1st Edition

Basic Cinematography A Creative Guide to Visual Storytelling

By Kurt Lancaster Copyright 2019
    306 Pages
    by Routledge

    306 Pages
    by Routledge

    The cinematographer must translate the ideas and emotions contained in a script into something that can be physically seen and felt onscreen, helping the director to fulfil the vision of the film. The shots may look good, but they will not serve the story until the composition, lenses, and lighting express, enhance, and reveal the underlying emotions and subtext of the story. By making physical the ideas and emotions of the story, the cinematographer supports blocking as a visual form of the story through these tools.

    Rather than delve into technical training, Basic Cinematography helps to train the eye and heart of cinematographers as visual storytellers, providing them with a strong foundation for their work, so that they’re ready with creative ideas and choices on set in order to make compelling images that support the story.

    The book includes tools, tables, and worksheets on how to enhance students and experienced filmmakers with strong visual storytelling possibilities, including such features as:

    • Dramatic script analysis that will help unlock blocking, composition, and lighting ideas that reveal the visual story
    • Ten tools of composition
    • Psychological impact of lenses, shot sizes, and camera movement
    • Six elements of lighting for visual storytelling
    • What to look for beneath the "hood" of cameras, including using camera log, RAW, and LUTs
    • Dramatic analysis chart and scene composition chart to help plan your shoots
    • Case studies from such visually cinematic shows and documentaries as Netflix’s Godless, Jessica Jones, The Crown, and Chef’s Table, as well as examples from classroom exercises
    • Features insights from the DP of Jessica Jones, Manuel Billeter, and the DP of Chef’s Table, Adam Bricker.

    Foreward by Manuel Billeter



    Chapter 1: Visual Storytelling Through Blocking

    Chapter 2: Visual Storytelling Through Lenses and Composition

    Chapter 3: Visual Storytelling Through Lighting

    Chapter 4: Visual Storytelling with Camera Log, RAW, and LUTs

    Chapter 5: Workflow Tools for the Beginning Cinematographyer


    Afterword by Robery Buchar



    Kurt Lancaster is the head of Creative Media and Film at Northern Arizona University and has written several books on filmmaking, including DSLR Cinema (3rd edition), Production House Cinema, and Cinema Raw. His documentaries have screened at national and international film festivals and his award-winning students have gone on to start their own production house businesses, work as freelancers, as well as securing other positions within the industry. His filmmaking clients include the Grand Canyon National Park, Timpanogos Caves National Monument for the National Park Service; the American Community School in Amman, Jordan; Ha:san Preparatory and Leadership School in Tucson, Arizona for the National Institute of Health; Altez Ecofarm at Hasta Gard in Stockholm, Sweden; Louis L’Amour Enterprises, Inc; and the Institute of Tribal Environmental Professionals at NAU.

    "The most appealing aspect of Basic Cinematography is its focus on a holistic, story-driven approach to introductory cinematography material, rather than the heavily technical explanations which dominate many text books. The author divides the discipline into useful and distinct creative processes across several chapters, illustrating each with a case study, which makes the craft easily accessible for a beginning filmmaker. The practice of cinematography involves tools and techniques that are changing at an increasingly rapid rate so this book’s emphasis on visual storytelling and creative principles is a great addition to the field that will continue to be relevant in cinematography education for many years."
    Alexander Nevill, Cinematographer and Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University

    "This new book on cinematography is an ideal complement to the well-known ones that are widely used in academia. It is a very tangible book that allows teachers to provide and share the essence of cinematography into the classroom for the new generation of filmmakers to realize and push their new-found skillsets to the next level."
    Hans Rosenwinkel, Producer/Director/DP – Evolution Media TV and Associate Professor of Film & TV, College of Arts & Media, University of Colorado – Denver  

    "Inspired by the narrative of the script, the characters, and the movement of the plot, it is the cinematographer's mission to translate the script into a visual language, through images that echo both its inherent blueprint as well as what is also only hinted at… While nothing can replace hands-on, immersive experience, Lancaster’s book Basic Cinematography provides strong tools for visual storytellers… breaking down and delineating the basic elements of the language of film that inspire conscious and thoughtful choices that will allow you to find your own voice when writing with images."
    Manuel Billeter, Cinematographer, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher