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Cinematography Courses and Classes Overview

Courses in cinematography are available at film schools, 4-year universities and community colleges, as well as through distance learning and non-credit certificate programs. Read on to learn more about the courses offered in this field of study.

Essential Information

Courses in cinematography teach students lighting, film history, film editing and the use of camera equipment, all of which are integral to a cinematographer's career.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in cinematography classes:

  • Visual storytelling
  • Lighting methods and techniques
  • Camera techniques
  • Scene composition
  • Working with a film crew

List of Cinematography Classes

Introductory Filmmaking

Students who wish to take cinematography courses usually begin with a comprehensive survey of filmmaking. This course introduces students to cinematography and editing through short film projects in a variety of narrative, music video and documentary genres. The techniques acquired, including sound recording and mixing, shooting and digital editing, create a foundation for future film and cinematography courses. In addition, students gain an understanding of the primary concepts of cinematography, such as lighting, film selection and exposure, as factors in image control.

Film Lighting

Lighting is a vital part of cinematography, so this course provides an introduction to the lighting techniques and approaches used for visual storytelling in film. Safety procedures, the roles of gaffer and grip, the proper use of lighting equipment and the use of spot meters and light measuring techniques are addressed. Emphasis is on creative lighting choices using the script. Other topics include movement, special effects, spatial relationships and continuity. The class is taught through lectures, screenings and supervised lighting exercises.

Basics of Cinematography

Students in an introductory cinematography course learn the basic operations of 16mm cameras, lighting equipment, lenses and accessory equipment. Techniques in cinematography are covered, including image control through lighting, selection of film, exposure and type of camera and lens used. The duties of the camera operator and assistant are also addressed. The class may also include instruction in the use of the jib arm, dolly, video assist, gear head, Smart Slate and Steadicam.

Digital Cinematography

Digital cinematography provides a cost-effective and increasingly sophisticated means of visual storytelling. Digital cinematography courses familiarize students with the technical capacity of digital cameras for lighting, filtration, picture manipulation, high definition and special effects, among other features. Students apply the principles of lighting and composition from previous cinematography courses to advanced projects using the digital camera to create mood and atmosphere.

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