Movie Making Manual/Cinematography

This Module is part of the Cinematography section of the Movie Making Manual

Cinematography is the creation of motion picture images. It can involve the use of film or digital imagery, usually with a movie camera. It is closely related to the art of still photography. Many additional technical difficulties and creative possibilities arise when the camera and elements of the scene may be in motion.



There are many aspects and subtopics of Cinematography, some of these include:

The Camera


The guide referenced above contains features in cameras that you should look for in different price ranges. These ranges include:

  • Low Budget (<$1,200)
  • Mid Budget ($1,200-$10,000)
  • High Budget ($10,000+)

NB: This is not a complete list of cameras.

Moving the Camera


Moving the camera can be one of the best ways to portray emotion within cinematography. Some of the ways to move a camera include:

  • Handheld
  • Dolly / Slider
  • Jib / Crane
  • SteadiCam
  • Shoulder Rigs
  • Copters
  • Drones



The use of filters or polarizers during filming can be essential or highly recommended to achieve a certain style. Some quick examples include:

  • Neutral Density (Graduated) Filters
  • Linear and Circular Polarizers
  • Ultra Violet Filters

Aspect Ratio


Aspect ratio is the width:length ratio of an image. What aspect ratio is best to shoot in, or is it better to shoot anamorphic? Common aspect ratios include 16:9 and 2.35:1.

Learning and Other Resources


Internet Forums



  • 5 Cs of Cinematography
  • 'New Cinematographers' by Alexander Ballinger.
  • "Principal Photography" by Vincent LoBrut
  • "Matters of Light and Depth" by Ross Lowell
  • "A Man with a Camera" by cinematographer Nestor Almendros
  • "Cinematography: Theory and Practice" by Blain Brown (Focal Press)
  • "Motion Picture and Video Lighting" by Blain Brown (Focal Press)
  • "The Filmmaker's Pocket Reference" by Blain Brown (Focal Press)
  • The ASC manual
  • Reflections
  • Any number of college/university textbooks on Cinematography can be found at used bookstores for a fraction of their original cost..



This section of Cinematography is only referring to the visual production side. Meaning, this page is only representing capturing the image. For more information on lighting and other cinematography topics, refer to Cinematography.

Further Reading


Cinematography (Wikipedia)