What is cinematography?
Cinematography is the art and science of motion-picture photography. It covers a lot of different elements including how the camera should move in a scene, what should be in focus and what shouldn’t, how the scene should be lit, what colours the scene should be washed in and how everything is placed in the scene. Cinematographers work very closely with the director as they need to figure out how best to execute the directors wishes. In order for a cinematographer to acheive this they need to decide what lights to use, what diffusion and filters need to go on the lights, what lens to put on the camera, what ISO, f-stop and shutter speed to use and what piece of grip equipment (this includes things like sliders, cranes, dollies, jibs and vehciles) the camera should be mounted to so the desired movement can be acheived.
As you can see, a cinematographers job is very important on set as the ‘look’ you see on the screen in either a cinema or on YouTube has been designed and executed by the cinematographer. Everyhthing a cinematographer does is there to help tell the story so in answer to the title of this blog, yes cinematography can work in corporate and promotional films when a story is being told. Below I’m going to look at a few of the more common techniques and give examples of how they could be used in the corporate space.
I’m going to kick off with training videos as they can give you the perfect platform to be over the top and therefore make this technique nice and easy to see in action. Lets say you want a series of videos to help train your managers to be participative managers and not directive. Below I wil break these two videos down to demonstrate how they might be shot using cinematography techniques.
The wrong way, directive managers
In this video you would want to use lots of high and low angles for the point-of-view (POV) of the manager and the employee. The POV of the employee would be a low angle, so looking up at the manager, this portrays the dominant side of the manager and belittles and employee, so when we cut to the POV of the manager the shot would be a high angle so we are looking down on the employee to show that the employee is small and not all that important. We can take this further by changing the lens for each shot, if we use a wide angle lens on the low angle shots the manager will look very tall because a wide angle lens expands the frame whereas if we used a long (or telephoto) lens on the high angle shots looking down on the employee they will look small because these lenses compress the depth in a frame. To break up the POV cuts a two shot could also be used because they are great at the showing the dynamic between two characters and can help to set the scene.
The POV shot is a classic way to portray fear because the characters body language is clearly on show and they appear to be in your personal space.
The right way, participative managers
In the video for the right way you might want to show a manager sitting at his desk with an employee sitting on the other side. It would be important here to make sure that the camera is positioned at the same level for each of the characters and that each character fills the same amount of the screen. This will make them appear equal and if we then include an over the shoulder shot it furthers the feel of a meaningful and empathetic conversation.
When working with the new range of digital cinema cameras such as our Sony FS7 we are able to tailor the image so that it does what we want it to do. One of the main ways to do this is to choose the correct lens so the desired depth of field, in this case a shallow depth of field is acheived. The way you tell a story with this technique is by moving the point of focus around the scene so that the viewers attention follows it, this is refered to focus pulling or a rack focus in cinematography terminology. The video below is one we produced for a local spa and because their service is very personal we decided to use a shallow depth of field to help portray that closeness and personal service.
Wides, Mids and Close-ups
These shots are used in a similar way to focus pulling as they allow you to take the viewer on a journey around the screen. You might start with an establishing shot of your business premises for example and then cut to a close-up of your logo above the front door, this shot selection is allow you to make the viewer look at your logo rather than the railings or bush outside your office. The cutting action also helps to keep the attention of the viewer because it a very obvious change in picture. Other uses for wides could be to show the shear scale of your operation (click here to read about extreme wides) and a close-up may be used to creative a emotive response (LINK TO ASPIRATIONAL FILM BLOG) if you are using emotion to sell a product rather than facts and figures.
I hope this blog has been of interested and if you would like a corporate video produced that uses these techniques please call Will or Andy on 01273 911 345 or email email@example.com.
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