Inspiration from the Masters of Film
One of the most amazing things about learning the art of Cinematography, is that you can easily access the works of the masters by simply watching their films. That's why we have compiled a list of some of our favorites movies. We suggest that you watch these films in a different way.
1. Watch these films with sound, and then watch them again silently. Watching a film without sound forces you to pay close attention to the visual details.
2. Watch the scenes that are most powerful to you over and over again. What makes them so impactful?
While watching scenes without sound over and over again, start asking yourself the following questions:
1. What is the shot sequence of the scene? Did they start with an establishing shot or something unexpected? How do the following shots connect together? Which shot was the most powerful and why?
2. How is the scene lit? Are the light sources motivated by natural light? Where do you imagine the lights are placed off camera? Are the lighting sources soft or hard? What is purposely being lit in he scene and what areas are being left in shadow?
3. How does the overall look of the scene compliment what is going on in the story?
4. How important are reaction shots of the actors in the scene?
5. What kind of cutaway shots that are not of the actors used in the scene? Why were those extra shots added to the sequence?
6. Is the camera moving? What emotional impact do the moves create? How could you replicate these camera moves in your own films?
A Different Way for Filmmakers to Watch Films
"I can’t think how anyone can become a director without learning the craft of Cinematography."
- Gus Van Sant
Some of our Favorite Films for Cinematographers
The Fall - Colin Watkinson
Pan's Labyrinth - Guillermo Navarro
The Shawshank Redemption - Roger Deakins
Amelie - Bruno Delbonell
Seven - Darius Khondjii
Dark City - Dariusz Wolski
Life of Pi - Claudio Miranda
The Tree of Life - Emmanuell Lubezki
Schindler's List - Janusz kaminski
GoodFellas - Michael Ballhaus
Road to Perdition - Conrad L. Hall
Hugo - Robert Richardson
2001: A Space Odyssey - Geoffrey Unsworth
Apocalypse Now - Vittorio Storaro
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - Peter Suschitzky
The Matrix - Bill Pope
Citizen Kane - Gregg Toland
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Nicola Pecorini
The Dark Knight - Wally Pfitser
The Machinist - Xavi Giménez
A Different Way for Filmmakers to Listen to Films
Strong visuals play a huge roll in the emotional impact of a film, but powerful imagery is only half of the equation. Sound in a film is as equally important. We suggest listening to movies in a different way to focus on how sound is used to enhance a film. Below, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite films that effectively use sound to tell a compelling story (many of these films have won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing or Mixing).
THE HURT LOCKER
THE LORD OF THE RINGS : THE TWO TOWERS
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
ZERO DARK THIRTY
Watch these films like you normally would and then listen to them again with your eyes closed. We suggest listening with high quality headphones or in a room with surround sound speakers. Chances are, you will notice things in the audio that you did not notice before.
Listen to the scenes that are most powerful to you over and over again and ask yourself the following questions:
1. What sound in the scene was captured on location (dialogue)?
2. What sound effects were added to the scene (explosions)?
3. How was music used to enhance the scene?
4. Was silence used in the scene?
5. Was Foley, the reproduction of everyday sound effects, used in the scene (footsteps, squeaky doors, etc.).
6. How is the sound mixed (the balance of the above sound elements)? Which audio elements were at a normal level, which ones were low in the mix and which ones were very loud?
7. Finally, how did all of these audio elements aid the story and emotional impact of the scene and how can you use sound in a similar way to enhance your film?
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