Cinematography: Theory and Practice: Image Making for Cinematographers, Directors, and Videographers

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  1. D. Rahmel "Dan Rahmel" says
    75 of 76 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    COMPREHENSIVE, October 15, 2003
    By A Customer
    This review is from: Cinematography: Theory and Practice: Image Making for Cinematographers, Directors, and Videographers (Paperback)

    I bought this book because of the glowing review it received in American Cinematographer and then soon after it was the requred book for my cinematography course at USC Film School. I have dozens of books about cinematography, and this is the only one I’ve ever seen that covers every aspect of cinematography.

    Most books are either sort of airy, light-weight musings about aesthetics and philosophy and the other kind is strictly technical: lenses, exposure, etc. This is the one book that covers just about everything you need to know in order to be a professional cinematographer (or an amateur who knows as much as a pro).

    It covers everthing from the basics to very advanced stuff and the one thing that most of my camera assistant and camera apprentice friends really like is that it covers “professional practice”: the way things are done on real sets, including things like what are the responsibilties of each person: the AC, the gaffer, the grip, etc.

    It has a chapter on lighting and one on creating the “look” of a film, but the one thing it doesn’t go into heavily is set lighting. That is, I guess, because this author has another book about lighting (which was also a textbook in a film school course I took.) He (or she?) also says in introduction that lighting is a vast subject and there is no way to fit it into one or two chapters – it has to have it’s own book.

    Anyway, this book is so good, I bought some to give as Christmas presents to friends. Even the ones who are already working professional DP’s enjoyed it and said they loved it. I think it is also used in some of the directing courses here at USC. The first half of the book is about the kinds of things a director needs to know as well as the DP: coverage, editorial, crossing the line, that kind of stuff.

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  2. David A. Anselmi "taijidave" says
    66 of 67 people found the following review helpful:
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Excellent overall cinematography book, March 1, 2005
    By 
    D. Rahmel “Dan Rahmel” (Los Angeles, CA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Cinematography: Theory and Practice: Image Making for Cinematographers, Directors, and Videographers (Paperback)

    When I first read this book, I already knew quite a bit about cinematography. This book filled in a large number of gaps in my knowledge. It did a rare thing for a cinematography book – it provided information on the actual lights that are used to create cinematic magic (HMIs, Fresnel lenses, PARs, etc.).

    The author makes extensive use of computer design (Poser) to show actors, their positioning to the camera, and various lighting scenarios. Using these graphics, the book shows blocking from various angles – all very helpful to the beginning filmmaker.

    The book also includes up-to-date information relating to problems faced by current filmmakers (video-to-film transfer, aspects of HD photography, processes such as ENR, etc.). While only described in overview, the explanations were clear and provide a good foundation for these moving targets.

    The only topic I thought should have been covered in more detail was blue screen/green screen photography. As anyone who has done compositing with some sort of chroma key knows, the technical aspects alone are difficult. However, that’s nothing compared to the problems of achieving artistic cinematography around/with these chroma key shots. It would have been great if some sense of the challenges and solutions of the cinematography of chroma keying would have been included.

    Great book, though.

    Dan Rahmel
    Author: “Nuts and Bolts Filmmaking”

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  3. Anonymous says
    108 of 115 people found the following review helpful:
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Not sure what all the fuss is about…, April 9, 2004
    By 
    David A. Anselmi “taijidave” (Oakland, CA USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Cinematography: Theory and Practice: Image Making for Cinematographers, Directors, and Videographers (Paperback)

    …despite the hype, this book is NOT a “great reference book” of cinematography. Instead of a thorough explanation of the craft & art of cinematography, it is instead a slim text which cursorily navigates the dual topics of technical/hardware requirements, and then briefly gestures at some of the aesthetic decisions required of good cinematography.

    If you want technicals, books which cover similar territory are “Matters of Light & Depth” (Lowell), “Cinematography” & “Film Lighting” (Malkiewicz), “Placing Shadows” (Gloman/Letourneau), or even “Bare-Bones Guide” (Schroeppel — which includes a very practical description of the ‘Rule of Thirds’, ie. the “Golden Mean”).

    If you’re on a ‘classical’ kick, you could do a whole lot worse than “5 C’s” (Mascelli), “Painting with Light” (Alton), or even “The Visual Story” (Block), which explores new media thru the lens[sic] of Eisenstein. Actually, you probably should buy “5 C’s” & “Painting” anyway; they’re very old, & just-recently returned to print… & in this age of accelerated obsolescence, these books might vanish again, forever.

    But if you are interested in the aesthetics of cinematography, you’d do *much* better with texts such as “Cinematography: Screencraft” (Ettedgui), or with the classic “Film Art: An Introduction” (Bordwell/Thompson). In fact, after all the great reviews for “Cinematography: Image Making”, I was expecting some sort of full-color/high-quality updated version of “Film Art”. Nope… not even close.

    IMHO, the book which best combines both worlds (technical + aesthetic) is Viera’s “Lighting for Film & Electronic Cinematography”. He starts with basic principles, & then quickly moves to famous shots, breaking each one down in terms of what the cinematographer was thinking, what they were ‘aiming’ for, & how [specifically] to put your lights to duplicate that setup. Wow.

    So perhaps the title (“Cinematography: Image Making”) is a misnomer, & should be “Technical Image Making”. No wait– there are some shots of beautiful cinematography in the text, right? Um, yes, but… with one terrible caveat: the majority of the images in this book which do come from great films — are DIGITAL SCREEN-CAPTURES FROM VIDEO(?!!!) Interlaced, blurry, artifacted, awful. Unconscionable.

    What a waste of potential, & of good photo-stock paper. Save your $$ for Viera’s book, or Lowell’s. Or you could do a whole lot worse than “5 C’s” or Alton’s book… which are old, but classics, describing theory & techniques as appropriate today as they were 100 years ago.

    “3 Stars” for “Not-Bad”; “1 Star” for “Crushing Disappointment”.

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