cinematography degree


i’m looking for cinematography training videos that will cover all the material that Universities and Colleges are covering for a degree.
i know about all the videos that train you to use premiere or after effects… they are nice but they only teach you the program & menus… not the profession itself.
so… anyone know for videos that covers all that? (& yes i know this site in for cg, but i guess that cinematography is cinematography, animation or “real action” the basics are still the same give or take).
thanks :slight_smile:


There are many textbooks, of course. I suggest that you start with “[digital] Cinematography and Directing,” by Dan Ablan (New Riders, ISBN 0-7357-1258-1). The reason why I could come up with the ISBN so easily is that it’s on my desk and well-thumbed.

You are entirely correct that “cinematography is cinematography,” and therefore many books on classical film techniques are also applicable. The workflow is completely different, but the end product is the same and the viewer’s reactions to it are the same.

This is where a lot of ideas come from. For example, most of what I do is making short videos for museum exhibits. One of the things I’ve been working on lately is a short sequence of “pouring iron.” One of the key scenes is the actual pour, which goes like this: [ol]
[] The furnace-master decides it’s time for the pour. In a medium OTS shot, over his right shoulder, he turns his head and nods meaningfully to George. [] Pull-focus to George as he raises the poker and steps forward toward the spout as we … [] Cut to a close-up of the poker as (we know, George…) thrusts it through the plug as we [] ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE as the flaming, spitting iron comes gushing out of the hole. It falls into the channels that have been cut into the sand floor and slowly begins to fill it up, making iron pigs. The camera cranes back slowly, down the length of the room, following the iron, while pulling back zoom from the close-up to wide angle. In the corner of the frame we see George calmly stepping back and the furnace-master stepping out of frame to the right… [/ol] It ought to be a good shot, and if it does turn out in the “roughs” like I think it will, it will give the audience a visually interesting glimpse of what it might have been like to be present on the pouring-floor of a blast furnace in those days. What will carry the shot, or break it as the case may be, is pure cinematography-and-directing. Certainly, this is the aspect of the business that remains most engaging to me.


books are nice, but videos are like being in the classroom :slight_smile:
so… i’ll be happy to hear about some good videos & DVD’s that are close to what i can learn for a degree.


unfortniatly video’s won’t teach you experience, the key factor to learning cinematography


books will not teach me experience too, so what is the point? :slight_smile:
i know school & books are better but i really can’t do it now. so i know why i’m asking for video tuts…


This is a very tricky question - specifically asking what videos will help…
Go to the American Cinematographer site - - and they DO have a store with DVDs as well as a truckload of books.

Here’s the kicker - you’ll learn the same amount or techniques from either books or videos. Nothing compares to picking up a camera and shooting. YES, some educational materials are helpful and will point you in the right direction, but shoot something every weekend - go to sporting events and learn how to follow action, set up short movie shoots with friends and start learning production, etc.

Get yourself on as many crews as you can find - and know that until they know your name and trust you with their equipment you’ll be working for FREE. You’ll get hands-on training and practices which is priceless. You’ll find out not only how to point a camera, but things like WHY they chose that particular lighting, and how they did it. WHY they chose that particular angle, and how they did it - get it?

The best way to learn is to actually shoot - I know this is obvious, and doesn’t actually answer your original question, but it’s the best course of action for you.

Hope this helps, and happy shooting!
-Lew :wink:


Here’s a video based course:

I own it and like it a lot. They go over a LOT of information.

This is more about ‘staging’ rather than lighting.


yes, videos like this.
if you know about more like this i’ll be happy to hear about them :slight_smile:


I heartily agree with “thundering1.”

My first job (in the computer business) consisted of tearing paper off a line-printer and shoving it through a slot. (This was the early 1980’s… ahem.)

I didn’t give a damn! :smiley: I was inside!

Cinematography is just like swimming: you can “read about it” as much as you like, but soon enough you’ve got to “get into the pool.”

Okay… now stop and think about it… “when you get into the pool,” you can either swim, or drown. Them’s your choices: the pool will quickly decide. So… it sure does make perfect sense to hang-around as long as you can beside that pool, watching other people swim and maybe learning “a thing or two,” before you hop into those waters yourself.

As you well know, folks have been doing “cinematography” since the very earliest days of film-making. Lots of folks wrote lots of books: read them all. Lots of folks right now are out there doing it: offer to carry their books (anything at all to be “inside”), and watch every single thing that they do. (Hint: Please don’t be so crass as to tell 'em what your aspirations are… they know perfectly well, having done the very same thing themselves. Stay focused on the job at hand, just as they are.)

“Those who are faithful with little, will be faithful with much.”

In due time, “the time comes to hire somebody.” Who’s it gonna be? Duh. If you’ve played your cards right, it’s gonna be you, because you were always there at 7:00 in the morning and you never once “dropped those books.” By your own actions you have shown yourself to be trustworthy, and therefore a very intelligent choice in a totally results-oriented business.

“Those who are faithful with little, will be faithful with much.”


Good book for feeding tacit knowledge.


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