How To Become A Cinematographer
Career Video: Cinematographer
Do enjoy watching television and films? Have you wondered to yourself, “How do they do that?” Do you wonder how framing, lighting, and color set the tone for a film or television series? Do you have an interest in being a part of the aesthetics of a film? If so, you may want to explore an exciting career in cinematography!
Why Become A Cinematographer
Cinematographers, also known as directors of photography, play an instrumental role in the overall development and aesthetic of film and television. A cinematographer is trained to operate a camera and lighting equipment in order to achieve cinematic shots. The main duty of a cinematographer is to determine the best equipment and angles for capturing a scene or shot.
It is the responsibility of the cinematographer to translate the director’s vision by deciding the proper lighting, framing, film stock, and lenses for the filming of a scene. They also oversee the work of other camera operators, transporting equipment, and storing film footage. Getting the right frame, aesthetic, and lighting of a film or television series is essential to a cinematographer. The overall look of the film or television series can have a huge impact on the audience members.
Qualities & Skills for Cinematographers
If you are looking for employment within the field of cinematography, be aware that you will need to possess the following qualities and skills for a cinematographer position.
- Communication Skills – You should have strong communication skills. You will be working closely with various members of the production team, including the director.
- Creativity – Cinematographers utilize their creativity to film various angles and scenes while imagining the final outcome for an audience and director. Getting the right frame, aesthetic, and lighting of a film or television series is essential to a cinematographer. The overall look of the film or television series can have a huge impact on the audience members.
- Detail Oriented – As a cinematographer, you will need to be incredibly meticulous when filming a television series or movie. It is your responsibility to analyze every single shot. This includes how the director wishes to visualize the aesthetic of a film or series.
- Patience – Cinematographers typically work very long, sporadic hours throughout the production of films and television series. The position requires a vast amount of patience to complete a task.
- Manual Dexterity & Visual Skills – As a cinematographer, you need to be able to move with the action of a shot while holding the camera or lighting equipment in a steady position. Cinematographers must be able to clearly visualize and see what they are filming in order to achieve the perfect, aesthetically pleasing shot.
Cinematographer Work Environment
Cinematographers may work on television and movie sets. Cinematographers may travel quite frequently and be away for months at a time. As a cinematographer, you may carry heavy equipment, work in severe weather, or stand for very long periods of time. The assignments of a cinematographer can vary. It can take several weeks to several months to finish the production of a film or television series.
Cinematographers typically work very long, sporadic hours throughout the production of films and television series. The schedule and depth of their work depend on many factors such as location scouting, shooting days, and traveling.
The Occupational Employment and Wages Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor showed that the mean annual wage of a cinematographer is $51,300. The median annual wage of a cinematographer is dependent upon experience, education, and budget of the film or television series.
Cinematographer Career Outlook
The career outlook for a cinematographer appears to be somewhat promising. From 2012 to 2022, the overall employment of cinematographers is expected to grow 3%. Grow in the area of cinematography will be dependent on consumer demand for more cinematic television series or film.
Many institutions may offer degrees in videography and camera operating. When pursuing a career in cinematography, it is important to take coursework in film stocks, cinematography, the role of cinematographers, cameras, lenses, and lighting. Your coursework may include how to use exposure meters, editing, and sound design.
Throughout your first semester, you will typically enroll within an introductory cinematography course. You will learn the how to use 16mm analog film cameras, accessory equipment, and lenses. You may also learn the various roles of gaffers, grips, safety procedures, dollies, and jib arms. Your introductory cinematography course will highlight how to use technology such as Steadicam and Smart Slate throughout the production of a film or series. As you begin to learn the introductory concepts to cinematography, you will be introduced to mixing, recording, shooting, and digital editing techniques. This typically includes film selection, exposure, and lighting.
Digital cinematography coursework will focus on the technical capacity of digital cameras. Digital cinematography coursework will focus on how you can utilize a digital camera for picture manipulation, filtration, lighting, high definition, and special effects. Mood and atmosphere play a crucial role in a cinematographer’s career. There will be a refined focus on the subject throughout your coursework.
Lighting techniques will be one of the most important aspects of your career as a cinematographer. You need to understand various lighting techniques. Coursework in lighting techniques and methods will explore creative lighting techniques, movement, special effects, continuity, and spatial relationships.
Bachelor degree programs in Digital Cinematography will teach you hands-on experience through learning types of lighting techniques, production preparation, line production, and post-production. Within your coursework, you may create short films or animations to help refine your cinematic skill set.
Hands-on learning is essential for any prospective cinematographer. You should explore institutions and their academic coursework offerings. Throughout your academic journey, it is crucial to obtain an internship or entry-level positions within television and film sets. It is a wonderful way for you to get your foot in the door and network with individuals.