i'm looking for cinematography training videos that will cover all the material that Universities and Colleges are covering for a degree.
i know about all the videos that train you to use premiere or after effects... they are nice but they only teach you the program & menus... not the profession itself.
so... anyone know for videos that covers all that?
I hope I don't sound elitist or snobby, but no book nor training video will equate with matriculation at a university level film school. I can say this because I have both an undergraduate and masters degree from UCLA in Cinema, and it took me the better part of seven years to do so.
In addition to the books, classes and mentoring that went on there, there was also the extensive practical knowledge gained by working intensively with many other students in the production of hundreds of projects.
In addition, these types of schools have extensive facilities, such as stages, studios, libraries, dedicated rental shops, etc. which one could never otherwise have access to. I would suggest that it would near impossible to master the skills required of a professional without such access. The alternative is a length apprenticeship in an industry setting, but the drawback to this approach is is narrow view.
The greatest benefit of all however of the film school experience is the lasting relationships forged there which benefit all the parties throughout their careers. Filmmaking, despite the well known auteur theories is really a group experience and learning in a vacuum or by one's self can be a very limited way. Ultimately, filmmaking (and I consider a cinematographer to be such because he/she must really be familiar with all the skills involved) is a process of communicating within a group, whether is be a two-person news crew or a hundred person feature company, and again this can not be learned in an isolated environment.
I know that it takes a lot of time and assets to pursue such an end, but I believe there are many extension classes, and other opportunities out there (more now than ever) to become a member of a learning community that will ultimately lead to the knowledge required of a cinematographer, not the least of which is watching hundreds of great classic films and discussing them with others who share your interest in photography.
Your post is elegant and spot on. I have forwarded it to the brass at the SF Academy of Art University where I teach part-time grad lighting. The very top brass is pushing online teaching. Of course, it's an endless revenue stream with no need for gear or buildings. But you have nailed just why we do need all that gear, all those rooms and stages.
director of photography
[Rick Wise] "The very top brass is pushing online teaching."
Oh Rick... they want to teach cinematography on line??? Oh my.
Reminds me of a comedian's routine (I think it was Drew Carey) talking about a mail-order course in veterinary medicine. "I wouldn't want to be a cat in that house."
There are just some things where a real hands-on education from a gifted and qualified instructor can never be remotely equaled by any book, video, or on-line course. I definitely believe Cinematography is one of those areas.
Then again, as I said, the instruction and program itself must be good. I literally learned more about good lighting and cinematography in my first four hours on a real film set than I did in four years of film school. Literally.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Certainly true, Todd. Unless the instructors are good the school is often a waste of time. Much of what I learned about cinematography I taught myself, or else learned from hiring great gaffers and key grips. However, there was also a huge amount of filmmaking that I learned from school. I suspect that the "best" route would be to apprentice oneself, but that isn't really a viable option in most cases these days.
Film schools vary enormously in the amount of hands-on work they offer. Fortunately, the Academy offers a lot. Still, as an instructor, I often bemoan the fact that no matter what I do or say, very, very few of my students learn over the course of the 15-week semester that I have them in my grips how to actually look at, how to actually SEE light, shadow, and color. At the end of last Spring's semester, one of them emailed me, thanking me for teaching him "so many lighting tricks." I could have strangled him over the internet. He didn't reply when I emailed back, "I sure hope you learned more than just 'tricks'!"
I comfort myself (perhaps erroneously) that I have at least laid the groundwork. Some day in the future, at least some of what I have taught them will actually take hold, that at least a few will begin to see. Then they can begin to think.
As for online teaching, I do think there's a lot you can learn that way too. But it's no substitute for actually working as a crew member, rotating through all the roles.
director of photography
well, i can't go to school at the near future (private issues).
books are nice, but videos are like being in the classroom :)
so... i'll be happy to hear about some good videos & DVD's that are at least close to what i can learn for a degree.
Arik, I think you are missing some of the points made above. Video is NOT like being in the classroom.
