Basics Of Cinematography

Basics of Cinematography

Budding cinematographers need not only various types of shooting equipment but also certain factors in mind in order to shoot high-quality videos for commercial and artistic use. Given below are some basic points.

1. Aspect Ratios & Anamorphic Lenses

Before the advent of high-definition cameras, the standard 4:3 aspect ratio of standard-definition TV was generally seen as undesirable for anyone looking for a “cinematic” look. Today, 16:9 ratio is the standard cinematic ratio. Anamorphic lenses can capture horizontal image details easily and can give out outputs greater than 16:9 ratio as well.

2. Bokeh

Bokeh simply means “blur quality.” Bokeh refers to the portions of an image that are defocused or blurry. In the filmmaker’s toolkit, bokeh is not only an aesthetically pleasing quality, but it also allows the filmmaker to focus the viewer’s eye on an object or area of interest in the frame. Bokeh is a function of shallow depth-of-field.

3. Compression

Compression refers to a method for reducing the amount of data a video camera produces. Most cameras today currently employ some method of compression. If you’re used to shooting photos in JPEG format, you’re used to capturing compressed images, while RAW can also employ compression, it is generally thought of as “uncompressed.” However, while the benefits are long hours of recording, the image quality suffers appreciably. Video data compression is useful for youtube videos, but for cinematic quality, RAW form image is preferable.

4. Depth of Field

Focal length plays an important role in DoF. Depth of Field allows objects near or far to come under focus. This is an important aspect of film & video shooting. For example, the scene of a person walking in a jungle appears blurred and there’s a mystery as to who he is but gradually as focus sharpens we see a clearer picture.

5. Exposure & Aperture

Exposure refers to the amount of light allowed to an imaging surface. Aperture refers to the adjustable opening near the rear of the lens that lets light through. The size of the aperture does not only affect the amount of light, but also the angle of light rays hitting the sensor — a narrow aperture creates an image with a wide depth of field, whereas a large aperture creates an image with a shallower depth of field.

6. Focal Length

Focal length refers to image magnification. A longer focal length, e.g. 100mm, makes distant objects appear larger, whereas those same objects will appear smaller with a shorter focal length, e.g. 35mm. Focal length also refers to angle of view; longer focal lengths have a narrower angle of view, whereas shorter focal lengths have a broader angle of view. When it comes to focal length, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are images taken with the camera in the same place, but with lenses of different focal lengths attached.

7. Frame Rate

Frame rate is the frequency with which today’s digital cameras capture and display consecutive images. This typically corresponds to the number right before a “P” in the case of progressive images. Being able to shoot in 24p is essential and basic. For a flawless slow-motion effect, higher frame rates can generally be slowed down further in your editing system.

8. ISO & Noise

ISO pertains to measurement of noise in photography. ISO, as it relates to digital photography, is based on analog standards of film speed. Higher the ISO, the brighter the image and the more noise contained in the image. With sophisticated noise reduction and other processing tricks, Digital cameras have managed to dramatically reduce noise at higher ISOs.

9. Progressive vs. Interlaced

In interlaced scanning, the video is divided into two images and is displayed using alternating fields. Interlacing can cause motion artifacts as well as a host of other problems when rendering. On the other hand, progressive scanning captures entire images and displays them in a progression. This avoids problems related to motion artifacts. Motion picture films particularly use progressive scanning.

10. Shutter Speed

Shutter speeds are simulated electronically these days. Shutter speed affects the amount of light that reaches the camera and also affects the motion rendering of the moving image. Lower shutter speeds yield a brighter and smoother image, whereas higher shutter speeds result in a darker and more stroboscopic image. Motion picture film cameras typically shoot with a 180-degree shutter.