Production: 4 Basic Cinematography Tips

Before you start production, you should be thoroughly familiar with the action in the script and you should have a preconceived idea of what you want to do with that action. If you are doing this for the first time, look at some films to see how the photography director handled the action and apply what you have learned to your script.

Here we will offer a few tips on how to get the best shots possible.

  1. Shooting from Above: Shooting from heights can be a little bit of a problem if you have a fear of heights, but it is one of the best shots for action. The aerial view of any action, even a children's birthday party, can be exciting. It's a position that none of us can see normally, unless we are traveling in an airplane or sitting in a high tree. Without overdoing a good thing get at least one good aerial shot view of one point of action in your film production. To accomplish a good aerial view shot get up high onto a balcony, the roof of a garage, on a ladder, or the tree we mentioned earlier. From this vantage point you can get some good high shots.
  2. Getting Shots from Down Below: Shots from below are also exciting. Did you ever wonder how they get those shots of places that are not easily accessed? You do not physically have to get down below to get low level shots. You can have your camera do it for you by placing it in the area you want to shoot the action. If the action is under a table then affix the camera to the underneath part of the table and let it do the work for you. The same would apply to taking a shot of action under an automobile. In fact you can use another camera to simultaneously make the automobile appear to be moving. You do this by moving the camera and not the objects being photographed.
  3. Adding Suspense to Drama: There is nothing in the rules of cinematography production that says you have to have the camera at any particular level. Keeping it at one level can make your film boring if not amateurish. Change your camera levels at various levels to add suspense or mystery to a drama, or to make the viewer a part of that barroom brawl when he takes part in all of the different angles that brawl takes. Keep in mind that real life is not all at one angle.
  4. Make the Viewer Part of the Scene: There is nothing more exciting than being a part of the scene that you are watching. The cinematographer has the ability to this. If the script calls for a runaway automobile, then mount your camera either on the door of the automobile or on its grillwork to give the viewer the feeling of being in that automobile. The excitement of veering and speeding will be there for the viewer to experience. You do not need a full size camera to do this with because a small camcorder will do the job just as well.

These are just a few basic tips to help you with your first production as a cinematographer.

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