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Cinematography 150

Instructor: Bill McDonald

Teaching Assistant: Jeanne ****

Lecture 1

Technology and Art:

● Cinematographer balances them perfectly.

● Your reputation will emphasize one or the other.
● Your real skills should always be balanced.
● Don't pay attention to reputation.


● Image control
know why an image did work and why it did not work.
● Repeatability
if image control is done correctly, any shot should be repeatable.
● No "happy accidents".

Elements of the motion picture camera:

● Body:
transports film at a set framerate.
Light gets in from lens+viewfinder so block the viewfinder!
How to check if camera is light tight:
leave camera in a room for 2 hours, then process its film.
It should be pitch-black.
● Gate, Movement, Shutter, View finder, Lens mount, Motor+Magazine

What you can do in film

● You don't have to do in post. Post costs time+money. Heaps of it.

● Reverse filming, multiple exposure, over/undercrank, use of specialty camera.


● 35mm: Panavision, Arri, MovieCam

● 16mm: Arri, Aaton, Panavision, Bolex

History of formats

● 35mm in 1892
by William Dickson (Edison's assistant)
● 16m in 1923
(amateur tech)
● 8mm in the 1930s
8mm cameras take 16mm film and expose it twice
● Super 8 in 1965
Super 8 is in cartridge, has smaller perforations.
● 65/70mm
shot in 65, screened in 70.
Is IMAX but horizontal. Is Géode-OMINMAX.
● Others: 9.5 in France

Laboratory 1

Always (shooting)
Level the camera between position changes
Lock tilt when not shooting (tilt is vertical)
Unlock pan when not shooting (pan is horizontal)
Pull out tripod's 1st legs before 2nd legs
Close camera case (2 locks = I'm done ; 1 lock = in use ; no locks = I'm dumb)

Always (equipment)
Check screw sizes (smaller for DV)
Check mount size (100mm fits 150mm but not the other way around)
Check rubber feet
Check everything

Arri S

● If motor loses friction (high pitched noise), clean it

● No screwdriver, quarters are good enough
● Are both wheels spinning while shooting?
● Only change lenses when it's aligned with the body (or it will fall)
● To put lens back: thumb on square opening, thumb at the top, slide in.

Lecture 2

Film aperture

● Turns spherical lens's image into a rectangle
● Sphere doesn't work with art history, human psyche and rules of composition
● Never fix gate with metallic object (a scratch WILL happen)
● Check gate after EACH shot (see what's up tiger lili for hair in gate)
● Aperture can be reshaped (binoculars, keyhole, sniper...)


● Both intermittent (stop reel in front of aperture) and continuous (roll film). Double-loop based technique.
● Roller uses two elements: (1)pulldown claw engages performations, (2) registration pin holds hilm in place
during exposure
● 24 fps because it is minimum for acceptable sound quality. Any fps works
● Old silent films were not at high speed but shot at 12-18FPS. Today projectors are 24FPS, hence speedup.

Speed changes

● If you project at 24 fps:

Shot at 48fps => slow motion (= overcrank)
Shot at 12fps => undercrank
● Both are off speed work
● Ramping = changing framerates within a shot.
up => overcrank
down => undercrank


● Shutter angle is 180° by default

Equivalent to shutter speed of still cameras
● Exposure = intensity * time (law of reciprocity)
● Time comes from shutter angle and FPS, more precisely:
Exposure time = 1/FPS * angle/360
Example: 1/24 * 180/360 = 1/48 s
● Higher FPS leads to lower exposure time, hence less exposure
Compensation for higher FPS is achieved by increasing angle.
No need to increase FPS to remove motion blur, reducing S.A is enough! (Used in band of brothers,
saving private ryan)
● Intensity
Unit system: stops

1 - 1.4 - 2 - 2.8 - 4 - 5.6 - 8 - 11 - 16 - 22

more light (x2 increments) less light
open up <- -> stop down

So to compensate for x2 FPS, need to x2 aperture (that is reduce stops)

Example: with 24FPS@1.4stops, equivalent is 48FPS@1stops

Rule of DOUBLE/HALF. Works with FPS, S.A, Exposure Time, ISO (aka ASA or EI)


● Today: reflex flicker

● Today: reflex non-flicker

● Yesterday: non-reflex (in use with still cameras. parallax problem).

