This reading guide was created for students in an introductory film course who are using The Film Experience (Corrigan/White) or Film Art (Bordwell/Thompson) as their primary text and Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) as their feature-length screening for the week.
Let's learn more about cinematography and its intricate language...
Trace the history of film stock. How long has color been around?
What about the size of the film image? How has cinema's aspect ratios changed over the years?
What is "a shot"?
"All shots have a point of view," our textbook reminds. What types of POV are cinema audiences typically allowed?
Speed of Motion
What is the standard rate of film projection (frames per second)?
How is slow-motion cinematography produced?
And time-lapse cinematography?
Perspective Relationships: Depth of Field and Focal Length
In addition to normal or middle, list three types of lenses used in filmmaking. What does each accomplish?
How does a zoom lens function?
Does the camera actually move with a zoom lens?
What does depth of field mean?
Explain the difference between deep focus and shallow focus. How might these different strategies shape our understanding of the image?
What is racking focus, and why do filmmakers generally employ this device?
Does the camera move with any of the elements covered in this section on perspective relationships?
Framing: Height (or Level), Angle, Distance
How many camera angles and shot distances (the implied proximity to the camera) does your text introduce?
What level (or angle) of framing is used in this shot below from the film noir Pickup on South Street?
Which secondary character from Do the Right Thing is often framed with the same level as the image above? Why might Spike Lee employ this angle with that particular character? What does it suggest?
What is the shot distance of the three shots below from Do the Right Thing?
What's the difference between onscreen and offscreen space?
Mobile Framing / Camera Movements
How many types of mobile framing (or camera movements) does your book consider? How are they defined and recognized? TIP: Be wary of the zoom lens!
What is reframing?
Are there any shots in Citizen Kane in which you noticed camera movement?
TWEET! Think about a scene from one of your favorite films. In 140 characters or fewer, describe the cinematography. (Don't forget the course hashtag!)