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What is Cinematography?

Making films isn’t just an art. It takes years of practice to cultivate a consistent craft and keen eye for filmmaking. It’s what separates great cinematography from cliche movie making. You’ve probably heard the term a million times, but what is cinematography? Before honing a craft, a deep knowledge of what it entails is critical.

Understanding cinematography goes way beyond its definition. The dictionary defines it as the “art of making motion pictures.” Okay, well that is true, but what else? 


Cinematography is the art and craft of making motion pictures by capturing a story visually. Though, technically, cinematography is the art and the science of recording light either electronically onto an image sensor or chemically onto film.


Taken from the Greek for "writing with movement," cinematography is the creation of images you see on screen. A series of shots that form a cohesive narrative. Cinematography composes each shot, considering, where everything in frame demands attention.

How We Achieve Cinematography?

At Radah Branding we achieve Cinematography in a myriad of ways.  We have created a culture built on the substratum of two vital drivers in cinematography of any kind, "The Elements of Cinematography" and "The Seven Stages of Filmmaking."  Whether it is a small project, a wedding, or a full blown motion picture we believe when the a project is deposited in our culture it will be deployed  at the highest level of excellence in cinematography.  


The Elements of Cinematography

A cinematographer or director of photography (shortened to DP or DoP) is the crew chief that presides over the camera and light crews on a film or video production. They are involved throughout the entire production and liaise closely with the director to create the images you see.


What elements do they consider? Cinematographers who are at the top of the game embrace the following elements with astute detail, Observe,

Camera placement.  This element greatly affects how the audience reacts to the shot, and therefore the rest of the scene. It can have significant emotional impact or even convey character behavior.

Camera movement.  Camera movement can heighten the emotion and suspense in a scene. Choose to move the camera with the characters and gain perspective. Keep the camera static, and now we’re separated from them, peering in.

Shot Composition.  Composition refers to the way elements of a scene are arranged in a camera frame. Shot composition refers to the arrangement of visual elements to convey an intended message.

Shot Size.  How much of the scene is actually seen? Are we in a close-up watching a subject’s face change expression? Maybe it’s an extreme close-up on a subject’s attire indicating to the audience that they should pay attention to this. 

Focus.  Part of a cinematographer’s job is to play with focus to emphasize different aspects of the story. A basic example of this is showing how intoxicated the character is by going in and out of focus. There are many types of camera focus available, each with their own particular storytelling value. 

Lighting.  While there is a separate lighting person, cinematography demands this knowledge. After all, cinematography is what we see on-screen, and how well or horribly the scene is lit is a huge aspect of the craft.  3-point lighting is a very common lighting setup but there are many styles and approaches to lighting. For example, Rembrandt lighting brings a lot of dimension to lighting a subject's face and chiaroscuro lighting is ideal to convey dark and dangerous situations.


Camera Gear.  Obviously, you need a camera but what other camera gear should you consider? A Steadicam gives the camera operator tremendous freedom but a dolly shot also gives the shot a distinct look and feel.



7 Stages of Filmmaking

After witnessing a great movie, very few people sit back and think about all the effort that goes into the making of the film. They may look up the budget of the movie and how much the actors were paid, but no one can truly understand the process of making a film, without going through it themselves.


Film production consists of 7 stages from conception to circulation. From devising the concept of the film, finding funds, cast and crew hiring, editing, marketing the film, to ultimately distributing it, listed below are the stages that we go through while making a film.

Here at Radah Branding we have deliberately become master's at the 7 stages that make a film work.  Our vast experience behind the camera and in the producers chair has created a standard of excellence that we refuse to compromise.

1. Development

This stage mainly consists of planning and conceptualising a script, based off a book, another movie, a true story, or can even be an original concept. After approval, the director works with the writers to come up with a step-by-step outline of the progression of the film.


2. Pre-Production

In this phase, the key objective is to narrow down options and plan the development of the movie in terms of film cast, film crew, and budget. A line manager or production manager is usually hired during this process to create a schedule and manage the budget for the film. Pre-production also includes figuring out the shoot location.

3. Production

The production stage is when the actual practical film production work begins. The primary aim is to stick to the budget and schedule, which requires constant attentiveness. The film director works with the cast and crew to ensure that everything goes as planned. Communication is key between all the involved parties.


 4. Photography

Photography is essentially the most expensive phase in film production. This is because of the salaries owed to the actor, director and set crew, as well as the costs of certain shots, props and special effects, if needed. All the previous stages have been set to ensure the smooth transition of photography. This is where the camera rolls, so it is important for the film director to follow the schedule and remain within the budget.


 5. Wrap

The period immediately after the shooting ends, when all the cameras are turned off. During this stage, everything gets disassembled and the set is cleared of the cast and crew. All equipment and props must be returned in a functioning order, to the suppliers and there must be an inventory list.

6. Post-Production

In most cases, this stage will overlap the stage of photography but not always. A rough cut of the film is drafted, and the film director will begin reviewing and editing the footage as he coordinates additions which may be required from visual effects, music and sound design.


7. Distribution

Distribution is the final stage of the production process. The film must be distributed for the producers to make their money back. It is the work of these producers to strike a lucrative deal for distribution amongst the cinemas and other platforms such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO etc. It is also important to secure the correct deals because they will determine the film’s reach and rake in the right amount of money to ensure the return on investment.


While viewing a film in the cinemas or other streaming platforms, we overlook the effort and manpower that has gone into the making; from the initial stages of development, to the conclusive stages of distribution.

Contact Radah Branding today for a free consultation and allow us to help you move your dream from conception to circulation.

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