Cinematography can mean a lot of things, but its ultimately about capturing your desired images. Communicating the various techniques used to capture these images is what separates a working professional and a student.

In this blog, we’ll discuss some professional cinematography is and some terms and techniques used in the entertainment industry along the way to help you move forward with your creative vision.

Cinematography setting in a studio.

What is Cinematography?

Technicallycinematography is the art and the science of recording light either electronically onto an image sensor or chemically onto film stock.

Functionally, the cinematography is understood to encapsulate everything having to do with the camera — its movement, the images, the light it receives, etc.

What does a cinematographer do?

cinematographer or director of photography (shortened to DP or DoP) is the crew chief that presides over the camera and light crews on a film or video production. They usually get involved throughout the entire production lifecycle and liaise closely with the director to create the images you see onscreen.

A male cinematographer in the action.
A woman who is writing a script for a movie.

Other things a cinematographer do are:

  • Dissect the screenplay
  • Research film techniques and cinematic techniques that relate to the subject matter and elicit the intended emotional responses from an audience.
  • Creates shot lists, floor plans, and lighting diagrams
  • Manages the camera and light crews
  • Make decisions about cinematic elements such as lenses, filters, lights, and other camera/lighting requirements.
  • Responsible for making decisions about aspect ratio, digital effects, image contrast, and frame rates.
  • Make decisions about camera movements and film lighting techniques to prompt a specific emotional response from an audience.
  • Often liaises with the director and colorist during the color-grading phase on a project