Learn Cinematography from a Master – Richard Michalak


  • No™
  • Wide Shot – “all the action”
  • Mid – Waist up
  • Close up – Head and shoulders / close shot of piece of action
  • Think of the info you need to convey
    • Emotion close
    • Actions wide
  • Have shots convey more info than the last
  • Rough sketch of film
  • Don’t need to draw
    • Still photos
  • Put important things in thirds
    • more satisfactory / looks better
  • Eccentric frame
    • Unconventional framing
      • ie no looking room
      • Disturbing not bad
  • High -weak
  • Low – strong
  • Mid – normal
  • Pay attention to minor details on set
    • glass of water in wrong hand
    • different clothes – only if other day
  • Correct eyelines
  • described from cameras pov
  • Zoom out – wide lens
  • Zoom in – long lens
  • Wide lens exaggerates foreground
  • Smooth keeps focus
  • shots that are shaky distract focus
  • Tripod folded up on shoulder
  • Zoom in and focus
  • Move white box over subject
  • Magnify
  • Go back
  • Pulling Focus
  • Shot in 25 or 30 fps
  • Playback speed
  • Shoot at 60 fps it will play back at 30
  • Speed at which camera takes photo
  • Closed – moving objects blured
  • Open – moving object sharp
  • Depends on fps
  • 1/double fps is shutter speed
  • Lens hole – Aperture
  • Measure by f-stops
  • Opens and closes depending on light
  • Higher f stops let in less light – vice versa
  • Depth of field
    • f stops affects dof
    • high f stop more in focus
      • also changing amount of light
  • Sensitivity controlled by iso/gain
  • below 1600 good quality
  • uv filter glass filter that minimized uv light
  • neutral density – knocks down amount of light
    • use this and lower f stop to get shallow dof in high light
  • Polarizer – cut glaze enhance white clouds
  • Use variety of different lenses on dslr
  • ask what does it see
    • wide or long lens
  • How much light
    • look at lowest f stop
    • best if lens opens as wide as possible
  • avoid lenses that show 2 f stops
  • Daylight white balance indoors looks warmer – vice versa
  • DLSR
    • dial in colors from warm to blue
  • Dial in the color from warm to blue
  • Presets are good and quick
  • Green blue magenta and red
    • move away from color thats too much
  • Give film character or mood
  • Key light main light in front of subject
    • shape defining shadows
  • Back light light from back
    • separate back from foreground
  • Reflector light – using only backlight
  • fill light
  • elements interchangeable
  • not bad or good – tools
  • hard light comes from single light
    • emphasizes features
  • soft light has tracing paper
    • doesn’t emphasize
    • large area
  • use hard source from different angles
  • Siouetting
    • light up background
    • no light foregound
    • best when side on
  • look better against a non distracting background
  • remove unnecessary things from shot
  • can control where person is
  • sun behind low contrast softer
  • Control foreground and background
  • think about contrast

Camera Movement and Emotion

  • Camera movement creates different emotion
  • Camera moves correspond with adding, detracting, or emphasizing an emotion

The camera shot names and associated emotions

  • Crane shot – camera shot moving down, bringing viewer into the subject matter or character’s world
  • Rising up – camera rises making character feel smaller and making obstacle feel bigger to overcome
  • High shot to low shot – makes character feel bigger, or feel of authority and confidence
  • Handheld camera (moving behind object or character)- can stir a feeling of uneasiness or danger (shaky, unsettling)
  • Quick pan – surprise or new change of the story, new context or element
  • Quick push in – feeling of surprise or shock (view on subject’s reaction)
  • Slow Dolly – moving camera in, causing tension or to share emotion with character
  • Slow Dolly Out – showcases feeling of loss or abandonment
  • Dolly Cross – reveals something that changes the emotion, changes perspective and mood
  • Handheld (in comparison with glide cam) – more edgy than glide cam, pushes emotion in your face
  • Glide cam – clean 360 reveal, but can build tension and temptation for something that’s about to happen
  • Zolly – zooming dolly, background gets larger or smaller, character size stays the same, (move camera closer and change the lens simultaneously), creates great emotional build up

Camera Operation and Control – Cinematographer


In Pre-Production, I took several test shots which acted like a storyboard for our video. The shots included different focal lengths and camera placements so I could get a feel for how to take them and what feeling they would add to the scene. I also took shots with different lighting to see what it looked like and how it affected the scene and shot.

During Production, I as the Cinematographer, filmed all of the shots in the video. We already had my test shots from Pre-production and those acted like storyboards so filming was pretty simple. However we did make some changes like how the Camera “stealing” scene in the CNS classroom rather than the equipment closet because of the traffic.

While in Post-Production, I worked with the Editor so that the cinematic elements in the film would be preserved. I suggested some visual effects like a fade to black and a fade in from black to help the “flow” and general quality of the film.


