2nd Edition

Practical Cinematography

By Paul Wheeler Copyright 2005
    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    Filmmaking is an art, but, like so many art forms, there are basic underlying tools and techniques and a body theoretical knowledge that must be understood and mastered before artistic expression can flourish. This book is an invaluable resource for all aspiring DoPs.

    Practical Cinematography can be dipped into for quick reference - perhaps to answer a specific question or deal with practical problems relating to a shoot - or read from cover to cover. It discusses the principles of cinematography and the expertise which is unique to the Director of Photography (DoP). It deals with all the basic theory such as color temperature and sensitometry, and all the practical things a DoP needs to know, from the make-up of the crew to how to prepare an equipment list.

    PART ONE The unit
    The Director of Photography
    The DP's Responsibilities
    In early Pre-production
    Closer to shoot preparation
    During shooting
    Post production
    The DP's Preparation
    Preparing for a shoot
    The recces
    The DP's preparation
    The camera equipment list
    The lighting equipment list
    The film stock breakdown
    The technical schedule
    The Camera Crew
    An Overview
    The Trainee
    The Clapper Loader (AC 2)
    The Focus Puller (AC 1)
    The Camera Operator
    The Grip
    The Gaffer
    Crew Protocol

    PART TWO The Technology

    The Motion Picture Camera
    The Persistence of Vision
    Frame Rates
    The Intermittent Mechanism
    The Reflex Viewfinder
    Viewing Screens
    The Film Magazine
    Film Camera Layout
    Artistic Decisions
    Characteristics of Lenses
    The Fundamentals
    Perceived sharpness with regard to contrast
    Maximum aperture
    Telephoto lenses
    Wide-angle lenses
    Modern Lens Designs
    Lens Distortion and Aberrations
    Film Stock
    What is Film?
    The history of the negative/positive photographic process
    The basic photographic process
    Colour Negative Film
    Grain and Graininess
    When does Grain become unacceptable?
    Edge Numbers
    Care, Shipping and Handling
    Basic Sensitometry
    The Laboratory
    The Laboratory Contact
    Printer Lights
    Contact Printing
    Optical Printing
    Negative Cutting
    Cinema Release Prints
    The "Long Handled” Negative Cut
    Film Grading
    Telecine Grading

    PART THREE The Cinematographers Craft

    Exposure Meters
    Camera Speed
    Shutter Speed
    Average Scene Reflectance Value
    Types of Exposure Meter
    Lighting Ratios
    Defining a Lighting Ratio
    Visualising Lighting Ratios
    Lighting Ratios for Film and Television
    Lighting Ratios when shooting for both Film and
    Using Lighting Ratios on the Set
    Controlling the Whole Scene
    Three Point Image Control
    There's no such thing as exposure latitude
    Three Point Image Control
    Relating the three points to the sensitometric curve
    Control for television
    Using the 18% Grey Scale
    The Messenger
    Controlling Print Density
    Shifting Colour
    Intentional Colour Changes
    Developments in Grey Cards
    Colour Temperature
    What is Colour Temperature?
    Filters and Mired Shift Values
    The Colour Temperature Meter
    Colour Film
    Correcting Lamps
    Camera Filters
    Colour Compensating Filters
    Colour Correction Filters
    Skin Tone Warmer
    Sepia, Coral, colour effects, etc.
    Graduated Filters
    Neutral Density
    Low Contrast
    Ultra Contrast
    Double fog
    Pro Mist
    Star filters
    Matching Shots
    Enhancing Filters
    Fluorescent Light Correction
    Pola Screens
    Filter Factors
    The Pan Glass
    Depth of Field
    Depth of Focus
    Circles of Confusion
    Depth of Field and Super 16mm to 35mm Blow Ups
    Super 16mm and 16 x 9 Television
    35mm Film Depth of Field when only shown on Television
    Depth of Field Calculators
    The Effect of Aperture on Depth of field
    The Effect of Focal Length on Depth of Field
    The Mathematics of Depth of Field
    Why so much checking?
    Who Checks?
    Tests that involve shooting film include:
    Lens Testing
    Gamma Testing
    What to do with the Film Tests
    Non Film Testing
    The Camera Car

    PART FOUR Operating

    Composition and the Rule of Thirds
    Framing using the Rule of Thirds
    Framing using the Sixths
    Diagonal Framing
    Complex and Combined Composition
    Lenses and Perspective
    Frame Size and Focal Length
    Focal length and emotional involvement
    What is a Normal focal length?
    Aspect Ratios
    The 35mm Frame
    The Aspect Ratio
    Three Perforation Pull Down
    Two perforation pull down
    65mm and 70mm
    Super 35

    PART FIVE The Future
    Shooting Super 16mm for Television
    Aspect Ratios when shooting for television
    History - The evolution of the Super 16mm format
    16 x 9 Television and Super 16
    Framing in several formats
    Framing Solutions
    Festival Prints
    High Definition
    HD - is it the future?
    Picture Quality
    HD Acquisition
    Multi episodic
    Editing HD
    Cinema projection
    Will Digital Cinema come?
    So, film is not dead!


    Paul Wheeler BSC FBKS was trained at the BBC rising to become a Senior Drama Film Cameraman. Paul Shot one of the first BBC Drama Series to be photographed using the then new Digi Beta cameras, by which time he was freelance. He is a renowned cinematographer/director of photography and trainer, he has been Head of Cinematography at National Film & Television School and still runs courses on Digital Cinematography there. He has also been Head of Cinematography on the Royal College of Arts MA course. Paul was invited to become an associate of Panavision in order to help them introduce the Panavised version of Sony's HDW 900f camera which meant he joined the HD movement 3 days before the first Panavision camera arrived in Europe. Despite all this he is still very much a working cinematographer. He has been twice nominated by BAFTA for a Best Cinematography award and also twice been the winner of the INDIE award for Best Digital Cinematography. His previous books, "Practical Cinematography” and "Digital cinematography”, are both published by the Focal Press.

    "This is a very practical and easily accessible explanation of the cinematographer's craft...It is a lucid reference book and readable guide and achieves its aim of supplying the foundation knowledge an aspiring DoP needs." - Zerb

    "...there is absolutely no doubt that all the technical knowledge that a DoP needs can be found within these covers." - Image Technology magazine

    "In his definitive tome Wheeler takes us through every aspect of the DOP's job from discussing the finer points of which film stock to use to film grading. This is a well-presented, copiously illustrated and definitive guide to practical cinematography. Although much of the information contained in the book is concerned with 35mm and 16mm film making, Wheeler's expert knowledge of the craft of lighting, use of filters, and creative use of lenses to create stunning cinemagraphic images will help any videographer improve their technical understanding of camera operation...This book is not a quick and easy read; it is a detailed and comprehensive masterclass in practical cinematography." - Focus magazine

    "This book is very clearly illustrated with useful diagrams." - Stills Audio Motion

    "The author covers in great detail the many aspects of the production of a motion picture from the director of photography's point of view and responsibility. He does this in a very understandable and interesting style...Paul Wheeler details the creating of an image as a top DP would desire. The book is very comprehensive and makes informative reading in a very enjoyable manner."
    -John Leak, ACS, Australian Cinematographer magazine,