Cinematographer – director of photography (DOP)

The cinematographer actually records that image on film, translating the director’s ideas and creating the atmosphere and the look of the film. They record the motion picture onto film so it can edit into a movie, short clip or any motion picture. In pre production a cinematographer is required to research filming techniques that are used in the motion picture; they do this by looking at the story board already made and talking with the director and editors. During the production of a motion picture the cinematographer’s role is a very important, they film the actors or environment that can be used to put into a motion picture, without cinematographers there is not able to be a movie made. In post production there is a chance of a re shoot of scenes and this is a time when the DOP can make many decisions on possible changes made.
In summery, cinematographers:
-Control and create the photographic or electronic images for every second of film and video footage.
-Select the type of camera, lighting equipment, film, video camera menus, filters and lenses to be used.
-Adjust cameras for desired focus, exposure, composition and other settings.
-Control the transfer process in which film negatives are digitally transformed to video images for computer editing.
-Alter video camera menus to achieve the desired effect.

The Director of photography works closely with the director to organise how the director wants the scene to be shot and how it wants to be perceived by the audience. Also they discuss what type of filming techniques should be used to help convey the feeling of the scene. The DOP also works with the editor to sort out issues with the camera footage and how editing can increase the quality of what has been filmed.

The cinematographer works closely with movie directors to incorporate the desired outcome of visual effects for a film production. They also work with the editor to find out which are the scenes that need to be re shot and possible improvements. The people in charge of lighting also work with the cinematographer as they use methods with lighting to be captured through the lens to help portray certain mood or help film in difficult conditioned.

University and art, television and media schools run courses some examples of these are;

At the Australian Film Television and Radio School a course is offered for budding cinematographers to learn more about this profession and all the skills involved. The course is for 16 weeks and the pre requisites are to have made 2 short films and have a passion for a career as a cinematographer. By the end of this course students will be able to:
Successfully operate 16mm film and large sensor digital production cameras, plan and implement a visual treatment for a script, demonstrate technical and creative control in basic lighting, identify key steps in data management and camera assisting, critically analyse key elements of post-production image management and demonstrate key principles of professional conduct.
The only downside to this course is the only place where it is run within this school is in NSW.

Another course available is a Diploma of Screen and Media at rmit. This course offers and wider range of aspects of film, which includes cinematography. This course enforced work experience to gain knowledge and understanding of how the film industry works especially as a cinematographer as they get to learn from raw examples and experiences. This course runs for 1 year. There are no pre requisites for this course, other than the desire and confidence to get you accepted.


Equipment used as a cinematographer is the following depending on the situation and needs of the film;
The camera is a critical part of the cinematographer’s job; they use a video camera to record what is being filmed. The camera can be used in many ways to achieve many different techniques needed for the film. The cameras usually used by cinematographer typically offer relatively large sensors, selectable frame rates, recording options with low compression ratios or in some cases with no compression, and the ability to use high-quality optics.

Other things cinematographer might use are filters, tripods, memory cards and storage devices.

Famous cinematographers include Kazuo Miyagawa, Vittorio Storaro, Gregg Toland and Christopher Doyle. One of the most noted cinematographer’s would be Charles Rosher he was the first cinematographer to receive a Academy award, and by the end of his life, accumulated two. His work with Karl Struss on F.W. Murnau’s 1927 film Sunrise is viewed as a milestone in cinematography. Some of his notable films are Notable films: Sunrise (1927), The Affairs of Cellini (1934), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), The Yearling (1946), Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Show Boat (1951).

As time a come along new technology has enhanced a cinematographer’s ability to capture more definition and clarity as well having faster more precise shooting. Camera’s keep on updating and this gives cinematographers endless options to improve their techniques and even do new skills e.g. like 3D movies. The fast changing technology leads the film industry to be always expanding and improving.