Aspect ratiors W:H

35mm silent 1.37:1 (up to the mid 50s)
TV-SD/16mm 1.33:1 (4x3)
35mm (academy/USA) 1.85:1
(europe) 1.66:1
35mm anamorphic 2.40:1
Original cinemascope 2.55:1
65/70mm 2.2:1
HDTV 1.78:1

Laboratory 2

Camera plate

● Batteries last 2k ft
● Do not plug batteries while using them DANGER
● Matte box must always be ON or there will be LENS FLARE
● f stops are theory stops. t stops are measured stops.

Arri S

● Only one slot is ready for zoom lens

● Zoom lens must be holded vertically when removing filters from it
● Large lens filters are 'series 9'

How to load film with Arri S

● Claw down, pin open

● Check guide rollers after threading (to prevent auto-blocking by buckle trip)

Store zoom lens

● Aperture max (= small number)

● Zoomed out (12mm)
● Short focus

Trouble shooting Arri S

1. Battery plugged in?

2. Speed control low?
3. Buckle trip on?
4. Guide rollers enclenched?
5. Motor working?
6. Battery working?
7. Cable working?

Lecture 3

35mm formats: (anamorphic is marketed as 2.35)

Ground glass

Ways of transferring from film to TV

● Full screen (loose parts of the image)

● Letterbox (best, disliked by stupid people)
● Pan&Scan (Evil, loved by stupid people)


● A/C allows sync sound.

● Motors can be "wild" (variable speed) or "governor controlled" (set speed) or crystal-controlled.
● Crystal-controlled has sync-sound and variable speed (ie variable FPS)

Lens mount: 2 types

● Positive Lock (PL): need to do something special to have it locked

● Negative: plug it in, it is locked by default.
● Pay attention to that for rentals

Lens adjustment

● Collimation
For the technician. Adjusts the focal depth of the lens.
● Calibration
Making the lens is correctly collimated, ie making sure the written depths do focus at the right spot.


● can be external (Panavision) or bundled (Arri S).

● 1st AC's role is to load it!
● Other types can be threaded, co-axial, cartridges...

Film stock

● Silver halide reacts to light.
● Mixing halide with gelatin binder => photo emulsion.
● Can't use glass (breaks) nor paper (burns?)
● Base is now flexible plastic. Used to be nitrate but it is too flammable and expensive.
● Nitrate is reason for small projection glass: protect audience in case of explosion.
● Emulsion(s): 1 for B/W, 6 for color.
● NEGATIVE film needs 1processing + 1printing in order to get a POSITIVE
● REVERSAL film needs 1processing in order to get a POSITIVE

Basic characteristics of film stock

● Exposure index (EI - ASA - ISO)

● Latitude: ability to record a range of exposures (Dynamic range)

● Contrast: tendency to separate black from white

● Color rendition:
Kodak: realistic
Fuji: oversaturated
Negative: realistic
Reversal: slightly artifical, leaning Technicolor

Resolving power (~resolution)

Concept of STOP:

● doubling/halving exposure = 1 stop difference

● Mid-grey has 18% reflectance
● Normally exposing an image = reproducing this shade of grey
● Stop lists: 1.0 - 1.4 - 2 - 2.8 - 5 - 5.6 - 8 - 11 - 16 - 22
● Maximum deviation from normal: +/- 4 stops

Fundamental questions as a DP:

● How bright is bright?

● How dark is dark?

