Thoughts on Film: The Camera

In Chapter Eight, The Camera, the author explains the importance of the camera operator and the camera itself.  The operator must try and get the best pictures in order to enhance whatever aesthetic approach is needed.  They must know the proper techniques for framing, positioning and movement, as well as understand the numerous aspects of the camera and its lens.  Digital and analog cameras give a camera operator many options, just like other aspects of production discussed in previous chapters.

Camera placement is a large part of capturing the best possible images.  There are three camera operations that must be learned by those interested in the art: Framing, Positioning, and Movement.

Framing refers to the arrangement of action within the cameras frame.  The operator creates the perfect frame for each shot by considering the essential area, the walkspace, the lookspace and the headroom.  By placing the subject in the correct spot that allows for these four things, the photographer can achieve a photo that tells a story.

Positioning simply refers to the position of the camera to the subject and the angles it creates.  The operator must understand the rule of thirds and know where to place the camera in position to the subject. He/she must also know the appropriate terminology when giving directions like pan, tilt, truck and dolly.

Movement can be accomplished by various camera-mounting devices that allow the camera to move freely around the set.  Possibly the most sensitive and difficult of the three, achieving the right amount of movement can be tricky.  Each shot should begin and end with a stationary shot, so the scene can be edited appropriately.  Too much movement can become distracting and take away from the scene.

Not only must a camera operator understand everything happening on the outside of the camera, but also inside the camera.  A camera lens is made of glass that allows focus, and can frame an image within the camera.  In order to control the lens, the operator must be familiar with basic optics.

The lens bends light and help the camera operator control an image’s field of view, brightness, focus, perspective, and depth of field. Lenses can be categorized by their focal lengths and offer a wide variety, allowing for various types of photography and film.

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