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distinction between photography and cinematography


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#1 hye jung lee

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 06:50 AM

Hello everyone,
I have recently signed up to this site and am thrilled to have found so much discussion and activity concerning our craft. I am a Korean student studying cinematography in Scotland and am writing an essay about the differences between cinematography and photography. I would be very interested to your views on this matter or if you know of any particular articles I should read. I look forward to hearing from you.. Thanks - Hye Jung Lee.
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 09:48 AM

Movement, movement and movement.
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#3 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 10:13 AM

Shutter angle vs. shutter speed, varying framerates, strobe lights vs. constant lights and the art of collaboration would be good places to start.
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#4 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 10:36 AM

Besides movement, i would say the biggest difference between cinematography and photography is in numbers. One photograph should evoke a fascinating story, while with cinematography, you use thousands of photos to achieve the same effect.
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#5 Sam Wells

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 10:38 AM

You _can_ make films without collaborators though.

(And you can make still photographs with them - a film crew, even: see Gregory Crewsdon)


A deeper question is, is it "motion motion motion" or "appearance of motion appearance of motion appearance of motion" ? :blink:

Anything longer than a short answer here will be very long !

-Sam

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#6 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 10:44 AM

You _can_ make films without collaborators though.

(And you can make still photographs with them - a film crew, even: see Gregory Crewsdon)
A deeper question is, is it "motion motion motion" or "appearance of motion appearance of motion appearance of motion" ? :blink:

Anything longer than a short answer here will be very long !

-Sam

Sam Wells film/.../nj


Well, i'd go for appearance of motion, but isn't all motion really appearance of motion in our endless universe? *cough*

Edited by Alex Wuijts, 16 November 2006 - 10:45 AM.

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#7 George Lekovic

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 11:18 AM

Well,

JLG, elsewhere known as Jean Luc Godard, once said that "Photography is truth" and then added that "Cinema is truth "24 times a second". Michael Haneke, on th other hand, said that "Cinema is 24 leis a second in an effort to represent the truth".

I don't know what is the difference really is, but it seems to have something to do with seconds and the number 24.

:)

George

Edited by George Lekovic, 16 November 2006 - 11:20 AM.

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#8 grantsmith

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 11:38 AM

i think one of the biggest differences is that a cinematograper dosn't just shoot a series of nicely framed compositions. Each shot is composed with the awareness that it will have to 'cut' into another shot fluidly. i.e. continuity of lighting, exposure, screen direction etc.
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#9 Dino Giammattei

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 06:45 AM

Time

Back a million years ago when I was a US Navy Combat Cameraman, we had a friendly war of words with the still photographers. They would say that us mo-pickers would shoot a hundred feet then look for a bar. It was actually the truth for many of them.

I would counter that a still photog only has to be a photographer for a hundredth of a second at a time.

dino
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#10 Sam Wells

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 11:01 AM

i think one of the biggest differences is that a cinematograper dosn't just shoot a series of nicely framed compositions. Each shot is composed with the awareness that it will have to 'cut' into another shot fluidly. i.e. continuity of lighting, exposure, screen direction etc.


This is true, a good point * -- but then in stills there's things like Minor White's series; Duane Michals used to shoot sequences that were like mini abstract narratives

Both mp and stills have common ground in Muybridge, I would say....

* In Ozu's later films, the continuity of balances trumps screen direction (which ignores the "180" rule etc)

Not trying to be contrary, I just think there are interesting points of intersection between the two practices, as well as the obvious differences...

-Sam
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#11 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 06:58 AM

Well, consider the effect of each form on its intended audience. What expectations does each fulfill? Both are recordings of past events; one appeals to the conscious mind, the other to the subconscious.

A photograph exists only in the past - in effect, a photograph stops time and forces us to contemplate an image of something (morning light in September of 1962, your mother when she was a child, etc.) that no longer exists. As viewers, we experience an ironic distance from the subject which moves us.

A film exists both in the past and in the present - a child chases (note the present tense!) after a ball into the middle of a busy street and we cringe in anticipation, even on the twelfth viewing. We are moved by the illusion of reality. Some filmmakers attempt to break this illusion and create the ironic distance that photography takes for granted; then we are aware that what we are watching is not life at all, but merely a crude imitation.

