cinematography


cinematography
/sin'euh meuh tog"reuh fee/, n.
the art or technique of motion-picture photography.
[1895-1900; see CINEMATOGRAPH, -GRAPHY]

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Art and technology of motion-picture photography.

It involves the composition of a scene, lighting of the set and actors, choice of cameras, camera angle, and integration of special effects to achieve the photographic images desired by the director. Cinematography focuses on relations between the individual shots and groups of shots that make up a scene to produce a film's effect. Well-known cinematographers include Nestor Almendros, Gregg Toland, and Sven Nykvist.

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      the art and technology of motion-picture photography. It involves such techniques as the general composition of a scene; the lighting of the set or location; the choice of cameras, lenses, filters, and film stock; the camera angle and movements; and the integration of any special effects. All these concerns may involve a sizable crew on a feature film, headed by a person variously known as the cinematographer, first cameraman, lighting cameraman, or director of photography, whose responsibility is to achieve the photographic images and effects desired by the director.

      The earliest motion pictures were filmed as if they were stage plays, using just one or a few cameras in static frontal photography. By the second and third decades of the 20th century, however, in the hands of such cameramen as Billy Bitzer (working with director D.W. Griffith) the camera was doing close-ups, shooting from moving vehicles, employing backlighting and other lighting effects, and generally being used in ways that separated the motion picture from theatrical tradition. With the coming of sound, the inventive motion was interrupted when the noisy cameras were perforce made stationary in sound-proof enclosures not easily moved, but the development of silent cameras again made cinematography flexible. The development of the camera crane (first used in 1929) also expanded the camera's vision, as did the use of wider-angle lenses to achieve a greater depth of field (as Gregg Toland did in the impressive scenes of Citizen Kane [1941]).The two most important events in cinematography after the coming of sound were undoubtedly colour and wide-screen processes. Also important are advances in special effects, as developed in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), with cameraman Geoffrey Unsworth, and in George Lucas' Star Wars (1977), with cinematographers Gilbert Taylor and (for special effects) John Dykstra.

      The differences between photography and cinematography are many. A single photograph may be a complete work in itself, but a cinematographer deals with relations between shots and between groups of shots. A main character, for instance, may initially come on screen unrecognizable in shadows and near-darkness (as Orson Welles did in The Third Man [1949]); as a single shot, it might be poor photography, but cinematographically it leads into other shots that reveal the man and give the movie style and integration. Cinematography is also far more collaborative than photography. The cinematographer must plan his work with the producer, the director, the designer, the sound technicians, and each of the actors. The camera crew itself may be complex, especially in a feature film; the chief cinematographer supervises a second cameraman (or camera operator), who handles the camera; an assistant operator (the focus-puller), whose main function is to adjust the focusing; an assistant known as the clapper-loader, or clapper boy, who holds up the slate at the beginning of the shot, loads the magazines with film, and keeps a record of the footage and other details; and the “grips,” who carry or push around equipment and lay tracks for the camera dolly. The cinematographer may also be in charge of the gaffer, or chief electrician (a lighting technician), who is assisted by one or more “best boys.” A big-budget film may have additionally a special-effects crew and sometimes a whole second unit of cinematographer and assistants.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • cinematography — (n.) 1897, from cinematograph (1896), from Fr. cínématographe, from Gk. kinemat , comb. form of kinema movement, from kinein to move (see CITE (Cf. cite)) + graphein to write (see GRAPHY (Cf. graphy)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • cinematography — ► NOUN ▪ the art of photography and camerawork in film making. DERIVATIVES cinematographer noun cinematographic adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • cinematography — [sin΄ə mə tä′grəfē] n. [< cinematograph, film projector < Fr cinématographe < Gr kinēma (gen. kinēmatos), motion + graphein, to write] the art, science, and work of photography in making films cinematographic [sin΄əmat΄ə graf′ik] adj.… …   English World dictionary

  • Cinematography — Cinematographic redirects here. For the 2007 rock album, see Cinematographic (album). Cinematography (from Greek: kinema κίνημα movement and graphein γράφειν to record ) is the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic… …   Wikipedia

  • cinematography — [[t]sɪ̱nɪmətɒ̱grəfi[/t]] N UNCOUNT Cinematography is the technique of making films for the cinema. ...an admirer of Arthur Jafa s breathtaking cinematography …   English dictionary

  • cinematography — /sɪnəməˈtɒgrəfi / (say sinuhmuh togruhfee) noun 1. the art of film photography: the cinematography in that new French film is outstanding. 2. the practice of film photography: she is studying cinematography. –cinematographer, noun… …   Australian English dictionary

  • cinematography — cin·e·ma·tog·ra·phy .sin ə mə täg rə fē n, pl phies the art or science of motion picture photography <X ray fluoroscopic cinematography> cin·e·mat·o·graph·ic .mat ə graf ik adj cin·e·mat·o·graph·i·cal·ly i k(ə )lē adv …   Medical dictionary

  • cinematography — cin|e|ma|tog|ra|phy [ˌsınıməˈtɔgrəfi US ˈta: ] n [U] [Date: 1800 1900; Origin: cinematograph; CINEMA] the skill or study of making films ▪ with impressive cinematography by Robert Surtees >cinematographer n …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • cinematography — noun (U) technical the skill or study of making films: with impressive cinematography by Robert Surtees cinematographer noun (C) …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • cinematography — noun Date: 1897 the art or science of motion picture photography • cinematographic adjective • cinematographically adverb …   New Collegiate Dictionary


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