Introduction to Digital Cinematography

I took this class mainly to fulfill an elective requirement for the “Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games Degree” program, but really enjoyed what we learned about. The instructor, Hana Kitasei, was super professional and often provided insightful feedback and direction.

Thanks to my wife, Rachel, for being my collaborator as some of the assignments required human subjects and her help was invaluable either in front of or behind the camera.

Here’s the clip that I put together for my final assignment.

And here is what we covered during the twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “Introduction to Visual Storytelling – Jan 9th – Jan 13th
Introduction, Meet and Greet, Visual Storytelling, Photography, Exposure Times, Photography as Art, Cinema, Workshop: Images as Communication, Discussion 1.1: How Do Images Communicate Something to Us?, The Power of the Image, Messages Hidden in Images, Communicating Your Message, Discussion 1.2: What Images Do You Want to Create?, The Frame, Aspect Ratio, Determining an Aspect Ratio, Workshop: Framing, Assignment 1: Visual Storytelling, Recap

Week 2 – “A Technical Introduction to the Camera” – Jan 14th – Jan 20th
Introduction, How is an Image Created?, Camera Obscura, Creating a Permanent Photograph, Modern Camera Sensors, Creative Use of Exposure Time, Camera Components, Camera Functions, Exposing an Image, How a Digital Sensor Determines Brightness, Exposure and Shutter Speed, Using Slow Shutter Speed on a Video Camera, Quiz 2.1: Camera and Exposure, Controlling Exposure, Three Exposure Controls, Aperture Effects, Exposure and Aperture, The Sensor, Adjusting Sensitivity, Noise, Workshop: Exposure, Video and Still Cameras, Discussion 2.1: Your Camera, Assignment 2: Creative Exposure, Recap

Week 3 – “The Lens” – Jan 21st – Jan 27th
Introduction, What is a Lens?, Lensless Photography, Convergence, Lens Speed, Field of View, Sharpness, Distortion, Guidelines for Choosing a Lens, The Main Functions of a Photographic Lens, Exercise: The Creation of a Lens, Consumer Cameras, What Lens Do I Need?, Choose a Lens, Choosing a Lens, The Normal Lens, Workshop: Lens Types, Exercise: Lens Selections, Perspective and Depth, The Illusion of Depth, Depth, Perspective, and Lenses, Discussion 3.1: Lenses, Quiz 3.1: Lenses, Assignment 3: Creative Use of Lenses, Recap

Week 4 – “Camera Placement” – Jan 28th – Feb 3rd
Introduction, Examining a Shot, Shot Types, Extreme Long Shot, Long Shot, Medium Long Shot, Medium Shot, Medium Close Up and Close Up, Extreme Close Up, Shot Size and Lenses, Using the Medium Close Up and the Close Up, Over the Shoulder Shot, Two Shot, Camera Height, Eye Level Height, High Angle, Low Angle, The “Hero” Shot, Quiz 4.1: Camera Placement, Objective and Subjective Camera Work, Audience Viewpoint, Viewpoint in Movies, First Person Viewpoint, Third-Person Restricted Viewpoint, Omniscient Viewpoint, Point-of-View Shot, Analyzing “Vertigo”, Discussion 4.1: Camera Placement, Assignment 4: The Subjective Camera, Recap

Week 5 – “Camera Movement” – Feb 4th – Feb 10th
Introduction, When Was the Camera Moved First?, The History of Camera Movement, Camera Movement Types, Motivated Camera Movement, The Panning Shot, The Tilt Shot, The Tracking Shot, The Circular Move, The Push-In Shot, The Pull-Out Shot, The Crane Shot, The Handheld Shot, The Steadicam Shot, The Aerial Shot, Moving the Camera Successfully, Static Shots, Significant Camera Movement, Quiz 5.1: Camera Movement, Discussion 5.1: Rocky, Assignment 5: Camera Movement, Recap