Lecture 4

Lab review

● Brightness measured in FOOTCANDLES. For a given T.STOP/ISO, you need X FOOTCANDLES to get a
normal 18% grey.

Example: Citizen Kane wnated huge DoP and had 64 ISO so needed ~4000 FC. Today we can easily get 1000
ISO, ie we would only need 160 FC.

Characteristic curve of film (ability to respond to exposure)

Other characteristics

● Graininess
subjective impression of grainy footage
● Granularity
objective measurement of grain size
● Historically, granularity had to increase graininess (blobs on a surface).
● Now they do flat grains (T-grains) which do not have shadows as they get larger (ie faster).

ASA numbers: sensitivity to light

● Example 100 EI vs. 64 EI: 2 2/3 stops of difference!

● Filters force us to do this all the time (= re-rating film).
● Example: 85 filter removes 2/3 stop of light.
Need to compensate by acting as if film was 2/3 stop less sensitive.
If film is 500 EI, remove 2/3 is 320 EI
Add ND.9 filter (minus 3 stops): film is now 40 EI
● Example: 100 ASA at 24FPS.
Want to go to 48FPS -> 2x less light -> 1 stop less light -> 50 ASA
● That is re-retating film. one can decide then to adapt aperture or to change lighting.

Lecture 5

Color temperature

● Color Temperature = Color balance = White Balance

● Color Temperature is not heat.
● CT measured in °Kelvins

Not | Daylight 5500°K BLUE

precise | Tungsten 3200°K RED/ORANGE

RED <-- (-) CT° (+) --> BLUE

warm cool
less Kelvins more Kelvins

85 Filter reduces color temperature from 5500°K to 3200°K but removes 2/3 stop.
80A BLUE increases color temperature from 3200°K to 5500°K but removes 2 stop.

Types of film
Color Neg. Daylight Balanced
Vision2 7201 50D
Vision2 7203 250D
Vision2 Handles wide color range

Color Neg. Tungsten Balanced

Vision2 7212 100T
Vision2 7217 200T
Vision3 7229 500T "Expression" (pastel colors)
Vision3 7219 500T

Reversal Color
Ektachrome 7285 100D

B&W Neg.
Plus X Neg 7231 64T/80D
Double X 7222 200T/250D
(No T-grains, so more grains when pushed)

B&W Reversal
Plus X Reversal 7265 80T/100D
Tri X Reversal 7266T 160T/100D

All stocks have two ASA numbers: one for Tungsten and one for Daylight.

B&W is more sensitive to blue => clearer sky. It must therefore be re-rated in daylight or everything will be


● Gather light, fixes it to a point

● Lenses are used to selectively frame the world.

● Lenses in film = lens construct (made up of lenses) e.g. zoom lens has 15+ elements.

Mechanics of a lens

Focal Length determines

● Image magnification
● Angle of view
● Representation of space

Types of lenses

● Fixed focal length: PRIME

● Variable focal length: ZOOM (slower aka. loses more light)

Normal lens

● awareness field of "human vision" (25mm).

● Any other focal length is an artifice, although it still looks natural between 20mm and 35mm.


● Increased image magnification

● Smaller angle of view
● Compression of space
● = long lens
● > 25mm (in practice > 35mm)


● Smaller image
● Larger angle of view
● Expansion of space
● = short lens
● < 25mm (in practice < 20mm)

Lecture 6
Film processing
- Normal
- Push (overprocess film) by 1, 2, x stop
- Pull, used mostly with reversal film
The three types of processing must be brought physically separated

Tell the lab what the time to grey card is in foot (ft).
Grey card is for color balance.

is a different for of representation of space.
is spatial relationship between camera, subject & background

Zooming changes perspective: image magnification, angle of view, representation of space.

Zolly effect: push while you zoom out; or pull while you zoom in.

