Practical Cinematography  book cover
2nd Edition

Practical Cinematography

ISBN 9780240519623
Published March 9, 2005 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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!

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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,