If you want to know how to become a good cinematographer you need to prepare to combine two essential elements; the how you shoot and the why because these two areas combine to connect viewers to film and footage, making it relatable. Filmmaking tips will generally guide you to focus on the “how” by looking at physical shots, equipment such as using a tripod to up your cinematography techniques or the camera itself and its functions, such as changing the camera filtration settings. While these are useful, they are only half of a whole and we are looking at the other side of cinematography tips that will help you balance these aspects to capture great footage, even if you’re a student or starting out.
Remember Your Message – It’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of camera work when you’re shooting or planning but you need to always remember why you are filming and the message you’re trying to convey. It’s also important to convey this to the director, actors or other members of the team so they can work towards this with you because the message may impact the way you and others perceive a scene.
Use Your Unique Voice – The one element you can always rely on to help you stand out is your perspective. This is because it is unique, after all, the only one with your view on things is you so even if you have the same idea as others, you can make an entirely different film by using your own perspective. Showcase why the message is so important to you and this truth will often help you relate to the audience.
Be Brave – Some filmmaking tips will guide you towards focusing only on what you know but the truth couldn’t be more different! Try new cinematography techniques and blend them together, mixing up different shots, remaining organic but also trying different angles and using everything at your disposal. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Research is Key – From lighting, costumes, background, technology and even language, it is important to research your themes and ideas before trying to get them out and start filming and the more prepared you are, the more effectively you can use your time. The best piece of advice any seasoned filmmaker will give is always research, right down to the specifics of the shot because the more pre-planning you do, the less you will need to fix in post (which will only go so far.)
Creative Blocking – Use space in the scene to convey meaning and your message, loop in the actors and director so that you can shape the scene and be aware of how movement will evolve what is happening. Blocking can be very effective and using the space in certain ways can change the atmosphere of the scene entirely.
As you can see from these cinematography tips, there is so much more to filmmaking than camera settings. It’s vital that you’re clear about exactly what you want to achieve, even if you aren’t initially sure how to make it work. This will shape your process going forward and critically affect the quality of your footage and final film.
Everything is in place – you have a great concept, the script is locked down, the talent and the equipment are on the way and you even have the shotlist laid out. But there are still plenty of elements of the production you need to consider – how is the film actually going to look on the screen? How are you continuously going to draw your audience’s attention to the screen and keep them fascinated?
Cinematography is more than just knowing where to point the camera for each shot or where to put the lights. There are a number of cinematography tips and camera techniques in filmmaking that will give the finished work a truly cinematic look. Without these, no matter the quality of the script or the talent, the look and feel of the film could end up appearing more like a local news report than an engaging piece of visual art.
Filters are one of the easiest and most inexpensive cinematic techniques to employ to lift the picture and give it real depth. But filters can also be a daunting prospect to a new filmmaker so here are some basic filter types that can be used on even the most inexpensive cameras to produce great results.
Neutral density (ND) filters – these allow you to shoot outdoors in bright daylight or indoors with strong studio lights without having to reduce the aperture of the lens. This is important because maintaining a wide aperture means you can use a very shallow depth of field and hence gain that professional, cinematic look. ND filters do this by reducing the overall amount of light across all wavelengths coming through to the lens without altering the colour of that light. ND filters come in a variety of densities to suit different conditions.
Polarisers – when it comes to cinematic techniques, polarising filters can produce some of the most dramatic results. They can darken the blue of the sky and greatly increase the contrast of the clouds. They can reduce the surface reflection on water so reveal any detail underneath and polarising filters can also help to eliminate reflections in glass and on metallic surfaces. Overall these filters can give a scene an almost hyper-real look which will elevate it above the mundanity of the news broadcast.
Diffusion filters – the image sharpness of modern digital cameras can detract from the idea that you’re presenting life through a lens to your audience, so this is where diffusion filters add to the toolbox of camera techniques in filmmaking. They’ll soften an image without reducing the detail within. Diffusion filters will bloom light sources and highlights, raise the image contrast and pick out shadows. By smoothing skin tones and giving a virtually unnoticed glow to actors, this type of filter greatly enhances the gorgeous quality of a shot to keep an audience enthralled.
Post-production software can produce some of the results described here but there’s nothing like getting the look you want up front. Filters are a relatively inexpensive and it’s not difficult to experiment to get the right look for your shot. Check out Premium Beat’s blog for more examples of camera filtration techniques.