Terms, Concepts, Notes

  • Ambient Light – the natural light in a scene
  • Aperture Priority – a camera setting that allows the user to control the aperture, leaving the shutter speed to be automatically determined
  • Bokeh – the appearance or “feel” of out-of-focus areas
  • Bulb “B” Setting – a camera setting where the shutter will remain open as long as the release button is depressed
  • Butterfly Lighting – lighting where the main light is placed high, in front of the face, aimed at the center of the nose
  • Complimentary Color – pair of primary/secondary colors opposed to each other on the color wheel
  • Depth of Field – range of distance in a scene which appears focused
  • DSLR – acronym for “digital single lens reflex,” a type of camera
  • EXIF – acronym for “exchangeable image file format,” which is data attached to each image that tells the type of camera, date/time, image format, and camera settings when the picture was taken
  • F-Stop – number representing the aperture of the camera
  • FPS – acronym for “frames per second,” the number of pictures a camera is able to take in one second
  • Golden Hour – time an hour or less before the sun goes down, when the light is more complimentary to skin tones
  • Graininess – when clumps of individual grains are large and irregularly spaced out in the negative or digital image, making the picture appear “grainy”
  • Gray Card – card used to help color correct/balance a camera before taking an image
  • High Key – image mainly made up of evenly lit light tones
  • Hyperfocal Point/Distance – the nearest point to the camera considered acceptably sharp when the lens is focused on infinity
  • ISO – film or digital chip speed/sensitivity designated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • JPEG (JPG) – acronym for “joint photographic experts group,” an image file format standard where the size of the file is reduced by compressing it
  • Kelvin – a temperature scale, here used to measure color temperature of the visible light spectrum
  • Lens Hood – accessory that attaches as a collar to the front of a lens to prevent stray light from striking the surface of the lens, causing flare
  • Lossless – describes file formats which do not result in a loss of data – example: raw file format
  • Lossy – form of image compression when saving image that discards data from it – example: .jpg
  • Low Key – image that is mostly dark, higher contrasted light between the dark and the light
  • Macro Lens – type of lens that can focus extremely closely
  • Megabyte (MB, Mb, Mbyte) – a million bytes
  • Megapixel – a million pixels, used to describe the number of pixels that a digital device’s image sensor has
  • Model Release – contract where a model consents to the use of his/her images by the photographer/a third party
  • Monochrome – image of a single color in differing shades
  • (Electronic) Noise – grainy look in a digital image, usually occurring in shadowy/low-light areas
  • Normal Lens – lens with a focal length approximately equal to the diagonal of the film format or of a digital camera’s image sensor
  • Painting with Light – when a photographer incrementally lights an otherwise darkened scene using a handheld flashlight or other small light source while the shutter remains open during a time exposure
  • Panning – technique involving taking a picture while moving the camera at a relatively slow shutter speed
  • PSD – image type in Adobe PhotoShop for a “work-in-progress,” must be converted to another file type before use
  • Raw Image – digital image format that contains the most info possible from a camera sensor (uncompressed)
  • Reciprocal Rule – rule that states your shutter speed should not be slower than the reciprocal of your effective focal length to avoid blur
  • Reflector – any device used to reflect light on a subject
  • Rembrandt Lighting – portrait lighting technique which casts a triangle shaped shadow on the less illuminated side of the face
  • Resampling – when an image editing program is used to change the image size
  • RGB – acronym for “red, green, blue,” the primary colors of light
  • Rule of Thirds – composition rule that divides the screen into thirds horizontally and vertically to determine placement of important objects in a shot
  • Through-the-Lens (TTL) – refers to both exposure metering of the light passing through the lens/viewing a scene through the same lens that allows light to reach the sensor or the film
  • UV Filter – a clear, neutral filter that absorbs ultraviolet radiation, with no effect on visible colors
  • Vignetting – a fall-off in brightness at the edges of an image, slide, or print
  • White Balance – when the camera adjusts the colors in an image to make the image look more natural based on the objects/areas that are pure white
  • Zoom Lens – a lens in which focal length is variable


  • Don’t leave on automatic – so that you have flavor
  • Wide Shot –  “All the action”
  • Mid – Waist up
  • Close – Head and shoulders
  • Have shots include more information than the last
  • Storyboard – rough sketch of the film
  • Can use photos for storyboard instead of drawing


Day 1 –  Start Pre-Production

Day 2 –  Finish Pre-Production

Day 3 –  Start Production

Day 4 – Finish Production / Start Post-Production

Day 5 – Finish Post-Production


I took various test shots using the Camera in Pre-Production to act as a storyboard for our group. I did this so that I could show my group what shots I had in mind and if the group liked the shots I took.


During Production I took another test shot when everything set up so that we could see what the shot would look like when it would be filmed. This is so that if the lighting (for example) looked bad from this Camera angle we would see it here rather than during Post-Production when everything is already shot.


While in Post-Production, I suggested to the editor to do a fade to black and then a black fade at 0:540:58 in so that those 2 shots had better “flow” and it just looked better than a normal cut.


