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Cinematography Practices & Exercises

practice exercise student school cinematography composition framing lighting camera movement alvin joo

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#1 Alvin Joo

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:14 AM

After a summer of not doing much but making lattes for Hollywood folks and making a short film that I ended up not finishing, I feel behind as a student filmmaker.

Are there any simple but effective practices that a person with a camera can get in the habit of to improve their skills? Skills such as: framing, camera movement, lighting, and composition.

An example I heard of was to film ten second clips displaying dramatic light changes ie: striking a match in a dark room.

I hope many can chime in on this!


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 04:33 PM

I taught myself filmmaking by doing very short films in Super-8, each with a theme -- one was all about intercutting two simultaneous actions for suspense, ala D.W.Griffith.  One was about creating a romantic feeling. One was all about creating mood in b&w. Another had a lot of deep-focus effects.

 

I think if you did a b&w short where your goal was to make each image as moody and striking as possible, like something F.W. Murnau would have done, then you'd learn a lot.  Find ways of motivating silhouettes for example, indoors and outdoors.


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#3 Alvin Joo

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 04:20 AM

I taught myself filmmaking by doing very short films in Super-8, each with a theme -- one was all about intercutting two simultaneous actions for suspense, ala D.W.Griffith.  One was about creating a romantic feeling. One was all about creating mood in b&w. Another had a lot of deep-focus effects.

 

I think if you did a b&w short where your goal was to make each image as moody and striking as possible, like something F.W. Murnau would have done, then you'd learn a lot.  Find ways of motivating silhouettes for example, indoors and outdoors.

Thanks for the info! I definitely will make the effort to give each suggestion a shot.

 

Now, regarding length of these "very short films", how long were they on average? And how much time should be spent on creating them?

 

I have a bad habit of spending too much time in production which ends up with an unfinished project :P


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 09:23 AM

Under 5-minutes would be good.


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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 11:38 AM

I have never had any formal training. The only solid advice I give these days is to shoot and edit things a lot. Almost anything; it barely matters, although it's probably worth trying to do things you're not very comfortable doing. Far too many armchair filmmakers out there. The main part of the advice is to edit, though; editing teaches you a lot about shooting. If you shoot without ever getting around to cutting it, all you're doing is wandering around pointing a camera at things. You must make a point of editing everything into a meaningful sequence.

 

P


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