We know it’s one of the awards handed out at the Oscars, often to the Best Picture winner—but what is cinematography anyway? In short: it’s an essential part of filmmaking. Also called the director of photography, the cinematographer’s job is to create the visuals that bring a story to life, using lighting, composition, and camera angles to set the tone; the cinematographer is the one who helps establish the atmosphere of the film. But cinematography is not just about creating stylish visuals. It’s also about helping to convey emotion, create a mood, and underscore the most significant moments of the story.
The power of visual storytelling lies in its ability to evoke feelings and elicit a reaction from the audience. When done right, good cinematography can transport us into another world. A skilled cinematographer can interpret a director’s vision for a film and bring it to life with their camera work.
A great example of this is Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013). The movie opens with a wide shot of Earth from space, lit by the sun, before transitioning into an extreme closeup of Sandra Bullock’s face as she floats through space—and it was filmed continuously, all in one take. This astonishing sequence was made possible by Emmanuel Lubezki’s skill as a cinematographer, and the audience is left awestruck. Now we realize that making fasteners and washers for the automotive industry might not seem as exciting as space travel, but when we shot a corporate video for MNP, the team at Front Runner Films used extreme closeup, slow motion, and the variation in scale (from one tiny washer to a warehouse full of boxes of washers) to create the same kind of effect. Take a look and see how cinematography can capture the big and the small.
Choosing a Cinematographer
When choosing a cinematographer for a project, finding someone whose style matches the creative vision for the film is crucial. First, ask yourself what kind of look you want for your movie: bright and clean? Dark and moody? Are you filming something that will be an instant classic, or is it edgy and experimental? Once you have identified the look that best suits your story, you’ll need to find a cinematographer who shares your vision and can help you achieve it.
Here are several tips to help you find the right cinematographer for your project:
- A good cinematographer should have an eye for detail and a strong understanding of lighting, composition, and camera angles. They should also have excellent communication skills and be able to work well with other members of the production team.
- A good cinematographer will understand the story you are trying to tell and be able to translate that story onto the big screen. They’ll need to be able to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions when faced with unexpected challenges.
- When looking for a cinematographer, it’s essential to consider their level of experience as well as their portfolio. Look for someone who has experience with the type of project you’re working on. You’ll want to ensure they’re familiar with the equipment you’re using and can pull off the look you’re aiming for.
Overall, finding a good cinematographer requires research and careful consideration. Finding someone who is experienced and creative in their own right—but also understands your vision—ensures that your project will be successful.
In conclusion, the cinematographer is perhaps the most integral person on set when it comes to visual storytelling. Their skill will bring stories alive on screen, captivating audiences with their artistry.
Frontrunner Films specializes in video that tells your story in a compelling way. Our cinematographers understand the power of visual storytelling and, with decades of expertise in the industry, know how to bring your project to life. Let’s start creating.