- One of the most important decisions the cinematographer has to make is the selection of a camera. You have to make this choice based on many factors. It's important to choose wisely because this decision will have implications in both production and post production that may not be immediately apparent in pre production. The two main factors affecting your choice will be the budget of your production and the schedule of your production. The range of camera costs starts with small digital SLR cameras.
You may already own one of these. Even if you don't, it's affordable enough that you can buy one outright and use it for this and many other purposes. At the other end of the price spectrum is a high end specialized motion picture camera that will likely cost more to rent than the DSLR will cost to buy. Another consideration of camera cost is the type of production and post production support the camera requires.
For instance, the size of the files it produces will require storage, duplication and transport. Some cameras require additional on set personnel to manage the footage they produce. In post you'll have to consider what are often referred to as downstream costs. There may be transcoding to other formats required before you can edit your footage. Another thing to consider is the camera's light sensitivity.
Some cameras may require more lighting hardware than others. If you have special things you'd like to do with your images like slow motion or green screen, the camera you select may not be able to do this and you may have to use a different camera for those specific shots. Other things to consider are, will there be shots that require special equipment to move the camera the way you want to like a steady cam, drones, car or motorcycle mounts. Do you have scenes requiring multiple cameras? Will you choice of camera require you to carry two or more of whatever camera you choose? How much time do you have for editing, color grading and delivery of your film? These are often underestimated factors.
The place where this hurts productions the most is in the conform phase. The conform process is where the production takes the locked edited, low quality images used in an off line editing system like Avid, Final Cut or Premier and replaces these with high quality footage created in camera during production. That footage can then be color graded to create your productions color timed master.
A lot can happen in this process and sufficient time must be alotted to it. Depending on the camera you've chosen the work flow can be extremely simple and fast or more complex and more time consuming. There are advantages to each and we'll talk about that shortly. Lots of great camera choices are available now. These options are constantly changing as manufacturers react to the demands of film makers and the different ways film making evolves. This means that every time you start a production you have to revisit this issue to make sure that your camera choice from the last film will still hold true for your next one.
Next, we'll look at two categories of digital cameras available to you, simple cameras and complex cameras.
Follow along and learn the fundamentals required to shoot a story with a camera. Learn how to plan your production, assemble a crew, choose the right camera and lenses, and make creative choices that best fit the themes, characters, and story of your film. Bill covers the elements of composition, exposure, optics, lighting, and camera movement. Part 2 (coming in November 2016) will show you how to put all these ideas together on set, and deliver the footage to an editor and director for assembly into a complete, coherent, and compelling story.
- Motion picture history
- Preproduction planning
- Working with a crew and actors
- Understanding the story
- Composition in film
- Working with different types of cameras
- Recording, compression, and storage
- Choosing a lens and focal length
- Finding the correct exposure
- Lighting a scene
- Lighting and grip equipment
- Camera movement