Archives for

cinematography

3D is A Problematic Technology that Adds No Value to Films

Now that the novelty has worn thin and we can consider the issue with a clear head, it appears clear that 3D movies are a nuisance for the audience, add no real value to films and impose a number of cumbersome limitations on filmmakers. There is also a fundamental biological conflict that imposes a hard

Essential Camerawork Exercises for Aspiring Filmmakers

Improving your camerawork skills and, as an indirect benefit, sharpening your ability to get the results you want from your crew quickly — that is what this post is about. I will describe some exercises that you can do to move towards those goals. As with my editing exercises, all you will need is a

The Big Camera Question for Independent Filmmakers

“Which camera should I use?” This is one of the questions I am asked most frequently, and the time has come to address this issue once and for all. First things first: camera shopping has nothing to do with being a filmmaker. In this post I will write about why you need to start shooting

A Detailed Breakdown of a 30-second TV Spot (with diagrams)

In this post I will provide a detailed breakdown of a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) I made in 2005 for a competition. We shot the spot on a bitterly cold night in November 2005 in Oxford, UK.  The spot is set in an exterior night location and we therefore had no choice but to

6 Great Spielberg Shots

“Munich” (2005) (Dir. S. Spielberg; DP J. Kaminski) The color scheme in this shot is absolutely gorgeous.  The warm/cold combination of color temperatures is nothing new, but the blue hue of the light in the background is particularly beautiful and delicate. The colorist undoubtedly deserves some credit. Classic foreground texture by Steven Spielberg and exquisite

6 Lessons I Learned on the “Harry Potter” Film Set

In October 2000 I was in my final year at Oxford University and before I had even finished settling into my room for Michaelmas Term I was eagerly informed by friends that the “Harry Potter” film crew was going to spend several weeks shooting in our College (Christ Church). I had never heard of Harry

6 Awesome Shots from 6 Unforgettable Films

“Terminator 2” (James Cameron, 1991; DP Adam Greenberg) “Hasta la vista, baby!” No kidding. Bold use of two color temperatures (cold and hot). Crucial point: Cameron didn’t just rack focus to the gun — he also tilted down to exclude the eyes, to make the audience focus on the gun. Humans tend to keep looking

Long uncut master shots in films

Reader’s question: As a fan of Andrei Tarkovsky I really love long takes with few changes of angle. I believe that with the utmost balanced use of track shots, composition, lightning, foreground and action within a frame, an audience won’t be bored even without sudden changes in camera placement. I understand that this isn’t the

Choosing between the 2.35 and 16:9 / 1.85 aspect ratios

Reader’s question: My question is about aspect ratio. I know a lot about it but I’m kinda stuck on the thought of the correlation of aspect ratio and lenses. For example, a scene shot in 16:9 using a long lens looks nice but very flat, and with wide lens, almost too documentary. When shot in

Directing, shooting and editing projects for the web vs. the big screen

Reader’s question: Thanks for your email and invitation to pose questions. From a technical standpoint, how does web-based format influence camerawork, editing, etc.?  Does the shorter length of a web-based episode influence technique? My answer: Great question!  In my experience directing for the web does not necessarily call for changes to be made to one’s

Projecting films digitally in theaters (2K and 4K)

Reader’s question: Please explain the process of putting digital footage on to a medium for projection in theaters. My answer: Projecting a film digitally is conceptually very simple (I will get to the details below): the film itself is simply a digital file stored on some sort of server that is connected to a digital

Steven Spielberg film techniques – With pretty pictures!

I have been admiring and studying Steven Spielberg’s filmmaking techniques for some years now and in this post I will share some of my findings. No written description can ever do justice to an artist of Steven Spielberg’s magnitude, but I do hope that you will find this post inspiring and instructive. 1. Track-in shots

Cobra Crane II review

I had the pleasure of using the Cobra Crane II on a film I shot a few years ago and I was extremely impressed and thoroughly addicted to using it. First things first: the Cobra Crane II is a crane that produces extremely smooth and impressive crane shots with cameras up to 25 pounds in