What Is Video Cinematography?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Directors, film and television producers use video cinematography to convey meaning, ideas and on-screen creative expressions. Cinematography may use certain effects to put the viewer in one of the characters' shoes. This field involves the use of lighting, camera angles, movement, special effects and thematic continuity. The motion picture industry considers video cinematography to be a creative art form and often recognizes what it considers to be exceptional displays of cinematic technique.

Video cinematography is really a creative process that incorporates a variety of visual images and effects. Image continuity is one of the most widely used effects in both television shows and films. Similar images may be displayed at the end and beginning of two separate, consecutive scenes to connect the flow of the story for the viewer. For example, one scene may end with a close-up of a factory's smokestack burning and the next scene may begin with a close-up shot of a plume of smoke evaporating from a train's steam engine.

Lighting is a common technique in video cinematography. The cinematographer may choose to employ darker images and shadows to reflect the emotions of characters or the context of the scene. Shading and brightness are sometimes used to create a unique look or visually replicate the environment and setting of the script. Some filmmakers use natural lighting to communicate the idea of reality or a non-Hollywood feel.


The lighting between scenes may change as the film progresses to communicate changes in emotions and character perspectives. Another method used in video cinematography to convey the perspective of different characters is camera movements. Panning, which moves the camera in a straight, horizontal line, can be used to put the viewer in the shoes of a character scanning his environment. The camera becomes the eyes of certain characters or is moved to highlight pivotal climaxes in the script.

Camera lenses can also be used to adjust focus, depth and the picture's width and height. A lens may be blurred to visually represent the idea of a character waking up, receiving an injury, or possessing a vision defect. Scenes can be shot from a long or short perspective, giving the audience a view of the characters' entire environment or just a portion of it. Close-up shots of a face or physical portion of a character's body might be used to duplicate the visual focus of another character.

Besides displaying the perspectives of characters in a film or television show, video cinematography can place several images in a montage. The string of images usually conveys an idea or occurrence, such as the passing of time. It is used to communicate that idea in one or two scenes rather than drag out the concept throughout the entire script.


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