Nevertheless, you can certainly start to learn this way. I for one do not know of any videos to help you. Perhaps others do. You might help us by stating what it is about cinematography you desire to learn. In other words, what experience/knowledge do you have now vs. what it is you think a video could help you learn?
Also, do you have any gear? A camera? A tripod? Any lights? Any mics? If so, what in each category?
Also, what kind of films do you think you want to make? docs? fiction? training? other?
director of photography
Let me blunt about film school: it was awesome (AAU, SF 2005).
I agree a series of Cow Videos would be something great! You can get a screenwriting DVD, an editing DVD, an animation DVD. But what about cinematography?! I would like to request such a thing, and the first topic I would like to study more is a coverage plan. Especially with regard to how the DP and Director arrive at a way to cover the scene. My short movie "Poison" is nearly complete, but, (whereas my lighting design was pretty decent) I feel my coverage plan was somehow...lacking. That is, where do I say "Okay, I don't need to cover that with a master shot because I know that's where the close up is." In another scene Jorge (playing Ray) reached some really low emotional beats, and I was unsure how many times to make him do that. I mean I felt bad for the guy.
(Best thing about learning filmmaking is it's not like flying an airplane; that is, there's plenty of margin for error.)
Here's some links to explore.
I'm going to take a bit of a different tack here. You cannot replace school with DVD's or books-true. But until the day when you can take classes...
You can google efp lighting and Walter Graffe (Graff?) for starters as to some basic techniques, and they might even offer DVD's. Blain Brown's Cinematography book I really like for covering a lot of different aspects of cinematography. And John Alton's 'Painting with Light' is really cool too, though a little old.
Another set of DVD's I'd highly recommend - your favorite movies,(especially visually/cinematographically). I love such divergent movies as Coppola/Storaro's "One from the Heart", Levinson/ Daviau's "Avalon" and one of my recent favorites, the British mystery series, "Jericho", lensed by Alan Almond amongst others. While you may never have the resources that these guys have, just looking real hard, seeing what you like about a scene and trying to reconstruct the lighting plot from what you see can really help. Check out some of the noir gangster movies, which used realtively few lights, (read Alton's book concurrently).
And for evey minute you absorb stuff, spend five trying to make it happen. Not as cool as school but a reasonable start.
I have no degree in cinematography but I shoot both 35 and HD. I worked my arse off as both grip and juicer until I was close enough to the DP to hawk his every move. That said I still enjoy learning - be it on set, in a classroom, or reading online. I don't think a video can truly teach you how to find composition, but it can inspire your ideas. I would suggest doing a search for lighting elements first. Once you can light well you can focus on comp. The most important part about cinematography, is the teamwork. It's knowing how to work with others, NO MATTER your opinion in some cases. It's about putting the stakeholders first.
I've never seen these but here's an example of some lighting videos:
Mal: If anyone gets nosy, just, you know... shoot 'em.
Zoe: Shoot 'em?
I'm a big fan of school too. I'm especially a fan of a general liberal arts education. Among a couple of folks I've run into recently, Jim Rygiel (Oscar-winner for Lord of the Rings) says that his most important foundation was a graduate degree in architecture.
Bill Powloski is the VFX Supervisor for Weeds and Pushing Daisies -- somehow appropriate, no? He's a hardcore production guy, came up as an editor, then a DP. Still spends a lot of time on the set working with DPs. His biggest influence: paintings.
Anyhoo, I love the idea of production DVDs. Coverage? Killah.
Which of you kids is going to do it?
Seriously, all of our DVDs are done by volunteers who step forward...well, not volunteers because we pay better than anyone in the business...but people have been coming to us. Anyone who wants to do a DVD on any aspect of cinematography, screenwriting, etc. -- heck, anything else, including ventriloquism or puppetry -- drop me a line: tim at creativecow dot net.
Associate Director, CreativeCow.net
Associate Publisher, Creative Cow Magazine!