What I Learned

Through this Project, I learned how to operate and correctly use the Camera (Canon T3i) by shooting the video and also from our information video. I also learned how various shot angles and techniques contribute to the mood film. One thing we problem solved was that the default settings on the Camera are not very good for filming. So I watched, Cinematography Learn from a Master and that helped me set some settings that drastically improved the film’s quality.

Blocking Operation and Control


Using the same groups from the Dialogue Project, we planned and storyboarded the recorded Dialogue from the previous Project using our transcript. After that we filmed a team with two cameras and another group filmed our Group’s Dialogue shortly after. Then, we begun editing independently using the multi-cam feature in Premiere Pro. Our finished product was a video of our dialogue using multi-cam. Finally, we worked on our blog posts.

Terms and Concepts

  • Blocking
    • Positioning of Characters to tell the Story visually
    • 5 Stages
      • Block
      • Light
      • Rehearse
      • Adjustments
      • Shoot
  • Movement and Physical Behavior
    • Strong vs. Weak behavior 
      • Strong – Rising from a chair, Walking forward
      • Weak – Sitting down, Walking backwards
  • Strong, Winning Attitudes
    • Confident
    • Direct
    • Active
    • Assertive
  • Weak Struggling or Failing Attitudes
    • Hesitant
    • Reactionary
    • Unsure
  • Stage Orientations and Emphasis –
    • 6 Sections of a Stage
    • Movement from 6 Sections are Weak and Strong behaviors
  • Body Positions
    • Full Front – Strongest Body Position
    • Full Back – Used for brief dramatic effect
    • One-quarter Front – Slightly left or right
    • Three-quarter Front – Common and Strong Position
    • Profile Position – Half, 2 Actors “sharing” a scene
    • Three-quarter Back Position – Weakest, Body Nearly full back


  • Day 1 : Storyboarding / Planning
  • Day 2 : Film a team / Be Filmed
  • Day 3 : Filmed by another team / Film a team
  • Day 4 : Begin Editing
  • Day 5 : Finish Editing
  • Day 6 : Finish and Publish Blog Post

Project Skills Evidence

I used various skills in Premiere Pro and Blocking to create this video. I used the multi-cam feature to edit in a timely manner. I also had the adjust the scale for one of our cameras since it was in 360p. For Blocking Skills we used to 5 Stages of Blocking: Blocking, Light, Rehearse, Adjustments, Shoot. Also we utilized various strong and weak movements as well as other positions like 1/4 and 3/4.

What I Learned

In this Project, I learned the various techniques and skills associated with Blocking. Such as the five stages of Blocking: Blocking, Light, Rehearse, Adjustments, and Shoot. I also learned about the variety of different body movements and positions that demonstrate strength or weakness. While working on the multi-cam in Premiere Pro, I encountered an issue with one of our cameras. One of our Cameras was in 360p and the other 1080p so the Camera in 360p was very tiny in the frame. To fix this, I did the multi-cam and selected all of the places it was the 360p camera and scaled it up to 300% so it covered the entire frame.


Blocking and Movement

  • Blocking is the positioning and movement of the characters to tell the story visually
  • Makes audience understand the inner meaning of the characters
  • Blocking should make dramatic or comedic purpose of the scene really obvious
  • Visual story reflects the moment failure or success of each characters struggle to their objective
  • Blocking injects meaning into the picture and the telling of the story
  • Actors job is too play the character truthfully
  • must move physically and mentally in the same story
  • Consider the essentials of drama – all has to been seen, heard and felt
  • Actors can’t make unnecessary movements – brings attention to them
  • Don’t attempt to act all facets of a character at once

Five Stages of Blocking

1. Block – determining where the actors will be on the set and the first camera position

2. Light – time for the DOP to light the set and position the camera for the first shot

3. Rehearse – camera rehearsal of the first set-up with the actors and crew

4. Adjustments – making lighting and other adjustments

5. Shoot – shooting the first scene (then repeat the process)

  • Having a shot list is really helpful during blocking. The shot list is “like a map”, don’t always have to follow it.
  • Let the actors show what they want to do first then when you make a suggestion its based on something you have already seen.
  • Camera placement is determined  by what is important.
  • Blocking is like a puzzle, directors need to keep working at it until the scene “clicks”
  • In TV and low budget films, speed is key, story and block scenes so that your action takes place in one direction (avoid reverses)



Dialog in a Screenplay

  • Summary

    To practice writing screenplays and using Celtx, we assembled into groups of 3 and discussed our various skills to decide who would be each role. After that we recorded 5 minutes of Dialogue and I used Audacity to edit it so we only have 1 minute of final dialogue. We then transcribed our Dialogue into Celtx.


  • Recorded Conversation


  • What I Learned and Problems I Solved

    I learned the basic ins and outs of using Celtx to write a screenplay. Also, I learned various techniques and strategies in order to make Dialogues that sound natural in a Screenplay.  One problem that I solved was that we had 3 minutes of dialogue in Soundcloud but we only wanted and needed 1. So I went into Audacity and edited out the extra 2 minutes of Dialogue and re-uploaded it to Soundcloud.