camera. Such effects as fades, wipes and divisions of the frame which were at first accomplished by the camera were eventually created by optical printers outside the camera, increasing laboratory control of special effects.
By about 1970 televsion-special-effects technology reached and then surpassed motion-picture-effects-technology. Today combinations of electronic and photographic devices, the cinematographer and the director can specify a vast range of effects. Beginning with George Lucas’s Star Wars (1977), whole new generations of special-effects equipment have become available. Model making has reached a new level of skill. Using computers and robotics, new camera systems ensure exact repeatability from scene to scene.
In the 1980s Amprex in America and Quantel in England introduced new video devices that combing the elemetns of a conventional motion-picture optical printer, animation camera, and video shape and character generator with features that were once the province of the animator. These new devices add color, form, and geometric movement by placing analog video in the digital domain and manipulating the image using computers.
Three-dimensional motion pictures are among the oldest of cinematic special effects. The 3-D films shown at Walt Disney’s Epcot Center offer remarkable quality. The system uses two interlocked stereo cameras and projectors for taking and viewing that utilize a unique 70-mm format and aspect ratio. The films must be watched in special theater, and viewers wear Polaroid glasses.
Industrial and Commercial Cinematography
Areas of applied, nontheatrical cinematography include medical cinematography and motion study for use in engineering, like the photographing of automobile crash testing. High-speed cinematography has been used to study the operation of complex electrical and mechanical devices. Interactive videodisc and videotape have become staple training devices of corporate America and the armed forces.
The combination of rock-concert excerpts and avantgarde imagery produced a genre called music video. First popularized on MTV, an all-music channel.