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6 Filmmaking Tutorials for Cinematographers

Johnathan Paul

You’ve got to keep learning if you want to become a true master of cinematography. Let’s check out a few filmmaking tutorials every cinematographer should watch.

Top image via DonnyCam

In order to master the art of cinematography, you need to learn about the craft everyday. You’ve got to stay fresh. You’ve got to be willing to go back and reexamine the fundamentals. With these truths in mind, we’ve rounded up six filmmaking tutorials every cinematographer should watch. These tutorials cover the basic concepts and techniques of cinematography, things you should know before ever rolling.

1. Camera

Obviously the camera is a very important tool for cinematographers. Before going into a production, the cinematographer and director discuss what type of image they want to create. This discussion ends with the producer who will provide the money for the camera. Here’s an overview of the camera selection process with cinematographer Jim Denault via CreativeLive.

2. Lenses

Lenses make the image, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There’s basically a lens for every need. Watch this video from cinematography veteran Jose Zambrano Cassella to gain an understanding of the crowded world of glass, and learn why picking the right lens for the right scene is so important.

Video via NakedFilmmaker

3. Blocking

Blocking scenes (determining where the actors and cameras will be placed) with the director is a vital part of the cinematographer’s job. While the video below (from Dan Fox) isn’t a tutorial, it offers great insight into why blocking is so important.

4. Composition

The foundation for composition begins in pre-production, when directors work with their pre-visualization team to develop storyboards. Many directors also bring in the cinematographer at this point to help realize the compositions. This is the process of framing the action. Again, the video below (via Channel Criswell) isn’t a tutorial, but it’s still a great source of information on how and why one needs to take time to compose shots.

5. Movement

Cinematographers can communicate a lot through the way they move the camera. Dolly shots can convey any number of emotional cues to the audience. So can a low-to-high crane shot. In the video below, Ryan Connolly (of Film Riot fame) offers a quick and insightful look at how impactful movement is in film.

6. Lighting

The true masters of cinematography know exactly how to manipulate light (or use natural light) to get the composition they’re looking for. In the video below, cinematographer Eric Kress (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) runs through part one of a lighting workshop presented by thefilmbook.

Got any good cinematography videos to share with the community? Do so in the comments below!