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Excercises for aspiring cinematographer


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#1 Chris Walters

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Posted 26 May 2006 - 05:07 AM

I'm a freshman film major at Cal-State Northridge and I've grown past my digital is better than film stage and was wondering if anyone has any excercises with film stock, lenses, still photography or what ever has helped you become better film makers. I know the best education is through trial and error so whatever ideas you got send them my way. I've worked on several small time commercials, student shorts, a few Dr. Phil specials and several more as a grip/electrician/gaffer/DP and have been catching on to stuff quickly, but of course thats all digital. So let me know everything that will advance my "FILM" skills!

Thanks a bunch
Chris Walters
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#2 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 26 May 2006 - 07:18 AM

The best way to learn is by just doing it. Get yourself a Bolex 16mm camera (Reflex viewing) if you can. Next, purchase some rolls of reversal plusx or trix film (in 100 foot daylight spools). Pick up either the 16mm Camera Book by Douglas Underhall or Cinematography by Kris Malkiewicz. Finally, get yourself a light meter.

Read through the books and pick up the camera and go for it. You can even get a projector on EBay pretty cheap if you later feel like reviewing the footage on a large screen. But to edit the film, unless you plan on renting a Steenbeck flatbed table, and now we're getting into an area where film school is relevant, you should probably just have the film telecined to MiniDV so you can cut it on a laptop like everyone else.

But if you do nothing else, pick up those books along with the American Cinematographer manual. Good luck.
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#3 mattuhry

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 11:56 AM

A few things that come to mind...

-Learn Perspective drawing, you dont have to be a great storyboard artist, but this will always help you in communicating your ideas.

-Watch all kinds of films. When you see something you like or hate or whatever try to figure out why. Sensitze your self to images form opinons and de-construct how the makers got where they did. Can you look at an image and be able to describe the direction and quality of all the lights?

-Learn how to communicate. You'll need to explain your ideas and needs to lots of stressed out different minded people and still have them like you enough to want to work with you again.

Good Luck, Cinematorgaphy is about alot more than exposure lenses and filmstock!

Matt
www.fuzby.com
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#4 Jonathan Spear

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 04:53 AM

Books that may also help:

1) STORY / Robert Mckee
2) The Illusion of Life / Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston
3) Cinematic Motion / Steven D. Katz
4) Shot by Shot / Steven D. Katz
5) Matters of Light and Depth / Ross Lowel
6) Film Lighting / Kris Malkiewicz

Watch as many movies and 'behind the scenes / special features' as you can.

Subscribing to 'American Cinematographer' and being a regular member of this site and other cinematography related forums will help. If you have the time and patience, spend a day reading the archives of this site. There's a wealth of knowledge here and many of the members (myself not included) already have several projects under their belts.

And definately check this out:

http://www.cinematog..._film_guide.pdf

- Jonathan
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#5 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 06:52 AM

Learn how to communicate. You'll need to explain your ideas and needs to lots of stressed out different minded people and still have them like you enough to want to work with you again.

Good Luck, Cinematorgaphy is about alot more than exposure lenses and filmstock!

Matt
www.fuzby.com
[/quote]

That is such a good tip. Lots of good notes here but sometimes you can be so right and yet learn the hard
way how easy it is to talk yourself out of a job. Don't be obsequious but don't be the director either when
you're the D.P. .
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#6 Bob Hayes

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 10:51 AM

Learn enough drafting skills so you can draw a floor plan. Look at the lighting diagrams in a book like ?Reflections? and study how the shots are diagramed. Then go to the art museum and see if you can do lighting diagrams for paintings you like. Big soft sources like Vermeer or very specific dark lighting of Caravaggio. It?s a fun way to train your eye.
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#7 Hal Smith

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 11:43 AM

I'm a freshman film major at Cal-State Northridge and I've grown past my digital is better than film stage
Chris Walters
Student CSUN

Shooting a bunch of reversal was one way I honed my still photography skills. You're only dealing with Kodak and yourself that way. If a composed and lit shot looks good on reversal than you've nailed all the variables. I was led to this when I found out that all the photography in National Geographic was shot on slide film (at least it was years ago).
I personally have a great distaste for the modern "we'll fix it in post" approach. Get it on the film right in the first place, IMHO post manipulation is for specific effects, not for rescuing bad photography
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#8 Mario C. Jackson

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 12:37 PM

Just shoot as much as you possibly can. Shoot, shoot, and keep on shooting.
Mario Concepcion Jackson
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Visual Products