Controlling light

● A lens has a speed measured in stop. Focal length/diameter = largest possible opening of the lens in f.stop.
● F-Stop is theory
● T-Stop is measured (True stop or Transmission stop)
● e.g. A lens with 5.6 has 5.6 f-stops; a lens with T5.6 has 5.6 t-stops
● If what is written on the lens is different from what is written on the aperture, aperture is true.

Focus is focus on the film plane

Depth of Field is not Depth of Focus

What influences Depth of Field

● Focal length (longer lens = shallow Depth of Field)

● Aperture (open aperture = shallow Depth of Field)
● Lens focus (close lens focus = shallow Depth of Field)

Lecture 7
Hyperfocal distance

smallest lens focus that focuses up to infinity. e.g. HFD = 5 feet means that with focus on 5', everything from
2.5' to infinity will be in focus.
in other words HFD is the focal distance that wil lgive me the greatest depth of field.

Depth of Focus (or Back Focus)

● Is the lense's focus on the film plane. It can be shallow, deep, shifted, etc.
● Great focal length => Great depth of focus.


● Additive system, primary is RGB

2ndary is YMC
they all form White

● Subtractive system, primary is YMC

2ndary is RGB
they all form K (Black)

Filters: a filter blocks all colors except the one it is named after. e.g. a Red filter blocks Green and Blue.

Created light

● Where is it coming from? Mood?

● Motivated (explicit light source) or unmotivated?
● Note: unmotivated was normal in Hollywood up to the 70s.
● There is no standard place to put a light


● How bright is bright?

● How dark is dark?
● These 2 questions define the latitude of the image
● Technical issue here is exposure.


● Boundary between light and shadow

● Hard light = Distinct boundary (more texture)
● Soft light = Indistinct boundary (less texture). Created with diffusion and bounce.


● "White" combination of all colors

● Day 5500°K Blue
● Tungsten 3200°K Orange
● Control color temp with gels:
CTO (Color Temperature Orange) lowers the Kelvins
CTB (Color Temperature Blue) increases the Kelvins

Artistic: What is mood? What is motivation?

Shape: Lighting is sculpting; it is placing shadows as much as placing light.

Frequency Light change over time: TV, Fire, Projector...

Movement: Movement of light through space (flashlight...)

Categories of light
Key light

● Natural light source

● Sets the mood
● Sets the exposure

Fill light

● Reflect light
● Adds shadow detail
● Decreases contrast
● Most difficult because it must be invisible


● Environment and Context

● Must be believable


● Motivated light source coming from a prop.

Lighting ratio

● is the proportion between key and fill light; ie the contrast of a scene
● To create illusion of continuity, lighting ratio must remain constant within a scene.
● High key = low contrast

Go in a light to diminish its power. A green scrims is 1/2 stop; a red is a double: 1 full stop.
To remove a scrim, use a C47 retrofitted into an F15.

Using C-Stands

● Have 3 knuckles on the left and 2 on the right, so that gravity tightnes locks
● Grab both poles so you don't get hurt
● When you hear "grab a C-Stand", grab a sandbag with it.


● 10 Amps supports 1K Watts

Lecture 7
Conversion filters
2/3 stop 85 orange: 5500K => 3200K
2 stop 80A blue: 3200K => 5500K

Neutral Density filters

ND.3 is 1 stop (and actually ND 0.3)
ND.6 is 2 stop
ND.9 is 3 stop
ND.1.2 is 4 stop (called ND twelve but actually ND 1.2)

Combined filters
85+ND.6 = 85N6

Usual pack: ND.3, 6, 9 + 85 + 85N3, 6, 9.

Polarizing filter: Allows to dial the highlight. Reduces around 2 stop.

Diffusion is a concept: it is about unsharpening.

Types: Promist white, promist black, Softcon, Fog, Double foo, SFX, NET

Star filters
2 parameters: number of branches and size of branches

Is a zoom filter - creates shallow Depth of Field
- can have ar and close subjects both in focus with a divided Diopter.

Graduated filters have gradients (color and ND)