If a film does convince the subconscious mind of its reality, then it is almost inevitably narrative, because the camera by its nature captures a series of events, and the editor by default structures those events into a sequence. Even if a film is constituted entirely of still photographs, those images must appear for a definite length of time on screen, then to be succeeded by another image, and another, ad nauseum. So cinema is not necessarily cinematography, but cinematography is necessarily cinema.

I guess if you wanted to make the analogy, photography is to cinema as memories are to dreams. And Godard's films are lucid dreams!

*EDIT: Okay, that made no sense at all, but it's late - give me a break!

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 19 November 2006 - 07:01 AM.

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#12 Keith Mottram

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 07:53 AM

Each shot is composed with the awareness that it will have to 'cut' into another shot fluidly.


It is? I've beed editing for half my life and in my experience etc etc....
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#13 Hal Smith

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 10:20 AM

Perception of Depth. A dolly sideways or a boom up or down will say more about the three dimensional structure of a scene than fiddling for hours with composition and lighting will in still photography.
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#14 Sam Wells

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 01:19 PM

It is? I've beed editing for half my life and in my experience etc etc....



:D

-Sam
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#15 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 01:42 AM

A film exists both in the past and in the present - a child chases (note the present tense!) after a ball into the middle of a busy street and we cringe in anticipation, even on the twelfth viewing.


Hi Satsuki,

Interestingly, Eddie Adams' Pulitzer Prize-winning 1968 photograph of Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon always makes me feel the same anxiety every time I see it.
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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 06:28 AM

Interestingly, Eddie Adams' Pulitzer Prize-winning 1968 photograph of Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon always makes me feel the same anxiety every time I see it.

That's a good point, though I would argue that as the viewer studies the picture, he or she becomes aware that the event it depicts is already history. The man died a second after the photo was taken; there's nothing the viewer can do now to save him. Instead, our gaze lingers on the face of the (soon to be, already?) dead man, noting his battered face, his disheveled hair, his wincing anticipation of the bullet entering his brain. Then we look at General Loan, and examine the small hand gripping the tiny pistol, the wiry muscles of his outstretched arm, the rolled sleeves of his clean uniform, his expressionless face. We feel pity for the prisoner, and horror at what war has revealed about human nature - that we are capable of killing each other without feeling much of anything. That's the story the picture tells.

Watching the 16mm newsreel footage of the execution, I'm struck at how quickly it all happened. The filmed event seems at once more real and less meaningful than the photograph. I guess that's the tyranny of cinema, that we're forced to experience events in the flow of time, rather than outside of it. (I still dig cinema though!) :)
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#17 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 08:00 AM

hi
i'd say that the goal is the same : give an emotion, one need a fraction of second to achieve it when the other need one hour and a half plus a bucket of popcorn! :)

somehow cinematographers are jalous of photographers
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#18 Sam Wells

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 10:30 AM

Jean-Marie: I _am_ in fact "jealous" (wrong word, but...) of still photographers... not so much the economy ('truth in a fraction of a second") as in fact the decoupling of the shutter, the liberal choices of the shutter speed.... (the range of materials to view the work ON, too..)

Satsuki: My work in film/digital currently addresses this 'tyranny of cinema' - in fact why I'm transferring film to HD, to contest what the linear timeline means... but it's too much in progress to say more now.

-Sam
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#19 Jason Maeda

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Posted 21 November 2006 - 07:14 PM

i've seen few good photographers make good filmmakers, and the opposite is even more true.

usually, and i'm pretty much writing this without thinking about it too much ;), photographers start rolling and can't sit still...they're zooming and moving and all of it for no good reason. dp's grab a still camera and just take a boring ass picture with no story, no "definitive moment".

jk :ph34r:
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#20 Dominic Case

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Posted 21 November 2006 - 07:33 PM

The photographer and the cinematographer were arguing about whose craft was the better.

"My pictures move" said the cinematographer.

"Mine don't have to" replied the photographer.

. . . . .but really it is all about what you signify with the image(s) you record.

In a still photograph, you have to "read" the image and use your imagination to work out what happened a second (or a year or a lifetime) before the shot was taken, and what will happen next.

In a moving picture, you can at least see the immediate past and future of any given instant of time - but only as much as the filmmaker shows you. And there is still room for imagination and "reading" of the image to figure out what is happening outside the frame.
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