Week 6 – “Lighting Tools” – Feb 11th – Feb 17th
Introduction, What Can Light Do for Us?, Illumination, Depth and Shape, Texture, Mood, Telling a Story, Lighting Function Summary, Discussion 6.1: Lighting, Properties of Light, Angle, Color, Diffusion, Lighting Properties Summary, Quiz 6.1: Lighting, Professional Lighting Tools, Safety, Light Meters, Sekonic’s Online Classroom, Improvised Lighting Tools, Assignment 6: Lighting Tools, Recap

Week 7, Creative Lighting, Feb 18th – Feb 24th
Introduction, Three-Point Lighting, The Key Light, The Fill Light, The Back Light, Effective Use of Three-Point Lighting, Practical Lighting Applications, Lighting Analysis, Lighting the Face, Visual Intensity, Evaluating Visual Intensity, Contrast and Affinity, Evaluating Contrast and Affinity, Contrast in Color, Evaluating Color Contrast, How Does Light Help Tell a Story?, Quiz 7.1: Creative Lighting, Discussion 7.1: Creative Lighting, Assignment 7: Creative Lighting, Recap

Week 8 – “Color” – Feb 25th – Mar 3rd
Introduction, What is Color?, The Relativity of Color, The Human Eye, After Images, Primary Colors, Complementary Colors, Complementary Colors in Art, Color Interpretation, Shades of Red, Color Interpretation in Cinema, The Meaning of Color, Discussion 8.1: Color, Quiz 8.1: Color, Color and Images, Color in Film, Drive, Discussion 8.2: Emotion, Assignment 8: Color, Recap

Week 9 – “The Story” – Mar 4th – Mar 10th
Introduction, Story Basics, Exercise: The Scorpion and the Frog, The Rabbit and the Turtle, Exercise: Narrative Film, Conflict, Protagonist, and Antagonist, Exercise: Conflict, Three-Act Structure, The Screenplay, Using a Screenplay, Live Concert Video, Music Video, The Script, Discussion 9.1: The Script, Script Breakdown, Exercise: Script Breakdown, Visual Guidelines, Creative Inspiration, Visual References, Discussion 9.2: Visual References, The Shot List, Exercise: American Beauty, Storyboards, Assignment 9: From Story to Shot, Recap

Week 10 – “The Long Take” – Mar 11th – Mar 17th
Introduction, To Cut or Not, Exercise: Battleship Potemkin, Shooting Sufficient Material, Exercise: Zodiac, The Long Take, Discussion 10.1: Long Takes, Fictional Time, Real Time, Pace and Rhythm, Other Long Takes, Challenges, Background, Camera Movement, Lighting, Goodfellas, Performance, Designing a Long Take, Shadow Man Battle Scene, Careful Planning, Behind-the-Scenes Photos, A Story Within a Long Take, Discussion 10.2: Four Short Films, Assignment 10: Long Take, Recap

Week 11 – “Continuity” – Mar 18th – Mar 24th
Introduction, Exercise: The Edited Scene, Analysis and Structure in the Scene, Editing in the Scene, Editing and the Cinematographer, Types of Continuity, Continuity of Time, Present, Past, Continuity Example, Future, Conditional Time, Continuity of Space, Content Continuity, Lighting Continuity, Flexibility, Directional Continuity, The 180 Line, Discussion 11.1: Continuity, Crossing the Line, Cutting, The 20/30 Rules, The Content Cut, The Action Cut, The POV Cut, The Conceptual Cut, The Jump Cut, Assignment 11: Continuity, Recap

Week 12 – “Collaboration” – Mar 25th – Mar 31st
Introduction, The Creative Team, The Creative Team: The Producer, The Creative Team: The Director, The Creative Team: The Screenwriter, The Creative Team: The Cinematographer, The Creative Team: The Production Designer, The Creative Team: The Editor, The Movie Set, The Movie Set: Assistant Director, The Movie Set: Script Supervisor, The Movie Set: Costume Designer, The Movie Set: Makeup Artist, The Movie Set: Assistant Cameraman, The Movie Set: Sound Mixer, The Movie Set: Electric Department, The Movie Set: Grip Department, Discussion 12.1: Collaboration, Shooting and Camera Procedures, Building a Winning Team, Finding Fellow Filmmakers, Quiz 12.1: Collaboration, Resources, Assignment 12: Digital Cinematography, Recap